Post Adoption: Coping with Your Child’s Absence During the Holidays

What if every year, at every celebration, there was something missing? What if no one knew you felt that way? What if what was missing was knowing where and how your child was?
Children are not the only ones to think about birth parents. Birth parents also think about their children. Holidays and other celebrations or times of the year (i.e. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) can be an emotional time for a birth parent.
Deciding to make an adoption plan for a child does not mean you stop thinking about that child. Some of these decisions were made freely and deliberately; some out of necessity; and some under pressure of extended family or circumstances.
While some birth parents are able to maintain a direct relationship with their children, others are not so lucky. They may exchange letters or photos through a third party or not have any access or contact at all.
During this time of year with so many holiday gatherings and celebrations with their own families and friends, birth parents may feel the absence of the child who was adopted. They may wonder what the child is doing, if he or she ever thinks of them, and what life would be like if they were not adopted and still living with them.
Feelings may be very mixed—ranging from joy that they made a good decision for their child, to regrets over the adoption, or the lack of a way to contact and stay in touch or to find out how they are doing. Not wanting to interfere in a child’s life, many birth parents do nothing but wonder and worry, or wait for the child to contact them.
What can a birth parent do?
  • Contact the attorney or agency that helped you with the adoption—ask if they have heard from your child or the adoptive family, or if they can find out how your child is doing.
  • Write a letter to your child or the adoptive parent(s), give it to the attorney or agency that helped with the adoption, and ask them to forward it.
  • Find a local birth parent support group, share your feelings and get support. Some also provide suggestions for how to find out how your child is doing.
  • If possible, share your feelings with those closest to you and explain why you are having difficulty feeling festive.
  • If you have contact with your child (or the family) discuss how you feel and if that is your wish, to arrange for a visit with the child during the holidays.
The holidays can be a joyous occasion but they may also have their difficult and emotional moments. Since you are not able to avoid all situations, accept that you will have those moments and plan how you will handle them.
  • Limit social interactions and the number of events in which you participate.
  • Enlist a spouse, family member or close friend who knows how you are feeling to stick close to you at parties, events and celebrations. Have a way for you to signal you are having a difficult moment so they can distract you or remove you from a conversation, etc.
Year after year, birth parents recall their decision to make an adoption plan for their child. Whether the placement was by choice or necessity, and the child is being raised in another family, that child is still a child of the birth parent.
Adopted children will always have connections to two families. While one may celebrate in person, the other may remember and wonder. As you celebrate this season, never forget your child’s past, present and future.

Written by Jason Granillo

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