Corona canceled visits. Covid-19 remitted reunions. There are many broken hearts from pandemic postponed adoption visits.
No matter how you phrase it, birth/first/biological families (I will refer to them as birth families) and adoptees are carrying a unique, but heavy grief in social distancing. I believe we, as Toledo Moms, can have a hand in loving these local (birth) mothers well through the loss of seeing their children in an already uncertain and sometimes scary time.
What are Post-placement Visits?
Post-placement visits are when birth families and adoptive families meet after an adoption has taken place. This is a lifeline for healing for many birth families as they get to tangibly see their child is safe, healthy, and loved.
What is a birth mother?
First, let’s lay the foundation of what a birth mother is using my, Jennifer Mae’s, own experience. This will truly be a long story short, but if you want the whole novel (pun intended) you can order a copy. I was seventeen years old when I chose adoption for my daughter. I was not mentally, emotionally, relationally, nor financially capable of caring for my daughter in the way she needed and how I believed she deserved. It was my innate motherly drive to love and protect my child that brought me to the decision of adoption. The main take away from this section is that birth moms and bad moms are not synonyms.
Because I am a birth mother, I am going to speak through the lens of a woman that has placed a child for adoption. Though I honor the grief adoptees feel in this loss, I will not speak for them.
Birth mothers across our state and nation are missing out on precious hugs, irreplaceable snuggles, and hands pulsing with familial blood, placed into their palms. Many of my sisters-in-triad will weep during this time of social isolation. Our tears are especially heavy, as we have been feeling isolated since long before this pandemic. The isolation that took (and still takes) the form of a cultural stigma that binds our lips and further weighs our burden in disenfranchised grief.
How can we as a sisterhood of Toledo Moms, maybe some of us never touched by adoption, love and support birth mothers as they grieve this unique, but valid loss of visitation, with grace and earnest empathy?
The following are three things we all can do to love and support birth mothers well through this time and a fourth specifically geared towards Adoptive Families.
- Acknowledge her Grief: Be willing to listen without attempting to fix, belittle or downplay her valid emotions.
- Give her your Kindness: If you know the day the visit was to take place set up a zoom call, send a letter to arrive in time, drop off her favorite coffee drink (with safe social distancing) or send a heartfelt text. If you worry you will make her sad in reminding her of her child(ren), I assure you that you did not remind her. Her child(ren) is already on her mind and she will appreciate you remembering.
- Ask Permission: If you need someone to vent to/confide in, please ask her if she has the mental/emotional space. She may not be able to help you process your emotions at this time. Be mindful and respect boundaries she puts in place to protect her mental health. Ultimately, the best rule of thumb in this time is to not use her as a source for your emotional processing. Why? She may not feel she can be honest in what she can emotionally carry, or, she may have the trauma response of taking care of others to her own detriment (See fawn type).
- Adoptive Parents: Zoom.us is a free tool for video chatting. I encourage you to check it out. There are other avenues to have a video chat (facetime, Facebook Messenger, etc.) with your child(ren)’s birth family. If visits must be canceled, I encourage you to utilize one of these tools to keep the meeting date. While video chats are amazing resources they are not the same as an in-person visit. Please, do not use video chat as a replacement for a face-to-face meeting.
To my Sisters-in-triad
In closing, I want to address my beloved sisters-in-triad.
My heart aches with you, beloved sisters-in-triad. If you are struggling, please reach out to your circle. Be honest about your needs, desires, and emotions. If you need a circle, I encourage you to check out these birth mother Facebook groups and retreat resources:
 Sisters-in-triad is a term, author and speaker Jennifer Mae coined to describe a fellow birthmother.