Several studies have documented the persistent, negative effects birthmothers have experienced after placing a child for adoption. Grief may manifest itself in physiological changes, emotions of sorrow, distress or guilt, socially through family and other interpersonal relationships, and maladaptive coping strategies such as substance use and self harm.
Incorporating cultural traditions in your new family
Adopting a child is a time to celebrate. But beyond the initial celebration of the arrival of your new child, how can you incorporate new traditions and celebrations into your life? If your child has another country or culture in their background, it is important to share the learning experience of exploring their culture with them, through their own eyes. These experiences provide adopted children with a stronger sense of social and cultural identity.
Cheryl Piddock’s story of her conception is different than some. But that’s what makes her special, she says. In this Q & A, Cheryl helps to answer some questions about growing up as a donor adoptee.
Last spring my daughter, Bethany, was 15 years old and loving “all things Asian.” It seemed a good time to visit her birth family in China. Armed with a powerful appetite for dim sum, and a shopping list of Anime titles (Japanese animation) she hoped to find in Hong Kong, Bethany joined me on her first visit back in 10 years.
We are both his mothers, and to become the wonderful son he is today, we were both necessary in his life.
For many years there was no choice—either a birth mother was honoured and recognized on Mother’s Day, or not at all. In 1990, a group of Seattle birth mothers sought to correct that oversight and created a special day to honour those mothers who lost children to adoption. Birth Mother’s Day had a variety of purposes—to educate, honor and to help heal.
The reality of open adoption is a delicate balance of space and privacy, family, and individual.
The day we met Theo’s birth mother was a sparkling, blossom-infused May day. Mark and I were carefully attired in a vain attempt to look calm, thoughtful, responsible, yet fun: white shirt, cropped jeans, yellow shoes, a stripy scarf for me, and Mark in his crisp shirt and pressed shorts. In reality, we were sitting in the agency boardroom speechless and scared.
I am 41 and my husband Rod is 55. We were unable to naturally conceive a child and had finally accepted that reality. We were preparing to simply enjoy our independence as a couple and travel to exotic places. We comforted ourselves that our two dogs and a cat were our surrogate children. Life was good, right?
When I was five years old, I was adopted. It’s something I’ve known about all my life, as my parents were always open and honest with me. Adoption is something that has never bothered me as it has always been a part of who I am.
As my daughter approaches five, my feelings about my adoption and my past have shifted. I had never thought about my earlier years—the life I had lived before I was five. My life with my adopted parents was so wonderful, and the memories so vivid and precious, that I had never even thought to venture deeper into the memories of my previous years.
Chelan Gill remembers always knowing she was adopted. It would have been difficult for her parents to hide it because, although Chelan’s mother is South Asian like her, her father is Caucasian. Adopted at birth, Chelan was raised within western culture and influences – even having the last name of Fletcher. However, at 26, she married a South Asian man who taught her about Indian culture and customs, and at 27, Chelan decided to search out information about her birth parents and medical history before having children.
Three families share how they celebrate adoption day
I can remember each year growing up, my mother retelling my birth story: what time she drove to the hospital, how long it took, how she felt when she first held me, etc. On Jason’s first birthday, I wasn’t ready for the onset of confusing emotions. I didn’t know how his birthmom got to the hospital or how long it took for him to be born. I remember thinking, “One year ago, I didn’t even know he existed.”