For several years, I thought I was the only one.
I had never heard of an adoptive mom who let her child go, for their own good, and the good of her family. I truly believed I was the only one. I felt alone, ashamed, guilty, grieved, hollowed out, dirty, cast-out. I felt undeserving of forgiveness and love.
What kind of a mother does this?
As I’ve healed and continued to seek answers, I’ve discovered there are many moms like me! I am most certainly not the only one!
I’ve met moms who have had to let their child(ren) go:
~For their own safety
~For the safety of other children or pets
~For their sanity
~For their marriage
~Because the child would never make it in their family, but they might make it elsewhere.
These are regular moms, like you and me.
They love children. In fact, they love children so much, they adopted a child, or a sibling group. They went through hours of training. They read books on parenting, adoption, attachment, and trauma. They prepared (or so they thought). They spent tons of money, worked the system, some of them traveled to other countries, and worked so hard to bring a total stranger into their home. They tried to become a family.
When it didn’t work, they were devastated.
Before this happened to us, we never would have imagined being one of “those” moms. We’ve all become members of a club none of us wanted to join.
We are the moms of adoption disruption, dissolution, or relinquishment.
And we hurt.
Over the last several days, 8 of these suffering mamas met with me in Breckenridge, Colorado. We came together Sunday evening to meet each other and share some wine and cheese.
They were nervous. Some of them said their husbands gently forced them to come! They all had different stories, but similar endings. Each believed they were the only one. Each believed they were bad people. Each had been judged, misunderstood, accused, and held accountable. None had received grace, validation, compassion, or help with their grief.
We worked on tough stuff.
Fear, Anger, Sadness, Depression, Guilt, Shame, Isolation, Loneliness, Bitterness, Resentment, Denial, Protesting, Hurt, Grief, Letting Go.
At the end, I asked them how the retreat impacted them. Here are their words:
“Cathartic-being in the presence of other women who have been through the same thing.”
“Able to let go of the anger, and dreams that will never be.”
“Healing, tools, advice, answers, support, hugs, kinship, clarity, self-compassion.”
“I made myself feel.”
“I have the ability to work through tough stuff.”
“Helped me get closure.”
“Validating, healing, emotional strength.”
“I forgave myself.”
“Hearing others’ stories helped me know it will be OK. I’ll be OK.”
“I did a lot of grief work, and I needed that.”
“This was huge!”
They left knowing better how to continue to heal. They want to grow. They want this to matter. They desire for their pain to have purpose. They want to live again. They want their families back. They want their children to succeed in life. They want to be whole and healthy again.
One mom shared this analogy: We are all running a relay race. For some of our children, we carried the baton for as long as we could. Then we passed the baton to someone else.
We won’t be the ones to see them cross the finish line, but we ran our part of the race. We did the best we could, and we’re so thankful for the others who stepped in to help our children finish well.
It’s not how we dreamed it would be, but as we accept reality, we can dream again.
This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.