I spent several hours preparing and ultimately decided to cover the following -
positive adoption language
birth parent loss and grief
infant grief in adoption
as well as sharing info that I learned from these doulas' websites who have a niche of doulaing in adoptive situations. They had beautiful ideas, thoughtful ideas - like encouraging the first mother to have pictures taken with the baby as they may become beloved treasures later. Another was to be supportive of the mother around days 3-7 postpartum when her milk could come in and there is no baby to receive it. So painful on so many levels.
We had great discussions about all of these issues. One of the doulas is a birth mother who felt like her child was essentially taken from her. This was back in the 60s when being a single mother was strongly looked down upon, when girls got kicked out of their homes when their parents found out they were pregnant. The birth took place over 40 years ago. She is still grieving the loss of her daughter.
As we approach our 'one year home' mark with Evangeline (next month!), my feelings about the losses that she has experienced have become less intense and less frequent than they were in those early months post-travel. But then there are days like today when I am reminded of how deep her losses are. When I first started learning about loss in adoption, when I read books like The Family of Adoption or 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, I initially did not want to hear it. I wanted to turn a blind eye to the loss part of adoption. I wanted to believe in the fairy tale version of adoption, the one that's portrayed in the movies or that I'd sometimes read about on adoption blogs. I was afraid I wouldn't measure up or that my adopted child would grow up to resent me. I'd talk to Dan about it. I'd read adult adoptee blogs, wrestle internally, and then talk to Dan some more. I felt so intimidated.
Somewhere along the way, intimidation gave way to peace. I remembered the text in the Bible about how we are to bear one another's burdens. I can't take away her losses. And she has every right to grieve them. But as her mother, I can hold her hand, walk with her through them. I can refrain from using cliches or offering spiritual platitudes. I can resist the urge to "fix" everything, to wrap it up neatly for her. I will never understand exactly what she is experiencing, but I can listen.
When I think of bearing her burdens, my thoughts wander to her first mother and whether there is anyone to bear her burdens along side of her. I've read that birth mothers grieve like mothers who have lost their children through death. I hope and pray that she is able to find peace. I wish I could tell her that her daughter, our daughter, is so loved and so cherished by so many. I pray that she feels this in her soul.
I don't know what Evie's feelings will be regarding the losses in her life. I want to be mindful of not projecting my own sadness about her losses onto her. Her story is her story. We will follow her lead. We'll take it day by day. And today, I couldn't feel more blessed to be her mom.