I relinquished my daughter to an open adoption in January 2010. When I relinquished my daughter, I knew no one that was a birth mom, especially since my opinion was that I was unique in choosing to have an open adoption with my daughter and her adoptive parents. In July of that year, my case worker at the adoption agency I used told me about BirthMom Buds (www.birthmombuds.com). She said that it was a community where I could connect with other people that had placed their children with adoptive families. I joined, thinking I might talk with a couple of other birth moms occasionally and that would be it.
I quickly fell into frequently posting on the private forums and chatting with other birth moms in the hosted chats on Monday nights. I also started talking to Coley, one of the founders of BirthMom Buds. Though she and I live on opposite coasts, we started sending long emails back and forth both through Facebook and then through our personal email accounts.
Around January 2011, I started hearing about the annual retreat that BirthMom Buds hosts in Charlotte, North Carolina, the weekend before Mother’s Day weekend. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to go, not only to meet Coley in person, but to connect in person with some of the other birth moms that I’d been talking to online for so long. It was an amazing experience. Though no one that attended had exactly the same adoption experience as anyone else, we all connected through our shared loss. Just as people who have struggled with infertility or miscarriage reach out to others who have experienced similar things, the loss of adoption brings you together in a unique way.
I’ve now been to two BirthMom Buds retreats and am planning to attend my third one this May. Over the long weekend, we laugh. We cry. We forge friendships that last long past the weekend retreat and love each other through the hurt. We learn about the unique experiences of one another, and we learn how we share similar experiences and feelings as well. No matter how at peace we are with our own personal adoption story, we still feel loss. It’s fantastic to be able to really let go and experience our loss with the support of other people who know exactly how we feel. It’s great to talk about our adoption stories without using qualifiers or titles because we all know how each person in our unique stories relates to each other. We don’t get raised eyebrows when talking about our child’s mother or father. For those birth moms who haven’t told many people about the child they’ve placed and the feelings surrounding that placement, it’s a time to really open up and release some of the demons that chase them all year round.
I can’t imagine not attending the retreat. It’s expensive for me to pay for the flight and hotel costs (the retreat itself is free for birth moms), but I wouldn’t want to use the money I spend for anything else. It can be an emotionally exhausting weekend full of ups and downs. But being with people who know how I feel because they’ve been there too is an absolutely priceless experience.
As an aside, I’m coordinating a fundraiser to help fund the hotel costs for two birth moms who would not have been able to attend but for a generous donor who took care of their flight arrangements. If you’re interested in donating to the fundraiser, here’s the link - http://fndr.se/sgWW . Like I said in the blurb about my fundraiser, if I surpass my fundraising goal I will donate the rest to BirthMom Buds to either assist with retreat costs or to help another birth mom pay for transportation and/or lodging. Please pass the link along – you never know who might donate!