They say that giving birth to a child means having your heart beat outside of your body. The silver cord which binds a mother and her baby together from the first minutes of life is believed in many cultures to be indestructible, regardless of the physical distance that may come between them.
Still, through unfortunate twists of fate, separation from one’s child does happen, and many mothers are left with a broken heart and the feeling of empty arms which simply will not go away. And if during the rest of the year, the static of daily routines can drown out some of that feeling, it often creeps back with the approach of holidays. It is during such times, meant to be shared with family and loved ones, that unspoken absences hurt the most and thoughts of what could have been and what may yet be can become overwhelming.
You may recognize yourself in this description because you have been separated from your child for any reason, such as…
- loss of custody through divorce,
- parental alienation,
- false allegations,
- child abduction,
- incarceration or deportation,
- debilitating physical or mental illness,
- becoming lost during natural or humanitarian disasters,
- or any other cause
We want you to know that you are not alone. There are millions of other mothers around the globe who feel the same way you do and who can provide, if not solace, at least companionship and support through shared grief. They come together in Birth Mother Support Groups, which are safe havens for finally letting out some powerful, frightening, long-held-back emotions in a place where everyone can understand and relate to them on a personal level.
What Are Birth Mother Support Groups?
Birth Mother Support Groups are physical or virtual spaces where mothers who have been separated from their children meet in order to provide each other with support, company, advice, hope and friendship. Within the safety of these groups you can come to know new people who have been through similar experiences as your own and share your thoughts and feelings with them under any form which comes naturally to you, such as:
- Exploring your emotions regarding the separation
- Sharing memories of your child
- Discussing plans to become reunited with your child and reporting progress
- Performing thematic art, such as poetry or songs inspired by your experience
- Asking for advice and encouragement from the other members
- Sharing the knowledge, wisdom and insight you have acquired in your journey
Of course, since people are different and have a variety of communication styles and preferences, Birth Mother Support Groups also take many forms to respond to the needs of their members. Depending on your specific needs and availability, you can start searching for the one which is ideal for you.
How to Find the Perfect Birth Mother Support Group?
To help you find your village of like-minded birth mothers, you will need to ask yourself the following questions. Based on the answers, you will be able to zero in on the best support group option for you.
Do social gatherings make you feel uneasy, and you find that you’re most at peace in the comfort of your own home?
If you answered “yes”, you may want to try one of the following:
An Online Birth Mother Support Group
All you need to do to find such a group is to use your preferred device and type Online Birth Mother Support Group into your search engine. An abundance of related websites are going to make themselves available to you. This will make exploration easy and convenient, as most require nothing more than creating a free account and joining the conversation. They are resources created by mothers like you, which can be local (specific to a certain area) or from all over the world. Their main advantage is that you can use them in real time, which allows you to post your emotions at the very time when they become the most overwhelming or your thoughts as soon as they cross your mind, without having to wait for a scheduled meeting. And there is always someone online to provide you with the support and encouragement you need.
A Pen Pal Birth Mother Support Group
While not as easy to find as an online group, if you are the kind of woman who prefers the touch of paper and the reward of receiving an envelope in the mail, this kind of support is also available. It can be found either by accessing regular pen pal websites and expressing your desire to communicate with other birth mothers or by searching online for the specific keywords “birth mother support group” and “pen pal”. The additional effort will be rewarded by being able to experience the feeling of intimacy you experience when being introduced to someone else’s handwriting.
Do you feel the need for structure and professional guidance in your quest for support?
If you answered “yes”, one of the following options may be for you:
Birth Mother Group Therapy
This kind of service may not be available in all parts of the world but it is definitely worth asking your therapist or even your GP if they are able to connect you with one. Even a quick online search may help you find a birth mother therapy group in your area. The great advantage to this kind of get together is that aside from the support a normal birth mother gathering would provide, you also benefit from the services of a trained professional who can help you heal and grow. You may learn new coping techniques to help you navigate through difficult times such as birthdays or other holidays, and you may receive assistance in reframing your narrative in more empowering ways.
Birth Mother Retreats
These are most frequently available to North American birth mothers but can also take place in other parts of the world. In fact, you can even organize one yourself if you enjoy event planning. They allow women who have gone through similar experiences of separation such as yours to commune in a natural setting. You can get away from the daily hustle and bustle for a couple of days and focus on nothing else but healing and new relationships. Normally the organizer has a set of relaxing and entertaining activities prepared for the duration of the stay, which will help you bond with the rest of the group, the meals will also be shared and the overall feeling will be one of sisterhood and community.
Have you been separated from your child through adoption?
If you answered “yes”, please consider these options specifically dedicated to mothers like you:
Agency-run Support Groups and Special Events for Birth Mothers
If your adoption was completed through an agency there is a chance that they also provide support group services for birth mothers by bringing their former clients together to share their experiences. Even if they do not provide this service you can ask other agencies who do if they would be willing to allow you to participate. Besides getting to know other women with a story similar to yours, you might also be able to share your story and advice with expecting mothers who have chosen adoption as the best solution for their child.
Sometimes adoption agencies, state-run child and family institutions, or non-governmental organizations in this field also organize holiday events dedicated to birth mothers. They represent a good opportunity to meet new people, receive and provide support and share a difficult time of the year. Mother’s Day and Birth Mother’s Day (both celebrated in May) in particular are chosen for such events, but they may also be organized for other major holidays, depending on your area and culture.
Adoption Reunion Registry Support Community
The global Adoption Reunion Registry is a platform which helps birth relatives separated through adoption to reunite. This is a mutual consent system, which means that people who enter their information in the platform are actively looking to find their lost family members. If their relatives are also looking for them then the system will generate a match and they will be placed in contact. Additionally, a community forum can be accessed while waiting for and also while connecting with a match. This can be an excellent place to receive hope and encouragement while you are looking for your adopted child.
Adopted.com, the world’s largest Adoption Reunion Registry, provides a Community page specifically designed for mothers who have been separated from their children by adoption. You can join the community and find a safe, supportive and nurturing environment where many others in your same situation are there to share stories, build friendships and give you hope for the future.
If you are still unsure which kind of Birth Mother Support Group is the most suitable for you, give yourself time and permission to explore several of them, and remain in the ones which make you feel welcome, understood and among friends. Regardless of the environment where they unfold or the type of activities they propose, the main purpose of these groups is to transform a lonely, painful experience into a source of community, sisterhood and shared hope, joy and sorrow.