Overcoming Grief and Guilt as a Birth Mom

By Julie Cordodor

I have been a birth mother for eight years.  There are times when these eight years have felt longer, and sometimes its still hard to believe I’m a birth mom at all. My son, Nathan, is now eight years old and is a hilarious, smart, determined kid. I am so proud of him. Over the years, our journey has been filled with a mixture of joy and sorrow, but the last four years have been especially marked by grief and guilt.

A Slow Burning Guilt

The grief and guilt was slow burning; always in the background but near the forefront of my mind. After I married and moved away from my son’s family, my communication with him and his family decreased as I adjusted to a new husband, state, job, and life. Because of this, my grief often felt like the thread that connected Nathan and me. It was always accompanied by overwhelming guilt about my failures as a birth mother. In my heart, the grief and guilt were intertwined. It was rare to experience one without the other. I didn’t call enough, send enough gifts, think about him enough, and on and on it went. It was consuming but felt productive – like I was honoring him by beating myself up. As unhealthy as it was, my guilt and grief made me feel connected to him, which made me feel like I was being a better birth mother.

Thankfully, I have come to realize that I was believing in a lie. The grief was normal and necessary, but not the guilt. There is no truth or freedom in guilt. I had a distorted reflection of our relationship and one that would never bring joy or peace. Over this past year, I’ve learned to accept the truth that God has been showing to me. The best way I could love Nathan when he was born was to give him to his adoptive family. The best way I can love him now is to enjoy the privilege of participating in his life.

A Time for Healing

I still go through times of feeling like I’m not doing enough, but God has been faithful to remind me that He has always maintained a special relationship for Nathan and me, and He will continue to do so. The guilt no longer characterizes our story or defines my role as a birth mother. Letting go of it has freed me to put Nathan’s adoption in its rightful place. It’s part of my story and who I am.

Over the last few years, I’ve found myself healing from grief. This has felt strange—almost disloyal—but I’ve learned to embrace the true beauty of a relationship with Nathan. The memories of tiny little Nathan shouting, “My Jee-wee is here!” when I attended his birthday party, getting to tell him that his little sister had been born, and having him as a ring bearer in my wedding are all true reflections of the gift that God has given to us.

The memories of leaving the hospital without my son still bring a sense of sadness, but there is no longer trauma. I am no longer heartbroken for the moments I thought I missed with him because I’ve watched him thrive with his adoptive family, who have graciously included me in their lives. I have witnessed the fulfillment of many dreams I had for Nathan when he was born, and know there are many more to come. It has been a unique joy to see how God has provided what I was unable to at that time in my life.

Great is God’s Faithfulness

I have never doubted that making an adoption plan was the right decision for Nathan and myself. There were times that I hated knowing adoption was the right decision, even wishing it to be the wrong choice, but I’ve been affirmed time after time that I made the right decision. I’ve experienced deep sorrow as a birth mom, but over time I’ve embraced joy in my life. Nathan’s parents have remained honest with him about his adoption and I’m grateful to know my son is proud of his story.

As a birth mom, I believe it is a privilege to be able to stand where I am today and look back at the road we’ve taken. God has been faithful indeed.

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