Last weekend I had the privilege of once again attending the BirthMom Buds retreat in Charlotte, NC. Honestly it’s completely worth the pain and expense of traveling across the United States to be there. I can’t accurately describe what it means to be in a room full of people who, while they may have different stories, know exactly how you feel because they’ve been or are there too. It’s like an extended birth mom support group except much better.
We laughed and we cried. We colored, ate pizza, danced, lit candles, drew pigs, made paper airplanes, and listened to stories both funny and heartwarming. The fiesta theme and décor were absolutely fabulous. It was perfect, bright, and colorful to match the whole idea of fiesta. Michelle Thorne came and spoke, and an adoptive mom and her 18 year old son came and each spoke about their open adoption experiences. I have to say that was one of my favorite parts of the whole event this year. Hearing about open adoption from those who have experienced it is always great no matter who is speaking. But when you hear about what a difference it does indeed make for the adopted child from him or her, it’s that much better. One of the things the adoptive mom said made an impression. When asked by a birth mom in reunion about how she’ll feel about her son having kids and those kids calling his birth mom “grandma,” she essentially said that those who have a problem with that need to work on their own self-esteem. She realizes that her son’s future kids calling another person grandma doesn’t take away her own role or her own importance. I also enjoyed Michelle’s analogy with the cups. When Michelle was speaking, she used Styrofoam cups and water to illustrate that the bottom gets cut out of your heart when you relinquish your child. Coming to terms with your decision and healing from it gives you a “new” heart that you can fill again. That new heart still holds the old and broken heart. The broken heart never goes away. I’m a very visual person and that visual will stay with me and be a reminder to me when the grief pops up.
One of the things that also made an impression on me was the fact that though we all have different experiences it feels so much like an accepting family. Those experiences and beliefs have shaped our own opinions, but even with differing opinions there wasn’t a single argument. I think part of the reasoning behind it is that we’ve all experienced judgment for our decision to relinquish, or even more so for the decisions that led to getting pregnant in the first place. We’re not anxious to judge other people for differing opinions because we’ve all felt the pain of judgment. I also think we just have a great group. I have run into birth moms who are extremely judgmental of other birth moms so I don’t necessarily think that assuming a birth mom won’t be judgmental because she’s been judged is always an accurate assumption.
All in all it was a fantastic experience. I strongly urge those of you who haven’t yet gone to a retreat to make the effort to be there next year. At this point you have a full year to save for a plane ticket and to plan to be gone for a 3-day weekend. You won’t regret going! A special thanks to Coley, Melanie, and Lani for spending hours in preparation for this event. I know I’m not the only one who appreciates your hard work!