There are traditions that many of us take part in; celebrations of birthdays, marked events like anniversaries, or even specific holidays. Each of our families takes the time to gather themselves together and participate in whatever way fits most comfortably for our household. In speaking of adoption, do we take the time to properly create rituals that both celebrate and even mourn, the great power and impact that it has had within our homes?
Rituals are an amazing way of reminding ourselves to stay grounded and to allow ourselves the space to reflect on the past, present and future. It can also allow us to grow closer as families and individuals as we attempt to imagine what sort of ritual another member of our own adoption constellation has on our own marked adoption anniversaries.
As a birthmother, the spring of every year is full of reminders of that spring, ten years ago that I was pregnant and aching in every way possible. When the calendar flips itself to May, I find myself drowning in memories, which I struggle to cope with. The rituals I've created for this month where I mourn but also celebrate the beauty of my son, help me stay grounded. They help me remain in a space where I can mourn without judgement, and they help me remember the time we shared together, even if it was terribly short.
Allowing ourselves to find rituals pertaining to our adoption experience is important. It allows us to engage in the feelings that surround our hearts, and encourages us to move forward with those emotions. Through our own introspection we can learn more about ourselves. Allowing adoptees to have their own rituals when it comes to their adoption, opens up a safe space for them to engage in the real feelings that are associated with their experience. This can be a remarkable way for adoptive parents to understand the often misconceptions with adoption experience.
For me, my ritual is simply allowing myself to open up to all of the usually hidden away feelings associated with my experience. I don't hold back during the month of May, and I embrace all of the emotions I go through. Sometimes this proves to be overwhelming, but when the month draws to a close I am glad that I allowed myself to be open. While it is difficult, it's also liberating, and allows for me to grow in my feelings, and in my thoughts. It begins a new part of the healing process, and brings about a certain kind of empathy that is only available to those who try to feel it for themselves.
Each year, I find that the importance of the rituals I need to do, change. I allow my heart and body to figure out which ones are the most important for us to engage in, and sometimes, I even create a new one. By allowing myself the freedom to navigate through my comfort level, I enable myself to be in a place where new epiphanies can happen, or where I can finally sew an old wound shut, for good. It allows those in my life to understand me better, if I welcome them to partake in my own traditions.
On my son's birthday, my children and I make cupcakes. My parented son chooses the color and decoration. Then, when they are cooled, iced and decorated, I take them, lighting a candle for his age that year, and then I speak my birthday wish for him. For the rest of the month, this day is the goal. Getting to this moment where I can speak to him, on my own, as I meditate on the years that have passed. For me, it establishes that the month of May, the month of my adoption has rested, and I can to, move forward into the rest of the year.
There is no right or wrong way to do these rituals. Surely, they'll vary from person to person, and definitely change according to the role they play within their adoption. The importance should only be shone on actually having them. Take the time to recognize the impact that adoption has had in your life, and find a way to pay tribute to your feelings, good or bad.
Credits: Danielle Barsley-Cervo
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.