Article Jul 24, 2017

How you can learn to love your birth mom

I remember exactly where I was when I felt grateful for what my birth mom did.

I’ve always been thankful for my life, and I’ve always known that what my birth mom did was an incredible thing. My adoptive parents—the people I call Mom and Dad—have done a great job of making sure I knew that what my birth mom did was extraordinary. The selfless act of giving me up, of making sure I was raised in a loving home with two godly parents has been elevated in our home.

What she did was a big deal. It is a big deal. But I don’t know if I’ve truly believed that in my heart of hearts. I do now, though.

I love birthdays. Mine, yours, anyone’s. I think birthdays are important, and I enjoy planning the celebration for friends and family as much (if not more) than I enjoy being celebrated. The first birthday I celebrated after I graduated college and had moved away from home for my job was just a couple of years ago. It hit me as I was driving home from celebrating that if it weren’t for my birth mom, I wouldn’t get to have birthdays or celebrate anyone’s birthday. She gave me the opportunity to have birthdays.

It almost seems like it’s commonplace in our culture these days to have abortions. I hear about it often through conversations at work or by just reading something on the internet. It absolutely breaks my heart. And lately, my heart has turned toward my birth mom. How in the world could she have done something so incredibly selfless? Only through God’s grace.

I don’t think it’s easy to have a heart turn positively toward your birth mom. Sometimes, sure. But, lots of times, there are many questions turning in our head. “Why did she give me up? Did she not want me? Was I a mistake?”

I know a lot about my adoption, but I don’t really know my birth mom’s side. Through God’s sovereignty, I’ve been able to speak to my birth dad about some things, but to be honest, those questions still plague me. And if I keep asking them, my heart turns bitter toward her. I can easily get mad at her for what she did in giving me up. Society—and my flesh—would back me 100 percent if I decided to have this attitude all the time. I would be supported in my frustration and anger, my annoyance and pain, and my pity parties.

But, I don’t follow the path of society. I don’t say this lightly. The Christian life isn’t easy, and we will have tribulations. For some of us, that’s cancer or a miscarriage or growing up in a single parent home. I’ve had my fair share of troubles. My life has been good, but it hasn’t always been easy. Coming to a place where I can truly say I love my birth mom, where I am so incredibly grateful for what she did, and where I do not have anger in my heart when I think about her wasn’t—and still isn’t—easy.

Just like I imagine it was hard for her to give me up. I don’t have children yet, but I’ve been privileged to love two boys as “nephews” and other children as my students. I wouldn’t for one second want to give a single one of them up, and my love isn’t even a mother’s love.

What my birth mom did was radical. And what God did in my heart the night I started to truly become grateful for my birth mom was just as radical.

It’s okay to wonder why your birth mom gave you up.

There are times when I wonder if I’ll ever meet my birth mom and have the chance to say these things to her. For years, all I wanted to do was have a conversation with her, face to face, and ask her why she did what she did. I wanted answers, reasons, and facts. Now I just want her to know that I think what she did was brave, selfless, and courageous.

Like I said, this wasn’t an easy place to get to, but I do think this a place all adoptees who love Jesus and may be struggling with their attitude toward their birth mom can get to. Here are four things I’ve found helpful as I’ve learned to love my birth mom—even from a distance.

  1. Pray for her: You may not even know her name, but the beauty of serving a God as big as ours is that he knows. He knows the number of hairs you have on your head, so I can guarantee that he knows your birth mom’s name. If you’re thinking of her or just wondering why she did what she did, give it all to the Lord. You don’t know how he’s going to use that, but I know that my prayers for my birth mom helped change my attitude toward her—even when I didn’t know my attitude toward her needed adjusting.
  2. Go to counseling: Seriously, going to a godly, Christian counselor in regards to my adoption and my relationship with my birth mom was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. There are good Christian counselors out there who have been gifted with wisdom from the Lord and are willing to walk through the tough questions you may have.
  3. Ask the tough questions: I think those questions need to be asked. I think it’s okay to wonder why your birth mom gave you up. It’s helpful to process those questions with people who understand what it’s like to be adopted and with those who don’t. Just don’t stay in that spot. Wrestle with the feelings, seek godly counsel, and keep living your life.
  4. Thank God for your life and what he’s given you: My mom recently told me I needed to count my blessings in regards to a hard situation I’m walking through. It wasn’t necessarily the advice I wanted to hear in that moment, but in reality, it was some of the best she could give me. I fully believe that thankfulness changes a bitter heart. So, if your heart is angry or bitter, thank him for what he has given you—and maybe what he’s saved you from. Think about what your life could have been like if your birth mom didn’t place you for adoption, and thank him for rescuing you from that. Maybe your life, adopted or not, is still hard—but there are plenty of things you can be thankful for, I’m sure.  

And to the birth moms out there, please know this: I think what you have done is incredible. You have a strength that blows me away. Please don’t buy into the lie that you were a coward for not raising your baby. You are a champion for seeing that what you could give your child wasn’t the best, and you chose to do what was best for your baby—even if that meant not raising your child, yet still giving your child life. Thank you.