SOUTHFIELD — Adoption is a life-changing act for everyone involved, including the birth parent who chooses to give up their child. It can be an extremely difficult decision, one that birth mothers may struggle with for years, even though they rationally know it was the right choice.
That’s why there are support groups available, such as Christian Family Services in Southfield. The non-profit adoption agency has been around for over 70 years and hosts a support group for birth mothers in their offices at 17105 W. 12 Mile Road, between Greenfield and Southfield Roads. The group meets on the first Thursday of each month, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The next meeting is August 4.
All are welcome, whether or not they have gone through the agency’s adoption program before. The program includes educational materials and curriculum provided in partnership with the nationally recognized Sit Knee-to-Knee support group and the Lifetime Healing Foundation. The current support group started in April and has been meeting ever since. Everyone is free to attend.
Deb Morse, executive director of CFS, said “every situation is different” when it comes to birth mothers and why they abandon their child.
“Some women feel too young – or too old – to become mothers. Some don’t feel financially and/or emotionally ready to raise a child; others don’t have the support system they want or need. Some women are single or in dangerous relationships Some married couples already have children and don’t feel capable of raising another Or maybe the child has a medical condition that overwhelms the biological parents “Morse said in an email. “There are several reasons why an adoption plan is made.
“We would rather say a woman has ‘made an adoption plan’ than ‘gave up’ her baby,” Morse added. “She will always be the birth, biological mother or first mother of this child. She develops a different parenting plan for her child – not a better plan. It’s a lifelong decision that will forever change her, her child and the people in her life and the life of her baby.
Morse explained that adoptions today put the expectant mother in the “driver’s seat” of the adoption process.
“She decides whether she’s going to raise her child or whether she’s going to choose someone else to raise her baby. She sees the profiles of prospective adoptive parents and decides who has the privilege of raising her baby,” Morse said. “There’s a wide range of emotions moms-to-be feel during the adoption process. The most common we see is the fear that their child will hate them for the decision they made. Another common emotion is the fear that the grief of the loss is too much for them to overcome. There is tension in their hearts – they are convinced that they are making the right decision for themselves and their child, but they are also afraid of what the future holds.
“It will never be easy, but recovery is possible,” she concluded. “That’s why a support group like ours is so important, so that we can help these women through the hard work of healing.”
Sarah Harpootlian, an adoption counselor at CFS, said the group allows birth mothers to meet others who understand firsthand the emotions they are feeling.
“Our support group is often the first time a woman meets another woman who shares this experience as a birth mother,” Harpootlian said in a statement. “We are here to serve women who have made the very difficult decision to give up a child for adoption, not just until the moment of placement, but for many years after the decision, or however long she needs ‘adoption-related support and advice.’
Since its founding more than 70 years ago, CFS has helped place more than 1,500 children into adoptive homes. In Michigan, as of September 2021, there were nearly 11,000 foster children and 2,160 available for adoption. The state has more than 5,400 licensed foster homes. In 2021, more than 1,500 children were adopted into foster care. Morse said there was always a need for more foster families and there were always more children being added to the system. And that means there are an equally high number of biological mothers who can still come to terms with their decision.
“During the support group, we take time to connect or check in with each other,” Morse said. “For most women, this is the first time they have met another woman who has given up her child to adopt. There’s a special connection to finding someone who truly understands your background.
Each month, the group explores a different topic from the Sit Knee-to-Knee program, which includes a video presentation and time to journal. Topics so far this year have included mental health, social media, body image and financial health.
“These are life skills that everyone benefits from,” Morse said. “Meetings are structured so that everyone feels welcome and included, even if they don’t attend every month. We want every woman to know that she is welcome and that we are here for her.
“Probably the biggest impact has been the recognition and connection that comes from women sitting face to face with other women who share the same experiences. Some women made adoption decisions nearly 30 years ago , and some have only recently made adoption plans,” she said. “It’s a safe and calming space where women are welcomed and accepted. is safe and it’s free.
For more information, visit the Christian Family Services website at cfs-michigan.org.