Coming home means different things to different people, of course.
Yet in the best of instances, homecomings are joyous occasions, when you are welcomed with open arms, and ready greetings.
Coming home means being “at home” with those who love you. It means finding comfort in the familiar sights and sounds and smells. It means being fully accepted for who you are by people who know you.
It means safety and solidarity and a sense of peace.
And that is why at Abrazo, our biennial birthmothers’ retreat is called “Homecoming.”
Coming back to a home in which you’ve never lived
Ever since Abrazo was opened in January of 1994, birthmothers have been the foundation of the work the agency does, because truly, without birthmothers there would quite simply be no adoptions.
The females who voluntarily place children for adoption at Abrazo are not typically helpless and irresponsible teens who couldn’t possibly raise a child on their own. They are loving, conscientious mothers who want the very best for their child/ren, even if the very best doesn’t mean growing up in their care or their home.
They don’t place because they can’t parent– indeed, most Abrazo birthmothers are raising other children. They didn’t choose adoption because their babies were unwanted; even if the pregnancy was unplanned, they love their child/ren dearly and want to see them grow up, even if in another family’s care. And whether or not they could afford another child, financial difficulties were not their only motivation for placing (nor were they compensated for allowing their child/ren to be adopted.)
Abrazo’s birthmothers personally chose their child’s adoptive parents. They got to know them personally prior to placement. They have kept in touch directly since the adoption was done. And yet, they live in a society in which birthmothers still feel, all too often, they wear a scarlet “A” for adoption, for having placed.
To be a birthmother in an open adoption sometimes feels like being a guest in the life of your own child/ren. Even their own families don’t always support them for the loving choices they made on behalf of their child/ren.
This is why, eight years ago, Abrazo began hosting a very special retreat just for mothers who place here, called Homecoming. It’s a safe harbor, where everyone there “gets” where you’ve been and what you’ve done and why. It’s about coming home to a place you’ve never lived and feeling at home with a family you weren’t born into.
What is Homecoming at Abrazo about?
Homecoming at Abrazo is an opportunity for birthmothers of all ages to gather, once every two years, to be celebrated and nurtured and inspired in the presence of other birthmothers and a small conclave of open adoption professionals who remember you and love you– not for what you did but for who you are.
There’s a keynote speaker who opens the retreat with a fascinating perspective on birthmotherdom and what it means, not just when an adoption occurs but in the years that follow.
There’s a tasty lunch, provided by the donors to Abrazo’s Angel Account.
There are more workshops, too, that feature a variety of shemale interests, from birth control to self-confidence to job-searching to romantic relationships to personal safety and more.
There are fun group activities (at our last Homecoming, we did the Abrazo version of “painting with a twist” and two years before that, the participants made their own salt scrubs, which each got to take home.)
And there’s a moving candlelight ceremony, in which all the birthmothers share in remembering the children they’ve placed, the courage it took to place them, and the grateful families borne of these wrenching decisions on their children’s behalf.
Before the attendees even know it, the day is done, and they’re exchanging email addresses and phone numbers and hugs, and heading for home.
For all the planning that goes into it, Abrazo’s Homecoming is always over just hours after it began, seemingly. And yet, for as quickly as the day goes by, the memories (and friendships formed there) live on for years to come.
Hopefully, so does the glow of validation and camaraderie the event offers all the women who attend.
Abrazo’s 2018 Birthmother Homecoming is just hours from beginning, and we can’t wait to welcome home all the new and returning Abrazo birthmoms who will gather to reflect on the choices they made and the amazing life stories of the sons and daughters they placed for adoption here.
We wish each of them safe travels here and back. We offer our heartfelt thanks to all the generous friends within the Abrazo community who have contributed to the success of this event.
(And we hope that returning to Abrazo will always continue to feel just like coming home, because being home is what everything at Abrazo is all about… after all.)