I’m not a grandmother. I may not be for quite some time (knock on wood). But, I felt the need to blog about the forgotten members of the birth family….the grandparents. While some grandparents are the cause of the relinquishment of a baby (either directly or indirectly), there are some still who did not want the relinquishment to happen and sat helplessly on the sidelines and watched, unable to do a thing about it. Others were supportive of the decision being made because they, too, were made to believe that it would be a “better” life for the child. Still helpless, however.
Now that my oldest son is nearing 18 years of age, I have began to think about what it will be like to become a grandmother. Those thoughts lead me to think about what it was like (and still is) when my parents became grandparents. And it all leads back to adoption. I’ve been told that becoming a grandparent is just the same as becoming a parent in the depth of love that you feel for your grandchild. As you can imagine, I’m super stoked at this idea. My child bearing days long behind me, this gives me something really awesome to look forward to besides an empty nest. My mother has 12 grandchildren, including IKL. They are ages 17-newborn. I love hearing her share things from a grandparent’s point of view. And then I imagine what it is like to be a grandparent to a child that has been relinquished. A child you only know from pictures or email updates. We all know that reunions in adoption don’t magically happen at age 18. Some adoptees take far longer to want a relationship with their birth family and some don’t want it at all. When IKL is 18, my mother will be, well, let’s just say she won’t be 20. If IKL decides she’s not ready for a reunion and waits til she is 30 then its a possibility that my mother or father will not be here to accommodate that. This realization made me realize how utterly terrifying it can be to be a birth-grandparent. If you love your grandchildren the same way you love your children, imagine fearing you will not live to see the day when you will finally meet that child face to face. What a helpless feeling that would be.
There are dozens upon dozens of support groups created for the sole purpose of birth/first/natural moms supporting each other….and each other only. And that is as it should be. There is a pain in being a birthmom that is very different than being any other birth relative (regardless of how much the relative may love the child). But it has come to my attention that the silent group is the birth family, more specifically the grandparents and siblings of children that have been relinquished to adoption. They have no place in this vast world we call the Internet. Okay, maybe there are a few places, but they certainly don’t have a place just for them. Why is this?
I believe that these members that are needing support don’t believe that they deserve support. After all, it isn’t them that relinquished a child. Maybe they feel silly even asking. Guess what. It’s not silly and they need and deserve support. A place of their own. I’ve created a group on Facebook for them. It’s time we allow them to show their grief, get the support they need. If you or someone you know is struggling with the adoption of a relative, please direct them to Birth Family Support Group.