As an Expectant Parent Social Worker at New Life Adoptions, I support expectant and birth parents throughout the adoption process. I am always looking for valuable resources to offer additional support to those I am working with. When I heard about a local organization called Bellis, I wanted to learn more, so I started attending some of their events to get a first hand look at what they were doing. Knowing they offer both peer-based support and adoption education in classrooms, they sounded like a great resource. As I learned more about them, I was not disappointed!
Evenings of Adoption Connection
I first became involved with Bellis’ Evening of Adoption Connection groups. These groups are a time for people who have a connection to adoption to come together and share about their experience. From birth parents and birth grandparents to adoptive parents and adoptees, there are many stories and experiences represented including those who have experienced both open and closed adoptions, .
While many birth parents have support from their friends and family, there is nothing like getting support from those who truly “get it” and understand your experience.
Although I originally went to observe, I soon began to help facilitate some of these groups. It has been amazing to watch everyone support each other while sharing from their own unique perspectives. While many birth parents have support from their friends and family, there is nothing like getting support from those who truly “get it” and understand your experience.
Stronger Together Birth Mother Retreat
I love that Bellis strongly values and recognizes the need for birth mother support. After facilitating the Evening of Adoption Connection groups, I was invited to present at Bellis’ annual Stronger Together Birth Mother Retreat. This event is one of the many ways that Bellis uniquely offers support to birth mothers. The retreat provides a wonderful balance of reflection, peer and professional support, rest, and self-care. It is held at a lodge north of the Twin Cities, tucked away with peaceful, gorgeous scenery. The setting allows for self-care activities that may appeal to many such as walking, canoeing, resting, eating wonderful home-cooked meals, and spending time in nature.
The retreat provides a wonderful balance of reflection, peer and professional support, rest, and self-care.
In addition to restful activities, there are workshops facilitated by adoption professionals, like myself, that invite birth mothers to work through some of the many emotions that accompany their adoption journey. This is something that society does not otherwise seem to allow for, so it is a great way for birth mothers to receive this specialized support. It is truly an honor to be part of such a sacred space, as women from different walks of life come together to support one another and share in the joys and challenges that come with being a birth mother.
Not only does Bellis seek to help those who have placed for adoption to eliminate the stigma around their decision, but they are working to redefine adoption in our communities. A key way they are doing this is by offering adoption education in local schools. They offer training to birth parents, adoptive families, those who were adopted, and adoption professionals to prepare them to share their story and provide education about adoption. Many of these speakers are passionate about educating youth on adoption, and they find it both empowering and healing to share from their own experience.
After being connected to Bellis, taking the next step to educate youth about adoption in schools was only natural for me. Bellis sends a panel of speakers to share about adoption in high schools throughout the Twin Cities. These speakers are sharing their own adoption stories and answering questions about adoption. This gives students the opportunity to hear real stories about what adoption looks like, and a safe space to ask questions.
Many of these speakers are passionate about educating youth on adoption, and they find it both empowering and healing to share from their own experience.
There are so many myths about adoption floating around, which are often reinforced by media, so most of these students have misconceptions about what adoption really looks like. By the end of the presentation, many are able to see the selflessness and bravery that is involved in adoption, making this an effective way of eliminating some of the stigma around adoption.
I have enjoyed my experiences with Bellis and am privileged to know the people I have met along the way. I am so grateful that organizations like Bellis are offering such wonderful support for anyone who has been impacted by adoption. Each story is unique, but selflessness and love are a theme consistent among them all. There are few places to find support like this from people who truly understand.
If you are interested in connecting with Bellis in any of these ways, I would recommend checking it out for yourself! I know you will find support and encouragement. You are not on this journey alone!
I am so grateful that organizations like Bellis are offering such wonderful support for anyone who has been impacted by adoption.
Learn more about the support and education offered through Bellis at www.mybellis.org.