Updated: Jun 29
Connection. When facing a difficult time, we all desire to feel connected to people who understand our experience, who have shared in our struggle and empathize with our pain. For birth mothers, women who have chosen adoption for their babies, the only people who truly understand what they have gone through in making this decision is another birth mother. This is why Christian Adoption Services (CAS) makes this connection through the annual “Birth Mothers Retreat.”
When a birth mother entrusts CAS to help her identify the couple to become the permanent family for her baby, the journey with this remarkable woman is only beginning. Each birth mother, for brave and selfless reasons, has made this choice for her child—and it is indescribably hard. That is why CAS staff members walk hand-in-hand with these birth mothers, women who come from all walks of life, all socio-economic standings, all geographic locations, and all races. The annual retreat is not only a vital way for us to minister to them but an opportunity for the birth moms to connect and support each other.
This year’s “Birth Mothers Retreat,” held on April 22-24 at Hyatt Place in Durham, marked the 25th anniversary of CAS hosting this no-cost weekend for participants. Thirty-eight birth mothers from across the Carolinas and beyond gathered to be honored and celebrated for the incredible decision to make an adoption plan for their child. CAS founder Doris Woodward pioneered what it means to care for birth mothers beyond a child’s placement and committed long ago to “love and support them for a lifetime.” Her
legacy thrives as CAS’s superior support for birth mothers grows each year.
Attendees come together and celebrate motherhood in a place free from judgment. Many mothers keep their adoption story secret. Others are open about their decision and are supported
by family and friends. Several mothers have been coming for more than 20 years, but most fall somewhere in between. The newest participant this year placed her baby just two months ago.
In the years I have worked at CAS, I have watched these birth mothers, out of love for their children, place them into the hands of adoptive parents who commit to raising the children in Christian homes. While their bravery should be commendable, we live in a culture where birth mothers are often stigmatized and shamed for
“giving her child away.” But adoption is a choice that requires an act of extreme sacrifice, where birth parents place the needs of their children above the desires of their own hearts.
The years of secrecy, shame, and unresolved grief some birth mothers experience begin to minimize each year as they attend “Birth Mothers Retreat” and find hope and healing. We are excited about the sacred space this weekend provides and fully believe that God uses our efforts in mighty ways. Women come to know the Lord during the retreat each year. And generous people who understand how great this ministry opportunity is fund and support the retreat.
This year, I am humbled to share that eight of the women shared their decision to accept Christ! We are able to continue to support our new sisters in Christ by connecting them with local churches who will disciple them further as they continue their walk with the Lord.
The “Birth Mothers Retreat” is truly life changing for the mothers, staff, and speakers. It has taken years for some of the mothers to find the courage to attend, but once they do they commit to never missing another retreat. As one of our sweet birth mothers shared, “This weekend has been such an emotional, beautiful, therapeutic experience. I have to thank all of you for welcoming me with open arms and thank you to all the staff for all of the gifts and opportunities to find support for us! I feel like I let go of so much of my shame and guilt by having this experience and I feel intense relief! I’m so glad I decided to come and I will definitely see your beautiful faces next time!”
Another said, “I heal more and more every time I’m around you all! I am beyond grateful for this tribe.” And that is what the CAS birth mothers are—a group of women who share a connection and support each other in ways no one else can.
All of us experience struggles and grief. Although different, we still empathize with these women, knowing that Christ heals all wounds through the endless grace and love He lavishes on us. The Psalmist writes: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Ps 30: 11-12). I cannot wait to see what great things will happen at next year’s “Birth Mothers Retreat!”
Are you, or someone you know, pregnant and not ready? Christian Adoption Services, a ministry of Baptist Children’s Homes, is here to help. Call us at 1 (800) 453-1011 (24/7 hotline) or Español: 1 (888) 297-4108. You can also send a text to 704-619-3531 or email us at email@example.com
Sheryl Naylor has been privy to this sacred sisterhood of birth mothers for more than 22 years.
Written by Sheryl Naylor, Executive Director of Domestic Adoptions, CAS