Waiting Families News – The Heart of a Birth Mother
The waiting time is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about adoption and some of the issues that may need your attention as your child grows. We hope you use this as a learning tool to enhance your adoption journey preparation. Here are some of the many ways to support a birth mother throughout the adoption process.
Supporting Your Birth Mother
There are a variety of reasons that expectant mothers choose adoption. While it may be helpful for family and friends to know why a mother has chosen to make an adoption plan, the decision is an intensely personal one that comes with a variety of emotional responses. Despite the fact that every birth mother’s experience is different, there is a commonality in the feelings that they experience following the adoption. These include a sense of peace, worry, relief, grief, and sadness. Support during and after the adoption often comes from adoption professionals, but friends, family, and the adoptive parents can also be important sources of comfort. Here are six ways to offer support to a birth mother:
- Recognize that the decision-making process is difficult.
- Give her space to make her decision.
- Do not pretend that the adoption isn’t happening.
- Do not assume that she doesn’t want to talk about it. Let her discuss what she is willing to talk about.
- Do not try to solve a problem.
- Validate her experience.
Watch the “Overwhelming Love” video, Carmen’s story.
Understanding Your Birth Mother
Patricia Dischler, author of “Because I Loved You: A Birthmother’s View of Open Adoption” writes:
While a birthmother’s experience after placement may be different in open versus closed adoptions, the process leading to the choice of adoption is much more likely to follow the same thread – love. Regardless of our place on this planet, birthmother’s share the journey of facing a decision in a pregnancy and letting our love for our child lead the way. The individual circumstances may be very different from culture to culture, but ultimately we come to a place where we feel that what is best for our child is to have a life different than what we can provide and we choose adoption.
There are 10 things every birthmother thinks about, wishes for, and hopes for when placing their child for adoption. If you are in an open adoption, you may have heard some already, if not, they are important to know. They are:
- I did not place my child because she was “unwanted.” I wanted her so much that I continued a pregnancy filled with unanswered questions.
- I chose adoption because I loved my child. This parental love allowed me to put his needs before my own when making my choice.
- This choice affected more than just me. She has a Grandmother, a Grandfather, and Aunts and Uncles who love her as well, and she will be missed.
- I wish for the day I can look into my child’s eyes and tell him I love him one more time.
- I hope that you will teach my child about her beginnings – about where she was born and who I am.
- I hope you will teach respect to my child by showing respect for me in your discussions.
- I wish I could be there to answer my child’s questions about adoption, but I trust you to answer them truthfully as best you can.
- I will never stop thinking about my child. She will always be a part of who I am.
- I would never try to disrupt my child’s new family with you. I put too much emotion and suffering into making this choice to allow anything to disrupt it – including me.
- In my eyes, you will always be my child’s Mom and Dad. And that thought brings me happiness.
Watch as an American Idol contest shares her decision to plan adoption for her unborn baby girl.
Committing to Your Birth Mother
Recognizing the significant emotional and psychological impact that the adoption process often has on the birth mother, adoptive parents acknowledge the importance of their commitment to her and to the post placement plan for either a semi open or fully open adoption. Openness in adoption creates an opportunity for a trusting relationship between the birth parents and adoptive parents in order to serve the best interest of the child.
The sentiment in the letter below from a birth mother is not typical of our placement situations, and this is used mainly to highlight the ongoing connections that birth moms may wish for and the importance Adoption Associates places in maintaining the openness that the adoptive parents agreed to.
Adoption Associates also recognizes the important role that the agency and it’s staff have in walking alongside expectant parents to support them in their adoption decision, both before and after the adoptive placement. The agency takes seriously the responsibility of providing high integrity services to birth moms.
Expectant Parent’s Bill of Rights
You have the right…
- to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.
- to understand all your options, including adoption and parenting.
- to be free from pressure or coercion.
- to obtain prenatal medical care.
- to receive counseling.
- to seek financial help with pregnancy related expenses.
- to choose the adoptive family for your child.
- to meet the adoptive parents.
- to know that the adoptive parents are qualified for adoption.
- to ensure that the adoption process is safe and legal.
- to give your child his or her original name at birth.
- to choose an open or closed adoption.
- to have your own representation and support through an agency.
- to work with an agency that is caring, kind and non-judgmental.
- to change your mind about adoption within the legal limitations permitted in your state.
You have choices! We’re here to help
Review these additional resources:
Adoptive Families article “The Day I Gave My Heart Away”
One birth mother shares her feelings as she makes an adoption plan for her child
In Praise of Birth Mothers, an Adoption Associates’ Adoption Focus Podcast
Choices & Decisions, an Adoption Associates’ Adoption Focus Podcast
One Birth Mother’s Resolve Despite Adversity, an Adoption Associates’ Adoption Focus Podcast
For adoptive couples already in the adoption process with Adoption Associates:
Don’t forget, after you have read and reviewed this material, log onto www.myadoptionportal.com to complete a summary in the Domestic Education section.