6 Ways to Adopt Well- From A Birth Mother’s View
Adopting well encompasses so many different aspects of adoption. It takes into consideration not just your dreams as an adoptive family, but also the realities of the birth parent’s loss and the adoptee’s.
Adoption truly is bittersweet, from all sides of the adoption triad. There is loss, hope, grief, and joy all rolled into one. But, when adoption is done correctly, it can be all those things in a beautiful balance that benefits all involved.
Open adoption (in most cases) is the key to that. It creates the space for an adoptee to be loved and honored by all sides of their family tree that make them who they are.
I know because I live it and have for over 14 years now. As a pregnant 16 year old, initially I couldn’t fathom “giving up my baby” and never seeing her again. I needed and wanted to know who she was with, how she was doing, her talents as she blossomed, and most importantly that she knew to her core how much I loved her. Choosing open adoption was my compromise between parenting and the old school way of closed adoptions.
For many birth mothers these days that is their compromise, too. Adoption is never an easy choice to make, and most of the time it is made out of love for their child. We wanted more for them, so we broke our own heart to do so.
To adopt well, adoptive parents need to know that open adoption is proven to have happier results for all members of the adoption triad. Your child’s happiness, I’m sure, is your number one priority as a parent. It is for our’s as a birth parent, too. While there needs to be much more studies done in this area, what we do have available has proven higher satisfaction and many benefits with open adoption. Beyond science, the testimonies like my own show it as well. It benefits the adopted child by knowing who they look like and having a direct source to ask their questions. The relationship that we have created
To adopt well, adoptive parents need to underpromise and over deliver. Please, please don’t make promises you don’t feel you can't keep. Be honest with us on your expectations, boundaries, and how you envision our adoption. Keep promises at a minimum and then blow us away with extra visits and pictures when you can.
To adopt well, adoptive parents can’t be scared of the birth family. Absolutely have boundaries in place, but know that we aren’t here to take our child back-- who chose you! We simply want to know our child, and for them to know us, so that it helps heal our hearts as we grieve and for our child to get the answers they will want to know as they process their own adoption story.
To adopt well, adoptive parents needs to open their hearts-- not just towards a new child-- but to child’s birth family as well. Understanding a birth mother’s heart and grief is the beginning of having compassion for her. It has become my passion to share my birth mother story in hopes it helps others understand a birth mother’s heart. I’ve found in my discussion with adoptive parents, learning the reality of what a birth mother faces in her decision and loss builds respect and adoration for her choice. When you open your heart to love a child, you are inviting another important person into your life as well.
To adopt well, adoptive parents needs to know that we aren’t here to confuse our child. Tell me, does it confuse you to have both a stepmother and a mother? I have known my stepmother for as long as I can remember, I have always had two mothers with two different roles. One gave me my biological looks, talents, and soul connection that only she and I could have since I grew within her womb. The other was a mother who looks different and acts much different than I, but we also have a unique soul connection grown from a choice to love. Her advice may be different than my biological mother, and her care is even different. Two distinct roles, but both are valuable in my life. I am not adopted, but having step-parents is such a common things these days--I want people to see how silly it is to think that having birth family involved would be confusing for a child!
To adopt well, adoptive parents need to respect the birth family’s role, just as we respect yours. It’s a simple fact that I will never be my birth daugther’s parent, nor will they ever be the one who gave birth to her. Respecting those different roles for what they are helps a child embrace each family member and the pieces that make them who they are. The birth family gave them life, you get to give them wings to thrive... knowing both are essential to a thriving child!
I am grateful for open adoption as a new beginning and a second chance for both my birth daughter’s life and mine. 14 years later we are seeing the fruits of the seeds her adoptive parents and I planted years ago. The early years I enjoyed my visits with my daughter, but I just as much enjoyed our talks over their dinner table or phone calls with updates. The early years was our foundation of open adoption. Because of their openness to me into their lives, my birth daughter is now thriving and secure in who she is within her adoption. She knows why I placed her, how deep my love is for her, and is grateful for the life she was given. Every child deserves that opportunity (as long as it is a safe situation, of course).
Adoption is much bigger than your insecurities and desires. Adopting well means you love them both.