Have you ever loved someone so much that the thought of losing them terrifies you? Imagine getting to know someone for 9 months of your life, feeling their every movement, enduring sleepless nights, and many days of discomfort. These physical and emotional struggles cannot be ignored or avoided before having to say goodbye to this child. There are many reasons that women and couples place their children for adoption. They do not have support either from the father or from their family. They may have other children that they are already raising, or they just do not feel stable enough in their own life, not wanting to bring a child into the chaos.
This blog is meant to share a birth mother’s perspective, honor her place in your child’s life, promote healthy relationships among the adoption triad, and encourage birth mothers to surround themselves with those who honor and respect her decisions and choices. Many of these women rise above their circumstances and own personal desires to make a brave decision to place her child for adoption.
There are many misconceptions and myths about adoption that can create fear and uncertainty for birth parents. Some look at adoption and see it as the abandonment of the child, and that the birth parents are simply taking the easy way out of a difficult situation. Most birth parents that contact our agency are looking for help, guidance, and support in the midst of one of the most challenging times of their lives. They are thinking and looking ahead to the future they would like their child to have. The majority of birth parents would choose to parent if their story was altered for the better, but choose to make the difficult and heartbreaking decision of separating themselves from their child to place them with another family. The last thing they are doing is “abandoning their child.” Making an adoption plan requires commitment and dedication from birth parents. They are expected to meet with their pregnancy counselor regularly and provide Nightlight staff with accurate medical and social history; all while continuously having difficult and emotional conversations about why this adoption plan is the choice they see fit. By enduring this intentional process, birth parents are exhibiting the love and attachment they already have for their unborn child. It is important for outsiders to understand the complexity of adoption and the work that goes into it before casting judgement. The truth about birthparents is that they care deeply for the well-being of their children and genuinely want the best life for them.
If you are an adoptive parent, it is important to honor your child’s birth family because they are their first family. It is essential for adopted children to remember their birth family and know that they are loved and respected. One way that we do this at Nightlight is by educating our staff and adoptive families on positive adoption language. The type of language used with adoption is key to create a healthy and positive relationship for the adoption triad. Some examples of positive adoption language are instead of using “she gave her child up for adoption,” using “she placed her child for adoption.” And instead of using the term, “unwanted child,” use “child placed for adoption.” Many of the myths surrounding domestic adoption and birth parents comes from the negative adoption language that is commonly used. Speaking poorly and using words that have negative connotations can make the child interpret those words or phrases to mean that the child’s past and origin are not respected.
Other ways to unite the adoption triad is through honoring the child’s birth family. This can be done in a variety of ways like creating a Lifebook with your child that includes photos and information about the birth family. Adoptive families can encourage and help their child write notes and letters to their birth family, either to send or to keep. One of the biggest and most beneficial ways to honor birth families is by humanizing them and keeping them a regular part of the child’s narrative. For example, saying, “Your hair is curly, just like your birth mom’s! I hope you grow up to have the prettiest hair just like hers.” Using statements like these inform the child about their first family, while also helping them humanize and think about them in positive and practical ways.
It is essential to understand that birth mothers and parents are people like everyone else. These mothers needing assistance or placing their child for adoption are the opposite of “bad parents.” Placing your child for adoption takes courage and careful consideration because it is an incredibly emotional experience for the birth mother and the child. This is why it is especially important for adoptive families to create a safe space for birth mothers to share their feelings and communicate with their child freely and without judgement.
Birth mothers especially need support and care from the people they are around. If we all work together, we can help birth mothers feel like loving heroes that want the best life for their children. If you are a birth mother, please know that you are not alone in this journey. Know that you are loved and valued by so many for your bravery. Your decision to place your child for adoption is a selfless act of love.
There are several resources available for birth parents that offer a variety of services and information. One of them is Nightlight’s Post Adoption Connection Center. Please seek help and support, knowing that you are not alone.