We’ve had enough conversations with enough people about the gloriously beautiful, difficult world of adoption to know that everyone has his or her own reaction to the experience of “birth moms.” I often hear people talk about the “selfish teenagers” who “give up” their babies, or the fears of adoptive parents who worry about what the birth mom will say or do. I’ve talked to birth moms who fear how they will be treated by the adoptive family or think they may never see their babies again. Here are the facts:
1. Birth moms are some of the strongest women we know.
The woman who makes the choice to carry her baby to term and to choose a plan that will place her baby in the care of adoptive parents isn’t acting selfishly or being shallow. She has the strength to think about what she wants for her baby and to choose a plan that means she will have give up the possibility of a day-to-day relationship with the baby in order to give her baby a chance at the life she dreams about for him.
2. Birth moms love their babies deeply.
Somehow, society has gotten the idea that moms who make adoption plans don’t love their babies. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A woman who makes an adoption plan love her baby so much that she will do whatever it takes to meet her baby’s needs, even if it means making an adoption plan. The love of a birth mom is both fierce and tender.
3. Birth moms make careful plans.
People may make the mistake of thinking that a birth mom is “giving up” or “giving away” her baby. In every adoption plan, the birth mom (or birth parents if both are involved in the plan) carefully reviews the adoption agency she wants to choose, prioritizes the qualities that she’s looking for in an adoptive family, meets the family personally, and interacts with them to be sure they are the right choice. There is nothing casual or flippant about an adoption plan; every plan is a reflection of the intentional care of the birth mom.
4. Birth moms trust their plans.
Because of a sometimes checkered history with adoption, some people fear that a birth mom may “come back” or “try to get the baby back.” In reality, when a birth mother has reviewed her options, made a plan, and worked to develop a relationship with the adoptive parents, she is confident of her plan. While working through the plan is undeniably difficult–and we don’t intend to minimize that–birth moms who have had the time and support to develop a plan and to develop a relationship with the adoptive parents rarely experience the regret of wondering if they did the right thing.
5. Birth moms are thoughtful.
Have you ever heard that birth moms are selfish? The truth is that they are some of the most self-sacrificing, thoughtful, involved women we know. They intentionally review budgets, life goals, personal family backgrounds, and career paths in order to decide what is best for themselves as well as their babies. Every birth mother that we have worked with has welcomed information about parenting and adoption and carefully considered how each would impact her future and her baby. No birth mother is careless about making an adoption plan.
6. Birth moms can thrive.
Although we acknowledge and have experienced the grief that every birth mom experiences when completing the adoption plan she’s put in place, we also know that birth moms can move forward to thrive. Her life does not come to an end when she places her baby in the care of his parents, nor does she necessarily go into a self-destructive, self-harming mode. At Selah, we not only slowly and carefully provide each client considering adoption with pre-adoption support and education, but we also continue to invest in each client with post-adoption support. We want her to experience her value and to realize her full potential. In many cases, the completion of an adoption plan is the beginning of a successful future for both the birth mother and her baby.
7. Birth mothers are still in the picture.
Contrary to what some people picture (and what often happened in the past), adoptive parents don’t gallop off with the baby the minute he is born, leaving the birth mother to wonder what has happened to him and setting up the baby to go on an epic saga to discover his birth mother when he turns 18. While many people view adoption that way, the reality is that the vast majority of infant adoptions are open adoptions, which means that the birth mother has ongoing personal contact with the adoptive family. In a completely open adoption, they have each other’s contact information, send messages and pictures to each other, and even may make plans for the birth mother to attend birthday parties or other important events. Birth parents and adoptive parents meet each other before the baby’s birth, develop a relationship based on trust, and continue to interact as the baby grows–to whatever extent is comfortable for everyone.
We are impressed with each of the birth mothers we know. They are loving, strong, beautiful, resourceful, and resilient. We are also in awe of the loving, respectful ways that we have watched adoptive parents develop relationships with the birth mothers, birth fathers, and their extended families, as well. Adoption can be beautiful and a good choice for some parents. We know. We’ve seen it first hand and would be glad to answer your questions if you’re wondering about adoption.