There are endless “things” a birth mother can tell you about her experience through her adoption journey. She can start from her circumstance that led to considering adoption, her pregnancy and birth, and talk you through the assistance she received with her adoption agency and/or adoptive family. Each birth mother is going to share a unique, individual story. Rarely, are any two adoption journey’s the same. However, there are some basic thoughts that stand true across the board and we’ve started them here:
1. This Is Hard
Being a birth mother is not easy. Adoptive parents are often met with praise and admiration in society, but birth mothers don’t have the same experience. After adoption birth mothers not only have to deal with issues of bereavement, but also manage their status in society as a woman who placed her child.
There are so many joys in adoption, but there are also losses experienced by everyone. One of those losses is the loss of the birth mother’s opportunity to raise her child. That loss never goes away, and birth moms may grieve in different ways, and in their own time. Understand that even though a birth mother may not regret her decision, this is still hard for her.
2. Your Understanding Means The World
Birth mothers need to hear encouraging words from their family, friends, and chosen adoptive family. Placing a baby for adoption is still fairly stigmatized. Birth mothers may have faced pressure to raise the baby themselves, or to have a family member raise the baby, when they already had their hearts set on adoption. She may have made this difficult choice without the much-needed support of her friends, family or community. She may still keep her brave journey a secret because she’s worried it’ll change someone’s opinion of her.
More than anything else, birth mothers want their children’s adoptive parents to speak well of them to their children. Many birth mothers fear that their child will not understand why they were placed for adoption. Some birth mothers worry that their baby’s parents won’t talk about her at all; that she’ll be erased from their family’s story. Birth mother’s hope that their children’s parents respect them, and that they talk about adoption (and birth parents) with their child with a tone of love and respect.
3. Things Change
Whether you start with a loose open adoption plan or a more structured relationship, it can develop and change overtime. Maintaining communication and respecting agreements is vital to a beautiful relationship. Even if the birth mother remains in close contact for the first year or two, it’s not unusual for her to start calling and writing less (or even drop out of sight altogether) after that time. This is normal. Birth parents pull away because they are “getting on with their lives.” They can see that you are doing a good job as parents and the child is safe and happy. Although they still care about the child, they are moving into other areas of their own lives.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out
The adoption journey comes down to communication. It’s important for the birth mother and adoptive family to develop a bond. It’s also important to be respectful of space. Don’t be afraid to reach out, plan visits, and send emails or photos.
Birth mothers obviously play a key role in adoption and cherishing them for making the hard decisions and working through the ups and downs of adoption helps show her respect.