As an adoptive parent it is easy to get caught up in the process of finding a child and the adoption journey. It is very natural to think about the life ahead of you with your new family member. However, you should also consider the perspective of the birth parents when you are moving forward with your plans for adoption. The following 8 things were polled from birth parents as subjects they wanted adoptive parents to know and understand.
- We all share the journey – even if you do not know the birth mother or you’re adopting from an international agency you are sharing the journey with the birth mother. A birth mother will be a part of this journey from the beginning of pregnancy whether she’s aware of it at that time or not. It is a choice of doing what is best for the unborn baby she is carrying, to have a new, different or better life. Though circumstances may be different for all it is from this same starting point that every birth mother comes from.
- Adoption begins with love – the decision to give a child up for adoption is rooted in love. It is love that places a child’s needs before those of the birth parent and that often why birth parents choose adoption as an option for their pregnancy.
- Adopted children aren’t “unwanted” – It is actually quite the opposite, a birth parent chose to carry their child to term because they wanted the best for him/her, not because that child wasn’t wanted at all. To go through with an adoption means a child is cared for, not abandoned.
- The choice affected more than just the birth parents – A birth parent’s immediate family and the birth father is also affected, the choice to adopt isn’t just about “me” as a birth mother.
- Birth parents go through loss & grief – giving away a child for adoption can result in grief similar to those experienced when a person dies. Many birth mothers will mourn the loss of their child throughout their lifetime and sometime with varying intensity.
- A birth mother will always think about her child – there will never be a moment that passes that when a birth mother doesn’t think about the child that was given away. This could be as simple as thinking about what they look like to wondering if they are happy.
- The effect of adoption can last for a lifetime – placing a baby up for adoption can affect the birth parents for a lifetime, while many adoptions are pursued with the best of intentions sometimes residual guilt and shame can be attached to the pregnancy. Post-adoption depression, anxiety and guilt can lead to issues in the birth parent’s life and even impact their existing relationships. Being a birth parent doesn’t mean that it’s over once the adoption is complete.
- Choose open or closed adoption options carefully – always consider the birth parents when opting for a closed or open adoption, if you can speak with the birth parents and find out if they truly want to be a part of the adopted child’s life. It has been shown that open adoptions can be beneficial to both parties involved.
As an adoptive parent or as someone considering adoption please also remember the others who are on the journey with you. There are common misconceptions about adoptions and the parents who opt for adoption that are in no way reflective of the majority. Ultimately the journey is one that involves many people for a variety of reasons. The common thread that we all share is the love of a child.