Adoptive parents, tune in. Birth moms need you to know some things. They are important. Yes, I’m speaking for all of us birth moms today. Stupid? Maybe. Bold? Absolutely. Necessary? Of course. Here we go, 5 things we need adoptive parents to know.
I’m a birth mom. It’s one of the proudest titles I have in life. It’s right up there with the title of mom, closely linked, yet so different in application. Being a birth mom is a society that many belong to, but few talk about. It’s secret. It’s sacred and private.
Adoption is a beautiful thing and without it, I can’t imagine what the world would look like, and I don’t want to. Adoptive parents and birth parents alike give selflessly to love a child. Each one stepping in to an unknown future with endless possibilities, and endless uncertainty. Yes, it’s like parenting in that way, but the unknowns of adoption are even more tricky to navigate than being a parent, because there’s some strong emotional, biological, and social issues that lurk under the surface. It’s the prime example of nature vs. nurture as we watch our child grow in to who they are supposed to be.
There are volumes written about adoption, regarding domestic, international, attachment issues and bonding, healing a child from trauma, and and and and….
I love that there are so many resources out there, and that adoptive parents dive in to understand this whole new world with a commitment that is really unmatched.
There’s not a lot written about (and for) birth parents though. I think I understand why. It’s painful for everyone, the existence of the birth parent. It’s understandable. Someone isn’t usually giving a child away unless they are troubled in some way. In addition, people aren’t adopting a baby unless they can’t have one, or want to help a child have a chance at a better life. It’s deeply personal.
I have had the benefit of an amazing situation in my case. Loving, respectful, and kind. It’s been 28 years now, and I revere my son and his parents. They are on my list of most respected people in life.
I’ve been thinking about what I would want adoptive parents, at large, to know from a birth mom’s perspective. There’s a lot of meat to each of these, and it almost feels cheap to break it down for a blog post, but these are things I have reflected on over the years of being a birth mom. It could be a book. Maybe it should be a book! Anyway, here are 5 things we need you to know. Please don’t read this and say, ‘oh yes, I know’ or feel defensive. I ask that you truly consider these from deep within. I write from the most respectful place, not a place of divisiveness.
1. We need to know that you understand that what we are doing is important.
Birth moms are giving their baby away. It’s painful. It’s a loss of a child, and a heavy grief that goes with this decision. It’s an admission of surrender. It’s an admission that we can’t take care of our offspring. That’s a decision laced with pain and shame. Being a parent is highly respected in the world, and being a bad parent is shameful in the world’s eyes.
We need to know that you understand the enormous grief and loss we are experiencing and the deep shame that threatens to envelop us. We are excited for you to become parents. We are so incredibly grateful for your care of our child. At the same time we need you to understand what we are giving up in order to allow our child to have a better life. We need to know that the choice we made matters to you. We know that you understand, but we need you to REALLY know. Please lean in to this one.
2. We need to know that you respect us.
I was with a friend(?) several years ago, and she is an adoptive parent. She was talking about birth moms, generally, from the country that she adopted her kids from. She was slamming birth moms. She had all kinds of things to say about how terrible they were, and how they didn’t take care of their kids, and how messed up they were. She was speaking in generalities, and it was a large paintbrush she used that day to describe exactly what she thought.
She had no consideration that she was saying this in my company, and she knew my story. That hurt. I was too weak to stand up for myself in that moment. If I could go back, I would. The shame silenced me. She put herself on a pedestal and birth moms were not respected in her eyes, but she was respected in her own eyes, because she was the adoptive mom. A few years later, I watched as she exhibited behavior, on many occasions, that verged on verbal abuse toward those same children. The shame silenced me then too. If I could only go back, I would.
We are people, just like you.
We are not less than you, we are not a lower class than you. We ARE you, we are parents to be. We need to know that you see us, and that you don’t judge us. Adopting a child is always born of trauma, and there will be bad things about us. We might have addictions, mental heal issues, or zero support for the pregnancy from our families. We need to know that you respect us as a human being and that you will speak well of us to others, no matter what. When you don’t, it hurts.
3. We need you to know that we love the child we are placing for adoption, and that won’t change.
We will love that child like any other, and that doesn’t fade. Making the choice for adoption doesn’t mean we don’t love our child. Although the application looks different, the deep core of love is very much the same. They are forever a part of us, and we are forever a part of you. It’s a package deal of sorts. Even if we aren’t directly involved in your lives, we are still loving our child. Even if we are messed up, we love that child.
4. Because of that love, we need you to be secure in your parenting.
We need to know that even though we exist, and that can be difficult to deal with, that we respect your parenting and we consider you the parents of our child. We hold you in high regard. Please don’t be afraid of us. That hurts. It’s difficult to give such a deep gift to someone, and to be faced on the receiving end with any kind of fear or trepidation. You can be at peace in your parenting, and know that we respect you, and we don’t want to harm you. This decision was made in the best interests of our child and we know with complete confidence that you will love them too.
5. We need you to establish boundaries with us.
We are humans, and we don’t want to negatively impact the way that you move forward in raising your child. We are making this decision for their benefit. We would never desire harm, ever. Sometimes we might unknowingly cause trouble because we are confused and grieving. You are too, so you might do the same. Healthy and appropriate boundaries are so helpful because it tells us where we can interact, and where we need to give you space. We need to set boundaries with you too, the grief is heavy and it can be difficult to figure out where our place is when our hearts are aching for our child. If we seem a little unsure, it’s because we are. We know you are too.
Most of all, we love you if I haven’t said that enough. Thank you for becoming parents to your child, no matter how that child came in to your life, they are yours, 100% and completely.
For more on birth moms and my perspective on adoption click here 🙂