I don’t know what heartache you went through before you sought out adoption. I don’t know what psychological, emotional, and spiritual battles you had to overcome. I sympathize on every level; but I hope you understand that birth parents endure some of these obstacles both before and after a child is placed with you. I can’t ever venture to assume that any trials are greater or in higher regard to the next…but in direct relation to the obstacle of creating a family, once you’ve adopted that obstacle has been passed. Please understand that the ending of your obstacle is the beginning of someone else’s.
As I’ve learned through the weeks following relinquishing my son, battles each set of parents face merely switch places in adoption. The anxiety I knew the adoptive parents felt in being so close to the end of their process and the possibilities of having their dream ripped from them is a powerful anxiety that is switched to the birth mother (or birth parents) as they fear their baby may have adoptee related challenges or that the adoptive parents may not hold up their promises or agreements. It needs to be clearly understood that we’re afraid of each other to some degree! Both our greatest fears in regard to a child are there to hone in on… They made a choice for the benefit of that child with love. They came to do you in one of the most (if not THE most) terrifying moments of their life and trusted you and an agency–I beg that you don’t put your fears and insecurities ahead of those of a birth parent.
Please understand as you were worried that your life would seem incomplete or that you would never realize your dream of parenting that on the other side someone is worrying that they are/aren’t making the biggest gamble of their life or that they will give life to a child and spend years being in the dark about that child’s life. We are both afraid!
Please understand that as you fear that you will never hold a baby next to you and feel the love of their first big smile that on the other side of this someone is agonizing that they are forfeiting that opportunity and entrusting those first memories to you! We are both afraid!
Birth parent or adoptive parent…there is a child involved in the adoption process that BOTH already love and that BOTH have feared they would never know.
I’m sure the agency has prepared you for worst case scenarios with a birth mother, but did you wonder if the agency prepared the birth mother for adoptive worst case scenarios? On both sides of adoption there are horror stories and people with negligent judgement. For every story of an intrusive birth mother or parent, there is a story of an obstructive adoptive parent. For every story of a birth mother that changed her mind and kept her child, there is a story of an adoptive parent that changed their mind and decided to switch an open adoption to a closed one.
If you are dealing with a birth mother or birth parents that have confided in you, have grown fond of you, and have come to trust you it makes no sense to disregard their fears and take precedence of your own. People tell birth mothers for weeks that she’s making the right decision…that she’s brave….that she’s making the most loving and selfless choice imaginable–don’t betray that without more cause than being fearful of what you’ve imagined! Because she’s imagined the worst and hoped for the best from you! Just like you had up until she/they signed their documents.
Separate your fears from tangible issues. This is something both sides need to do. I understand that some birth parents have issues that a child absolutely needs separation from, and in those cases I don’t blame an adoptive couple for protecting their child. But when consciously entering an open adoption, it should be understood that faith and trust are expected and counted on. If you have sought an open adoption and have connected to a birth mother or birth parents that do not have abuse, drugs, illegal activity or other stereotypical issues (MANY don’t have any such problems) there is no reason to decide to suddenly cut her/them out of a child’s life. You counted on the honesty of the birth mother to follow through and now she’s counting on you to follow through with the pretense of openness. Betraying that not only has lifelong negative effects on an adult, but on the child.
As most private adoption agencies carry a religious title within their name, I’m quite miffed at the fact that so many instances of distrust and fearmongering seems to create so much tension around what should be a process handled with more love and professionalism.
You can probably tell how much a birth mother or birth parents truly care about their child. Even if they don’t seem to care as much as you think they should or as much as you think you would in their position, it’s a low form of dishonesty to pacify them and then shut them out.
We are both afraid. And we both committed to a process with known contingencies. While it’s perfectly legal to close an adoption and to cut contact with a birth parent for no reason, it’s not the expectation garnered under the guise of open adoption–it’s baiting and switching.
There are common sense ways to protect your family from potential dangers. These should have been considered, weighed, and thoroughly questioned ahead of time. And if the mental response to this was that a birth mother should have considered, weighed, and thoroughly questioned adoption ahead of time, then you are a PERFECT candidate for a CLOSED adoption. That thought process shows you would not have the capacity to balance a relationship or make considerations for another parent/couple who share a link to the child you want. For the sake of thinning out big, bad adoptive parent stories do not seek an open agency. Only people well rounded enough to separate reality from big, bad birth birthmother stories should seek open adoption.
Understanding and love are the main ingredients of an open adoption. Not just of the child! But between both sets of parents in the best interest of the child. I hope you have considered all these things and I pray that in the ways that your fears gave way to realized dreams that you pay it forward.
-A post adoptive birth mother