When the “Perfect Family” Isn’t “Perfect” Anymore

divorce candy heart

image c/o www.telegraph.co/uk

About fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.

A divorce can be extremely difficult and emotional for the couple splitting up and for their children, if they have any. And when the couple’s children were adopted, there is someone else who may be upset about the divorce: the birth parent.

Because divorces consume a lot of emotional and physical energy, adoptive families often communicate less frequently with their child’s birth parents during the divorce. There’s also another reason why they may shy away from you during this time: they’re worried. If you chose them so that their child could have a two-parent family, there is a good chance they are worried about upsetting you with the news that they won’t be that two-parent family in the same way.

And you might be upset with them! When you were choosing an adoptive family for your child, you picked the book that labeled this couple as a couple; you didn’t choose two separate albums for two separate families. You may have envisioned your child growing up in a picture-perfect family that you couldn’t provide. It’s normal and okay to feel upset when you think back to the role these things played in your adoption decision.

If you are in a relationship at the time of your child’s parents’ divorce, you may also feel some guilt about not parenting or start second-guessing yourself about whether you should have parented and provided that two-parent home. These are normal reactions, but try not to be too hard on yourself. There is much more to every family than whether both parents live together, and you didn’t make your adoption decision based solely on relationship status.

While you’re thinking about the reasons why you made that difficult decision to place your child for adoption, take a moment, if you can, to put yourself in the shoes of your child’s adoptive parents – because now they are the ones making a heart-wrenching decision that they believe is for the best. Don’t give up on them because of a divorce. Take a little space if you need to, and definitely give them time to sort themselves out, but don’t let yourself get bogged down in feeling sad or angry about the change in their family structure. The truth is that no family is picture-perfect. That doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision or that your child won’t lead the life you want for them. It simply means what you already knew: that life is difficult, people are flawed, and that sometimes doing what’s right for you and your child means making a very tough — but ultimately good — decision.


What Does the 4th of July Have to Do With Adoption?

what does the 4th

image c/o effectspecialist.com

In case your high school history class isn’t still fresh in your mind, here’s a reminder of what we were celebrating with all of those fireworks and barbecues this past weekend:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Yep, it’s the Declaration of Independence! Part of what was so revolutionary about the declaration was its assertion that everyone has “unalienable rights” that are guaranteed and can’t be taken away by governments. Yesterday we ran across an article by a birth mother who asserted that the right to know where you come from is “unalienable,” and that children have the right to see their adoption records and search for their birth families if they want to.

It’s definitely healthier for children to know where they came from than it is for them to wonder about their birth parents, but is it a right? And if it is, how should that right be balanced with a birth parent’s right to privacy if they don’t want a relationship with their child?

Today, sixteen states have opened or partially opened their sealed adoption records, meaning that adopted children can see their original birth certificates and search for their birth families if they want to. Adoptions Together has generally been supportive of these laws, because we have felt that they are in the best interest of adoptees.

That said, we have also worked with birth parents who told us upon placement that they did not want to have any contact with their child, and although we always encourage these folks to leave the door open for contact in the future in case they change their mind, we never pressure or force anyone to remain involved in their child’s life if they do not want to. We would never want to re-traumatize someone for whom the pregnancy and adoption process was exceptionally painful, like a birth mother who had been raped or who placed her child for adoption out of fear of violence from a partner or family member. We have to trust the birth parents with whom we work to know what is best for them in terms of whether to stay in touch with their child.

Clearly, we’re still grappling with this issue and trying to sort out how to respect every individual’s “inalienable” rights. But more importantly, what do you think? Do adoptees have a right to know their birth parents? Do birth parents have a right to privacy from their biological children, if they want it? We’re curious to hear your perspective!


How to Maintain Openness When Someone Moves

how to maintain

image c/o stick-empires.wikia.com

You may have been counting on always living in the same general area as your child’s adoptive family; their location may even have been part of the reason you chose them. But life is unpredictable, and things change. They – or you – may get a new job opportunity, need to be near family or friends, or be called to move somewhere different for another important reason.

Changes like these can be jarring, but they don’t have to mean the end of your openness agreement. Below are three ways you can ensure that you remain a part of your child’s life despite the distance.

1.Be open and honest.

Sometimes, birth parents don’t tell us or their child’s adoptive family that they are planning to move because they are worried about our or the family’s reaction. But everyone understands that people’s lives change, and the only way anyone will be upset about your relocation will be if you don’t tell them, because then they won’t know how to get in touch with you!

2. Trust and reevaluate.

Every relationship requires trust and regular reevaluation of how to make sure everyone is getting what they need. Unexpected hurdles are normal and they do not need to result in the end of the relationship; they simply mean you will need to reevaluate how (not whether) your adoption will remain open. We don’t mean to make this sound easy; it’s hardly ever easy to trust someone, and you may feel betrayed by your child’s family if they are the ones moving. Unfortunately, as you know, life almost never goes as planned, and families have to make difficult decisions. So even though it may be tough, try to remember that your relationship with your child’s family is just that: a relationship. In order for it to work, you have to trust them to do their part, no matter how many miles separate you. And we’re not only saying this to you – we send adoptive families the same message, and they usually understand that if they are going to move, they will still need to return to the area for visits and/or do whatever else they agreed to in order to maintain openness.

3.Use technology. Today’s technology makes it practically impossible not to stay up to date on other people’s lives! If your or your child’s family’s move presents an obstacle to having annual meetings, talk with them and/or your agency about using Skype or another video chatting platform in order to get that face-to-face time. If that’s not possible, maybe you can change things up so that instead of having, say, one letter-and-picture update and one visit per year, you could have four letter-and-picture updates per year. We also encourage the birth parents and adoptive families with whom we work with to use Child Connect, a web-based system that allows you and your child’s family to upload and view pictures, letters, and videos from any computer with an Internet connection. If you don’t have Internet access, you can still receive printed letters and pictures through the program. And, in case the texting craze has caused you to forget, actual telephone calls are always an option, too!

If you keep these suggestions in mind, there is no reason, in our opinion, why an increased distance between you and your child’s family should negatively impact your open adoption or relationship with them. But what do you think? Do you have an open but long-distance adoption? Or do you live in the same area as your child? Tell us what your relationship is like in the comments section below!


Adoption as a Band-Aid

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image c/o www.carstickers.com

It’s probably no surprise to you that some people hate adoption.

There are entire activist groups and many, many websites warning women about the “adoption industry” and the people in it.

We appreciate a lot of what these folks have to say. There is a large for-profit adoption industry, and it is extremely troubling how some facilitators and attorneys take advantage of women when they are at their most vulnerable. Before the 1980s, thousands upon thousands of women were coerced into choosing adoption; that number is far lower today, but it is not at zero.

We differ from anti-adoption groups in that we don’t think adoption is always bad for women; in fact, we have seen firsthand how it can lead to positive and healthy outcomes for women, their children, and those children’s adoptive families. We see these outcomes when women feel that they are at a point in their lives or in a situation where, for whatever reason, parenting does not seem like the best option. Parenting is a different experience for everyone, and not everybody wants to be a parent or wants to parent multiple children. Some women choose adoption because they do not feel emotionally ready to care for a child, because they have dreams and goals they plan to accomplish on their own, or because parenting was not part of the plan for this time in their life. There are as many reasons to choose adoption as there are birth mothers.

But anti-adoption groups are right that many women choose adoption largely because they feel that they can’t parent, and it is here that the larger issue, on which we all agree, arises: there are too many factors that make women feel that they can’t parent. Nearly all of the women with whom we work feel financially incapable of supporting a child (or another child), and that is unsurprising given that poverty rates in our country are staggering and that those rates are especially high for single mothers and women of color. They are unsurprising when we consider the sexism, racism, and violence against women that pervade our country’s history. When a woman becomes pregnant, it often seems that the odds are stacked against her. And that isn’t fair.

A great deal of very important activism is happening to fight back against the factors that make parenting so difficult, but it takes time. One commenter on an anti-adoption forum said recently, “Most infants in America that are adoptable are born to healthy women whose only disadvantages are being young and/or being unmarried. Rather than helping such young women (they are typically young) make an ‘adoption plan,’ as if that were somehow an ordinary or ‘respectable’ response to an untimely pregnancy, why not support that young woman so she can keep and raise her child?” The problem is that even though you and I may agree that women deserve support, our country isn’t there yet. There is very little financial support available for women who feel comfortable asking for it, not to mention the lack of support that exists for women facing other difficulties such as sexual or physical violence, drug addiction, and mental health challenges. And what do we do in the meantime, as we work towards becoming a place where an unplanned pregnancy doesn’t have to be so incredibly difficult?

In many cases, adoption is a “Band-Aid” over a much larger problem, a problem that concerns women’s social, economic, and physical rights, a problem that makes parenting far more difficult than it should be. But people are going to need Band-Aids until that larger problem is solved. We believe that when pregnant women are facing circumstances that make them unsure if parenting is the best choice, they have the right to consider other options and do whatever makes the most sense for them. We agree that it’s unfair that those difficult circumstances exist, and we hope that one day the odds won’t be stacked against so many women. But in the meantime, we have to trust women to do what is right for them given their unique lives and experiences.

Do you agree that the necessity of adoption speaks to a much larger problem? Tell us about the factors that contributed to your decision in the comments below.


It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

it's okay to change

image c/o thekissofjoy.com

The “revocation period” is the period of time birth parents have to revoke their consent to adoption after they have signed the paperwork (which they usually do at the hospital 24-72 hours after delivery). The length of the revocation period depends on the state: in Maryland it’s thirty days and in DC and Virginia it’s ten days. Revocations happen at every adoption agency, but birth parents who change their mind are often worried that they are somehow doing something wrong. Below are the main concerns we hear from birth parents who are revoking their consent.

1. “I’m being selfish and letting everyone down.”

On the contrary, you did something responsible by planning out how you would proceed. A change of plans doesn’t negate the importance of that process. If your baby had already been placed with an adoptive family by the time you revoked your consent, then they are likely to feel sad and disappointed, but those are emotions that the adoption agency will work with them to manage as they move forward in their adoption journey. Your change of heart will not keep them from becoming parents in the future; the agency will continue to work with them to find the right match. Remember, when it comes down to it, no family truly wants to parent a baby whose birth parent wishes they had never made an adoption plan. The greatest service that you can do for an adoptive family is to carefully consider your own feelings and make the decision that is best for you and your baby, even if that decision is not to make an adoption plan.

2. “I wasted the adoption agency’s time.”

Educating people about their pregnancy options is a service that Adoptions Together and other ethical agencies provide as part of their mission to build healthy families through adoption. If we help you explore adoption and you decide it is not right for you, then we have still provided that service and fulfilled our mission – so it’s all good! Educating people about adoption and planning with parents who are considering it is our job, whether or not an adoption plan winds up being the end result.

3. “I should have decided sooner.”

Planning not to parent can be an important step along the way to making the decision to parent. If you were not originally sure whether you wanted to parent, then you owed it to your child and yourself to investigate, research, and think seriously about all of your options. Had you decided to parent without doing so, then you would have been selling yourself short, and you might always have wondered whether you should have considered adoption more seriously.

Did you change your mind at any point during the adoption process? What decision did you end up making? Tell us what you think in the comments!


Jenna’s Story

guest post

Today’s guest post was written by Jenna Myers, a birth mother who placed her daughter with an adoptive family in 2009.

I’m beyond uncomfortable as I sit alone in the bright, yellow-walled waiting room at the doctor’s office, my fingers and feet swollen with the pressure of what feels like a cinder block crushing my bladder. I can’t help but notice every detail about the women who surround me: the way they hold their husbands’ hands with excitement and anticipation, the obnoxiously expensive maternity clothes that drape their bodies in just a way that makes their sudden weight gain and pop belly flattering, and the books they read about what to expect.

And here I sit in my oversized sweatpants, holding the tears back from erupting.  I have smeared mascara, bags under my eyes, and a nine-month-old sinus infection.

My name’s called out, crashing my train of thought.

“Jenna Myers?” asks an overly cheerful nurse in scrubs with small pastel hand prints on it.  “Follow me.”

Same procedure, different day, for the nurse and for me. Weight, temperature, blood pressure, pee into a cup, and wait.

“The doctor will be in shortly. Undress from the waist down and drape that over you,” the nurse explains, closing the door behind her.

Ten minutes pass before the doctor gives a small knock and barges in, clipboard in hand.  He manages to make awkward conversation while simultaneously poking and prodding around inside of me.

“It’s almost time, the baby has dropped and you are two centimeters dilated. I noticed the amniotic fluid levels are lower than normal. If they drop anymore, we will have to perform an emergency C-section.  I understand you are placing the child for adoption?” he asks, his tone professional and impersonal.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Okay then, I will put that in our records.  I will see you in a few days for your next check-up.”

As I walk out of the office, I feel all eyes on me.  If they only knew.

****

Now, I’m not very religious, but every night for the next few days I pray myself to sleep, in hope that it will cause these fluid levels to drop.  The combination of excitement, fear, impending relief, and grief is weighing on my stomach like a small sandbag.  My hands lay pressed against my bulging basketball belly, fingers crossed inside my hoodie pocket so no one can see the childish superstition I still carry with me at twenty-one.

“Jenna Myers?” a woman calls out.  “Come with me, sweetie.”  This woman is not the nurse from the other day, but she is soft spoken, with sympathetic eyes.  She puts her hand on my shoulder as she leads me into the sonogram room. As I lay on the table, she says: “You’re placing her for adoption? That’s very brave of you.”

“Yeah. I really just want her out of me at this point. I’m ready to start fresh,” I reply quickly, as I feel the burn of unwelcome tears attempting to make their appearance.  I swallow hard, but my chin still quivers.

“You are doing an amazing thing, Jenna. You are a strong woman,” the nurse says as she rubs my shoulder and hands me a tissue.

“I just don’t want to give….my baby….away…on Christmas!” I finally blurt out in between sobs.

“Well, I can help you with that. You are already ‘full term’, and if your levels have fallen since your last visit, they will most likely want to do an emergency C-section.  Can I just measure the lowest amount of fluid for you instead?” she asks.  I quietly shake my head as I feel a single tear tumble down my cheek.  The levels are low enough for the C-section.  Looks like today’s the day.

It’s as if every minute I feel a different emotion: sadness, excitement, nervousness, relief.  I get into my car, take a deep breath and take my phone out of my pocket.  It’s time to make the call to Lindsey, my adoptions counselor.

“Call Daniel! I’m going in today! Tell him today is the day he gets to meet his daughter!” I say before Lindsey can even say ‘hello.’ Daniel and Elsa are the perfect couple to adopt my baby.  They are who I would’ve chosen, had I been able to pick my own parents.  Elsa is in Sweden and will be taking the next flight home, so Daniel will be meeting me at the hospital.  I knew this was going to happen and I wish Elsa could be here too.  Reality sets in as the excitement starts to wear off the closer I get to my house.

“This is the best Christmas gift you could give,” I repeatedly tell myself.

Sarah, my best friend, is supposed to be spending this wonderful stay in the hospital with me, but she’s in Texas.  Why the hell she is in Texas, I have no idea.  But she is about to board a flight home. My mother is the lucky lady who gets to deal with me.  Two hours pass too quickly, and I’m not ready for any of this, but I can’t wait.  How I feel is too damn confusing.

Finally, Sarah comes running in, with a duffel bag twice her size. “I’m here! You waited for me! That was so nice of you!” she jokes.

“I held her in just for you, how’d you know?” I shoot back.  Not long after Sarah, the doctor walks through the door to go over procedures.  Sarah spends this time getting ready for the “O.R.”– playing dress up, basically.  Her silliness is a pleasant compliment to the craziness of emotion that’s going on.  The curtain flings back, and there stands Sarah, head to toe in blue disposable scrubs.  She has it all on- the hair cap (covering a short mohawk), the blue paper jumpsuit, the shoe covers.  She dramatically turns around while snapping her last latex glove on her hand.  This is why Sarah is my best friend.

The anesthesiologist comes in to prepare me, and Sarah leaves.

“Sit up straight, lean forward, and hug the pillow.  Now do not move.  Your legs will begin to feel very heavy, and you won’t be able to move them, so don’t panic when you can’t.  Also, you won’t be able to feel yourself breathing, but you will be.  So don’t panic about that either,” the anesthesiologist casually states.

“Don’t panic?  I won’t know that I am breathing, and I’ll be paralyzed from the chest down.”  I’m already panicking.  I’ve never felt so claustrophobic in my own body before.  The needle goes in and I jump, of course.

“Now just lay back and rest your arms here,” he says while he moves my arms out to my sides as if I’m flying.  He starts to strap my arms down to a board and a giant sheet flies up over my face.  If I wasn’t feeling claustrophobic before, I definitely am now.

“No, no, no, no.  You can’t do that to me!  I will have a panic attack!” I try to explain to him.  At that moment, Sarah is finally allowed in the room and I thank god.  Together we convince the anesthesiologist to let me have my arms.  He explains that it’s a natural instinct for a woman to grab her stomach during a C-section. So, I promise not to grab my stomach and I shut up.

The C-section is grueling.  The numbness of the anesthesia and pressure from the doctor moving my organs out of the way as if they are toys in the living room floor doesn’t help. “I’m not very happy with you, Dr. Norman,” I tell my OB/GYN.

“That’s why I didn’t come in here any sooner!” he snaps back.  He and I have a similar sense of humor and he gets me to chuckle.  Sarah starts talking to distract me since I voice how uncomfortable I am about every ten seconds.  Suddenly, everything slows down.  The discomfort is there, but it’s okay. It’s morphine.

My eyes jump around the room to find the clock. It’s 3:33 pm.  The small cry I’ve been waiting to hear breaks my concentration, then silence again.

“Was that the baby?  Why did she stop crying?  Where did she go?” I ask in a slight panic.

“That was your daughter!  We are going to weigh her and get her vitals in another room.  That’s what you wanted, right?” Dr. Norman replies.

“Yeah, that’s what I wanted. Does she look healthy?” I ask.

“She looks so healthy, I can’t imagine a baby that big inside such a small girl!” he says.  Knowing she’s okay puts me at an indescribable ease.  I swear another half an hour passes before I get to go into recovery, a very uncomfortable thirty minutes.

The recovery room is depressing.  It’s dark, and the woman to my left is nursing her newborn, husband by her side.  The nurses are short with me, as if they are at the tail end of a twelve hour shift.  Sarah is giving updates to everyone, as Lindsey comes to check on me.

“How are Daniel and the baby?” I immediately ask.

“Daniel and Emma are doing great.  He is such a proud Dad!  You gave a wonderful Christmas gift today.  Do you still not want to see Emma until the papers are signed tomorrow?” Lindsey asks.

“Yeah, it’s probably best that way.  I don’t want to have any chance to change my mind.  I can’t do that to Daniel, Elsa or Emma,” I reply confidently.

Morning comes too fast.  It’s time to sign the papers.  After the paperwork is complete, the nurse walks me over to the nursery where Emma is.  I immediately know which baby is her.

“Oh, okay,” I say when I see her for the first time.  I turn around and slowly shuffle back to my room.  The face I put on for these people scares me.  So confident on the outside, but I feel like I’m dying on the inside.  Like someone took my soul out of my body, and I’m left empty, sad and alone.

I spend my night yearning, bawling, weeping.  The release is like an avalanche, uncontrollable, yet I welcome it as it wipes out all the things in my past and lays a fresh foundation for my future.

It’s a new day and Daniel wants me to spend some alone time with Emma, just the two of us with no one to analyze me.  I appreciate his empathy and trust, as this can’t be easy for him either.  I sing to Emma, tell her how much I love her, and just stare at her for hours while she lies asleep in my arms.  Now I understand what it is like to be a mother, I feel what it is like to be a mother, a person I never thought I could be.

A few hours pass, and Elsa bursts through my door, tears streaming down her face. But before even looking at Emma, or Daniel or anyone, she runs to me and gives me the biggest hug and the biggest kiss on the cheek.  I smile, reminded again of why I chose Elsa to be Emma’s mom and hand Elsa her new baby girl.  I quietly say “congratulations.”  Elsa’s face lights up.  The room goes silent.  A flash lights up the room.  Daniel has his camera on Elsa so he could capture her face the very first time she sees Emma.  Her eyes radiate an unconditional love I have never witnessed before.  The only sound in the room is Elsa’s joyful, thankful sobbing as she holds her newborn daughter. It is in this moment that I realize the gift I have been given.


What Every Birth Father Should Know

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photo c/o www.desireehartsock.com

The approach of Father’s Day has got us thinking about how little the adoption community talks about birth fathers and their rights.

Birth fathers’ underrepresentation in portrayals of adoption (except every once in a while as the “evil” man who takes a baby away from adoptive parents) means that many people don’t realize that birth fathers have a say in the adoption process. As a birth father, you have the right to be part of the decision making and to play a role in your child’s life if you want to.

If You Want to Parent

By law, any adoption agency working with a birth mother must make every effort to locate and notify the birth father about the adoption plan. Even if the birth mother has already given temporary custody of the child to an adoption agency or family, no legal adoption can happen until you, the birth father, have been notified. Each state has a different notification process; in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, you have 30-60 days after you find out to decide whether you would prefer to parent or to move forward with the adoption.

If You Choose Adoption

Like your child’s birth mother, you have the right to choose and meet your baby’s adoptive family and to remain involved in their life through open adoption. Many birth fathers with open adoptions find themselves feeling tentative about asking for their yearly meetings or updates, especially if they are no longer involved with their child’s birth mother. Remember, your relationship status does not change your right to be part of your child’s life. You can ask for updates and meetings whether or not your child’s birth mother is around or involved.

If You Are Incarcerated

A birth father who wants to parent but is incarcerated may be able to work with his local department of social services to determine how to make that possible once he is released. If your release date is not coming up soon, then it may be difficult for you to make a plan to take the place of adoption. Obviously, you cannot force your child’s birth mother to parent, but we have worked with birth fathers who had family members willing to be part of a parenting plan until their release. And even if you are not able to provide an alternative plan and the adoption goes forward despite your objection, you can still be a part of your child’s life after the fact through open adoption. (For information on asking for openness in a closed adoption, go here or here).

The bottom line as that whether you and your child’s birth mother choose parenting or adoption, you can remain involved.

Darrick Rizzo is a birth father who has written a lot about the adoption of his son; he currently has a post up at America Adopts about how difficult Father’s Day is for him. There aren’t very many birth father voices in the media, so consider taking look at his article, and let us know what you think. You can also add your voice to the birth father discussion by leaving a comment below.


“What If I See Them At the Grocery Store?”

grocery store

image c/o www.vectorart.com

We are often asked by birth parents and adoptive families alike, “What if we run into one another in public?” The prospect of running into your child’s adoptive family at a time and place where you weren’t expecting to see them can seem scary, but if you think in advance about what to do, you’ll be less likely to freeze up if it happens (you know, like you did that time you ran into your ex at the grocery store). You could even talk to your child’s adoptive family about what would be most comfortable for you both in that situation. This is an especially good idea if you live in the same community and know that there is a strong likelihood you’ll see each other around at some point.

So what do you do if you’re waiting in line at Starbucks for your expensive milkshake-like drink and your child and his mom walk through the door? Well, think about what you normally do when you run into an acquaintance or a friend. You probably smile, say hi, chat for a moment, and continue with your errands, right? You can do the same thing if you see your child’s family. Be your normal self, talk for a few minutes about how everyone’s doing, and, since chances are you’ll both have somewhere else to get to, pick up your yummy drink and say a friendly goodbye.

Birth parents and adoptive families do fine in these situations; the difficult part sometimes comes afterward, when the birth parent starts replaying their reaction over and over in their head. “Was the way I said ‘hi’ weird? What did they really mean when they asked me how things were going?” That sort of thinking can drive a person crazy, so don’t just let your brain keep rewinding itself – find someone to talk to and let it out. It’s normal to feel a little anxious or upset after something happens that you weren’t anticipating, and depending upon how long it’s been since you made your adoption plan and how you’re doing emotionally at the time, it could bring up some feelings of grief and loss, so it’s important to have someone you can talk to, whether it’s your adoption counselor (hi there!) or a friend or family member.

Have you run into your child’s adoptive family at the grocery store or somewhere else? What was it like? How did you feel afterward?


“A Case for the Misunderstood Birth Mom”

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image c/o etsy.com

Wynter Kaiser, a birth mother and the founder of the Made to Mother project, wrote an important article that was posted today over at America Adopts. In it, she discusses how the idealized adoption scenario where “a young girl gets pregnant and loves the baby so much that she decides to give it a better home and life than she can offer” romanticizes what is usually a much more complex situation. She fully acknowledges that many birth mothers do feel anguished about their decision and feel a connection with their child that makes them want to play a role in that child’s life, but she reminds her readers that “we are not cookie cutters;” she, personally, appreciates the communication she receives from her child’s adoptive family but does not feel the need to seek it out.

Wynter makes an important point that not all birth mothers want contact with their child or their child’s adoptive family, and that the reasons why are as varied and unique as their stories and lives are. Here at Birth Parent Place we post a lot about open adoption, so we were glad to be reminded by Wynter’s post that one of the most important things about any adoption plan is that the birth mother is empowered and in control.

We encourage women to leave the door open for updates or meetings for a couple of reasons. First, we have worked with a large number of women who initially rejected playing any role in their child’s life but then changed their minds. Second, research has shown that openness is very beneficial for adopted children in terms of their emotional development. For these reasons, we urge birth mothers not to dismiss openness right away based solely on how they feel at the time of delivery; however, we also believe that no birth mother should be pressured to engage in a relationship with her child or that child’s family. There is no right or wrong way to do adoption as long as everyone’s rights are respected.

Do you agree with Wynter that adoption scenarios tend to be idealized or romanticized? How do you feel about openness? Have your feelings changed at all over time?


#Placed

Hopefully you had the chance to see Birth Mother Baskets’ wonderful video kicking off last month’s #placed campaign; if not, click the link above to watch it! We enjoyed reading people’s responses on Twitter and Facebook throughout the month (go to Birthmothers 4 Adoption to see some great ones that people posted).

The terms “gave up,” “gave away,” and “put up,” are used too frequently and they misrepresent what birth mothers do when they thoughtfully and carefully #place their babies for adoption. Making an adoption plan is a difficult choice made out of tremendous love; the notion that it happens because a parent does not want their child would be laughable if it weren’t so hurtful. As birth mother Lindsey Mathis explained on the Birth Mom Baskets site, “We gave LOVE, gave LIFE, but we NEVER gave up!”

What do you do when people use phrases like “gave up” to describe adoption? Do you respond, or do you let it slide?