Self * Friends & Family * Adopted Child * BIRTH FAMILY * Outside Factors
Adoption is a beautiful story about redemption, love, and grace. So often we only focus on the child though, and not where the child came from. It’s as if we want to box up the time before we knew our child and put it on a shelf and not come back to it unless a doctor tells us we must. However, let’s remember that a birth mother is a person too, with history, feelings, hopes, and a future.
I’ve interviewed a number of people who have adopted in hopes to pass on some words of wisdom they wished someone had told them. We’ve already gone through self, friends and family, and the adopted child. Today we will focus on the birth mom and family and what adoptive parents wish they had considered before they started the adoption process.
1. You know you’ll love the child, expect to love the mom too
Depending on the age of the child you adopt and the circumstances surrounding the child’s availability, you’ll not only get to read about the child but the mother too. What numerous adoptive moms told me was how they would first fall in love with the mother. They would see her as so brave and selfless and would want to do whatever she required so she would feel comfortable with the entire process. If they weren’t selected by the birth mom, they expected sadness due to the process of finding their child taking longer. What they weren’t expecting was the heartache of losing the mom too. Many adoptive moms pray for birth moms; so when the adoptive mom believes she’s found the woman she’s been praying for, it is almost like a break up to discover this isn’t the woman that will birth your child. I found this beautifully heartbreaking.
2. If you have the choice, choose an open adoption
This isn’t always possible, and sometimes the choice is made for you. However, when given the choice, the vast majority of adoptive parents said it is healthier for the child, in the long run, to not ever have to question where they came from. This brings more voices to the table that can be seen as drama or something to deal with. But remember, without this birth family, your child wouldn’t exist. Keep the conversations kid-centric and have well-defined boundaries. Open adoption allows for more family connections like grandparents, family trees, and for your child to hear why an adoption plan was made for them. Sidenote: even with a closed adoption, many adoption agencies ask for yearly updates on the child for the birth parents to see if they ever want to take a look.
3. Your child was not rejected
It’s important for you to know this. It’s important for your child to hear this from you. More often than not, birth families carefully consider what to do. Adoption was their choice. They believed this would be the best thing for your child and they chose you. Please don’t do them the disservice of believing anything but the best about them and definitely don’t talk bad about them to your child. International adoption can see cases where the parents died, but again, this isn’t rejection. Even in a Safe Haven case where a child was left at the hospital or similar place, the parent believes they are making the right choice for the child. Going into adoption and believing anything less about the birth family will only tumble out of your mouth as negativity later.
4. God will redeem the birth mom’s story too
Like I stated at the beginning, so often we only think about the child and the new family unit that was just created. But for the majority of adoption cases, there is a birth mom doing their best to deal with the decision they just made. God sees them. God has growth and joy and victory for them too. This decision might be the start of something for you, but it doesn’t mean it is the end of something for them. Pray for them always. Not just before and during the adoption process. Not just because you want a mature and put-together person for your child to meet someday. Pray for them because they are an integral part of God’s plan and their value and worth go beyond providing you a child.
5. Talk to someone who placed their child in adoption
This can be tricky as it’s not something people usually advertise about themselves and they usually don’t want to be the go-to person every family talks to before adoption. However, if you are able to talk with a woman who went through the other side of the process you are about to go through, it can help you tremendously. It will help you frame your mindset appropriately for when you communicate with the birth mom of your child. It will help put a picture in your mind of a successful adoption process. It will help humanize your birth mom as you get to hear some of the emotions she might deal with during her process. It will open your eyes to more perspectives within the adoption world. It will help you speak with grace when your child asks questions later in life about their own birth family.
Many parents said they never felt closer to God than when they were going through the adoption journey. The compassion you gain for the birth family is surreal. The trust you must have in the Lord is huge. The reality of holding your hopes and dreams in an open hand for God to give and take away is painstakingly vulnerable. But it’s so, so worth it. Every moment is unexpected and hard and beautiful all at the same time. But then, that’s parenting.