|Maggie at birth|
Something has been percolating in me lately, and it has to do with birth mothers.
As an adoptive parent of an amazing six year old daughter through domestic open adoption, I would love to shout from the rooftops that adoption is beautiful. But, that is not the entire story. And I am not talking about adoption scams, failed adoptions, the cost, or any other roller coaster issue that often comes with open adoption.
The adoption of my daughter in 2005 is the MOST wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, and I am forever grateful to her birth mother for choosing us. Maggie is such a blessing in our lives, and I can't imagine life without her.
I am writing today about how difficult it must be for most birth mothers to place their children for adoption. I know there are probably some that don't struggle with it at all. But, I imagine that many, many birth mothers have an incredibly hard time placing their child for adoption. Even when every ounce of their being may believe it is the best thing for the child, I can't help but think how hard it must be to let go of something you love and is biologically a part of you.
My daughter's birth mother struggles with her adoption decision. At the time of my daughter's birth, I did not know how much she was struggling because she kept that private until years later when she revealed that she had asked the nursing staff to bring the baby into her room every time we left the hospital. We had always thought the nursing staff was pushing the baby on her because one nurse in particular did not believe in adoption. We were also so overwhelmed with new baby excitement that we might not have noticed the subtle messages she might have been sending. We certainly didn't pressure her, but I imagine there were many things in life that were pressuring her to place the baby for adoption (her age, lack of income, resources, and life experience to name a few).
Since our adoption, our birth mother has had two other children whom she is parenting with the help of her boyfriend. I can't help but think that she feels sad that she is not raising the child she placed with us for adoption.
As adoptive parents, we should dance in the streets with excitement when a baby is placed with us. But, we should also be aware that our blessing may mean our birth mother is experiencing incredible heart ache over her decision.
If we do the math, adoptive parent's blessing = birth mother's loss.
I am not saying that adoption is bad or anything even remotely close. Even though our adoption in Louisiana failed, it was clear to our birth mother in that situation that she could not take care of the new baby, and she wanted a better life for him. She remained committed to the adoption plan until the end, and though she was committed to this plan, it was still clearly very painful for her. The baby's birth father stepped in and changed everything, so now she has a baby that she didn't think she could raise. I pray that somehow they make it.
Birth mothers have given so many of us the greatest blessings in our lives. It is not something that can be re-paid in anyway other than to do our best to raise the baby and to honor any promises made to a birth mother. Recently, I have read many birth mothers and adoptive parents speak about the adoptive parents cutting off contact or not honoring the adoption plan that was made. I imagine there are extreme circumstance where this might be warranted, but in the other 99% of the cases, adoptive parents should honor the adoption plan (maybe this is easy for me to say because we have a great birth mother).
Birth mothers deserve to be treated with respect and for us to honor our promises made to them. Most birth mothers pick us because they believe we are decent people who will do a great job raising their baby. That doesn't mean we should only act like decent people until we finalize our adoption. Not honoring the adoption plan is not right to do to the birth mother, and it is definitely not the right thing to do to your child.
One day our children will be old enough to really understand the circumstances of their adoptions. Let's hope we have not behaved badly in a way that our children will rightfully resent or hate us for betraying their birth mother.
I have the utmost respect for birth mothers. I can only imagine the amazing courage it must take to do what you think is best for your baby despite the heart ache you might experience.
Without my daughter's birth mother, my life would be so empty and incomplete. I am so grateful that she trusted us enough to raise her daughter and to maintain contact with her.
I look forward to the day when another woman will trust us enough to raise her baby, and will know she can trust us to do the right thing in our relationship with her, and her relationship with the child.
But, I don't ever want to pretend that it is easy for a birth mother. With our joy comes a birth mother's pain. And that's an adoption truth.