An Adoptive Mother’s Tale
Perhaps nothing can be more uncertain and nerve-racking for prospective adoptive parents than meeting a birth mother. Meeting her can seem overwhelming, but actually walking alongside her throughout an adoption journey can seem like even more of a mountain. As an adoptive parent myself with several opportunities to walk alongside birth mothers from different walks of life, I have witnessed firsthand the incredibly complex and tender birth mother relationship that makes up the adoption triad.
Before I came to fully understand adoption, my mindset was focused on myself. Although it is difficult to admit that now, it is true and points to the harsh reality of the mindsets of many adoptive parents. Although adoptive parents are often innocently unaware of the complexities within adoption, there is much to be said for having a comprehensive understanding of what you are potentially embarking on before you walk the adoption path. Now, having shared hospital rooms and agency offices with several birth mothers, I have come to understand that they are often the least recognized member of the adoptive triad.
Society is quick to label the adoptive parents as heroes or white horse rescuers to a child in need. It does take strength to adopt a child, but it is the birth mother who is the most sacred in the adoption triad.
Until you are ready to fully accept your seat at the adoption table, you may want to evaluate how you are personally willing to interact with a birth mother. Adoption always begins in trauma. No matter what the circumstances are surrounding the birth mother and her child, it is not ideal that the birth mother and her child be separated. Our world is a broken one, so trauma is inevitable. But to say that they child who is being adopted is being spared hardship is not totally true. The moment they were separated from their birth mother, they experienced trauma.
These words are probably not popular, but they’re critical for the adoption community to understand and accept.
With all that being said, when meeting a birth mother adoptive parents should remember to think long-term. Because there are a few different types of adoptions, the relationship with the birthmother might be ever-evolving. Even if your adoption is totally closed, it would be wise to learn as much as possible about the birthmother so their child can know about them when appropriate.
Adoptive parents must remain understanding, even when different life circumstances seem vastly different. You must focus on the common ground you share: the child. While your arms long for a child, and your heart aches to be a family, you must be willing to navigate the winding road of adoption. There is never, I repeat never, any certainty in adoption.
From the first moment, you must maintain appropriate boundaries because you are not the parent. In a perfect world, every pregnant birth mother would be able to parent their child. This should be the wish of adoptive parents. Sadly, and as I have mentioned earlier, the world is broken and sometimes the brokenness involves adoption.
My husband and I experienced six failed adoptions after years of costly infertility. While those losses are another topic for another day, each of them involved a birth mother, and in one case, a birth father, deciding to parent. While the heartache that this caused my husband and I is indescribable, one cannot be totally upset when a birth parent feels empowered enough to parent their child. When meeting a birth mother and walking alongside her throughout a potential adoption, you simply need to just be. Allow yourself to take one moment at a time, while keeping your own wants and needs in second place. Quite frankly, it is just not about you in those moments.
It’s not about healing your desire to have a baby. It’s not about completing your family. It’s about serving a mother in need that may or may not end in you parenting her child. I think when you keep that perspective in mind, your adoption experience will not just be bearable, but beautiful regardless of the outcome.
We met our birth mother in June of 2018 at a park. She did not wish to meet us at our son’s birth in August of 2017. At that point, only our son’s birth father chose to meet us. He was accompanied by our birth mother’s mother as well. After all of the failed adoptions we experienced, we were open to whatever relationship developed. Meeting her was difficult, but not because it was a fearful situation, but because it was emotional.
There is a quote that you often see in adoption communities that captures what I was thinking when I met our son’s birth mother. The quote states, “He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood (Desha Wood).”
In fact, it brought me much joy to see the looks between my son and his birth mother. I’m excited that my son will know his birth family and have some of his questions answered. Despite how much I love and adore him, I cannot offer him answers to those questions or explanations of certain things. I cannot take credit for his personality and his mechanical mindset or his deep dimples. She can.
I have learned that allowing my son to have a relationship with his birth family does not take anything away from me, my husband or anyone in our family. My son will one day see the confidence I have in our roles, which will inevitably make our bond even stronger. I have purposed to show my love for him by allowing him to experience the wonderful birth mother he has.
There is an incredibly strong and mutual love and respect our son’s birth mother and I have for one another. Though my husband and I do not claim to be adoption experts, we do however, feel like our willingness to have a relationship with her has not only helped her own healing, but will one day aid our son in his own healing. In an effort to walk alongside her, we allow her to set the pace by determining how often she would like to see us and her son. We choose to involve her in major events and holidays by ensuring she is remembered with pictures and letters. For example, on Mother’s Day, we are sure to honor her and send her a special photo.
In our last face to face visit, we discussed what she wanted our son to call her. We all agreed on the popular term, “tummy mummy.” It is in these moments that our son’s birth mother has become part of our family. There has never been an “us and them” sense of division. It’s always been all of us in joint love for our son. While these things vary within each adoption, this system has worked for our family.
Though nothing in life or in adoption is certain, one thing is certain. God will show up if you invite Him. If you’re pursuing adoption, and you have asked God to use you, He will. If you have set out on this journey, know that risks lie ahead. Scary things lie ahead. But God, in all His wonder, will meet you there.