May 7th, 2007
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By being a good birth mother, I am not referring to that stereotypical birth mother of yesteryear who handed over her child and walked off into the sunset never to be heard from again. Asking that from a mother is a far greater punishment than the “crime” of an unplanned pregnancy deserves. (And no, I do not really believe that an unplanned pregnancy is a crime!)

Neither do I believe that it is being a good birth mother to a child if one seemingly disappears off the face of the earth never to be seen or heard from again. Although mothers of my generation were told that was what they were supposed to do, I believe that they were mislead.

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Here are some suggestions for mothers with closed adoptions:

1. If you have not yet searched or been found, consider the possibility. Prepare yourself to be found even if you are not ready to search. As a mother who was totally unprepared to be found, I assure you it is smart to at least realize that it could happen. You can prepare yourself by reading and talking to others who have reunited.

2. Make yourself easy for your child to locate. Sign up with registries and the agency that handled the adoption. Ask the agency if there is a contact preference form that can be placed in your file, or if you can provide a letter that requests contact.

3. Update the medical information in your child’s adoption file. Keep it current, and always make certain that your contact information is always up-to-date in case your child comes to the agency to find you.

4. Work on your adoption issues and get some therapy and support. Finding some sense of peace and resolution will make you a better person and will be a gift for your relinquished child and other loved ones. If you are already in a reunion with your child, work on your issues on your own. Do not lay your problems on your child and expect them to magically cure you or take care of you. It is unfair to impose that burden on your child.

5. Love your child unconditionally no matter how many obstacles they throw in your way. They may expect you to bolt when things get tough, and test you over and over. Keep loving them no matter how hard they try to push you away.

6. Be respectful to your child’s adoptive parents, whether they deserve it or not. If your child has a strong bond with his/her adoptive parents, be happy for them and appreciate how good that is for them. The parents who raised your child are all they know. Never put your child in the middle of a battle between parents.

7. Give your child the time and space they need in a new relationship. Pay attention to the pace that your child seems comfortable with and let them have the control in the relationship. Control is often a major issue for adoptees. Let your child take the lead in the amount of contact and other such issues.

8. At reunion, be honest and provide any and all information that your child wants you to provide. Your adult child deserves the truth – all of it, including the identity of their birth father. Do not put him down, but let your child reach their own conclusions about him. However, do be truthful about your child’s birth father and warn your child if there are any valid reasons to do so.

9. Do not insist on being called, “Mom.” Your child needs to call you whatever feels right to them. Discuss the issue if it is important to you, however, be flexible and reasonable.

Further Reading:

Birth Family Stories

Issues Facing Adult Adoptees.

Photo by Jan Baker 2007

2 Responses to “How to be a Good Birth Mother – Closed Adoption”

  1. aimeew says:

    Do you know about any of the laws surrounding closed adoption for the state of Washington? I was told that the adoption agency could not give my relinquished son any of my contact information directly, even if he asked for it. I have been updating the agency for years, and was just told this a couple of months ago.

    Also, is it true that if the relinquished child is younger than 25, any sort of contact must be made through the a-parents, even if the child (adult) doesn’t live in the home?

    I have found a lot of obstacles in having contact with my son. Is this true for others? Any resources for Washington laws?

  2. Jan Baker says:

    Aimeew, please email and I will send you some Washington state resources. Sorry, I missed your request and just noticed it! My son searched for me through the agency in Washington state.

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