July 31st, 2008
Posted By:
Categories: Reaching Out

An expectant mother recently posted on the forums. She’s considering relinquishment. Someone advised her to talk to “middle aged” “birth mothers” as they will have the best advice regarding placement.

I kind of have a problem with that advice.

Not that I don’t love my “middle aged” “birth mother” friends. In fact, I’ve learned a lot from them about various issues connected to adoption. Beyond that, they’ve taught me a lot about healing, personal responsibility and even thrown some parenting advice into the mix. I’m not silly enough to suggest that talking to these mothers would not be beneficial to someone considering relinquishment.

But they’re not the only group that expectant mothers should be querying.

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Those considering relinquishment should be talking to everyone touched by adoption. Not even just birth mothers and biological fathers. Adoptive parents. Adoptees (even those who are anti-contact). And, yes, birth mothers. Those who have relinquished recently and those who relinquished decades ago.

Maybe the person who offered up this advice to the expectant mother realized that many new birth mothers, in that first year post-placement, are in a state of denial. Maybe that person knew many of us who offered up advice that now makes us cringe when we remember it. Maybe that person was just trying to protect this mother from skewed advice. And I get that logic. I do. I cringe when I think about some of the things I said in that first post-placement year. But that doesn’t mean that these mothers should be avoided.

First year birth mothers have some valuable input that many of us have lost. They are closer to the immediacy of their loss and can remember details that many of us have forgotten, either purposefully or subconsciously. They can offer up specific information about being in the hospital that I honestly have no way of recollecting at this time. They can give better detail about the actual relinquishment process. They can help a mother from their own state be better versed on laws, especially as they may have changed since other birth mothers placed.

But first year birth mothers, as well, shouldn’t be the only ones being approached by expectant mothers.

They, the first year birth mothers, should be taken as part of a whole. Older birth mothers who have spent more years dealing with their adoptions should be willing to tell their stories as well. More importantly, those with years under their belt should try to remember that first year and be honest about their experience so that an expectant mother can then begin to piece together the healing journey that birth mothers go through and how that first year is just one of the first steps towards some semblance of healing.

And so, what I’m saying in a long and wordy fashion, is that you, as a birth parent, should be willing to share your story with expectant parents. Perhaps you have a great experience. You need to share it to ensure that, should the parents sign those relinquishment forms, those parents could also have a good experience. Perhaps you have a mediocre experience. Sharing it will hopefully let an expectant family pick and choose what they do and do not want from learning through your story. Perhaps you have an awful, horror story kind of experience. Sharing it will help expectant parents know what to avoid. (Of course, all of this is based upon the hope that the expectant parents are listening to you. You can’t force that. You can just share.)

Have you shared your story with an expectant parent considering placement? How did it go?

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4 Responses to “Sharing Your Story with Expectant Parents”

  1. silver2983 says:

    I wish very much that I had been able to speak with some birth mothers before I gave up my daughter for adoption. I really had no idea what it could be like or what it could turn into. The group that we went through for the adoption didn’t tell me anything more than “this will be a difficult experience for you”. My adoption experience started off great, it was supposed to be an open adoption and I was supposed to get pics. It turned into a nightmare. The adoptive family stopped writing, and then after a year and a half, decided that they didn’t want my daughter anymore and gave her up to a family I had never met. They didn’t tell me anything until it was done with.
    I didn’t understand that they had the right to stop writing me much less being able to give up my daughter again. I think that those considering adoption need to know that there are those adoptive families out there who are more than willing to keep open relationships with them, but that it can just as easily go the other way. I don’t know if knowing that then would have affected my decision to give her up, but it would have been good to have at least been able to take it into consideration.

  2. calsmom says:

    I believe Jenna has made some excellent points here. Anyone considering adoption does need to hear from many sides, on many levels. When we do any speaking on our open adoption, our son’s bmom makes it sound like the best thing since cream cheese, but not without her grief. We have a very open adoption and we have chosen that. An open adoption requires trust and honesty. Silver’s comment tears me up-to hear her open adoption go sour. DH and I are 100% committed to ours b/c we know it’s best for our son, not to mention all of us that love him. Of course we have heard about aparents that would agree to anything to ‘get’ a baby. In fact, we know some. How do you get someone like that to be completely honest about what they want when it’s not in their hearts? If you don’t want ‘a lot’ of contact, that needs to be agreed upon in the beginning. Or you shouldn’t be matched with those bparents. Just my two-cents.

  3. djc0501 says:

    I am a birthmother who gave up her daughter at 5 months of age when I was just 20 (I am now 38). My daughter is getting ready to turn 18 in November. I remember the first few weeks were the roughest. When I left the lawyers office from relinquishing Nicole, I almost got arrested for smoking in the subway car (fortunately my friend talked the cop out of it). I wouldn’t come out of my room for 3 weeks afterwords. My father finally dragged me out, made me get showered and dressed, and took me out for a drink. He told me that I had to get on with my life, or what I had done was for nothing. He reinforced the reasons I gave her up for adoption in the first place: a better life, things I was unable to provide (such as food, clothes, stability), and to protect her from her abusive birthfather ever finding her. I eventually found the strength to go get a job, an apartment without all the memories of her, and just tried to get through life one day at a time. I went and saw a counselor for grief counseling (losing a child to adoption falls under this area of expertise). She helped me come to terms with what I had done and the things in my past that had led me down that road. I had to deal with all my demons from the past before I was able to accept that I had done what was best for Nicole. I sought out the adoptive parents for pictures one time (they had been promised to me over the course of her life and 3 years had passed since the adoption). They sent the pictures, but looking at them has brought mixed feelings of pain and joy. I have never requested them again until now. Her birthday and the time I relinquished her are always difficult for me, but I just keep telling myself that I did what was best for her and she has a better life because of it. I sometimes wish I had requested/demanded an open adoption, but by the same token, I am not sure that seeing her would be any less painful. I would still want to take “my child” home with me and seeing her would probably prevent me from getting on with my life. You can’t live in the past forever. I am not saying it should be forgotten, but sometimes it needs to be left in the past until the time is right. For me, I am hoping the time will be right as of Nov 7th and nothing would make me happier than to get a call from my daughter. I hope I made the right decision for her and that her life has been amazing. Sometimes, the best things in life are worth waiting for…

  4. “You can’t live in the past forever.”

    Find me one post on this blog in which I suggest such a thing. Furthermore, your wording is crass at best. I don’t live in the past myself. I have chosen to make my daughter part of my present.

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