Adopting has it’s unique hurdles and challenges. The adoption process, bonding with a little one who has no genetic connection to you, navigating birth parent and transracial issues; the list can be endless.
But possibly one of the most frustrating and sometimes infuriating things for adoptive parents is how friends, family, and even strangers speak of their adopted child’s birth family. There are still assumptions about birth moms that come straight from the Lifetime movie channel, where birth moms show up on doorsteps with a golf club demanding babies back. Reality is far from this picture and wouldn’t come close to creating a movie drama.
Recently an adoptive mother told me that even though people around her have started to use proper adoption language, they still often speak negatively about her son’s birth mother. This woman is now like family to them and when people speak poorly of her, it cuts deep.
We asked adoptive parents to complete this statement: What I wish people knew about birth parents is…
Here’s what adoptive mothers had to say, and it might not be what you expect.
About who they are
They are courageous selfless women, who ultimately LOVE their child and want what’s best for them! ~Shauna
Not all birthparents are troubled teens. They are greatly admired – what brave and strong people [they are]! ~Erin
I understand that she hasn’t made the greatest choices in her adult life, but she’s human and we love her and people don’t seem to understand that it is hurtful to us to speak derogatorily about her. ~Elizabeth
They are just people with feelings just like us. It is so easy to love them when you put yourself in their shoes and realize the sacrifice they are making…they are a part of us forever no matter how much contact we have with them. ~Kim
They are brave. Brave enough to sacrifice their bodies, their reputations, their jobs, their relationships with friends/family, etc., all because they know LOVE for the LIFE of their sweet child growing inside of them. They could have an abortion. They could keep a child in a dangerous or unstable situation. But they choose the harder road, because it is better for their child. What honor. What privilege to know people who can love like that. What joy to be given the gift of raising that blessed child. ~Ashley
About the decision they make
The decision that they make for their child’s future in NOT the easy way out. It is NOT because they don’t want their child or are GIVING them up. It is because they LOVE, and the decision is HARD. ~Tracie
They love and do “want” their children. They did not place for our sake, to make us parents. They did it for the child’s sake. ~Stacey
They did not “give their baby away.” They made a courageous choice to give life and a future to their child because of their love. ~Katie
She chose LIFE and for that we are forever grateful! ~Annette
Birthmomma’s are my heroes! Regardless of their circumstances they chose life and they ultimately made the best decision they could for their child. Even terminating rights isn’t something they HAVE to do at birth. They are still making an incredibly selfless decision. ~Sara
About security in the adoption process
They are not scary, and I’m not terrified they will come back one day to take my kids away! They are legally my kids, and it can’t happen. Also, they do not confuse my children. They know they grew in their birth mom’s belly, and I am their mommy. ~Heather
I’m not afraid they will come back for my child. ~Erin
Birthparents do not try to tell me how to raise my child. ~Tracie
Birth parents are not to be feared. Like us, they love these children and their decisions for them are made out of love. We do not need to “protect” our children from their birth families. We are not cowering in fear that they will “take back” the kids. Even before the revocation period was over for each of them, we had peace, knowing that God was in control of where the kids would end up, and knowing that if our children’s birth families chose to parent that decision would also be lovingly made. We respect and celebrate our children’s birth families and are proud to be connected to them forevermore. And they appreciate us, too–they do not hate us for “taking away their babies.” They have expressed love and respect for us. Just as our children, and they, are answers to our prayers, we are an answer to their prayers. We are on the same team, birth parents and adoptive parents, working together to promote the wellbeing of our precious children. ~Jennifer
About the relationship they share
I love them with a deep love I didn’t know before adoption. ~Heather
Our relationship with our birth family isn’t intrusive or inconvenient. It is a gift that we cherish. Birth parents that desire an open relationship aren’t not letting go – it brings them joy and healing to know and see the child they carried and love is being well loved and thriving. ~Angela
They become a part of your family. Even if you don’t have an extremely open adoption. They are a part of you, and you will pray for them the rest of your life with fervor…because you love them and care for them. It is something that may creep up on you, but as you fall in love with your child…you fall in love with them. It is a part of adoption that most people think they want to skip over. I find that these people I never knew much about- I want to learn. I want to know more. I want to show them love. After all – they have shown me love in a way that is very real! ~Dawn
I wish people knew that we view her as a member of our family and to not talk about her to us in any way they wouldn’t talk to us about one of our sisters. ~Elizabeth
They become a part of your family. Even if you don’t have an extremely open adoption. They are a part of you, and you will pray for them the rest of your life with fervor…..because you love them and care for them. It is something that may creep up on you, but as you fall in love with your child….you fall in love with them. It is a part of adoption that most people think they want to skip over. I find that these people I never knew much about- I want to learn. I want to know more. I want to show them love. After all – they have shown me love in a way that is very real! ~Kym
These are just a handful of thoughts and stories, born out of families who have embraced adoption and the reality of extending their family beyond their baby. We’ve seen it happen hundreds of times. Families who start the adoption journey anxious about the birth family and the reality of relationship. Then they meet the birth mama…and possibly the father, and the grandmother, and a sister… Then they have faces and names and the side of the story.
They end up falling in love twice. They anticipated loving this child, buut never dreamed they could hold that kind of love for the birth family as well.
Adoption is full of beautiful surprises.
Adapted with permission from CAC Adoption Director Susan VanSyckle’s blog