1. Be happy.
You have just been given the most precious gift. You walk into your home and into the nursery that you have spent months perfecting. You sit down on the plush rocking recliner, next to a perfectly fitted crib, and start to cry. Nothing could have prepared you for the amount of love you now feel for this heavenly baby. You have everything you have ever wanted, and yet something is holding you back from the enjoyment of this moment. It’s a moment you have waited years to experience, so why are you crying?
You can’t help think about your child’s birth mother and her loss when you look at your baby.
Often I hear stories such as this. It’s difficult, as an adoptive parent, to not think about the loss and pain your child’s birth mother is now experiencing. You want to be joyful, and you are, but you’re aware of the grief that is now setting in for the other side of this equation. As you rock back and forth with your most precious gift, you cry tears of pure joy and tears of guilt.
As a birth mother, I would say to any adoptive couple, be happy! Wipe those silly tears of guilt and shame away. Hold that precious gift close to you, rock back and forth in that recliner and smile. There are hundreds of checkpoints to get to where you are now, and none of it would have happened had it not been in the stars to be so. Be happy. Be joyful. Be grateful.
Be mindful of your child’s birth mother and be respectful. Remember you have been given this child to love and care for, not to feel guilty or even less than. Enjoy these fleeting moments with your newborn. Time will go by so quickly, and right now, that baby needs your undivided attention and love. There is no greater gift for your child’s birth mom than to see your family living life to the fullest. Send mounds of positive energy daily to her and her family, then be and live a happy life.
2. You can never have too many people who love you.
In a world that is saturated with negativity, you can never have too many people who love and support you.
You’re sharing pictures of your child on social media and in text messages, and addressing Christmas cards to friends and family. You’re so proud of your adorable family and enjoy sharing photos and updates on how your child is progressing and growing. You share these photos and experiences with people who are close to you but also to those followers who hardly know you, am I right? When you send your Christmas cards out, my guess is some of those people only see and hear from you once or twice a year. So why not send updates and photos to the one person who loves your child as much as you do: your child’s birth mom?
Your child is surrounded by multitudes of love, not only from your family and friends but your child’s birth family. Open adoption has many positive aspects, and though I do not have as much experience in this area, I do know that allowing more love and support in your child’s life is a positive thing. If you are already including your child’s birth mom and have healthy open communication with her, congratulations. This relationship can be a beautiful and healing experience.
In our home, where we have two teenagers and a seven-year-old, we often talk about how important it is to be on the same team. We, as a family, are a team of five, and we support and cheer each other on no matter what. Positive affirmations, unconditional love, and respect are something we encourage. There are plenty of people in this world who do not want to see you or your children succeed. In our home, we try and create an environment where it is safe to be successful and confident. Your child’s birth mom wants to see you succeed. She wants your family team to succeed! Her unconditional love and positive encouragement give you the advantage of having one more person on your side. She wants what is best for all of you.
Your child is doubly loved! Allow that love to surround you. You can never have too many people in your life who care for you. Your child’s birth mother loves you, your family, and your child unconditionally.
3. Doubt does not mean regret.
Seventeen years after placing my baby girl for adoption, I still have moments of doubt. It’s a feeling of uncertainty, not a sense of regret. I don’t talk about these feelings often because they are few and far between, but they do exist and most likely will my entire life.
With any significant decision that you make in life, there is always a follow up of uncertainty or doubt. It is human nature to look back and think of how things could have been different. I don’t believe in regret. I believe we are chosen to take specific paths in our lives to help us learn and grow. My path as a birth mother is not a mistake. Your path as your child's parent is not a mistake. We were both chosen for this child.
Though your birth mother will have difficult days of grief and doubt, it doesn’t mean she wants to take your child away from you. The emotional roller coaster that she will experience is normal. Support her, love her, and be her friend. Don’t be fearful of her doubt. Nothing can prepare you for post-placement, just as nothing can truly prepare you for parenting. Keep communication open; be mindful and sensitive to her emotions and needs.
Create a positive space where your family and your child’s birth mother can be happy, successful, and feel loved.
Growing up in Utah County, unwed pregnancy by age 19, Gina always found herself outside of the Utah cultural box. Shortly after placing her baby girl for adoption in the fall of 2000, she started her own non-profit organization, Birth Mother Baskets. Her goal was to provide hope, support, and courage for birthmothers, post placement.
After fourteen years of running Birth Mother Baskets and being an adoption advocate, Gina stepped away to pursue a corporate job as a Creative Arts Manager.
A severe concussion in 2016 led Gina back to rediscover her true passion for writing. She left the comforts of the corporate paycheck and is now writing a memoir.
Gina still lives in that cultural bubble of Utah County with her husband and three children. She enjoys changing people’s perception of birth mothers and their place in adoption.
You can find her writings at ginacrotts.com or follow her on Instagram at @ginacrottswriter.