All I could do was the best I could at the time with what I had. That’s all we can ever do.
Lack of Support
I remember when I had my son and he was about five months old. I told my friend about how hard parenting was for me. I told him I had many negative thoughts and didn’t know what to do. His response was that it was normal for me to feel the way that I did. He didn’t offer support, advice or help. He just said it was normal and left it at that. Needless to say, I placed my son for adoption one month later.
A Happy Present
I have an open adoption with my son. I placed him for adoption when he was six months old. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, yet it was the best decision that I have ever made in my life. When I was a mother, I was almost completely on my own. I had very little support, and was very likely suffering from postpartum depression without knowing it. I knew that adoption was the best choice, but it was by far not the easy choice. The birth father was busy being a confused, young man who just wasn’t ready to take care of a child.
In the beginning of the adoption lifestyle, I saw my son every month or two. Since I was a mother for six months, it was very hard for me to not have frequent contact with him. As time went on, we weaned the visits. Over the years, we have changed visit frequencies to about once per year. I speak with him on holidays and sometimes in between over the phone.
The Beauty of Open Adoption
My open adoption is also open for my son. He knows who I am, and will ask his parents questions about me. They openly talk about me with him, and encourage him to have a relationship with me. I tell people that I have a fairy tale adoption. It’s not perfect by any means, but considering what a rough start my son and I had, our lives have increased in abundance immensely. We are not lucky, we are blessed.
I was blessed by a visit from my son and his parents recently. It was ever so bittersweet. I laid my eyes upon his face and felt my soul ignite. Seeing my son didn’t bring sadness, it brought great joy. I enjoyed my time with him; sitting next to him over a meal, watching him play video games, and just chatting with him on his age-appropriate level. My favorite moment: When it was time to say our goodbyes, I gave him a huge hug and whispered: “You know I’m proud of you, right?” His perfect response, “I know Mama Linz! You tell me all the time!” What else could a birth mother ask for?
My son was playing with some toys and his parents let me know that he has started asking about his biological father. I was floored. I have been walking a path of healing as a birth mother for seven years and have never truly dealt with my feelings regarding the birth father. Hearing that my son has some questions was not something I was ready for yet. I knew the day would come, it just came a little too soon. I’m sure that is normal for a parent — after all, they grow up way too fast.
My ideology regarding my role as a birth parent is that when my son needs me, I am here for him. No matter what, when he needs me, I will always be here. That means, at times, facing my own fears, swallowing my pride, and doing what is best for my child. I told his parents that I would get ahold of the birth father, see how he is doing, and find out if there is any potential for a relationship with him for my son. No matter what my personal issues with his birth father happen to be, it is my responsibility as a parent to set those aside and do what is best for my child.
I don’t know what to expect from here, but I know I will protect my son no matter what. I did text his birth father, and it sounds as if he is a changed man. Time will tell what the future holds. In the meantime, I am a focused and determined woman who will begin a new path of healing in regards to my son’s birth father.
I am a firm believer in education regarding all aspects of life with children. If you do not educate them and plant happy and healthy seeds of faith, how will they ever have the right tools to make the important daily decisions that they need to? Even more than that, if we don’t teach them, and they fail, then who is really failing? It is us failing them.
Guidelines for Adoptive Children’s Questions
As far as children asking questions about where they came from in an open adoption, I keep a few guidelines on my heart and outline some boundaries as well. If your birth child is asking questions regarding adoption, please consider the following:
- The child’s adoptive parents have taken on the full responsibility, both morally and legally, to raise the child. It is up to them to determine what is best for the child, and what is age-appropriate for their child. If adoptive parents feel certain things are appropriate to discuss, while other topics may not be appropriate for the child yet, then trust them. These parents spend their every day with this child, and while it may cause a twinge of pain in a birth mother’s heart, they know what is best for the child.
- It may be tempting to talk to your child about things they are not ready for. While kids are resilient, age-appropriate is crucial to remember. Respect the level of maturity that your child is at. Remember that they are living a different lifestyle than you, and they may not have been exposed to significant trauma upon placement.
- Get support for yourself. If you feel that it’s time for you to start a path of healing, or move forward in a greater capacity than you have in your healing, then make sure you have the support that you need to navigate the emotions that go along with open adoption. If the adoption agency doesn’t have the support you are looking for, check out local churches, community organizations, or call 1-800-ADOPTION.
No matter which stage you are in of the open adoption life, there are going to be challenges. Face your fears as they come, enjoy those moments with your child that you can cherish, and always show respect to the care and concern of adoptive parents.
You are not alone, so reach out for help if you need it. If I can get through it, I know you can too.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.