How do you find the strength and courage to share your identity as a birth parent, and tell someone that you placed a child for adoption? As a birth parent, you know that you’re brave and selfless for placing your child for adoption. You should never be ashamed to tell someone that you’re a birth parent. But, you should never feel pressured to tell someone your adoption story either.
When you feel like it’s time to start telling people you’re a birth parent, you may be nervous or unsure. Many people don’t understand adoption today, especially from the birth parent perspective. It’s important to be prepared for the responses that you may receive.
Are you ready to tell someone that you’re a birth parent? Here are a few pieces of advice for sharing your identity as a birth parent.
Remember, it’s Personal
Choosing adoption for your child is never wrong or bad, but it is personal. Becoming a birth parent is a huge event in your life that has likely changed your life in more ways than one. Not everyone needs to know that you’re a birth parent unless you want them to know. You should never feel forced or obligated to share such a personal piece of who you are until you’re ready.
That being said, there may be people that are an important part of your personal life that may benefit from knowing that you’re a birth parent. Maybe you chose not to tell those people — close family, romantic partner, best friends — because it was not the right time to share. Now that you’ve moved closer to coping with your adoption, perhaps it’s the right time to tell them that you’re a birth parent. This is especially true if you are in an open adoption where you communicate regularly, receive updates or even have in-person visits.
Your Child is Still an Important Part of Your Life
Whether you chose open adoption, semi-open adoption or closed adoption, your child is still an important part of your life. The experience of childbirth and voluntarily terminating your parental rights will always be a memory that may run across your mind – frequently or every now and again. If you choose to tell people that you’re a birth parent, this opens you up to discuss your thoughts about your child and sharing your child’s milestones with others.
Your adoption story is unique to you and your child which means that you have your own experiences and beliefs about your adoption. However, the fact remains that you are brave and selfless for wanting the best for your child whether you decide to tell others that you’re a birth parent or not. You chose adoption because you wanted your child to live their best possible life. It’s normal to love your child and be proud of your child even if you placed your child for adoption. No matter how you approach the subject of being a birth parent, your child will always be important to you.
You’re a Birth Parent? Tell Me More!
When you tell someone that you’re a birth parent, they may want to know more or they could leave an uncomfortable silence because they don’t know what’s appropriate to say. This could be a great opportunity to spread adoption awareness. Normalizing adoption for the general public can spread the message of the benefits of adoption, helping other prospective birth parents know that it’s OK to choose adoption for their child.
Here are a few suggestions of things to consider when you tell someone that you’re a birth parent and they either want to know more or they don’t know how to respond:
- Adoption was a difficult decision, but the best part of my adoption experience has been…
- I think about my child every day, but adoption was the best decision for us because…
- Adoption isn’t for everyone, but I think prospective birth parents should consider adoption because…
- I chose open adoption to have contact with my child and the experience has been…
“I Could Never ‘Give My Child Up’ for Adoption” [Dealing with Negative Responses]
Many people don’t know the facts about adoption, especially about the birth parent’s experience. There may be those who respond to your declaration negatively or who can be harsh, but their reactions have nothing to do with you.
Adoption is a precious gift and that doesn’t change.
You’re the expert on your adoption story and you have experienced the true meaning of adoption. You don’t have to allow negative responses or judgement to color your clear view of adoption. That being said, when you tell someone that you’re a birth parent there will likely be questions. Here are a few common questions you may be asked:
- Why did you give your baby away?
- Did you do it for money?
- Can you get your child back?
- Is your child angry with you?
- Do you regret giving your baby away?
- Were you taking the easy way out of responsibility?
Keep in mind, if someone asks insensitive questions or makes a negative comment about you being a birth parent, you don’t owe them any answers or explanations. You can even make it clear that their questions are rude and insensitive. If you get a response like, “I could never give my child up for adoption,” you can simply tell them that adoption isn’t for everyone, but the welfare of your child was the most important consideration, and that you did what you felt was best in your individual situation.
On the other hand, someone may ask these questions because they genuinely have no experience with adoption language and etiquette. You can take their questions as an opportunity to educate them about adoption through your personal story, or you can choose not to further engage with that person on the topic of adoption. You are in control of when and how you tell someone that you’re a birth parent.
Prepare Your Answers in Advance
If you do choose to answer questions about being a birth parent, you may feel more confident by practicing your answers. You can always say more or less, depending on how you feel and who you’re talking to about being a birth parent. Here are a few examples of responses that can help you think about and create your own prepared answers.
- I placed my baby with a loving family. I did not ‘give my baby away.’
- My goal for choosing adoption was not to get my child back. I was committed to adoption and my child’s future.
- I miss my child, but I don’t regret giving my child the opportunity to have the best life that they deserve.
When you give a strong, positive response to someone who has negative ideas of adoption, this could open up more questions of curiosity. People often don’t realize that birth parents are in control of the entire adoption process. It may help you to think back to what you may not have known about adoption before you experienced it firsthand.
Think of your prepared responses this way: How would you tell your past self that you’re a birth parent? How would you explain adoption to yourself before your unplanned pregnancy?
Don’t Worry, You’ll Know When the Timing is Right
Trying to force the fact that you’re a birth parent into the conversation if you’re already nervous can make you feel even more uncomfortable. Just allow the conversation to unfold naturally. New acquaintances may ask you, “Do you have any kids?” People who already know that you’re not raising children may ask, “When are you going to have kids?” This could be a good opportunity for you to say, “I’m a birth parent, I chose adoption for my child.”
Sometimes it may be easier for you to introduce the topic on your own terms. Starting with an opener like, “I have something important to tell you,” can prepare you and the other person to focus on the importance of the topic at hand. Remember to let the other person know that it’s good news and that it’s information you’re proud (and maybe somewhat nervous) to share.
If you have a picture of your child, this can be a great way to help you introduce yourself as a birth parent. Most people love to see pictures and this can create the space that you need in a conversation to tell someone that you’re a birth parent. Being able to show people that your child is a happy and healthy adoptee can set the tone for the conversation and may ease the stress or tension that you might have had.
When You’re Ready, Go for it
You can’t control what other people will say, think or feel when you tell them that you’re a birth parent. When you’re ready to tell someone that you’re a birth parent, don’t let fear hold you back. This can help you continue your journey to coping with your adoption by voicing your feelings about being a birth parent.
If you’re thinking about telling someone that you’re a birth parent or if you feel like now is the time, this could be a sign that you’re ready. Each time that you get excited about receiving a picture of your child or interacting with them through video chat or in person, the desire to share this joy with the people in your life could be a sign that you’re ready to tell someone that you’re a birth parent. Now, all you have to do is go for it.
You may be surprised at the level of support and positivity that can come with telling someone that you’re a birth parent. When you say it, own it. At the end of the day, whether you tell others or not, you’ll always be a birth parent and a hero.