What’s normal these days? For most of society, I wouldn’t exactly call adoption “normal.” Adoption is still something that people don’t talk about often, and when they do, it’s usually a mix of a lot of myth with a little truth — or it’s completely based on one experience, regardless of whether it was positive or negative.
So, what is there to do?
The best place to start “normalizing” adoption is within our own lives. As a birth mother myself, my hope is that other birth mothers with an open adoption will help their child’s parents by aiding in “normalizing” adoption for their child.
How to “Normalize” Adoption as Birth Mothers
It is not just the responsibility of adoptive parents to normalize adoption; it is also the responsibility of the birth mother. Birth mothers play an important role in the adoption triad for not only their child but also for their child’s adoptive parents. Birth mothers give their children a connection to their roots, and that is something that adoptive parents can cherish.
It is not only wise for a birth mother to be involved with her child in an open adoption but also for her to talk about adoption with others, as well. Birth mothers will honor themselves and their adoption in different ways. Some birth mothers may honor themselves in private, while others may be vocal about their adoption. If, as a birth mother, you are looking for ways to normalize adoption within your own life, then consider applying some or all these tips:
- If you can choose an open adoption for a post-placement relationship, then take it. Post-placement relationships are different for every individual adoption triad. There are closed adoptions, semi-open adoptions, and open adoptions. Experts in the field of adoption have been discovering the benefits of open adoption for all the members of the adoption triad for years now. In an open adoption, birth mothers can become a part of their child’s life in a way that promotes a positive adoption identity and normalizes the child having another motherly figure in his or her life. Children who know their birth mothers and interact with them will often have more self-esteem and a greater sense of identity than those in a closed adoption.
- Make sure to maintain ongoing contact with your child. Birth mothers in an open adoption, or even a semi-open adoption, are encouraged to maintain contact with their child according to their post-placement agreement. While contact with a child may be difficult at times, don’t give up on them, because they need you. If you find yourself wanting to limit contact, try to set boundaries that won’t cause harm to your child in the process. For example, maybe you shorten a phone call or a visit. That way, you are still interacting with your child but not to the extent that it causes you too much pain.
- I also want to mention that it is crucial to respect your child’s parents. They are legally responsible for that child and morally obligated to protect him or her. If your child’s adoptive parents are limiting the time you have with your child, consider confiding in someone regarding your specific situation and how to move forward. If you can’t find an adoption therapist, reach out to a local church that offers some sort of ministry revolving around adoption and speak to someone in that program. You can also contact your adoption professional if they offer post-placement counseling and support. Even if an adoption professional cannot answer your specific question, they should be able to at least point you in the right direction.
Even though you have placed your child with new parents, you can make a difference in the way you “normalize” adoption for him or her. It’s obvious that adoptive parents should talk openly and often with their adopted child, honor their child’s birth mother and always talk positively about adoption. But birth mothers play a role, too — by choosing an open adoption, maintaining contact with their child and respecting their child’s parents.
Every adoption triad is different from the next, which means every family will “normalize” adoption in a different way. If you are creating a happy and healthy adoption environment for your child, then you are already on the path to “normalizing” adoption!
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.