The domestic adoption process can be complex. If you want to avoid delays and potential issues, it’s vital to be aware of a common mistake that many people make when trying to adopt.
Waiting to be chosen by a birth mother can be agonizing, so when you get that call that a birth mother is interested in you, you want to be sure that you are prepared. This preparation will help you avoid the #1 adoption mistake that hopeful adoptive parents make: failing to respect birth mothers.
Even though you will be legally responsible for the child once the adoption is complete, it’s still important to respect the birth mother and father. Despite the birth parents’ background or why they chose adoption, they still deserve respect.
In an open adoption, the birth parents are allowed future involvement with their child after placement. This involvement generally comes in the form of contact over the phone, through texts, social media, or even through in-person visits. If you’re planning an open adoption, you’ll need to show the birth mother respect because it’s what is best for your child.
There are many myths about birth mothers that I would like to dispel. One myth is that most birth mothers are teenagers. Actually, the average age of a birth mother is 29.
Other myths are that most birth mothers are single and uneducated. While most birth mothers are single, many are married, have other children, and the education level varies.
Every birth mother has her own unique story. Whatever that story entails, she is making a heart-wrenching decision to place her precious baby for adoption because she feels it is in her baby’s best interest. Young, old, rich, poor really does not matter. She deserves the utmost respect and should be treated with care and compassion.
Lack of Support
Some birth mothers are dealing with people in their lives that may not be supportive of their decision to place their baby for adoption.
Her family and friends may ask her unkind questions such as “how could you give your baby away?” or “do you not care about your baby?” The answer to these questions is that she is not giving her baby away; she is lovingly making a plan to give her baby the best future she can. She is placing her child in a safe, loving home with a family that is ready and eager to raise a child at this time. You need to be her fiercest advocate and greatest cheerleader.
What is the best way to support a birth mother?
Validate the birth mother’s feelings. She is going to go through a lot of ups and downs as she navigates her adoption journey. Always take her feelings seriously.
You may not know what she is feeling, but you can show empathy and listen with a kind ear. Support her. Cheer her successes and be a shoulder to lean on for the harder days.
Another way to provide support is to have a deep appreciation and care for the birth mother. Let her know how much you appreciate the courage she is showing with her choice of adoption for her baby. Ask her questions about her life, and don’t always focus on just the baby. She is a person with feelings and needs to feel important as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask her what she needs emotionally. Some birth mothers want a lot of contact during pregnancy, and some do not. Look to her for guidance and then respect her wishes.
It’s also a good idea to create a Post Adoption Contact Agreement. A match is a two-way street. You both need to agree on the level of contact you’ll maintain after the adoption is final. Once agreed upon, respect the birth mother by sticking to your end of the agreement.
Avoid the #1 Adoption Mistake with Lifetime’s Help
The relationship between a birth family and an adoptive family is a very personal and unique one. When you are unsure what to say or how much contact to have, ask your Adoption Coordinator. She will help guide you and the birth mother through the adoption process.
Lifetime’s coordinators have extensive experience working with birth mothers and helping adoptive families to create a warm, comfortable relationship that works for all parties involved.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.