The advice that I will be able to give is based solely on my own experience as a birth mother who needed help to cope with separation. I placed my daughter for adoption over 23 years ago. I have no doubt that a lot has changed about the adoption process since then, but there is no way the emotional feelings from both sides have changed. I had a lot of concerns after finding the right couple for my child. My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t matter anymore now that they knew I was placing my child in their family.
When I first met the couple, I was four months pregnant. My parents and I met them at the adoption agency. I wore a shirt that said “Baby Love” (Love is my maiden name). I also brought them a bouquet of carnations. There were three blue carnations, three pink, and one yellow. They didn’t want to know the sex of the baby. With the bouquet was a sonogram picture—the first picture of their baby girl! They brought “presents” for me as well. My daughter’s adoptive mom brought me a homemade red-velvet cake, which was a family tradition for special events. They also brought me a photo album so I could “picture my child in their life.” The album was so very special. There were pictures of their extended family, of themselves, the baby’s nursery, their pets, and nondescript pictures of their house (we were doing a semi-open adoption).
Throughout my pregnancy, the adoptive couple made me feel loved, and not just because they would be raising my daughter as their own. They truly cared about me and how I was doing, mentally and physically. Every now and then I would get a “Just thinking of you” card from them, with words of encouragement. There were also times that I received cards from friends of theirs telling me how special they thought I was and how much love the adoptive couple would give my child.
When I was able to tell them that their daughter had graced the world with her presence, the first thing they wanted to know was if we were both okay. They weren’t just concerned about their daughter; they were also making sure I was okay. They also wanted to make sure I was feeling well after my very interesting delivery (I delivered her in the back seat of the car outside of the ER).
Their showing concern and love to me just made everything seem right despite the separation. All the decisions I had been making and second-guessing were the right ones, and I didn’t need to worry anymore. That care and concern didn’t end the day I placed my daughter into their arms. Not only did they have special things for me the day I handed her to them, but sometime after we all went our separate ways, I received a beautiful flower arrangement.
In no way am I saying that you need to spend a lot of money on gifts. The most treasured “gifts” are the photo album and a handmade angel doll they gave me. The cards are still in my memory book, and I look back on them from time to time. 23 years after the placement, I still receive very special text messages on Mother’s Day from my daughter’s adoptive mom. It truly is the little things that have helped me cope with the separation from my daughter. There have been times over those 23 years that have been hard, but knowing how much I am loved and thought of has made things so much easier to handle.
Jill Wong has been happily married for 18 years and has five children (including her oldest daughter, whom she placed for adoption). She and her husband love traveling with the kids. Originally from southern Florida, she currently lives near Columbus, OH.