A birth parent’s decision to place their child for adoption is very personal. Every adoption is unique, and the reasons behind this decision vary with every story. You CAN have a relationship with your baby after placing for adoption. Although, there are many factors that will shape the relationship, and it’s important to be aware of these from the very beginning. Consider the following details listed below in order for this type of relationship to be successful.
- Choose an adoptive family that desires a relationship with you. There are different types of adoption, and you want to make sure that the adoptive family you choose wants to maintain the same type of adoption that you do. A confidential, or closed adoption, means there would be no interaction of any kind between the birth and adoptive families. An open adoption would allow direct or organized communication between the adoptive and birth families. Open adoption would be ideal if you want a relationship with your baby after placing. Let your requests be known immediately so that you can find the right adoptive family for your child.
- Embrace your role as a birth parent. Remember why you made this brave and selfless decision for your child. You’re choosing to allow another family to guide your baby through life, and that decision requires an enormous amount of thought, love, and strength. Allow those principles to come together to form the foundation of this lifelong decision. This will provide you will strength and emotional endurance for the relationship. When I voluntarily terminated my parental rights to my birth son, I gave up my right to raise him. I gave up the privilege to be his mother. I understood that I was completely giving that privilege to another woman, and that was okay. Why? Because I knew my role as a birth parent, and this mature understanding has always shaped my relationship with my birth son and his family.
- Be considerate of the adoptee and adoptive family. I knew that I wanted a relationship with my baby after placing him, but I had no idea if it would happen. Regardless of that uncertainty, I made the decision to extend my love to the child and his family to the best of my ability. I tried to do what was best for the baby growing inside me while he was closest to my heart. For example, I knew that the voices a baby hears while in the womb could be soothing for him after birth. Knowing that I wouldn’t be there to soothe him after he was born bothered me, so I asked his parents to record themselves reading. With headphones over my belly bump, I played the recording for him, hoping he would get used to his parents’ voices. I also tried to be very accommodating to the adoptive parents’ feelings. I attempted to put myself “in their shoes” many times, which helped me make many of my decisions. For example, I knew that they would love to witness the birth of their child. So, I invited them to be in the room with me during labor! There was absolutely no way I would want them to miss out on that amazing experience.
- Get ready for your responsibilities as a birth parent. If you desire a relationship with your birth child, you must understand that this requires responsibility. You need to be dedicated. Starting a relationship with your birth child and then disappearing at some point would be damaging to him or her, so you must be committed to this lifelong relationship. Secondly, understand that as your birth child grows older, they may have some questions for you. The adoptive parents will most likely be right by your side for support, but you must be prepared for this. You should be available to answer hard questions and to extend your love and support in this relationship as needed.
- Your views on this relationship must be realistic. Most likely, it’s not going to be what you expect. That little baby that once grew inside of you will probably never run up to you with open arms yelling, “Mommy!” or “Daddy!” The reason why is because birth parents aren’t mommies and daddies to their adoptees. The adoptive parents are the mommies and daddies. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love them or that they won’t love us. We loved them from the very beginning, and one day our birth children might understand that. In the meantime, our relationship must be sensible in the ways that the adoptees can understand.
- You must accept that you don’t have authority of the relationship. Once you place your baby for adoption, you most likely have no rights to a relationship with your birth child. These adoption laws vary from state to state, but I’ll share my personal experience from Wisconsin. I terminated my parental rights, and the adoption was finalized in 2015. The adoptive parents have absolutely no obligation to contact me. The pictures they share and the communication that they allow comes from the loving kindness of their hearts. It doesn’t come from a piece of paper stating that they are ordered to do these things. Also, as time passes, an adoptee may not want a relationship with his or her birth parents. Preparing yourself for this reality, as early as possible, is the best thing for a birth parent.
I placed a baby boy for adoption, and I had no idea what our relationship would look like. I still don’t know what the future holds and what type of relationship he may desire to have with me. Our bond grows directly from the relationship I share with his parents. They share photos with me and my family, and we also mingle on social media. We’ve celebrated birthdays and holidays together. We even went on a family camping trip together! Amazingly, his mother started a blog called, “Three is my Happy Place.” In her blog, she shares intimate details about our adoption story and provides updates on their lives. These are the various ways that I’m able to have interaction with him, and I feel very pleased with that. He knows he was adopted, and he knows that he grew inside my belly. But he’s 4 years old and doesn’t truly understand. When I am in his presence, sometimes he hugs me, and sometimes he doesn’t. He’s held my hand before, and he’s told me that he loves me. I also remember a time when I was just staring at him in awe, admiring how amazing he is. He looked at me as if his exact thought was, “What in the world are you staring at lady?” So, I just smiled and looked away hoping I didn’t scare him. I embrace and cherish all types of contact that I am blessed to have with him. You can have a relationship with your child after placement. The best way for this is to allow the adoptive parents to be your guide, since they know what’s best for their child.
If you are unexpectedly pregnant, please consider adoption. Visit Adoption.com to view adoption profiles from hopeful adoptive parents. Visit Adoption.com/unplanned-pregnancy to find guidance with your unplanned pregnancy.
Heather Mitchell courageously became a birth mother in 2014. She is inspired to personally share how open adoption has incredibly impacted her life. She shatters the common misconceptions about birth mothers, and desires to provide a beautiful and unique point of view. Heather enjoys her grind as an administrative specialist for a millwork company in Wisconsin. While dedicated to her profession, Heather believes her most important job in life is motherhood. Her three children keep her busy, yet extremely overjoyed and purposeful. Her free time is spent reading, writing, or admiring the view of Lake Michigan, which can be seen from her front porch.