Your Unexpected News
You are likely reading this article because you or someone you know is experiencing a pregnancy that may be unexpected. As a result, you have news that can potentially be surprising for those in your circle. If you are the person who is expecting a child, you are considered an expectant parent in the world of adoption. As an expectant parent, the thought of giving up your child for adoption has likely made you overwhelmed with everything that decision entails. Adoption means different things to different people. Much of this depends on what an individual knows about adoption. From my own experience as an adoptive mother, the vast majority of people do not know much about adoption, and what they do know, is often inaccurate. So, as difficult as it is to share this decision with people, it will be even more difficult to share this with people who either do not understand adoption or have negative opinions regarding adoption.
Potential Responses to Giving up Your Child for Adoption
Although each circle of friends and family and community is different, there are several common responses to adoption that you may potentially encounter when you tell someone you are giving up your child for adoption. While this is not an exhaustive list, some of the responses include: “So, you don’t love your child?”, “Why don’t you give your child to someone in your family?”, “If this is what you were going to do, why did you get pregnant?”.
It is true that these responses sound hurtful and accusatory and even ignorant; however, when people are unfamiliar or uneducated about something, their ignorance can often come out in their words. This is true for adoption. As an expectant parent, you will often have to explain your decision when you may not want to or feel comfortable in doing so. As an adoptive parent myself, I have seen the arduous road that expectant parents have to travel for a decision they have deemed as the best option for their child. In my experience being alongside several expectant parents, I have seen situations where the families and circles of expectant parents have been supportive, but more commonly, I have seen people be unsupportive of an expectant parent’s decision to place their child for adoption.
In a perfect world, everyone would be accepting of each other’s decisions and not cast judgment on one another. However, this is not the case. People are often quick to pass judgment and pretend they know what they would do in the same situation. Regardless of what potential responses people may have to your decision to pursue adoption, you must remain focused on what you, as the parent, decide is best. This is often easier said than done, but when you remember that, it can help you handle the people who may potentially be unsupportive.
Disclosing Your Decision to Give up Your Child for Adoption
Remember that honesty is the best policy. This adage rings true in this case. The decision to give your baby up for adoption or as it is recommended to say, “to place your baby for adoption,” may come at various points in pregnancy. Regardless of when you begin to disclose your decision of adoption, it is important to approach the situation with complete honesty. You have likely chosen adoption for a very specific reason, and while not all of your details may need to be shared, it is important to approach your disclosure with as much detail as may be appropriate for you. This is something that no one can decide for you, but something you will need to determine yourself.
There is no right or wrong way to disclose your decision, but try to avoid letting the opinions of others persuade you to do something you are not comfortable doing. This is something that also depends on the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy. While I do not have any experience in placing a child for adoption, I do have experience walking alongside expectant mothers. In one instance, I met an expectant mother whose immediate family did not support her decision. While this adoption was ultimately disrupted, meaning she did not end up placing her child for adoption, it was difficult to see her choice be muffled by what her immediate family essentially chose for her, while not offering her any current or future support.
There are some critical things to remember as you begin to disclose your decision to those around you. Here are some things to remember, and even though it is not an exhaustive list, these are things that within my experience, have proven to be important points:
- As the expectant parent, you are in control of all things regarding your adoption plan.
- Regardless of what others may think, you are the only one who truly knows what the right decision is. If the expectant father is involved this applies to him as well.
- It is normal to need help during this process. It is wise to seek counsel whether it be for assistance in making a decision or handling your emotions.
- Surround yourself with people who support you. If you do not have anyone in your circle who is supportive, surround yourself with adoption professionals who will assist you and provide you with the things you need. In fact, you can even speak to women who are now considered birth moms since they have placed their child for adoption.
- Consider everything that is involved in raising a child, both the practical things and things that are often overlooked. For a more detailed list of things to consider, try reading this article.
With all of this in mind, when you begin to disclose your decision, it will not be an easy task. However, preparation can make the task more manageable. Maintaining honesty and knowing that you are in control of the situation will guide you. Remember to embrace those who are supportive and implement healthy boundaries for those who are not.
When disclosing your decision to others, you can start your conversation by telling your listeners how this pregnancy has made you feel. Allow that to be your springboard in sharing with those listening why you have chosen adoption for your child. As mentioned previously, not everyone is completely educated about adoption, and the majority of people have misconceptions about it. Don’t let this be a surprise to you. In fact, you should expect it. You also should not allow it to be a deterrent for you. You can encourage people to educate themselves about adoption while encouraging them to not make judgments without being educated on the topic.
It is important to think through your decision as much as you can and research all adoption resources. Another resource for you is Adoption.org. If you are unable to learn as much as you want or if you have questions or concerns, you can reach out to adoption professionals who would be happy to assist you.
The Importance of Positive Adoption Language
While we have discussed how to tell someone you’re giving your child up for adoption, it is important to note that it is extremely important to learn, incorporate and advocate for positive adoption language. For example, instead of saying, “giving your child up for adoption” you could say, “placing for adoption.” Positive adoption language helps bridge gaps of understanding, builds positive connotations within the adoption community, and advocates for each member of the adoption triad.
What is known about adoption varies widely among different people. Something that can potentially impact adoption in a significant way is your approach to positive adoption language. As you begin to disclose your decision to your friends, family, and peers, you have a wonderful opportunity to make an impact on adoption. It is fair to assume that when you begin to disclose your decision to others, you may face opposition or people who just do not understand that placing a child for adoption is an act of love. Although it is not your job to make or force other people to understand, it is your job to make a decision for yourself regardless of what people around you may think.
Using every opportunity to educate people about adoption through the use of positive language will help people understand adoption. Words have connotative meanings and the words surrounding adoption are no different. Use your personal knowledge and potential experience to make a positive impact on something that will be a significant event in your life.
A Final Word on Placing Your Child for Adoption
My son’s birth mother has endured so much in her life and is the single most sacrificial person I have ever met. From what she has told me, she experienced people in her life who did not understand her decision. She did face judgment, but in immense strength, maintained her decision. Now, three years into an open adoption with her and our son, it is amazing to see her perspective especially when she discusses what the alternatives may likely have been. No adoption story is the same. But what is the same is the immense impact that adoption makes on families. It truly takes what a broken situation may seem like and brings good from it. This is not to say that adoptive parents are the heroes or that adoption is always the best choice for a child. However, that adoption is something expectant parents can feel empowered to do when it is appropriate for their situation.
Wherever you are in your journey of pursuing adoption or making important decisions, it is my hope that you are surrounded by people who love and support you. If you have no one who is loving and supportive, know that there are people who will walk with you.
You are an expectant parent right now. The mere fact that you are contemplating what is best for your child, whatever that might be, indicates that you are already embracing the role of a loving parent. You are thinking, processing, and taking actionable steps in ensuring your child is cared for, loved, and given every possible opportunity to flourish. In a perfect world, adoption would not have to exist, but since the world is not perfect and adoption does exist, it is important to embrace it if it is what is best for you and your child. Please know that adoption, if you choose that route, will not be easy, but it will be a turning point in your life where you see where sacrifice meets love.
Sarah Beth is an adoptive mother through infant domestic adoption. She and her husband experienced six disrupted adoptions before meeting their son. Sarah Beth has experience walking alongside numerous expectant mothers and birth families. As an adoption advocate, she enjoys sharing her experiences in hopes of advocating for both birth and adoptive families and impacting the adoption community. When she is not with her family, she is busy as a middle school Assistant Principal. Sarah Beth enjoys reading, coffee, documentaries, and all things adoption-related.