Adoption is a tricky topic for a lot of birth moms to talk about. It gets even more complicated when you throw in dating and relationships. When is too soon? What should I say? Will it change the way he looks at me?
First and foremost, if a man thinks less of you because you are a birth mother, it’s not going to work out. That’s okay, not everyone understands adoption. That doesn’t make them a bad person, it just makes them not the one for you. You need someone who supports your decision, and who thinks you are amazing for doing what you felt was best for your child. He should love your birth child, whether or not they ever have contact.
There is a difference between thinking less of you and getting used to the idea that you are a birth mom. I think it’s all right if the person you’re dating has questions or is a little uncomfortable at first. What matters is that he makes an effort to understand you instead of making a rash judgement. Many men might be taken slightly aback at the idea of your being a birth mother, but most good men will understand quickly and support you.
Let it come up naturally. When the topic of interests or children or family come up, I say things like “Yes, I absolutely love children. I had a little girl about two years ago. I placed her for adoption and it’s been wonderful. I have an open relationship with her and her family, so I get to spend time with her. She’s the light of my life.” You’d be surprised about how receptive most men have been to my explanation.
As far as the timing is concerned, you can tell your partner whenever is comfortable for you. There is no right or wrong answer. Personally, I tell a man on the first date. Because my birth child is such a big part of my life and because I’m so vocal about adoption, I need to make sure that I surround myself with people who will support that. If he’s not okay with it, I’m glad I know upfront so I won’t waste my time. However, some birth moms are more private about their adoption and wait until further down the road to tell the person their dating. That’s okay too.
When deciding how to tell your partner about your birth child, be direct and upfront. Remember, there is absolutely no shame in being a birth mother. It makes you strong, and selfless, and loving. These are all traits of a good partner. Wording it in a way that implies you are ashamed of your title as a birth mother is more likely to make your partner shy away from the topic so as not to upset you.
Always remember that being a birth parent is a wonderful part of your identity. You deserve to be treated well, and should not accept anything less. Being a birth parent should help, rather than hinder, having a loving, fulfilling relationship with anyone, including someone you’re dating.
Annaleece Merrill is a birth mother to the cutest little girl on earth. She loves being an advocate for open adoption by writing, mentoring, and speaking at adoption panels. She attends Utah State University in Logan, Utah.