At some point in your adoption journey, you might think to yourself “where can I connect with others like me?”. This might be something you think about as an expectant parent, right after placement, or even 20 years down the road. Placing your child for adoption can make you feel extremely alone but the reality is that there is an entire community of birth parents and additional members of the adoption triad out there. Making connections with others who have even the slightest idea of how you might be feeling, because they too experienced such a life-altering event, can provide healing in ways you never even thought possible. Social media is often the first thought of when trying to connect with others but there are additional ways you can become more active within the adoption community.
The first and arguably the most important thing you can do is educate yourself. Starting with a good foundation of education is of utmost importance. Knowledge truly is power and making sure you fully understand something not only helps you, but it also enables you to educate others with the most accurate information. One of the easiest things to do is work on proper adoption language. There are several terms that are severely outdated such as “gave away” or “put up for adoption”. Using incorrect terminology is not only disrespectful but can also cause harm to someone in the middle of their healing journey. You can never know when someone is struggling. Using those negative terms can be triggering. Here are some examples of outdated terms and the correct phrases to replace them with:
Make an adoption plan
Place a baby for adoption
Abandon or surrender a child
Give up or give away
Put up for adoption
Now that you have the correct language, you can continue to educate yourself on all things adoption-related and share that information with those around you in the proper way.
Reaching out to the agency you used to place your child for adoption (if you used one) can be a great place to start becoming more involved. They may have volunteer opportunities where you can work with expectant parents that are facing the same decisions and struggles. It can be extremely rewarding to give back to others using the knowledge you learn along the way of your own adoption journey. Even if you did not utilize an agency, or know of other agencies in your community, you can connect with them for referrals or local support groups. A well-rounded agency will have a post-adoption department that specializes in making sure birth parents have access to support for the duration of their lives, as placing your child for adoption is a lifelong journey.
Attending a support group may seem intimidating at first, but it can open you up to healing you may not have even realized you needed. To an expectant parent reading this, the biggest piece of advice I could offer as a birth parent is if you decide to move forward with an adoption plan would be to seek support from other people who have walked this journey because they will be your biggest ally and support through this. Support groups in general have been proved to have a great impact on the way someone copes with a trauma they have experienced. Placing your child for adoption is a traumatic event and it can not be reiterated enough just how important it is to seek help in learning how to handle the effects of this. Support groups can help you form some of the more sincere and genuine relationships because there is no space for judgment in a support group. Everyone’s stories may be different but the commonality you are able to find within each other’s feelings can have a powerful impact in a positive way.
Social media is, for sure, the easiest way to get more involved within the adoption community. There is a multitude of accounts you can follow that will not only educate you on the most up-to-date news regarding adoption but can also help plug you into the community or support available to you. Birth parents are feeling more comfortable with sharing their journeys than ever before and social media is an excellent outlet to bolster that support. Social media allows people to share aspects of their lives they might otherwise feel unable to because of the stigmas associated with adoption, especially birth parents. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram can all be huge resources for you to connect with like-minded people, or even learn from others that you think you might not be that similar to.
These social media accounts can also lead you to explore local events. Events help fundraise and bring more awareness to adoption. They also allow you to connect with other birth parents in a non-therapeutic environment, which can be a little less intimidating. Thanks to the newest changes in our world, we have recently seen a huge shift in the way we are able to gather. Zoom meetings having opened an entirely new realm to share with each other in ways we never have before. Where a support group once limited us to those only within our own zip codes, video calls allow us to virtually meet with people across the entire world all while sitting in our own living rooms. Again, being in a less formal setting can make things easier on someone who might be hesitant to open up. There really has never been a better time with more resources than ever for birth parents to connect.
As a birth mother myself, I recently helped create a space for birth parents to connect online, called The Table. Another birth mother and I came together to create this online community to help bring awareness to adoption, build a safe space for birth parents to share, and educate each other. We also share insight from other members of the adoption triad because we believe we can elevate our education by learning from each other’s perspectives. We even host a monthly support group for birth parents on the third Thursday of every month. While there are other organizations similar to ours, I have found there is more than enough room for everyone, and I have continued to learn so much from others during this time.
I have had the pleasure of attending events hosted by a few places local to me in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. The Gladney Center for Adoption is based there however they do have several locations across America. Besides being the agency I personally used to place my child for adoption, they have a great online presence with multiple subsidies that have a focus on educating the community. They also host birth mother events, and their support group was the very first adoption event I ever attended. It was life-changing, to say the least, and to be hosting my own support group makes me have even more faith in the system of support you can find in connecting with others like you.
BraveLove is a nonprofit organization located in Dallas that works to change the perception of adoption by conveying the bravery of birth mothers. They educate and host birth mother gatherings several times throughout the year. BraveLove also has a great following on social media and through both organizations, I have been introduced to many other birth mothers.
Those are just examples of some of the wonderful places close to me, but social media’s biggest plus is that we can have the same experience with people across the country. Instagram is where I have been able to make the most connections. They have a great feature where you can search certain hashtags such as adoption, birth mother, or any positive adjective used to describe adoption and it will take you to any post that also has that hashtag attached. Sometimes when I am really struggling with my emotions I will just log in and read stories that other women have shared. It makes me feel less alone when I read that there are others out there walking through the same seasons of life. Some of the other great Instagram accounts I have come across are Kindred + Co, Big Tough Girl, and Birth Mom Network. All these also have websites where you can learn more about who they are and where they come from. There are also other websites similar to the one you are visiting now, where you can read articles written by all members of the adoption triad. Adoption.com, Adoption.org, and texasadoption.org are all great sites for information and learning.
Podcasts and Media
There are also several podcasts available to listen to. My favorite is a podcast hosted by two birth mothers called Birth Mothers Amplified. They host individual birth mothers to share their stories and have panels of birth mothers discuss different adoption topics such as open adoption and grief. There are always new ways of getting the discussions flowing and who knows what other kinds of avenues will come next.
Utilizing your own platform is another way to get more involved because you can help spread the word about how important it is to change the stigmas surround birth parents and the adoption world itself. Many people who are not directly involved within the adoption community simply are not educated on it and sometimes do not know how to start the conversation regarding things they may be wondering about. Sharing your story or sharing information about adoption helps open the lines of communication between people. By not being afraid to be vulnerable about what you have experienced, whether that be highs or lows, helps others know that it’s okay to ask tough questions to further their education. Adoption is not a dirty word and society should not be afraid to talk about the impact it has on all members of the triad.
Donate and Volunteer
Donations to agencies, birth parent advocacy groups and other adoption-related parties are always helpful. Those donations can be monetary but you can also donate your time in person or your voice online. Monetary donations are used to help with education materials, fund birth parent events or groups, and any other aspect needed by organizations to fuel their work. Like mentioned before, volunteering can be a great way to give back if you are unable to financially. Using your voice online is a great option because it is something you can do on your own time and there will never be an end to the amount you can give.
There are many different things you can do to become more involved in the adoption community, but it all starts with working past any reservations you may have in doing so. Placing your child for adoption is no doubt one of the most difficult things ever done and it is a lifelong journey. There are so many emotions, highs and lows, ups and downs, and various obstacles you will meet along the way. Stepping past any fear you may have to start the conversation will no doubt prove to be something you will not regret. Making the decision to enhance your life in these ways can be the first step to opening your life up to an entire community of brave, strong, courageous, and selfless people who are waiting to accept you into their lives and hearts as we all walk through this journey together.
Try using this list to connect with a few of the groups mentioned here today:
Lacy Davis is a birth mom who enjoys educating and speaking about how adoption has shaped her life. She has spent time connecting with other birth moms at local support groups and has spoken on panels educating prospective adoptive parents. She grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and placed her child for adoption in 2006. In her free time, she is an avid reader and enjoys watching Law and Order episodes on repeat as well as spending time outdoors with her husband and two children.