As the Correspondence Coordinator at Open Door, I have the privilege of processing the correspondence that goes between adoptive families and birthparents. One of the beautiful things about semi-open adoptions is the fact that the birthmother can receive an annual update and pictures of the child she placed until the child is twenty-one years old. In the past three years I have read hundreds of letters written by adoptive moms, chronicling everything from their child’s favorite foods to their growing understanding of their adoption. Being this sort of “middleman” has taught me a lot about adoption, specifically birthmothers, and I would like to debunk four myths you may have heard or come to believe about them.
- Myth– A birthmother places a child for adoption because she doesn’t love them. This could not be further from the truth. In most cases, this is the hardest decision she will ever have to make and she makes it not because she doesn’t love her baby, but because she does. She is willing to risk a lifetime of separation from her child to ensure that they have all the opportunities she is unable to give them. Imagine this kind of love. It is indescribable.
- Myth–Once the placement happens, the birthmother moves on and puts the experience behind her. No, no no. she will never forget this. She will think about it often, she will wonder what her child is doing, if they think about her, if they are safe. She will anxiously await the day her update arrives and she will look at the pictures again and again and search for herself in the face of the child she gave away. Twenty years from now, on her child’s birthday, she will remember the day she gave birth and brought this child into the world. She will no more put this behind her than any other mother would the birth of their child.
- Myth–“Communicating with my child’s birthmother will make her want to get my child back.” In most cases, the opposite is true. Communicating with your child’s birthmother actually reinforces to her that she made the right choice. Seeing pictures of your little girl happy, loved and settled will give a birthmother such peace. In the sparkle of your child’s eyes, she will see validation for the painful sacrifice she made in placing him or her for adoption. The movies about adoptions gone awry are for the most part, just that- movies. Most of our birthmothers know deep in their heart they made the best decision for the child, and the annual update just solidifies that.
- Myth–The adoptive parents aren’t the child’s “real” parents. I had to add this one because I just feel so strongly about it. While a birthmother’s love is deep and steadfast in its own way, when a child is placed into their forever family, God creates something beautiful. He makes up for the different DNA and eye color and maybe skin color, and He bonds people together in a deep, lasting way. They will forever be that child’s parents, they will take him to soccer practice, they will stay up all night while she cries, they will watch him take his first steps and they will nervously teach her how to drive. The birthmother chose life for her baby, and the family chose to do life with their child forever. Two different loves.
Finally, I would like to thank my birthmother, wherever you are. You gave me the greatest gift. Because of your obedience, God’s plan has been carried out in my life and I have a family I was born to be a part of. And of course, thanks Mom and Dad, for putting up with me all these years. I bet you didn’t know what you were getting into when you left that orphanage. 🙂