|Photo by Lisa Roberts|
Dear Hoping to Adopt from an Adoptive Mother: It is great that you have come to this forum seeking answers and I think you will find it a great source of information. As an Adoptive Mom in a very open adoption I wanted to share a few things about my experience that came as a surprise to me. Hopefully they will help you as you move forward.
1) One thing I didn't realize going into the adoption process is that I wasn't only adopting a baby, I was essentially marrying the baby's parents and the extended families as well. This connection is a life long commitment, not a one-time-only event. Right now you want so badly to become this child's parents. Really take the time to consider that his/her parents/families will always be in your life. In your heart you need to be completely committed to making that relationship work. Like any family members, you won't always agree or get along. And like any other family members, you are tied together for the remainder of your lives.
2) Take the time to really get to know the parents, their stories, their personalities, their family heritage and background, what brought them to the decision not to parent their child. These are ALL things that you will want to share with the child as he/she grows up. This information is who your child is! It's crucial that they grow up knowing where they came from and who they were born to be. Adoption doesn't change DNA. Write down all the information about the child's family background, as he or she will want it one day, and she will be happy to know growing up that you cared enough for her to do this, recognizing that she had a life before she became your daughter.
BEING PRESENT AT THE BIRTH IS HEART-BREAKING
3) As much as you would love for the hospital experience or the placement to be a beautiful thing, prepare yourself for the most painful and heartbreaking experience you will ever be a part of. Watching someone struggle with their choice to raise their own child or give him to someone else is excruciating. However good your intentions, this moment isn't about you and your wife becoming parents. This moment is about someone else handing you their own heart and soul wrapped in a baby blanket. This moment will haunt you for the rest of your life.
4) One thing I wasn't prepared for was the guilt I felt after placement. As much as I wanted to be that baby's mother, it was very clear to me that she HAD a mother! And who was I to be taking this baby home? This wasn't a fleeting emotion. I was haunted by it for years.
5) Going into the adoption process I thought that we would adopt the baby, take her home like normal parents, and just live happily ever after. At first I was surprised that I thought about adoption every day. I believed it was because it was so new and eventually we would just be "normal" parents and not think every day how she became our daughter. Almost 12 years later I still think of it every day! Now it's just part of who I am (as well as who our daughter is).
6) Little things! This may sound ridiculous but you might not have considered the nature-versus-nurture aspect in raising an adopted child. It won't be a 50/50 split. You will see your child's parents every day through your child. Of course he or she will look like them...but DNA does a funny thing. This child will also share their mannerisms, their voices, much of their personalities, etc. It's fascinating that you are raising this child...but they will remain very much who they were born to be.
7) Last but not least: This child's parents need to obtain his/her Original Birth Certificate immediately! It will be sealed once the adoption is finalized and you may NEVER be able to get it. Get a complete family tree and learn about the family's interests, talents, etc. Pictures of his or her parents and extended family members are also so precious to many of us. Also, get a complete family medical history now and update it periodically throughout your child's life. Do all of this soon. Don't wait. You especially cannot wait on the OBC. Once the adoption becomes finalized, it's sealed away. But, you never know what will happen in the future with the relationship between you and your child's biological family. So, get as much information upfront as you can, and then update periodically.
BE THE SAME AFTER THE ADOPTION AS BEFORE
This is a situation that requires an extreme amount of grace. As much as you have be-friended, bonded and empathize with this couple now, you owe it to them to be the same people AFTER the adoption. Otherwise your pre-adoption relationship COULD be considered coercive. If they can't bring themselves to go through with the adoption, you have to have the same grace in understanding and accepting that decision as they have extended to you by sharing this experience and considering you as their child's potential adoptive parents. Your pain in losing this placement will never equal the pain they will feel by following through with it. These emotions are extremely difficult to reconcile.
I'm saying this very gently. You have to search your own heart and soul to uncover your own personal grace, ethics, and compassion. It can't be compared to how someone else may or may not have handled a similar situation. It isn't about pride. You have to be able to look into this child's face every day for the rest of their life knowing that YOU did the best you could for him/her as well as his first parents. And even if your answer is "YES! I did EVERYTHING the best I could!", it will still weigh on your heart wondering, at times, if you could have handled it better. You don't get a blue ribbon for being a good and decent human being.
Hopefully some of this will help you on your journey. I wish you the best of luck. Please continue to read, research, educate yourself and reach out to others who have experienced this same journey...from
Contrary to what prospective adoptive parents hear from adoption agencies, successful open adoption is really co-parenting; the child has three (could be four) parents, but it is true that the adoptive parents will have all legal custody of the child. This was the massage on a segment Women's struggle over adoption leads to modern family of Rock Central last Friday night, May 31.
Also we came across this story that mentions the first mother's family being involved in the daughter's life as she grew up: Two dads and a grad: Soda grad meets her birth father for first time
Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff
The book--about an open adoption of a mixed-race child--is dedicated to the author's mother and the child's first mother, so that give you an idea that this is done with an open heart. Second, the author is sharing an open adoption, largely of her choice and entirely of her effort. The adoptive couple hope to provide the child, as he matures, an opportunity to know his biological family. Third, the author admits that she doesn't understand how the original mother can separate herself from her child...I bought it myself and found it difficult to read in parts but realize it is brutally open and honest. I would recommend this to adoptive parents, and anyone who wants to understand the complex feelings of adoptive parents.--Lorraine
Quote from Secret Thoughts: "Adoption is a bittersweet solution to a two-way problem. Sweet, because a baby in a need of a home finds a home in need of a baby. But bitter because it is nobody's first choice and the baby will grow up one day to understand that." Page 111
MORE FROM FMF (warning: other perspectives ahead)
Hoping to adopt: How to talk to the mother of his child....
Giving Up Your Baby?
Are Open Adoptions a Boon for Birth Mothers or a Scam?