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18
Sep

Adoptive Family & Birth Mother Share How They Were Meant to Find Each Other

Many birth and adoptive parents in the American Adoptions family offer to share their stories. We’re always so grateful when someone touched by adoption shares their voice with us. Their words have the power to reach others who’ve walked, or are currently walking, in their footsteps during an adoption journey.

Sharing your adoption story often brings comfort to those who are unsure or feeling lost in their own adoption process.

But it’s more rare when both the birth and adoptive family are willing and able to share their stories in tandem. Having both sides of the story offers a full look at the adoption experience, and every act of love that brings families together.

We’re honored that Angelica (a birth mom), Jenn (an adoptive mom), and Keith (an adoptive dad) have shared their story — and what a beautiful story it is!

With Keith’s wheelchair, and their son, Brandon’s, severe disabilities, why would a prospective birth mother ever pick them as the perfect family for her unborn child? Angelica was 20 and raising two young boys while living with her aunt and struggling with an on/off relationship with her baby’s father. What happened next was “just meant to be.”

Read Jenn, Keith, Brandon and Kaylin’s story here.

Read Angelica’s story here, and watch her speak about making her open adoption decision here.


Want to share your American Adoptions story? Email us at editors@americanadoptions.com.

31
Aug

In Moving Letter, Birth Mother Shares Her Love with Her Son

Four years ago, Sarah* placed her baby boy for adoption with a loving adoptive family. Through her open adoption, she has received pictures and letters to watch her son grow up happy and healthy. In one of the most recent letters, her son’s parents asked if there was anything she wanted him to know about her side of the adoption.

With immense courage, she finally found the strength to write him a letter of what she wanted him to know about his adoption. She agreed to share this letter with us at American Adoptions:

“I am a planner. I research menus before I go out to eat. I look up movie plots and spoilers before I watch anything. Sometimes I spend more time reading about a TV show than I do watching it.

For the past four years, I’ve started countless letters to you. I’ve read hundreds of letters and articles written by other women in similar situations. I’ve read books on adoption from the perspective of birth mothers, from adoptive parents, from kids who were adopted. I guess I was trying to get a template on what I should say. I couldn’t find anything that said what I wanted to say to you. It turns out this isn’t really a situation you can research your way out of.

Your mom asked me if there was anything I wanted you to know about your adoption from my side of things. Honestly, there are a million things I want you to know, a million stories I could tell you about my life and what led me to you. But all of the stories and explanations and details would point back to one indisputable theme: you are loved.

You are loved. That’s the one thing you need to know, above all else. You were not unwanted, you were not abandoned, you were not a mistake. Years will go by and time will pass but please don’t think for a minute that I will forget you. Giving you up was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Please understand that it was done out of pure love.

I wanted the best possible life for you, and however much I wanted that to be me, it wasn’t. You deserved to have a chance at life that wasn’t suffocated by my burdens.

When you’re older, you might have questions about me and where you came from. I’ll always be here to answer those if they arise. You may wonder what traits you inherited, if there’s any of me in you. Maybe you have my eyes or my nose but I don’t want you to ever question that you have my heart.

I loved you then, I love you now, I will love you forever. Let that be the drumbeat that drowns out any doubt you may have about your place in this world. ”

To her son’s parents, she wrote:

“I won’t ever be able to express how indebted I am to you. Thank you for giving my son a life I could only dream of. I feel like there will always be a hole in my heart, but seeing his smile in the pictures you send me and hearing about his adventures in the letters you write prove to me over and over again that you are his rightful parents.”

We were so touched by her letter that we asked her permission to share it with all of you — prospective birth mothers, pregnant women considering adoption, adoptive parents and everyone else for whom adoption has changed their lives.

While Sarah said writing the letter was hard, she just focused on telling the truth.

“If I only had one chance to tell him anything in the world, what would I want him to know?” she said. “I felt like the only thing he really needs to know is that I love him. I don’t want him to grow up believing that I didn’t want him, or that I just moved on and forgot about him.

“Adoption is not a selfish act,” she added. “You might have people try and convince you otherwise. It doesn’t mean that you care more about your life than your baby’s; it isn’t about trying to avoid the consequences of your actions. Adoption means you want the best possible life for your baby, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. It means you love your baby so much that you’re willing to endure the pain of separation in order to ensure their happiness. Sometimes, love means letting go.”

Her letter is just another reminder of how beautiful adoption can be, even when it’s bittersweet. We thank Sarah for her bravery in sharing this letter and hope that you share this letter if you were just as impacted as we are by her beautiful words.

*This birth mother’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

18
Aug

5 Birth Mothers Share How an Adoption Scholarship Changed Their Lives

American Adoptions prides itself on the support it offers to prospective birth parents as they go through the adoption process — but our support doesn’t end there. In addition to providing counseling and mediation for years after a birth mother places her child for adoption, our agency also provides something unique to help birth parents start a new chapter in their lives.

This is our birth parent scholarship, through which we’ve helped birth parents fulfill their educational goals and dreams. Every birth mother who works with our agency receives a scholarship application for the chance to receive assistance with the costs of further education (birth fathers are also welcome to apply). Twice a year, we award scholarships to eligible birth parents to help them make their education dreams come true.

American Adoptions started this scholarship program in 2001. We checked in on some of our previous scholarship recipients to celebrate the successes they’ve achieved since they received their scholarships:

Carly

Carly was 18 years old and already attending a local college for her general education requirements when she found out that she was pregnant. As an adoptee herself who wasn’t ready to raise a child, she knew that adoption was the right choice for her and her son.

“I just wasn’t at a place in my life where I knew I could give my son what I wanted him to have,” Carly says. “I knew what adoption did for me, and I decided to give him a better life.”

Carly knew she wanted to become a physical therapist but, right after placing her son for adoption, she also knew she wasn’t at the right place in her life to start going back to school. That was eight years ago and, this fall, she will graduate from a 20-month program with a physical therapist’s assistant degree, otherwise known as an occupational associate’s degree, from the Pima Medical Institute.

The support from American Adoptions — financial and emotional — has been instrumental in getting her to where she is today, she says.

“I never imagined how hard it was going to be when I was going to place my son for adoption,” she says. “It’s great to have kind of a sounding board, because I’ve never been through it, obviously, and I’m in the middle of it. But it’s nice to be able to talk to people about their story and what happened to them.

“I just think, overall, it’s changed my life so much because I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t chosen adoption,” she says.

Julia

When Julia unexpectedly became pregnant in 2013, she had no idea what she was going to do. But, knowing that abortion wasn’t an option and that she didn’t have the support from her child’s father, she decided that adoption was right for her.

“I knew I wanted my daughter to have a stable home as well as two parents that could love and nurture her into the young woman that I hope she will become,” she says.

Less than eight months after she placed her daughter for adoption, Julia applied for American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship. Already enrolled in a bachelor’s program and expecting to graduate just a year and half after placing her child for adoption, she hoped for financial assistance to help her pay off the remainder of her career at the private college she attended. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she recently gained admission to a master’s of public administration program, as well.

“I knew my life did not stop after adoption,” she says. “It gave me a second chance to pursue my goals and dreams so that I can be a better version of myself and help people along the way. I wanted to show my daughter that I didn’t give up on myself and, more importantly, her.”

Julia plans to use her degree to work in the higher education system, perhaps through career counseling or student affairs. In the meantime, she’s also created a support group for birth mothers like her.

“I want to help young women who have gone through the adoption process to help them live out their dreams, goals, and ambitions and help them not feel that their life has ended after adoption but rather begins,” she says.

Trillian

Trillian was 19 and preparing to go to college after saving up full-time for a year when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant. She knew that she didn’t want to compromise her higher education plans (which she’d been dreaming of since starting high school) to raise a son she wasn’t ready for yet, so she chose American Adoptions to give herself and her child a better life.

“I was really excited to read the birth mothers’ stories on how the agency provides financial assistance for college,” she says. “I applied for the scholarship because I wanted to use every resource available to me from the agency.”

Unlike financial aid, the American Adoptions scholarship was provided to Trillian before school started, allowing her to purchase her books before her first class and already be up to date on her first reading assignments. This allowed her to actively participate in class discussions from the start at her state university, from which she graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in social work and gerontology.

Today, she works at an agency through which she originally had an internship, has recently been accepted into another state university’s master’s program and is considering either a social work or public health concentration — all because of her experience with American Adoptions.

“Before I started college, I was very lost as to what I wanted to study and which field I wanted to work in,” she says. “The support I received from the Birth Mother Peer Support helped me to really find my niche in the helping field…I couldn’t have done it without the help and support from American Adoptions.”

Julie

Julie was working full time in a busy emergency room and was one year into her master’s program when she found out she was pregnant. With her boyfriend just about to move out of state for a job relocation and herself remaining in town to finish her degree, they both knew they couldn’t raise their baby the way they wanted to — and knew adoption was their only option.

“We came to describe the decision for adoption as both the most selfish and selfless thing we have ever done — selfish in the sense that we both were adults, had good-paying jobs, homes, educations, and the ability to raise a child, but we chose not to because we knew we still had more personal goals to accomplish and it was not what was best for us,” she said. “Selfless because the baby was ours, we loved her, but we also wanted more for her.”

Julie still had two and a half years left in her master’s of nursing program when she became pregnant. Even though she was working full time, she was still taking out loans to cover her education. With the goals of completing her training on time with her classmates with the least amount of debt possible, she applied for American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship.

With the financial assistance from the agency, she ended up graduating in December of 2016 with her Master’s of Science in Nursing and works full time as a nurse practitioner. While she’s done with school for now, she’s still considering a doctorate degree or post-master’s certification.

Amanda*

At the age of 22, this birth mother had recently dropped out of college when she became pregnant with twins. Because she was homeless and living in her car for the majority of her pregnancy, she choose to place her children for adoption knowing that she couldn’t financially, emotionally and mentally care for them the way they deserved.

“By the time the adoption process was over, I was already back on my feet contemplating what to do with my life,” she says. “When it was all said and done, I felt I owed it to myself to improve my lot in life.”

Her adoption process changed her life in more ways than she expected. Soon after, she realized that her own experience with adoption could offer something unique to those going through the same process in their lives.

“I have always thought of my adoption experience as an experience that I didn’t go through in order to be in the same position I was in before I got pregnant,” she says. “I feel that as humans, we go through things for a reason. For me, I feel that I went through that experience in order to figure out what my purpose in life was. As cliché as this sounds, I feel that my purpose in life is to help others who may be facing an adoption or who may just be down on their luck.”

By receiving American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship, she was able to cover her cost for tuition and decrease her need for student loans. She ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She is currently in her second year of law school, from which she hopes to find a career in the area of family law.

*Name has been changed to protect birth mother’s identity.

Congratulations!

We’re incredibly proud of what these five women have achieved. We know that they’ll continue to do amazing things in their lives, and we’re honored that they’re a part of the American Adoptions Family. Thank you to Carly, Julia, Trillian, Julie and Amanda* for sharing your stories!

To learn more about American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship, please contact your adoption specialist today.

Please share and consider donating to the American Adoptions birth mother scholarship fund!

You can send donations in check form to:

The American Adoptions Scholarship Fund
C/O: American Adoptions
9101 West 110th Street Suite 200
Overland Park, KS 66210

Or call 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more about how to help the birth parent scholarship program.

31
Jul

Terri’s Story: What It’s Like to Be a Birth Mom

What It’s Like to Be a Birth Mom 

By Terri Rimmer

It was 16 years ago when I placed my only child for adoption, the hardest and smartest thing I ever did.

I was 34, and for 14 years, I didn’t think I could get pregnant. So when I got the positive dollar store test, I was shocked, to say the least.

I went to Planned Parenthood to confirm the test several weeks later. A few weeks later, I moved into a maternity home in Fort Worth, Texas on January 31, 2000.

An Unselfish Decision

On February 28, I got an ultrasound, which showed I was having a daughter. Though I slipped into a deep period of depression while I was pregnant, I knew I had finally grown up because I was making the first unselfish decision of my life. I knew that as badly as I wanted to have a child, I could not parent her for emotional, financial, mental, and physical reasons that had plagued me all my life.

Shortly after I moved into the dorm at the maternity home, I started an adoption journal, and in my regular therapy sessions I would cry from grief about my decision, even though I knew it was the right thing.

Throughout my pregnancy, there were times I thought that if one more person asked me why I was placing my child for adoption, I’d choke them. I didn’t know if the pregnancy was making me stronger, but I found myself standing up to people, which I’d never been able to do.

Two months before I had my birth daughter, McKenna, I met the people who would become her adoptive parents. One month later, I met her adoptive brother, who had also been adopted two years earlier.

Meeting McKenna

McKenna was born on Aug. 15, 2000, and this is what I wrote in the journal to her after my emergency C-Section: “I want to remember your smile, dimple in your chin, all the pictures we took, your dreams, good nature, cooing, feeling like you motivate me to go on, how you love to nap and stretch.”

The nights were so hard at the dorm after having given birth since I had had my child and the other residents were still pregnant and had no idea what to expect. Once, I cried until my incision hurt, and another time I even cried in the presence of a houseparent who naively asked, “Why are you depressed?”

Then on August 24, I placed my daughter with her new family on what is known as Placement Day. Pictures are taken, videos are made, gifts/cards are exchanged, and it is a total ceremonial setting.

I have a semi-open adoption, which means I get letters, videos, pictures, cards, gifts, emails, and I send the same. I made a scrapbook over a four-month period for McKenna before she was born about my life, and I write her letters on significant holidays and birthdays every year.

I also get to see her two or three times a year. It is as if a picture that I have in my bedroom of McKenna and I has been freeze-framed in my mind and soul and comes to life during our visits.

The Long Road to Healing

It used to be that the sound of a bunch of girls’ laughter would echo as I left a store, and I would wonder if I’d ever get through a day when the sound or the sight of a girl didn’t jerk at my numb heart or threaten to stir up tears. Now, when I hear a girl’s laughter or voice that is the same age as McKenna, I smile inside and wonder what she’s doing today.

The first holiday season, McKenna’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas, was brutal for me. I cried in the bathroom on Christmas Day as my family prepared to eat while I was visiting my sister in Florida.

Then one day, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel a little and focus on how happy McKenna was.

If I had kept her, I would have been on welfare, but being bipolar with a lot of other emotional problems, my lack of financial resources would have been the least my problems.

Shortly after I had McKenna, I wished I could hold her for at least a minute or even a day, but I knew as soon as she got fussy I’d panic and look for her adoptive mom to take her.

My sister, who’s a therapist, once told me that it is mature to admit that you know you’re immature.

I got so much grief at work for my painful adoption decision that when I changed jobs, and when someone asked if I had custody of McKenna, I told them I did, only later admitting the truth.

Then on April 15, 2001, almost eight months after Placement Day, the adoptive mom asked me if I’d like to see McKenna on the day they were scheduled to go to court and have her adoption finalized. For the first time since Placement Day, I got to see and hold McKenna, and we took pictures in which I looked my happiest ever in my life.

I started talking to others about the adoption more, and I was not ashamed.

Fast forward to 2009, and in July, I was invited to my birth daughter’s house by her adoptive mom. To be in McKenna’s home where she lives with her family, to see how she lived and how she was, was a gift, and I cannot adequately put into words how much it meant to my heart, mind, and spirit.

I can’t imagine my life without McKenna now.


Terri Rimmer has 33 years of journalism experience, having worked for ten newspapers and some magazines. She wrote for associatedcontent.com, later bought out by Yahoo Voices from 2005-2012. Ms. Rimmer published her e-book “MacKenzie’s Hope” on booklocker.com under the family heading. It’s also listed on adopting.com.  On July 6, 2017, her story “The Birth Mom With No Regrets” was published by New York Magazine (The Cut) and in March 2017, her foster care story was published on “Foster Kids, Tell Me Your Story’s” Facebook page.

11
Oct

What Makes My Open Adoption Work – Thoughts from a Birth Mother

My Unique Situation

My situation is rather unique. I had my son for six months before choosing adoption and placing him with his parents. I had a very rough six months and when I finally got honest with myself about my situation, it was apparent that adoption was the best option for my son and I. My son deserved to have things that I wasn’t able to provide, and I felt strongly that I wanted him to have two parents in the household. I wanted him to have opportunities and his own home with a healthy family.

The adoption agency that I choose set me up with four profiles, and I soon as I saw the smiles of the couple I choose, I just felt in my heart as if they were always meant to be his parents. My adoption agent set up a meeting the next day and it was amazing. I didn’t know my son’s parents before placing him up for adoption. I had offers from friends and family members to take him, but it was crucial to me that he have his own life separate from myself and his birth family. I wanted adoption to mean more love for my son, not more drama. If I had chosen a family member to take my son, I knew that it would have created chaos within his life as there is just too much dysfunction in my family.

Transparency

From the start, I was open with my son’s parents about wanting the adoption to be open, and while the openness agreement is not legally binding, I knew it needed to be respected for the sake of my son. I was also transparent about wanting to slowly transition from a custodial parent to more of a birth parent role. Therefore, I had frequent contact with my son that lessened over the first two years of placement. I saw him every couple of months until I was comfortable not seeing my son as frequently. My son’s parents also communicated a need with me around the same time that they really needed more space.

Transitional Challenge

It was very difficult for me to transition from being a custodial parent to a birth parent. I had breastfed my son for the six months that I had him and our bond was incredibly strong. Of course, he now has a phenomenal bond with his parents and I am a much more mature and healthy woman. While the transition was difficult, our ability to adapt, change and grow is stunning regardless of what we go through as human beings.

My openness agreement includes pictures and updates every six months, and I speak with my son on holidays. In reality, we keep to the openness agreement as much as we are able to, but sometimes other needs arise. For example, some holidays are rough for me, as they can be with anyone, and I may need to postpone a phone call because I want to protect my son. When those events occur, my son’s parents absolutely understand and we usually wait a few days to a week for a quick phone call. There are also situations in which I find myself really missing my son, and I just need to hear his voice. When I’m really finding it difficult to have peace within my spirit regarding this, I let my son’s parents know and they schedule a phone call. This happens less and less frequently these days, as my adoption went through six years ago and it is much easier now.

Healing is for Everyone

Healing goes all ways. For a birth mother, healing is about transition from a role as a parent to the role of a birth parent. For adoptive parents, I’m sure there are struggles with bonding with the child, balancing becoming new parents, and learning how to navigate the relationship with a birth parent. I don’t think adoption is the easy choice. There are milestones for everyone to overcome. Most importantly though is the well-being of the child.

Everything I do and everything my son’s parents do in our relationship is ultimately to benefit our son. That beautiful boy deserves the best he can have and love beyond words. Of course, I am biased in this statement. The truth is, I believe that every child deserves the best and that it is up to parents to make sure they are providing everything in their power to sow into the spirit, heart, and life of a child.

I focus on healing and trying to achieve balance within the realm of being a birth mother. My son’s parents want me to have contact with our son as well. They also navigate the waters and sometimes we all tread lightly as we grow and learn about the needs of one another.

This brings me to the reason my open adoption works so smoothly: My son’s parents and I respect one another.

It’s all about respect.

  • Respecting boundaries.
    • About four years ago, my son’s parents communicated a need to start working on more of a transition with me into less contact. We had been having frequent contact via phone and email, and they were starting to feel overwhelmed. Upon first hearing this, I was incredibly upset. I felt like they were trying to take something away from me. After some time went by, and I reflected upon their request, I realized that it was perfectly reasonable. Ultimately, they had to set a boundary regarding their own needs so that they could be better parents. Parenting doesn’t mean sacrificing your own well-being at the expense of a child’s life, but learning your own limits and taking care of yourself so that you can give that child everything that you are able to. My son’s parents needed to take care of themselves, and they were asking me to respect that.
  • Respecting their ways of parenting.
    • I have what I would consider a fairy tale adoption. I agree with the way that my son is being parented for as much as I am privy to know about. They teach him good manners, help him to perform well in school, practice discipline, and love him immensely. Most importantly, he is being raised with faith. Yet, when I signed over my right to be a custodial parent, I also signed over my right to act as a custodial parent. Even if my son’s parents make decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with, it is not my place to try and correct them. Respecting the decision I made means respecting how they choose to parent. As long as my son is being taken care of and his needs are provided for, the rest is their business, not mine.
  • Respecting my needs.
    • As I stated earlier, there are times outside of holidays when I just need to hear my son’s voice, or send him a gift package, or touch base with his mother. When these times arise, and I am sure that I can handle it, I communicate that need. Every time, and it is not often, that this has happened my son’s parents have respected the request.
  • Respecting communication.
    • The way that I communicate with my son’s parents is email, phone, and text message. Sometimes they only text me short messages and other times my son’s mother will send me an email. This goes both ways. The way that communication is handled is dependent upon the open adoption arrangement and the relationships that have been built. While our relationship is always changing and growing, we respect the way that we communicate with each other. Not only that, but we make sure that we keep the lines of communication open. Whether one of us needs more space or less space, this must be communicated and then it must be respected.
  • Respecting the openness agreement.
    • The bond that keeps our relationship growing is the openness agreement. No matter what I am going through in my life, or how busy they might be as well, my son’s parents always send me pictures and updates every six months. This way, even when life happens and gets crazy, we all can have peace of mind that there is communication.
  • Respecting each individual.
    • The most important form of respect in open adoption, in my opinion, is just having a general respect for people. My son’s parents are not saints and neither am I. We all make mistakes, we all learn as we develop and mature, and people have a tendency to change over time. As long as there is respect for the individuals involved in an open adoption, then it will make everything flow in a wonderful way.

We All Play a Role

My role is to be a birth mother. I am here for my son and his parents if they ever need anything. In the meantime, I live my life and walk a path of healing. My son’s role is to just enjoy his childhood and he has parents who love him and guide him every step of the way. We are all people navigating our way through this thing called life. As long as we treat each other with respect, my open adoption remains strong and beautiful.

~Lindsay Arielle

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

 

28
Sep

Why Open Adoption is Important to Birth Mothers

Open Adoption “Open adoption is an opportunity to build enormous bridges to families beyond your reach.” – Kristen Gerald

Open adoption is so important to me. It’s just as important to me now, six years after my son’s adoption, as it was in the beginning of the adoptive relationship. The question is: why is having an open adoption important to me? Having an open adoption means I stay connected with my child. Just because I made a decision not to parent every day doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a relationship with my child. I also believe that us having a relationship is better for him as well in the long run.

Open for All of Us

The main reason that I chose an open adoption was because I didn’t want my child to have questions as he was growing up that would go unanswered. I didn’t want him to be confused about where he came from, or why he ended up where he did. I wanted him to be able to grow up in an environment that fully supported him being able to develop an identity based on security, trust and love. Having an open adoption means I can help offer him and his parents clarity as he grows up and has questions. There is more than enough love between all of us to satisfy his needs, and I haven’t disappeared from his life. I didn’t abandon him; I just play a different role in his life than his parents do.

“Adoptive parents, child, birth mother, siblings, extended adoptive family, extended birth family—the more love we give, the more we receive.” – Jeanette Green

Open Comfort

I’ll be honest, open adoption brings me comfort knowing that my son is doing well where he is now. When I get to talk to him and hear how happy he is, it gives me peace of mind and continues to encourage me to live my life. It’s a way for me to know that my son is safe and well taken care of, which was all I ever wanted for him. I love the pictures and the updates. I am proud of my son and who he is turning into. I also am proud of his parents for raising such a precious child. He wouldn’t be doing so exceptionally well if it weren’t for them.

More importantly though is my main reason for choosing openness: my son. I have heard too many stories about children feeling abandoned by their parents because they were in a closed adoption. I knew people who were adopted and went searching for their birth parents, only to find them many years later. I desire to be accessible at any time for my son. Whenever he needs me, I am here. I am not his adoptive parents, but I am his birth mother and I take that role very seriously.

*Closed Adoption Note

I want to mention that sometimes closed adoptions are the best option. When a child’s safety is at risk, or it is just the wishes of the adoptive and birth parents, then closed adoption may be the wisest choice. I mention this because I believe in what’s best ultimately for the child, whether it is open or closed adoption. My experience is with open adoption, and when it is an option, I advocate for it.

What Openness Really Does

I see adoption as a way to change roles and extend a family. I did not place my child up for adoption so I could get out of my responsibilities associated with becoming pregnant. It wasn’t a decision I made out of maturity or grief. I genuinely made the decision for open adoption because I love my son, and I want him to have the best he is able to out of life. So doesn’t that mean knowing where he came from as well and having access to his entire family instead of being cut off from me?

“Our family is like a big beautiful patchwork quilt. Each of us different yet stitched together by love!” – Unknown Author

I have learned my boundaries over time. There are times when I need more contact, and times when my son’s parents need less contact. He isn’t at the age yet in which he fully comprehends where he came from. Interacting with me from time to time will make it much easier when it’s time for him to truly understand the role that I play in his life. I believe fully that his parents will do an incredible job explaining to him how he was birthed out of love, and given to them because of even more love than is almost possible.

I believe that an open adoption is a way to teach a child more about how much love they actually have in their lives. Don’t we all want that for our children?

Benefits of Open Adoption for the Triad

  • Adoptive Parents
    • You will know the medical history and other history that you may be interested in for your child. In a closed adoption, this information is not always made available. In open adoption, as the child grows and you have questions about genetics, your questions with be answered.
    • You have an extension of family for your child. Your child will benefit from having so much love in his or her life as you express that love.
    • You can be open with your child about where he or she came from, and how that child was chosen twice: by their birth parent and by you. You made a choice to love that child and you can express that openly as well as expressing that the choice the birth parent made was out of love as well.
    • There is so much more love to give to your child with open adoption!
  • Adoptee
    • The child will have all of his or her questions answered, especially the big ones. The child won’t be left confused, wondering where he or she came from and where their birth parent/s is/are.
    • The child will have so much love from so many family members that they will grow up nourished and appreciated. Feeling loved will provide self-esteem, security, and a greater faith in their spirituality as they grow up.
    • What child doesn’t like to show off pictures of themselves and know that there are others outside of the immediate home who truly value what and how they are doing in life?
    • There is so much more love available to the child with open adoption!
  • Birth Mother/Birth Father
    • The grief process will be much easier, as what will be grieved is a specific role rather than a relationship. A mother changing her relationship with her child is a transition. A mother saying goodbye to her child is a loss.
    • Having an impact of love and being able to provide important history information will make a birth parent feel special and like they are still a crucial part of the child’s life, even if it is a different role than what the adoptive parents play.
    • There is still an outlet for a birth mother to love her child through an open adoption by giving gifts, receiving pictures and updates, and whatever else the open agreement entails.
    • There is somewhere to pour out all of that motherly and instinctual love!

Open adoption provides something incredibly special: Love.

~Lindsay Arielle

 

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

19
Sep

5 Ways to Help a Birth Mother Heal After Placement

  1. Together We are Motherhood Quote SmallerCommunicate with Me

Let me know how the child is doing after placement. Keep me updated on his emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental status with updates when agreed upon. I not only want to know WHAT he is doing, but HOW he is doing.

“Making an open adoption work requires commitment to ongoing relationships, despite their ups and downs. While adoptive family and birth family relationships may seem awkward at first, over time the involved individuals typically become more comfortable.” – Child Welfare Information Gateway

  1. Keep Your Original Openness Agreement

Don’t shut me out when things get hard. We can communicate and work together by staying open with each other.

“Ultimately, open adoption is in the best interests of the child. Maintaining a relationship with a child’s birth family can be immensely rewarding for adoptive parents, although it can also be challenging sometimes—like parenting, it may be the hardest, best job you will ever have. Birth parents often live in complicated circumstances. Some are leading happy, full lives; some are struggling with the grim realities of living in poverty or other difficult issues. Sometimes adoptive parents are afraid that younger children will be frightened or harmed by the complexity of their birth parents’ lives, but in fact the children are more likely to learn acceptance of a complex situation if they can see their adoptive parents model it, instead of being left to figure out a “taboo” subject on their own. Open adoption works best for adoptive parents if they always return to the central belief that what matters is what is best for their child, not only in the present but in the future—and it is likely that will always involve as much information and knowledge as possible.” – PactAdopt.org

  1. Tell Me You Love Me and Appreciate Me

Loneliness is something that can be curbed by knowing that you appreciate me and love me for the sacrifice that I have made and the gift that I have given.

“By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better.” – Richard Fischer

  1. Focus on The Child

Take care of that child with all of your spirit and soul. Ultimately, that’s what I need in order to be able to heal. My decision to place that beautiful child and your decision to care for that beautiful child is what binds us. That is our first priority, no matter what.

  1. My Healing is My Responsibility

Understand that while I may have needs and desires, it is not your responsibility to heal me, only to help me at times feel connected.

“Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” – Ephesians 3:17

~Lindsay Arielle

 

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

14
Sep

Have Faith in Your Child’s Birth Mother

Have Faith in Your Child's Birth MotherI made a conscious, thought out choice to put my son up for adoption. I also made sure that I chose his parents wisely. That’s right, I chose my son’s parents. The family was not forced upon me, the decision was not made for me, I was actively engaged along every step of the way. I have an open adoption, and voluntarily placed my son up for adoption. My son’s parents know that I chose them. I know that they value that gift. I want to share some insight into that relationship and encourage adoptive parents to know they are valued, and respected for the gift that adoptive parents give to a birth mother.

Side Note

I want to mention a few things about my son’s parents:

  • They face stigma as well, and I believe that we should all be sensitive to that. Yet, we have had open conversations about the stigma that I face as well.
  • We have a very open communication style and that was established at the beginning of our relationship.
  • Our level of communication has been adjusted as time has gone by, and while they maintain openness with me, we still have boundaries set up. This has been a learning process on both ends. What works for one open relationship may not work for another.

In general, I have found many similar lessons that have been learned to be present in other open adoption relationships between birth parents and adoptive parents.

I Made a Choice

I know that there are many emotions tied to adoption, especially in the beginning of the process and the transition of a new life for all parties involved. However, no matter how hard it was for me, I never wanted my son “back”. I say this because I have heard that people ask these questions, and have experienced them personally. I have never seen my son as a piece of property that I was transferring in exchange for something else. In my eyes, his life is a blessing and a gift, and I never have nor will I ever take that lightly.

I know that there are insecurities about birth mothers until the adoption process is finalized, but please try not to feel insecure. If you have a bad experience with a mother who changed her mind, remember, the right child is out there for you and the right birth mother is out there for you too. Trust me when I tell you, once a birth mother, or any mother, has made up her mind for what is best for her child, nothing will stand in her way of taking care of it.

Reciprocated Transparency

My son’s parents know this because we established transparency of all parties at the beginning of our relationship. I think this is so crucial in a birth mother choosing a family, and that family responding to that birth mother. Transparency will allow for a trust to be built in an open adoption relationship. Don’t hold anything back from that birth mother, and once she see’s who you really are, and has fallen in love with you, you have nothing to feel insecure about.

In my situation, I transferred custody of my son to his parents before the adoption was even close to being finalized. We had a transparent relationship that allowed for them to trust that I was firm in my decision. While I’m sure they were scared and felt insecure, they took a leap of faith, and it was worth it for all parties involved, especially for my son.

Listen to Your Heart

If you have concerns about the birth parent you are working with, please bring those concerns to the attention of the adoption agent that you are working with. They work closely with the birth mother, and will be able to help you. If your gut instinct tells you that something isn’t right about the situation, then don’t ignore it. While you may want to be parents, you may find that the fit you are in isn’t the best. And trust me when I tell you that waiting a little longer to find the perfect fit is better in the long run for all parties involved, especially that beautiful child.

~Lindsay Arielle

 

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

31
Aug

Tips for Bonding with Your Child’s Birth Parents

Bonding with Birth ParentsBonding with my son’s mother has come more naturally to me at certain times, and felt more difficult at other times. There were times that I felt insecure about bonding with her because I was afraid of what she might think of me. I think I realized that she was fearful of the same thing. You see, people are people, no matter what role they play in life. Whether you are a birth mother or an adoptive parent, you are still human. Human beings get fearful and insecure about what others might think of them. We may second guess actions that we take or words that we speak. Confidence doesn’t come easy for the fallible human being. Therefore, bonding with a birth parent may feel like a challenge.

Insecurity

What do I say? How do I act? What do I share? What do I keep to myself? These are questions rooted in insecurity that I have experienced in different relationships. These questions are not specific to the birth mother and adoptive mother relationship. In my experience, these questions and insecurities arise in many relationships I have been involved in. It’s not about who you are talking to though. I believe it is where you are talking from.

My son’s mother spoke from her heart, and I spoke form my heart and that is how we bonded. There was no façade or dance regarding how we would act towards one another. I wasn’t looking for a woman to put on a show for me. I was looking for a woman who would share her heart with me. I knew that I needed someone who could love my son as much as I did, and the only way I would be able to identify that was by looking at her heart.

Even though bonding has been challenging at times, I never felt as if I was forcing a relationship with my son’s mother. I think that forcing a relationship may be an indicator that the relationship isn’t meant to be. We should never have to force a personal and intimate relationship with another person.

Be Yourself

My suggestion to adoptive parents who are trying to bond with their child’s birth parents is this: Be yourself. Joining a family together through adoption isn’t about swooping the child up and walking away from his or her parents. It’s about creating an extension of family where you can all come together through one common bond: your love for that child.

If you are looking for some topics to discuss with your child’s birth parent, here are some suggestions:

  • What are some activities that you see that child getting involved with and how will you help that child by encouraging him or her to try those activities? Sports? Dance? Mathletes?
  • When was it first put on your heart that adoption was the way to go for you and how can you express a knowing that this is the right child for your family?
  • What are your dreams, hopes, and aspirations as an individual and as a parent?
  • What are your core belief systems and how do you try to carry those beliefs out on your daily life?

If you begin to discuss these topics from your heart with the birth parents you are looking to connect with, my prayer is that they will be receptive and open up with you as well. My relationship as a birth mother with my son’s parents is very intimate and special. That relationship has developed and adapted over time to become a closer connection. We have learned about each other’s hearts, boundaries, and desires.

Don’t Give Up

If you find that the birth parents or birth mother cannot seem to bond with you, but you are confident that the child was meant to be with you, be sensitive to why that bonding isn’t occurring. Consider that birth parents experience tremendous amounts of grief, guilt, and shame at times. They also may be feeling insecure about how they should interact with you. I know that there have been times I second-guessed myself with my son’s parents because I was feeling insecure.

I think that the desire to bond with your child’s birth parents is admirable, honorable, and crucial in the success of such a relationship. If bonding isn’t happening, perhaps it is one of two things. Either this isn’t the relationship you may be looking for, or the birth parents are feeling incredibly insecure and are not at a place where they are able to express intimacy through bonding. My suggestion is to not give up on creating that bond. If your heart truly desires a bond, and birth parents see that, there is always hope.

~Lindsay Arielle

 

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

17
Aug

A Birth Mother’s Guide to Manners

Emily PostMy grandmother believes in traditional Southern values, manners, and Emily Post. One year, for Christmas, she actually bought me “The Girls Guide to Manners.” I was raised to be polite and sensitive, and to try to be sincere. I understand that “how are you” and “do you have children” are questions that come from a genuine place of attempting to be polite. I am ever so grateful for my grandmother’s influence in my ability to behave according to social standards.

We Are Evolving

However, society has evolved and the old niceties have a new twist. The nuclear family is no longer the norm in our society and blended families are much more prevalent and accepted than they were in the past. Therefore, a simple polite question has turned into a loaded question. Consider if you really want to know how someone is doing before you ask them, because these days, you might actually get the truth. Manners are not about superficial niceties anymore. Manners are about genuine concern for others.

5 Topics of Etiquette When Engaging with a Birth Mother

  1. “Do you have children?” It’s like asking someone “How are you?” Sometimes people really want to know how you are doing, but most of the time, it is just someone attempting to have nice manners. Most inquirers are looking for a simple answer, but birth mothers do not have simple answers to what seems like such a loaded question at times. Please, do not ask this question to women unless you really want to know the answer. Be sincere when you ask someone, “How are you?” And be sincere when you ask someone if they have children.
  2. Please, don’t share your negative viewpoints on adoption with me. This typically comes from misunderstanding. Lack of education on certain topics does wonders to breed ignorance and seems to almost give people permission to pass judgement. If you don’t understand it, don’t judge it.
  3. I think that most people believe adoption is a great thing in general. They consider it the alternative to abortion, or they believe in personal choices and empowerment.  Each of these mind sets seems to be sweet on the surface, but on the root level, they come from places of complete misunderstanding about what it means to be a birth mother. Having an abortion and placing a baby for adoption come from two completely different schools of thought regarding the value of a woman’s body and the value of the life of a child. Being a birth mother, and making that decision to place a child for adoption is about genuinely loving that child. It has nothing to do with anything else except, what I consider, pure love.
  4. Things I wouldn’t say to a birth mother have to do with the assumption that people make about being a birth mother. Don’t say things to me that are based on your own negative assumptions and stereotypes of what it means to be a birth mother. Don’t assume that I was “too young” or “too dumb” or “too uneducated” or “ill-prepared” to be a mother. Don’t look at me as if you pity me. Don’t ask me intimate questions about my situation if we don’t have an intimate relationship in which those questions are appropriate. For example, don’t ask me why I did it. I think this is the biggest thing. Why we do things are our business. My adoption story is personal, and so is every other birth mother’s story.
  5. When you ask a biological mother if she has children, and she has custody of them, and the typical answer is, “Yes, I have three children.” I don’t think that most people think to ask, “Why did you have those children?” “Was it planned?” So if I wouldn’t ask a mother who has her children that question, why would I ask a mother who doesn’t have her children that question? In my mind, a mother is mother. How she got there or what her circumstances are, that’s her business.

So if the question is, “What shouldn’t you ask/say to a birth mother?” The simple answer is: don’t ask questions that are personal in nature if you don’t really want an honest answer and don’t say things based on negative assumptions you may have about adoption and birth mothers. As far as what you should say, perhaps a simple, “That’s wonderful.” If you don’t know what else to say, leave it at that. Please, be sincere and show me respect because I am a mother, no matter what “type” of mother I am.

~Lindsay Arielle

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

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