As time passes, a “normal” family is becoming less and less clearly defined. It’s certainly a good thing that society is catching up to the fact that families come in many different forms, but it’s still rare for most of the population to see a woman choosing adoption for her baby as “normal.”
It’s our hope that this soon changes, and we’re using National Adoption Month as an opportunity to talk about what birth parents can do in an effort to help to “normalize” the concept of adoption. Please know that your experiences with adoption don’t automatically force you to become an advocate. Everyone’s story is different, and it is entirely up to you whether or not you make yours public. However, if you are proud of your story and wish to help combat the negative stereotypes that sometimes accompany adoption, we encourage you to do so in any of the following ways:
1. If possible, choose open adoption.
If you’re a woman who is in the process of choosing adoption for your child, we hope you’ll consider making it an open one — or at least one with some degree of communication between you and the adoptive parents you choose for your child. An open adoption helps everyone in the adoptive triad — the birth parents, the adoptive parents and, most importantly, the adopted child. Open lines of communication eliminate the mystery and secrecy that accompanied adoptions in the past and allow for adopted children to get to know both sets of parents who love them unconditionally. The happier everyone in the adoptive triad is, the better example this will provide for others who are considering adoption.
2. Stick to your post-placement agreement.
It may not always be easy to maintain contact with your child and/or their adoptive parents. Whether you are going through some personal things or the issue lies on their end, it’s important that you don’t give up on your child. If you need to limit contact, do so in a way that still allows for some interaction between you and your child. Even though you aren’t the one responsible for parenting them, they absolutely still need you.
3. Respect your child’s adoptive parents.
There may be times when you don’t agree with decisions made by your child’s adoptive parents. There may even be times where you feel that they aren’t upholding their end of the post-placement agreement. If this is the case, we encourage you to remember that they are responsible for keeping your child safe, both physically and emotionally. If you feel that things aren’t being handled the right way, we encourage you to reach out to a neutral adoption counselor, therapist, or religious leader to talk about your feelings and how to appropriately handle them. Remember that, while complaining can feel good in the moment, doing so in front of those who don’t understand the situation may unintentionally give them a negative view of adoption or of the family that you chose for your baby.
4. Be open to asking for help if you need it.
When you place a child for adoption, you will go through a grieving process, as this is a major loss in your life. This is completely normal and to be expected, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if you need help. When spreading a positive image and normalizing adoption, it’s crucial that you take care of yourself first. You can’t help anyone else until you’ve grappled with your own struggles.
5. Share your story.
If you feel comfortable, sharing your positive experience with adoption is one of the best ways to help to normalize it for others. Again, it’s not your responsibility to be a spokesman for adoption if you don’t want to, but if helping to educate others about it is important to you, there are many ways to share your story. You can simply make it a point to join in when you hear adoption-related conversations, or you can use avenues like your social media accounts to share your story. It’s also not uncommon for birth moms to start their own blogs or join online support groups. There’s no wrong way to spread the word about adoption!
Interested in learning more about how to normalize adoption? Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our adoption counselors at 1-800-ADOPTION today!