Hello everyone, my name is Laurie Walker, and I am an Adoptive Family Specialist with American Adoptions. I have worked with many birth mothers and adoptive families in my time here at American Adoptions and love being able to watch families form through adoption.
Q. We are really worried because we don’t seem to be connecting to our birth mother the way it seems other families have in the stories on your website. We know that every birth mother is different, but we had hoped for more interaction (and to be able to get more of a feeling from our interaction) with her. Does her lack of contact with us mean she is less likely to follow through with her adoption plan?
A. Thank you for your question, which is common among adoptive families. Some families are concerned that their birth mother’s need for a lot of contact means she will not be able to let go and will always want an open adoption, while other families (like you) are concerned that their birth mother’s disinterest in contact means that she is not committed to her adoption plan.
The truth is that every adoption is completely different and what works best for one woman may not work best for another. We counsel all birth mothers on the pros and cons of different scenarios. But I can speak from experience that if I tried to fit every birth mother into the same type of adoption scenario, it would not work.
We work with many different expectant women:
- Some women keep their pregnancy private and carry the burden of the decision on their own and choose a more closed adoption, sometimes with no contact with the adoptive parents. There may be no convincing them that this is not the adoption plan they want.
- Some women do not need a lot of emotional support and, although they talk with the adoptive parents once or twice and/or meet them, choose not to get too close to the adoptive parents because that is how they find it best to cope.
- Other women want to involve the adoptive parents in every aspect of the pregnancy and really need to get to know the adoptive parents to feel at peace with their decision. They talk with the adoptive parents often and spend a great deal of time with them and the baby in the hospital prior to placement.
There are birth mothers in each of the above categories who place and others who ultimately do not feel comfortable choosing adoption. It is important to note that each prospective adoptive family needs to be flexible and understand their particular birth mother’s needs.
Every adoption situation has to be evaluated individually. It may be a little uncomfortable or not your ideal picture, but sometimes things work best when they are not what we envision. This has certainly been true in my life on several occasions and probably has for you as well. The ultimate goal is to honor, respect and support the birth mother for her decisions.
For your situation, all you can do is let your Adoption Specialist and/or the birth mother know that you care about her and will support her with anything she needs. The rest is up to her. If you try to be overly involved or become too wrapped up in her life when she does not need that type of support or contact, it may end up pushing her away. Conversely, if a family did not travel right away when their birth mother went into labor, even if she really wanted them there, that may cause her additional doubt, pain or distrust. Your Adoption Specialists will guide you as best he or she can as to what the birth mother needs. Sometimes your needs or comfort level will take a backseat.
I know that what I am saying is not easy, but it is crucial that the birth mother feel that her desires are respected and that you are truly concerned with her wellbeing. Follow your Adoption Specialist’s guidance and suggestions about interactions with birth parents and remain flexible. Sometimes birth mothers change their mind throughout their adoption plan about the type of contact they desire.
I cannot promise that we have all the answers or can anything because that is up to the birth mother and nobody else, but we will guide you in the right direction as much as we can. Good luck – this is an exciting time in your adoption journey!