The baby is hers – even if you’ve been “Chosen”
Too often I have seen firsthand where prospective adoptive parents feel and act entitled to a child once they have been chosen by an expectant mother considering adoption for her child. Please understand that I remember what it was like as a prospective adoptive parent, it was easy to get excited, think of names for the child, and plan for this child to be part of your life forever. But it is important to remember that when you are chosen, that baby isn’t yours yet, even if you have been “chosen” as the adoptive parents. That expectant parent will have to choose adoption (and you) once again after the baby has been born. This is one area I feel like prospective adoptive parents pursuing domestic infant adoption need the most education on – the respect, compassion and love that is necessary towards any expectant mother they come into contact with in their adoption journey, and ultimately for the birth mother for their child.*
* Obviously this same concept applies to expectant fathers and birth fathers as well, as many are involved in the adoption plan and the decision is equally as difficult for them. We are just focusing on the expectant mother in this piece.
A woman that has not signed consents to an adoption is considered an expectant mother, NOT a birth mother, and is the ONLY mother to the child at that point. It doesn’t matter if a woman has chosen you to be adoptive parents for her child, and it does not matter if you have paid agency fees and living expenses for her during her pregnancy. An expectant mother still has the right to parent her child once the baby is born, and that is a real risk for prospective adoptive parents – both a financial and an emotional risk. While an expectant mom may believe she can make an adoption plan for her child before birth, sometimes once the child is born she changes her mind, but prospective adoptive parents need to have empathy and compassion for her and the gravity of this decision for her, even if it means walking away from a child they thought would be theirs. Pursuing adoption could mean more loss for you as a prospective adoptive parent, you may experience a disrupted adoption before you ever adopt a child.
Respect her and the circumstances that made her seek out adoption
You also need to respect the circumstances that the expectant mother is in that is causing her to even consider making an adoption plan, even if you can’t understand them or relate to them. Many women facing an unplanned pregnancy are experiencing some type of chaos or crisis. It is likely a level of chaos and crisis that the prospective adoptive parents have never faced personally, so it can be hard as a to understand and empathize with what the expectant mother is going through. The crisis looks completely different for each expectant mother considering an adoption plan, it could be homelessness, poverty, addiction, incarceration, she could be a victim of domestic violence, she could have previous interaction with the state foster care system or the pregnancy could be the result of rape, infidelity or even incest. It could be that the expectant mother is a teenager, just started college, just starting her career, doesn’t want kids, already has grown kids, or didn’t even know she was pregnant – but in most cases the timing of the pregnancy is very difficult for her current stage of her life. The woman’s maturity, beliefs, support, financial situation, personal goals and personal difficulties all come into play in the decision to make and follow through with an adoption plan.
It doesn’t matter that you might be more prepared to parent this child
It doesn’t matter if you think you might be more prepared than the expectant mother is for this child, that you might have more resources, that you might have taken care of yourself differently or better during pregnancy, or that she CHOSE you. The child is HERS until she makes the difficult decision to place her child in the arms of the adoptive parents she’s chosen. If she is able to parent this child, you have to celebrate and honor that, even if it is one of the most difficult things you have ever done in your life. If she chooses to parent her child, do not tell yourself she would have had a better life with you, it would just be a different life!
Try and empathize and understand the circumstances that brought her here
No matter what, she is likely in circumstances very different from yours as prospective adoptive parents. She likely hasn’t experienced the infertility or loss that you have, she might not have had the resources, education or support that you have had in your life, but that does not mean she doesn’t want or love this child and doesn’t deserve your respect. If you are hoping to adopt, you must try and empathize with the circumstances she is in and support her through what will likely be the hardest decision of her life, even if she ultimately decides to parent and this becomes just another loss you suffer.
If she chooses to place with you, she will be an important part of your life forever
If she does choose to place her child with you, this woman will likely be an important figure in your life forever, no matter how much contact you have with her in your adoption. Your child through adoption will likely long for her and the connection with her at some point in their lives. You should always speak about her and her decision with respect to your child, even if the circumstances were not all pretty. There will likely be some point in your life as a parent that you will be sticking up for her (while still protecting her story), even to your family but also to perfect strangers asking ridiculously personal questions. It is your job to try and make your child as whole as they can be even though they were separated from their birth mother, what is considered to be a “primal wound”. You need to make sure your child knows where they came from and how much love their birth mother must had, no matter the circumstances. Please try and put aside all that YOU are going through in this journey, all the pain you might have experienced with infertility and loss, and understand that no matter what, these women deserve to always be treated with respect, both before and after they make a decision on their adoption plan. If she chooses to parent, it just means that child wasn’t yours, and you may need to try survive one (or two or three) more challenges before you find the child meant for your arms.
We know this reality can be tough to understand and fathom, but we are hopeful if you seek to adopt that you seek to learn these hard truths. You may experience a disrupted adoption during your journey, but we’re hopeful that it will make sense once you are holding a baby meant for your arms. We also recognize that not everyone is meant to adopt, and that’s okay. There are other ways to grow your family which may not include the same scenarios, including through embryo adoption/donation. However, you should know that even children born due to a donor will have questions and may want a relationship with their donor parent, so it may be helpful to have a better understanding about open adoption regardless which route you choose! For more information, or to start your domestic adoption journey with more preparation and education on adoption as a Purl Family, please complete this form.