Our first adoption was a domestic adoption. We knew God was going to grow our family via adoption, we didn’t meet any qualifications for international adoption, and we weren’t familiar at all with the foster care system, so that led us to domestic.
We went through an agency in Nashville, and from filling out paperwork to bringing our son home with us was fifteen months. From the time we were approved and waiting it was five months. These dates are still fresh to me almost ten years later because this time of waiting was so hard for me. At the time I had a skewed view of this whole process and was just yearning for my baby to be home with me.
Throughout this journey God changed my views on domestic adoption and open vs closed adoptions. From the beginning we wanted a closed adoption. I mean how could we have a scary birth mom showing up for birthday parties and trying to steal our kid in her purse as she left? That would just be tragic. Or what if she showed up for parent/teacher conferences and said that she was his mom? Oh my gracious. How confused would our son be about having two moms? We knew we had to protect his heart in all of this.
What Birth Moms are:
Then I read a few books about open adoptions and my whole world view on this matter came tumbling down. I learned that birth moms aren’t really scary at all. They don’t want to steal their kid back, and they don’t want to be the mom that raises them. That’s what happens when you actually read about something and go out on a limb to hear/see someone else’s viewpoints. You learn something.
I learned all those things that birth moms* are not, but what struck me the most is what I learned that they are. Looking back now I’m utterly embarrassed at my better-than-you attitude that I must have portrayed. How ironic that I too was pregnant and unwed at one time and yet for some reason I didn’t see myself in their shoes at all. I learned that they are real women that are making the hardest choice of their entire life. Nothing will beat this choice for them. These women love their children greatly and want the best for them. These moms are scared that they will hand their child over and then no one will remember them – the very first mom. They are just like you and I, they are just having to make this choice and we never had to cross this bridge in our life.
I read two books that changed my view. The first one I can’t even remember the title, have never found it again, and wondering if it wasn’t just a big dream. It was a book full of letters to a child from his first mom. I think his name was Sam. That’s all I remember. The second one is called Dear Birthmother, and it’s a book full of letters between parents and their children.
My new view:
Reading these books changed my views completely. It put me in their shoes for the first time ever. While we were in our adoption process we had a one year old. I had freshly delivered a baby, and so I kept imagining that I had placed him for adoption. What would I want? What would I need? I would have wanted the same things these birth moms were saying they wanted – to know their child was okay. To know they were loved. To see them grow up. To hear about their lives. To stay connected somehow to a child that they grew in their belly, loved before anyone, and then made the hardest decision of their life.
It was from then on that we knew we would want an open adoption. We would welcome into our family our child’s first mother. The one that loved him and knew him before we did. We would share letters, pictures and our time with her so that she could see the child she birthed grow up. We felt she deserved that much for sure.
This is PART ONE of a three part series on domestic adoption. I’d love to hear your journey, your questions, or your comments about this. Remember, I’m not a professional counselor or social worker, just a mom who loves her child and his first mom and wants you to think about how you can love her well too.
*I’m speaking generally here. You may have a different experience, but for the most part birth moms are great people that want the best for their kid, just like for the most part parents in general want the best for their kids. I know there are exemptions to the rule, so no need to email me.