Celebrating Birth Families

Where’s the joy? Where’s the excitement?

When a new baby comes home, the baby is welcomed with banners, balloons, visitors, and gifts. In adoption, the adoptive family is swamped with people wanting to visit, hold the new baby and offer congratulations. But when a woman who has placed her baby for adoption returns home from the hospital, there is no celebration. She may have family near-by who want to support her and love her, but celebrating is not a part of the vocabulary.

Not to be insensitive to the grief (which is oh-so real), think about what holds us back from celebrating the birth family. Balloons and banners are not appropriate as a welcome, but the sentiment behind them might be. Is it not knowing what to say? Yes, the grief is real. No, the baby is not with her. But the woman who just placed her baby is WORTH CELEBRATING! And if the birth father was a part of the adoption, he is worth celebrating also.

The dictionary defines the word “celebrate” as to make known publicly or to praise widely. The history of adoption in the 1900s did not involve celebration, especially for birth families. Rather, adoption was the secret no one wanted to talk about. It was too shameful. It reflected “mistakes” and “sinful behavior.

Fortunately, we’ve moved beyond the secrecy and shame. But are we ready to “praise widely”?

It’s time. It is time to praise widely. Please don’t misunderstand. It’s not the time to draw attention to someone who does not want that attention. It’s not the time to start a gossip session. But it is time to remember and acknowledge the birth mother and her choice.

So celebrate that she created life.

Celebrate the strength that it took to place the baby’s needs before her own. Celebrate her intelligence in sorting through her options and making her choice. Celebrate the hope for the birth mother’s future. Praise widely!

And if balloons and banners are not appropriate, there are ways to give that recognition and praise. Visit the woman who is now home from the hospital after giving birth, even though the baby is not with her. Talk with her. Ask if she wants to talk about the baby, her experiences, and her grief. If she says she doesn’t want to talk about those things, that’s ok! Follow her lead! At least she will know you care.

Provide a home cooked meal. Go out for coffee together. If she has other children, offer to babysit for an afternoon or evening. Offer a ride to the doctor or counselor’s office. Think about what you would do for the new adoptive family, and then offer the same to the birth mother.

The days of secrecy in adoption are gone. How will you celebrate the birth families in your life?


Rights and Responsibilities for Adoptive Parents

Adoption is an emotionally charged experience.

No matter if you come to adoption from infertility or because of a faith calling, it involves the lives of not just the child, but the lives of the child’s birth family and extended family. Adoption has an impact on the siblings the child may have in either the biological family or the adoptive family, the community in which the child lives, and the schools the child attends. Entering into an adoption relationship should be done only after much soul searching and with an open and committed heart.   

Keeping that in mind, as you find yourself in the adoption process, you should remember that as adopting parents you have both rights and responsibilities. Regardless of how you come to adoption – after experiencing infertility, having biological children, or through a sense of calling – these rights and responsibilities are an important part of the journey  

The rights include of adoptive parents include:   

  • The right to be treated with respect and honesty. 
  • The right to have emotional support before, during, and after the adoption placement. 
  • The right to ask questions and receive answers about all steps of the process. 
  • The right to review and understand all legal paperwork before you sign it. 
  • The right to receive counseling services before, during and after the adoption placement. 
  • The right to health information about the child you are adopting, including any prenatal drug exposure or communicable disease. 
  • The right to refuse the placement of a child whose needs exceed your ability to care for that child 

Rights always come along with responsibilities. These responsibilities include: 

  • Treating others involved in your adoption with respect and honesty. 
  • Create a “go-to” person or team who is familiar with adoption issues who can help you answer your questions, and support you with your thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the adoption placement. 
  • Ask questions!  
  • Request a copy of the legal paperwork before you file a petition for adoption with the court. 
  • Process your infertility losses. Understand that having a child through adoption is not a “cure” or fix for infertility. Use the services of a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend who understands what you have been through and will help keep you moving forward. 
  • Be honest if your plans change. If you become pregnant during your adoption journey before the placement of a child into your home, place your adoption plans on hold. Focus on one birth at a time! 
  • Ask for medical records and review them with your child’s medical professional. 
  • Be realistic about your abilities as a parent. 

While these are general rights and responsibilities for adoptive parents, adoptive parents also have more responsibilities to their child that are unique to adoption and are key to developing a healthy sense of identity in the child.

These responsibilities include: 

  • Being honest with your child about the adoption piece of their identity. 
  • Speaking respectfully and lovingly of your child’s birth family. 
  • Using positive adoption language. 
  • Remembering your child’s story is their own and share it only with those with a true need to know. 

No single list is all inclusive. Remember the Golden Rule as you meet expectant parents and develop a relationship with them as your child is growing.  Above all else, you have the responsibility to understand the adopted child carries a piece of their biological family with them forever, and this should be celebrated!    


Rights and Responsibilities for Expectant Mothers

So many times in adoption, all the focus is on the adopting parents.

People share their infertility stories or their faith commitment on social media and with friends and families. Women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy are seen as simply the way for the adopting parents to get their baby. It’s hard to get in the way of their excitement and joy, but no one need ever feel put down or be ignored for choosing to place their child for adoption. No matter how young or old you are, as an expectant mom, you have rights.

These rights include:

  • Be treated with respect and honesty.
  • Have an advocate for support before, during, and after the adoption placement.
  • Ask questions and receive answers about all steps of the process.
  • Review and understand all legal paperwork before you sign it.
  • Receive emergency living expenses totaling up to $4,000.
  • Receive counseling services before, during and after the adoption placement.
  • Change your mind about placing your child at any point before you sign consents for the adoption.
  • Choose the family who adopts your child.
  • Know how the adoptive family has been screened and evaluated.
  • See, hold, and care for your baby in the hospital.

Rights always come along with responsibilities. These responsibilities include:

  • Treating others involved in your adoption with respect and honesty.
  • Let your advocate know your questions, thoughts and feelings before, during, and after the adoption placement.
  • Ask questions!
  • Request a copy of the legal paperwork before you make a firm commitment to adoption.
  • Use the emergency living expenses as intended.
  • Use counseling services to help process your grief and provide a way to move forward.
  • Be honest if you are not planning on moving forward with an adoption plan.
  • Think about what type of family would be best for your child.
  • Ask what screening measures were done by the adoptive family to insure not just a safe home but one where adoption is celebrated.
  • Being available for your child when they have questions about their identity.

No single list is all inclusive. Maybe the best way to think about rights and responsibilities is to remember the Golden Rule—that is to treat others as you want to be treated. 


But What About Me? (Do grandparents count?)

“I know this is Taylor’s story, but I’m hurting too.”

Have you ever stopped to think that becoming a parent involves a series of “the first time…” events? One of the most exciting parts of becoming a mom or dad is experiencing all those “firsts”. It brings a feeling that the world is new and exciting. Do you remember the first deliberate smile from your baby? The first words, first steps, first time sleeping through the night? And then your baby starts becoming a little boy or little girl. The first day of school. The first sleepover. The first sports event. And then your little one is a teenager—and you experience the first dance. The first job. The first time driving a car.

There is a flip side to all those fun firsts. There are other firsts that aren’t so fun. The first fever. The first scraped knee. The first fight between best friends that has your darling crying herself to sleep. The first broken heart. And what if life doesn’t go as planned? You might learn that your daughter is having a first unexpected pregnancy and that your grandchild may become someone else’s grandbaby. These not-so-fun firsts may lead to personal feelings of sadness, regret and worry.

Taylor’s mom recalls that feeling well. When Taylor approached her with the news of both the pregnancy and her fears about raising a baby, it was time for some gut wrenching, heart breaking, soul searching. Taylor talked about adoption, and all her mom could think was “my baby is having a baby!” Her next thought was “What does she mean, adoption? This baby is part of us!” But as Taylor’s pregnancy progressed, and the adoption talk became more frequent and more certain, her mom wanted to become a part of the process. No one was going to take advantage of her daughter!

As Taylor looked at adoption, it became very clear there was no shortage of people wanting her baby. Taylor and her mom got phone calls from people who knew someone who had a cousin who was infertile, or who wanted a baby, or who knew someone who had adopted. All of them expressed interest in the baby…very few expressed interest in Taylor or her well-being. And Mom knew that handing over the baby to just anyone was not going to happen.

Being the mom of a woman experiencing an unexpected pregnancy is a tough role. Suddenly your voice becomes secondary. You can be an influence, but you can’t be the final decision maker. Taylor’s mom knew it, so she set about gathering information and learning what she could about Taylor’s options, rights, and responsibilities. Like any other major life choice, she sought the opinions of people she knew and trusted. She wanted to make certain that the adoption was done legally. She wanted to know that no one would be taking advantage of Taylor. She wanted to know that promises made would be promises kept.

The Adoption Support Center was there to answer the questions from Taylor’s mom and to help alleviate her fears. While they could not talk specifically about Taylor, they talked about what an adoption could look like—for Taylor, for herself, and for the baby. When Taylor contacted ASC herself, she found compassionate, listening women who were interested in her, not just her baby. Together Taylor and her mom found a family who wanted to adopt a baby, but also wanted to have a relationship with Taylor and her family. Taylor’s baby is growing up knowing that she is loved by many.

Taylor is one of the many “birthmomstrong” women who chose what she believed to be best for her child. Her mom also showed how strong women love their children through the tough things in life. The Adoption Support Center is honored to have been a part of their journey.


This Is Kind of a Big Deal…I Need a Maybe Family!

“My mom’s mad, the father doesn’t believe the baby is his, and life is falling apart. Maybe I can do this, but maybe it’s time to look into adoption.”

Jessica remembers writing this in her journal. She remembers the feeling of being completely and totally overwhelmed. She called herself “dumb” (she’s not!) and wondered what to do.

Sometimes when you decide to look into adoption, a “maybe family” jumps into your mind. Or falls into your lap. Your second cousin once removed has a friend who knows of a family trying to adopt. You’ve talked to your second cousin once removed a few times and trust him up to a point. You agree to talk with the cousin’s friend who puts you in touch with the family trying to adopt. They tell you they have been trying to adopt for years, that birth mothers have scammed them and taken lots of money from them and they want you to sign something RIGHT NOW that will guarantee you will hand over your baby to them. Your heart goes out to them, and you WANT to help them.

But that feeling in the pit of your stomach is letting you know that this doesn’t feel quite right. There’s something about that signing anything RIGHT NOW that doesn’t sit well. So you start looking through Facebook. And Instagram. You google “adoption”. And you see countless pictures of smiling families from all over. Some have other kids. Some have dogs. Some are single. Some are paired up and seem cute and sweet. That overwhelming feeling starts to take over. They all promise to love your child. They all promise to provide your child an education, vacations, and holiday traditions. All those smiling people promise they will stay in touch with you long after the adoption is over. Letters. Pictures. Texts. Facebook posts. Visits. “But will they?” you wonder to yourself. And that feeling in the pit of your stomach is back.

Adoption does not have to be that way. You have control. You have the right to learn all you can about the maybe family that tells you they would love to adopt your baby. You can make choices for yourself and your baby. Now is the time to find an expert…someone who knows about adoption. Someone who knows about the laws that are about adoption. Someone who has completely checked out the maybe family, and knows that they are truly safe and stable. Think about letting a licensed, reputable adoption agency or an adoption attorney do some of the hard work of checking out the maybe family.

This is the time you are looking for an expert. To say an adoption attorney is an attorney who does adoptions sounds silly, but an adoption attorney is one who really has specialized in this field, and really gets how important this decision is for you and your baby. Now is not the time to use the lawyer who got your brother’s girlfriend out of her drunk driving charge. Licensed agencies know how to dig deep into the maybe parents’ world and check them out. This means the families they are working with are secure, safe and stable. A good agency also understands that adoption involves relationships—relationships between you and the maybe family, you and your baby, and the maybe family and the baby. That agency also knows that relationships change over the years, and they will be around for the long haul.

The Adoption Support Center is one of those licensed, reputable agencies that has done the hard work of checking out people who want to adopt. The women who work there passionately care about what happens to you and to your baby. Let the Adoption Support Center help you get rid of that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Contact them anytime—no question is too big or too small. Remember, you have options and you are in control!