10 Things Every Birth Mother Wants Adoptive Parents to Know

adoption learning partners webinar speaker Patricia DischlerPatricia Dischler is an author, speaker, child care professional and birth mother. She is one of the panelists for our Inside the Adoption Circle webinar on Tuesday, January 22.

The following was written by Patricia.

I often told my son’s adoptive mother how much I loved her and was thankful she was a part of my life. But, like many things I’ve told her over the years, Kathy would already know. Back in 1985 I chose open adoption for my son. Being a birthmother has changed my life forever, and I know that becoming an adoptive parent changed Kathy’s too. We’ve traveled the road of adoption together, with respect and honesty. We’ve shared our hopes, our fears and our dreams for the boy we both love.

However, often adoptive parents do not get the chance to build this type of relationship with their child’s birthmother. While most domestic adoptions are open, most children adopted from other countries are not. This disconnect from a child’s beginnings can make it difficult for adoptive parents to provide answers their child will need as they grow and explore the issue of being adopted.

While a birthmother’s experience after placement may be different in open versus closed adoptions, the process leading to the choice of adoption is much more likely to follow the same thread – love. Regardless of our place on this planet, birthmother’s share the journey of facing a decision in a pregnancy and letting our love for our child lead the way. The individual circumstances may be very different from culture to culture, but ultimately we come to a place where we feel that what is best for our child is to have a life different than what we can provide and we choose adoption.

There are 10 things every birthmother thinks about, wishes for, and hopes for when placing their child for adoption. If you are in an open adoption, you may have heard some already, if not, they are important to know. They are:

  • I did not place my child because she was “unwanted.” I wanted her so much that I continued a pregnancy filled with unanswered questions.
  • I chose adoption because I loved my child. This parental love allowed me to put his needs before my own when making my choice.
  • This choice affected more than just me. She has a Grandmother, a Grandfather, and Aunts and Uncles who love her as well, and she will be missed.
  • I wish for the day I can look into my child’s eyes and tell him I love him one more time.
  • I hope that you will teach my child about her beginnings – about where she was born and who I am.
  • I hope you will teach respect to my child by showing respect for me in your discussions.
  • I wish I could be there to answer my child’s questions about adoption, but I trust you to answer them truthfully as best you can.
  • I will never stop thinking about my child. She will always be a part of who I am.
  • I would never try to disrupt my child’s new family with you. I put too much emotion and suffering into making this choice to allow anything to disrupt it – including me.
  • In my eyes, you will always be my child’s Mom and Dad. And that thought brings me happiness.

My son’s mother wrote to me in her first letter: “Children are never really ours, they are just entrusted to us for a time by God.” As birthmothers, we take our short time with our child very seriously, and it affects us the rest of our lives. We place that final kiss on our baby’s forehead and pass them forward to your waiting arms because we know you will be taking it very seriously too.

Learn more about Patricia.

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40 Comments

Posted by Ginger Davis on April 28, 2016 at 11:33 AM
26 years of loss time can never be made up. I found my daughter on Facebook 6 years ago. My son has a bond with her more than I will ever have. I am the one who always starts the conversation which is only small talk. (How are you? How is grad school going? She is studying to get her Master in nursing. How is your health?). When I made the decision I had no idea this was a life time of heart ache. Her parents have be gracious of sending pictures and very little information. For you know little information and those pictures are priceless. I would love to have a strong communcation line with her. My mind goes blank and have no idea what to say to her. I just only go on Facebook just check on her to make sure she is ok. This was not what I had planned in the future with her. "Long time is very hard to make up and start a bond with". It takes two and it seems like I am the only one that wants it.
Posted by Jennifer on April 20, 2016 at 5:42 AM
Hey do i tell my daughters adoption family that i have a child my daughter's adoption is open she turned 5 this year and m son that i have full custody of will be 2 in may how do i tell them ive been scared to bring him up i dont want them to stop me seeing my daughter
Posted by Christina on March 4, 2016 at 10:02 PM
I am looking for a little advice.I had given my 2 kids up for adoption when I was young.I was struggling and they deserved better.It was a closed adoption but a email exchange was allowed with the adopted family for updates ect.most the time I would email and never get a reply and sometimes they would be kind enough to send pics.i didn't hear anything for over 3 years then randomly today I got a email with a update (the longest email to date) they told the kids about the adoption and they asked to meet me omg I'm so nervous and scared I haven't replied yet.They want me to send pictures as well.I do have 2 children now under 3 and a supportive hubby now and I know this effects them as well.Im looking for advice on how to handle it what I should do to make this easy and not traumatic for anyone.Anyone have advice
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on March 1, 2016 at 4:36 PM
Annalin,
Thank you for sharing your story. We're so sorry this happened to you. You are not alone- support groups and counseling may help in the healing. Please let us know if you'd like more information.
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on March 1, 2016 at 4:14 PM
Hi Loretta,
We're so sorry to hear about this experience with your children meeting their birth mother. We have some great support resources through our organization that could be a help to you. Counselors with adoption experience may be able to help you. Please let us know if you'd like more information.
Posted by Pat Flanagan on February 23, 2016 at 12:10 PM
Your words are beautiful and I'm sure very true for many who are involved in an open adoption with loving adoptive parents.
As a natural mother myself who lost her beautiful baby girl during the "Baby Scoop Era" of closed adoption, my experience was much different.
I was given no viable option or support from family, the Catholic Church or my babies father's family. For 1.5 million women during this time we were pressured by family, lack of education and finances and society as a whole to relinquish our parental rights without any counseling or legal representation. I have mourned the loss of my daughter every day that she has been on this earth. I reunited with her in NYC two years ago, which was wonderful beyond words, but to sit across the table from my beautiful daughter and know that I am a complete stranger to her is a pain beyond belief. Women need support to keep their children.
Posted by annalin on February 19, 2016 at 12:07 AM
I am what you would call a birth mother I was a victim to the system I struggled in poverty and in domestically violent marriages that affected myself and my children my ex's constantly called child protection on me as a form of narsasistic control and abuse because they knew hurting me the only way they knew how was threw my children the result even after unfounded reports stayed on my record finally my children were pulled I completed everything asked of me sixteen provider services fathers had no expectations to gain custody they refused me every time always said I wasn't doing enough then they kept delaying court making termination possible because they wouldn't send them home my kids were in care for over fifteen months my children kept asking me when they could come home I said I don't know and I decided to voluntarily give my children up to be adopted by family and foster parents who are related to my children
Posted by Loretta on February 17, 2016 at 11:03 PM
i am looking for something on Feeling Left Out after my son and daughter found their birth mum s, my daughters birth mother contacted me (she lives in UK i live in South Australia, she rang me and what a lovely person she had been looking for her child for two years to cut a long story short we got on well and my adopted daughter kept in contact and seemed happy her birth mother found her (i had encouraged this and both children i adopted were always told a beautiful story about the mum who had to give them up and how sad it would have been ) all went well for a few months ,then my daughter asked me not to talk to her birth mum and my daughter cut me off as well as the grand children 5 months later my son did the same he has moved to where his birth family live! i am heart broken
Posted by Cynthia Moye on February 13, 2016 at 3:55 PM
I don't know if you will post my comment but the story is true! There are adoptive parents out there that may feel beat up like my daughters did cause i always felt they owed me something,. I always thought adoption was a selfless act like society had said, but it is most definitely not wholly unselfish...no parent could ever give up a child just because they didn't want it...isn't there usually a good reason to go against instinct. I had a good one and so did many other women in this world and that's OK. We can be selfish to protect the best interest of a child...in fact
Your post on Facebook did not speak for me it spoke for all those women who think the adoptive parent owes them something still, they are suffering too. The greatest lies in life are those we tell ourselves. Please post my letter, though it may not reflect all, (neither does the one that got me fired up) I bet it holds true for more than just me
Posted by Cynthia moye on February 13, 2016 at 3:43 PM
I too have my child up for adoption and I recently personally thanked her adoptive parents.
I wanted them to know-I am grateful for them loving my child., I Love her too.
Thank-you for supporting her, I could not for whatever reason. I would not have loved her more or less when I heard her 1st cry, but I would of kept her had I had a safe place and the financial means to do so by myself.
Thank you for allowing her to be a part of my life whether she knew who I really was or not
Then I felt the need to apologize for things they were unaware:
I am sorry I blamed you when I had the yearn for more of her love.
I am sorry pictures of you and her would make me jealous and I would wish it was me...
Please forgive me- I love you, not for you, but for who you are to me! Those same ictures now feel me with joy!
My peace I feel possible cause I was able to admit I gave her up for me, not her and not you. With all my heart!
Posted by Billie on December 16, 2015 at 9:32 AM
My husband and I have adopted 3 children at birth and are in close touch with biological Moms, Aunts, Uncles and, Grandparents. We believe this is the best situation for our children. They know why they are with us and where they come from. We love them as well as their birth families. All of their birth mom's are in much better situations now and our children have seen the transformation that has come in these remarkable women. I would never keep biological family from our children.
Posted by jennifer Rivera on October 29, 2015 at 6:40 PM
This is how it was for me up until my girls became teenagers. The adoptive mother decided to no longer call or write me. They moved and didn't tell me. I was able through the lawyer , to get an address and a letter. I thought things were going to be ok again. For a short time it was. I found out that all the pictures & letters that I wrote to my girls, we're never seen by them. And now she doesn't allow my kids who are over 18 now to meet me. I am devastated.
Posted by Sam on October 23, 2015 at 8:11 PM
I am planning to adopt soon and open adoption is what most companies and birth mothers want. I see the good in it because the birth mom can see the child grow up and the child can know where they came from and know medical records and things. But I am also terrified. If my child knows "Suzy" is their birth mother and "Billy" is their birth father, they will never fully look at me as mom because they will grow up seeing and knowing and getting excited to see Suzy and Billy. I know they should be happy to see them and know them and wouldn't take that away, but if the birth mom talks about my kid, my child, my baby will they try to take their baby back after he/she has been mine for years, now that they are stable or things have changed in their lives. And will the baby ever be my child too or will I always be less because they gave birth to him/her?
Posted by Patricia Hawkins on August 1, 2015 at 3:20 PM
I gave up my Son, to a Mom and Dad who were adopting a baby girl born the same day. Living with my Aunt and Uncle, a Doctor, they selected this couple and I knew my son would grow up knowing he was adopted. I found him when he was 34, in 2003. He comes to visit me 2100 miles away once a year. I told him everything about me, is birth dad ( who I found out passed away in 1997)
But last September 2015 I flew up to his home in N.H. we drove to Maine to meet his Adoptive Mom...Her first words to me, " We have come full circle as family, and thank you for giving me our wonderful Son. We both love him so much, we can share. His adoptive dad had passed away in 1995, He is thrilled to have 2 great Mom's....
Posted by Lori on July 2, 2015 at 1:06 PM
We adopted our son from birth and he's now 5 years old. We have continued contact with BM and BD, mostly BM since birth via phone and text. Our son met them at almost 2 yrs but didnt realize who they were. Since turning 4 we have introduced books and his story and our video about adoption and this month I am taking him to visit BM and maybe some of her family, how should I prepare our son and our expectations/boundries for BM during visit? We have a good relationship with BM/BD. Thanks.
Posted by Joy on June 18, 2015 at 3:51 PM
I'm an adoptive mother really struggling with this because we adopted through foster care. Termination of rights was the right thing to do, after extensive efforts were made over 1.5 years to reunify and support the birth mom in parenting. But, ultimately, rights were terminated for serious safety concerns. It's been about seven months and the birth mother and I are slowly trying to build a relationship. But it's so hard because those safety issues are still present and many of the ten things you mention aren't applicable. She doesn't see us as mom and dad. She did not chose adoption. She would disrupt our family if she could - not with hurtful intentions but because she is hurting. I thank you for sharing your perspective because I want to understand and support her. I wish there where more birth mother stories/essays written by foster care birth mothers since many of the issues are unique.
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on May 29, 2015 at 3:41 PM
Hi Alma,
We're very sorry to hear this has been your experience with open adoption. Sometimes, despite initial good intentions, adoptive parents are scared to connect with the birth family because they feel threatened - or it's the fear of the unknown. While that is not an excuse for them not living up to their promise of openness, it's perhaps a reason for it.
If you haven't already, we suggest reaching out to agency with which you placed the twins. Their post-adoption counselors might be able to help you connect with them. We hope this helps!
Posted by Alma on May 29, 2015 at 4:38 AM
I am a birthmother. In 1985 I got pregnant with twins, I was divorced with one son and a very high risk pregnancy. I was told I had to have complete bed rest by my 6th month in hopes to carry them. I spent everyday crying, longing for my precious babies and finally accepting there was no choice for me besides adoption. I interviewed many couples before deciding on their parents. They were suppose to write a few times a year which was extremely difficult to get them to do. They were suppose to tell them they had siblings which they never did. I made it very clear when they were grown I would want to meet them. In 2007 my daughter found her sister and then we were connected with her brother. The baffling thing to me is the adoptive parents don't want them to have anything to do with us. I gave them up for adoption because I loved them so much and wanted what was best for them. So how am I to understand their parents actions
Posted by Rovert on May 21, 2015 at 7:12 PM
I understand that every circumstance is different. I think that most birth mother's may feel this way. For my adoption, it is the case. I was adopted into my family at a few days old. My adoptive parents were as loving and kind as could be expected. My adoptive mother passed away when I was the age of five. It's been difficult for everyone in my family to deal with losing her. It's been a long road and we all miss her dearly. I found my birth mom recently and it has been a joyful experience getting to know her and my siblings. My adoptive mother would have appreciated hearing and knowing these things. She was afraid during my infancy that I was going to be taken back by my birth mother. I know that both my adoptive mother and birth mother love and value me. They have both desired for me to succeed in my life. It has been helpful and a joy to know that.
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on April 10, 2015 at 3:00 PM
Thanks for your perspective, Veronique!
Posted by veronique de craecker on April 5, 2015 at 7:59 PM
I thank you for your 10 recommandations, but I do not agree totally... We adopted 2 babys in 1984: a boy from Ruanda (8 months) and a belgian daughter (5 days). About our son we knew a lot: why hes mother give him for adoption, how she was etc. About our daughter the adoption company told us also a lot. We alwaus talked open about their adoption and promised them to meet their parents when they would be 18. When our son reached 17, we proposed to plan a holliday for a month in Ruanda to meet his birth parents. He refused, saying: why shuold I meet them? To say: hello, nice to meet you, and to travel further? I don't want this because you are my parents! So we respected his demand and told him that whenever he would like to, we would travel to Ruanda. 5 months later his birth mother died from aids and we told him. He said:I don't care, but we saw that hi did care... Last year our daughter had a son and she wanted to meet her
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on March 24, 2015 at 4:56 PM
Hi Vanessa,
Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. We have some great support resources through our organization that could be a help to you. Please let us know if you'd like more information.
Posted by Vanessa on March 22, 2015 at 2:56 AM
I just seen this on google, wanted to find something to read with people that are going through the same as me. I am in an open adoption, my uncle and his fiancé adopted my son when he was just few weeks old ... I can say that was the hardest decision ever signing that paper ... I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant to be honest, only my closest friends .. And on that day he was born, I was alone. Oh and did I say I walked to the hospital while getting contractions, It's quite the story. I wish I could of had that chance to be a mommy. But I just wasn't ready, I felt scared to take on that responsibility. I wanted to travel and finish my school. I was 19 years old. Now I'm 21, and I can say it still hurts .. but you eventually find ways to mend the pain you feel. I paint to feel okay. Everyone is different. I just want someone to talk to that understands the way I feel about all this ...
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on February 13, 2015 at 4:23 PM
Moriah, Thank you for your comment and sharing your story. I'm sorry this happened to you. None of that was your fault and you are not alone. Support groups and counseling may help in the healing.
Posted by Moriah on January 28, 2015 at 2:39 PM
No I disagree SO much.I was adopted as a baby. I know what happened because I was adopted my my aunt.I do know that my birth mom stalks me being 14 you are curious and know how to make the internet work in your advantage. I have looked her up she has lived in all of the places I have for the same amount of time. I was a mistake, I was raped my my dad, I was a sex toy at the age of 1. I did not talk until I was 3 never wanted to come out of my room, have the hardest time letting people in to my life about a year ago I made myself hate my step mom bc I knew she would leave just like the people who have left me already. And guess what I was right she left. It messed up my life.
Posted by Chloe on December 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM
When I looked at this it made me cry because I was adopted and I've struggled with not letting go on why they could do this to me. I know it was out of love but it's effected me how I treat the people I love??
Posted by Adoption Support Center on December 4, 2014 at 5:27 PM
This is a great piece that explores the point of view from the birth mother! We understand the challenges but also the hope involved in the experiences of adoption.
Posted by star gazer on December 3, 2014 at 11:23 PM
I tried open adoption, and in the begining they did agree . But, now they have my son, they brush me to the side, and always say, they are too busy to talk to me.. I am heart broken, that they treat me like that..
Posted by gina on October 13, 2014 at 5:11 PM
I searched for (& was successful in finding) my birth father back in '07. I had been looking online for a few years but nothing had turned up. I finally caught a break when I accidentally misspelled his name in a google search and, low and behold, there he was! I was 34 at the time. I created http://www.findfamilyafar.com to help others who are in the same or similar circumstances. I know all too well the pain that accompanies "not knowing". FFA is unique in that it creates a great "exposure" piece that is very useful for those persons (ie parents) that may be searching for YOU right now. Use of the site is totally free and there is no obligation. Hope this helps and perhaps will see you on http://www.findfamilyafar.com. Good luck!
Posted by Sean Vincent on March 6, 2014 at 12:53 AM
Thanks for providing the informative tips on caring child in a precise and smooth manner. Keep sharing your experiences.
Posted by Debi Long on February 3, 2014 at 3:06 PM
This really touched me.I was raped in Nov. of 1978 and gave birth to a little girl in 1979...I still miss her. My Adoption was not open. I pray for her everyday and hope that some how she knows I will always love her!!
Posted by Pavel Kurecka on January 22, 2014 at 11:22 PM
Would that things were so open back in 1958 when I was adopted. No contact with the birth mother at birth (she was even told the wrong gender). Even at age 56, there are legal bars to my being told who my genetic parents - or half-siblings, nieces, nephews &c - are. (Found birth Mother by a clerical accident and some research.)
Good to know things have become more humane.
BTW, this system will not permit diacritical marks on names. Very limiting in a global environment.
Posted by Robyn Steele on January 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM
I have great respect for birthmothers who choose adoption. I often wondered if I had chose adoption if my daughters would have had a better life. In fact I'm almost sure they would have. God bless birthmothers.
Posted by Brenda on January 9, 2014 at 10:33 PM
I loved hearing your view on adoptive parents. Some of these I knew. I knew because I saw the pain in her eyes. I know she loves him very much! I have so much respect for her because she loved him so much she chose life. A selfless and painful decision.
Posted by Cheryl on January 8, 2014 at 9:35 PM
We have 2 adopted daughters. I made a photo album for each of them with photos of their special 'mothers/fathers' : grandmothers/grandfathers godmother/godfather, birth mother/birth father and mother-mommy/father-daddy.
Posted by Bridget Gordinier on January 8, 2014 at 6:11 PM
I gave my Daughter up in 1978, an era of closed Adoption. Open Adoption was unheard of. And on 10/07/2013 i HELD HER IN MY ARMS AGAIN. AND SHE TRULY LOVES ME AS MUCH AS I LOVE HER. And for that I thank her Mom. She raised her to know I placed her with Love. And the day I met her Mom was almost as joyful as the day I met my Daughter. And we are building a beautiful life with our Families together. I will never let go again.
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on December 20, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Noreen,
Thanks for your comment - you make a great point. Here are some additional points from Judy Stigger - an adoption therapist and one of our featured experts:
Contact with birth parents after removal of a child is more complicated - but very often adoptive families and birth families stay in touch.
Even when children know their birth parents made hurtful or damaging decisions about the child's pre-natal and early care, children are curious and often worry about their birth parents. Adoptive parents may want to stay in touch, but buffer what is passed on to the child. Safety is always the first consideration - sometimes contact should be shared through an agency and identifying information should be removed.
One idea for ongoing contact is to set up a website where you and birth mom can post photos, but agree ahead of time not to post each other's pictures elsewhere.
Hope this is helpful!
Posted by Adoption Learning Partners on December 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Suzy,
Sounds like you have quite the trip ahead of you. Congratulations on your son's placement. I've included some thoughts from Judy Stigger, an adoption therapist and one of our featured experts:
1. Explain the idea of a "tummy mommy" with the same attitude, intensity and affection as you would explain aunts, uncles and in-laws.
2. Put together a little "all about me book" with a few photos for each year and captions in English and, if useful, in Mandarin. (Take several copies of this book so your daughter does not mind leaving one behind with her birth family and another with the agency in Taiwan.)
3. Read some books together about getting a new brother.
4. If you are someone who becomes emotional and teary, explain ahead of time that you do that when you are really happy.
Best of luck and congratulations again!
Posted by noreen on December 17, 2013 at 9:29 AM
Hi. A great list, yes but I wish specific points would be added to list to cover children and their birth parents where children were removed from home due to neglect, addiction etc
Posted by Suzy on December 11, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Thank you for this list, I needed this right now. Four years ago we adopted our daughter as an infant from Taiwan. In two weeks, we will be returning to Taiwan to meet our son for the first time and we will also be meeting with our daughter's birth family for the 2nd time. The first time was when we traveled to Taiwan to bring her home, and now this time is purely a family reunion 4 years later. The first meeting was so emotional as my husband and I had just become along awaited parents and then meeting our birth family was the most humbling and emotional experience I have ever experienced. I am afraid that this meeting will be emotional again and am working to prepare our daughter for meeting. Do you have any advice?
Discussion, advice and a few of our favorite experts. All for families formed through adoption.

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