I’m an adoptive mom, and I’ve never had to make the difficult decision to surrender a child for adoption. But as an adoptive mom, I’ve been the recipient of comments and questions about birth mothers that have made me feel a sharp sting and a protective urge. Having preconceived notions is part of being human, and sometimes we aren’t aware we even hold them. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned by being a part of the adoption village.
Not all birthmothers are 16.
I have friends who adopted the sweetest baby and their birth mother was in her early 40’s. Not every woman that seeks to surrender her child to adoption is on MTV and still in her teens. Every adoption story is different, and life sometimes finds all of us in circumstances or situations that we never anticipated–isn’t that life?!
No, she doesn’t do drugs.
Just. Stop. I remember looking at the person who asked me this incredulously. Why is being an unwed, pregnant mother synonymous with many negative words, and behaviors? I have become involved in the adoption community and while this may be the story for some birth mothers, it has been the story I’ve heard of resounding few.
She didn’t sleep around.
The reasons why a birth mother chooses to surrender their child for adoption are very complex. We know of couples that have adopted a child from a couple that is in a committed relationship; some even married to one another. The stories are as varied as they are personal. Some may feel they don’t have enough to give a child or an additional child. It’s complicated, it’s personal, it’s hard. Birth mothers may have many in their lives judging them… hopefully, the adoptive parents aren’t part of that crowd.
She’s also brave. She sought out the resources to find adoptive parents for her baby and she followed it through. I recall the sting when an acquaintance quipped about birth control and being fertile. Having known I just gone through infertility myself, I knew she was only trying to relate, but it stung. I also don’t think she thought about what she was implying: (1) That birth mothers are not smart enough to use contraception, and (2) if she had and circumstances were different, I wouldn’t have my daughter.
She did love this child.
…which is why she chose adoption. She did have another choice. I always remember that. And near or far, involved or no contact, she is part of our story–our village.
Not all birth mothers are poor.
This is a common narrative about birth mothers is that they are poor and cannot care for a child financially. While finances may be a challenge for many birth mothers, it’s just not that simple. I imagine that there are so many factors which have led to consider adoption, just as there are many decisions which led this woman to think about placing this child with another family.
And one more thing…
It’s pretty common for those around us to say how “lucky” our daughter is and that we “gave her a better life.” Last time I checked, I don’t ride a horse, or wear armor. We didn’t save our daughter, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. We are the lucky ones. We have nothing but deep, revered respect for our birth mother. She is a wonderful person who made a selfless and loving decision–and likely, one of the hardest of her life, and one that completely changed ours.