As a biological mom and an adoptive-mom-to-be, reading Terri Rimmer’s essay-article “Adoption: Why I placed My Daughter in a New Home” available on Associated Content at:
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/13016/adoption_why_i_placed_my_daughter_in.html, I was moved by the candid, honest account of why and how a birth mother placed a child into an adoptive home.
Since I have been preparing to expand my family through adoption, most of the stories, accounts and mentoring I have been privileged to receive has come from other adoptive parents or agency workers. I was inspired to read of a birth mom’s feelings – both upon the birth of her child and years after the adoption. I am open to and hoping for an open adoption as I believe that maintaining the connection is incredibly important. But, I was making my decision to pursue an open, domestic adoption from the adoptive mom perspective and the child’s perspective. It is helpful to get a birth mom’s perspective too.
I think many people remain confused about what exactly “open adoption” means. There are many fears and myths floating around out there and some think that an open adoption means that the birth parents can change their mind and come and “take back” a child, or that relationships will be cloudy or out-of-control. Rimmer explains how the “semi-open” adoption of her birth daughter has actually contributed to her feeling more peaceful and confident in her decision to find an adoptive home for McKenna.
While I have not yet been blessed to become an adoptive parent, I am the single biological mom of three teenagers with whom I share custody with their biological father and have for years. To me, thinking about open adoption has been easier because of this experience. When I was first divorced, it felt completely natural to just want a clean break. I really would have been personally happy if I never saw my ex-husband again. BUT, there were three children and we focused on what was best for them. I had to learn not only how to share, but also how to negotiate and co-parent with my children’s father. Deep inside, I had conflicting feelings – I wanted to have them all to myself, but I also wanted them to survive the divorce as unscathed and well adjusted as possible. That meant they needed to stay connected to both parents and both extended families.
It has been several years since the divorce and while I am not always thrilled at having to interact with my ex-husband, we have done a very decent job of staying focused on what is best for the children. I see my kids feel comfortable and confident knowing where they come from and all the people who care about them. The connection is important, regardless of whether we all always agree or not. I have learned through experience how it really does “take a village” to raise happy, successful kids!
I think every potential adoptive parent should get to read Rimmer’s article, perhaps then there wouldn’t be as many unfortunate birth mothers like those in Rimmer’s support group who have been cut off and are not receiving updates and letters from their child’s adoptive families. Demystifying adoption by respecting the connections with both birth and adoptive families is imperative. It is also important for people to realize that every adoption looks differently. While cards, videos and letters are a common way to keep in touch, some birth and adoptive parents have more, and some have less contact. Additionally, those relationships between families are likely to change over time – depending on the life changes of those involved and the needs of the child.
I truly appreciated Rimmer’s comments about adoptive parents creating an open atmosphere and a culture for their child where talking about the birth parent and the birth family become comfortable and integrated. She is absolutely right, many adoptive parents wait for the child to bring up adoption questions and issues instead of laying the groundwork for open, respectful conversations and including the child’s birth story as part of the every day.
Rimmer’s article should be a “must read” for those interested in expanding their families through adoption. She is a candid and eloquent spokeswoman for birth mothers in America.