Last night, I received a sweet message from a friend considering the adoption process. She wanted to know, “What makes a birth mother happy post placement?” I thought that this was such a thoughtful question that isn’t addressed enough. Through the adoption process, I learned a lot about our birth mother in some of our open and honest discussions of what we hoped would give her peace following the adoption.
While every birth mother is different, I felt it may be helpful to share our story and what I personally felt obligated to promise my son’s birth mother. Although I have not placed a child for adoption, I have experienced the pain of leaving a baby behind in the hospital as I walked out alone. My daughter, Elizabeth, was stillborn in 2012 and I always think of how old she’d be now, what Disney movie would be her favorite and whether she’d be more of a performer like my first or more of an introvert like my fourth child. Ironically, my tragic loss became the foundation of the promise I made to both this brave young teenager and my beautiful baby boy.
Are there any words possibly capable of comforting a woman entrusting you to raise her baby not knowing if she will ever see that sweet face? I doubt there are but these promises are what I hoped would bring her peace.
1. The most significant and powerful promise I could make to her was to promise to raise this innocent child to know and believe, within the depths of his soul, that the beginning of his life’s journey began with his birth mother’s love for her baby boy. I never want my child to think that he wasn’t wanted and promised that her that he would always know that two mothers came together to plan the very best life for him that we could.
2. I promised to send photos of important milestones like his first steps, his first tooth, his first haircut and his first day of school. I also sent photos of his first Halloween costume and actually sent two photos of costume choices and let her pick which one she liked best. I also did the same with his first birthday cake. Although our adoption is open in the sense that I share photos, she does not physically see our baby in person. I felt that just offering input once or twice a year in his first year may help give her more peace that she still remains connected to him…and in the future, perhaps it will benefit my son’s concept of adoption to know that that we planned these events together.
3. I also promised our birth mother that I would save his baby clothes for her and make them into something special. Last year, I had a quilt made of several of his first year outfits and sent them to her on his first birthday. I wrote a more detailed blog post about that you can read here.
4. I also created a 20 question survey of her “likes and dislikes” to include in an adoption file that I keep and will give to him when he is older should he want to know more. I asked everything from “favorite musical artist” to “food that I will never eat.” I thought that this would be a good way to capture a little bit of her personality at this moment in her life. I also gathered as much family info that I could and also keep it in this file.
5. In learning about our birth mother’s family traditions, I learned that she loved her mother’s homemade stuffing. I asked for that recipe and her mother’s banana pudding recipe and plan on making those for special occasions. I just felt it was important to keep a peace of his biological family history in his life.
6. I offered our birth mother a photo shoot following our baby boy’s delivery. I allowed her to choose what photos she wanted to take and what ones she was comfortable with. I’m thankful she wanted a photo with her and I together with the baby as I think that will be a very powerful photo for my son to have later in his life. I made an album of these photos and sent them to her a few weeks after the delivery.
7. Finally, I promised that I would pray for her and hoped that one day she would grow up to be an educated and successful woman with a family of her own. I mentioned that I hoped she would make good choices that would allow this child to be proud of the woman who sacrificed so much to give him a better chance. I don’t know what the future may hold but I did say that I had hoped we were both there to walk him down the aisle has he chooses to get married and have a family of his own.
While this may seem a bit more involved that what people think that they may be comfortable with, I can promise readers that sharing photos and promising that a child would know that his birth mother loved him beyond her own heartbreak is an important part of being an adoptive parent. This woman placed her baby in my arms and left to live her life without him; the magnitude and depth of that privilege is not lost on me.
As in all of my adoption posts, I always want to share that should a woman who is facing an unplanned pregnancy come upon this post and be unsure of what to do, please reach out to me. I have a wealth of resources for homes that help women keep their babies as well as people who can help explore the adoption process. There are so many alternatives and levels of open adoption that still allow mothers to be connected to their babies. There are people who can help you no matter the decision you make.