Birthmothers are some of the most courageous women I know. Making an adoption plan is often misunderstood; viewed by peer as an uncaring act, when it fact it is the opposite – putting the welfare of your child above your own needs. Adoption is not about whether or not you love your child (God placed in us moms the desire to love our children) but is in essence a parenting decision. The big question is am I ready to be a mom 24/7 to this child and put his or her needs above my own?
Ambivalence is part of any decision-making process; seldom is it cut and dried. Confusion (am I doing the right thing) and pressure from others adds to the emotional upheaval. (Shame at being in this situation and in some cases abandonment by the father can weigh you down.) Talking with your counselor, sharing your thoughts and feelings will help.
Realize that adoption is not a one-time event but a life-long journey and one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Once an adoption plan is set in motion it is normal for you to begin to grieve; sadness, anger, feelings of loss etc. Taking an active part in the adoption planning helps you begin to focus on the reasons you are choosing adoption. For many birthmothers once they choose the adoptive parent/s they experience a sense of purpose and peace of mind. Knowing who will love and care for your child as he/she grows makes a huge difference.
After the birth of the baby, reaffirming the decision is critical (even if you have a wonderful relationship with the prospective adoptive parents.) It may be helpful to make a list of why you chose adoption and take that with you to the hospital to review – the birth of baby is very emotional time. It’s okay to cry! Envision and plan for how you want the handing over of baby to happen – your counselor will be able to help with this. Talk with your counselor about what to expect following going home from the hospital – grieving is a natural response to loss. Talk about this ahead of time and be prepared so that you can grieve in a healthy way – your child has not died but your role of mother to this child has. Open adoption may allow for contact with your child but it will not be in the role of mom; coming to grips with this will help you to move on with your future.
Open adoption has changed the face of adoption. It offers opportunities for birthparents, adoptive parents and the adoptee (triad) to continue relationship beyond placement. If you are choosing adoption be pro-active – read up on adoption, talk to other birthmothers, choose an agency/counselor that you are comfortable with. “Be strong and courageous for the Lord they God is with thee.”