Things I Wish All Adoptive Parents Knew (from a Birthmother’s Point of View)

Elizabeth, who is a birthmother and blogger, shares 15 things she wants all adoptive parents to know


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The following is a post from Elizabeth, who is a birthmother and blogger. She writes about her life as a birthmother at Blessings in Disguise.

It is one of my favorite birthmother blogs (see My Top 5 Birthmother Blogs post).

Elizabeth told me: “I am proud to say that I wrote that (post) straight from my heart. To hear that you would like to share it and that you believe it could possibly make a difference to others who are involved in the adoption world means more to me than I can even say. I am striving to use my experience – the great parts, the heart-wrenching parts, and everything in between – to help others.”

This list is powerful and honest – something that all adoptive parents (and prospective adoptive parents) should read. When I read #10 to my wife, it brought tears to her eyes.

With Elizabeth’s permission, I want to share what she wrote on June 3, 2012.

Things I Wish All Adoptive Parents Knew(from a Birthmother’s Point of View)

**This is not targeted towards my daughter’s adoptive parents whatsoever, nor is it meant to offend anyone or put anyone off. It’s just a little list of things that I truly wish all adoptive parents knew. Some of it is said out of experience, some is said out of wishful experience – experiences I hope to have in the future, and some are just thoughts that swim around in this crazy head of mine. This mainly applies to post-placement**

1. Nothing means more than calling the child we share an immense love for ‘our child.’ Recognizing that the child does in fact have two sets of parents who love him or her means the world to us birth parents.

2. That old, crinkled up sheet of paper with errant crayon scribbles all over it that you are about to throw away because you’ve already kept approximately 8,000 of them? Don’t. Send it to your child’s birth mom or dad, no extensive letter necessary. What may be every-day and semi-“meaningless” to you may mean the world to a birth parent.

3. You can never send enough photos. If you don’t want to send one for fear of being too “pushy,” I can assure you almost certainly that you are not. If we aren’t ready to look yet, we’ll save it for later. But just knowing you thought of us means everything.

4. Including us as part of your family is the biggest honor you could give us. Even if visits are not part of the adoption plan, including us on group emails 
(with photos) to far-away family members doesn’t go without notice. (My daughter’s adoptive mom sent a photo of our little girl waving two flags in her hands last year on the 4th of July. I love emails she sends only to me, but to see all of my daughter’s many aunts and uncles from both sides of the family included on the email, along with myself and my mother, made my heart practically burst!)

5. Likewise, being part of your “Christmas card list” is also amazing. If you’re one of those families who takes professional Christmas photos and sends them out on little postcards, consider sending one to your child’s birth family. (I still have mine from the two Christmases that have passed since she was born).[ois skin=”5″]

6. No matter how much we love you (which, trust me, is a lot!), it is still extremely hard to trust someone else with your child. Think of how nervous you were the first time you let someone babysit your children…this is how we felt at placement, only it was magnified seven-fold. This is not to say we don’t trust you – we more than trust you, and are secure in that trust – but keep this fear in mind when we send quick texts or emails just to see how everyone’s doing. We don’t mean to bug you.

7. Sending us quick emails just to say hello, check in, or wish us luck on upcoming finals or whatever it may be, mean the world to us. Feeling like we not only share a common interest in the child, but also share a friendship, is wonderful.

8. Not sure if we want that low-quality, grainy video you took on your cell phone? We do! You may have better ones that you took with a digital camera, but we cherish anything – and I mean anything you send us.

9. Always keep your promises. This goes for birth parents and adoptive parents alike. Promises in open adoption are worth gold…there is no relationship more delicate or fragile on earth, so promises are sacred.

10. We may not admit it, and a lot of us may share our pain quicker than we share our joy, but we love you for providing our children with what we couldn’t at the time. Whether it’s a two-parent household, a solid financial ground, or just a house period, it’s something we couldn’t provide or provide properly. I’ve heard it said that people think adoptive parents should “owe” their child’s birth parents the world for “giving them a child.” Well, birth parents feel indebted (in a good way) to adoptive parents for loving their child above themselves. We didn’t give our child to you, we gave you to our child.

11. Don’t hold back on what you tell us. Don’t be afraid to tell us that you missed ‘our’ baby while you were away on a business trip because you’re scared we’ll think “how do you think I feel?.” The feeling we get when you are expressing your love for our child will eventually win over any jealous feelings we have about the time you get to spend with them that we don’t.

12. Allow us to send gifts. While some of us can’t bear to walk down the baby aisle or the kid’s toy aisle at Target, others find immense comfort in buying things for the child. The occasional “spoiling” we get to do feels amazing.

13. Sending photos of your child wearing outfits we sent to her/him or playing with toys we sent are priceless.

14. Always feel free to send us the “outtakes,” too. While pictures in nice lighting, in cute outfits and with huge smiles are great, we want to see pictures of our kids just being kids, too. Not sure if you should send the picture where his or her back is to the camera and they are playing with toys? Please, send it! That one where they are crying or in mid-scream…send that one, too. We want as much insight into their daily lives as you are willing to give.

15. If you don’t already, please understand that as long as the safety of the child isn’t at risk (mentally or physically), it can never be a bad thing for more people to love a child. When everyone has that child’s best interest at heart, the more love, the better. Please don’t close us out, we are not a threat. We don’t want to take over your title or role and 99% of us would never have that intent nor would we dream of trying. We just want the opportunity to let our child know that he or she always was and always will be loved by us.

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  1. Stolenevan says:

    Mostly good. I whole heartedly disagree with number 10 though.

  2. Melissa says:

    I am an adoptive parent and have a closed (state) adoption. The fear of my child’s mother coming to find him has lowered over the years. I am wanting to explore an open adoption with her. “Our” son is ten years old now. Considering all parties involved, I think this is the best option. I am saddened that many adoptive parents are not interested in an open adoption. I am hoping next time, it’s open from the beginning.

    Thanks so much for letting me see into your thoughts.

  3. Name (required) says:

    I love this article. I truly appreciate your heartfelt sentiment and thank younger sharing. We adopted our daughter from foster Care so our situation is a little different. I have found her birth mom and siblings on Facebook and they all seem to be doing well. I have struggled with deciding to make contact with her mother. I want to reach out and share info. But am afraid it would be met with hostility since the state forced removal of the kids. It’s a delimma. :-S

  4. Alii Harrell says:

    I love this! I’m a birth mother myself, and now after having placed my 2nd child to another family, we have an open adoption and we now have a planned pregnancy/adoption for them. (: I live in FL and they live in IN, they’ve come to visit us already just after the first baby turned 1. They’re great parents and I am SO thankful to have them in my life. I get to see pictures almost everyday and we will text back and forth every now and again. We ALL (even my parents and boyfriends parents) trade presents for everyone through mail all the time. I have child who will be 3 in Dec and they love him just as much as “our” son(Jameson). We even received a Halloween postercard of Jameson for our fridges. We are all so thankful for each other, and this new baby, will love our new BIG EXTENDED family just as much.

  5. Alice says:

    I’m sorry but if you gave up your child for adoption u don’t have right to that child and is complete up to the adoptive parents they owe u nothing u chose to give your child away they don’t have to do this and what about the child ..and how they feel when the adovitive parents has to explain that whole situation becuase mom and dad didn’t want you but they want pictures and send u gifts and be in your life but not really

  6. April says:

    Wonderfully expressed. I understand the sadness yet fulfillment in being a birthmother. My husband and I have just begun our adoption process. We have yet to be matched with a birthmother but I assure you when we are I will keep these words close to my heart as we move forward in a relationship with the woman that will bring our child into the world! I don’t believe as a birthmother you have simply “given away” your baby. I believe a birthmother makes an extremely difficult decision to give their child the best life possible.

  7. Name (required) says:

    Alice instead of stating that the birth parents “gave their children away” like they are a doll or toy or replaceable why don’t you say they PLACED their child. I am adopted and my blood boils when someone says that birth parents gave their children away. I am a person, at the beginning I was a baby. I am not someone that can be given away. The choice for adoption is a very personal heart wrenching decision. The fact that they made the loving decision to give their children a better life they can’t provide but someone else can is a decision based in love. If a decision and action is made from love then it can not be as heartless as saying someone gave their child away makes it sound. So for the feelings of the adoptee child not feeling disposable and the birth parents not feeling guilty for the decision’s they made for their childs welfare lets all change our verbatim over this issue and call it what it is. Placement.

  8. Cheri says:

    We are starting our adoption process now. So that I don’t get to caught up in paperwork. I mentality or window shop events. Such as the welcome party, first birthday or the baby blessings. I wanted to have our birth mother on the phone via facetime or Skype if she wanted to be apart of that celebration. I know all birth parents are different. Now I feel encouraged to want to include our birth family in our lives as much as I would like and allow them to decide what is good for them. Besides I will have to trust their judgment, they already would have chosen us for their child. That was the hard part.

  9. kj says:

    Alice you’re completely wrong. Do you even have an understanding of what “open adoption” is? Its an agreement, between both parents(adoptive and birth) on how INVOLVED the birth parents are in the childs life. From pictures once a year to VISITS every month. If you “give your child up” through open adoption you ARE entitled to what you agreed upon. The only time youre completely out of the child’s life is closed adoption, and even then, you have every right to miss, worry, and care about YOUR child. Its so wrong that you feel it’s bad that a birth parent be in the childs life.

  10. Cattrina Hopper says:

    I lost my daughter to DCFS I went as far as I could. When he father’s signed his rights over I brushed there threat off and continued anyway. He gather hit her while I was at school one day. I had no clue he was capable of such thing the doctor or in ally said she was okay but I just knew she wasn’t I was right she had broken ribs. I was so scared for her didn’t leave her bed side until DCFS came and made me saying I was to young to take care of her. I had a lie in caseworker who actually broke they law(I found out what she did was illegal years later) and a judge that was her close friend. Needless to say I lost I wanted to die and many days still do but I pull through because someday she will want to meet me. When I found out there was a civil case they could reopen my DCFS case but this was before we found out she was adopted years before. It was to late. I know who they are but don’t have the nerve to say anything. I wish they do these things for me.

  11. Tim says:

    Hi, Cattrina. I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing your story. I too hope and pray the adoptive family will reach out to you in some way. I would encourage you to let them know how you feel – that you would like some communication with your daughter. Maybe use some of the words from this post as your guide for what to say to them. You are in my prayers.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with you on most of the points, also think how the child feels. Sometimes an older child doesn’t want their life broadcasted to someone who has hurt them immensely. If you have more than one child who is adopted in this type of situation is hard for one child receive presents and birthday cards while another watch this,it hurts. It hurts to feel forgotten. I only have one momma and one daddy. The momma and daddy tucked me in every night, who kissed every boo-boo, changed every diaper, dealt with every temper tantrum. They are the momma and daddy that I love. You got rid of me, you don’t get to be a part of my life.

  13. Heather says:

    Dear Elizabeth (via Tim):

    First, beautifully expressed! I am sorry to read some of the negativity on here. Every story and path is of itself. My husband and I both are products of adoption (our mothers specifically were adopted one closed and one open, so we have a three generation view of adoption. We also did a step parent adoption of my/our two children). Adoption is a wonderful thing when each party understands there are 3 components that need to be treated tenderly (1) the child (2) the birth family and (3) adoptive family. Regardless of anyone’s opinion here today, sooner or later children and grandchildren want to know who their birth family is. I read this article because my husband and I cannot have biological children of our own and are considering adoption. It was very nice reading a birth mother’s feelings because frankly, if we go down this road I don’t want to hurt the mom and dad who also love the child we will love. Thank you, your words are appreciated!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Hi i myself have placed four kids up for adoption my three middles where taken from me by the state bc there bio dad was abusing them and me and i fought and fought for them and a yr and a half had went by and i prayed to god on what to do and he told me that i needed to let them go up for adoption so i signed all my rights away and its supposed to be a open adoption with tho three kids but the parents wont agree with anything but in my heart i know one day they will come looking for me and my youngest child i put up for adoption i knew from the start it was what was right he was born with a severe heart condition that required alot of hospital stays dr appointments and i knew financially i couldn’t do it so i gave him up for adoption when he was 2mos old but what most adopted parents dont realize that on a daily us birth parents have lots of wondering what our child or children look like what they may be interested in its alot of wonders in our minds but thats my experience

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