Dear Adoptive Parents, Open Up. Signed, Your Daughter’s Birthmother

This guest post is by Lynn, a birthmother.


I am a birthmother to a 12-year-old girl named Janet. I actually named her Sarah but the adoptive parents changed her name. Janet was an unexpected surprise but I loved her from the very beginning. Janet has three other sisters that she has not met.

Choosing to surrender Janet to adoption was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my entire life.

I wish I could say that the decision was all mine but there was some heavy influence from my family to give her up. Until this day, I feel that shipping me off to Colorado was just a way to hide the fact that their unwed daughter was pregnant and they didn’t want their friends to know. But that was 12 years ago.

The pain and anger towards them is still there but my parents are not the type to admit to that or much less talk about it at all. My dad has never once breathed her name to me…ever!

Why I Chose Open Adoption
I chose open adoption believing that I would have this “wonderful and open relationship” with the adoptive parents and would get communication all the time. Those are the famous words promised by the adoptive parents and my case worker at Catholic Charities.

Little did I know that that would all go to hell in a handbasket after a couple years. I was supposed to get communication on or close to around her birthday. The last five years at least, I have had to practically beg them to follow through with the communication and then I would get it sometimes almost two months later.

Sometimes they would send pics and sometimes they wouldn’t. It has made me feel like I am an inconvenience to them  after what I have done for them? If I knew then what I know now, I would have done the adoption. But I would have chosen different people and have made sure I had an attorney involved in educating me on what the exact laws are and my rights.

The adoptive parents will never understand how hard this is on me and still is 12 years later. When Janet’s birthday passes it is horrible. I relive the day of giving birth to her and walking away from the hospital without her. Living with my decision to do adoption has been by far the biggest challenge of my life.

How I feel as a birthmother
It has been something I have to get through day by day and I just pray for the day when Janet turns 18 and I can see her without her parents having any legal rights to stop me. I just have to hope and pray that my daughter will want to see me. Adoption is not for everyone.

I think what they don’t tell you in the books, articles, is how the birthmother has to find a way to go on without their child. I have found that a lot of the books and things make it all glamorous. It isn’t. No book is going to tell you how to get through it. That is something that unfortunately you have to figure out on your own.

It takes years. I am still figuring it out. There is so much heartache that I have to deal with that it has forever changed me as a person. I  am not the same person I was then. The question I hate answering the most is the infamous “How many kids do you have”?

What am I supposed to say? Four? Three? If I say four then I feel like I have to explain my history to a complete stranger. If I say three, I feel like I am not recognizing the daughter I surrendered and disrespecting her. It is an ongoing cycle.

I am trucking along day by day. I have a husband and kids who are very supportive and I don’t know what I do without them. I think what keeps me going, aside from my family, is dreaming of the day I will meet Janet and get to invite her to be a part of my family.

Lynn is a birthmother who lives in Colorado.

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3 thoughts on “Dear Adoptive Parents, Open Up. Signed, Your Daughter’s Birthmother”

  1. Lynn, this is such a sad story and I’m so sorry you’ve had such a terrible experience. My heart goes out to you. I just can’t understand why the adoptive parents can’t cooperate. At the very least, why not send photos? Or set up an online photo account so they can easily share all their digital photos with you? What’s the harm in that? How can their love for their daughter not also extend to what you’ve given them? I wish I could say the right words to help you. Thank you for sharing your story to hopefully help other adoptive parents realize how important open adoption is to the birth mother, and to help expectant women know what they should be thinking about for the future.

  2. I wish that if adoptive parents don’t have a heart to do what’s best for their child and for you, they would at least recognize that they are hurting themselves and their relationship to their daughter by shutting you out. One of these days she will learn that they broke their promise to you and that will trouble her.

    Open adoption can be great, I’m sure, but it seems to have become just a carrot to persuade women to place their children in adoption with very few states legally guaranteeing open adoption agreements.

    Our two adoptions are open but the first mothers choose not to respond to the scads of letters and pictures and art made by the kids and pleas for contact. It can go both ways, but I do think the way you describe–promises by adoptive parents that get broken–is most common.

    All I know after 7 years and two children is I am certain my kids would be better off if their moms were in their lives.

  3. I don’t grasp this concept at all; I don’t understand how someone can make promises then just ignore them. It’s one of the reasons I believe these openness contracts need to be legal documents. I understand why a mother who surrendered might back off in an open adoption but there should be no reason for an adoptive parent to do the same when the relationship is mutually respected.

    I am so sorry. My “open” adoption is not so open and I fear full closure in the coming years. The window of opportunity to be more open is fading fast.

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