There are plenty of misunderstandings about adoption. And many of them focus on birth mothers.
Of all the members in the adoption triad, birth mothers are by far the least understood– and the most maligned.
Some of the myths include:
- They’re teenagers
- They’re heartless and give away their babies
- They have substance abuse problems
Birth mothers, just like adoptive mothers, come from all walks of life. They could be anyone: the girl next door, a favorite niece, a colleague at work. Some birth mothers are teenagers and some could very well have substance abuse problems. But there are many more who don’t fit that description.
Just as every birth mother is different, so too are their reasons for choosing adoption. In many cases
- They may lack the financial or emotional resources to raise a child
- They may lack support from the child’s father
- They may lack support from their own family.
- They may have educational or professional hopes and aspirations that interfere with becoming a parent
- They may not be ready to raise a child
Many prospective birth mother come to adoption due to an unplanned pregnancy. Unlike waiting parents, they don’t the benefit of extensive adoption education or training. More often than not, they’re alone and have nobody to turn to. And that, along with the fact that they have a baby on the way, could thrust them in a desperate situation.
What’s She’s Looking For. Because of their circumstances, many expectant parents feel confused, scared or desperate. What they want–and need–most are answers. Placing a baby for adoption is one of their option. But they may not have explored other alternatives.
As a result, besides being caring and compassionate, it’s important to make sure that whoever contacts you has all the facts she needs go make an informed decision. If she doesn’t, make sure she gets them–not from you, but from an independent, unbiased, licensed adoption professional.
When it comes to choosing a family for her baby, each expectant mother will have her own set of priorities. Some may want a two-parent family where both parents are involved in the child rearing. For others, religion may be most important factor. At the end of the day, it will all come down to the individual’s values, beliefs and personal preferences.
What She’s Not Looking For. A prospective birth mother needs for hope and encouragement, not a lecture. So don’t judge her, don’t talk down to her, and don’t make any assumptions about her situation or the reasons she’s placing her baby for adoption.
Treat her the way you would treat anyone: with dignity and respect. Be positive and, most of all, be there for her when she needs you. It’s OK to make plans, but be careful about making promises, particularly if they’re hard to keep. For instance, there’s no point saying you’ll be a stay-at-home mom if you’re planning to go back to work.
How To Increase Your Chances of Success. What’s the secret to having a successful relationship with an expectant parent? The secret is there is no secret. That’s why it’s so important to just be yourself and plow ahead. As with any relationship, this one will take work and grow, change and evolve over time.
When trying to connect with an expectant mother, never lose sight of the fact that adoption is a lifelong process. Respecting her needs and her differences will not only serve you well at the beginning of your relationship, it will put you in a better position to tackle challenges and experience the joys that await you down the road.