I thought about this over the weekend after a birthmother asked me to add her recent adoption placement story to our Birthmother blog listing. Within moments of clicking on her site, I found myself lost in her story, going through all of the ups and downs of her journey with her.
Why birthmother blogs matter
Now if you’re just starting out in your adoption journey, you may wondering why do you need to read one? What do birthmother blogs have to do with you? You want to grow your family with a child. They gave up theirs, right?
Early on, that’s what I thought, too. Because that’s the way our own stories are often framed in the media and in everyday conversations. Then I became an adoptive parent and realized that once you adopt, your child’s birthmother’s story will become your story.
Although it’s hard for many adopting (and adoptive) parents to believe and sometimes acknowledge, your child’s history will begin before she is born. Before she will be placed with you. Before you will even know of her existence.
If you think of your child’s life as an open book and you’re Chapter One, her birthparents will be the Preface or Introduction — the part of the story that comes before yours and gets the narrative started.
Of course, there will be a lot of you in that book, too. Even though open adoption means having two mothers, it’s not about co-parenting. You will still be the one responsible for all of your child’s day-to-day decision-making, from setting bedtimes to boundaries.
But you can never erase, or replace, your child’s birthparents’ contribution to her story. Whether or not you ever meet your child’s birthmother, see her, talk to her, or know who she is, she will become a part of your family. Through her ties to your child’s past, she will always be a part of her future. And yours, too.
Scary thought, I know. Especially if you’re still struggling with what this thing called open adoption is all about and where where you fit into it. The good news is that reading birthmother blogs can actually help you resolve a lot of those issues as well as your worst doubts and fears such as
- who’s my child’s real mother?
- will her birthmother come back and try to retry her?
- will she interfere in my parenting decisions and tell me I’m doing everything wrong?
Why birthmother’s stories are useful
One of the main benefits of reading a birthmother blog is that it will show you that adoption isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. But it’s not all gloom and doom, either. There are positive stories and negative ones. Happy ones and sad ones. Just like adoptive parent stories. There’s even a Happiest Sad.
Birthmothers were largely invisible or at least marginalized before the Internet came along. Blogging has not only enabled them to find a voice. It’s given them a chance to raise them. Now, for the first time, they have a bullhorn where they can get their message out and
- find an outlet for their thoughts and feelings
- share their story with the birthmother community
- connect with other like-minded people
- create a keepsake for a child
- reach out to and even find their child
How a birthmother blog can help you
As an adopting parent, there are tons of benefits for you too. Probably the biggest one is that a birthmother blog can provide you with a window into how a birthmother thinks and feels before, during and after placing a child for adoption.
So if you’re feeling stuck and looking for ways to get a leg up in your networking efforts, reading a blog can give you insights into
- who birthmothers are
- how they think
- what they’re looking for
But helping you to find a match isn’t the main reason you should read a birthmother blog. Its real value will come later, after you’ve found one.
That’s because knowing about the joys and challenges of open adoption and how other birthmothers — and adoptive parents — have handled them can leave you better equipped to deal with them yourself down the road.
Relationships are always tricky. But open adoption relationships are trickier than most because of all of the different values, beliefs, and yes, baggage that comes to the table. If you’ve had any adoption training and education courses (and you’re lucky, because most birthmothers haven’t), you know that the focus has been on how to get things right.
There’s not a lot of discussion on what to do when things go wrong, before or after the placement. Reading a birthmother blog can help you see things from the other side.
Besides, if all you’re doing now is waiting to find a match and getting frustrated about it — no, no, not you! — why not use the time to find out more about the person who will one day be responsible for a good portion of your child’s genetic make-up and a lot of the questions she may have such as
- why don’t I look like you?
- where did I get my freckles from?
- why can’t I can’t live with my other mother?
Granted, at this stage of the game, birthmother blogs can’t compete with connecting with an actual birthmother or expecting mother. But they’re still a great way to get another prospective on your adoption journey.
So do yourself a favor — start reading. Try to dip into as many blogs as you can. The positive ones and the negative ones. That way you’ll not only get a full range of the emotions and experiences that open adoption triggers. Reading birthmother stories can help you become a more informed adopting parent and hopefully one day, a better adoptive parent, too.
What’s your take on birthmother blogs? Which ones do you read? How have they helped you? Share your comments in the section below. And if you have a birthmother blog or know of one that we should add to our list, let me know and I’ll be happy to link to it. Stay tuned for a post on some of my favorite birthmother blogs coming soon to this page.