This guest post is by Lynea, a birthmother and the founder of Life After Placement.
I became a birth mom 28 years ago when I made the courageous decision to place my baby for adoption. My daughter and I reunited 18 years ago.
I experienced what those things do to a birth mother. The relationship with the adoptive parents, positive and negative, the minimal interactions through the years with them and my daughter, reunification and handling the challenges that it brings were all unchartered territory as far as I could determine.
My experience brought me to a place where I knew that Birth Moms needed more support and understanding, so I started Life After Placement (LAP). Life After Placement is a safe place created by Birth Moms for Birth Moms to get support, education and resources for all things post placement.
Our goal is to help society see birth parents as equals in the paradigm of adoption.
One thing that many birth parents talk about is feeling honored! When I was reunited with my birth daughter, I found one problem that has caused heartache for the both of us.
Her adoptive parents didn’t honor me as a birth mother. I had no control over how they spoke about me to her. When that time came to meet each other, the confusion was tearing her apart.
Who I really am versus who her parents told her I was was very different. This has scarred her immensely. I have tried my best to show her who I am and how much I have always loved her.
Our relationship difficulties affect her still today. Watching her struggle with this is just another heartache for me.
What part of honoring my choice of placing her was so difficult? Often adoptive parents are afraid of losing their child to their birth parents as they get older.
Some adoptive parents feel as though we have no place in the child’s life. I can understand this feeling, but it is damaging to the child.
The processing of knowing who they are and where they came from is important for their self-awareness. When adoptive families can widen their circle to allow birth parents in it leaves no place to lose their child.
Adoption has been going on for centuries. Historically birth parents have this shadow of shame surrounding them. Traditionally they go without being acknowledged.
If history has shown us anything it is that we don’t just go away! DNA testing is just a spit away from knowing your history and where you came from. It is common to read or hear of an adoptive child reuniting with their birth parent
Birth parents are a part of the child’s history; there will always be a genetic link. As a birth parent I know fear of the unknowns create feelings of jealousy, shame and anger.
I can only imagine what the fear of the unknown elicits for the adoptive parent. Those feelings need to be set aside so that what is in the best interest of the child can be carried out.
For years we have known that open adoption is great for the adopted child. It is also beneficial for the birth mom. The birth mom should be honored for the place she holds in the adopted child’s life.
There will be times that an adoptive parent will look at their child and whether it is because of a look or a behavior they will be reminded of their child’s birth parent.
The birth mom and the child have a permanent bond; at one time they were living entities in the same body. Through the adoption process that bond is severed which impacts both the birth Mom and adopted child.
Both the birth mom and the adopted child grieve the relationship. Open adoption can be amazing for the adoptive child.
They don’t have to wonder whether it is nature or nurture that has made them who they are; they will just know that it was both.
What I have learned from my own experience is that there are three guidelines that will always stand true and prevail with any relationship.
Honesty is the one thing that is rare and difficult! Telling someone the truth is always challenged by fear, rejection or judgement.
We will tell others what we think they may want to hear versus the whole truth. Being honest creates a safe environment for the adoptive child and creates a place of healing. Honesty about feelings, and expectations.
Communication is always difficult; we all struggle with this. Social media is great, but it will never replace the one-on-one interaction.
It is easy to say something in a text or on social media; what it will not do is explain the emotion behind the words.
We are human and that is complicated in so many ways. We tend to hurt people without dealing with the consequences of our words.
Boundaries are necessary in life. We all have them and need them. How we choose them is important in relationships. Expectations are misunderstood without the support of honesty and communication.
As our children grow up, they will ask questions and test boundaries. We all did this as children; it is normal human behavior.
Honoring a birth parent is what will keep a child from feelings of confusion about themselves.
Birth parents and the adopted child are always going to be connected, it is in the DNA. The child will always be a part of the person who made them, you simply cannot change that.
My plea for everyone in adoption is to please honor birth parents. For whatever reason we came to the choice to place, please honor us.
We could have made a million single other choices; even one single choice could change the placement outcome. We chose our adoptive families out of love, we chose to place our child out of love.
We will always love this child! We will always remember the painful choice to place. Time does change us all, but the love will always stay a part of us.
Lynea is a birth mother of 28 years who has been reunited with her daughter for 18 years. Along with her other interests, she is passionate about helping other birthmothers to cope with the daily challenges of life after placing a child. Learn more about Lynea and the birthmother support group she founded at Life After Placement.
Do you have a birthmother or adoption story to share? Email us any time or find out more about how to share it with our community.
Help us remove the stigma surrounding open adoption. Like us on Facebook.