If you’re putting together an adoption plan for your baby, you probably have a lot on your mind — figuring out how the process works, what kind of adoptive parents you want to have, and perhaps even asking yourself whether you’re doing the right thing at all.
Placing your baby in a family of strangers is tough to do, no matter what time of the year you’re thinking about it. Thinking about it now, in the lead up to Mother’s Day, only complicates the issue. After all, this is the time of year when mothers are placed on a pedestal and honored for the sacrifices they’ve made for their children.
But for women like you who are making what many people consider is the ultimate sacrifice by creating an adoption plan and putting your child’s needs before your own, it can be a very lonely and confusing time. If you don’t plan to parent your child, does that mean you’re not a mother?
Why is it that you feel so torn about your decision, even though you’ve explored all of your options, including parenting, and have decided that this is the best one? What will you say to people later when they ask you if you have any children? And finally, if you feel this uncertain now, how are you going to feel later, after the placement has been finalized?
There are no easy answers. Nevertheless, here’s how Mother’s Day can help you see your adoption plan through a different lens and make the most of the day — and your decision.
Re-examine your situation
Feel like you were swimming against the current before this week? Well, nowadays it must feel like you’re up against a tsunami. But instead of getting stressed out about all of the decisions you have to make and what people will think of you, use the time you have now before your baby’s placement as an opportunity to take a closer, harder look at your decision.
Do you have all the information you need? Do you understand how open adoption works and what’s expected of you? Was there something holding you back before from moving forward with your plan? If so, use Mother’s Day as a catalyst to jump-start your journey and take it to the next stage.
Explore your emotions
Until you actually place a baby for adoption, it’s hard to imagine what it will feel like. Anyone can tell you what to expect, but nothing can really prepare you for it until the moment arrives. And that’s where Mother’s Day comes in. Rather than let all the holiday hype and hoopla weigh you down, use it to visualize what’s to come and how you’ll react to it.
Like Christmas, Thanksgiving and your child’s birthday, Mother’s Day is one of those milestones that triggers a wave of emotions — some positive, others negative. Each situation is different and everyone reacts differently. Take advantage of the now to tap into those feelings — the joy and happiness as well as the pain and sadness — so that you’ll be in a better position to cope with them later.
Start a discussion about openness with the hopeful adoptive parents
If you’ve chosen parents for your baby and are wondering what lies ahead, now is the perfect time to discuss your relationship with them and create a plan for the future. Decide how much contact you want to have before the birth of your baby — and afterwards. Although it may seem a long time away, it’s never too early to talk about your expectations about openness.
No matter how comfortable you are with the hopeful adoptive parents now, create a framework for your relationship while you still can, before the placement. Down the road, your and their priorities could change, things could get complicated, and it could be a lot harder to do.
Speak to women who have made an adoption plan
Most people won’t understand what you’re going through. Even your closest friends and family members may question your decision and your emotions. What are you so sad about, they may ask, isn’t this what you want to do?
Even though you may have decided that adoption is the best choice for you and your baby, you may still feel uncertain and anxious about the placement. The good news is there are many women — birthmothers or First Mothers — who know exactly what you’re going through. They’ve been through it themselves. Go out and connect with them. You can find them online on birthmother and open adoption websites or through a support group or agency.
Ideally, try to find women who have placed recently. They’ll be easier to relate to. And they can answer your questions more accurately and give you a better idea about what to expect than birthmothers who placed their babies in closed adoptions.
Attend a Birthmother’s Day event
Although you won’t see it on most calendars or in the card section of most stores, this Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, is Birthmother’s Day. It’s the one day of the year when women who have placed their baby for adoption are recognized for the tough choices they’ve made. Some birthmothers observe and celebrate the day, others don’t.
Again, everyone who has ever made an open adoption plan has a different take on their decision and how to recognize it. As you get closer to your placement date, surround yourself with people who understand and support your decision and can give you unbiased and accurate advice. And one of the best places to find them is at a Birthmother’s Day event or retreat.
Be good to yourself
Creating an adoption plan can stir up strong feelings of guilt and anger. Creating a plan around Mother’s Day will only intensify those feelings. But don’t take it out on yourself. You’ll always be a mother, even if you do decide to go ahead with your placement.
Placing your baby in the arms of another loving family doesn’t take away the fact that you carried her for nine months and gave birth. Just before and after the delivery will be the toughest times. Missing out on all the “the firsts,” the milestones in your child’s life, will also be tough — and that includes your first Mother’s Day.
But as the years pass, you’ll start to view your decision differently. The feeling of loss won’t go away. But knowing that your baby is being raised in a loving home and getting updates through emails, photos, phone calls, videos or visits will validate your adoption plan and lessen your pain.
Now is the time of year when we think about mothers and motherhood. If you’re creating an adoption plan, you’ll be thinking about them too, but for different reasons. Although Mother’s Day can be a tough time, use the holiday to your advantage by taking a closer look at your decision, re-examining your options and preparing yourself for what to expect in the future.