For many birthmothers, the baby that they are placing for adoption is their first child. They are young women that are not prepared to raise a baby, whether the reason being is mentally, emotionally, physically, or financially. It is a unique situation for any birthmother and every single story is different. Sometimes, a birthmother is a mother who is already parenting other children. I have heard people ask how a woman could give up her baby for adoption when she already knows what it feels like to be a mommy and what she will be missing out on by placing her baby for adoption.
There are so many different worries as a birthmother as it is and adding other children that will be affected by this decision increases the anxiety and the fear that comes with choosing adoption for your child. The other children in the home see your growing belly and hear talk about the baby. They have questions and having a good idea how you might answer their questions and give explanations will be helpful in preventing them from a traumatic experience.
My oldest son was 6 when I placed my 4th child for adoption. He is a very loving, sensitive and intuitive child and he had a bond already created with my unborn child. He loved to say ‘hi’ to the baby and hug my belly. I struggled with how to tell him that the baby wouldn’t be coming home from the hospital with me after she was born. I felt the best thing to do was to sit my children down, even my two year old, and explain to them what would be happening. I felt that if they understood and could have their questions answered before the adoption happened, they would be able to accept it better. Even still, I worried about what information to share with them. I didn’t want them to be afraid and I didn’t want to give them too much “grown-up” information.
I spoke with a family counselor about the best way to explain to the adoption to my kids. One of the suggestions made to me was to explain to the children that just because the new baby is going to a new family doesn’t mean that they will be sent to a new family. I hadn’t initially thought about that being an issue with the children. I was grateful that I had spoke with the family counselor because it did help me understand issues that my children might have. I did end up experiencing this with one of my children and I made it a point to sit down with him and explain the situation a little better and to reassure him that he was not going anywhere and that he would always be with me.
I tried to keep the experience a happy one for the children. I wanted them to know that she was going to be able to have a mommy AND a daddy who loved her and would both take very good care of her. I smiled to let them know how happy I was that she was going to be taken care of and that seemed to make them appreciate the situation more.
I am lucky to have such an open adoption with the adoptive family that I get updated pictures all the time of the baby. This has been extremely helpful with helping my kids adjust to the adoption and not having their little sister around. My oldest son asked if he could see her, but I decided to let him see her through pictures for now. He has appreciated this. All three of my children speak about the baby and the adoption with smiles and excitement now. I stressed to them how important and good this was for their sister and that she would be safe and so happy with the family she gets to live with.
Another thing that has helped with my kids is including her in our daily life. When my kids color pictures and draw our family, they always include the baby, (who they and I know as Riley). They will ask if she is still happy at her new home, they ask if I have got to see her and they ask if they can see her soon. I show them pictures as often as I get them and they love seeing the pictures of her and her family!
I was very worried about how my kids would adjust to the adoption of their sister but I followed some advice from counselors and helped my children understand the ‘how’s’ and why’s of an adoption and answered their questions as best as I knew how and if I didn’t know how, I asked! I’m sure I’ll face more challenges with the children I am parenting as they grow older and I will handle each question, worry and reaction the same way I have already and if I don’t know how to, I’ll ask someone who does!