Even before the adoption happened, I got to experience what it was going to be like to be a birthmother.¬†I was about 7 months pregnant and walking through a hall at work when one of my younger co-workers started asking me questions about the baby. How far along are you? Is it a boy or a girl? What are you going to name her?….Ugh!! What was I going to name her? I couldn’t even think of how to answer this question. I guess I could have just said¬†a name¬†but it felt wrong to lie about it. So, I told her that I had a name picked out but I had decided to place her for adoption. The expression on her face went from enthusiastic to something like uncomfortable and awkward really quick!¬† Immediately, I felt judgemental eyes watching me as I strategized my next move to end the conversation. Before I had a chance to try to end the conversation, the girl asked me why I didn’t want my baby. At that, I was so shocked¬†that someone had actually spoke those words to me that I didn’t know how to respond.
After¬†my baby was adopted by her amazing family,¬†I found myself in even more situations where the adoption was brought into the conversation and¬†was immediately followed by the same uncomfortable and awkward reactions.¬†I found that¬†family, friends and strangers had no idea how to react or what to say.¬†Some who meant well said the most hurtful things. Some who meant the most to me said nothing at all. Whatever was or was not said, though, I felt it all.
I found myself, in the background, of a world¬†happening without me.¬†I was being left behind because nobody would take this part of me with them. It was a shadow I held onto¬†that nobody¬†else saw. I couldn’t blame them though. What do you say to someone living in a moment you have never experienced?¬†There are boundaries you don’t want to cross.¬†
If you are a family member, friend, or even an acquaintance that just doesn’t know what to say to a birthmother or to a potential birthmother trying to make one¬†of the most difficult decisions of her life, here are some things that¬†you may want to ask or say:
To someone thinking about choosing adoption:
This must be a very difficult choice for you. Would you like to talk about it?
Do you have a good support system?
Do you have an idea of what kind of family you would choose for your baby?
Do you know what kind of adoption plan you would like? Open? Closed?
That fact that you are considering adoption as being the best thing for your baby is very respectful!
What a loving mother you are for wanting so much for your baby!
Do you have many worries or fears? Do you want to talk about them?
Whatever you choose to say to a girl who is considering adoption for her baby, remember to be respectful and friendly. Most likely, the girl is being hard enough on herself on the inside, it’s best to approach her with concern and love.
To a birthmother:
How are you feeling about the adoption?
How do you feel about the adoption plan you have in place?
Do you get to see your baby? Write letters? How often?
May I ask what your story is?
Do you have any worries and fears now? Do you want to talk about them?
Do you have other birthmothers to talk to?
What about the adoption do you enjoy talking about?
With a birthmother, follow the same general concept as with a potential birthmother. Approach her with concern and respect. Don’t assume that she doesn’t want to talk about it. If she doesn’t, she will probably let you know. What isn’t said and asked about almost reaffirms the negative social aspect about birthmothers to the birthmother!
Besides asking questions and talking to the birthmother, there are other gestures that you can do to acknowledge this part of her life and to show your genuine concern for her. Giving her a gift or card on Mother’s Day will mean a lot to her. Just because a birthmother does not parent her child, does not mean that¬†she is¬†not a mother! This is still an important role in her life.¬†Remembering the baby’s birthday each year and giving the birthmother a call to let her know that you are thinking of her would help, too. Any acknowledgment and support you give the birthmother will not go unappreciated. It doesn’t matter what kind of gift or time you want to give, it’s the fact that you are stepping into something so deep within her that most people don’t!¬† If you are considering something that you are not sure would be appropriate or not, you are welcome to email¬†a birthmother¬†at email@example.com.