Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Birthmoms Are Scary (Adoption Fears & Falsehood Series)

In this series about "Adoption Fears and Falsehoods" we've looked at the falsehoods, "I could never afford to adopt" and"Is there really a need in the U.S.?" as well as, "My Spouse will never agree to adopt." Today I want to look at another very common obstacle for families considering adoption. It's this belief:

It's important to point out from the start that many of our fears surrounding birthmoms are both irrational and inaccurate. The majority of the women who place their child for adoption are not at all like the "boogeymen" that dramatic television has portrayed them as. Let's think about who these women really are and what they are really doing:

  • Countercultural: They are choosing to go through the emotional and physical stress of pregnancy for nine months even though abortion is highly accessible and acceptable in our society.
  • Courageous: The decision these women make is often not supported by members of their family or friends-some have virtually no one encouraging them in their adoption choice. Often they are being pressured on many sides to abort their child.
  • Selfless: These women are looking beyond their own preference or comfort or even their own happiness to do what they feel is best for their baby.
  • Long-suffering: A woman doesn't just have a baby and forget.  These ladies carry the memory of their precious child with them forever.

Birthmothers are incredibly strong women who make the difficult choice to give their child life. We don't need to fear them. I certainly can't explain this as well as an actual birthmom so I contacted one of my favorite adoption bloggers, Amber of "Bumber's Bumblings," for help. Amber is an adoptive mama who has an incredible open adoption with her son's birthmom, Ash. Here's a little picture to introduce you to Amber and Ash:

I'm thankful to be able to re-post with permission this thoughtful, honest explanation from Ash about her personal experience with this "Birthmom Boogeyman" stereotype.  Ash writes the following:
"Unfortunately, there is no amount of words that can portray the torment that surrounds placing your child into the arms of another. The choice to place is one that comes from extreme emotional pain of knowing that the best choice for your child is to live a life that does not need or include you. It is physically reaching deep down into the cavity of your soul, ripping out your heart, and walking away. It is living each day in black and white because the life and color is elsewhere. It is the determination and sheer grit of making sure that the one you love is cared for over and above what you want."     
Does that sound like a woman that you need to fear?  She goes on to say:
"...the Birthmom Boogeyman is actually a fictional character who is the arch-nemesis of Birthmom’s everywhere. We have enough love and conviction for our child to physically and emotionally place them into the care of another, at the expense of our daily emotional torment. At the very least we would have the sense to know our sacrifice must be protected. The family unit around our child must be kept sacred and secure. The last thing on our mind is heading for the border or competing for the role as “Mom.” 
(To read the rest of Ash's post, go here.)
These women are not people we need to fear. They are actually some of the most courageous and selfless women you will ever have the privilege of meeting. Josh and I continue to be so amazed by the strength of Titus's birthmom (and we think you should be, too!).

As a side note, many people are also unaware that there are actual laws in place making the act of birthparents signing over their parental rights irrevocable in domestic adoption. Each state has different laws concerning the amount of time that passes before a birthmom legally signs over her parental rights (for example, in Utah it's 24 hours, in Illinois it's 72 hours, in Rhode Island it's 15 days). But once they do sign over their rights, a birthmom's decision is irrevocable. (There is an exception to this in the unlikely event of a woman's signing being obtained under fraud or coercion. And laws pertaining to Native American adoptions are more complex.) There is a set amount of time that passes (again, varying from state to state) where the adoptive family is visited by their homestudy agency and then the adoption is finalized through court and a new birth certificate is issued. Once an adoption is finalized it is irrevocable. Legally, a birthmother can't "come back" and change her mind. But remember, the majority of these ladies would never dream of "coming back" in the first place.

Don't let the idea that birthmoms are scary keep you from experiencing the joys of adoption. Birthmoms are not boogeymen.  They are brave and beautiful. Without them, adoption would never be possible.

(For further information about domestic adoption, please contact me at katief@christianadoptionconsultants.com.)

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