As a mother considering adoption, you are probably feeling overwhelmed. There is so much to learn in a very, very short period of time. Here is a list of things that I - and other birthmothers - wish we had known prior to, or at the time of, placement.
Before you read this list, I should add that I don’t share these things to try and sway you from choosing adoption. I share them because you should have all the information and know what you are getting into before signing adoption relinquishment papers.
• Know that open adoption is not legally binding in most states. And even in the states where open adoption is recognized by the courts, there is not a lot you can do should an adoptive couple not fulfill their promises once the baby has arrived and the adoption has been finalized.
• Know that the birthmother grief sustained through adoption is never ending. It will not go away in one week, a month, or even a year. It may lessen as you learn to deal with it and move forward in life. But you will carry that grief around with you forever.
• Know that the love you have for your child is never ending. Terminating your parental rights will not extinguish that love and your motherhood to your child.
• Know that you are not placing your child with the perfect family. Adoptive families have problems, just as biological families do. For example, one of the reasons for placing your child could be that you want him or her to have two parents. But divorce happens to adoptive families too and could shatter one of your big reasons for relinquishing.
• Know that this could be your last or only child. Some people may tell you that you can always have more children as a way to comfort you with your decision. But sadly, some birthmothers will never have any more children.
• Know that you’ll see or hear (in an open adoption) ways your child is like you. It’s been interesting and enlightening to see the things that my placed son does like me, or how he looks like me and to witness nature versus nurture.
• Know that adoption not only affects you, it affects your entire family. You parents have lost a grandchild, your siblings a niece or nephew, and so on. It will also affect any future children you have.
• Know that adoption should not be a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Finances can change, you will not always be young or single, etc.
• Know that you’ll make lasting friendships should you reach out to birthmother support groups, post placement. I have made amazing friends with some of the women I have met since becoming a birthmother - women I never would have met had I not chosen adoption for my son and needed support as a birthmother.
In the long run, knowing these things probably would not have caused me to change my mind regarding placing my son for adoption. But I still wish I had known them.