A Birth Mom’s Guide to Open Adoption

Congratulations! If you are  reading this you are most likely pregnant and looking into open adoption.  Open adoption is a beautiful thing.  It can be the coming together of two families to love and support the child that connects them.  I, personally, think that open adoptions should be the “go-to” as they make the process for the birth mother a little easier and make sure that the child will have answers to the many questions that come with being placed.

However, open adoption is not for the faint of heart and can get complicated.  It requires a lot of work on either side and communication.  Both parties (birth and adoptive family) need to be fully committed for this arrangement to thrive.  That is why I decided to write this.  I wanted to give you (the birth mom) a list of things to consider and do when going through the placement process.


Do the research!

STOP! Before you do anything you need to do your research.  I am obsessive when it comes to researching things.  I won’t eat at a restaurant without checking the ratings so there is no way I will let someone become involved in the placing of my child without ensuring they are legit and concerned for myself and my child.  Look into agencies and their ratings. Read birth mothers accounts of placement.  Look at other options such as private adoption.  Ask other birth moms about their experiences. This decision should be entirely your own and you deserve to be informed!  Prepare yourself!

Pick an Agency

This only really applies to those who are choosing to go through an agency.  Agencies are a great tool for some birth mothers because they do all the heavy lifting.  They allow you to choose the parents, meet with them if you want, and may even offer services such as counseling.  Find an agency that best fits your needs and really, truly cares about you.  If you have done your research, you should already have an idea of what you want and who you want to work with.  All you have to do is call, explain your situation, and that should get the ball rolling.

Pick the Parents

When I met my son’s adoptive parents, I knew they were going to be incredible.  I never doubted that the child that became theirs was going to be a lucky little girl or boy… And that was a year before I found out I was pregnant.There are some incredible people out there who would love not only your child but you as well, so don’t settle.  Take your time.  Look at every single option.  Pray.  Meditate.  Do whatever you need to do to make sure you are at peace and these are the people you want raising your child.

Discuss, Discuss, Discuss!!

This is something I really wish my adoptive parents and I had done more of.

There is a difference between discussing your hopes and dreams for your child and actually sitting down and being realistic.  I know that it kills the mood but it is necessary to have a healthy relationship with your adoptive parents.

Here are some things you may want to discuss:

  • Visits: Do we want them?  How many a year (or month)?  Can you bring your family?
  • Updates: How often?  What do you want them to include?
  • Social Media: Do you mind if I post pictures?  Can we be friends on Facebook?  Do you mind if I comment on pictures?
  • Relationship: What should I be called?  Will you explain who I am?  How do you plan on answering questions about his birth family? How are we going to handle conflict?
  • Contact: Can I text you?  Can we do phone calls?  Can we do video chats?

Those are just a few that I recommend discussing but there are plenty more that may be brought up.  Whenever a question pops into your mind write it down!  That way you are prepared.  Let the adoptive parents ask questions as well.  This is an effective way to put everyone’s mind at ease and establishing communication and trust.

You may walk away realizing they are not the parents you want for your child  and vice versa.  That’s ok.  It just opens the door for the right couple or the right child.

Write It Down

This is a touchy one.  I know this may strike you as me not trusting adoptive parents or accusing them of lying, but that is not the case.  I am adding this to the list because after the baby is born reality comes crashing down.  Feelings that you or the adoptive parents never thought would come take over you.  By getting everything in writing and signed, it is a way of showing an agreement was made.  It gives the adoptive parent a chance to really think about what they just said or agreed to, and decide if they REALLY meant it.

I’m not saying it is legally binding but it can’t hurt.

Get an Advocate

This will be a rough few months.  I’m convinced that babies suck brain cells and there will be many times when you are simply not thinking straight.  This can lead to some rash, hormone filled, crazy reactions or decisions.  As a way to make sure you’re not doing anything you regret, find someone to advocate for you.  Some agencies act as an advocate for you but if not find someone you know has your best interest at heart.  Discuss your wants and expectations with them so they are able to advocate for you to the best of their ability.

Find a Therapist

This is SO important.  I am going to give you a harsh reality.  It’s offensive but you probably need to hear it.  You CANNOT do this alone.  You need someone to support you.  I think a therapist is the best option because they are impartial.  They are not emotionally attached so they will not get drained the way a friend or family member does.  They can also help you to see things from a different perspective and aid the healing process.

Baby Blues

Postpartum depression is extremely common.  Combine that with the sadness of placing and it is a recipe for disaster.  You have to grieve, that it perfectly natural.  Postpartum is not.  You need someone to watch you, to see if you’re going past sad into depressed.  If someone voices concern, take that serious and go see your doctor.  They can prescribe antidepressants or help you talk through these feelings.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Find a Community

I joined Birth Mom groups on Facebook almost the moment I got home from the hospital.  I was desperate for a safe place that I could share pictures, stories, fear, and hurt.  They are wonderful women that hurt and laugh along side me.  They understand my pain and the love I have.  I couldn’t do this without them.

Finding a group of birth mothers to share with helps more than you know.  They share your hurt and love.  They don’t judge you for placement and don’t get uncomfortable hearing about your birth child.  Fellowshipping with other birth mothers is not required but a huge help in regards to recovery.

Making Memories

This is a case-by-case thing.  Some people really love to journal and this is an awesome way to remember this time you had with your child.  If you’re not into writing, find other ways to record your feelings throughout this process. Do a maternity shoot. Painting, photography, vlogging, blogging, scrapbook, etc.  Whatever works for you.  Just remember these are the only times you will have that it is just you and your child.  Cherish them.  Remember them.

Don’t Be Scared

No matter how hard you try not get attached, the moment you hear that first cry and see that tiny human, you will fall in love.  And that’s ok.  So make sure you don’t let the fear of getting to attached take away from things you would love to do.  For example, I chose not to hold my son first because he needed skin-to-skin contact.  To this day I wish I had.  It may have made it harder but it would have been one of the few firsts I would get to share with him. Don’t be afraid of being a mommy, even if for a short time.

My last and most important piece of advice is this…

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

If anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, makes your feel uncomfortable, used, or unsafe, throw the brakes on.  At the end of the day, placement or not, you are a mother and mothers always know what is best for their child.  You have the power and control until you sign those papers.  Don’t abuse that but don’t be afraid to use it either.

Open adoption is such a beautiful, heartbreaking experience.  These are all things that my fellow birth mothers and I wish we had known while we were placing.  This will be a hard road but I hope this list will give you more of a sense of direction.


You are strong and beautiful, momma!  Regardless of your choice, you are incredible.  Adoption is nothing to be ashamed of so embrace it.

 

*Special thanks to all my fellow birth moms who suggested items for this list!*
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