Sitting across from them, it was inconceivable that I had the right questions to ask which would bring me the answer I needed to change the life of my son forever. I was choosing adoption for my first born child, and if that choice wasn’t the hardest I’d ever make in my life, choosing his parents was.
In 1991, the Internet wasn’t available along with such informative articles as “Birthmother’s Advice on Choosing Adoptive Parents,” and Birthparents, What To Do, which are articles I could have benefited from when trying to hard to find the right path and questions to ask along the way. I didn’t realize that the term, “Open Adoption,” wasn’t a legally binding term in a court of law. I didn’t know that anything I agreed to with my son’s potential adoptive parents would be a solemn promise we shared, but not a promise I could take to court should it be broken. I didn’t know a lot of things.
After being involved in the adoption community for about ten years, publishing my first book, “One Birthmother’s Emotional Truth on Healing, Recovery, and Success,” later on going to Capital Hill to speak against a proposed bill, and traveling the country as a guest speaker on behalf of Birth Mother‘s in adoption; I discovered a major flaw in the adoption system and process. It wasn’t just that I didn’t know which questions to ask, or how the process worked … it was my relationship with my son’s adoptive parents. The one bond that required the most attention not only for myself, for my son, but for them as well.
It seemed everywhere I went, whether it was to host a Birthmother Support group at an adoption agency, to speak at a conference, or to be at home at Adoption.com on the discussion forums for Birthparents and Adoptive Parents, no one – on either side of the adoption triad – had been offered co-counseling for the purpose of establishing long term communication in the adoption relationship they were entering into. Birthmother’s are offered counseling pre and post placement by the adoption agency, and a good adoption agency will also require the adoptive family to financially support up to a year’s worth of third party therapy for their birthmother. Adoptive parents utilize the adoption agency for support groups, counseling, and long term care. However, there is a missing link.
For as many questions as I had, but did not know how to ask … so too did my son’s adoptive parents. Sadly, it was only later on, after the adoption was finalized, that they realized they had them. The long term effects and issues of adoption often time don’t surface until several years after the placement. Birthmother’s and Adoptive parents alike will find themselves wondering, “Did I agree to the right thing? What did I do? Why didn’t I ask? How do I maintain this? What should I say? How do I respond?” Without initial pre-placement co-therapy and counseling together, these questions remain silenced. There is no solid foundation for the freedom in discussion.
After several years of attempting to get pictures and letters from my son’s adoptive parents, the agency finally sent me a letter. They’d written, “We are deeply sorry for this response, and pray you are able to move on from here. We wish you the best.” There was a second letter re-typed by the agency, from my son’s parents which read, “We are grateful that you chose us to raise our son, however he is ours until he is 18 and we would ask no further attempt at contact be made. We wish you all the best.”
In all my years of being involved in the adoption community with Birth Parent‘s and Adoptive Parents, and even today as I read through the Forum Discussion boards at Adoption.com, I see that this is a trend that continues to bleed hearts from all sides. I am not an adoption advocate, and I refrain from giving any kind of advice to anyone making these life altering decisions, but I do hope and pray that anyone reading this connects to the eternal truth that they are not alone, there is help out there, and for every question you do not know you should ask … I hope you find the courage and the strength to reach out and seek more from those who are in place to offer help to you.
Suggest Co-Counseling for Birth Parent’s and Adoptive parents, in a unified and cohesive approach for the long term benefit of your relationship both to one another and to your commitment to a healthy adoption. Birth Parents and Adopting Parents alike. Your family, on both sides, deserves this.