Adoption is often suggested as a solution to abortion within the pro-life movement, and I believe that it is.
After all, I’ve seen it and lived it.
Adoption is the parenting decision I made at age 16 in order to provide my daughter with a life I couldn’t give her at that moment in time. I wrestled with that decision, and with God, throughout most of my pregnancy. For me, it was never a matter of not loving or not wanting to be a mother. No, I loved my baby deeply and wanted the best for her, yet the first time I felt peace during my entire pregnancy was when I finally relinquished my sense of control. That’s when I knew that God would give me the strength to carry out His plan.
Fifteen years have passed since then, and neither myself nor my daughter would be where we are today without God’s redemptive plan.
Yet let me be clear: Adoption isn’t an easy way out, just as abortion isn’t, either. It comes with heartache. For many birth moms, like myself, it is the path that God uses to redeem lives – if we allow Him.
Loving them through the adoption journey
If the pro-life community is promoting adoption as a life-giving option, how do we help make it happen? We can’t simply encourage an expectant mother to “choose life” and then leave her alone to figure it out. We must follow up and follow through, whether she decides to parent her baby herself or create an adoption plan. No matter the mother’s decision, she will need emotional and physical support. Much of the strength I gained throughout my experience came through the support system God placed around me. Other people helped to love me through my journey by doing just that – by loving me like Jesus does.
Birth mothers often feel incredibly alone after an adoption placement. We feel invisible in our grief, much like a mother who experiences a pregnancy or infant loss. We disappear into ourselves, believing that no one really cares or understands … that we are forgotten. After all, we had a baby, but outwardly we have nothing to show for it. The Enemy loves to isolate us, right?
So, what does a birth mother need? Most of all, she needs people to sit with her, love her and grieve with her. But there are lots of other things we can do to help …
Use the right words
When you talk about adoption, using language that reflects the current culture of adoption is crucial. Your words matter, and they can shape how adoption is perceived and viewed in society. If you read or hear negative language, speak up about it! Help educate others along the way.
Be with her during the difficult moments
I was sobbing and my hands were shaking as I signed the relinquishment papers. Signing those papers was one of life’s hardest moments, and watching my daughter’s new family drive away with her in the backseat was a close second. I was legally separating from a child I loved deeply, and the adoption became devastatingly real in those moments.
Yet I had a close friend with me for support during the process, and it made all the difference. You can do the same for a young mother! Volunteer to serve as a doula for her during labor, or offer to pay for one. There are even adoption doulas who have experience navigating these specific situations! Offer to take pictures and/or video so she can treasure the memories of her time with her baby.
Don’t forget about her after the birth
Continue checking in on her. Send flowers and a heartfelt card. Bring meals to her after the birth – and recruit others to do the same. Just like any new mom, she should be resting and healing, not having to cook and do chores! If she lives alone, visit her frequently or invite her to stay with you temporarily. She’ll need physical and emotional support for the first few days. Some birth mothers already have other children at home, so providing care for them will allow her to get much-needed rest.
Throw a birth mother shower after the placement
Birth mothers don’t typically get to experience the fun of a baby shower, so honor her with this special time. Celebrate who she is in Christ, the life she helped bring into the world, as well as her new beginning. Shower her with love! Bless her and pray for her. Pamper her with gifts like a Bible, encouraging reminders to display in her home, and birth mother-specific journals or devotionals.
Help her find a counselor who has adoption-specific experience
Birth mothers need help developing healthy coping skills and a healthy lifestyle. There is a rise in society to provide better post placement care for birth mothers as pregnancy centers and adoption agencies are starting to fill this gap. Keep in mind that not everyone can afford counseling, so help connect her with options that are low cost or free. Encourage your church to learn more about adoption-specific experiences to help provide support.
Guide her to support groups and retreats
Offer to pay for the travel costs if necessary! Financial constraints often keep a birth mother at home instead of in places where she could find friendship and healing. Many communities have ongoing support groups, and weekend retreats can be found all over the United States.
Find or start a ministry to birth mothers
Many churches have an adoption ministry that supports foster and adoptive families, but what about the birth mothers? Look for ways to support the physical and emotional needs of birth mothers in your community. Talk to your church about how they can partner with you. Consider hosting a Birth Mother’s Day brunch, another honoring celebration, or a birth mother “tree” to provide physical needs and retreat sponsorships.
If we are pro-life and pro-woman, we must support each and every birth mother. Acting as the hands and feet of Jesus leads to changed lives – like mine. Adoption is not any easy decision to make, and we can’t forget the women who make such a brave and difficult choice.