Making an adoption plan has many uncertainties and unknowns for any side of the adoption triad. For birth mothers, like myself, there is a unique sense of surrendering not only our child physically, but our control of different areas in which we no longer have a say. There can be many fears wrapped into our choice of adoption. It’s a lifelong choice, after all. And it is one that we make in a season of life where we may not feel ready or able to parent. We then live with the effects of it for the rest of our lives. Even in “ideal” fully open adoptions like mine, filled with visits and solid relationships, there are fears involved as we worry about the what ifs.
When I asked, “What do you fear as a birth mom?” These were submitted from anonymous women. These women had all kinds of stories, reasons for placing, and openness levels (or no relationship at all), yet the core of our fears are common for each of us.
"I fear that my child would hate me for my decision to place them for adoption."
Will my child be understanding of the decision I made? Could they become angry for the grief and hurt I may have caused them? Will they blame me? These are questions that every birth mother I know struggles with. We hope and pray that our child will understand the choice we made and be fully ready to accept that we may get the brunt of anger as our child grows.
"I fear that she won't believe how much she was loved and wanted."
Oh, what a misunderstanding society has conjured up surrounding the “rejection” of birth mothers. Adoption is not rejection at all, but a form of love. Love that gives, love that receives. We desperately want our child to know just how vast and deep our love for them is, and our soul pleads that one day they will understand that we were doing what we felt was best in those moments.
"I fear that one day everything will be taken away. No matter how amazing it is now, I worry I could blink, and tomorrow it will all be gone."
With open adoption, the control of the relationship ultimately falls into the adoptive parents’ hands until 18 years old. What if they lied to me? Could they promise an open adoption and then close it? What if I do something wrong? What if I cross a boundary I didn’t know existed, and they close contact? Unfortunately, this happens way too often in America where promises made are not kept. Even when the relationship is going well, and healthy communication and respect are in place, there is always a lingering understanding that I could lose all of this because it is in their hands.
"I fear that she won't want me in her life someday or not desire the same closeness that I do."
Will she reach out at 18 to find me? What if she doesn’t like who I am or doesn’t approve of my lifestyle? How our child will want to be in our lives is a weighted question that many birth moms have to wait years to discover. The answers always vary. The relationships vary. Yet with this fear, we simultaneously hold hope for what could be in the years ahead.
"I fear that the adoptive parents are not taking good care of my child or how she is being raised."
We trust our hearts and our child with adoptive parents. There are abundant good adoptive parents out there, yet we know they are humans with faults. Sadly, there can be horror stories of bonding that never happened or abusive situations. Adoption does not guarantee a beautiful life for our child. That’s hard to wrestle with as a birth mom when that was part of our decision to give them a better life.
"I fear how others will view my choice for placing my child."
Though talking about adoption has become more normal, many birth moms sit in silence, feeling ashamed, and scared to share their stories. Things are changing in our society, but there are still antiquated views and language to undo. One is that birth mothers are selfish for choosing adoption. The truth is that it is not selfishness; it is selflessness. The birth mothers I know died to themselves the day they signed their rights away, died to the wishes they had deep down to be their child’s mother and everything their child needed. They surrendered their desires to do what they felt was best for their child. Adoption rips a hole in our hearts that we live with every day. Who would choose that only to benefit themselves?
Truth and Hope
Though there are fears to wrestle with, we can only choose to surrender what we cannot change. I can’t control what others think of my decision, but I can control how I react and can rest in the peace I feel within my choice. All the same, I cannot control if my daughter will feel anger towards my decision that affects her life too. However, I can control how I aim to be a healthy person and respect her needs as she grows. There are so many things in life we cannot control — but we do have hope!
We have hope knowing the Lord sees us. He knows our story. He knows the complex layers of desires and emotions, and He hasn’t turned away. We have hope that “those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)
When we trust the Lord with our life, we can trust His big picture plan, even if we don’t understand this piece right now. We have hope that if we seek Him, He promises in Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” He sees every fear. He is the Comforter and giver of peace.
If you have a birth mom in your life, will you remind her of these truths? Support her and love her when fears surface.