You certainly wouldn’t want to surrender your child just to become a part of the birthparent world, but once you do, I will say it is a very kind and supportive group of women (and some men) you will find there. On the email lists and in person support groups, what do we do talk about? What do we do?
–We help each other by reviewing important letters before they are sent, or major phone calls before they are made. Lots of messages are traded that go like this:
QUESTION: “Ladies, can you read this for me and see if it sounds too pushy? I don’t want to sound like I’m overstepping my bounds, and I certainly don’t want to risk losing what little contact I have. Suggestions welcome.”advertisement
RESPONSE: “I would take out the part about sticking to what they said before the birth. They might find it threatening, and close things down even further. Good luck – hope it works!”
–We plot strategies for how to handle sticky situations with the adoptive family. We pool knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. We become experts in diplomacy and how to ask for what we want and need without offending or threatening. (When we do have to beg or plead, we try to help each other maintain our dignity while we do it.)
–We talk each other through the bad days – birthdays, anniversaries, bad news about our kids’ behavior, our children’s illnesses, hurtful comments from outsiders, visits that don’t go well, open adoptions that seem to be closing down.
–We prepare each other for the big moments in adoption – reunion, for closed adoption; the first time our child asks “Why?”, in open adoption, and the first visit, again in open adoption. We talk through the possibilities and make sure our fellow birthparents are ready for whatever they will be facing.
–We share advice about what toys our children may like, since many of us don’t really know our own kids, what they might like, or what is an age-appropriate gift.
–We swap pictures like crazy. No one values photos more than a birthparent.
–Among ourselves, we are free to enjoy our parenthood and be proud of our kids, with no judgment or scorn.
So how does this relate to you, now going through an unplanned pregnancy? Well, we also welcome in expectant moms who are trying to decide if adoption is right for them. (I sure wish I had found one of these e-mail lists when I was pregnant!) I encourage you to get out there and find such a group, so you can benefit from the wisdom of current birthparents in a private setting.
Over the last eight years, I have met some wonderful women and men who are birthparents. This is my thanks to them.