The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. We’re now at Open Adoption Roundtable #38.
Mother’s Day is coming soon in many countries, and the intersection of adoption and that holiday can stir up a lot of different emotions.
Write to someone else in the adoption constellation (someone specific or a general group). What do you want to say to them on Mother’s Day?
I’m feeling somewhat cynical about Mother’s Day this year. I will use this prompt to write a letter to S, but that’s personal. (Yes, I really do keep some things personal.)
Others have used this prompt to write very lovely letters to prospective adoptive parents. I like Heather’s. I have something a little more blunt to say.
Dear Prospective Adoptive Mothers,
There are a few things that I think you should know before you become an adoptive mom.
First, a woman is not a birthmother until she gives birth and relinquishes her child. I know that the entire adoption agencies calls any woman who is considering an adoption plan a “birthmother” but that’s laziness at best and coercion at worst. The woman in question is an “expectant mother” just like any other woman expecting a baby. Also, she is not “your” (“our”) expectant mother. She is “the” expectant mother. Unless she’s expecting you, which is probably an episode of Dr. Who, but not likely to occur outside of the sci-fi realm.
Second, do not promise whatever the expectant parents want beforehand while knowing that you will change it afterwards. This practice is ethically and morally wrong. This practice gives all adoptive parents a bad name. This practice will hurt the people who may be entrusting their child to you. Perhaps most importantly, this practice will hurt your child.
Third, do not make your decisions out of fear or desperation. This is far easier said than done, I know. I know what it’s like to want a child so badly your arms ache. I know what it’s like to stand in an empty room in the middle of the night and imagine that there will never be a child in it. But you have to use your head and do what is right, not what is fastest or easiest. Sometimes, you won’t always know what’s right until it’s too late, but you do have to try.
Fourth, remember that the expectant father is a person too. If he’s not involved, ask why not. Ask a lot. Make sure he is: a) really, truly unknown, b) really, truly onboard with the adoption plan, c) really, truly not at all in the picture because he chose not to be, or d) really, truly a terrible man who should be (or is) in prison. Most expectant fathers do not fall into the first or fourth categories, by the way. You should not fear the expectant father. You should try to talk to him, even if only through a lawyer or a social worker. It is far too easy to cut expectant fathers out of the picture. If nothing else, you want to make sure you get his name, contact info, and some basic medical information. Your child will need that.
Fifth, you are a “prospective” adoptive parent, not a “perspective” adoptive parent. “Perspective” refers to how you see or perceive things. “Prospective” means “potential.” (I’m sorry, but seeing “perspective adoptive parent” is a pet peeve of mine.)
Sixth, if you don’t give up, you will find your child. Really you will.
A Mom Who Has Been There