Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Birth Mother?

News broke this week of the birth mother of one of Angelina Jolie’s daughters making a public plea to see her child again.  This was good canon-fodder for the magazines near the check-out line at the supermarket, but left me rather unimpressed.

Although I do enjoy any mention of adoption in the headlines of the day, such stories, to me, bring to light perceptions of adoption that need to be forever publicly disbanded.

It is clear that two misguided views of adoption still exist:

#1 – The big, bad birth mother. 

No one should be outraged by a mother wanting to be a part of their child’s life – no matter the circumstances that surround the absence of her presence to date.

Let’s make one thing clear: most families of adoption came to the process out of necessity.  This holds true of those adopting and of those making an adoption plan for their unborn child.

Belittling, minimizing or denying the legitimacy of a birth mother’s connection to their child is unfair and ignorant.

I think about my family – we were created from the love of a birth mother.  A lady I’ve never met and have seen only in pictures, entrusted me to do what she could not.

That takes guts.

I live in service to that bold, courageous, horrible choice every day – most adoptive families do.

The love for their child never leaves a birth mom.

When I interviewed Patricia Dischler, an author and mother who made the decision to place her son nearly 30 years ago, I was taken aback by her perspective.  She loved her child, even if it took nearly a decade for them to finally meet.

I remember Dischler saying that, “Adoptive families are put on a pedestal while birth mothers are left behind.”

No one should be surprised by a birth mother’s desire to meet their child.  The courage that allowed them to live through such a difficult decision years ago, pushes a birth mother to be heard eventually.

We should listen to their voices with compassion – not judgement.

#2 – The hush-hush nature of talking about the not-so-good aspects of adoption.

When the voice of a birth mother is heard, those listening are immediately taken to a side of adoption that is uncomfortable – the part that deals with loss.

Sure, I enjoy talking about the successes of our adoption.  I hope these anecdotes are fun, that they help bring people in and highlight the great families created by adoption.  Only talking about the happy parts of adoption, though, is not enough.

Adoption is hard.

Adoption is not for the weak.

Adoption is filled with uncertainty that will test the strongest, most faithful family’s mettle.

We shouldn’t shy away from topics that make adoption uncomfortable.

There is no success in adoption without difficulty.

All families have to fight for their own, glorious outcome.  Families come out of adoption greater than when they start because of the losses throughout the process, not in spite of them.

All of us should talk about all pieces of how our families came to be.  When we do, adoption conversations around us change.

The dialogue can become open and inclusive – bringing people in with authenticity and driving people away from sensationalism or “don’t ask, don’t tell” evasiveness.

Please ask.

And, adoptive families – birth mothers, birth fathers, aunts, uncles, brother and sisters – please tell.


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