My favorite commercial during the 2012 Olympics is the one about how, to their mothers, they will always be children.
Once you become a parent, a parent you will forever be. I’m about to turn thirty-five and my little brother, the baby in our family, will be thirty-two in January, but our mom is still Mom. When our first son was born a beloved friend gave us the book “Love You Forever,” which sweetly describes how a mother is a mother regardless how big the child grows or how far the child goes…
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.
The same is true of a “Birthmom.” Birthmoms are courageous women who give their children life and selflessly choose to place them in the home of another loving family. These forever mothers create and follow through with an adoption plan.
Being a mother is natural and beautiful. Sometimes girls become mothers in less than perfect circumstances and they’re facing an incredibly difficult decision. When a woman becomes pregnant outside the safety and security of a loving, stable marriage they have three options, and none of them are easy: single parenting, abortion, and placing the child with an adoptive family.
We work with single moms every day we’re open and they are incredible women. Somehow they manage to work outside the home then take off their uniform and work inside the home until they fall exhausted into bed every night. They are doing the work intended for two by themselves. It’s awesome, but far from easy.
People will say having an abortion is easy, but it’s not. Most of the women we work with do not want to have an abortion. Often they’re feeling intense pressure from someone else to end their pregnancy, but deep down they know they’re a mother and want to meet their child. When they make the choice to abort they’ll often point to the difficulties of being a single parent, the financial pressure, the judgment they or their families might receive. The less then perfect circumstances pressure them into making a choice they really don’t want to make. The procedure may be quick, but a mother’s a mother forever and they never forget their little one. We work with these parents quite frequently too.
Somewhere between these two options is the third alternative, adoption. It’s not easy. I’ll let a birthmom share her heart on the issue,
“I once heard a girl who had decided to parent her child say, “My baby’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” I believed her. But I wanted to ask, “Are you the best thing that could’ve happened to your baby?”
I placed my baby for adoption, and I can also say he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He transformed my life. I loved my child more than words can explain, and I still do. I believe my love for him was the first real love I’d ever felt, because it was completely selfless. It was the BIGGEST feeling I’ve known. My heart grew in my chest the moment I laid eyes on him. Had I loved him any less—one ounce less—he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart. I didn’t just feel love; I did what love dictated.” – Tamra, birth mother (1)
When one of our moms chooses to create an adoption plan, the process of an open adoption begins. We connect them with an adoption agency, use our facility to introduce the birthmom to the agency, and walk with her throughout the entire process. We want all moms to know they are mothers forever and be treated as such. Placing a child for adoption doesn’t end motherhood. Another birthmom, Desha Wood, said it this way,
“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.” (2)
Sometimes the best decision is the hardest decision, and when one of our moms chooses to place their child for adoption we recognize their heartache. They are doing what’s best for their baby now by giving it life, and doing what they think is best for their baby in the future by giving them a better set of circumstances. Birthmoms are heroes.
I once thought adoption was simple, even easy. I once was ignorant and I was wrong. I never looked beyond the term to see the person, and failed to appreciate the incredible selflessness, courage, and strength a birthmom must have to place their baby in the arms of another family and let them go.
A young girl just passed my office window on her way to receive an ultrasound. Her tennis shoed feet shuffled across the floor, arms crossed over her T-shirt, almost hiding the logo of her high school; she couldn’t be more than fifteen-years-old. She tried to use her expression to hide her fear, but her eyes gave her away. This child was with child. As a pregnant teen she has three options, and none of them are easy. Last year I would have said, “Just give the baby up for adoption; there are plenty of families that would love to have your child.” I just didn’t understand what I was saying.
Mark Schultz’s mom made the selfless choice to place him in the arms of another. He’s a father now, also a songwriter who wrote the song “Everything to Me” as a proclamation of gratitude to his mother.
I must have felt your tears
When they took me from your arms
I’m sure I must have heard you say goodbye
Lonely and afraid had you made a big mistake
Could an ocean even hold the tears you cried
I just didn’t understand.
The young girl is going to hear someone from our team share the concept of an Open Adoption. I imagine she’s like me and doesn’t know much about adoption at all, much less Open Adoption. Let’s learn about it together.
Adoption is the legal process by which permanent custody of a child is transferred from the birthparents to adoptive parents. For a pregnant woman, choosing adoption means voluntarily making a plan for her baby to be raised by other parents.
There are some key ideas in that definition, so let’s make sure we understand it completely.
That’s what adoption is. Open adoption speaks to the relationship between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, and it’s the type of adoption we encourage at the PHI Center.
Open adoption means the birthparents and the adoptive family exchange contact information, and can have ongoing contact. There was a time when all adoptions were closed, meaning the child never met his biological parents and the birthparents and adoptive parents never met. We’ve learned from history and heartache, and now open adoption is the most common method used in America.
If the mother getting her ultrasound today decided to make an adoption plan for her son or daughter we would walk with her as she went through the process. We would encourage her, affirm her, and support her all throughout her pregnancy and help her with her plan along the way. Eventually, we would connect her to an adoption agency.
The adoption agency serves birthparents and adoptive parents by taking care of all the legal stuff that goes into an adoption plan as well as making sure the adoptive parents are good, strong families that are prepared to care for new babies. We would invite the agency to come to our building to meet our birthmom and talk through all the details of making the plan happen. All throughout the process we would be right beside the birthmom, giving her all the support she desires.
The representative from the agency would eventually show the girl a “Life Book.” These are scrapbooks where potential adoptive parents place their picture and their story on a page so the birthmom can begin to get to know them. Maybe she’ll see a family she connects to, maybe not. If not, we’ll keep looking. These Life Books are the beginning of a new set of relationships. “Most birthparents and adoptive families tell us that they not only trust each other, but see each other as extended family. Like any other relationship, it may take effort to make sure the relationship works, but everyone benefits when you have a respectful and trusting relationship.”
At some point during the pregnancy, the birthmom and the adoptive parents would get to meet face to face. The young mom who walked in today would sit and talk with the couple she selected about their relationship and the new baby. Open adoption provides that opportunity. Our birthparents can become friends, assuming they want to, with the adoptive parents. They can talk about getting updates and pictures, scheduling visits, and how a birthmom, if she so desires, can be a part of her child’s life.
When the day comes for the birthmom to deliver her child and then place him with the adoptive parents there will be many tears; tears of gratitude and respect from the adoptive parents, and tears flowing from the broken heart of our birthmom. She’s doing something that takes more courage and selflessness than most people could ever understand. This is what I didn’t understand, but now I’m beginning to. Developing a plan and placing a child in the loving arms of another family is a difficult choice to make, but many times it’s the best one.
Please take a few minutes to listen to Mark’s song about his adoption and his deep love and respect for his birthmom. Then watch the second video to hear the story about how the song came to be. You’ll be glad you did.