Modern times have brought with it, an understanding that families come in many different forms. A “normal” family is becoming less and less clearly defined. We love that society is catching up even though choosing adoption isn’t quite “normal” yet…
By educating, informing, and celebrating adoption, we hope for growth and to help “normalize” the concept of adoption. National Adoption Month gives us a whole 30 days to use as a platform to promote and celebrate. We hope you’ll join our efforts by sharing your story, encouraging adoption, or educate yourself or others to steer away the negative stigma of past adoption.
With help from the adoption community, we’ve compiled a few ways that birth parents and adoptive parents can help normalize adoption:
1. If possible, choose open adoption.
If you’re a woman who is in the process of choosing adoption for your child, we hope you’ll consider making it an open one — or at least one with some degree of communication between you and the adoptive parents you choose for your child. An open adoption helps everyone in the adoptive triad: the birth parents, the adoptive parents and, most importantly, the adopted child. Open lines of communication eliminate the mystery and secrecy that accompanied adoptions in the past and allow for adopted children to get to know both sets of parents who love them unconditionally. The happier everyone in the adoptive triad is, the better example this will provide for others who are considering adoption.
2. Stick to your post-placement agreement.
It may not always be easy to maintain contact with your child and/or their adoptive parents. Whether you are going through some personal things or the issue lies on their end, it’s important that you don’t give up on your child. If you need to limit contact, do so in a way that still allows for some interaction between you and your child. Even though you aren’t the one responsible for parenting them, they absolutely still need you.
3. Respect your child’s adoptive parents.
There may be times when you don’t agree with decisions made by your child’s adoptive parents. There may even be times where you feel that they aren’t upholding their end of the post-placement agreement. If this is the case, we encourage you to remember that they are responsible for keeping your child safe, both physically and emotionally. If you feel that things aren’t being handled the right way, we encourage you to reach out to a neutral adoption counselor, therapist, or religious leader to talk about your feelings and how to appropriately handle them. Remember that, while complaining can feel good in the moment, doing so in front of those who don’t understand the situation may unintentionally give them a negative view of adoption or of the family that you chose for your baby.
4. Be open to asking for help if you need it.
When you place a child for adoption, you will go through a grieving process, as this is a major loss in your life. This is completely normal and to be expected, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if you need help. When spreading a positive image and normalizing adoption, it’s crucial that you take care of yourself first. You can’t help anyone else until you’ve grappled with your own struggles.
5. Share your story.
If you feel comfortable, sharing your positive experience with adoption is one of the best ways to help to normalize it for others. Again, it’s not your responsibility to be a spokesman for adoption if you don’t want to, but if helping to educate others about it is important to you, there are many ways to share your story. You can simply make it a point to join in when you hear adoption-related conversations, or you can use avenues like your social media accounts to share your story. It’s also not uncommon for birth moms to start their own blogs or join online support groups. There’s no wrong way to spread the word about adoption!
1. Talk openly and often with your child about how they are special because they are adopted.
Instead of looking at adoption as “something we just don’t talk about,” consider opening the topic up for some great conversation with your child. Let your child know that he or she was chosen twice: once by his or her birth mother and once by his or her adoptive parents. How you choose to present this idea to an adoptee is somewhat irrelevant, as long as the point is made that adoption is a normal part of society. This will ultimately strengthen your child’s self-confidence and sense of identity, as they can be proud of where they come from instead of feeling ashamed of it.
2. When you speak of adoption, share how much you not only love your child but also your child’s birth mother.
Birth mothers and adoptive parents become a family after the child is placed for adoption and custody is transferred. This adoption triad is very special, and a bond of love can be created between them that nothing can break. While this is not always achievable, it is more likely to be the case in an open adoption. When you discuss loving your child’s birth mother with others, you are creating a positive adoption identity for your child. Also, when the adoption triad is acknowledged as a blended family, it seems to become more acceptable to society. So, speak of the love you feel for your child’s birth mother.
3. Try to always talk positively about adoption, regardless of the challenges you may be facing.
While it may be difficult during the lows of the rollercoaster ride that is a post-placement relationship to speak highly of your child’s birth mother, please always try to honor her. Society is always looking for one reason to judge a situation, no matter how big or small that reason might be. When you speak of adoption with others, remember that this may be one of the few opportunities that person will have to learn about how adoption is normal. Also, an adoptee will always have a stronger identity when their birth mother is spoken of highly. Remember, there will likely be highs and lows when it comes to post-placement relationships — but don’t let the lows define how you speak of adoption when the highs are so beautiful.
Adoptive parents and birth parents play a crucial role in “normalizing” adoption for their children. To achieve a level of normality in society for adoption, we can begin with “normalizing” adoption within our own lives. Birth mothers and adoptive parents can begin “normalizing” adoption in their own lives with the child who was placed for adoption.