November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Its goal is important: to increase “awareness of the need for permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. foster care system.” But have you ever considered the perspective of birth mothers and fathers who choose adoption over abortion?
The majority of adoptive families in the United States maintain ongoing contact and relationship building with birth families. This type of adoption is referred to as “open adoption.” They stay in touch via letters, email, phone calls, face-to-face visits and/or social media. The birth mom and dad receive updates about their children, often receiving photos of the kids as well.
But guess what? The majority of the birth parents are never asked about their children. If the pregnancy was not kept a secret, then friends and family most likely know the biological parents chose to gift their baby to another family. Yet, it is rarely discussed.
Consider the heroic mothers (and fathers) who chose adoption over abortion. That baby grew inside of her for nine months. She labored for hours. But she left the maternity ward empty handed. No blue or pink flowers or balloons tied on to her wheelchair. No smell of a new car seat safely strapped in. No list of meal-bringers on the front of the fridge. Nothing.
Birth parents do not “give up” their babies. The love that has grown for their child since conception does not end at delivery. It’s hard to estimate the value of the gift of their child to another family. And it is a gift that deserves to be recognized and honored.
If you know a birth parent whose baby has been adopted by another family, ask about the child—no matter how old the child is! Ask the birth parent how s/he is doing in this season of life. Be aware that grief can present itself in a variety of ways, ranging from joy to anger and grateful to resentful.
Georgette Forney, Anglicans for Life’s president, tells the story of asking B., whose teenage girlfriend got pregnant, about their baby. She was stunned when he pulled out a stack of photos from his wallet to show her. (Obviously, this was in pre-cell phone camera days!)
Georgette was more stunned when B. told her she was the first person to ever inquire about the child.
Will you be somebody’s first? Here are some suggestions:
- Acknowledge the birth. Affirm the courage and selflessness of the birth parents;
- Ask for updates on the child; and
- Remember birth parents on Mother’s and Father’s Day—in church and personally.