Aren't They All The Same?

Adoption is a huge part of my life.  This is a topic that has been coming up a lot in our private groups and 1:1 mentoring.  

When I chose the family that I did, one of the things that brought me to that decision was that they had adopted before.  I kind of liked the idea that the two kids would have that in common...that maybe he wouldn't feel so "different" in his own home.  

I never even thought about the fact that there would be another birth mom in that picture, working through the same adjustments in loss and grief and figuring out what our relationship with the adopting family would be.  I also didn't even think that I would have to feel like I wasn't "doing it right" because she was different from me in our stance on Open Adoption.  She was a birth mom in that family before me, so does that set the bar for how I should be as a birth mom?

One of the greatest lessons that I have learned in all of my time working with Birth Mothers is that NO one single story is the same.  Yes there are similarities and yes the end result is the same, adoption...but that is it.  

Birth Mothers are as different as the children that they place and as different as the families that adopt.  So why are the adoptive families trying to set ONE set of standards on how to treat the birth moms?

Every single situation needs to be treated like it is an important, individual relationship that needs work and understanding and some exploration to decide what works best for all involved.  

About 6 months after I placed I was in a VERY bad place personally.  I was grieving deeply but nothing was on the surface except for my own self destruction.  I couldn't talk about it with any one and I was barely keeping it together.  

I sent a letter to the adoptive family at that six month point and asked that we step away, close the contact and allow for some space for me to move forward without the reminders of the great pain that I was in.  A week or so after I had sent that letter I received an email from their daughter's birth mom.  She was the "first birth mom" in their family and they had a VERY open adoption.  She participated in family events, parties, phone calls...she would take their daughter alone in her car etc.  (Something that always totally freaks me out! Just a personal thing.)

So you could say that we were total opposite in our view on adoption at that point in our individual journey.  

She would email me and tell me details about birthday parties and how sad the family was that I was so distant and that they were wonderful people and that they were hoping that we could have the same kind of relationship that they had with her.  That they are people that I should want to know and that I was SO lucky to have them in my life and that I shouldn't throw it away.

I knew all of this but I wasn't open to the relationship at that time.  I was hurt to know that the family would have conversation with this birth mom.  This "other woman".  

I know they had questions, I know they didn't understand how one could be so open and the other not.  I know they were worried about me and wanted the best for me.  I know they wanted me and that baby boy to have a relationship.  I know that none of their actions were meant to be hurtful. 

To this day we continue to have VERY different relationships.  We have had to learn how to develop separate standards and expectations.  We communicate differently, we participate differently and I know they have had to be a lot more patient with me, a lot more distant and a lot more respectful for my concerns and boundaries.  

They have adjusted and I have adjusted and they are wonderful people.  

There is GREAT comparison that runs through the adoption community.  Everyone is being judged and looked at and studied and evaluated.  

“All parties of the adoption triad are just trying to find their place. It looks different for everyone but not less important. From one situation to the next we need to be respectful, we need to let go of expectation and we need to make room for adjustment and growth.”

— Ashley Mitchell

We as birth mothers are not the same.  We all process differently, we grieve differently, we recover differently.  So I think that it is a safe assumption that we would have different needs as it relates to the adopting families.  

NOW I believe very deeply that the adoptive family has the final say.  I have a great deal of respect for that position as the parents of the child.  I believe that they do the VERY best that they can and I believe that they will do what is the very best for their family.  That does not always benefit the birth parent but I still honor those choices. 

I encourage you to get to know the birth mothers that are a part of your families.  Ask questions, find out what their needs are, what their wants are as far as the relationship goes and treat each individual as the sacred and unique relationship that it is.  

Sending a standard package to multiple birth parents isn't always the best or most effective way. MAKE TIME, TAKE TIME and allow each birth mom to feel special.  Customize your contact with each individual.

Here is a note of the flip side....to my dear birth moms that are in a situation where there is more than one adoption in the family.  THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION. Just as the birth mothers are different and you have different demands, wants and needs SO do the children.  One relationship may be different not based on you but based on the needs or wants or desires of the child.  There may be concerns in lifestyle choices, boundaries etc that the parent MUST take into consideration.  And if you decide that you want less and the other birth mom is getting more remember who made that choice.  

There is no room for jealousy in a choice that YOU made for yourself.  

Lets not play favorites.  Lets learn and grow and adjust to each relationship as it presents itself.  

We are  all in this together, lets bring our needs to the table and figure out a way to cater to each other.