Birth/Surrendering Parents Section Tips

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Financial Assistance For Birth Mother

In most states, the adoptive parents can legally only pay for a birth mother's medical and legal expenses. Some states allow parents to assist the birth mother with housing or pregnancy costs, such as groceries or maternity clothes. All birth mother expenses must be carefully documented and shown to the court finalizing the adoption. No states allow adoptive parents to make any payments that may be viewed as a reward for placing her child with them for the purpose of adoption.

   
Why is it important to acknowledge the parenthood of an exiled mother?

Acknowledging A Birth Parent's Parenthood

In addition to understanding the complexity of adoption loss, it is critical that you understand and identify the birth mother as a mother. A mother who has placed her child for adoption is still a mother; she has been separated from her child, but she has not surrendered her motherhood.

Just as it would be insensitive to tell a grieving mother that she can always have more children, after the stillborn death of her baby, or that she was better off for the death of her child; it is likewise insensitive to make these comments to a mother who has given her child up for adoption.

Yet, birth mothers often report hearing these things frequently over the course of their lives. They are expected to get over their losses, replace their firstborns with other children, and accept that they are better off without their babies. It is important to understand the birth mother’s role in the adoption process, and treat her with respect for her decision to give her child a better life than she felt she was able to provide at that point in her life.

   
How are fathers affected by the loss of a child?

Birth Fathers And Feelings

Though birth mothers have been studied with greater frequency than birth fathers, we have every reason to believe that birth fathers suffer lifelong effects as well, especially if they were not allowed to take part in the adoption decision.

Birth fathers should not be afraid to seek counseling and support. You can support a grieving birth father as you would a grieving birth mother, by acknowledging his parenthood and respecting the fact that he has experienced the loss of his child, too.

   

Birth Mother Emotions

Placing a child with adoptive parents is not an easy decision for any birthmother. The birthmother can expect to feel grief over the loss of her child. It is also normal that she will feel ashamed of her decision to put her baby up for adoption or guilt for not raising her baby herself. It is important for the birthmother to acknowledge that she will need a grieving period after placement. Birthmothers are highly recommended to seek counseling when planning, and after placing, a child for adoption. She should also seek support from understanding family and friends.

   
How does adoption affect a mother's relationship with her other children?

Mothering Subsequent Children After Placing A Child For Adoption

When a birth mother goes on to have more children, she may feel an increased sense of guilt and regret about a previous adoption decision. She will certainly experience a wide range of feelings, including a sense of over-protectiveness to her new child, and also fear that something or someone would take her child away.

Mothers who have experienced adoption loss must be treated with extra sensitivity when pregnant and birthing additional children. The trauma of giving up a child to adoption is likely to resurface at such an emotional time. If you work with expectant mothers in this precarious position, listen to their needs and assure them of their parenting abilities.

   
How does open adoption cause conflict for natural mothers?

A Birth Mother's Conflicting Emotions And Open Adoption

A birth mother who has placed her child in an open adoption faces problems that are unique to her situation. Whether she learns about her child through letters and pictures or has direct contact with his adopters, her position is a precarious one. Though mothers involved in open adoptions may find comfort in knowing that their children are alive and well, they are put in the conflicted position of being a “special friend” or “extended family member” to their own children. They can watch, but not interfere in, the raising of their children by others.

The time just before and immediately after a visit with their children can be particularly difficult. As a friend, you can help by acknowledging the birth mother’s grief and giving her non-judgmental space in which to talk about her feelings. Encourage her to seek a counseling from a mental health professional, who is experienced in post-adoption grief, should she find her feelings especially difficult to cope with.

   

Birth Parent Tip For Involving Family In The Adoption

As you prepare to place your child for adoption with an adoptive family, your family will also need to prepare. It is important to remember that though you have many thoughts and emotions right now, so do the people closest to you. You can help your family through your adoption process by being open with them. You should realize that they may not understand your actions or your feelings, and the best that you can do is be honest and patient.

If your parents are having a hard time coping, you may want to have them accompany you to the doctor or the adoption agency. You may even want to set up an individual appointment with an adoption counselor for them. Parents may also want to make something for the baby, such as a journal or a scrapbook to help them through the adoption process. It is important to realize that the birth mother's parents will experience a loss as well, and they have every right to grieve that loss.

   

Birth Parent Coping

It is important to recognize that birth parents need time to grieve after they place a child for adoption. Although the birth parents have decided to choose adoption, and are happy with the adopting parents they chose, they still need to grieve the loss of their child. The first year will be the hardest on the birth parent, and they should allow themselves enough time to grieve. Birth parents may look to family and close friends to help them through their grieving process, but it is often hard for others to understand what a birth parent is going through if they haven't experienced it in their own life.

It is important for family and friends to be supportive, but also that birth parents realize that others may not really know how to help them cope. Birth parents should determine realistic expectations of others. If the support they need isn't available through friends and family, they should search for a counselor or support group for help.

After the placement of the child, the birth parent may feel detached from friends and not enjoy activities they used to love quite as much. As the birth parents work towards recovery, they will regain a more positive outlook on life. In open adoptions, establishing a relationship with the child may be very difficult for the birth parents at first. The birth parents should keep a realistic view about the relationship they hope to establish, and that it may be hard to see pictures of their child with another set of parents for a while.

   

Birth Mother Tip: Preparing For Placement

A birth mother should anticipate, before going into the hospital, how placement will proceed. The time the birth mother has in the hospital will be very emotional and confusing, so planning out the placement will make things go more smoothly. She should consider the following things: informing the hospital staff of her adoption and birth plans, considering which family members and friends she would like to accompany or visit her in the hospital, how much she wants to care for the child in the hospital (does she was do feed the baby or will the adopting parents participate), what items she would like to take home with her (ID bracelets, baby blankets, etc.). and how she wants to leave the hospital.

   

Birth Mother Relinquishment In Adoption

It is crucial for the birth mother to understand the legal aspect of the adoption process.

The birth mother should educate herself about what papers she will be signing and what they mean. She can work with her adoption agency to go over all of the documents she will sign before she puts her signature on it. The birth mother may also ask for copies of the documents that she signed so she can look over them later. Once the papers are signed, a court date will be determined to finalize the adoption.

The birth mother should not sign any papers until she is certain of her decision. After the relinquishment process, it is very unlikely that the birthmother will be able to win her case to have her child returned to her. The amount of days a mother has to change her mind after signing the termination of her parental rights varies by state. After the relinquishment process is complete, the birth mother's rights are severed, unless she can prove that she was forced, under duress, or part of the adoption process was illegally performed.

   
How does reunion affect natural mothers?

Birth Mothers And Reunion

Research has shown that the majority of birth mothers would welcome a reunion with their adult children. Though some mothers choose not to search our their children for fear of rejection, or concern that their child is not interested in being found, others actively seek out their sons and daughters as soon as possible. This can be a difficult situation as both adopted adults and biological parents sometimes refrain from searching, even though they desperately want to reunite. Adoptees can take comfort in knowing that quite frequently their biological mothers will be elated to be found; their search efforts will not have been wasted.

It's important to understand that reuniting can bring up many distressing emotions for birth mothers. Seeing the child, from whom they were separated, now as a grown person is a reminder of all the time they lost as that child's parent. Although many reunited families go on to develop beautiful and satisfying relationships, nothing can make up for the lost time. It is extremely common for both parties involved in a reunion to become consumed with one another and with the reunion itself.

If this is happening to you, there is no need to be alarmed. Just be aware that reunions seem to go through an initial honeymoon period before settling in to a more comfortable, or complex, relationship. You may benefit from support during this time, either from a qualified therapist or a group of parents who have shared experiences with adoption, loss, and reunion.

   
How can anger and activism benefit surrendering mothers?

Birth Mother Anger And Advocacy

Anger is a common emotion for birth mothers who have placed a child for adoption. It may be constantly present, or it may surface around the child’s birthday, when the birth mother has another child, or during other significant life events.

Anger, itself, is not a bad thing. Anger can be an incredible motivator when used properly. Many birth mothers report that using this powerful emotion has helped them to become advocates for other birth parents and for themselves. In doing so, they have been able to help other women in making the decision to parent their child, or place the child for adoption. Helping other birth mothers gives them a sense of purpose and healing.

   
How can I find out the health of a child before adopting?

Health of Birth Parents

Thousands of people adopt children every year. Many people decide to go to foreign countries in search of a child they would like to adopt, perhaps assuming that it will be a quick and easy process compared to adopting in their homeland.

Many parents are quite happy after having adopted a child overseas, but aside from the apparent ease there are other factors to consider. Since the health of adoptable children is directly tied to their birth parents, will there be any way to check this out?

Maybe a reputable adoption agency with verifiable references will disclose anything they know about the birth parents. Parents must keep in mind that an adoption agency will try to present adoptable children in the best light, so are not eager to share any health history. If parents are dealing with an adoption attorney, the attorney may not know or be unable to disclose any information about the birth parents.

Parents must accept that they are often on their own, and must make up their mind based on their own evaluation of the child. If they do decide to adopt, then visiting a doctor as soon as the adoption is final is the best they can hope for.

   

Prenatal Care In Adoption

It is important for an expectant birth mother to get medical care throughout her pregnancy. Prenatal care involves regular check-ups and routine tests to monitor the health of the baby. A physician will check to be sure that the pregnancy is progressing in a healthy manner, as well as maintain a safe pregnancy and delivery. The physician will also advise the patient on nutrition and allowable activities during pregnancy.

   

The Adoption Option: Birth Mother Considerations

Before a birth mother decides to choose adoption, she should be aware of her options. She should weigh out the choices of adoption, or parenting the child, and she should use the option that she believes is best for both herself and her child.

The birth mother should thoroughly consider why she is choosing adoption, if it is fully her decision, and if she is comfortable sharing this information with her child at some point. The next thing to consider is the type of adoption the birth mother wants to pursue. She should educate herself on the degrees of openness she wants in an adoption. She may feel she just wants periodic pictures and updates of how her child is doing, or she may want regular direct contact with the adopting family, or she may even decide that a closed adoption would be more appropriate in her situation.

Then, she will need to decide what she is looking for in an adopting family. The birth mother should also consider the other people in her life and their reactions to her adoption plan, especially the birth father. Additionally, the birth mother may wish to create a journal or scrapbook of her thoughts and decisions during her pregnancy that she can share with her child one day.

   

Support For Birth Parents After Placement

After placing a child, the birth parents should seek support from others who understand what they are dealing with and have a positive outlook. If family and friends cannot provide the support the birth parents want, they should look into counseling, support groups, or online support groups that may better fit their needs. Birth parents should be aware that they have experienced some major changes in their lives by becoming parents, choosing an adoption plan, and grieving the loss of their child. They should not try to ignore these changes and jump back into the everyday lives immediately. They need to recognize the changes within themselves, seek appropriate support, and ease back into their normal lives.

   

Birth Mother's Dealing with Doubt

Experiencing feelings of doubt is normal for any birth mother. Doubts may increase towards the end of her pregnancy or during her hospital stay. A birth mother may also have her doubts years after placement. There will always be moments when she wonders how things may have been different. It is important to note that having doubts is a normal and healthy experience. A birth mother should be honest with her self and take the time to consider and explore her doubts. Only when she investigates where her doubts come from, will she be able to gather peace of mind.

   

Counseling For The Birth Mother

It is extremely important that a birth mother consider some type of counseling during the adoption process. An adoption agency can help her to look at her options as well as sort out her feelings about her adoption choice. She is making a life altering decision and should feel that she has thoroughly explored her options. A birth parent counselor can help her to decide if she is making the right decision, both for her own life and the life of her child. An adoption agency can provide the birth mother with professional adoption counselors who will give objective advice.

   

Labor and Delivery In Adoption

Before it is time to go to the hospital, the expectant mother will want to pack some things to take with her. These items may include: the birth plan, watch with a second-hand (to time contractions), a pen and pad of paper (for writing down contraction times), comfortable clothes for the hospital stay, a robe, socks, slippers, hair band, lip moisturizer, snacks, reading materials, toiletries, sanitary napkins, and a loose-fitting going home outfit.

The birth mother may want to record information about the birth process either for her knowledge for future pregnancies, or to share with her child in the future, or to share with the adoptive parents. This type of information may include: duration of labor and delivery, complications during labor that may have occurred, any medications that were taken, reaction to anesthesia that was given, information about the delivery, the time of delivery, and the information about the baby at birth.

   

Birth Mother Tip: How To Create Birth Plan

A birth mother should write out a birth plan to enable her to fully communicate her wishes for her labor and delivery. It is a good idea that she speak with her doctor to examine the options that are open to her beforehand, and she should also read about the options that are available to her. She may have a very simple plan or a very detailed plan of what she wants to happen in the hospital. The birth mother should review her plan with her physician and provide copies for him, her labor and delivery nurse, and her labor coach. If the mother has chosen adoption, her birth plan should give instructions on if, and when, she would like the adoptive parents participate.

   

What A Birth Mother Should Know When Choosing An Adoption Agency

A birth mother should choose an adoption agency that she feels comfortable working with. In addition to comfort levels, you should find an agency that fits your individual needs. You may want to speak with the birth mother counselor first to see who you will be working with, find out about her credentials, and find out whether or not she is also the counselor for the adoptive parents. You will want to have several counseling sessions before beginning to look at adoptive parent profiles.

A birth mother should also understand legal adoption procedures. Talk to the agency's attorney to understand your rights, correctly understand the information that you are given, have a review of the paperwork you will fill out, and can anticipate when and where documents will be signed. You may want to become involved in a pre- or post-placement support group, too. In this case, you will want to work with an agency that either has support groups for birth mothers, or has the resources to refer you to one.

Medical costs can affect the selection of an adoption agency. If you do not have health care coverage, the agency can help you apply for state assistance. If you would rather go through privately funded medical care, you have the right to, but be sure you work with an agency that has adopting parents who are willing to pay for your medical expenses and are allowed by law to do so. You want to be sure that you will be covered for prenatal, labor and delivery, and post-delivery recovery costs.

   

Tips For Birth Mother When Choosing An Adoptive Family

A birth mother has the right to decide what family she wants to place her child with. She can determine what type of parents she feels would best care for her child, and she can review adopting parents' information through profiles, or dear birth mother letter. The birth mother can review profiles that are given to her through an adoption agency, or by looking at profiles posted on the Internet. The birth mother can find parents of a particular race, religion, age, location or whether or not they have any other children. Once she has chosen a family she likes, she can work with her adoption agency to meet with the family either in person or on the phone. These are the kinds of birth parent services an adoption agency can provide. Choosing an adoptive family should be based on the birth mother's wishes and comfort levels.

   
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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.