Birth Mothers: Showing Love
Birth Mothers: Showing Love
When you hear the term “Birth Mother,” what comes to mind? What do you think about a birth mom who makes an adoption plan for their child? Is your instinct to feel empathy for her? Compassion for her? Love towards her? Or to disconnect from her? A birth mom may make an adoption plan for a myriad of reasons. Oftentimes, she may be overwhelmed and experiencing barriers to parenting such as homelessness, food insecurity, lack of social support, unemployment, or relationship issues. The people in her life who should have loved and supported her may be the very ones who have turned their backs when she needed them most or even worse, have done her harm.
But these women are so much more than their circumstances. They are women who choose to lay down their own desires out of a fierce love for their child. They choose adoption – even when their family tells them they will be shunned. Even when they feel so deeply attached and bonded to their child. Even when they know there is the risk that an adoptive family may not honor the openness agreement after finalization, and they would be powerless to do anything about it. Courageous birth moms prayerfully make the choice to pursue an adoption plan because they feel it is best for their child.
So, what can you do to love and support birth mothers well?
For hopeful/adoptive parents, here are some suggestions:
– Before Placement: Pray for expectant women facing an unexpected pregnancy. An expectant mom is a mother and should always be treated as one. She doesn’t become a birth mother until after relinquishment of her parental rights and adoption finalization. So, fervently pray for an expectant mother as she journeys through her pregnancy and agonizes over the best option for her child. Know this is not a decision made lightly. Praying for the child and for all the challenges the expectant mom is facing in her life is the most powerful and loving act of compassion you can do anytime and anywhere.
– After Placement: Be open. Even when you don’t get the response you hoped for after pouring your heart into a letter or you get silence in return. She may not have the words. She may still be heavily grieving the loss. She may not be ready to step into a relationship with you yet. But don’t stop. Unless she specifically tells you to leave her alone, don’t stop. You cannot underestimate the impact that each photo and each word carries to a birth mom. In the early years after placement, it is so important for adoptive families to listen to the birth mother’s requests for photos and updates on her child as you are getting to know each other and build a relationship. But openness is fluid, sometimes uncomfortable, often complicated, and it changes over time. Ultimately, openness is not about rigidly sticking to terms agreed upon before placement. Openness at its core is about being open to each other’s needs, with the child’s needs at the center. Being open so that the adoptee, who is most affected by your choices, can have information and a safe place to process. Every season brings new phases of openness/relationship. It is about the people. It is about connection. There is room for both moms to be present in a child’s life.
If you’re not a hopeful/adoptive parent, your support of Agape and your prayers impact expectant moms and birth moms at the grassroots level. We work with women one-on-one and we are invested in the community to serve them daily. Your prayers and support make this possible. Donate funds or talents to help this ministry encourage more expectant parents. You can also volunteer at an event, host a table at a fundraiser, or put together Baby Boxes and Maternity Hospital Care Bags.
Each birth mother’s story is unique and their adoption experiences are nuanced. In my role at Agape, I have had the honor to hold space for expectant women to express their fears, struggles, hopes, traumatic experiences, and dreams for their unborn child. To sit with women deep in their grief in the hospital and after placement. And to watch adoptive families meet birth moms exactly where they’re at, love them well, and respect them as part of the family. And not just because they were chosen to be her child’s parents, but because they see her and value her as an image bearer of God.
Written by Riley Cowell, Agape’s Maternity Advocate in the Montgomery, AL area.