This guest post is by Valerie, an adoptive parent who is hoping to adopt again.
I am an adoptive mother in an open adoption that belongs to several Facebook groups ranging in topics from fine china collection (I may have an addiction) to infertility and adoption.
I tend to avoid commenting on controversial topics, because I generally lack the ability to contain my inner rage. I avoid politics like the plague it is, and I try to keep my online presence upbeat and positive.
Until I can’t.
Every now and then a topic will come up that pushes my buttons. And when my buttons get pushed, my fingers fly.
Recently, in a group about an unrelated topic, someone made a comment that pushed, and I mean pushed, my buttons. And all ten fingers fired off a tirade that I posted to my Instagram.
In replying to the comment within the group, I obeyed the “be nice” rules and shared some important information and perspective in an attempt to educate the button-pusher. I’ll give the same herculean effort here and request the reader’s forgiveness if I get a little passionate.
The comment that sent my internal Mama Bear spinning was that expectant women who form an adoption plan, receive support funds from the prospective adopters, and then choose to parent when the baby is born are “cruel and abusive” in keeping the funds and the baby.
Commenters went on to say that they should at least return the money.
Expecting a “refund” from a mama that chooses to parent is essentially saying, “I gave you money, and am therefore entitled to your child. If you don’t give me your child, you will return all the money I gave you to help you survive your unplanned pregnancy.”
In other words, the child is a commodity that can be purchased. Friends, THAT IS NOT ADOPTION. THAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING.
Birth parent expenses are legally permitted in many states to assist women in crisis with basic needs. As Hopeful Adoptive Parents (HAPs), sometimes it is difficult for us to understand the circumstances that would lead a woman to contemplate placing her child for adoption.
Why? Often it is because we are so wrapped up in our own infertility woes (a whole other blog post) to empathize with an expectant mom looking to place.
Problem is most hopeful parents aren’t looking for them because they want it to be real so badly.
We had a disrupted adoption when an expectant mother we were working with chose to parent. But she had every intent of placing before the baby was born, as far as we could tell. We talked with other individuals who were clearly scammers and just wanted money.
But stay with me for a moment. No one considers placing their child for adoption without having some major life struggles. Though the reasons are as varied as there are birth parents, often women who place have found themselves in some real hardships.
Some of the birth parent expenses help to release the pressure valve on at least some of these circumstances for a time.
Other expenses have to do with the cost of the adoption. Attorneys, counseling, doctor and hospital visits are not free. And none of them are cheap.
HAPs are required to cover these costs as part of the adoption. It may happen that through pre-placement counseling and through legal counsel the expectant mom learns that adoption isn’t her only option, that perhaps she can parent.
But it is absolutely her right to receive these services. If we deny a woman access to the very things that could help her because we don’t want to pay for it, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say we would make terrible parents.
Empathy and compassion for her and the monumental, life-altering choice she is making would go a long way towards building a positive relationship with her and the child that may be placed in your home.
To request any of these funds back from a woman we have helped during her most difficult months would be an incredibly selfish thing to do. She is likely already down. Let’s not kick her in the teeth while she’s trying to get up.
Let’s talk about the mother’s delivery day. The moment where absolutely everything changes. Seeing your child’s face on an ultrasound is very different from seeing your child’s face in the flesh.
Holding that baby in your arms is different than feeling that baby in your belly. Of course, that mama has grown to love her baby through the pregnancy, but if you think for a second that her heart doesn’t just explode with emotion when that baby is placed in her arms… I can’t even finish the sentence.
HAPs, if you’ve struggled with infertility, please try to imagine this moment. The moment your child is placed in your arms. And then imagine the first steps, first words, first day at school, first love, first kiss, first graduation, and so on… that another parent gets to experience.
For HAPs that have been through infertility, your grief may end with adoption, but another’s grief is just beginning. How dare you label a woman choosing to parent as a scammer or cruel! You of all people understand how a facing a childless life feels. How about facing a life without your child? Sit with that for a moment.
Please recognize that paying a few thousand dollars to help a woman in need does not entitle you to her child. Ever. Whether you were promised that baby at 12 weeks or 39 weeks.
YOU. ARE. NOT. ENTITLED. TO. A. CHILD. YOU. DID. NOT. CREATE. until and unless the birth parents give that child to you, sign the legally required consents and pass through all waiting periods. And even then, as an adoptive parent, you have a moral obligation to honor the first parents that brought that kid into the world and placed that kid into your home.
If you can’t get on board with that, please leave adoption to those who can.
Valerie and her husband, Dennis, adopted their daughter Audrey in 2019. They are happy to be involved in open adoption, and are hoping to have another open adoption in the future. They can be reached at www.DennisAndValerie.com