In Praise of Birthmothers And Open Adoption

This guest post is by Pamela, a single adoptive mother.

A member of one of my adoption support groups called me the other day. She is “matched” with an expectant mom who intends to place her baby for adoption with this woman.

In the conversation with me, this woman–I’ll call her Sally–said to me that “the birth mom wants an open adoption including letters and visits.”

Sally went on to tell me that she is agreeing with “her birth mom” even though she and her husband do not want an open adoption.

Sally continued to tell me that she and her husband plan to completely close the adoption once the consents are signed and the revocation period has ended.

Sally said they plan to disconnect the 800 number that the “birth mom” calls them on. They plan to ignore the email account they use. Sally told me she will do anything to “get a baby” and that includes lying to this woman to get what they want.


YIKES!!!!! I tried to change her perspective. I tried to educate her. For one thing, a woman isn’t a birthmother until she signs the adoption papers, terminating her parental rights.

She is simply a pregnant woman who is considering adoption. She may go through with her plan or she may not. But either way, she certainly isn’t “her” birth mom.

My Becoming A Mom Caused Another Woman Pain

Mother’s Day will always be special to me. It is a day when I am amazed by how much my boys have grown and changed. It is a day when I remember the circumstances of their births. It is a day when I remember the pain their birth moms feel daily, but more greatly on this day.

“A child who was born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy & the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” -Jody Landers

That quote resonates with me every day. I know that becoming a mom caused another woman (in my case two other women) pain. It is a huge fact, and I carry a sense of guilt with me every day. I carry.

Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t change a thing. I am honored to have been chosen to be my little boy’s mom and subsequently by a family member of his to adopt her baby as well.

The Gift Of Open Adoption

You see, neither their birth moms nor I have to sit staring out a window wondering how “she” is doing?

What “she” is thinking or feeling? And we never have to wonder if our sons are alright or happy or sad or thriving. We all know. And what we don’t know we can find out in a phone call or text.

Our stories are different than most traditional adoption stories. To begin with, I am a single mom by choice. Secondly, my boys are biologically related but are not biological siblings. This actually makes for an unusual dynamic.

We have open adoptions with both of their birth moms and though they are family they are two very different women and as a result our relationships are quite different.

People Ask Me Why Do I Keep My Adoptions Open?

I have learned so much from our relationships. I’ve learned greater communication skills, I’ve learned how to trust and love someone who would otherwise have been a stranger, I’ve learned to navigate two complex but intertwined relationships. I work very hard at these relationships and yet they come so naturally.

Many people ask me why on Earth do I keep the adoptions open. How I am okay with my children saying they have “two moms”? Why I give them as much information as I do? The answers are simple.

They love my boys as much as I do. They gave birth to them. And more importantly, who am I to take love away from these precious children? Who am I to let my insecurities and fears get in the way of their connections with their biological families?

I am their mom because their first moms chose me. This does not make her any less his mother.

Without My Sons’ Birthmothers I Would Not Be A Mother

When I was adopting my youngest son, my oldest son’s birth mom was worried that if her sister (my youngest’ birth mom) did not go through with the adoption plan I would somehow blame her or cut ties with her.

It took a lot of assurance to convince her that if her sister chose to parent her child I would totally support her decision and that nothing less than her actually attempting to cause physical or emotional harm to B (our son) would cause me to close this adoption.

Think of these women who made us mothers today and every day! Treat them as we would want our daughters to be treated if they ever found themselves in those shoes.

All of these women, these birth mothers, these women who have placed their children for adoption, they are someone’s daughter and they are your child’s mother.

I hope Sally reads this. I hope all the Sallys out there read this and think before they “trick” a woman into giving them their baby. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and mother figures.

Pamela is a special educator, literacy coach, mother of two boys through (private) open adoptions, and a former foster parent. She is the owner of 2Boys Adoption Social Media Marketing and has been teaching teachers and adoptive families how to use the internet to connect with others for more than 7 years.

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