Our first adoption was a domestic adoption. We knew God was going to grow our family via adoption, we didn’t meet any qualifications for international adoption, and we weren’t familiar at all with the foster care system, so that led us to domestic.
We went through an agency in Nashville, and from filling out paperwork to bringing our son home with us was fifteen months. From the time we were approved and waiting it was five months. These dates are still fresh to me almost ten years later because this time of waiting was so hard for me. At the time I had a skewed view of this whole process and was just yearning for my baby to be home with me.
Throughout this journey God changed my views on domestic adoption and open vs closed adoptions. From the beginning we wanted a closed adoption. I mean how could we have a scary birth mom showing up for birthday parties and trying to steal our kid in her purse as she left? That would just be tragic. Or what if she showed up for parent/teacher conferences and said that she was his mom? Oh my gracious. How confused would our son be about having two moms? We knew we had to protect his heart in all of this.
What Birth Moms are:
Then I read a few books about open adoptions and my whole world view on this matter came tumbling down. I learned that birth moms aren’t really scary at all. They don’t want to steal their kid back, and they don’t want to be the mom that raises them. That’s what happens when you actually read about something and go out on a limb to hear/see someone else’s viewpoints. You learn something.
I learned all those things that birth moms* are not, but what struck me the most is what I learned that they are. Looking back now I’m utterly embarrassed at my better-than-you attitude that I must have portrayed. How ironic that I too was pregnant and unwed at one time and yet for some reason I didn’t see myself in their shoes at all. I learned that they are real women that are making the hardest choice of their entire life. Nothing will beat this choice for them. These women love their children greatly and want the best for them. These moms are scared that they will hand their child over and then no one will remember them – the very first mom. They are just like you and I, they are just having to make this choice and we never had to cross this bridge in our life.
I read two books that changed my view. The first one I can’t even remember the title, have never found it again, and wondering if it wasn’t just a big dream. It was a book full of letters to a child from his first mom. I think his name was Sam. That’s all I remember. The second one is called Dear Birthmother, and it’s a book full of letters between parents and their children.
My new view:
Reading these books changed my views completely. It put me in their shoes for the first time ever. While we were in our adoption process we had a one year old. I had freshly delivered a baby, and so I kept imagining that I had placed him for adoption. What would I want? What would I need? I would have wanted the same things these birth moms were saying they wanted – to know their child was okay. To know they were loved. To see them grow up. To hear about their lives. To stay connected somehow to a child that they grew in their belly, loved before anyone, and then made the hardest decision of their life.
It was from then on that we knew we would want an open adoption. We would welcome into our family our child’s first mother. The one that loved him and knew him before we did. We would share letters, pictures and our time with her so that she could see the child she birthed grow up. We felt she deserved that much for sure.
This is PART ONE of a three part series on domestic adoption. I’d love to hear your journey, your questions, or your comments about this. Remember, I’m not a professional counselor or social worker, just a mom who loves her child and his first mom and wants you to think about how you can love her well too.
*I’m speaking generally here. You may have a different experience, but for the most part birth moms are great people that want the best for their kid, just like for the most part parents in general want the best for their kids. I know there are exemptions to the rule, so no need to email me.
This is so insightful and so helpful. We are very much considering domestic adoption and hadn’t even considered the two options heavily. I’m curious who you used in Nashville. We live here and are doing some research. Thank you so much for writing this!
Julie – we used Bethany Christian Services in Nashville. They were great for us, although that was almost 10 years ago now, so I can’t speak with much experiences lately.
I just added a link to their site in the post now. 🙂
It’s so encouraging to hear about your experience with open adoption. My husband and I have been waiting almost 2 years to be matched with a baby. We are also using Bethany Christian Services but thru Pennsylvania. I feel every Bethany office is different and our experience has not been good. We are trusting for the Lord’s perfect timing as we wait to bring our little one home.
This is such a great post! My husband and I are in the beginning of our domestic adoption journey. There are so many decisions to be made and thoughts and feelings to process. Our eyes have really been opened to birth moms. Many of them are in very difficult situations – like homelessness, abusive relationships, or just really struggling financially. Whatever their circumstance, we’ve realized that domestic adoption is not just about welcoming a child into our family, but it is also about loving and ministering to our child’s first mom.
We also have an open adoption. There are so many things that are redemptive and good about it. My worry/ fear about it is that it seems that it often sets kids up to be left by their birth families twice, once in placement and again when they drop contact. I’ve seen this a lot and don’t think it gets adequately addressed.
I was adopted as a baby, alway knew i was. It was a private adoption through a mutual friend. My bio mom and birth mom get a long fine. I have gotten to know my birth family. There is no/never has been one is better than the other additude. Life is what life is. God has used both in my life. This is not everyones story. There are some birth moms who want to let completely go and some who don’t. Most important thing is The child should never be lied to. My mom (adoptive) gave me the choice of meeting my (bio) mom. She also was able to meet her. My story turned out well. But my story is not everyones and that is important to kerp in mind. There are many reasons children are placed for adoption
Oh where to start??? I don’t disagree with a portion of your statement. The part where “not all birth moms are scary” is true and I think right on. And in those situations MAYBE open adoption would be ok. I have a number if friends that have adopted children and have mad wonderful parents. Some have gone the open adoption route and others closed. I try not to press my views on them as it is for them to decide what is ultimate right for them and their family. I do not judge, but rather pray for their continuous blessings from God for their new child in their life. With thy all said only a couple sentences in your letter that hit the subject on the head. They were the ones about how confused your son would be with two moms. Point of fact he has one. As an adopted man I lived through the pain and hurt that can come from adoption. Ask a child what’s wrong and even at a very young age they will still say nothing if they think it will keep this set of parents happy and wanting them. I lived with this reality my brother lived with this reality. It takes years of counseling and sometimes that doesn’t even work.
Adoption is special. You are giving up part of your heart to someone else, someone you didn’t conceive. But it’s a gift you are giving to them and one you are receiving. We MUST take OUR thoughts of what WE want or what we think the BIRTHMOTHER wants and FOCUS on the CHILD and what the CHILD needs. The mother giving up her child makes a sacrifice and a comitmit out of love and in pain. But she has to trust that the child is better for it. When the child is of age they can search for their birthmother if they choose, but that relationship should be the child’s choice. Not a parents.
Thanks for sharing, this is so inspiring. My husband and I are in the beginning stages of domestic adoption. More so, the planning stages. We are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of an open adoption. I look forward to reading your other posts!
I love that you’re sharing this series. We are in the very beginning stages of domestic adoption, and I can’t wait to read more. I love all the adoption stories and how much they are alike as well as how much they are different.
I came across your blog about a month ago and have followed along ever since. 🙂 We currently have an open adoption with our kids bio family. We adopted a sibling group of three through foster care. At first I was so scared when it came to having an open adoption. Slowly as we have walked things out my views have changed too. At first, when we were at home we taught the kids to call their bio mom, “mommy (insert first name)” It was such a tender thing for me that they would know that I was their “mom”. Then one day we were getting the kids ready to go see their mom and it dawned on me how hurt she might be if they referred to her that way. I imagined what it would be like if my biological daughter had spent five years with me and then started calling me, “mommy Sarah.” (Each family has to figure out what works best for their situation, there are many circumstance that dictate what works best in each situations.) For me, from that point on, I told the kids that when they see their mom they can just call her “mom,” and that I won’t be confused.
Love this that you said Sarah “Each family has to figure out what works best for their situation, there are many circumstance that dictate what works best in each situations.” so true. thanks!
Thanks Jamie for sharing your experiences and views on adoption. I like your post.
Hi Jamie! I’m a fan! You are doing great things! God has been stirring in my heart regarding adoption and I was curious as to if you had any other book recomendations than the one you mentioned above on adopting.
We are totally new to the game. I haven’t read a single inch on adopting with the exception of yours and few others blogs. Where do I begin?!
Hell Ms. Ivey,
I am an adoption case worker and I happened to stumble upon your beautiful blog post. I wanted to see if it was okay if I could repost this and cite your blog in my adoption agency’s Facebook page, or provide a link in our Twitter. We’re really trying to get people to have an honest depiction of a person’s (in this case, your’s) journey through adoption. I hope you have a wonderful day!
Yes, yes, yes!!! We are in the midst of a domestic adoption right now and one of the things the mother we were matched with said that changed everything was how much she loved this child and wanted for him/her to have a good future. People think that babies are just discarded by these women but this baby is a piece of their heart! I think it is important for families to share their experiences to help others really understand. Thank you for doing so!
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