Written by Melinda Su
Never heard of Birthmother’s Day? I hadn’t either, until recently.
I’m a single, professional woman who has decided to have a child on my own. It’s not a path I envisioned for myself — I’d still like to meet a guy who will be my life partner — but sometimes you need to be flexible about the journey to get where you want.
The decision to adopt vs. try for a biological child was an easy one for me. I chose adoption because it doesn’t matter to me whether my child is related by blood or not, and I liked the idea of providing a loving home to a child who already needs one. And, as a woman in the “new 30s,” I was pretty certain that odds of conceiving on my own were low, and I didn’t want to deal with the emotional ups and downs of this path — not to mention the expense with unknown ROI.
Next decision I had to make: international or domestic adoption. I went straight to international, hoping to adopt from an Asian country, since I’m Asian American. (As it turns out, most Asian countries don’t allow single women to adopt or if they do, they place restrictions, allowing only a few single women each year to adopt kids over 3 or those with disabilities.) Plus, I’d heard domestic adoption did this strange thing called open adoption, where the birth parents are constantly involved in the child’s life, even after s/he’s been placed for adoption. What?? That seemed entirely too complicated and confusing, and I had fears of my child running back to her birth parents.
But, as I did more research, I came to embrace open adoption, ultimately choosing domestic adoption. The big pro in my mind is the positive impact on a child’s well-being. In contrast to closed adoption, where an adopted child has no contact with and limited information on his birth parents, a child of open adoption is in touch with his birth parents, making it much easier to explore biological roots and understand that he wasn’t “given up” because he wasn’t wanted but instead placed for adoption because he was loved so much.
Open adoption benefits birth and adoptive parents too. By seeing their child in a loving home, birth parents get the peace of mind that they made the right decision. For adoptive parents, birth parents are no longer the mysterious unknown; instead birth parents often become extended family. The amount of contact depends on what the adoptive and birth parents want and agree to. It could be sending pictures twice a year, visiting once a year, or calling every month.
I can’t wait to get to the point where I’m talking with birth parents about how much contact we want. It could be a long road until then, though. In open adoption, birth parents select adoptive parents from among a pile of adoption profiles. It’s like Match.com but adoptive parents play by The Rules — only birth parents can pursue. With so many hopeful adoptive parents out there, it can be tough to stand out. Which is why, at the encouragement of many adoption agencies, hopeful adoptive parents are doing their own marketing: creating a website, sending paid traffic to it, writing a blog, creating a Facebook page, developing a video, handing out business cards, asking family and friends to spread the word. The more people you tell, the merrier: you never know who might know an expectant mom considering adoption.
Next year, I hope to celebrate Birthmother’s Day (the Saturday before Mother’s Day) with my child’s birth mom. Until then, I’m sending warm wishes on May 12 to birth mothers everywhere for their courage and selflessness in choosing adoption.
Check out Melinda’s adoption profile!
Photo from Kitt Walker via flickr