There are quite a few stereotypes about birthmothers that have persisted over the years; generally, when one pictures a birthmother who is considering placing her child for adoption, they picture a young, single mother, usually at a financial disadvantage. While that is sometimes the case, it is far from a constant.
Understanding birthmoms may seem impossible — how can you possibly understand someone who would relinquish a child, when you want one so badly yourself? The first step in understanding birthmoms is acknowledging that each one is their own person, and they all have their own story that we shouldn’t assume anything about.
Age and Circumstances
While most people assume birthmothers are mostly young, even teens, that is not always the case! Birthmothers range widely in age, from teens all the way to women in their 40s. While some may still be in school, many have established careers, marriages, and families. Some are in a solid relationship and may bring the child’s father to any meetings with them. It’s also very possible that the birthmother already has children, and either cannot afford another or doesn’t believe their family can accommodate another child.
Needless to say, birthmothers are the farthest thing from irresponsible — they’re making a hard decision and trying to ensure it’s the best one for both them and the child.
The most common perceived reason for adoption is that the birth mother just can’t afford a baby. While that may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true for all. Many birthmothers are financially stable; money may not be much of a factor, if any, in their decision to place their child for adoption. Perhaps they never wanted children, aren’t in a relationship, or are simply career-focused and don’t have the time and energy they believe their child deserves. Perhaps they simply don’t feel ready. Whatever the reason, it isn’t always finances that has a birthmother considering adoption.
The one thing that all birthmothers do have in common is that they want the best for their child. That is why they are choosing adoption; they are choosing to give their child the best start in life possible. Whatever their reasons for doing so may be, they are making a hard decision that should be respected by all involved.
Because they want the best for their child, you may be surprised at how many birthmothers hope to have an open adoption, keeping the lines of communication open so that they can be updated about the child’s wellbeing and possibly even be a presence in their life.
As you come to know your child’s birthmother better, keep an open mind. Remember that she is her own person, and understanding begins with a willingness to listen.