Of the many, many women and families whom I’ve worked with only recently has it been my honor to support families, more specifically a birth mother, during the adoption process. As a birth doula, my focus is well ….birth. What I’ve learned about adoption while supporting these families has given me chills to learn my perceptions were all wrong.
Did you know:
- Birth moms don’t end up with a pile of cash. In fact, they may find themselves in financial hardship in their early postpartum period. Imagine having your bills paid (o.k. that can be a relief), but having no income for potentially months. Many arrangements between adopting parents and a birth mother include the adopting parents paying her bills during pregnancy and for perhaps 6 – 8 weeks after birth. What if she is unable to return to work after that time frame? How does she pay for life expenses aside from rent, electric, etc., like childcare for a child she already has?
- Birth moms only get financial help if she ‘needs’ it. (‘Needs’ is my word used to oversimplify the technical language) If she has a car payment with insurance, then that gets paid. If she doesn’t, then oh well. If she pays rent or a mortgage payment, then that gets paid. If she doesn’t have a housing payment, say because she lives with a partner who pays it, then oh she doesn’t need that monthly amount of income.
- Laws aren’t exactly intended to protect the birth mother (not to speak of the biological father). You may be aware of adoption agencies, and attorneys specializing in adoption, yet most of the focus is on the adopting parents when it comes to rights and responsibilities. If the birth mother is to be protected and provided for it is in her best interest to hire an attorney to represent her in the process.
- Agencies aren’t really advocates. They are more the middle man. They may or may not introduce the families. They receive and make payments, taking a percentage for their services of course if they are a for-profit agency. The agencies don’t necessarily keep track of or proactively keep in touch with the birth mother. A birth mother may go months without hearing from her agency. Which means during that time a birth mother may go without basic prenatal healthcare or other needs.
STILL, a birth mother will always carry this experience with her. Like any other mother, she will remember her pregnancy, and how those she came in contact with treated her. She will always remember her labor, and the birth of the baby she gave to another family. She will forever remember the date all of their lives changed.
AND, like any other mother she deserves respect throughout her journey. Support is needed almost more so for a woman who shares her life and child with another family. Like any other mother she does not disappear because a child is born.