By Birthmother – How do you choose the BEST parents for a child? Imagine being faced with this task, browsing through profile after profile of responsible, caring people, all of whom are seeking children. Where do you begin? What do you look for? What do you avoid?
Unless a biomom opts to give her child to an agency for closed adoption, this is an experience she will have to face for her child. She will have to decide which adoptive parents are the best match for her and for her baby. And every adoptive parent must endure the other side of this experience, putting their information out there in the hopes of catching a biomom’s attention.
When I started out as a biomom, this was one of the most exciting parts of open adoption. How much FUN to look through all those profiles, all those different lives. I loved seeing the creativity and caring that went into creating the profiles. Each couple had unique strengths. And when I saw a couple whose personalities seemed to mesh with my own, it was so gratifying, so exciting! It gave me hope that my situation was not impossible and that my child would end up in the hands of someone awesome.
Adoptive parents, I cannot thank you all enough for putting yourselves out there. If I hadn’t seen your smiling faces in those profiles I’m not sure that I could have endured my unplanned pregnancy. Each and every one of you, even the parents I didn’t choose, reminded me WHY I was choosing adoption for my child.
So now I want to try giving something back to you all, you adoptive parents of the future, by sending guidance and encouragement for you as you make your own profiles. Yes, the process feels a lot like a meat market, a lot like online dating or job hunting or auditioning. And the process is COMPLETELY unfair: Why are YOU begging to be chosen while the bioparents got pregnancies they may not have asked for or deserved? I have no answer for that one.
Plato, the Greek philosopher, believed that souls use their knowledge from past lives to CHOOSE which body they will be born into. I told myself when I was pregnant that my baby had already CHOSEN the adoptive parents it would end up with – I just had to find them. And I did. But it would never have happened if my baby’s adoptive parents hadn’t been brave enough to put themselves out there.
First bit of advice: Be yourselves. The goal of the open adoption process is to provide a comfortable match between biomom, baby, and adoptive parents. How can a prospective biomom feel comfortable choosing you if she can’t sense who you really are? A biomom is ultimately going to gravitate towards a couple who feels familiar to her, and you never know which random, personal detail is going to spark that connection. Maybe you like watching Dancing with the Stars, which happens to be a certain biomom’s favorite show. Maybe you took tuba lessons as a child and you find a biofather who played tuba in highschool. Don’t neglect to mention the little things, the little bits of life that you have enjoyed and hope to share with your child now.
Second bit of advice: Be parents to yourselves first. Is your household in order? Have you been taking care of your own mind and body? Now is the time to stop and take action if you’ve been neglecting yourself, not only because a prospective biomom might be wary of unhealthy parents, but because you need to be your own best friend during this process. You will need to stay emotionally and physically healthy during this process no matter how long it takes to find a child. Remember this: You deserve to be living a full and happy life whether you find a baby or not.
Third bit of advice: Don’t wait for a child to start practicing childcare. If you’re fortunate enough to have nieces, nephews, cousins, or other young family members to spend time with, definitely take advantage of that. If not, DON’T WORRY. You don’t have to go as far as being a foster parent. There are plenty of children around and plenty of parents who could use a babysitter! Volunteer with Big Brothers & Big Sisters of America, volunteer to do childcare during church services or other local events. Not only will this help biomoms to see how capable you are, it will give you the satisfaction of being part of a family or community (which is ultimately what parenthood is all about, right?).
Last bit of advice: Remember to take plenty of pictures. As a biomom, I wanted to be able to imagine my little baby in a loving home. Seeing pictures of that home, seeing pictures of the smiling adoptive parents, made a huge difference to me. Some parents went so far as to take pictures of their nurseries, empty and ready for a child. I can’t imagine how much bravery and hope it takes to prepare a nursery for a child you’ve never seen, but I will say that this was hugely attractive to me when I was looking at profiles. Do anything you can to help a biomom visualize what her child’s life will be like with you.