I talked with another birthmother recently and once again heard how the relationship she is having with the adoptive parents struggles due to fears. Fear seems to be what holds back many from building a trusting relationship – on both ends. But more often than not, these fears are unrealistic. So how do you know if what you are afraid of is real? Simple: ask.
I still remember a call from my son’s mother where she timidly admitted to me that she was afraid he would get mad at her and get in a car and drive to me. He was in his teens and doing what all teens do: use every tool in their life toolbox to hurt their parents. He happened to have the adoption tool, meaning when she made a rule he didn’t want to follow, he’d throw the “You’re not my REAL Mom” hammer. And, of course, it would connect, and hurt. So, I don’t blame her for having this fear, at that moment it seems pretty realistic.
But, by sharing it with me, she was able to get more information that changed how she felt. When she told me her worries, I answered that if he showed up on my doorstep I’d put him back in the car and drive him home myself. She let out an audible sigh of relief and we both began to laugh over the stress of not knowing how the other would react. We made a commitment to always share our fears upfront. And instead of her feeling fearful, she felt empowered knowing that she had an ally in her corner during those rough years.
What are you afraid of? Have you told the birthmother this? Her reply may surprise you.
The biggest fear I hear of from adoptive parents in open adoption is that they fear the birthmother will try and take over the parenting, become too involved. I can tell you that out of the hundreds of birthmothers I’ve met over the years, not one has wanted to do this. We are all so very grateful just to see our child now and then, know they are taken care of, loved, and that they know we love them. Anything else is gravy.
So, go ahead, ask.