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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birthmoms: What NOT to ask?

Every child that has been adopted has a story.
It starts with his birthparents. (It actually starts with God's perfect plan for their lives since before time began, but you know what I mean!)
Birthparents are a very real, personal part of who my boys are.
We love them and pray for them daily. We keep in touch with them, and have relationships with them. They will always be a part of our lives.
If you walk into our house, you will see a picture of Justus and Kathleen framed on our bar along with our other family photos. It's funny, because lately when new people come over, Justus goes straight for that picture and shows it to people. He knows she is super important. He never forgets her. He prays for her. He loves her. We await our visit with her on his birthday each year with anticipation.
Kathleen placed Justus with us when he was born, and we've been building this kind of relationship with her ever since.
Treston's story is a little different because we fostered him first, and are now slowly trying to build a relationship with his birthparents.
Here's what I want you all to know...
We love sharing the joys of open adoption with everyone! It's a blessing to us, and we want everyone to know what a joy it is to love birthparents and we feel this is the most biblical and beneficial way to do adoption. I LOVE to talk about adoption!
But when people ask about our birthmoms and want to know "their story" I am always caught off guard.
When you ask "Why did she give him up for adoption?"
I KNOW that you haven't thought through this the way we have. I KNOW that you mean absolutely no harm in the question.
But to this day, I still don't know how to answer this well. If you've asked me this, please know, I'm NOT offended. But I probably did stammer around for a while.
Someone asked me this the other day about the Hendricks' birthmom, (very well-meaning) and I found it easier for some reason to just let them know this is private to them.
It's our children's story to tell, not ours.
New Life does an amazing job of training us in right thinking about adoption, and how to foresee the consequences of what we say and tell now for the future.
When we spill all the details of their story, it can be hurtful to them. They may feel exposed, embarrassed, different.
Every birthmom's story and reasons for making an adoption plan is different. Some are simple. They are textbook, classic Juno type stories.
But most are more complicated than that. Most are messier than that. A lot of them are so hurt and broken inside for various reasons, they know they aren't capable of being the Mom (and sometimes Dad) that they want for their child.
It's not fair for me to spill all the details and hurts that led my child's birthmom to that point in her life.
I don't know how my boys are going to feel about all of it. But I know it's not fair to share it with every person we know in order to satisfy their curiosity.
So here's what you can ask! Ask their names, and how you might pray for them.
I think I can speak for other adoptive Moms I know (Heather and Shannan specifically) that would LOVE for you to pray for our birthmoms! Some of them are lost, and we are desperately praying for their salvation.
Our hearts break for them, and we love them!
So birthmoms are NOT a taboo subject! We talk freely about them daily in our house. We share pictures and stories of our relationships with them. I love to show how Justus looks just like Kathleen, and has some of her traits. I love the way he loves her. I love that she loves all of us. We just keep their private stories, private.
I hope I've communicated this well. Feel free to ask questions about this.
Other adoptive Moms may have totally different thoughts and opinions on this.
Most of this comes straight from the wisdom of the ladies of New Life, our agency, who have been doing this for more than 20 years and have grown children who are adopted.
My Mom is the first to share that she shared too much of my sister's story initially as our church prayed for my sister's adoption, and felt like they payed the consequences for that later.
It's not that we don't trust you with the information, it's really a respect issue to our birthparents and our children.
Thoughts, anyone? Just a little adoption education from the Bacaks. We are open for questions.


Feldman Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feldman Family said...

you can speak for me any day on birthmoms :)
we love how isaac has kacie's eyes, we love having pictures of her in our living room for people to ask about!
thanks for sharing your heart & educating folks about this NON-taboo topic!
birthmoms are an amazing groups of women!


ps. sorry i deleted my comment again :( i'll figure this out sooner or later

The Roberts' said...

that is a good point. i love reading your blogs about adoption. i am also referring your blog to our friends that are looking to adopt soon. it is good information people need to know, whether they are the ones asking or the ones being asked.

Jeanie said...

This post really spoke to me. My son came to us at 2 years old and was with us off and on until he turned 7 and his birth mom placed him with us for good. She is very much a part of his life and we have developed a strong and loving relationship with her.

People are so curious and I have always just allowed them to think what they will. My son loves that I don't correct people when they make assumptions. This makes him feel safe. I agree that it his story to tell.

But, along the way we have had some hysterical experiences. His mom and I showed up together to "Meet the Teacher" when he started 2nd grade. All the other parents thought we were lesbians, until they met my husband.

I too am naturally a curious person. But, God has taught me that I don't need to know everything about everyone.

Cindy Seay said...

It is out of respect for birthmothers and our adopted children that we speak carefully concerning them. It gives our adopted children their own voice when it comes to their own story - a story that God wrote for them before they were ever conceived.
We must carefully find the balance of sharing the amazing way that God has blessed our families through adoption while respecting the birthmoms and children involved.
I wish I had known all of this when our daughter joined our family.

Amy said...

Chris and I started the adoption process two weeks ago through Bethany Christian Services here in Chattanooga. We have already started praying for our birthmother, even though she doesn't know about us yet. I appreciate all your blogs about your experiences as adoptive parents!

jessica said...

i love this jojo! i can relate to you. when people ask me about my birth parents i am not quite sure what to say. so good job jojo for writing this! OH and i am glad you adopted justus and treston! i love them both very much! and everyone else! but yeah! i love you!


Becky said...

Lurking and now commenting!
I agree....
when people ask me that about my 2 childrens' birthmother's, I politely say that there were many reasons and she did it out of love. The end.
I don't want others knowing all about their situations and reasons before my children can know, understand, and own it all for themselves! That is not fair to anyone involved!
We pray to have ANY contact from our 2 bmoms!! For my children's sakes!