What the first mom study said to me

14 Jun

I didn’t have time to delve deeply into the first mom study in my last post.  Today I want to talk about what it said to me, but before that, I want to reiterate some of my feelings on first moms and domestic infant adoption.

Conservations with adoptive parents have told me that many would be offended (different degrees) if their child’s first mom had regrets on choosing adoption.  That surprised me in so many ways because for mom, just thinking about any of our mothers having to make that *choice* devastated her, so while I never asked her how she’d have felt if any of our mothers had regrets, the logical response I’d expect from her would have been – how could they not have regrets.  I’m still pondering on how adoptive parents could be upset to know their child’s first mom regretted not being able to parent their child.  Perhaps it comes down to taking it as a personal affront (when it isn’t) and not seeing the first mom as a fellow mom.

The study was open to mothers who had relinquished their parental rights in the last 25 years.  The results: on a scale of 1-5 “How satisfied* are you with your decision of relinquishment” 3.11 was the average level of satisfaction*.  The * is mine because the term satisfied just seems wrong to use regarding a mother relinquishing her parental rights to her child.  Surely there could have been a different term found for an act that tears my heart apart just thinking of it happening.

Below is what I took from what they were saying – read the study to make sure I’m correct in my framing.

  • Satisfaction regarding relinquishment was not static over time.
  • Distance from/time since relinquishment had an inverse relationship with satisfaction levels.
  • Education and income level had an inverse relationship with satisfaction levels.
  • Working full time had an increase with satisfaction levels.
  • Current contact with their child had increased satisfaction levels.
  • Over time age had an inverse relationship with satisfaction levels.
  • You should not conflate grief and loss with satisfaction level.

The above mirrors what I’ve seen over the years, and honestly, how people in adoption treat an expectant mom to shortly after signing to five years later – the let down from being lauded (reinforced she did the right thing everywhere she turns) to pretty much old news get on with your life – what do you expect to happen.  Then combine that with the reality for some sets in that they could have parented, and instead, got sucked in while they were in crisis and feeling unworthy…

I want to highlight the recommendations for adoption professionals as a result of this study. 

All of these recommendations should already be practiced by adoption professionals today (except perhaps the last one).  The question though is how can they become required instead of just recommended.  For anyone reading that is adopting – take the time to sit back and read the recommendations in the study and ask yourself if an expectant mom was your daughter, would you demand they be followed?  If yes, then demand your adoption professional follows them, not just something they say they do, do your due diligence and find out if they walk the walk.  Ask to speak to mothers several years out to see if the services are given follow the recommendations, ask general questions, listen to what isn’t said in their answers.

The quotes below are snippets that don’t do justice to each recommendation, you must read them in totality at the link above to fully understand the why and intent.

Urging adoption professionals to return to non-biased counselling and exploring all options open to the expectant mom: “expectant mothers are counseled on the full range of options available to them, including termination of the pregnancy, parenting, exploring kin supports, and adoption.”

Adoption professionals to make sure an accurate and full understanding of the laws and her rights (or lack of rights) once she signs: “Agencies should also ensure that expectant mothers are provided with accurate information on all state laws relating to open adoption arrangements”

They want mothers to really understand that it’s not just feeling sad and you’ll return to normal after a while and that you may never get over it: “need for adoption professionals to be transparent and honest about the impact of relinquishment on a birth mother’s immediate and long-term wellbeing.”

“ensure that birth mothers have access to ongoing postrelinquishment support services, such as counseling and the availability of in-person and online support groups, that are not restricted by artificial time frames.”

“Given the known benefits of fully disclosed adoptions for all members of the adoption triad (Grotevant et al., 2013; McRoy et al., 2007), adoption professionals are in a unique position to encourage and facilitate fully disclosed adoptions from the outset of the adoption process rather than suggesting mediated contact that is more cautious in nature and that is structurally more likely to extinguish over time.”

“Furthermore, to ensure that the rights of expectant mothers are fully protected, adoption agencies and attorneys should be mandated to provide expectant mothers with a stipend, determined by local market rates, to hire independent legal counsel to represent the mother during the relinquishment and all preceding negotiations involving postadoption contact.”

This would be great but unsure how it could be enforced: “In instances in which a mother elects to have a closed adoption, agencies should consider adopting practices that allow birth mothers a set time frame postrelinquishment (e.g., 6 months or a year postrelinquishment) when the mother has the option to change her mind and request contact.”

I think they missed a recommendation.

To make sure the expectant mom understands the baby isn’t just getting a golden ticket to a life filled with nothing but joy, opportunity and happiness.  To understand that each will process what it means to be adopted, some will struggle with it, some will struggle with it at points across their life.  That the seven core issues still apply to open adoption adoptees.  We all deal with being adopted in our own way, but there are common themes that an expectant mom should learn about.


Posted by on June 14, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , , , ,

13 responses to “What the first mom study said to me

  1. Heather

    June 15, 2018 at 9:10 am

    Great recommendations but I don’t see adoption professionals agreeing with any of them. The child is the product they sell, why would they do anything that might prevent the sale from going through?

    Sadly I don’t see them willingly giving up any control either.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My Perfect Breakdown

    June 15, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Yes in an ideal world this would all happen, but where adoptions are done for profit (USA, not Canada), a business will always be a motivated by profit no matter how well intentioned. Honestly, I think a lot of the onus for changing the adoption process has to be on the prospective adoption parents. Adoptive parents (including me as an adoptive parent) have to demand better and only work with agencies and lawyers who live up to guidelines such as these. And, unfortunately no matter how well meaning, how much research was done and how much they try to work with the right companies, sometimes prospective adoptive parents find out too late just how corrupt the companies they hired really are (I count me in that category).

    Liked by 2 people

    • TAO

      June 15, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I know what you mean – but speaking up does make a difference for some before they learn the hard way, but it will never catch all, nor will some be willing to hear it no matter how you speak it. (talk about a run on sentence but my brain isn’t working well this morning) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heather

        June 15, 2018 at 11:57 pm

        I agree that speaking up is necessary. We never know when the tipping point will be met and real change begins.

        TAO, your one voice of many is so important so thank you for not giving up and continuing to speak out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • TAO

          June 16, 2018 at 3:14 am

          Thank you for being my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Heather

            July 2, 2018 at 7:39 am

            *Hugs to you*


  3. Cindy

    June 19, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Tao, I would say yes, you are correct in your framing of the study. I hope you will indulge my desire to ‘translate’ the results.

    1). “Satisfaction regarding relinquishment was not static over time” = You need to wait to make a ‘decision’ to relinquish your child. In the flush and glow of all the praise being showered on you / being told that you cannot possibly provide properly for your child, it seems like the best thing in the world to do… until.

    2). “Distance from/time since relinquishment had an inverse relationship with satisfaction levels.” = Distance from/time since that golden glow moment of relinquishment showed the opposite of satisfaction. (I feel a study is trying to be obtuse when they use 25 cent words)

    3). “Education and income level had an inverse relationship with satisfaction levels.” = You weren’t going to stay always the “miserable, incapable of providing for your child, not good enough to be mother” that you were led to believe. And if you had just had a bit of a hand up instead of being convinced that GIVING UP was the best option. Ouch x’s infinity!

    4). “Working full time had an increase with satisfaction levels.” Stay busy as all get out and you can find some ‘satisfaction’ in life. Yup. Did that, busy from dawn to late at night…can’t think that way. Run, hide, stuff it. It works……………… for awhile.

    5). “Current contact with their child had increased satisfaction levels.” = Oh yeah, you bet. I’m sure it would, just like reunion after 30, 40 or 50 years.. you know where the heck they are and who they are, and how they are. You know that they are alive. You rejoice at the moments spent with them even though your heart rips apart at every separation(referring to reunion based contact here but I’m sure it does the same with open adoption. How could it not?)

    6). “Over time age had an inverse relationship with satisfaction levels.” = See 1 and 2 above. Also, taking possible advantage of mother’s youth and inexperience and after they have been able to check things out more thoroughly they realize they were not and did not give Fully Informed Consent? i.e. they were taken advantage of.

    7).”You should not conflate grief and loss with satisfaction level.” = Say whut? You should not confuse grief and loss with satisfaction level????????????? For one thing, they can take the ‘should not’ and stuff it. Why shouldn’t mothers compare/combine grief and loss with a so-called satisfaction level? Just cause somebody don’ wan’ em to? Talk about disassociation and cognitive dissonance (aka mind mess). That’s crazy. ..maybe they need to remove the grief and loss being shown on tv, in regard to the separation of immigrants from their children down at the border, And just look at it “””logically””””. Chit! That wouldn’t go over very well would it?

    I love hearing that people are actually saying that separating mothers(families) and their children is immoral/inhumane. Cause it sure has felt that way for — a too long time.


    • TAO

      June 19, 2018 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you Cindy, I *think* #7 might also have been to tell AP’s that grief and loss weren’t reasons to “back off”, “close”, etc., something I’ve seen as a reason given. At least I hope they were trying to send that message.


      • Cindy

        June 20, 2018 at 12:49 am

        Perhaps, and yes, I hope that is the case too.

        They need to be more clear in their wording if that was the intent. Plain and simple language. I don’t much trust anything written with 25 cent words. Words as quickly and easily understood as possible is the way to go. Especially with something as important for the welfare of human beings as this is. Just my opinion.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. drayn

    July 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    I am an adoptive mom who knows for a fact that my son’s first mom (we usually call her by her name), regrets her decision. I would have been surprised (not sure it’s exactly the right word) if she didn’t. Of course that makes me feel sad and guilty but it’s not about me, and I think it will make my son feel a bit better (and probably sadder and angrier that she did not have enough support to keep him) that she misses him so much and that she regrets her decision. I searched for her and found her (in my country there is not such thing as an open adoption) because I could not bear to think that she did not know weather he was alive and well or not, and now we are constructing a relationship amidst a society that has never really heard of open adoptions and it is all thanks to blogs like this (and lori, and anne heffron, and deanna, and Angela tucker and so many other, thanks for speaking up and flipping the script)

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      July 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      Thank you. One of the few AP’s who can remove their feelings and understand that a mother would, could, probably does have regrets seeing as she’s human.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Heather

      July 16, 2018 at 12:32 am

      Thank you for sharing. Not knowing if my son is doing well, not knowing if he is being cared for and loved is one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.

      Liked by 1 person


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