What I learned working in the adoption field
A few things I’ve learned working in the adoption field for the last (almost) 8 years…..
-Allyson Stefani, MSW, LSW
Adoptive Family and Birthparent Social Worker at Hopeful Beginnings
· Birthparents are truly heroes and some of the most selfless people that I’ve ever met.
– I believe they don’t get the recognition they deserve. No matter what is going on in their life and the chaos they may be dealing with, they are still making the selfless decision to put their child’s needs above their own and pick a family who they believe will raise them with a great deal of love, safety and stability. Birthparents are brave and should absolutely be celebrated, rather than judged, in our society. I feel so honored and lucky to have walked alongside so many birthparents before, during, and after placing their child for adoption.
· The stigma birthparents deal with in placing a child for adoption is REAL.
– Every single birthparent I have worked with has told me they’ve been judged by some (or all) of the people in their life for making this decision. How heartbreaking for someone to face judgment surrounding a decision that is likely the hardest decision they’ll EVER have to make. I think there are many ways we can combat this like normalizing it being ok to NOT become a parent when you feel you aren’t ready or you can’t provide that child with the stability, love, safety, emotional and financial wellbeing that they need and deserve. I think it can also help when we ensure that people understand what open adoption is and that placing a child for adoption does not mean that a birthparent- or their family- will never be able to have a relationship with that child ever again. I’m also passionate when it comes to people changing the phrase ‘give up for adoption’. You give up or give away old clothes you don’t like anymore, people do not ‘GIVE UP’ a child for adoption. Placing a child for adoption is a decision that is made based on love and putting that child’s needs above all else. Simply changing this term, and changing the negative connotation its associated with, should be important to all of us.
· Continued education is crucial
– Lifelong education on so many aspects of adoption is absolutely necessary. It’s something that Hopeful Beginnings puts great importance on and, honestly, every family built through adoption should feel the same. A few topics that stand out to me: educating adoption as an option for someone who just isn’t ready to be a parent. Men and women deserve to know their pregnancy related options and what adoption realistically looks like in 2022. Education on the best ways to talk to a young child vs. a teenager about their adoption story and help them process the variety of emotions they may (and are entitled) to feel. Education on grief and loss for all involved- birthparents, adoptive parents and the adoptee.
Adoption professionals should constantly be educating themselves on best practices as well.
· Open adoption can be such a beautiful thing!
– I’ve seen firsthand the beauty of having a child/teen/young adult be surrounded by the ones who love them the most- their birthparents who brought them into this world and the parents who are raising them! It’s wonderful to see those bonds strengthen between all involved. Don’t get me wrong, open adoption takes hard work, patience, kindness & compassion (to name a few things) on the side of the birthparents and the adoptive parents. The lifelong, positive impacts for the child have been proven over years of research as well. I’ve also seen the sadness and pain of adoptees, birthparents and adoptive parents who want nothing more than to have contact with each other, and it just isn’t there for whatever reason.
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