More rights for birth mothers is an article on MSNBC about the suggestion that states should change their laws to allow Birth Mother’s more rights including enforceable openness agreements, free non-bias counselling and a longer period to change their mind after placement.
I am struggling with this idea for many reasons. When I think of an openness agreement I think of trust on both sides. As an adoptive hopeful parent I am being entrusted with this precious little person who by adopting I am taking on the responsibility to do what is best for him or her. I question if that would be possible if an openness agreement is enforceable. For us, and many others, we don’t have a bunch of money to go back to court if a birth parent is doing things that I don’t feel are right for my child. I question if the limitations that this leaves the adoptive family with are what is best for the child. The stress that puts on the adoptive family. As life moves forward things change. What happens when the adoptive family cannot afford to arrange a visit one year, or life gets busy and they miss a phone call? Where’s the limit? And how does a family truly be a family when they have the looming fear that they could be taken to court for doing something wrong? Is that right for the child?
I think we have to take a look at it from a more beforehand side. We are not living in the dark ages. Women have rights, and lots of them. And counselling is one way to do that. The question I have here is that they are talking about free non-bias counselling for those who are considering adoption. Well, where is the money for this coming from? Non-profits, the state, or the adoptive family? I question how much more costly adoption can get. Our states budgets are already stretched to the max, non-profits are struggling to make it and adoptive families are paying all of their savings so they can’t afford anymore. So who is paying for this? There have been many stories I’ve read about birth parents being pushed to sign over their rights. This is very wrong, but I question what kind of counselling those who are pushed to sign are being given? Because if it is a licensed counselor then we have a completely other issue on our hands. I think we need to consider those who are giving this counselling, if they are licensed professionals then they aren’t following the code of ethics and so we need to address that.
The thing that is bothering me most and what lead me to write was the idea that birth mothers should have more time to change their minds. This troubles me because I wonder how long will they have? A week, a month, 3 months, 6 months, more? There is very important bonding that happens in those first few days, weeks and months. So does an adoptive parent move forward and bond, or do they protect themselves and try not to fall in love with this amazing little person they have longed for? And then what if the birth mother decides she wants the baby back? The adoptive parents are in a fragile emotional state as well. They have been through a lot of heartbreak and so I wonder if it is best for the baby to put those parents who want nothing more to love this child without fear of losing him or her to put them in that position.
On the other hand, is it best for the birth mother to have an additional few months, or weeks to change her mind? How does she move forward with her life after she has signed knowing that she has time to change her mind? If she goes into counselling how does she put her heart into it knowing that she can fix her heartbreak by changing her mind? I don’t know this would be best for anyone involved. I think birth mothers are strong, loving women who want what is best for their baby. I think they are women who have big hearts and I am not saying they would change their mind lightly but I question if giving them that time is right? Is it right for a month old, or 3 month old, or 6 month old to have to leave the people they know as mom and dad and learn all about a new person? Personally I don’t think that is right for the baby. The birth mother has 9 months to think about this decision and chose a family. They have chosen adoption for a reason and I wonder if when they are dealing with hormones and the sadness that they are feeling is the best time for them to make the decision to change their mind or not.
And then there is the question of money? Adoptive families are already stretched thin paying for the adoption. 10’s of thousands of dollars that they are paying for the adoption. So what happens there? Do they not have to pay for medical, lawyer, agency fees until after this waiting period that is being suggested? And then if the birth mother changes her mind is it her responsibility to pay those who were involved in the adoption? Or does the Adoptive family get their money returned or is it just a loss? I have a really hard time saying a loss is okay because for us and many others replacing that money to try again would take quite a while. Plus, is it right that the adoptive family pay for something they can’t prevent? They are paying for an adoption, not an empty baby room and a broken heart. So, I think it is only right that the issue of money be at least considered.
I think there is a lot to consider here, it is not simple and it is not easy but I hope that both the birth mother and the adoptive family are considered but mainly, the child ~ who is at the heart of it all.