Although a birthmother may not be there for the little things like feeding, diapering and other daily tasks which help a child know that he or she is loved, there is a lot that a woman placing a baby for adoption can do before and after the process to help their child understand the difficult and brave act of asking someone else to raise their child.
These following notes are written as suggestions for a birthmother and birthfathers struggling with how to explain this either at the time, or perhaps in the future:
Letters — Write a letter to your child for the adoptive parents to read to him or her later in life. It’s important that this letter comes from your own words and from your heart. Explain why you made the decision, how much you love him or her and how he or she will always be in your heart. Sometimes, handwritten can have the best affect. For some ideas see this post.
Lifebooks — Consider doing a photo book. Known as lifebooks, these scrapbooks can include photographs about you and the birthfather so that over time the child can get to know you. For some ideas on photo books, see this example.
Make something for the child — Making a blanket or a stuffed animal for the baby or buying something for the child to keep and be told is from you is a great way for the child to have something tangible that represents your love. One idea is that you might consider a stuffed animal “mother and baby” so that you can keep the baby and the child will have the matching “mother”. If you are okay with parting with a stuffed animal or toy that you had as a child, that is a wonderful link to you as well for the child to keep.
Books about Adoption — Purchase a children’s book about adoption and inscribe on the inside something from your heart … like ”never forget how much I love you!” etc. For a list of children’s books about adoption see this list.
Naming the child — Ask the adoptive parents to work with you on choosing a name for the child. Many parents will often incorporate part of their name into the child’s name, or perhaps part of the name that the birthparent was going to pick. To start, ask the adoptive parents to tell the child where his/her name came from and build on that. Names are a touchy subject and if you are uncomfortable bringing up the suggestion, sometimes a counselor can help. If you don’t have a counselor, email or ask the question in a note to the adoptive parents and make sure they understand you’re coming from the heart. While many parents are skittish to make such a request, it’s common for adoptive parents to be very helpful here as they want the child to form strong and healthy bonds.
Stay in touch. Both with open and semi-open adoptions, you can send letters and pictures over the years to your child – Birthday cards, Valentine’s cards, and all other holidays. Send the card in advance so the child actually receives on his/her holiday celebration and remembers that you were planning this ahead of time! Your pictures show the child how you are doing and can help form stronger bonds.
Send clothes. Ask the adoptive parents for the current size the child wears and send some thoughtful clothing, perhaps married to the current season or weather.
Visits — Remember, the best way to connect with a child and show them you care is to visit and do so enthusiastically and lovingly!