In the past two weeks (really, the past 4 years), I have been trying to give encouragement to a friend who placed her daughter about a year and a half after I placed my son. She has, unfortunately, met many of the less-compassionate men that I talked about in my article Dating After Placement: Not Everyone Will Be OK With Your Story, and That’s OK. In light of her most recent Prince-Charming-turned-Hans (heh, heh), I feel it is necessary to highlight the dudes that are amazing, supportive, and (in the best way possible) more common than most women believe. These guys are real, genuine, and waiting to love and be loved. Introducing…
T, from Utah
D, from Utah
A, from Arizona
When you first met your now-wife, did you already know she was a birth mother? (If yes, how? If No, when and how did you find out?)
T: When I met her for the very first time, she wasn’t a birth mother yet. When we started dating she wasn’t a birth mother yet. But when I returned from my mission [for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and began dating her again, yes, I did know she [w]as a birth mother because I stayed in contact with her through it all.
D: K and I met online so obviously I had no idea she was a birth mother. But she quickly told me about it before we even met. She was very open and honest, which I think helped a ton.
A: The topic of being a birth mother was not something we discussed on the first day of meeting but it wasn’t far into the relationship that she let me know.
Did you ever feel like you had to reevaluate your relationship based on this information?
D: Never. This was never a difficult thing for me.
A: As someone who came from a relationship where I had children as well, this wasn’t an issue. In fact it was probably something that drew us closer together. It was a point in which we could relate.
Did it make you hesitant at all to pursue a relationship?
D: No. It’s not about what a person has done, but who they are and how they react. It was clear that she knew what she had to do and it was all out of love.
A: Not at all. I thought what she went through took an enormous amount of courage and in that I saw she had built character. I was attracted to the strength she had having gone through the experience of placing for adoption.
How did you feel about your wife’s openness with the child she placed for adoption? Are you involved in that relationship?
T: I think it’s great. I think it’s awesome that she can continue to have a relationship with her, but I only visit with them when she does. We have barbecues and get-togethers with them and I am involved with those, but I don’t ever visit by myself.
D: I loved how open she was/is about placing. I’ve met A [the daughter she placed] several times and can see all of K’s quirks in her. It’s a beautiful thing.
A: I’m glad that she is able to have an open adoption and to be able to see pictures of her birth daughter grow up and find happiness. I know in her heart it was a sacrifice for the sake of her child to have the opportunity at a better life than she could offer at the time. I try to be supportive of any opportunity to see or communicate with her and I know she likes to send her gifts now and then. I know if it were the other way around I’d want the same support.
What do you feel has been the most difficult part of your wife’s adoption journey, as far as you are involved?
T: Nothing has been difficult. I knew her before she became a birth mother and I was serving a mission when she went through the whole experience, so I knew who she was before it all. I knew what I was getting myself into before I chose to pursue our relationship and nothing about it made me second-guess my decision to do so. By the time I returned home from my mission, she was at peace with everything. She has never had a time where she has struggled a lot. The things she has struggled with haven’t been a big deal. She has seemed to move forward in a healthy way and seems to be more proud of her relationship with the adoptive family and child than anything else, which I am as well.
D: What’s been the hardest for me is not being able to help. I didn’t understand what she felt or was going through at first and so I wasn’t really involved. Now I know a little better what to do when she’s having a hard day.
A: There were nights that were hard where she missed her birth daughter. I can’t replace the feelings she had of missing her but I tried to offer comfort however I could. Not being able to do more was the hardest part.
What do you feel has been the greatest benefit in your wife’s journey, as far as you are involved?
T: Just being able to see them stay close. It’s really different and unique and cool to watch.
D: I think her experience was extremely spiritual. That helped her grow in that way which has really helped our marriage. Also once I learned how to be there for her we were able to take tough days and turn them into bonding moments. That has been a key to me for us.
A: Watching her grow and strengthen over the years as a result of adoption.
Has there ever been a time when the fact that your wife is a birth parent (whether it be related to premarital sex, unwed pregnancy, choosing adoption) has made you uneasy? If yes, why or how?
T: No, not at all. Everyone makes mistakes.
D: Never. I had way more baggage than her. After hearing her full story there’s only love, amazement, and awe to be felt.
A: These aren’t factors to me.
How do you feel about your wife’s adoption journey?
T: I think it’s awesome, special, and unique and it’s made her a better mother.
D: I think it started out as wonderfully as possible. As time has gone on she’s had less visit time which has been a struggle. But overall I, and [she], wouldn’t trade it for the world.
A: I think she has always been an amazing woman but I feel like she has only matured through the process. Adoption has been a part of who she is from day one of me knowing her, but it has never been a point of contention in our relationship. Sometimes it would occupy her thoughts and there would be rough nights. It’s a tricky thing to live with, I’d imagine. It’s a past experience but the child is still out there—somewhere. Just not with you. So it’s not something you can ever “just get over.” It’s not like she would be emotional over something that just happened in the past. It’s part of the past but also the present. It’s complicated. I’ve come to understand this much over time and the most I can do is try to comfort her in these moments. But really, those moments aren’t that frequent. She’s an incredibly strong woman and sometimes I marvel at it. It is certainly something I have come to love and respect about her.
What advice would you give to someone who is either struggling with dating a birth parent, or who is unsure about pursuing a relationship with a birth parent?
T: One of the first things I thought when I found out she was pregnant was to just show her love. No one is perfect, it’s not our place to judge them, and we don’t know the circumstances. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions and if they are interested in this person, they should get to know who they are as a person, not just judge them based on one part of their life. It’s important to know who this person is. If you judge someone based on things they have done in the past, you will probably never be in a good relationship. I respect her for making the best of a difficult situation and I’m very proud of her. I don’t think judging her because she has premarital sex is going to get either of us anywhere.
D: Honestly, to get over it. Placement is usually coming from a place of love and support, while knowing that the birth mother is making the hardest decision of her life. I don’t see why any person would see this as a reason to not pursue a relationship with someone. Plenty of other baggage is worse and harder to deal with than being a birth mother.
A: The first thing is you have to commit to there being difficult days. Days where your significant other is upset or emotion[al] (and it’s not because of you). But really, if it isn’t adoption that a person is emotional over, it could be any number of things. Birth parents are people like you and I are. Personally, I have emotional days too. This doesn’t ostracize me from society. It just means I’m human. That aside, and as I stated earlier, I think being a birth mom has only strengthened who my wife is as a person. If you’re someone considering a relationship with a birth parent, you might even find yourself lucky. They’ve been through hardship and have come out the other side a survivor. Those who survive know how to persevere and that is an incredibly helpful quality in a lasting relationship.
How do you feel being a birth parent has impacted (or will impact) your wife being a parent? (By this, I mean to children you two parent together.)
T: She doesn’t really compare our kids to A (the adopted [placed] child), but I think it’s made her take being a mother more seriously and she has really seen the blessings in it, even when it gets difficult.
D: I don’t know that it has. She’s been a great parent to all of our kids. At first it may have been odd since my son was the same age as her daughter she placed. It was hard that she missed his first two years of life while also feeling like she missed her daughter’s life, but after a year I think the only thing left was a deep love for our son.
A: We’re fortunate to have started that journey. We have a baby girl and I don’t think my wife could love her any more than she does. I always knew she’d be a loving and caring mother. If anything (and not as an excuse to have a child), I always felt that a child of her own would bring healing to the empty place in her heart. To bring a baby home from the hospital. Her baby—to keep and raise on her own—I can think of no better gift to offer.