“The first thing is you have to commit to there being difficult days. Days where your significant other is upset or emotional (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.” –“A,” married to a birth mother
One of my worst fears after placing my son for adoption was re-entering the dating world. I had a few non-committal dates while expecting my son (with less-than-stellar men, if I have to be honest), but after placement I definitely wanted to date seriously. I wanted to find someone I could be in a relationship with, who was an upstanding member of society (even in my state of crisis pregnancy, I had no use for idiots), and who would be understanding and compassionate about my adoption story. Surprisingly, things weren’t as bleak as I had anticipated. Good job, mamas out there, on raising caring, compassionate young men!
Obviously, though, I dated a few lemons in the mix. One in particular—we will call him Jake—informed me on our third date that he couldn’t imagine anything more disgusting than the thought of stretch marks . . . and how he hoped his future wife wouldn’t ever get them. Mentally, I checked him off my list and we moved into the friend zone rather quickly. At that point, my tiger stripes were still quite crimson and obvious.
The worst experience, though, was with Mark. I met him on an online dating site. We met in a Baskin Robbins one chilly December afternoon and seemed to hit it off. That evening, I was his plus-one to a work Christmas party. When he drove me home that night, he asked me on a second date and I said yes. I realized at some point I needed to tell him my story, and I was terrified. Since I was so enamored with him, I decided to keep putting it off. Finally, on our fifth date, and after realizing this could definitely lead to a future together, I took a deep breath and told him my adoption story. I started from the time I found out I was expecting, to placement day. He held my hand and hugged me tight when the tears started flowing. We said good-night, and . . . he dropped off the face of the planet. I was devastated, but fortunately I had remembered advice my step-father had given me one year before: Someday, I would find someone who thought I hung the moon. Wait for him, and you will never need to worry about anything in your past.
Did Mark write me off because I had placed a child for adoption? Because I had been an unwed mother? Because I had had pre-marital sex? I doubt I will ever know. What I do know is that after many more dating experiences, some great and some so-so, I did find the man who thinks I hang the moon. Obviously we do not have a “perfect” marriage, but nobody does. My adoption story does not play into his love for me as a person. My adoption story may have helped to shape me as a person, but it does not define me or my character.
When I began this article, I sent out questions to husbands and boyfriends of birth mothers to see if I could figure out the type of men who tend to make lifelong commitments to us. When I received their responses, I was floored. I cried big, ugly tears. There are some amazing men in this world who view our adoption stories as huge, selfless, and courageous. They have not experienced it, but they believe it makes us strong women. They cherish their wives and girlfriends, and respect their womanhood in the most sacred manner.
For this reason, I have decided what was intended to be a single post into a series. I want to share their thoughts and insights with every birth parent out there. Do not settle. Do not EVER think you are worth less than you are. Adoption does not change your ability to be loved. It increases your capacity to love deeply and strongly—a trait that the best, most upstanding people will appreciate and realize when they meet you.
“I think being a birth mom has only strengthened who my wife is as a person. If you’re someone who is 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.” –“A,” married to a birth mother