Dear Men Who Date Birth Moms,

I bet you never expected to be reading this letter. I bet you never thought, “I want to date a girl who placed her baby for adoption.” But here you are. She’s not a single mom, but she is a mother. Different? Yes. Intimidating? Maybe so. I know a lot about birth moms–I am one, and so are most of my friends. Let me tell you how to handle dating women like me, and how worth it it’s going to be.

First off, you need to understand how adoption influences my life. No, my birth daughter is not part of my day-to-day, but she is a huge part of me. Brushing it off as “no big deal” isn’t fair. Adoption is not just ‘my thing’; if you’re going to be with me, you need to accept that it will affect your life too.

I need you to educate yourself. The adoption community is it’s very own subculture, and it might take some getting used to. Read articles on this website and ask her questions. Learn positive adoption language. Show me that you care for me by making an effort to understand my open adoption. If you really want to win me over, tell me how awesome I look after having a baby and ask me how my beautiful birth daughter and her family are doing.

Maybe sometimes I won’t want to talk about it. I need you to be okay with that. Maybe sometimes I will need to talk about it a lot. Please listen to me. Unless I specifically ask for your help or advice, please don’t offer it. I know you are just trying to help, but there is no way you will ever truly understand my grief, so you can’t tell me how to handle it. More than anything, I need you to just listen and tell me that you care.

You might feel weird about dating a birth mom at first, and that’s okay. Everything takes some getting used to. Just remember that if I talk to you about my adoption, I am making myself vulnerable to you. Please don’t shut me down. If you do, it will be very hard for me to open up to you in the future.

Well, I can promise you that the extra love, patience, and reassurance she needs will be so worth it.

And another tip–do not, ever, under any circumstances, joke about my decision to place. It might seem harmless, but if you respect me at all, adoption is not ever a topic to laugh at.

Understand that even though my adoption journey has been very positive, I am still grieving. Maybe the birth mom you date will not have had a positive adoption experience, and she will grieve even more. Most days I do great, and I’m happy with my decision to place. But some days I will hurt, and it might seem out of the blue. I need you to roll with it. Reassure me that I did the right thing. Be my shoulder to cry on, and tomorrow I will be okay again.

Dating a birth mom does not mean you can share her story with whoever you like. Your family and friends will likely have questions. Placing your child for adoption is an extremely personal decision, and some of us are more open to discussion than others. If she’s comfortable, have them ask her directly. If she’s not, be careful to respect her privacy, and only share when you have express permission to do so.

Now that you’re reading this letter, you might be thinking “She sounds like a hot mess. Maybe dating a birth mom will be too complicated.” Well, I can promise you that the extra love, patience, and reassurance she needs will be so worth it. Birth mothers have so much to offer.

When we love, we love hard. I love my birth daughter so fiercely that I went through the greatest heartbreak of my life for her well being. I think of her every single day, there’s not a thing I wouldn’t do for her. True love requires sacrifice, and I have shown that I can do that. Birth moms place because we think about our children and their needs, not just right now, but down the road. We truly want what’s best for them–we will want what’s best for you, too.

If I have the bravery to be a birth mother, I certainly have the bravery to get through trials in my relationships. Placing has taught me to never take a person for granted. I will appreciate every minute I get to spend with you, no matter how hard it is. It has also made me a gentler, more compassionate person.

I am resilient. I have been through so much, but I am healing. I know I will continue to heal, no matter what hardships come my way. If I can come back from placing, I can come back from anything. I am birth mom strong.

Everyone has baggage, and this is mine. Dating a birth mom won’t always be an easy. That’s not the way relationships work–for anyone. They require effort. To love another person means to know the dark, scary corners of their bright and beautiful soul. My heart is bruised and scarred, sure. But it is also powerful, resilient, and nurturing. I have so many beautiful, brilliant birth mother friends. If you’re lucky enough to score one of them, you better hold on tight.