As a birth mother, one of my biggest fears post-placement was that the couple I had so carefully chosen and trusted would cut me off and close everything. We did not have a legally-binding contract to keep things open, and it would be been totally within their right (legally—maybe not morally) to close the adoption if they had chosen. The first few months were agony for me – wondering if I was responding too much to their emails, too little, or if they approved of my life choices (working and going to school, real deal-breakers). I had heard horror stories about birth mothers whose couples had just disappeared with no explanation. I prayed harder than I had in my entire life that their hearts would stay open to me. I was so meticulous about my responses to their weekly and bi-monthly emails, checking them five or six times for anything that might trigger fear, unease, or seem like a red flag for them.

After the first three months, I began to relax. They casually added in one of their emails to me, “We love you so much, and think about you and pray for you every day. There is nothing that could keep us from wanting you in our lives!” Oh, how much I needed to hear those words!

Adoptive parents and hopeful adoptive parents, if there is one piece of advice I can give to you, it is to love unconditionally. The woman who places her child with you is literally breaking her own heart to put that child where he is supposed to be—in your arms.

Through the course of the next year, we saw each other 3 times. Once at finalization, which they invited me to be present at in Florida (2,500 miles from my home). Again in Florida, two months after finalization, and I stayed in their home for a full week. It was glorious. The third time, my mother and I were invited to spend New Year’s weekend with my son, his parents, and his adoptive father’s family in Wyoming. There were at least 20 people in that house over the weekend, and nobody batted an eyelash that I was there. I was welcomed with open arms and told that I should consider myself a part of the family. My heart nearly exploded that weekend.

During the first year, I had some setbacks in my personal life. I chose to be upfront and honest with my son’s parents, because they had always been upfront and honest with me (telling me about sleepless nights, sick days, crying spells, and other hard “parent” things). My honesty laid the foundation for some incredible conversations about forgiveness, healing, redemption, and God’s love for every human being—regardless of past or current mistakes. They understood and saw me as a human being, someone they love and respect, rather than just a person who may or may not end up being a good role model for their son.

Whether they ever felt insecure about having me be part of their lives, I will never know. They never once showed fear that I would judge them or resent them. They held on to me and loved me so much that I was able to move forward with my life. I began to date and have a life again, uninhibited by the thought that I was being disloyal to my birth son by being happy. I had fun. I made new friends. I laughed, smiled, and enjoyed life. I let go of my sadness and worked through my pain.

Adoptive parents and hopeful adoptive parents, if there is one piece of advice I can give to you, it is to love unconditionally. The woman who places her child with you is literally breaking her own heart to put that child where he is supposed to be—in your arms. Your love and influence can and will make an enormous impact on her life after placement. Knowing you are there to talk, to know what is going on in her life, may keep her from regressing to unhealthy behaviors. Knowing that you tell your child about her in a loving, compassionate way will help her find the drive to become more than she ever thought possible. You have so much power to change her life, just as becoming a parent will change yours. She will forever be a part of your child, and your child is perfect.