Selfishness Is Not Part Of Adoption

Adoption is foremost a selfless act.

Rachel Galbraith June 14, 2017
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Adoption begins with an incredible, selfless act. A woman spends nine months nurturing a child growing within her, gives birth, becomes a mother, and then chooses to place her child into the arms of another. The reasons behind this decision are vast and varied, but in the end, it comes down to love. She loves her child. She desires more for her child than she feels she can offer at that time, and adoption seems to be the answer.

“A birth mother always puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart.” – Skye Hardwick

This couldn’t be more true. I have been so privileged to learn from some amazing birth mothers; women who found the strength to break their own hearts in order to give their child stability and safety. These women hold a certain ache for their children for the remainder of their days, and even when they have found a semblance of peace, there is always a part of their heart missing. This is a sacred ache, that some keep quietly tucked away while others openly share and educate.

As an adoptive mother, I think about this ache quite often. Usually it is in the quiet hours when my son has just drifted off to sleep. I stare at his beautiful face, the curve of his cheeks, and the way his eyelashes turn upwards, and I think of his birth mother. I reflect on our story and our time with her, and I wonder if in that moment, she is missing him. She sacrificed to much for this little boy’s happiness. Am I doing enough to fulfill the dreams she had for him when she placed him in my arms? I hope so.

I am blessed to be his mother and though feelings of inadequacy may creep in, I must remember the selfless sacrifice that brought him to me. I cannot forget that this was never about me. It has always been about doing what is best for our son. It has become about an adoptive mother putting the needs of her child first. And what are those needs?

  • He needs to know his story.
  • He needs to know that he is wanted and loved by two families.
  • He needs to know that he has a biological family from whom he inherited wonderful traits and talents.
  • He needs to know that adoption is not a shameful part of his past, but that it is something we celebrate. We honor his birth mother, and allow him to know her as best he can.
  • He needs to know as much about his biological family as he can.
  • He needs to feel comfortable and confident enough to express his emotions, and ask questions as they arise.
  • He needs to have those questions age appropriately answered, not ignored or pushed aside.

I know that sometimes those needs may feel as if they are infringing upon an adoptive mother’s status as his mother, they can cause us to feel strong emotions of jealousy, fear, and inadequacy. In times when those feelings creep in, it is time to take yourself out of the equation and ask, “What is best for my child?” We in turn, must find ways to put aside our own feelings and sacrifice for our child’s happiness. There is no room for selfishness in adoption.

If you are feeling some of these negative emotions, know that you aren’t alone. There are many other adoptive parents experiencing them, and while it is in the best interest of your child to allow him access to his birth family, your emotions need to be dealt with. Professional counseling is a fantastic resource. It can help you work through the tough stuff and find positive ways to cope. Many adoptive parents have turned to counseling and consider it to be invaluable.

“Adoption is not a breaking of trust but a keeping of faith… Not the abandonment of a baby, but the abandonment of self for a baby’s sake.” – Curtis Young

Birth parents gave selflessly; adoptive parents need to be able to do the same.

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Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.


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