Before I attempt to answer this question, I’d like to briefly explain what a birth mother goes through. A birth mother deals with intense feelings of loss even in the most amazing adoption stories. Speaking for myself, healing took years and requires consistent perseverance. The “birth mother stigma” itself can be overwhelming. When people found out about my decision, the rumors and the judgment came along with it. A couple of weeks after giving birth, I took a walk and a woman approached me and said, “Oh, didn’t you give your baby away?” I could barely believe her choice of words in order to start a conversation. That was only the beginning. A person who disliked me degraded me on social media, stating “I was less of a mother because I gave my child away.” These type of situations can be very hard to deal with. I still struggle when someone glorifies my decision of placing my child for adoption, yet doesn’t provide that same excitement and support for any other decision in my life. I could continue on about what a birth mother goes through, but I only wanted to make a point that the lifelong decision is not easy.
When a birth mother has contact with her adopted child, the moments seem breathtaking and magical. Unfortunately, that grim cloud that comes with being a birth mother will hover over the entire experience. It is amazing to connect with your adopted child, but you have to feel that loss again when you say goodbye. It is great being able to see him or her in a nurturing and loving environment, although, you will also feel guilt and shame because you aren’t the one providing it. The experience is a deep mix of emotions which takes an immense amount of determination to overcome!
With all of that being said, I’d like to get back to the topic question. Why would a birth mother not want contact with her adopted child? Here are a couple of my theories:
1. It’s obviously too much emotion and stress to deal with. A birth mother may not feel comfortable or willing to deal with those exhausting roller coaster of emotions. There is no standard reasoning behind this personal decision. She may be giving all the mental and emotional strength that she has just to make it through an ordinary day. Maybe she is not ready for those extraordinary emotions that come with contacting her adopted child. So, complete avoidance could be the comfortable zone that birth mother has adapted to on her journey.
2. A birth mother may have a poor connection with the adoptive family which could inhibit contact. As a birth mother, one of my biggest fears has been that the adoptive parents would one day decide that I wasn’t good enough to be a part of his life. I’m thankful that never happened. Actually, I am totally grateful for my birth son’s parents and the bond that we share. I couldn’t imagine dealing with anyone else. There are adoptive parents who don’t want to get together and deny such opportunities. I could only imagine how hard it would be to deal with people who have no respect or compassion for their child’s birth mother. My birth son’s parents are a gift to me; they are loving, supportive, and encourage contact between all of us.
3. A birth mother may be dealing with an unhealthy lifestyle or other tough life situations that isolate her. She may be going through a dark time of low self-worth and feels she is not good enough by any means and that her adopted child is better off not knowing her. Maybe a birth mother is dealing with addiction. Addiction sets back an individual regarding every aspect of his or her lives. A birth mother who is dealing with addiction will most likely not have contact with her adopted child.
4. A birth mother may be “sticking to the plan,” even if she wishes otherwise. When I was pregnant, I remember making plans in regards to what I had control over at that time. I made plans for my pregnancy, which consisted of allowing the adoptive parents to join every doctor visit they wished to be a part of. I remember making plans for the baby’s birth, which consisted of allowing the adoptive parents to be in the room. The plans I made during this time shaped my relationship with the adoptive parents. They were at every doctor visit, and the adoptive mom literally held my leg up during labor! However, when it came to making plans for after leaving the hospital, I was stuck. I had no idea how I was going to cope after leaving the hospital. I had no idea how open adoption was supposed to look like. I could easily see how a birth mother could make a plan while pregnant to receive seasonal pictures and respectively stick to the plan, regardless of her desire for more contact.
5. The circumstances surrounding an adoption may be intensely different. Maybe a birth mother caused harm to her own child which led to an adoption. Of course, shame would be placed upon a birth mother in those circumstances, and protection of the child would be enforced. This would lead to obvious blockades of contact between a birth mother and her adopted child. Maybe a birth mother conceived as a result of a rape and made a personal decision to not have contact with her child. These sad circumstances are a reality to many cases today which can affect the connection between birth mothers and adopted children.
When a birth mother doesn’t want contact with her adopted child, I don’t automatically assume that she is selfish or heartless. I see a lost or troubled woman who has been dealing with way too much for way too long. I see a woman who may need help getting over those mountains that seem entirely too high to climb by herself. I see a woman who may feel broken and judged. I see a woman in denial and oblivious to the big picture of adoption. I want to let that birth mother know that she is not alone. I want her to know that she is strong enough to get through every single obstacle placed before her. I want her to know that she is important. I want to remind her that every adoption story is unique. I want her to know that if she desires more contact with her adopted child, she must first search within herself to find the answers she needs in order to do so.