The Ten Top Things Birth Mothers Wish Adoptive Parents Knew By Joni Mantell, LCSW, Director IAC Center


A Quote from a birthmother – “I did not think I could do adoption because I did not fit what I thought to be a birth mother.  I felt very alone and isolated in the experience.”


  1. Each of us is an individual who is placing for our own reasons, yet we do share some similar issues and emotions.
  2. We have never done this before (usually) and are surprised to find ourselves in this position.
  3. Please treat us with dignity, respect and honesty. We appreciate your compassion and interest in us, not just the babies we are carrying.
  4. When we make direct contact with a prospective adoptive parent, we are taking a really big step and usually feel quite anxious. We would like some time to get to know you before we are instructed to call an attorney or agency.  This would feel more personal.
      JM’s comment: 
  • Prospective adoptive parents will want to be educated to handle this step more adroitly so as not to alienate prospective birth parents.
  1. Sometimes pre-adoptive parents and adoption professionals are impersonal or say things that make us feel uncomfortable in other ways.
      Joni Mantell’s (JM’s) comments: 
  • Keep in mind that hurtful comments made to birth parents during the adoption experience may sting for an entire lifetime.
  • Discomfort may lead a woman to contact someone else. In fact, many women report that the first contact with the prospective parent, attorney or agency can make or break the relationship.
  1. Adoption is not just a legal transaction; it is an emotional process and a life-altering choice. Once we have decided to make an adoption plan, we need guidance and preparation for the process, including the smaller decisions that are involved as well as attention to our emotions.
      JM’s comments: 
  • There are many books telling the adoptive parent’s what their experience will be like before, during and after the adoption.
  • Birth parent’s need this guidance too and cannot find similar books.
  • It is really important for a woman or couple placing their baby to have some support.
  • Non-directive counseling is critical before the birth.
  • Preparation as to what to expect during and after the adoption process is needed.
  1. We may need help in communicating about our plans to our families or to our partners.
      JM’s comment: 
  • When expectant women considering adoption avoid facing issues with their families, this can lead to crises at delivery and sometimes a pressured decision not to place.
  1. I need someone at the hospital to help me with the emotions I will be feeling. The fact is that being pregnant and having a baby are two very different things and I will be dealing with my own feelings and at the same time trying to relate to you, the adoptive parents.  This is not about me changing my mind. This is about my needs and uncertainty about handling this complex, emotionally challenging life situation.
      JM’s comment:       
  • This is something pre-adoptive parents will want to discuss with their attorneys or agencies so that solid plans can be made BEFORE the birth, mindful of the fact that things can change at the birth
  • All of the details and ritualistic symbolism involved in placing a baby for adoption must be respected. (EG. If a birth mother chooses to breastfeed her baby, this is most often not a sign of her waffling. Rather this is a gift that she can give her baby and can help her to let go knowing she did the best she could for the child.)
  1. Relationships with prospective adoptive parents can be very confusing. I need some guidance about the boundaries for communication, during and after the placement.
      Birthmother quotes:
  • I viewed the adoptive mother as my friend and wanted to confide in her my feelings, good and bad about the adoption.
  • After the placement I felt like I lost my baby and my best friend – the adoptive mother.”
  1. What exactly is open adoption? What should I ask for and what can I expect? How do I know what I will want in the future? What is really in the best interests of the child?











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