Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My thoughts on my children's birth families

I know there are many people out there that really struggle with "how to handle the birth family".  If you have read anything on adoption there are many, many, many opinions.  So I thought I would share some of mine as our family has now 4 "extended families". 

I know right now some of you are thinking- I could never adopt because I would have to "share" my child.  That thought used to scare me.  Since adoption was the only way we would ever have children....we didn't have a choice.  If you would have asked me how I would feel about our child's birth family when we first started our journey....I would tell you honestly- not sure....scared, wondering how that would work, how to explain it to our children as they grow, where do they fit in the picture, how do we include them, how do we talk about it....and at least a million more questions as well.

So although I think it would literally take a whole book to explain all that I have learned, and discovered I will try to post at least some thoughts. 

Since we started adopting through the foster care system first that is where I will start.  The thought of having 2 visits with the biological family of our child for a LONG time was daunting to say the least.  I mean what do you say to them.  You have read the reports on why your child is with you.  So you know what has happened for that child to be removed from their first family.  So how does that make you feel? 

I have to say I used to think it would make me angry.  That is before we felt God move in our hearts to stir up a compassion that you can't describe other than GOD.  The birth mother of three of our children was the first connection we began several years ago.  Getting to see her- we were nervous, but knew that God would be our strength and wisdom.  We were shocked to find that really she was a sweet person.  She wasn't mean to us.  Nor did she hate us.  Of course I have to say it helps that we made it clear that we were not the ones taking her child away.  That we would work with foster care to do what was needed for her to be reunited. 

That connected us- instead of dividing us.  Throughout the many years we ended up having constant contact.  *Because before we adopted Abigail...Andrew was born...and before we adopted Andrew....Matthew was born :).  We really felt we had a relationship.  Not one of pity, but one that we understood her background.  How she herself grew up in the "system".  How she really didn't have anyone to help her out. 

The same became true with the family connection for Joshua, Sarah, & Elizabeth.  In fact our social workers were shocked that we were allowed to hold the "newest baby" while we met up for court.  How we talked with the birth family throughout the waiting for court.  How we gave pictures, and even invited them to our home. 

You see we allowed God to take away our hatred for what had been done to our children and replace it with His love.  To replace any thoughts of grudges and replace it with compassion for All of HIS CHILDREN.  When you think about what adoption involves you come to the conclusion that God is the story maker.  Without the birth family....there is no child.  THANK GOD our birth families chose to have their children! 

If you allow HIM to work through whatever situation comes along you will find yourself in a situation of knowing that not only did HE CREATE this precious life you now get to call son or daughter, but HE also CREATED the birth family of your child.  This is a connection not to be taken lightly.  It is one to celebrate.

For those of you who are fearful of this.  Know that this fear is not from God.  That is just the world talking.  That God created us to have such a compassion for our brothers and sisters that we would do anything for anyone.  That is how we think of it.  We are simply taking care of and bringing up our children for God.  Not for man or for the birth family, or for anyone else, but God.  God has brought us "extended families" through our children to pray for, encourage, and to show God to.  That is our job as adoptive parents.   

Now would I have felt this way in the beginning- NOPE.  But when we allow God to show us HIS plans and not ours.  When we see our children asking questions about who carried them for 9 months, who brought them into the world, who loved them - irregardless of the situation trust me they loved them. 

If this is a fear you have that is holding you back......ask God to take that fear away.  To lay it at HIS feet.  To trust HIM for the answers you may not know or understand.  To give you a compassion for people that HE will place into your life.  It is one of the biggest miracles you would never expect to find.  And just think you will have many more people in your life to love and pray for as well. 

***Just a note to say that I know not all situations are safe for there to be an ongoing relationship.  I know that there are many children that don't know their biological families, and that struggle with that.  I have to say the one thing that would make us sad is if we would adopt a child in the future that we couldn't have at least some kind of relationship with. 

More to come on this........feel free to ask questions and leave suggestions.  I love hearing from you!!!


  1. So amazing to hear your story! Very encouraging. My husbands birth mom is involved in our lives... we have a very good relationship with her.

    God has made our hearts with a huge capacity to love.

    Have a blessed week.

  2. I love this quote ...

    "Without the birth family....there is no child. THANK GOD our birth families chose to have their children!"


    Our children are true orphans; their birth parents have died. However, we did make the opportunity to visit their adult birth siblings when we were in Ghana, and I wouldn't trade that experience for any. (It cost us over $500 and 3 days, in order to make it happen. But, it was worth every penny and every minute on the most terrifying of "highways".)

    One question: Were you able to meet Jonathan's birth family when you adopted from Ethiopia? I know that many families who adopt from Ethiopia are not able to meet the birth families.

    Great topic! Look forward to hearing more.

    Laurel & the gang :)

  3. Amen! It took me many years of providing foster care to get to a similar conclusion. Unfortunately, my adopted son has no birth family contacts, unlike my others, and he is very saddened by that hole. I so wish I could fill it for him.

  4. Great post....not having gone through it completely yet, there is still some uncertainty and question in regards to how we will handle the questions. But I am so confident this is His calling for us that I know He will carry us through this.

  5. I long to know the girls' birth family. I would love to pack up and head to ET and find them. I honestly pray that someday we will be able to do that for the girls and for ourselves! Great post!

  6. I love your point about God filling your heart with compassion. That is what he has done for me. I have a great relationship with the boys mom, although I don't know how it will be after the adoption goes through as she tends to disappear at that point...

  7. THANK YOU for writing this...I needed to read this for so many reasons.

  8. Thank you for sharing this with us. We have the same feelings as you! I will admit that we are scared a little bit, but we are praying for God's strength and love and guidance. Blessings! --Kelli

  9. Your post really encouraged me, Dawn. I would love to meet our daughters' birth mother when we travel for our girls, but we'll have to see how it plays out based on the country's protocol and her willingness. Thanks for sharing on the topic.

  10. I totally agree and it is amazing how God can use us to minister to birth parents. It isn't always easy and sometimes we have to deny ourselves and love when you don't want to. Unconditional love. That is what God does for us, we should share that with others. A friend shared this song with me a while ago and maybe you have seen it but it really touching! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDOGYeysZ7o
    Thanks for pouring out your heart!

  11. I came to your blog from a comment left on Anna's. When your heading pic came up, I gasped in awe and delight. What a beautiful family that God has pieced together! Thank you for sharing your take on birth families. We have not yet adopted, but hope to.

  12. Thank you for sharing. With our first adoption I was terrified of having an open adoption. Many reasons where the ones you listed. After four years we had the opportunity to adopt again. This was to be an open adoption. We were ok with that.

    It has been a wonderful experience. I can contact her anytime and she contact me anytime as well. She has even come to visit us once a year. The first time she didn't stay with us but now she does.

    So far it hasn't been confusing to our daughter, but our oldest has had her struggles. We don't have any contact with her birthmom. I wish we did. Even though I don't agree with some of the life decisions she made, she did give my daughter life and she chose us to be her parents. Maybe someday she will want to contact us.

  13. This was an awesome post...thanks for sharing your thoughts/experiences. We are foster parents and we actually just put an inquiry in on adopting a little 19 month old girl and also a four year old boy. I know our chances are slim with both but I also know that with Him anything is possible. I really feel we can't judge these brothers and sisters who have lost their way and thus lost their children to the "system". A lot of them have been brought up in such bad circumstances they just don't know another way. I think that if more adoptive families were open to the birth families we could show them love and lead by example and most importantly they could even be lead to Christ.

  14. Thank you for this post Dawn, such wise advice and perspective. I just became a licensed foster parent through my state- I hope I can do the job justice.

  15. My son has not had any contact with his birth mom since he was put in the foster system 2 years ago and he always says he hates his mom. My husband & I tell him that he should not hate her, but that she should pray for her. We also teach him that his mom & dad (dad-who he doesn't know at all) made poor decisions and that is why we discipline him so we can teach him how to make wise decisions. We want him to be thankful for where he is now and know that God had a plan for us to be his family. I pray that one day when he is older he would have a relationship with her.

  16. Excellent post. And I'm encouraged to hear about the relationships with your children's birth families having adopted through foster care. We have an open adoption with our daughter's birth family and hope to have the opportunity to have a relationship when we adopt through foster care, if it's safe and we're praying it will be.