At least half of the birthparents whom Abrazo serves have opted for placing while parenting.
If you’re not sure what that means, you’re not alone, because most people still assume that birthparents who place are young teenagers who couldn’t possibly raise a child on their own.
In reality, though, most of the women who have “given children up for adoption” (as many folks still refer to placing a child) are already mothers of other children. (Most are great moms, in fact.)
That tends to catch folks off-guard. “Why would someone who already is a mother give a baby up for adoption?” Many people ask this question. (We’re not sure if they presume that motherhood is so rewarding, nobody would voluntarily forfeit that role, or if they just assume single parenting is way easier than it is?)
But yes, these days, the average mother who voluntarily places for adoption tends to be a single parent in her twenties or thirties. Most have one or more children already in their care, while some have previously lost custody due to divorce, adoption or Child Protective Services. A quarter of the moms who come to Abrazo to place have never parented before and a quarter are struggling couples with other kids. Yet most are hard-working mothers who already know all too well what motherhood requires. That’s why they are choosing to be placing while parenting.
Who Chooses Placing While Parenting– and Why?
Mothers who are placing while parenting don’t turn to adoption as an easy-out. (Quite the opposite!) They know what it takes to be a devoted parent. They’re already struggling to do right by the kids they have now, and they know that one more may only make it harder on everyone, especially the children. (All of them.)
For Anna-Estelle, expecting her fourth child, adoption was the best way she could provide the new baby with a stable home while continuing efforts to reconcile with her estranged husband, the father of her first three. “This situation isn’t (this baby’s) fault, so I want (the baby) to have both a mother and a father, too,” she explained.
Malia ,a mother of one, says “one is enough.” She put school on hold to accommodate the last pregnancy, but getting pregnant again just one month after the birth of her first child is too much for her. She says she knows her own limits. “I grew up with a mom who resented her kids for holding her back in life. I’m not gonna be that mom.”
Shalaniece already has two children with special needs, who require extra care. “We already get assistance,” she explains, “but it’s barely enough for us to get by on. I’m tired all the time. I don’t want to bring another kid into this situation.” It’s a relief to her that Abrazo not only helps with her living expenses before and after placement, as allowed by law. Abrazo also offers counseling for the whole family, before and after, and a bonded nanny for her children when she goes into the hospital to deliver her baby.
Anna-Estelle, Malia and Shalaniece, all chose to do open adoption (also sometimes referred to as “modern adoption.”) Open adoption is a modern adoption arrangement that lets parents placing while parenting know how their babies are doing after the adoption. This allows their other children to understand where the baby will be. They get to meet the baby’s new parents (who become like an extra aunt and uncle to them), and to enjoy lifelong connections with the sibling who was adopted.
How does placing while parenting work in real life?
At Abrazo, we’re experts at arranging open adoptions. Our agency screens for adoptive parents who understand how important continued contact is in adoption. Abrazo’s waiting parents welcome the opportunity to get to know their future child’s birth family prior to placement and to stay in touch after the adoption, too. We teach them to build voluntary, lifelong relationships that keep adoptees and their birthsiblings connected.
In our most recent placement, for example, an expectant mother brought four of her school-aged children with her to the adoption agency for each visit. They got to know Abrazo’s staff as friends of their mom’s who arrange adoptions for families who are having babies they cannot provide for. They consider Chase’s Castle at Abrazo their playroom away from home. They helped their pregnant mama look through profiles of waiting families, and when she chose the couple she felt was right for her baby, the kids participated in a weekend visit to get to know them. When the baby was born, the children visited their mother and the adoptive couple and baby at the hospital, and participated in choosing the baby’s name. And they’ve spent quality time all together since placement, too. The children know their baby sibling and his new family. They recognize this is a time for feeling both happy and sad, and their questions and emotions are supported by the adults around them– including Abrazo’s counseling team.
Open adoption isn’t a perfect solution… just a better one. For nearly three decades, kids around here have grown up knowing open adoption as part of their “normal” thanks to Abrazo (and the summer reunion, Camp Abrazo, which includes adoptive families and birthfamilies, too.) Their families visit each other just as relatives do. The kids turn out healthier and happier, too, as a result. So if you’re thinking about placing while parenting, let Abrazo help you make just the right plan.