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Just thought it might be helpful to add a little section where ideas can be shared about what it means to support a daughter in her adoption plan-- before and after the fact.

Supporting her doesn't have to mean agreeing with everything she's done. It doesn't have to mean wanting the same things for her that she wants for herself.

It just means standing beside her. Being there for her. Saying "I love you no matter what." Letting her make her own best decisions and then helping her live with those decisions, regardless of the fallout.

It means trusting that whether or not you can understand why she's doing what she's doing, you raised her right and she's doing what she believes in.

(Any one out there want to share thoughts on what their loved ones did, big or small, that made them feel supported as they travelled this road in life?)

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My Dad's first major sentence after finding out he had a grandson that was placed, this was after a few years of my not sharing my decision, was Do you know I love you? Do you know no matter what I will always love you? Do you know I love your son? Do you know I am glad you did the best for him? Do you know I want to have a relationship that you are okay with, and if that means never discussing it then ok? I said yes I do know those things and heres somepictures for you, and here's what our plans for a reunion are- Do you want to come? ... THis past November I was able to see my Dad's face as he met his grandson, the mirror image of him. That joy would not have been shared with someone who didn't make me feel 10000000% supported in every way.

Support birthparents... they are about to/or have embarked on a life with heartache like no other... However with open adoption that usually leads to joy like no other, through years of communication and extended families.

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When People ask me how my parents felt about the triplets adoption I tell them, "well they support my decision, even though they are dissappointed that I had to make that choice"

just my two cents

Loriahn

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  • 9 months later...

At this time of year, when we stop to remember all our blessings, we send out a word of gratitude, once more, to all those birthgrandparents who stood by their sons and daughters, offering quiet or spoken support, as they faced the hardest choices any parents can make...

who uphold their birthgrandchildren's adoptive families in word and deed...

and who bravely affirm the decisions that were made, who speak out on behalf of the adoption community at their workplaces, in their churches, at family gatherings and who proudly display photos of their birthgrandchildren in their homes!

Yours was not an easy road, but we're all thankful you were there, every step of the way.

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I second that Elizabeth. Lauren's mother has been wonderful. I try to put myself in her shoes. Lisa is only 3 years older than me. Can you emagine coming home from work one day and your daughter telling you she placed your granddaughter for adoption and the new parents would be there tomorrow to pick her up. Lisa thought it was the end of the world, but knew she had to support her daughter's decession. She has stood beside her every step of the way. Lisa and I have become very close this past 6 months. She told me we made what seemed to be a horrible situation into a blessing. I told her I would be as open with her granddaughter as they wanted to be. Of course at the time she probably thought I would say anything to get the baby. I have proved myself 10 times over to both of them. They are precious to me and the feeling is mutual. Dylan received a letter from Lisa asking him to adopt her as his Mamaw so he and Brenli would have her together. Is that awesome or what? We are truly blessed and I am very grateful for Lisa being so supportive of her daughter so that I was able to have mine. Thank you Lisa from the bottom of my heart. smile.gif I love you!

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  • 2 months later...

again, at the risk of repeating myself - WOW!!!

my own children are the most important gifts i have ever been given, and i would die for them if need be. therefore, when my daughter told me she was pregnant - and how it happened - my heart was shattered into a million pieces. she did not want to have this child at all, and although it's never the child's fault, i could not blame her. i was ready to support that decision, not matter the hurt. but God, in His infinate wisdom, made absolutely sure we never had enough money to terminate. but still my daughter was in so much agony, and watching her go through this just about killed me. she found an agency that was 'helping', but she was still unemotional, distraught, and distant from this child. there was so much resentment aimed at him, and i knew that wasn't healthy - for either of them. then came Abrazo - i CANNOT sing your praises enough, ladies!!!! - and after talking with a CARING and HONEST 'rep' on the phone, Diana knew she had finally been HEARD. then came the 'interviews' with some APs. she liked them all, but immediately clicked with the Wilders. they were perfect, and so understanding and compassionate to her situation. my 'baby' had a gleam in her beautiful blue eyes once again - there was light at the end of her tunnel!!! hope on the horizon!!! how my heart has swelled!!!!

i know there is still such a hard road for her ahead, and that light may disappear behind the trees from time to time, but knowing it is still there is what matters. having almost daily phone conversations with Ashley, and coming to the Forum, has brought Diana within sight of the shore - she is no longer stuck out at sea. now i rejoice, and know that through the times to come - the good and the hard - that i will have the strength to stay by her side and hold her hand through this. not lead and make her follow, nor stay behind and push, but walk side by side and be what she needs me to be. her mother.

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All I can say is ditto to this post. You, your daughter, Ashley and Ted ... all are the most amazing people. I am humbled when I read your posts. Bless you!

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  • 1 year later...

From openadoption.org, two helpful handouts for birthgrandparents on supportive communication:

Establish the person's WILLINGNESS to talk about her situation.

WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?

Forcing a conversation on someone rarely results in effective communication. Let them know you are willing to listen, and look for cues that they want to proceed.

EXAMPLES:

“I would really like to be here for you.” “Do you have people to support you through this?” “I'm available to talk anytime.”

ROADBLOCKS:

The birthparent avoids talking or doing anything about her situation.

SUGGESTIONS:

It's fine to express concern, but keep statements brief and to the point. “I am really worried about you. It makes me sad you won't talk to anyone about this.”

Find out what OPTIONS she is considering and why.

WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?

Asking questions is a good way to show you care about what she thinks and also to establish what stage of the decision-making process she is in.

EXAMPLES:

“You've probably thought a lot about this already.” “Is any solution standing out to you right now?”

ROADBLOCKS:

She is not considering all of her options.

SUGGESTIONS:

Feel free to ask if she has considered various options, but respect her decision if she has already ruled out a choice you think would be good for her.

Acknowledge that the DECISION IS HERS and you believe in her ability to make a good choice

WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?

If she senses you want to take over the decision or don't respect her decision-making, it is unlikely she will include you in her process.

EXAMPLES:

“I know you have it in you to make the best decision.” “Only you know what is right for you.”

ROADBLOCKS:

I don't believe in her ability to make the best decision.

SUGGESTIONS:

If you absolutely cannot be objective, tell her you are not the best person to support her in this decision. Help her find a more neutral listener.

Offer OBJECTIVE information and options. Suggest alternative points of view without judgment.

WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?

Staying neutral establishes your role as support person, not advisor. If she comes to the decision on her own, it is far less likely she will feel regret later.

EXAMPLES:

“I can't tell you what to do, but I can help you talk through some different options.” “Have you thought about this...?”

ROADBLOCKS:

I feel strongly that one particular option is best for her.

SUGGESTIONS:

Be honest about your bias. Encourage her to seek information from other sources, including counselors, doctors, others who have planned adoptions.

ACCEPT the outcome of the situation and move on. Access support for yourself if necessary.

WHY IS THIS HELPFUL?

Regardless of what emotions the decision brings up for you, the person you're supporting will need you to accept it and move on so she can move on

EXAMPLES:

“You made the best decision you could.” “It doesn't seem like it now, but this will get easier in time.”

ROADBLOCKS:

I can't move on when I see how much pain she is in.

SUGGESTIONS:

She must deal with her own reaction to the outcome. Be there to listen, but lean on a friend or counselor to process your feelings about the decision.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid when Supporting Birthparents

Lecturing

WHY IS THIS NOT HELPFUL?

Telling a birthmother what she should have done differently or reminding her how serious her situation is unnecessary. She is already under enormous stress and making her defensive will not resolve the situation.

NEGATIVE EXAMPLES

“How could you have...?”

“Don't you know...?”

“I can't believe you...!”

“Don't you realize...?”

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

Accept that neither you nor she can change the past. Acknowledge that she may be feeling self-blame and offer a space where she can be honest without inviting more blame.

POSITIVE EXAMPLES

“You must be going through a lot of "what-ifs" right now.”

“I can see why you're so upset.”

Advising/Persuading

WHY IS THIS NOT HELPFUL?

Pushing a specific solution on a birthmother can make her feel inadequate, and encourages her to be dependent. It also sets her up for regret later if she accepts one solution without exploring others.

NEGATIVE EXAMPLES

“If I were you...”

“It would be best if..."

“I know from experience you should...”

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

Maintain a neutral position. Allow the birthparent to make her decision from a place of empowerment. This will ultimately give her the greatest chance for resolution.

POSITIVE EXAMPLES

“There is no easy solution to this.”

“I wish I had the answers.”

“I would be happy to listen to your ideas.”

Judging/Moralizing

WHY IS THIS NOT HELPFUL?

These responses bring in “duty” and the power of an external authority. They can make birthparents feel guilty which diminishes their ability to make decisions based on instincts, needs, and logic.

NEGATIVE EXAMPLES

“It is your responsibility to...”

“_____ is the right thing to do.”

“_____ would do this: _______”

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

The birthparent has her own set of beliefs about who she is accountable to. Remind her that she is the one who has to live with this decision and that her instincts are valid.

POSITIVE EXAMPLES

“I'm sure you'll get a lot of advice about this, but your opinion is what matters most.”

Diagnosing

WHY IS THIS NOT HELPFUL?

Attributing a birthparent's situation or decision to something that is “wrong” with them implies the listener's superiority. This puts the birthparent in the passive role of “patient” rather than decision-maker.

NEGATIVE EXAMPLES

“What's wrong with you is...”

“You've always been like this...”

“What you need is...”

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

Remind the birthparent of positive decisions they have made in the past rather than dwelling on weaknesses. If a known mental health diagnosis exists, suggest engaging a professional counselor to assist in the decision-making.

POSITIVE EXAMPLES

“This is a really hard decision. Do you think talking to (counselor) would help?”

Complimenting Strength/Bravery

WHY IS THIS NOT HELPFUL?

Complimentary support may make a birthparent feel good initially, but can be problematic if she changes her mind about a decision or handles a situation differently than she originally planned. She may assume that others are wrong about her, that she is actually weak, inconsistent, and cowardly.

NEGATIVE EXAMPLES

“You are so strong to be able to do this...”

“I can't believe how brave you are, I could never do this...”

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

Acknowledge that it is a very difficult decision. Compliment specific actions or attitudes rather than general qualities that may not always be easy to live up to.

POSITIVE EXAMPLES

“You do a good job of exploring all the options.”

“You obviously care about your child's future.”

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Elizabeth, Thanks for that list. I plan to print it and send it to my mom, maybe it will help her see that how she handles things with me is not good. In every "bad example" I see her actions over the past 30 years. I love her, but do not respect her for any of her opinions. After all, how can I respect someone who does not respect me, my child, my decision, or even the reasons for my choices.

Maybe this will help others who are going through this with anyone, in a rough patch or needing to make a decision, have a few suggesstions and setting up the right/positive ressponses that will lead to a healthier choice & in the long run the better relationship.

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  • 1 month later...

Out of Alabama comes the sad tale of Geretha Lewis, an 18-year-old birthmom who allegedly placed her baby for adoption without telling her family members, for fear that they would stop her. She says she called agencies off a referral list given to her by the hospital social worker, and eventually met with one, handing over her one-month-old baby girl in secret, in the hospital parking lot.

Within 2 weeks, however, they found out what she'd done, they didn't approve, and urged her to get the baby back (which cannot happen under Texas law, where a mother's surrender is considered permanent from the start.) However, when she tried to recall with whom she'd placed her child, she said she couldn't remember exactly, because she'd torn up all the papers they gave her in hopes of keeping her decision a secret from her mother. (In Alabama, apparently, the laws restrict anyone under 19 from placing without parental consent unless they have a court-appointed attorney; this is different from Texas law, which says that a girl of any age may place a baby for adoption without her parents' knowledge and without legal representation.)

Eventually, she contacted the agency she thought had her baby, to return the child to her mother's care, but that agency denies any knowledge of her, so now, the baby is considered missing. Read story, here. What appears evident is that this birthmom was so apprehensive of her family's involvement she took drastic steps to try to prevent them from getting involved.

So my question is this: whether or not her mother liked the idea of adoption, had she supported her daughter's right to make her own best choice instead, do you think this birthmother would still be seeking the return of her baby? And what makes it ethically-appropriate for family members to place pressure on birthparents regarding their placement decisions, when the law prevents others from doing so?

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And in one of those "life is stranger than fiction" examples, in Mississippi, a 58-year-old birthgrandfather of a child released for adoption under suspicious circumstances is now in custody for getting too involved in righting what he clearly considered to have been wrong: Desperate Times Evoke Desperate Measures.

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Out of Alabama comes the sad tale of Geretha Lewis, an 18-year-old birthmom who allegedly placed her baby for adoption without telling her family members, for fear that they would stop her. She says she called agencies off a referral list given to her by the hospital social worker, and eventually met with one, handing over her one-month-old baby girl in secret, in the hospital parking lot.

Within 2 weeks, however, they found out what she'd done, they didn't approve, and urged her to get the baby back (which cannot happen under Texas law, where a mother's surrender is considered permanent from the start.) However, when she tried to recall with whom she'd placed her child, she said she couldn't remember exactly, because she'd torn up all the papers they gave her in hopes of keeping her decision a secret from her mother. (In Alabama, apparently, the laws restrict anyone under 19 from placing without parental consent unless they have a court-appointed attorney; this is different from Texas law, which says that a girl of any age may place a baby for adoption without her parents' knowledge and without legal representation.)

Eventually, she contacted the agency she thought had her baby, to return the child to her mother's care, but that agency denies any knowledge of her, so now, the baby is considered missing. Read story, here. What appears evident is that this birthmom was so apprehensive of her family's involvement she took drastic steps to try to prevent them from getting involved.

So my question is this: whether or not her mother liked the idea of adoption, had she supported her daughter's right to make her own best choice instead, do you think this birthmother would still be seeking the return of her baby? And what makes it ethically-appropriate for family members to place pressure on birthparents regarding their placement decisions, when the law prevents others from doing so?

In the follow-up story it appears that the adoption story was a cover up for the actual events that ended the life of the baby.

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How tragic! Thank you for posting that follow-up...

I wonder if Geretha might have followed through with an adoption plan in the hospital, but for her fears of disappointing her family, with whom she lived?

For her to have known that Agape was on the hospital's referral list suggests that she did find the courage to tell the hospital social work staff she was contemplating adoption. Admittedly, her mom (the baby's birthgrandmother, with whom she lived) did not approve of adoption (I believe she was quoted in a recent news article as saying "we don't do that," when justifying her efforts to make her daughter 'reclaim' her missing child from the purported adoption agency) but surely, even Jackie Lewis would've preferred that Zarial have been adopted then to have her life snuffed out by a desperate young mom who saw no other options before her!?!

My sympathies to Geretha, her daughters, her family... to the girls' father, currently incarcerated... and to Agape, the reputable faith-based adoption agency that was wrongfully accused. May little Zarial rest in peace, and may this stand as a reminder of how crucial parental support can be for all women in crisis, as they explore their options and seek to make their own best decisions for their young!

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  • 4 weeks later...
Out of Alabama comes the sad tale of Geretha Lewis, an 18-year-old birthmom who allegedly placed her baby for adoption without telling her family members, for fear that they would stop her. She says she called agencies off a referral list given to her by the hospital social worker, and eventually met with one, handing over her one-month-old baby girl in secret, in the hospital parking lot.

Within 2 weeks, however, they found out what she'd done, they didn't approve, and urged her to get the baby back (which cannot happen under Texas law, where a mother's surrender is considered permanent from the start.) However, when she tried to recall with whom she'd placed her child, she said she couldn't remember exactly, because she'd torn up all the papers they gave her in hopes of keeping her decision a secret from her mother. (In Alabama, apparently, the laws restrict anyone under 19 from placing without parental consent unless they have a court-appointed attorney; this is different from Texas law, which says that a girl of any age may place a baby for adoption without her parents' knowledge and without legal representation.)

Eventually, she contacted the agency she thought had her baby, to return the child to her mother's care, but that agency denies any knowledge of her, so now, the baby is considered missing. Read story, here. What appears evident is that this birthmom was so apprehensive of her family's involvement she took drastic steps to try to prevent them from getting involved.

So my question is this: whether or not her mother liked the idea of adoption, had she supported her daughter's right to make her own best choice instead, do you think this birthmother would still be seeking the return of her baby? And what makes it ethically-appropriate for family members to place pressure on birthparents regarding their placement decisions, when the law prevents others from doing so?

In the follow-up story it appears that the adoption story was a cover up for the actual events that ended the life of the baby.

That is very sad....

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  • 1 year later...

If you haven't seen the TV show "Secret Life of the American Teenager," here's a clip that depicts Amy and her mom having a heart-to-heart about what a birthgrandparent can and cannot do to help their child, in becoming a parent or deciding otherwise: click here.

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  • 1 year later...

wilted-flower.jpg

Just wanted to post this in loving honor of the mama whose loving support helped her daughter find the courage to make a big choice today. It's not easy to see your baby go through the adoption process, nor to stand up to relatives who don't agree in support of your child's decision, nor to see your grandchild leaving with another couple, no matter how much you may like those people. Birthgrandmothers are very special women and we pay tribute to all of them... today's, included. :)

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Amen Elizabeth.

We too are thinking about birthgrandmothers tonight -- holding them in our prayers....

Susan

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Hugs to this birthgrandmother tonight who has stood by her daughter, and to all those birthgrandmothers who have been there for their daughters and sons in the past and in the future.

Blessings to these special ladies,

Tracey

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wilted-flower.jpg

Just wanted to post this in loving honor of the mama whose loving support helped her daughter find the courage to make a big choice today. It's not easy to see your baby go through the adoption process, nor to stand up to relatives who don't agree in support of your child's decision, nor to see your grandchild leaving with another couple, no matter how much you may like those people. Birthgrandmothers are very special women and we pay tribute to all of them... today's, included. :)

All I can say is AMEN! and bless this grama's tender heart :unsure:

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