By Robyn Robertson
*If you are a mom who is working a case plan and/or the state has stepped in there may be another option and we are ready to answer any and all questions with no obligation to place your child. When it comes to private adoption, it is important to note that you are the sole person in charge of your choice regarding whether or not adoption is right for you.
Best mom ever! Words that most women long to hear not just from a child but also family, friends and their community. It seems to be one of the most defining and most sought after recognitions. Traditionally being the “best mom ever” has been the hallmark of 4 hours of sleep a night, the soccer mom van that comes barreling around the corner to drop the kids on time to another extracurricular club or activity, and a woman who obviously could use a spa day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused life as we know it to be examined and torn apart and examined again and again. It has exposed some things about traditional roles and pressures to be challenged in a healthy and necessary way.
I Can’t Do This Anymore! What Are My Options?
At Destiny, we have begun to ask ourselves some complex questions about the role of mother in our society and community.
Is it time to realize that a mom can mother differently and still do it well? Why do we only hear the cry for help of a mom when she finally goes off the deep end and the state or government steps in? Why is the work and pressure that moms (especially single moms) are facing everyday only worthy of attention when it all goes wrong? Is it possible that in some circumstances that what is sound and right for a child and mother actually seems to contradict traditional conventions? Why does a mother need to scream or shout or hit or neglect in order for someone to step in and realize help is needed?
So many of our questions lead us to wanting to reform our thoughts but also to search for ways we can practically and measurably change some of the paradigms that seem to leave struggling mothers with such limited choices. Somewhere in the midst of “I don’t think I can do this”, the state stepping in, or a struggling case plan is another choice that brings dignity and opportunity for a mom to be powerful in choosing a home, adoptive family and hopeful story for her child. This choice allows a mom, if she chooses, to continue to have contact, updates, and a post placement relationship with her child. This is possible through private adoption and is the most loving way to continue to mother if a mom can no longer provide a safe home.
Our goal can’t just be to get mom to a place to be a good parent. Maybe she is a good parent because she made a choice to mother differently. What if our goal is to get her healthy for herself, for her child, and for the community? Imagine if more private non-profit agencies, like Destiny Adoption, are able to find the resources to help mommies post placement to heal and deal and not just process their decision to place a child through adoption. We believe long lasting and measurable change must start so much deeper than that. It is about healing them. They walked into this moment already needing that help. What kind of a community or nation are we if we must wait until a major trauma occurs before we invest in the lives of these women?
Where Is Her Motherly Instinct?
The stigma of placing a child for adoption, especially from conventional moms, is sometimes so difficult to overcome and heal from. We often times hear in hushed corners of our kitchens and homes the question “Where is her motherly instinct?”.
We need to redefine motherly instinct. We have boxed up the idea of what it means to mother a child well based on tradition and very binary contexts. In our narrow definition, we have lost the fullness and complexity of what it means to parent well in a broken and complicated world. The instinct to mom is to create a home where a child is safe, loved and supported. If a mother can’t provide that herself, then she is actually being true to her instinct by searching and vetting with discernment the right adoptive home to accomplish what her motherly instinct is trying to create.
When we allow ourselves the space to honor the decision to place a child for adoption, we change the story for the children as they grow into the understanding of how their birthmom made both a selfless, brave choice and a motherly one too.
The narrative that is often times shrouded in trauma and misunderstanding becomes a story about the best mom a child could ever hope for. Maybe we can begin to break cycles of shame and rejection by simply reexamining our boxed and narrow definition of what it means to be a great mom. It starts with me. It starts with you. You might just find the best mom ever in a 19 year old girl who has never owned a stroller or changed a diaper or a 30 year old that already has children and is completely out of resources to take good care of another. As we redefine, we rediscover and start a revolution.