Lifetime is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to answer your questions and to listen. But maybe you could use a little extra support, from someone who’s been where you are right now. Birth mother support groups can act as a healthy, supportive community during your adoption planning.
Whether you have already made an adoption plan or have just started to think about adoption, getting support is important. Today, we’re going to share some tips with you on how you can find the right birth mother support group for you!
What to Look For
- Group celebrates each other’s stories; when a woman is glad she chose adoption, or when something healthy and positive takes place in her adoption story, members celebrate/recognize
- Educational and uplifting adoption support groups, there to help each other learn
- Group members honor each other, and the people who adopt—no one side is an enemy
- Follows your own values and/or spiritual beliefs
- Respect the confidentiality involved with adoption—there’s no gossip outside the group,
- Group’s purpose is genuinely to provide positive support
- It encourages healing and hope for the future (such as scholarships, goal planning, writing letters to child/making a treasure book, etc)
- An understanding that every mother will have a different story, needs, or plans when it comes to how her adoption came together
- Respect privacy of all parties involved in the adoption (including the child)
What to Avoid
- Adoption support groups that seem like they have a toxic environment
- Bitter comments that are driven by anger or fear
- Over-sharing of details that should be kept between the people involved in one child’s adoption
- Members judge or criticize another woman’s adoption choices
- Most of the stories shared seem to have a victim mentality
Where to Find a Birth Mother Support Group
Lifetime offers counseling and peer support for the women we assist, before or after adoption—just ask your coordinator!
You can ask your adoption agency or attorney if they know of an adoption support group that’s near you.
There are birth mother retreats, but they may require you to travel. Usually, a birth mother retreat is best for women who have accepted their child’s adoption and may still have a hard day here and there. But overall, they are at peace with their decision and enjoy being around other women who really know what it’s like to be a birth mother. We share this because it’s good to know if you’re ready for an experience like this. Some women aren’t in a healthy place when they seek a retreat and may feel like the community doesn’t understand, or that they didn’t have as hard of a time as she did.
The Lifetime Adoption Foundation awards scholarships twice a year for women who have educational goals. Even women who have not completed an adoption through Lifetime qualify! Visit LifetimeFoundation.org for more information and to apply.
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A Final Tip
Some birth mother support groups are made up or women of a variety of ages, who had very different adoption experiences. So, you’re looking for a peer, choose a group that has women who recently completed an adoption, so that they understand the type of adoption you went through. Some women may have placed a long time ago, before open adoption or when there was a stereotypical shame attached to unplanned pregnancy. Also know that some women may have had a hard time in their life at the time their child was removed from their care by foster care—a foster care experience doesn’t mean a mother doesn’t love her child or wish things had gone differently, or that she hasn’t grown from the experience and become a healthier, more stable person.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.