Final: coming at the end; being the last in a series, process, or progress.

When I first became a Birth Mother, there was so much I didn’t know about adoption. I knew I was going to get updates and a few visits, but didn’t know how much work would be required of me once all the legal proceedings were complete. Adoption finalization does not mean us Birth Parents (and Adoptive Parents, but we’ll get to that later) are free from any responsibility.

While I might have terminated my parental rights, my responsibility to my child was not. I still have an obligation to my child to heal and show up for her when she needs me to. I must create a safe space for her to express her emotions and process her adoption without resistance from me. This was not made aware to me when I was pregnant and after years of denial, I realized I needed to do better.


Adoption Finalization As A Birth Mother Requires A Commitment To Healing

Needing to do better as a present Birth Mother was no easy feat. My mental health had hit an all-time low, and I didn’t have the support or skills to make healing an easy transition. It was messy and inconsistent, but slowly I found myself turning conscious decisions into habitual practices. I might not be the one making parenting decisions for my daughter, but every decision I make regarding my adoption has an impact on her. I know that one day, I’ll need to have answers for her. Ones that don’t come from a place of hurt, but rather a place of peace.

While I hope for a close relationship with my daughter in the future, I am also aware that she owes me nothing. I could do everything right by her, and she could still choose to not have a relationship with me. An unhealed version of myself might find this fact unfair, but because I have put in a lot of hard work, I can sleep well at night knowing that at least I did my best with the resources and support that I had.

Adoption finalization can mean so many different things to different people, but one thing remains the same; final does not mean our responsibility ends.


Adoption Finalization Requires Ongoing Commitment For Adoptive Parents Too

Adoptive parents, your role is just beginning at finalization as that’s when the real work starts. You will have to learn to co-exist with your adopted child’s biological family and make decisions not based on what makes you comfortable, but what is right by your child. Just like what I must do when it comes to navigating my own adoption. See our connection, there? There are so many things that would be easier for me, but if you’ve not caught on yet, adoption is not easy. Parenting is not easy. Life is not easy.

While adoption can be a beautiful thing, we must accept that there is pain in finalization. In a perfect world, no child would be separated from their biological mother. If you, as Adoptive Parents, find yourself celebrating finalization, take a moment to think about what you are truly celebrating. It’s OK to be excited for the end of all the paperwork and home visits and the unknowns, but your adopted child came to you because their biological family was unable to parent them for whatever reason. And that fact isn’t something to celebrate. Celebration of finalization needs some greater context.

I am (and never was) no danger to my daughter. She would have had access to a great education, a Christian community, aunts and uncles and extended family. She would have lived her adolescence playing in the lake I grew up playing in and drawing stick figures on the dirt roads of a safe and quiet community with a rich history. If my daughter’s adoptive family celebrated finalization, it would have felt like they were celebrating our separation and my inability to show up for my daughter.


Respect Has To Be In Place On All Side Of The Triad

Regardless of what your relationship with your adopted child’s biological family looks like, they are worthy of respect. You might not agree with the way they live their lives or the choices they make, but there must be equity in their humanity.

Over the last 13 years, I’ve witnessed an explosion of adoption education and a push toward more openness, so while a lot of what we are doing in open adoption is uncharted territory, if we lead with Biblical love, we are setting ourselves up for success.

So, remember this; adoption finalization signifies the end of the formalities, but the beginning of what it means to truly love others the way we were designed to.