Here's what birthmom advocates say about open adoption.
- “I support Open Adoption & Family Services because they are a pro-choice organization that really values women’s rights.“
- “For women planning adoptions, having legally binding open adoption agreements that are thoughtful and intentional, access to choose from all prepared adoptive families and lifelong counseling and relationship guidance, is critical.”
- “The truly open part of adoption allows families to remain in each other’s lives and there can be nothing more important to a child.”
Birthmoms testifying at Oregon state legislative session.
Meet three influential birthmothers.
Sage, Angela and Melissa are uniquely qualified to testify to state lawmakers. Their distinct open adoption experiences have clearly inspired them to speak authentically and articulately about the rights of birthmoms in adoption.
They feel that women exploring adoption deserve to be treated with dignity and respect as they access transparent information about all of their choices, including choosing a family, building a genuine ongoing friendship, having an active and honored role in their child’s life and receiving lifelong relationship guidance and counseling. Here, they share in their own words how they
came to open adoption, and what it means for them to be a birthparent, advocate and activist.
“I am so proud to be Board President because I can advocate for women to have experiences like mine where they’re supported and respected.”
Adoptee Teo with birthmother Sage.
When I found out in 2012 that I was unexpectedly pregnant, my first concern was that this child would grow up knowing he was loved. As soon as I met Erin and Jen, I knew that they were kind, warm and they love really, really big. And as our relationship has evolved that’s only proven to be more true. I’ve always been Mama Sage to Teo. He knows that he is adopted, he knows who I am, that he was raised in my belly, he knows that the moms are his moms and he knows that I love him.
"At OA&FS and in our family we are all respected as an integral part of raising a child. As a birthmom, I am no less important, I just play a different role and OA&FS taught us how to boldly make space for everyone."
Adoptee Teo with birthmother Sage.
When people don’t have these kinds of choices and supports for their families there can only be one outcome: the devastation of family separation. In Oregon we need to find more solutions that put children first. Providing open adoption as an option before separation is a huge step in the right direction and why I am in support of Senate Bill 814. The truly open part of adoption allows families to remain in each other’s lives and there can be nothing more important to a child.
Almost seven years later, my family and I still remind each other in pure amazement that we were given the gift of building a family together that supports and nurtures our little boy. That is our only job. We live humbly in that gratitude which makes the rest of it easy. Open adoptions should be available as an option for all families.
“The critical component is trusting women. Without our voices, other people make reproductive choices for us that impact our entire lives and the lives of our children.”
Adoptee Brianna with birthmother Melissa.
When I was 15 years old I found out that I was pregnant. I always thought I would parent, but at 8 months into the pregnancy we decided to plan an open adoption. Greg and Jan have provided such a foundation for our entire family and are such authentic and genuine people. They’ve modeled everything that I would have hoped for in a family for Brianna. She’s a young woman now—21 years old. We have grown into this relationship that is very natural, it’s a unique and special bond.
"I love that OA&FS sees and honors that all families are equally valid, including heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples and single parents."
Melissa with daughters Bonnie Rae (l) and Mabel Jay (r).
Being trusted to make your own reproductive decisions is so critical. One of the foundational pieces of my open adoption experience was being able to make a non-pressured decision based on what felt right for me and my reproductive health. It is so important that birthmothers and birth families are able to be active participants in that decision-making and not have that choice determined by an outside party.
Women should take the opportunity to speak to our legislatures, to really put a name and a face and a personal story to decisions that are often politicized, especially for women who are making adoption decisions and are struggling with parenting.
I love that OA&FS sees and honors that all families are equally valid, including heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples and single parents. I’ve been on the OA&FS board for many years and have been so honored to be a part of this agency as they make open adoption more accessible and debunk the myths about adoption. I’m so thankful to be a member of this organization.
“It is so important for a mom to be in her child’s life.”
Adoptees Carter and Trenton with birthmother Angela.
When I found out I was pregnant I felt really confused, hurt, ashamed. I was 43 years old, losing my house, I had lost my job, my addiction had taken hold. I couldn’t see my child bouncing from one foster care to another. That’s no way to live for a child. I had to think of something different. So I called Open Adoption & Family Services and chose Jamie and Tonya. We have built a wonderful family relationship, a loving friendship and just have great times. They’re so supportive of being one team and treat me and my family really special. We go on week-long vacations to the coast and spend our time down at the beach. They are the very best parents.
"There are people that are out there that will work with you and will support you. Adoption is a hard decision to make, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. "
Adoptees Carter and Trenton, (front left) surrounded by their family including birthmother Angela (center back).
I was honored to share my experience of open adoption with the legislature. What inspired me was the experience I’ve had with open adoption. I shared about how important it was to me to be involved with my child and the family doing fun activities, and I would have never had that if my children went into DHS.
I currently facilitate drug and alcohol meetings and I meet with a lot of women that struggle. The biggest thing they share with me is how important it is to try to get their kids out of DHS, and that it’s been a struggle because of all the obstacles that come in their way and they feel like failures.
I share all the time about open adoption with them because it is so important to a mom to be able to be in their child’s life and that’s what I get to do today. I want the legislature to know that. There are people that are out there that will work with you and will support you and it’s a hard decision to make, but it is was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.