Most people are very cautious to date women that have children because it’s an added responsibility, especially if you’re in your early twenties.
Most of the time you want to date a girl first, then build a life with her before you introduce children into the mix. Being a birth mother, one would think this is no big deal to date/tell your boyfriend because you don’t actually physically have your child to take care of. What’s the big deal?
You just have to tell the new guy you’re dating that you have a child, but they are being raised by other people, meaning you don’t have any legal rights to the child at all. This should be easy, tell him and you can check that off the list. Your new boyfriend should be able to easily handle the moments when you’re emotional for no reason five months from now, aweing over every little photo you see of your child, and trying to explain what is mentally happening as time goes on.
Because that is the truth, every picture you see of your child puts you in a state of awe, emotions take over your body randomly, and trying to explain the feelings/thoughts going through your head is the hardest thing to do. When I was going through this challenging time period in my life, dating wasn’t even on my mind. Just like anything in life, of course, Andrew (my now soon-to-be husband) appeared in my life and I thought this would be just a solid “friendship”. When I was going through the adoption process (approximately only 2 months from start to finish) I needed a friend to be my support system before I told my parents. During those two months I was living alone in my apartment, 7 months pregnant, and only a few people knew what was going on. I was just looking for a friend. Andrew and I talked almost every day through texting and phone calls since he was living back at home for the summer in his home state, Maryland. I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on the situation; I had to be upfront about what was going on in my life.
I met Andrew a couple of months prior (March) to being on this adoption journey through mutual friends, so we had a chance to get to know each other as friends. After that we went our separate ways for a couple of months and then reconnected later on. I slowly realized that Andrew was an amazing match for me, but when we reconnected I needed to tell him what was going on in my life, although I was very nervous/scared to tell him because I didn’t know what his reaction would be, it was the right thing to tell him. I immediately told him “I have a secret can you guess what it is?” Keep in mind; I was going through a stage in my life where it was very hard to open up about what was going on. A few guesses later, Andrew knew what was going on. I then told him, “I’m having a baby and I’m placing him through adoption”, bold and upfront. Andrew’s response, “okay, sounds good”.
WHAT?! HOW ARE YOU NOT FREAKING OUT??
I thought to myself after his response. Every day after that, Andrew was always texting/calling just to check in with me. Once everyone came back to school that fall and I already had my baby, I immediately wanted to switch my focus off of this life-changing event and try to live that “college life” again. I spent a large amount of time with Andrew once we were back in school for the fall. It took me a few months to finally process what was going on, I wanted to shove that part of my life all the way to the back. Then came around the first Mother’s Day, both of us were very uncertain how that day would go. That morning I woke up and pulled up my social media to come across a photo of my son and his adoptive mom smiling, laughing, and embracing one another. At that moment, I became emotional. Happy emotions though, I wasn’t sad, I was happy because this incredible woman finally gets to celebrate being a mother and that made me very happy to see that moment and be apart of it. Andrew made sure that morning to make it extra special, cooking me breakfast, writing a thoughtful card just to show how appreciative he was, and he took me out to dinner. Fast forward a year, I’ve had a lot of time to process everything and finally became public about the situation. There were many nights where Andrew and I would talk for hours about the adoption, the hospital, the resentment that I held towards the birth father, and I warned Andrew when I become public about this that there will be a lot of questions not just for me, but for him also. In those hour-long conversations, Andrew and I talked about how my son will always be apart of my life and how he will meet him one day, but I’m not ready for that yet. Every visit I had that first year, Andrew was just as eager as me to see pictures, videos, and updates. It came around to his first birthday party and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to introduce Andrew to my son, but after careful consideration I felt it would be okay for him to come to the birthday party with me, so I wasn’t alone at the party. Every year as parties came around, I decided I will keep my visits to just myself and allow Andrew to come for birthday parties. It was all about balance.
Lately, Andrew and I have been having conversations as I indulge more into the adoption community as an advocate and there are days that I struggle mentally, but I came to the realization that I wasn’t sad about this adoption journey. Of course, I miss my son, but I wasn’t ready to be a parent. I was not ready for that life yet. Are there days of frustration because Andrew can’t understand my thoughts/feelings? Yes. He doesn’t have a child and even people who do have children don’t understand the thoughts/feelings of having a child and handing that child over unless you’ve experienced it yourself. The hardest part when you place your child up for adoption is that you are handing over a part of yourself; it is hard to figure out who you are with that piece missing. With that missing piece, it’s hard to let another person in and try to help them understand what you’re going through. I have a lot of resentment towards my son’s biological father and in Andrew’s nature, he only wants me to feel happy and cared for so those conversations are difficult. Even though tough conversations happen, it’s those deep conversations that have made Andrew and I a lot closer in our relationship and honestly has made me pinch myself thinking this is a dream that I have such a supportive, caring, and thoughtful soon-to-be husband. Every Mother’s Day since Andrew has always made sure that I feel loved and cared for and every Birthday/Christmas Andrew is always buying presents for my son and attending birthday parties
When I told Andrew I was a birth mother, I had no idea what this journey would entail emotionally and mentally. I didn’t meet Andrew once my son was a year old, giving me time to process my thoughts/feelings. I met him right off the bat, Andrew and I experienced every step of this adoption journey together. It is a very unique concept that Andrew has been through this journey since day one, which not only helped me but also created the special bond that Andrew and I have.
In conclusion, tips for birth mothers who want to tell their significant other about their biological child:
- Be upfront about the situation—let your significant other know that you’re going to experience a wide range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings that will happen randomly
- Be cautious and have conversations about the situation and how they feel about everything.
- Don’t get frustrated when your significant other doesn’t understand or know what to do. There has to be an understanding that the feelings/thoughts you’re having are difficult to explain and are difficult for others to understand. Don’t be afraid to consult another birth mother or adoption professional.
- As excited as they may be, carefully consider your significant others involvement.
- Make priorities known. Make sure your significant other knows your child will always come first
- Focus on establishing your relationship with your significant other before you talk about involvement. It was important to me that I established my relationship with Andrew separately first, once I felt like we were more serious, then conversations about involvement started.
- Keeping visits to yourself because that is a special time for yourself and your child.
- Having an open line of communication with your biological child’s adoptive parents.
- If your significant other feels comfortable create boundaries, discuss where their involvement should be (birthday parties, school activities, social gatherings).
This article was written by Shelbi - a friend, daughter, soon-to-be wife, and birth mother. Meet Shelbi here!