Prenatal Bonding and Adoption

Happy Spring! With all of the cold weather and frost we have had this winter, I think we all appreciate Spring even more than usual. In my yard, I am so happy to see plants that I thought might not make it, actually growing buds. As my kids and I would say, “Thank you, Mr. Sunshine!”

This month I have chosen to write about adoption. I realize it is sort of a taboo subject. I just want to create more awareness and open thinking as to some of the gifts we can give to these babies who are waiting to transition to a new family.

The choice for adoption is very personal and does not come easily for families. It is made with the baby’s well-being in mind. My heart goes out to the birth families, the adoptive families, and the babies.

I have some friends who were adopted as babies, and I also have a friend who gave up her baby for adoption many years ago. I know the pain that comes with these choices from many different perspectives. I also know that these choices are made in love.

Unfortunately, my research has shown that birthmothers are often supported in not bonding with their baby during pregnancy, in order to make it easier for them to let go after birth. It is called “the grey area.” Until now, the intention has been to support the birthmother in taking care of herself and her baby physically, and finding a loving home for the baby, putting the emotions, connection and love on hold until after birth. This is a huge missing for the baby. I cannot stress enough how detrimental this is.

A woman carrying a baby is already a mother. Turning off her feelings does not change that fact. And can she really turn her feelings off? Isn’t she, in actuality, just pretending, reacting out of fear? It hurts the baby and actually hurts the mother as well. She is carrying a child that she loves so much that she would rather share this baby, than to take a chance on creating a lesser life for him. That is love! And to not feel free to express that love is fear. Fear is the opposite of love. What message is actually being sent to the baby?

The baby needs to feel the love of his mother. He needs to be allowed to connect to this loving and wonderful person who has his best interests at heart. And the mother needs to be able to feel the experience of being the best mother she can be, even if that only lasts for those nine months in the womb. That love will go with this baby for his entire life, and there is nothing more grounding, validating and loving that she could EVER do for him. Knowing she gave him this gift is her gift to herself as well.

Anything less than connection and honesty about “what is” between the mother and baby is detrimental. It’s that simple. By not connecting and bonding, a mother risks saying to her child, “I don’t care. I don’t notice you.” It’s simply not true.

The question is not “Can we risk bonding?” The question is “How can we support this bond? How can we grow this baby in truth and love? How do we honor the needs of the baby and mother? And, how can the adoptive parents be part of this process and bond with this baby before birth so that he feels connected in the transition?”  It’s absolutely possible. It’s absolutely essential.

If you are in the adoption field and would be willing to explore pilot programs in this arena, please contact me. I would also love to hear from any birthmothers and/or adoptive families who would like to explore this area. In 50 years, we will look back and be appalled at how we treated our babies in utero. Prenatal bonding in adoption will be the standard, just like good nutrition is. It’s that important!

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