Who Holds the Power in Adoption: Birth Mothers or Adoptive Parents?

Birth MotherThe relationship between birth mothers and adoptive parents is complicated for many reasons. One factor is the tension in the power dynamics at play. Adoptive parents sometimes feel like the expectant parents “hold all the cards” before the adoption. An adoption facilitator is sometimes helpful at this stage as a buffer, providing a communication conduit between the two parties. But after the adoption is formalized, the power balance shifts in favor of the adoptive parents, with birth mothers often acutely and painfully aware of their lack of power. Emotions run high, and the adoption facilitator is no longer in the picture. This imbalance of power adds a layer of complication to an already complex relationship.


Fear of Being Judged

Often, birth mothers feel some understandable insecurity and worry about being judged. They end up walking on eggshells, feeling that they have to be as close to perfect as possible or adoptive parents won’t let them be in their children’s lives after the adoption facilitator is gone.


The fear of being judged can become a self-fulfilling prophecy – a loop the adoptive parents/birth parent relationship cannot break. If birth mothers are open with their child’s adoptive parents about how they feel, it may be positive for the relationship. Ideally, if adoptive parents listen to these fears with empathy and understanding, the relationship may grow and improve over time.