A Birth Mother’s Story: Life After Placement

A Birth Mother’s Story: Life After Placement

For all of us at Adopt a Love Story, it’s been an honor to build a sacred and beautiful partnership with Ashley Mitchell, a woman who is many things – writer, speaker, business owner, adoption advocate – but chooses to share her experiences as a birth mother with our community. Today, Ashley shares what life looks like after placement, and how we can all navigate the open adoption journey with love and respect.


Before we dive in I just want to take a second and thank Adopt a Love Story for allowing me the amazing opportunity to write and share my experiences with this community over this past year.  It has been such an honor to get to know you all better and support you in your journey.  I love adoption and I love the Adopt a Love Story family.  Thank you.

National Adoption Awareness Month is in full swing and we have already been inspired by so many amazing adoption experiences.  As we wrap up my 4-part series today I wanted to share my heart for the adoption triad.

I am a Birth Mother almost 12 years post placement and it is crazy looking back at how my open adoption relationship has evolved and the lessons that I have learned while navigating this complex dynamic.

The first time that I met the woman that would adopt my son I was wrecked.  She was so beautiful and perfect in my eyes.  She hugged me and we were instantly connected with an invisible string.  I feel that pull every single day.

That string connects us to our son.

To talk about adoption is to talk about all  sides of adoption.  Too often in our desire to “educate” we tend to seek validation for our feelings.  It is natural and we all need it but we can’t get the full picture if we aren’t sharing the full picture, and we will never move this work forward in ethical and healing ways if we aren’t listening to the needs of all the members involved.

When we first started navigating our open adoption relationship his mother and I would make all the decisions.  We would decide boundaries, visits, gifts and more.

As our son has gotten older we have realized how much his voice matters.  The adopted children are smart, and in-tune and are more aware of their feelings than we give them credit for.  He processes his emotions, he has needs and asks for visits, time and connection.

If we truly believe that adoption is about the children, then we have to pay attention to their voice.

All sides of the triad have a voice that should be heard.

All sides of the triad have feelings that should be validated.

All sides of the triad have needs that deserve to be met.

All sides of the triad have ideas for reform that deserve to be listened to and expanded upon.

I think it is fair to say that so many of us that were brought to adoption didn’t ever plan this to be our life.  We didn’t plan on finding ourselves in an impossible unplanned pregnancy, or to find ourselves grieving the loss of babies that would never come, or finding ourselves struggling to understand our identity and our sense of worth…

Whatever the reason, adoption became a part of us.

Picture a world where the heartache and the loss is filled with love, understanding and acceptance.  A world where all of our jealousies and insecurities and struggles were put aside.  What if we came to the table with open hearts, open minds and open ears.

One of my favorite quotes that I use in our post-placement care trainings is:

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Bryant H. McGill

Adoption connects individuals like no other human dynamic.  If there is not a mutual respect, we will never be able to love well and serve well.

People will tell you all the time that “it is not personal” when hurtful comments, or debates are made. But adoption is personal..  It is so easy to “fight the good fight” and try to force people into understanding, but are you offering the same to them?  Are you trying to understand?

We have to realize that when people are sharing their differences, they are sharing it based on their personal experiences, their pain, their truth.  It may not look like yours but it is equally important.

My dear friends, adoption is not love if we are not listening, adoption is not love if we are not trying, adoption is not love if we are not staying open.

True open adoption is not about a contract and a number of visits and pictures.  It is about literally staying open to each other, to sacrificing and loving and understanding.

It is about our ability to put our own insecurities aside for the good of the other members of the triad.

Every voice matters.

Again, I wanted to thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you!  I would love if you would continue to follow along with our amazing journey in post placement care for Birth Mothers over at www.lifetimehealingadoption.com

Thank you and may God continue to bless the hearts of those touched by adoption.

Join the movement

Join Ashley on Instagram at @lifetimehealingllc and @bigtoughgirl


Written By
Ashley Mitchell

Ashley Mitchell and her experiences have been shared all over the country through nationally acclaimed writing series, award-winning service, television + radio interviews and hundreds of blogs + business sites. She is known for her vulnerability and realness through her speaking, writing, mentoring and advocacy work for the Adoption community.

She is the Western Region Leader and a State Team Member for the Parent Advocacy Council in the state of Utah helping to bring tools, resources and voice back to the parents. She is the owner of Big Tough Girl™, serving women world wide in their desire to live life as a Big Tough Girl™. She believes strongly in the power of sharing your story, educating yourself on the issues, and providing the resources so that women can feel empowered and successful in their journey. bigtoughgirl.com

Ashley is a mother of 2 and a birth mother of 1. She is learning daily how to navigate open adoption and how to create a lifetime of healing and forward movement post placement. btglifetimehealing.com

She resides in Utah with her husband and small family.