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Ethics in Adoption

Provide Financial Support for Daughter's Birth Mother?

We are a domestically adopted, transracial family, with 2 children, ages 2.5(son) and 9 months(daughter). Our daughter’s birth mother is experiencing some difficulties in her housing situation. She is parenting two children, ages 5 and 3. We have an open adoption and just returned from our first visit with our daughter’s birth mother, since her birth last Spring. The visit went very well and we are looking forward to visiting again in April.

At the end of the visit it became clear to me that BM had been kicked out of her mother’s home again. BM did not mention anything, but her older child kept asking if they could go to my house, if we had food at my house, and was asking where they were going to live. We have financially assisted our daughter’s mother, in small ways, a couple of times in the past.

My issue is this - we have the financial means to provide her with a place to live long term and this is the kind of support we would provide a family member or close friend were they in the same position. For us, this issue is a power, race, class, and women’s issue. I am also aware of the risks of financial support and the ethics of such an arrangement. In short, we are torn about what to do. I would be very grateful for any personal experience you could share with us. Our daughter’s mother does not have any issues with addiction.

Thank you in advance for your support and wisdom.


Do you know why your daughter’s bmom has been thrown out of her mother’s home? That’s important information.
If she’s eligible for Section 8 housing, you might offer to subsidize her while she investigates that possibility (and help with the bureaucracy & paperwork!) You might also offer to help while she goes to school or through a jobs program. 
Just providing $ for housing with no return and for an indefinite period does not help her to become more self -supporting, may engender resentment because it feels like charity, and may lead to further “needs” for you to supply.
I would make it clear that I’d do this for any family member, but also attach requirements for which she’s responsible and which will lead towards more independence.

Posted by Leslie S. on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:13am

First off, if you provide any financial assistance to your child’s birthmother, make sure that you always pay the provider of housing or other services directly; do not pay the birthmother.  Even if the birthmother complains that you don’t trust her, this has to be the case, and it is especially important if the birthmother has struggled with alcoholism or drug addiction and might use the money to support her habit, or if she has relatives, such as her mother, who will attempt to take the money for their own use

Second, I agree with Leslie S.  Make sure you know why your child’s birthmother was thrown out of her home.  If she was previously a substance abuser, she could be using again, and the only support you should give at this point should be assistance with paying for treatment, if she doesn’t have Medicaid or other insurance that covers it.  She might need to go into a residential treatment program for at least 30 days, after which—if she “graduates”—you could pay for some form of supervised housing for recovering alcoholics or addicts.

If your child’s birthmother was thrown out because she has recently become involved with a man who is not a safe person—abusive, addicted, or whatever—giving money to support her could well wind up supporting the man and HIS problems, rather than helping her to become a strong and independent woman.  Especially if your child’s birthfather was the same sort of man, you would simply be enabling her poor choices, rather than helping her avoid dysfunctional relationships and succeed on her own.

And you need to consider that your child’s birthmother may have been thrown out because she is pregnant, but is not ready to tell you so because she doesn’t want to place this child for adoption.  If this is the case, you will want to link her to a social worker who can help her get housing and food (even if you pay for it), and who can help her make appropriate decisions about raising or placing her baby, so you don’t appear to be trying to influence her decision.  But, of course, since she may wind up needing or wanting to make an adoption plan, you will need to think about whether you would be willing to parent the child, if asked.  While you might be delighted by such an option, having another child might be more than you and your spouse can contemplate at this time.

All in all, you need to find out as much as you can about the birthmother’s current situation, before offering any financial support.  And then proceed cautiously, working with caring social service providers to get assistance that ensures the health and safety of her current children and any child she may be carrying, and that truly helps her to gain the skills and the confidence to become independent and successful.


Posted by sak9645 on Jan 14, 2017 at 5:49am

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