Educate

You’ve heard the phrase, information is power.  We at OYFF believe that education is empowering for birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professionals.  We are in the process of developing a rigorous public education program that will provide members of the adoption triad with the information and tools necessary to build, sustain and strengthen healthy relationships. We also believe it is important to inform the general public about issues of importance to birth parents so they no longer exist in the shadows.

Research

On Your Feet has partnered with renowned scholars in the field of adoption to illuminate the emotional experiences of birth mothers.  In 2012, David Brodzinsky, PhD, collaborated with Susan Smith, MSSW to conduct a survey of birth mothers across the United States.  A summary of the key findings along with a first hand accounts from birth mothers, were published in Adoptive Families Magazine in Fall 2013.  The article can be viewed here:  Supporting Birth Mothers, Strengthening Families.

In 2009 – 2010,  Dr. Brodzinsky and Catherine Magee, MPH, conducted a community assessment of birth mother’s post placement needs, which included a survey of birth mothers who reside or placed a child for adoption in California. The report can be viewed here: Finding Support and Rising Above: A summary of a community assessment of birth mother’s post placement needs.

Programs

In Fall 2015, On Your Feet conducted a comprehensive evaluation of our programs designed to support and empower birth/first moms.  With funding from the Wyomissing Foundation and consultation from David Brodzinsky, Ph.D., we confirmed what we have been hearing informally for years:

Our programs improve the lives of women.

Our services are meaningful and effective.

Our community needs more types of services in more locations, more often.

Special thanks to our friends at the Wyomissing Foundation, David Brodzinsky, Susan Romer and Jenny Sindel for making this project possible.  Please click on the following link to read the more detailed Program Evaluation Report.

Speakers Bureau

On Your Feet Foundation recently formed a Birth Mother Speaker’s Bureau in response to requests from the adoption community and the general public to hear directly from women who have placed a child for adoption.  The goal of the Speaker’s Bureau is to promote understanding about birth mothers’ experiences, including the decision to place a child and what a women encounters before, during and after placement.

Please visit the Birth Mother Speaker’s Bureau page for more information or to request a speaker for an upcoming event.

About Birth Mothers

The term birth mother is used to describe a woman who chooses to place her child for adoption. Today, she is usually over the age of 20. She is Caucasian, Latino, African American, Asian, Pacific Islander or multiracial. She most likely graduated from high school, has had some college and hopes to continue her education.

Based on her personal experiences and preferences, a woman who places a child for adoption may call herself a birth mother, first mother, natural mother, biological mother, or simply mother.  Please refer to the Wikipedia article on Adoption Language for a more in depth discussion of adoption terminology and its implications.  We at On Your Feet use the term birth mother for consistency and ease of understanding, but respect each woman’s preference regarding how she chooses to identify herself. She made this choice for a myriad of personal reasons. She likely experienced a deep sense of loss and grief at the time of the placement and may continue to do so for years without adequate support.

Today, a vast majority of adoptions are open adoptions which means that there is some degree of contact between the birth parents and the adoptive family. Contact can range from letters and phone calls to regular visits.  In the United States, thousands of newborns are placed for adoption each year. Despite the shift toward open adoption, the stigma, judgment and isolation associated with adoption persists in our culture.