The Woes of Adoption: The Birth Mother's View
When most people think of adoption, they think one of two ways. One, how lucky is the family that is getting this beautiful new baby, and two, it must have been really hard for the birth mother to make that difficult decision. Being a birth mother who made the decision to put my child up for adoption, I can tell you that it's not always a difficult decision. Sometimes, it's the easiest decision you can make.
When a woman or couple is faced with the dilemma of an unwanted pregnancy, there are a few different options. This isn't about telling you what you should or shouldn't do, this is about what I chose to do. A decision that was deeply personal, but one that was inevitable.
A Bit Of Background
I was nineteen years old, still a child by most of society's standards. I found myself in an all too familiar, yet devastating position that a lot of young girls find themselves in. I was pregnant. I wasn't in a relationship, and I had just started college. I was having the time of my life; new friends, sororities, living on my own for the first time... Freedom, finally. It was fabulous. Then, that. It was the absolute worst thing that could have happened at the time. For awhile, I did the most immature and irresponsible thing I could do. I ignored it. I knew it wouldn't make it go away, but it was my way of dealing with it. If I didn't think about it, I didn't have to worry about decisions, or judgement. That's the thing about society... People are always so quick to judge young people who find themselves in situations like that, but what they don't realize is, there's no way they're judging you any harsher than you're judging yourself. I beat myself up over it for weeks. I was a smart girl! I had just received a full ride scholarship to my school of choice... How could I have been so stupid? But once you realize that beating yourself up and putting yourself down isn't going to make it go away, you can finally start to deal with things.
Once I came to terms with the fact that I was, in fact, going to have a baby, I was flooded with options. First, I could keep the baby. Love it, cherish it, and raise it. Give it what it needed, and most of what it wanted. Thing is, I wasn't exactly in any position to provide for a child. Some people may think that giving up a child for adoption is an incredibly selfish decision, but for me, it was the opposite. I was completely aware that if I kept this child, I would never be able to provide for him or her they way they deserved. My family was supportive, and offered help to me if I decided to keep it. But I refused to be a mother that couldn't do it on my own and constantly needed help, whether it be financially or emotionally. I knew immediately that I was not going to keep this child. So then I was faced with two options: abortion or adoption. Abortion is an extremely touchy subject, one I'm not going to discuss in this hub. I will say though, it was an option I considered. Once I decided that abortion wasn't the route I wanted to pursue at that time, I was left with only one option.
Once I had decided that I was going to place my child up for adoption, I thought my hard decisions were over. That's far from the truth. Some of the most difficult decisions I had to make were after I had made up my mind about adoption. It is a heart wrenching and emotionally distressing thing to decide who is going to raise your child. There are a few different ways you can go about doing that. You can go through agencies who will help choose parents, figure out all of the legalities of the adoption, and provide any documentation you may need. There are also independent adoptions where no agencies are involved, and the adoptive parents pay medical and legal costs, as well as any other costs. After speaking to a few agencies, I was completely overwhelmed. There are so many families out there that are longing for children, and it is absolutely heart breaking to tell a couple that they aren't the right people to raise your child. I spoke to my aunt, and she told me about independent adoptions, something I knew nothing about. In order to have an independent adoption, you have to know a couple who is looking to adopt. For some, independent adoptions can be too personal, but I was having no luck with the agencies, so I decided to give it a chance. She told me about some friends of a friend who were looking to adopt. They were a young couple who both worked in the medical field. They had no children of their own, not because they weren't able, but because they had chosen to pursue adoption so they could give a child a home that needed one. After learning a little about them, I immediately liked them. When I was 8 months pregnant, we finally set up a meeting with them. I was incredibly stressed, and eventually decided not to meet them myself. That sounds absurd, but at that point I just couldn't handle it. Instead, my aunt and my grandmother met them. If I didn't trust their opinions completely, I wouldn't have let them do it. But after the meeting my aunt told me all about them and showed me their picture. In an instant, I could see my child as a part of their family. It was a bittersweet moment, but I knew the decision was made.
A couple of weeks after I had chosen the couple, I went into the doctor for some normal tests. I was eight and a half months pregnant, and starting to become miserable. My doctor noticed some irregularities in my vitals, and I was immediately checked into the hospital. After some additional tests, I was put on bed rest and the doctors planned to induce my labor, meaning they would physically put me into labor. I wasn't quite to term with my pregnancy, so my body wouldn't accept the medicine to induce me. Because of complications, and dangers to the child and myself, I went into surgery for an emergency caesarean section. I was completely terrified. The surgery went smoothly, but afterwards the doctors were incredibly worried about my health. The decision was made that I needed to be sent to a different hospital, one more equipped to deal with my complications. Before I left, my doctor asked if I'd like to see my son. I had given birth to a beautiful baby boy, and I had no idea. I chose to see him, and held him for a few minutes before I was taken to the other hospital.
The hospital I was taken to was about two hours from my home. My family accompanied me there, but left later that evening. I was there for three days, completely alone except for the insane amount of doctors and nurses parading in and out of my room. That was three days to think about things. I was told that because of all of the complications with my pregnancy it would be incredibly dangerous, possibly even life-threatening, for me to have another child. When they told me that, I was horrified because this could be my only chance to be a mother. Just because I didn't feel ready at this point in my life to have a child didn't mean that I never wanted to have a child. Those three days were a sort of blessing in disguise, because it gave me time to realize that regardless of what I may or may not be able to do in the future, adoption was still the best option for me, and for him, at this point. My son was in the hospital back home, along with all of my family and his new adoptive family. Because no papers had been signed and I was still his legal guardian, he couldn't be released from the hospital until I was there. Once I was released, my family picked me up and we drove straight to our local hospital. His adoptive parents were waiting there, and it was the first time I had met them in person. It was so easy to see the utter joy that they had. They were taking home their son today. I signed the release papers from the hospital, and since I hadn't signed over my parental rights to the adoptive couple, the nurse could only hand him to me. Then I physically had to hand him to his new parents. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but at the same time, it was so easy to give him to people who could provide for him rather than take him home and struggle.
The first few weeks I was home were difficult. I was emotional and wasn't quite sure how to handle everything that had happened in such a short amount of time. I talked to a therapist about how I was feeling, something I urge any of you to do if you're having a hard time handling anything in your life. A therapist is there to talk and listen, and just to help you figure out how to deal with different emotions and life changes. It didn't help that my family kept in contact with the adoptive family, and occasionally saw the baby. Two years later, they continue to see him. If you're in a situation where you're considering adoption, this may be something you have to contend with. The way my family views it, i gave my son up for adoption, but he's still their grandson and nephew. Like I said, independent adoptions can be very personal, so if this sounds like something you'd rather not deal with, agency adoptions may the a better route for you.
It's been two years since I chose adoption, and I couldn't be happier with my decision. If you find yourself pregnant and not sure what to do, remember that you have options. If you choose adoption, there are different ways to go about it. And once you decide who your child's new family will be, there are different types of adoption to choose from. Research your options and figure out what is best for you. Remember, just because it's right for someone else doesn't mean it's the best thing for your situation.