One of the many things required of you during the adoption process is to attend adoption education classes. There are certain classes I encourage all my clients to attend and one of them, if they are lucky enough to come across one, is a birth mother panel.
You may have heard of people referring to the triad in adoption, which includes the adoptive parent(s), the child, and the birth mother. It’s the relationship between the adoptive parent(s) and birth mother that seems to invoke the most trepidation. It’s the fear of the unknown. Sitting with birth mothers who have been through the process already can sometimes help remove some of the fear, in order to approach the relationship from a place of love.
Let me preface by saying that everyone’s story and background is completely different (goes without saying, I think).
Here’s a snapshot of Jennifer, a birth mother (I’ve changed her name)…
Who She Is And How It Happened (well, hopefully you know HOW it happened!)
Jennifer, Caucasian, grew up in a Christian home. She was a sophomore in college, 19 years old, when she got pregnant – the result of a one-night-stand (c’mon now, it’s happened to a lot of us). Jennifer couldn’t even tell you the guy’s last name. She was shocked and horrified! And she certainly could not tell her parents…at least not yet.
She hid her pregnancy, did a lot of research and found a nearby agency in FL (where she was living at the time). Jennifer started working with them. They presented her a lot of profiles of families to review and nothing seemed right. She was scared and, at the time, wanted a closed adoption. She thought if she chose a family in or around FL, there was the possibility of running into them on the streets, and she didn’t want that.
Jennifer ultimately decided to leave this agency and found another agency in Chicago, a city she always loved…which is how she chose it.
Choosing The Right Family
Again, she was presented a number of profiles and talked about how bad she felt having to choose one family over another. The process was completely overwhelming, and she had a feeling of inadequacy and very low self-esteem.
BUT, Jennifer remembers she “just knew” when she looked through the profile of the family she ultimately chose. I asked her how. Jennifer said it wasn’t as robotic as the others she had seen.
Something that stood out to her very clearly was that in all the letters she read, they all seemed to mention sending letters so many times a year, blah blah blah – spelling out exactly how they would stay in touch. When she read her adoptive parents’ profile, their letter stated that they were comfortable doing whatever SHE wanted.
Another thing Jennifer liked about this family was that they already had an adoptive child. She did not want her child to feel different and was able to see that they already knew what they were doing, which gave her a lot of comfort.
She eventually let her parents in on her secret and thankfully, they were very supportive.
Jennifer’s ideas of a closed adoption soon began to shift after she was matched with the couple that would be adopting her baby. They flew her to Chicago (this is VERY UNCOMMON) while she was still pregnant, and she stayed with this family. It was a time of intense bonding, and she was treated like a person instead of just a “baby-maker.”
The delivery at the hospital was a very emotional time.
For birthmothers, delivery is a very sad ending and for adoptive parent(s), a joyous beginning.
Jennifer had a lot of family with her at the hospital in addition to her adoptive family. This was an extremely difficult time for her that she didn’t want to end.
Jennifer wanted her adoptive parents to get the full feeling of bringing their child into this world and wanted them to be the ones to experience all the firsts. To that end, Jennifer let the adoptive parents name their baby (she was clear it was their baby) and be the ones to hold her first.
“I watched them fall in love with the baby right away.”
Sometimes politics and personal views of the hospital staff come into play, which can make situations more tense and uncomfortable for everyone involved. In Jennifer’s case, the hospital staff was really pushing her to bond with the baby when she had made it very clear that she did not want to.
Jennifer felt like a horrible person and recalls the nurse thinking what kind of mother would not want to feed and hold her baby (not sure if she actually said that or if it was perceived, but regardless…). It was a nightmare for Jennifer.
Jennifer made a list of the reasons she had made an adoption plan and kept it under her pillow at the hospital to remind her that this was the right path, had she wavered.
Signing the Papers
Coming back to sign the papers was terrifying for Jennifer.
There were a lot of people in the room and a huge stack of papers for her to sign. She remembers there being a bunch of lines that she had to initial, all which ended with “and this is an irrevocable act.” At the end, there was one final signature.
It was terrifying.
After she signed everything, Jennifer sat with her daughter for an hour to explain to her why she was doing this.
She never wants to be reminded of that time again.
Stay tuned for the 2nd story in this series about birth mothers to be posted on Saturday, October 3rd. To make sure you don’t miss any part of this series, sign up for my email list below. I’ll be sending the 3rd and final story only to my dedicated subscribers.
Until next time,