When I was pregnant and planning on adoption, I had quite a few real and distinct fears. Some of these fears were irrational, while others had more merit to them. One of the strongest fears I felt back then was thinking that my child would grow up under the impression that I placed him because I didn’t love him–that he would think that I “didn’t want to be bothered” with a child. While I would not and could not ever feel such horrible things, but it could be hard to explain to someone that I wouldn’t be seeing every day of his life. Now that the paperwork is done and there’s nothing that ties me to my son legally, a lot of what he thinks of me lies in what his parents teach him. There are a few things that I can do to help him understand that I loved him then and always will. Here are a few discoveries I have made to help with that process:
Write to him
As I spoke to my case worker while I was pregnant, she was getting frustrated with my lack of communication skills. Session after session, I would pace the room while she would ask me questions to try to help me work through the emotions of an upcoming adoption. One more silent session closer to D-Day, my case worker entered the room, closed the door, and not saying a word, handed me a pen and paper. She told me to write down as many pros and cons for adoption that I could think of. Each list was as long as the other. She had me write down pros and cons for single parenting, which was my only other option at the time. This led to an epiphany. While I had kept a journal since my 8th birthday, I had never considered myself a writer. However, we found I was able to express emotion much better with the written word. This set me on a path of identity that had never been explored and helped me to find a comfort for expressing my emotions in a healthy way.
Now, I write myself letters. I write him letters. I write when I’m sad or when I’m happy. I have things that have been saved in a folder for him when he’s old enough to read them. I have written so much that I’ve since thrown out. Sometimes, it seems pointless. But always, it has been the best source of self-comfort I can give. And hopefully, these letters will provide a source of comfort for my son some day.
Plan for the future
My son is old enough that I can make him promises, and he understands what it means when someone keeps them. Granted, I really do owe so much to his parents for allowing me to participate in his life. One day I found a letter in my mailbox from him. He had drawn me a picture of us playing at his house and asked me if I could come visit—he lives across the country so it takes quite a bit of planning. But whenever I talk to him I tell him I’m saving my money to buy a plane ticket and come visit. I’m close enough to be able to visit him in the next few months. These situations show him my love. As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Tell the story
As with everything, be on board with what the adoptive parents are comfortable with. I’m so lucky in my adoption–my son’s parents are extremely open with him on who he is and where he comes from. But this was something we discussed together and found a happy place where we could help him learn about his history. I use my position to help him learn by telling my perspective. I use websites like shutterfly.com to write books for him explaining why I chose adoption. I explain that I didn’t have a job that paid bills, was not in a stable home, nor in a safe relationship, when I was pregnant. I explain that I loved him so much I was willing to break my heart into a million pieces by allowing his mom and dad, who were prepared to be parents, to be his parents. I tell him I hand picked his mom and dad just for him. When he has questions, we Skype with each other, and I answer them for him. I show my love for him by being honest with him.
I know each situation is individual and needs to be addressed by those involved. But the point of adoption is that it’s about love. It’s about the best scenario for the child. It’s about more people to love and provide for that child. And it’s important for the child to know all of this.