Birth Mothers Amplified Episode 8: Joy in the Journey of Adoption
At the beginning of the interview, Melody started out by describing how she felt when she first discovered she was pregnant. She was 19 and was into her second trimester. Melody had an older sister that had also gotten pregnant at 19 who had parented her child so Melody became determined to do the same. She was with the birth father at the time. She described her relationship with her parents, which had previously been a good one, and admitted that it had been deteriorating for a while. She said her parents more than likely felt guilty as if they had done something wrong for this to happen in their family twice. Melody felt adamant that that was absolutely not the case. She and her sister were adults who made adult decisions and had to live with those decisions.
Melody planned on parenting her son. Initially, her insistence to do so was because her parents had urged her to consider adoption. They have family members who have been touched by adoption and it was a very familiar world to her. But she determined that she was going to do this thing on her own. However, she ended up going to a crisis pregnancy center that ran an adoptive parent support group. While attending the group, her perspective started to shift; perhaps adoption would be an option that could work for her son.
Eventually, Melody decided to place her son for adoption. She had a long list of things that were important to her: the couple be Christian, love animals (preferably dogs), and many other attributes that the caseworker said might be difficult to fulfill but she would try. In the end, they narrowed it down to two options and she says it was totally a “God thing.” She absolutely hit it off with the eventual adoptive parents. They talked for several hours before needing to get off the phone because they each had work in the morning. From there, the relationship developed and they were involved in her pregnancy.
She described her birth and how difficult it was. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to be 19 years old and facing what ended up being a very difficult birth and fairly traumatic birthing experience. I cannot overstate how impressed I was with Melody throughout the interview.
My thoughts as an adoptive mom were so tangled up. My kids were adopted from foster care and their birth parents did not place them willingly. Hearing this young woman talk about the forethought she had to make sure her son got to live a good life honestly made me angry at the state in which my children were thrust haphazardly into my care. I also believe it is a “God thing” that they are mine but the manner in which they arrived is so jarringly different that it makes my heart hurt.
Melody said “Joy is a mental state…Happiness is fleeting but Joy is a soul place”
This really affected me. As adoptive moms, we feel the brunt of a good deal of anger from our adopted kids. For example, my eight-year-old felt angry that she had lost a privilege due to her unkind behavior towards her sister. What should have been a small distraction from our otherwise very nice day turned into her spewing hate. She told me in no uncertain terms she wished I wasn’t her mom and that we hadn’t chosen her. I cannot say I dealt with those words with anything resembling grace. I crumpled and wept for half an hour in another room when her tirade was over. In the midst of everyone else’s big emotions, finding joy feels like a difficult goal. But hearing Melody’s statement moved me. I realize that a great deal of joy that co-exists with our sorrow. I have joy that I couldn’t even recognize in the ruin of my hurt. I just needed to reframe what my expectation of joy was. I’m even able to find happiness despite our current situation because of the reminder. “Sorrow may last for the night but joy comes with the morning.” Like the sun that rises every day, we get a chance to recognize joy for what it is. Wow.
I loved hearing about Melody talking about meeting her son’s adoptive parents and how it felt to connect with them. It was amazing to hear the perspective of hopefulness. Society tries to paint this picture of birth mothers being irresponsible. I’ll admit in my heart it felt irresponsible for someone to get pregnant by accident when I couldn’t and struggled for years to get pregnant on purpose. So, the idea that this mother was so careful in choosing someone to parent her son was refreshing. Melody was methodical and thoughtful in figuring out first if she wanted her son to be adopted versus raising him herself. She had a list of what she wanted in the adoptive parents. I have so much respect for how much care she took in her choices. I can’t fathom being in such a difficult situation and having so much care and so much selflessness at 19. I was a self-centered twerp at 19.
She talked about her process of how she went to her sister and asked questions and tried to be ready before she talked to her parents. I loved her discussing how her mom knew before she ever talked to her about it. “Mother’s intuition.” I feel this deep in my soul. I just know things when something is wrong with one of my kids. I think there is something about getting to be a parent that rewires your brain to be able to pick up these subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle clues about your people. I love that even though she was trying to be so methodical and prepared before she talked to her mom, her mom just knew. I was honestly delighted to hear that neither of her parents raged at her, threatened to disown her, or were in any way ugly to her that she described. I have seen parents disown their children for small acts of defiance so it wouldn’t shock me to find out that parents would scream and shout but Melody described them as loving, if a bit forceful about their opinions on what should happen. I love that they repaired their relationship and came around to simply wanting to support their daughter however she needed support.
Melody talked about her relationship with her parents and how it changed. She shared her feelings of shame and how she needed to deal with that. She shared how she was making choices to not talk to her parents and how that was not their fault. Again, I love that she was open with her feelings and she was very willing to own her feelings and actions. Sometimes people don’t ever realize that they are a factor in a relationship. I have watched in confusion and disbelief as friends honestly say they have no idea why their relationship with their parents or another friend is fractured or broken when I have just seen them ignore the tenth call from their mom. She owned what she had done and I have so much respect for that admission.
She discussed her labor process which was THREE DAYS LONG. Having never given birth, I am not familiar with those situations; however, I found myself terrified for her. I cannot imagine the kind of pain that she was going through. I appreciate the doctor who gave her an extra day in the hospital to support her and help her heal. She shared the hospital experience with the adoptive parents. I actually teared up.
“Every journey is tailored just to you.” That is so extraordinarily true of every adoption I have ever encountered.
I loved hearing her talk about how God was in control of the situation. I cannot imagine the grief she felt as she relinquished her rights to her son. She sounds so brave talking about preparing herself for the difficult situation. I’m amazed at her forethought at 19 years old. “Doing this goes against every natural instinct in you.” “It’s our baby.”
In response to, “How did you set healthy boundaries?” she said, “Follow what you feel you need.” That’s some great wisdom there. Sometimes people are so set on what the “right thing” is that they let themselves get trampled and hurt in the process. That doesn’t help anyone.
“How do you create friendship with adoptive parents?” “I already mastered the relationship with my older sister who is 10 years older. Dealing with a sister who is also trying to mother you; “we will just be friends whether you like it or not” This made me laugh. I too had an older sister but our relationship was so different and so broken. Therefore I make it my mission to be active in my younger siblings lives. All to say, I’m not sure had I been in the same situation that I would have found the safety net or security that she had. I think that really is the key to what makes these things work or not work.
“Open communication is really important. It really depends on your situation. Sometimes being yourself doesn’t always work and relationships don’t work the way you want them to.”
“Sometimes you have to take yourself out of the picture and see where their hurt is coming from. For me it’s jealousy because they have my first child. I was looked at as the person who had the opportunity to have that child.” Oh my gosh this made me actually cry. I have been so guilty of this. I am so jealous of friends that can just…get pregnant. Like, how? How is it so easy that you just “accidentally” conceived a child. It feels cosmically unfair that someone could not want to get pregnant at all and end up with a baby and someone who desperately wants a baby can’t have one. Still, I think God is in control and I know if I had gotten pregnant I wouldn’t have my kids now because we wouldn’t have worked so hard to become foster parents. But I love that Melody had this mature perspective that allowed her to still be in relationship.
I usually listen to podcasts while running but took the time to sit down and focus just on this. I was amazed by how drawn in I got right from the beginning. This is an entirely different angle on the adoption triad from me. Melody’s sunny personality was a joy to witness through this entire episode. She is a believer in Jesus (and thus, a sister in Christ to me) and I was overjoyed to hear an example of just how well an open adoption can work out for families that try to make it work.
To me this was almost the best quote in the whole thing and she said some pretty amazing things throughout “I really love the idea of adoption. God adopts us. We are not his biological children but are adopted into the body of Christ…How many angles there are of love coming to this kid is amazing to me. So many people want to buy the world for him…Seeing all this love poured on one child is incredible.” This is so precious to me. I adore it. She is able to look outside herself and her wants and just wants what is beautiful for her child. That is such an example of Godly love. It amazes me that she radiates this peace and calm and happiness throughout the podcast. It is clear that she believes what she is talking about and not just paying lip service to the idea of open adoption, and loving God.