HELLO.

Hey there, expectant mom (or dad).

My name is Caroline, and I am a birth mother.  I was in your shoes almost a decade ago, Googling “giving baby up for adoption.”

Just like you.

Hello!  It’s nice to meet you.

I’m going to tell you congratulations!  Whether or not you are excited about this pregnancy, congratulations!

Whatever you decide: congratulations!

If no one knows yet, if everyone knows…whatever your circumstance is, I’m so proud of you for considering all of your options for your child.  Whatever you end up deciding, I will respect your decision.  I will respect the decision that you made the BEST CHOICE for yourself and your child that you could at this point in your life.

I remember feeling SO scared.

I remember feeling SO unprepared.

I remember just…the OVERWHELMINGNESS OF IT ALL.

I. GET. IT.

SELF TALK IS A (insert inappropriate swear word here)

This was NOT in the plan.

My parents will disown me.

There are tons of single moms out there.

I have resources.

I don’t have resources.

Why me?

My parents will help me, but I am not sure I want to do this right now.

I’m barely getting by. How am I supposed to raise another human?

I am in active addiction.

What will people say if I choose to be a single parent?

I am in college!  I have plans for my life that don’t include a child yet.

We can’t afford another child.

WHERE IS HE?  He certainly was here a few weeks ago.

Why me?

I am an alcoholic.

I am a college-educated woman who just doesn’t want to parent.

What will people say if they find out I “gave my baby up?”

I was raped.  (I am so sorry that this happened to you.)

Why me?

I don’t want an abortion.

My career is really important to me.

I am a woman; I should be able to do this, right?

Why me?

I can’t get an abortion.

I already can’t afford the child(ren) I am parenting.

Why me?

How can I possibly raise a child?

Why me?

Why me?

Why me?

Phew.

Did I cover it all?  I get it.  For real.  Being in this position REALLY (bleeping) SUCKS.  Who the heck has to Google “giving baby up” anyway?!

WHY.  ME.

BREATHE.

Would you do me a favor?  Just for a minute.  Take a really deep breath.

No, not like that.

Try it like this: Take a really, really, really slow inhale but breathe in from your belly button.

Just a little slower.

That’s it.

Hold it for just a second and close your eyes.  Count to 5.  Let it out slowly.

Do it one more time.

Close your eyes first this time.  Deeply, breathe in.  Hold….5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  S L O W L Y let it escape.

I hope that’s just a little bit better.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You may feel like you are alone at this very minute, and I’m sure you are feeling very, very, very scared.

I remember feeling ridiculously incompetent…I mean, no one grows up dreaming of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.  Life doesn’t exactly….prepare us for this.

What should I do?
What should I do?
What should I do?

THE TRUTH.

The real rational honest truth is this: When you face an unplanned pregnancy, you have three choices.

  1. You can abort

  2. You can become a parent

  3. You can make an adoption plan.

That’s right, an adoption plan.

These days, we don’t like to say “giving baby up” or “gave my baby away.”  It is not positive adoption language and has a connotation that you are giving up.  You are not giving up.

In the adoption world, we use the phrase “made an adoption plan” or “place my child for adoption.”  This is much more positive language to use when talking about adoption.  Additionally, post-placement means you have decided to make an adoption plan and have legally signed your rights away to your child.

It not only sounds better, but it FEELS better, and really, words matter.  Words matter for healing.  And words matter when they are your truth.

Because really, if you’re here Googling, you’re trying to gain some knowledge, right?  Because if you have some knowledge of what an adoption looks like, you might be able to decide if this plan is right for you and your child.

Your choice.

Your decision.

Your life.

For the record, I personally am a do-the-best-you-can-with-the-hand-you’re-dealt kinda gal.  I’m pro “Do what you need to do in that moment,” but do it rationally and with a lot of knowledge.

Make that choice YOURS.

And OWN IT.

Because I work with birth mothers post-placement, I can tell you the most important thing about this decision: IT NEEDS TO BE YOURS.  If you decide to make an adoption plan and want to heal the best you can, the FIRST STEP is making sure this plan is YOURS.

By the way, you know that’s what good parents do, right?  Good parents make the best choices they can—at that moment—for their child.  Regardless if you parent for three days or parent for a lifetime, it’s all about the choices you make for your child in the moments you are his or her parent.

It’s not even really about you in the long run.  It’s about that potential human you have in your uterus; it’s about that potential human…for the long haul.  (I know.  It’s hard to imagine that this “PROBLEM” you’re facing could be a human someday.)

Somedays, I wish I could have had an abortion.  It certainly seems easier, right?  I wouldn’t have this horrendous C-section scar.  I wouldn’t have this stupid baby belly that never goes away.

But for me, I knew the “what-ifs of that decision would tear me apart.

So I couldn’t.

But, I’m not you.

Only YOU know YOU.

YOU know what is best for YOU.

Whatever you decide, it has to be YOUR choice because you have to live with it.  And no matter what choice you make, they are ALL HARD.

Parenting: HARD!

Abortion: HARD!

Adoption plan: HARD!

Whatever you decide, you will have to live with this decision for the rest of your life.

I think I want to make an adoption plan.

Well, if you’ve made it this far, you are probably considering an adoption plan.  You either think you might want to make one or just want a little more information.  It’s important that while you’re in this phase that you do the following:

  1. Research the types of openness in adoption 

  2. Decide the type of adoption you want

  3. Research the support you’re going to get while you make this decision

Openness?  What the heck is that?

Openness refers to how much contact you will have with your child during her childhood and into her adult life.  There is a spectrum of openness in adoption.  From closed to wide-open, there is no right or wrong way.

The research today, however, shows it is in the best interest of the child’s development to have an open adoption.  A good adoption professional will guide you and, more often than not, will want you to have some degree of openness in your adoption plan.

Closed

One side of the adoption ‘openness spectrum’ is closed.  Extremely closed.  You know nothing. You will not get updates.  You will not get pictures.  You don’t even get to know a thing about your child.  Maybe when he turns 18, he will try to find you, but that isn’t certain.

Some birth parents I know have found their adult children, and their children want nothing to do with them.  I know some adult adoptees who feel no need to find their birth parents.  I also have a best friend from childhood whose birth mother found her when she was in her 30s, and now, they have a pretty awesome relationship.

Semi-Open

In the ‘openness spectrum,’ this usually means you get pictures and letters.  Maybe an email.  You may occasionally get a visit, but that’s rare.  You may only communicate through a third party like a lawyer or an adoption agency.

Open

Even in the open side of the adoption ‘openness spectrum,’ there is a wide variety of openness.

My own adoption plan falls in the ‘extremely open’ side.  I visit; I stay in their home.  My daughter has always known she was adopted and that she grew in my belly.  She has been given the freedom to develop her own language surrounding her normal.  We send letters in the mail (and books).  We skype and text.

Her parents are very important people in my life.  I count on them for love and support and trust them fully to parent my daughter.  When they lived closer, I had more frequent and shorter visits, but now they live across the country.  This is what worked best for us.

I have friends who have open adoptions similar to mine.  Because they live geographically closer, they don’t often have sleepovers.  But they have the same type of openness—complete and open access to their child when and if they need it.  One of my birth mother friends had her birth child at her wedding!

Some open adoptions may have three to four visits per year.  You may share a private Facebook group.  You may or may not be allowed to post pictures on social media of your child.  You may only have access when it works best for the adoptive family.

Which is better?

While most “newer” birth mothers I know have a varying degree of openness in adoption, I know several birth moms who had closed adoptions.  Most of the women I know who have closed adoptions have children they placed that are much older (typically in their 30s).  The adoption world was different back then.  Closed adoption was the norm, and openness was rare.

Usually, while you are meeting and choosing adoptive families, you will be able to discuss what openness looks like for you and the adoptive family.  As a birth mom who has been through this and knows a lot of birth moms, SOME openness is better than none for your healing.  I will also advise this: It’s a lot easier to transition to having LESS contact later than it is to negotiate having MORE down the road.  I personally think it’s better to negotiate for the MOST AMOUNT OF OPENNESS YOU CAN, always. Hindsight is always 20/20, and even I have things I wish I had negotiated for in my own adoption plan.  Right now, pregnancy hormones have hijacked your brain, so make sure you have a trusted person who cares about your best interests, sits in, and helps you through this process.

Is openness legally binding?

Most states don’t have legal PACA’s (Post-Adoption Contact Agreements).  If they do, most are a formality, and most are not legally binding.  Some states do, however.  The best way to find out about this is to do some research.  Adoption laws vary from state to state.

My adoption openness plan is not legally binding.  We didn’t even write anything down!  If I had a do-over, I’d make sure we outlined some basic guidelines of openness.  Sometimes, just writing it down will help hold both parties accountable.

Sometimes, open adoptions ‘close.’  This means somehow the link of communication between you and your child will be broken.  Some adoptive parents will close adoptions, and sometimes it comes from the birth parents, and sometimes…it’s just how life happens.  I hope this never happens to you, but it is a real possibility you should consider as you make your plan.

Private vs. agency adoption

Private Adoption

A private adoption is generally between you, a lawyer, and a couple.  If you choose this route, make sure to get your own legal counsel.  Do not use the same lawyer the adoptive family is using; their job is to negotiate for the adoptive family.  Find a lawyer that will represent you and your rights.  An adoption professional and birth mother I know suggests using the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys to find a good lawyer to represent you.

Agency Adoption

This is where an agency will help you through the adoption process.  You will be assigned a social worker to help you.  The social worker’s job is to discuss ALL OF YOUR OPTIONS with you. (Remember the three choices? Abort-Parent-Adoption).  They should help you make the best decision for your child.

If you decide to pursue an adoption plan, your social worker will help you navigate all of the options and decisions you need to make including what you are looking for in adoptive parents, your birthing plans, adoption laws for you and the birth father, etc.  Your social worker will help you through this process.  A good, ethical agency will do whatever it takes in their power and ability to make this decision YOURS and yours alone.

There are other social workers at the agency who work with the adoptive parents.  They do their home study, make sure they will be good adoptive parents, and help them put their profile books together.

In a great, ethical agency, both the social worker that represents you and the social worker that represents the adoptive families work together to make a great placement for the child.  The agency should also offer post-placement services for you after you make the decision to make an adoption plan.  You will need to heal not only from physically giving birth, but mentally and spiritually as well.  Having a ‘healing plan’ in place before you place your child is a great idea.  You will need support.

What if I change my mind?

Remember how I said it is YOUR decision?  It’s yours.

But…

You need to know the laws before you place to know what happens if you change your mind.

A great, ethical agency or lawyer will be able to outline the laws you need to know about all of this.  The laws vary from state to state.

You can always change your mind before you sign your paperwork.  Please don’t sign out of guilt or a feeling of obligation if your heart shifts.  The adoptive family will be able to find another child.  If your heart says no, please don’t sign.

So…

Expectant mom, expectant dad:

The decision is yours and yours alone.

Be educated.

Trust your gut.

Think towards the future.

As long as you make the best choice you can for this situation at this moment in life, there is no wrong choice you can make.

No matter what choice you make, no one can take away the love you have for this child.  Because at the end of the day, love…is love.  And the world needs more love.

Always.

No matter what decision you make, know this:

I support your decision.

I respect your decision.

I honor your choice.

You are enough. 

Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit PregnancyHotline.org or call 1-800-GLADNEY.