Why I Hid My Choice to Place my Child for Adoption

And why I now can't keep my amazing birth child a secret.

Ann Owen September 25, 2014
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When I first found out I was pregnant with Sarah, I knew adoption was the right choice for me at that point in my life. Although I was completely sure in my decision very early on, I chose to keep my pregnancy a secret. I figured it would be easier than having to answer a bunch of random questions, and that’s kind of the way I’d always seen adoption: as a secret you don’t really talk about until after it happens.

My mom was practically the only one I told at first, and although she was supportive in many ways, like dropping me off at doctor’s appointments, she told me if I was sure I was placing Sarah, she wanted nothing to do with her, because she couldn’t handle being attached. This made me feel absolutely awful–like there was something wrong with me for being able to separate myself from my child. That’s why the comments I receive most frequently regarding my adoption are “I NEVER could do that!” Usually followed by, “You’re SO strong!”

The main person I hid my pregnancy from was my 8-year-old daughter, K. She had been wanting a sibling for quite a long time, and I didn’t think she’d be able to comprehend the situation when I couldn’t myself. I waited to tell her until Sarah was about 6 months old and I was certain the adoption was going to stay open. I didn’t want her to be hurt if the situation didn’t work out.

When it became clear we were only getting closer and I had nothing to worry about, I did the second hardest thing of my life and told K about her little sister. At first, she thought it was funny that she hadn’t even noticed I was pregnant because I’m overweight. One night while I was about 8 months pregnant, we saw a very pregnant woman on TV. My daughter commented on her stomach and how she was obviously going to have a baby. I said, “Maybe she’s just fat.” Right away K shot off with, “I can tell the difference between a fat girl and a pregnant girl, Mom!” This was one of the first things I mentioned when I told her.

Quickly it became more serious when I showed her pictures of her darling baby sister. She became upset that I didn’t keep her, although at the same time she understood our financial situation. It’s the fight between the brain and the heart . . . the brain is logical and knows we can’t afford this unexpected blessing, but the heart just loves and doesn’t want to let go.

Sarah’s adoptive mom made the girls matching scrapbooks, and we began making pages for each other. It’s something tangible for the girls to look at while they’re apart, and also a way for them to stay connected. I hope it’s a prelude to them becoming lifelong pen pals. We also FaceTime often, and the girls love “playing” and giggling together. This month, K and I will fly to the East Coast to fulfill the biggest wish of my heart: hugging both of my daughters together for the first time!

At first, I thought hiding my pregnancy and adoption was easier for me, but I quickly found that the more I kept it bottled up, the more it began to eat me alive. Not only that, to not speak of my child is to deny her, and I love her too much to ever do that. So when someone asks me how many children I have, I say two. I may not get into details, but I gave birth to two beautiful daughters, and nothing can ever change that fact.

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Ann Owen

Ann Owen is the mother of an 11-year-old girl she parents--and also of a 3 1/2-year-old girl she lovingly placed in a very open adoption. As well as writing, she enjoys singing in her free time, and is classically trained in opera. Currently she is working on a book with her best friend (who happens to be the mother of her youngest child) on the benefits of open adoption.

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