The teenage years are hard as it is, and when you add an unplanned pregnancy and adoption placement on top of it, things get all kinds of complicated. It seems like life keeps getting thrown off course over and over again. The isolation, grief, and hard choices you have to make are a difficult growing experience. I know, because I’ve been there. Here are some ways placing a child for adoption can affect teen mothers like me.
1. You grow up too fast
When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, you have some very adult choices to make. You become solely responsible for the welfare of a helpless human being. Taking your time to mature is no longer an option. Deciding whether to parent or place that child, whom to place with, and handling the complex grief and trauma of placing your baby doesn’t leave you with much time to be a kid.
2. You have time to find yourself
I placed solely for the well being of my baby. I know for a fact that she has a safer, more stable home with her adoptive parents than she would if I had chosen to parent. However, placing has also had some positive effects on my life. Even though I have had to deal with the complex grief of placement, I’ve had time to take care of myself and heal. Had I been busy with a child, I may not have had the opportunity to go to college, form meaningful relationships with friends and family, or to discover who I am as an individual. The growth and development I have experienced will make me a better mother when the time is right.
3. You experience deep grief
Placing a child for adoption is a very deep loss. It’s complicated—it is a loss you chose, but not a loss you wanted. It was the right thing for the child, but the hardest thing for you. Not many people understand this type of grief, and it can be a lonely journey. Placing little R for adoption completely broke my heart, and I will never be quite the same. There will always be a part of me that grieves for her.
4. You can experience the joys of being a birth mother
I have been blessed to have an amazing open adoption relationship with my birth daughter and her family. I adore them, and they love me just as much. We spend time together regularly, and I receive frequent updates via text message. Being a part of her life comforts me and eases the grief of placement. Watching her grow and thrive reaffirms that I made the right decision for her. Even though I am not a part of her everyday life, we have formed a very special bond. She knows just how much I love her and is always happy to see me. We snuggle up to read books and jump on the trampoline with her big brother. Being little R’s birth mother has brought me so much joy.
5. You feel isolated
Facing an unplanned pregnancy meant that I lost almost all my friends, and placing my birth daughter meant I lost even more. I faced stereotypes that all teen mothers face. According to many of my peers, I was ‘easy’ and irresponsible. Placing meant that I didn’t care about my child or want the responsibilities of parenthood. I knew that their opinions were far from the truth, but that didn’t make me feel any less lonely.
6. You learn who really matters
Yes, I lost the majority of the people I considered ‘friends.’ However, I formed unbreakable bonds with those who stood by me. In many ways, my adoption journey healed the relationship with my parents, whom I had previously pushed away. I found a support group of amazing birth mothers who understood what I was going through. The friends who stuck with me throughout my pregnancy and placement are friends I will have for life. My circle is smaller, but it is stronger than it ever was before.
7. You face your demons
Making the decision to place meant taking a long, hard look at myself. To accept the fact that I was not making healthy life choices was incredibly difficult and humbling. I was forced to make lifestyle changes that weren’t easy. I had to eliminate toxic relationships from my life. I had to face the fact that no matter how badly I wanted to be, I was in no place to raise a child.
8. You become birth mom strong
Going through so much grief, healing, love, and loneliness has helped me grow into a person I am proud of. I made the changes I needed to to be a good example to my birth daughter. I went through so much at such a young age, and even though it hurt, it was what I needed. Because of what I’ve been through, I have become much more empathetic, loving, and strong. If I could get through placement, I can get through anything. Adoption has made me birth mom strong.
Adoption is not the solution to every teenage pregnancy, but it was for me. For so many women like me, placing our children for adoption has given both mother and baby a new lease on life.