There are a few things that I wish I could shout to the world about adoption. People seem to believe too much of what Hollywood tells them about it. It’s not a decision used to “cop out” of responsibility. It’s not meant to “get rid” of a problem. It was a decision that broke my heart, but one that was necessary for my son. If there were four things I could let everyone know about my adoption, it would be the following.
1. I didn’t “give up” a child.
It makes my spine curl when people say someone “gives up” a child for adoption. I’ll give up sugar to lose some weight; I’ll give away shoes to a second hand store. Never have I ever given up a child. I didn’t give up on him, and I didn’t throw him away like he was something that was taking up space or an inconvenience in my life.
I placed him. I placed him into a family where he could have stability, food in his stomach every day, and parents that could be there spiritually, physically, and emotionally. He could be excited about a sport and his family could make it to his practices and games.
If I was a single mom, I could give him love and hopefully a consistent home. I could hope that his birth father would provide something, but there was a better guarantee of a stable home if he was placed.
2. I weighed the pro’s and con’s.
Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I wrote everything down when I was deciding whether to place or not. I wrote down how wonderful it would be to be a mother, to be able to tuck in those little toes every night and give him a kiss. I wrote down the love that would only grow as he grew. I wrote down the midnight feedings and diaper changes, the sick nights and school plays. I wrote all the ups and downs of motherhood I could think of.
I also wrote down the price he would pay. The broken homes, the late nights away from me because I’m putting myself through school and working full time. The stressed and lonely mother that I would be. The silence that would come from the absence of close family. I saw the good that would inevitably come from parenting that beautiful little boy; I also saw what he would have to go through.
If I placed him, he would have a mother and a father. He would have all those things I wanted for him. I knew it would mean I would suffer, and I knew there was a slight chance at an identity crisis for him, but I also knew that his chances at happiness were much higher if he grew up in a home full of love and stability. That type of home was not one I could have fully provided for him at that time.
3. This was not a decision made lightly.
Even having it all written down in front of me, seeing the logic, I struggled with accepting that I wouldn’t be raising the child growing inside of me. I felt him move and my heart would simultaneously jump for joy and begin to break. I tried to think of any scenario where me raising him would be the best for him. I prayed for him, I prayed for me, but I knew in my soul that he was meant to be raised by somebody else. Every natural instinct inside of me was screaming at me to not sign those papers. This decision was the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do. I knew that walking into it, but I did it anyways. And I don’t regret it. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss him, and that doesn’t mean my arms don’t ache to hold him. It means that I know it was the right choice, even if it wasn’t easy.
4. It hurt then, and it hurts now
The practical side of me told me that it would hurt to place my son. I would never have been able to fathom the pain before experiencing it. I started out numb, then it began to set in. When I thought the isolation and loneliness couldn’t get any worse, it did. Over and over. One day it didn’t hurt as much, but then that thought made me hurt.
It’s been seven years and more counseling than I can wrap my brain around, but still I seem to be able to live with the loss. I can talk about him and not cry. On his birthday, however, I still find myself particularly heartbroken.
Having an open adoption has helped me. It brings me comfort to see my wishes for him coming to fruition. I love that he’s old enough to call me just to tell me that he misses and loves me. It hurt when I placed him, I knew it would. But the pain was worth it, for his health and happiness.