Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to experience the joy on my husband’s face as I shared that we were pregnant and experience the preparation for the baby as a couple. Someday I wanted to be that cute little family that went to soccer games on Saturdays and dance recitals on Friday nights. Unfortunately, when I found myself pregnant for the first time, I was a young teenager alone and scared. I knew that I would struggle to financially provide a home for that child to grow up in, to be emotionally mature enough to parent well and to maintain my mental health.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that tells young women to take care of their mistakes when they get pregnant. As a result, I felt pressured to be a parent. I felt false empowerment that I could provide the right life for my baby. I was wrong. I was a child raising a baby that I had no idea what to do with. I love him more than anything, but I didn’t have a clue about how to take care of a baby. Six months down the road after trying as hard as I could at 19, I realized that this was not the kind of life I wanted for my child. So, my parents offered to adopt him. I wish I could tell you that after that I had a life-changing revelation; that I knew I needed to grow up. But, honestly, despite doing the right thing for my son, I was hurting and didn’t grow up as quickly as I could have.
A few years later after crappy relationships and moving around several times, I was pregnant again. The situation was different, and I had grown up quite a bit since I was 18, but I was still not comfortable parenting. I knew that my baby could have more. So, I chose adoption. I picked an agency, found a couple that I liked, and then when I gave birth to her, I placed her in their arms to go home with them. Although both under very different circumstances, both adoptions were the hardest things I have ever had to do. While logic told me that this is the right path to take for my children’s futures, my heart was shattered at parting from them. Placing a baby for adoption has changed me forever in a variety of ways.
Placing a baby changed how I view love
Placing a baby for adoption is loving. There are so many people that have told me otherwise, but the act of placing my children for adoption had only their very best intentions at heart. I want them to thrive and grow up feeling that abundant love that I have for them. Through my decision, I am able to be in their lives thanks to open adoption. This allows me to reinforce the story that their parents are sharing with them. My son asked me a few months ago about his story and I was able to reinforce my love for him by reminding him, “I always wanted to be your mother, I still do, not wanting to be your mom was never why I chose adoption for you. I chose to place you for adoption because I knew that you deserved the best life, I could give you at that time and that was the way to do it.” He knows just as my daughter does that my love for them is undeniable. Ever since laying my eyes on them for the first time, I finally understood what unconditional love is.
Post-placement changed how I love my own birth mother
Not only has placing a baby for adoption changed me, but it has changed how I look at the woman who placed me for adoption 33 years ago. I am not only a birth mom but also an adoptee. Growing up, I never blamed her or thought negatively of her for choosing to place me for adoption, but I did wonder who she was.
When I finally connected with her for the first time in 2010, I was met with confusion and disappointment. She had not done much with her life since placing me for adoption. She is an addict, so unfortunately her life post-placement has been a struggle. For the first few years of knowing her, I was angry that she had not made better choices—even just any other choices, in general, would have been better. While I still feel sad for her and the life she’s chosen to pursue, I have begun to see how placing me for adoption has had a huge impact on her. I realized through having a relationship with Cheryl what it looks like to not work toward healing or processing the grief losing me caused. I quickly decided that I needed to work on my feelings so I was healthier for my children and could still be a solid role model in their lives. I also decided to love Cheryl with that unconditional love and be thankful for the life she gave me through her sacrifice. While we aren’t close, I still honor her and love her from afar.
Placing a baby has changed my dating life
Modern dating is already vicious and exhausting with the swiping, ghosting, and commitment-phobic world we live in. When you add being a birth mother into the mix, dating gets even more complicated. I have for the longest time shared very openly that I am a birth mother because placing a baby for adoption is a huge part of my life and the passions that drive me. I want a mate who will understand that part of me and wants to uplift men and women who have placed a baby for adoption. Or at the very least, someone who sees that part of me positively and not something I should be ashamed of. However, the reality is that I am met with judgment and rejection because of my birth mom title. Honestly, I have begun to just leave out the birth mom part at the beginning and just write that I am the co-founder of an adoption-focused organization so that I can find someone who is pro-adoption.
I’m still single, so that should tell you how that’s going. I have been in relationships where men have shamed me for being selfish. I have been scolded by some telling me to stop calling them my children because they aren’t my kids. Perhaps the most disgusting response I have received was when someone said, “Well I want to start a family from scratch, so you’re not for me.” These responses say a lot about those men as humans and I am not here to give my heart to someone who can’t even be a decent human to begin with. Placing a baby for adoption has changed how people see me and that’s just a reality. However, while it’s changed what dating looks like for me, my standards have not. I am worthy of love and happiness with the right man and he will come hopefully sooner than later.
Post-placement has changed motherhood
Motherhood looks different for me, but I still and will always be my children’s mother. Motherhood after placing a baby for adoption, at least in my situation, looks like keeping up on social media with my daughter’s mom, texting when I want to go do something with the kids, celebrating my children’s passions and unique identities consistently although sometimes from afar, spending time with them, doing exciting and fun things, and reminding them that I love them more than they could ever know. It’s not the conventional picture of motherhood, but it works for us and I am so thankful I get to live life knowing them.
Adoption has changed my fears
After placing a baby for adoption, I developed some fears that are unique to being a birth mother. There are days when I worry that my now teenage and pre-teen children will find time with me unimportant to them or even that their teenage hormones will eventually lash out at me and I will be told “I hate you” or something heartbreaking in the heat of the moment. I also fear having a child post-placement. As you read above, it’s not seeming to be in the near future, but I do eventually want a husband and kids. I worry that being pregnant will be triggering for me after placing children for adoption. I worry that my children will not understand why I would keep my third child and yet did not parent my first two. I worry a lot but hope that through therapy and talking with other birth mothers that these fears and worries are simply just that.
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Post-placement has changed how I cope
Grief is an inevitable part of a birth mother’s journey. People often speak of adoption as a celebration and joyful adventure, but the truth is that adoption is messy and complex. Adoption is founded upon a mother losing a baby and a baby losing a mother. That hurt a lot. Eventually, I had to face the trauma I had gone through.
The other day I opened up the freezer and found a coke that had exploded its sticky contents everywhere. It reminded me of the way I handled my feelings after placing a baby for adoption. The first week I cried a lot, but then I put it away and froze it out until I was forced to pick up a mess and deal with my hurt. Through therapy, birth mother support groups, and committing to working on healing I learned that I was in pain. I was so sad that I had gone through such a loss and that my children and I were not living life together as I wished. I have to work hard every day at being mindful of how I am feeling, aware of things that trigger me like baby showers or Mother’s Day, and to put in the effort to sit in my feelings and unpack them so I can progress. Healing isn’t linear, but the more that I work on it, the more I can handle triggers and challenging moments.
Placing a baby for adoption changed how I view myself
It took me a long time to figure out how I felt about the phrase, “birth mom Katie.” During my pregnancy with my daughter, I was in a dorm for women considering placing a baby for adoption and it was so easy to find myself on a pedestal of glory. I was praised for being strong, courageous, selfless, and loving by those aware of my situation. It was hard to see through the fog and figure out how I felt about what I was doing. While I was sure it was the path for my child and me to take, I didn’t know what label that gave me. Through many years of processing my story and feelings, I have determined that I am resilient and a mother who loves her children very much. I am proud to be a birth mother.
Adoption has changed how others view me
I touched a tad on this in the dating section, but I face birth mother stigmas all the time. I’ve heard that people call birth mothers selfish and spread rumors saying that they will come to steal their babies back. I’ve also heard people assume that we don’t love our babies, we are drug addicts, or that we are homeless women. Others claim that we don’t deserve to parent a baby. It’s all garbage. While every stigma starts with a thread of truth, it’s usually a far-fetched version of the story and even if there’s a tiny bit of the stigma that holds some kind of relevance to the situation, the stigma is still not the reality. For example, if a birth mother was indeed struggling with a drug habit, it doesn’t make her decision to place her baby for adoption any less difficult nor does it make her grief of losing a child non-existent. Shame doesn’t have a place at my table, and I will defend birth parents every single time I hear something that does not reflect the reality of the men and women who decided to place a baby for adoption.
Adoption has changed me for the best
The reality is that placing a baby for adoption changed me in many ways, but it changed me for the best version of myself. It has taken a lot of work to get where I am today, but I am passionate about supporting other birth parents in processing their stories and I am committed to making sure that I take care of myself throughout my journey as well. Adoption is hard and being a birth mother is not something I wish on anyone however it’s been a rewarding journey overall and I have learned to love the person it has made me today.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 Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.