Last month, I wrote what I was hoping was an objective article about the three main options women generally consider when they find themselves experienced an unplanned pregnancy, called How Do I Know I’ve Fully Considered All My Options In My Unplanned Pregnancy? In it, I tried to briefly explain the pros and cons of all three option.
However, there is so much more to be said, especially about the option of adoption. Being a birth mother, I do have a subjective view of adoption, and my point of view may be very different from the perspectives of adoptive parents or adoptees. But my hope is to prepare women with unplanned pregnancies to know what they can about adoption. All circumstances are different, so I will try to stick to those things that will be applicable to the majority.
Adoption blesses lives.
Adoption has the potential to benefit everyone in the triad, plus myriad other people outside the triad. There are endless opportunities to give and receive love from all sides. Children can grow up within circumstances you’ve deemed ideal for them, adoptive parent can be blessed with a child they otherwise may not have been able to have, and the you can continue on with your schooling, career, traveling, etc.
With open adoptions specifically, relationships can be formed between everyone, creating one giant family that includes you, your child, the birth father (should he be involved), the adoptive parents, adoptive and birth grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, etc, etc. The list could go on and on! With all the relationships that can form, birth mothers have multiple avenues in which to find support, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, an understanding friend, and assistance in recovery.
Adoption doesn’t mean you give up or lose your child.
If you wish for a closed adoption, that is 100% up to you. Just be prepared for the possibility that one day your child might try and find you. Regardless of whether or not there is any interaction, there is interconnectedness; you will always be that child’s first mother, no matter how physically or emotionally far from them you are. Don’t stress about a possible reunion someday, just know it could happen.
If an open adoption is more your style, you can work something out with the adoptive parents, most likely with the help of an adoption agency, for exchanging pictures, emails, calls, or visits. This option, though, may not be 100% up to you. Once the child is legally bound to the adoptive parents, they have a say in how open the adoption is as well. They may want more or less contact than you do. The best thing to do is openly and respectfully communicate your thoughts and feelings and be receptive to theirs as well. Just be ready to put the work in. Like any other relationship worth building and maintaining, it takes effort. But in my humble opinion, it’s more than worth it!
Some people are pressured into placing when they don’t believe it’s the best choice.
When it come to the down sides of adoption, because of my personal experience, I can’t speak for anyone who was not given a choice or was coerced into adoption. I will not pretend to understand what you went through, and do recognize that for you, adoption may be nothing but negatives. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. That being said, I can only speak about adoption as a freely made choice.
Adoption is forever.
As I mentioned in my previous article, once the papers are signed and approved by the court, adoption is not something that can be undone. Something many people believe (and some even fear) is that a birth parent can just take back a child at any time. This is not so; adoption is a binding, permanent, and legal action. There is no changing your mind 8 months or 8 years down the road.
Your open adoption might close.
Though this is not normally the case, the structure of adoption can also change; it could happen slowly, over time, or change abruptly overnight. Like I said above, it is up to both you and the adoptive parents to decide on how open the adoption is. So if they decide they want to close off partial (or all) contact, they can do so. Since you signed away your rights as the child’s parent, you can’t really do anything about it. This can be very difficult, especially if you don’t understand what went wrong. This too can change over time, but without communication and contact, it could be a struggle that lasts until the child is 18.
It’s not easy, and you will experience grief after placement.
The last of the cons will most likely come for every birth mother, regardless of circumstances. This is one of the most personal parts of adoption: the grieving process. When your child is placed for adoption, there will be sadness. Deep, deep sadness that may or may not go away.
The experience of sadness will vary from woman to woman. This sadness may diminish and heal over time. It might not show up until later in life. It could be periodic and fleeting or it will weigh on you for the rest of your life. No matter how confident you are in your decision, how perfect the family you’ve chosen is, or how much you want the best for your child, I can almost guarantee you will feel it. It’s hard, and it can be utterly debilitating and crippling. But for those of us who chose adoption, it’s a consequence we choose in the name of love.
Everything in between
Adoption can seem like the perfect option for everyone, or the scariest of all the options. It really depends on your personality, your attitude, and your values. There are ups and down to every scenario, and there may be better days, weeks, months, or years than others.
But, as a birth mother, I am an advocate for adoption. I support adoption. I believe it can give, change, and improve lives. It gave life to my son. It changed the lives of his family. And it improved my life, allowing me to know I did the right thing for all of us. And that right there is what I am the biggest advocate for and supporter of: doing what’s best for you and your child.
I’m biased. I can never achieve complete objectivity about something I’m so immensely passionate about. But my circumstances are not yours. Do as much research as you can. Look to others for help. Trust in God, energies, or meditation. And be as prepared as possible no matter what you choose.
Pregnant and not sure what to do? Click here to connect with an experienced, compassionate adoption professional who can help you as you work through your decision-making process.