“I am a birth mother. I relinquished my baby in an open adoption arrangement,” I say with pride in my voice and a smile on my face to people in town when they inquire about my shrunken belly, but do not see me with a baby in a stroller.

“Why did she do that? She’s obviously not a teenager. Must have dropped out of school or something,” the cashier thinks.

“She probably doesn’t even know who the baby’s daddy is,” judges another person.

“I bet she does drugs,” a man ponders as his prescription is being filled.

“Is she homeless? Does she even have a job? Could she simply not afford an abortion? So she gave her newborn baby away to strangers,” races an older lady’s mind as she walks off in disgust.

“I bet she didn’t love her kid either,” says the adoptee in her mid-twenties who had just found out, after years of untruths, that she was adopted.

A birth mother … does drugs, is a teenager, is homeless, is poor, is addicted to drugs, is promiscuous, is lazy, cannot get a job, does not love or care for her baby.  These are all STEREOTYPES. Where do these stereotypes come from? I don’t think that anyone is quite sure.

But I can tell you one thing that is true about all birth mothers.  All birth mothers, those who relinquished a child two months ago or those who relinquished a child 20 years ago, will tell anyone who will listen how that was the hardest, most selfless thing they have ever done. And yet the carry a burden of negative societal perception.

Am I any of these untruths or stereotypes??? No, I am not. I am a birth mother, and I am proud of that. But I am not a teenager; in fact I am in my mid-twenties, educated, have a decent job, and I am engaged to the most wonderful guy in the South. I could have paid for an abortion, but did not feel that I had permission from God to do such a thing. It is in God’s plan who lives or dies, not mine. So, I prepared to keep this life and parent it until God sent Scott and Angee into our lives. They were looking for a baby to adopt and we had so many things in common– we knew this was in God’s plan. We just followed our orders.

I did, do, and always will love my baby so very much. And his adoptive family loves him very much too. Whenever I see my baby with his adoptive mom,and both of their faces are glowing and his little smile is lighting up his rosy cheeks, and her big “my-life-is-blessed” smile is lighting up her face … I know that this is God’s gift to me. I helped play a part in answering their prayers.

Knowing that I helped God complete a plan excuses some of the burdens society places on me, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. When I was pregnant and having an ultrasound, the doctor advised me that it would be best for me not to see it. After my pregnancy, when I was having a horrible time with postpartum depression, my doctor blamed it solely on the adoption and asked me why my life was so bad that I had to give the baby away. If I had been as strong as I am now, I would have looked at her and said, “My life’s not bad, it’s perfect. I followed in God’s plan.” But all I did then was look away. I was prepared to deal with the sadness and empty feelings in my stomach, but I was not prepared that society would make me feel that it was not okay to have a baby and share that life with someone else.

The next time you are in the grocery store or at a restaurant and you hear a courageous young lady say that her baby was placed for adoption, don’t think, “How could she do that?” Instead, think of how thankful that baby’s adoptive parents are that she was able to give them that gift. You could thank her on their behalf or commend her for her courage and strength. And then watch the little miracle that will take place on her face.