1. Have I explored all of my options?
An unexpected pregnancy can lead to a spaghetti bowl of thoughts. Millions of options leading to nowhere that turn anxiety into panic. When I found myself faced with an unplanned pregnancy the only way to organize the maddening thoughts was to write it all down. I wrote down what it would be like to parent, both co-parenting and single parenting. I wrote down adoption. I even wrote down abortion, knowing in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to go through with one. I explored all of my options, weighing the pros and cons and writing until my hand was cramped. It was all laid out before me. Those papers were one of the biggest helps to me after I had placed my son. I was able to reread them all and see why I chose adoption. It helped it make sense at a time when nothing in the world did.
2. Closed or Open?
I would not have been able to place if the adoption had been closed. I knew it as soon as I began to consider adoption. The couple that I chose has kept every promise when it comes to openness, and I know that in that regard, I’m blessed. I still weighed my options (see step 1) when it came to open vs closed, but I wanted to see the dreams I had for my son come to fruition. I needed that validation that I had made the better choice for him, by allowing him to be raised by somebody else.
However, I can see the argument for wanting a closed adoption. It can tear at your heart, seeing your child love another woman the way he should love you. It’s a special kind of sadness, knowing that you carried him for months, were sick for him, lost friends and family from choices you made for him, and still watch him bond with another family. It was everything I wanted, him to be happy in another family, but still. It broke me. Having a closed adoption is a way to bring closure. The child can be in a healthy, happy home and you don’t have to break more to see it happen.
3. Do I have a plan to handle the emotions?
After deciding on placing, I knew I was in for a roller coaster of emotions. Recovering from pregnancy can fiddle with your hormones enough, but recovering from a pregnancy with no baby to hold can throw your entire soul out of place. I knew I would be aching, but I didn’t know how to anticipate the kind of anguish I would experience. Working closely with my case worker, we came up with a plan. I was to continue to write; for whatever reason I can express myself much clearer on paper than I can speaking. The next step would be to continue therapy. Not just one-on-one counseling, which was helpful, but a group of local birth mothers that met weekly. Along with those steps, I would allow myself a certain amount of time to do the “lay in bed, not get dressed, eat whatever I feel” kind of grieving, and force myself out of that within a few weeks by continuing to live. I made myself get up in the morning, shower, eat healthy, go to work, faked it ’til I made it. It took years, it took highs and lows, it took progressing and regressing. I’m not sure when I finally made it to accepting that I wasn’t raising my son, but I have made it and it was from following my plan.