"Live and Learn," a line you hear frequently. A line that is applicable to so many situations and scenarios. A line whose meaning I felt was heavily applicable after my first adoption experience. There was no questioning it. An event that huge, with that much impact was sure to change the core of who I was. It was inconceivable that I would find myself there again. The same disregards for birth control, irresponsible intimacy and just plain recklessness could never happen a second time. It was impossible.
Less than a year from the time I placed my baby girl with an incredible family I was again facing the reality of an accidental pregnancy. At first I felt like a double adoption was out of the question. I felt that I absolutely had to parent this baby because how would I own up to this... AGAIN. How could I have not "Lived and Learned?" Am I ready for another baby? How could I be back here, in the same unfit circumstances? Yeah, the first time around was heroic and selfless. "Accidents happen" right, but AGAIN!?
From the discouraging moment I held that positive test in my hand I planned to make parenting work. I just had to. Even though the same logistics that played into my decision last time (unplanned, unmarried and in over my head) were still in the forefront of my mind. I pushed the option or consideration of adoption out of my mind. I just kept thinking that I made my bed, I have to lay in it this time.
Weeks were passing, I hushed my uncertainty but with every kick and flutter of the baby I was uneasily bringing to the world I began to let myself remember the year before. The experience I had with adoption and the peace and conviction that came with my decision continued to circulate in my mind.
I finally summoned the courage to mention adoption to the biological father and the answer was no. He specifically said he would "never let it happen." It broke my spirit to hear those words. I was torn and felt intensely powerless at first. He didn't agree so I was at his mercy. Clearly I would have no choice if he didn't agree. I knew he had the best intentions as a father but I could see that for both of us, intentions do not put food on the table, it doesn't babysit my two month old baby while I work 40 hours a week, it doesn't mend the heartbreak for a child growing up in two separate homes and it certainly could not bring us together as a couple, among other issues I will spare.
We weren't together at the time of conception. We had one night (shame on me) then a month later had a double pink line staring us in the face. My reasons for ending it with him hadn't changed. Big lifestyle differences, parenting differences and future goals made it clear I needed to be done with him indefinintely. At that point it was decided we were not going to pursue a romantic relationship. A co-parenting arrangement was the only thing left on the table. He was more than okay not having a healthy, two parent home to offer this baby and it didn't sit right with me. We continued to pretend this was a good idea anyway. I even tried to have him over here and there to keep us in some realm of friendship for the sake of our future co-parent relationship. It always ended in the defeating feeling that I wasn't doing the right thing. Even accepting that I settled with calling it a "co-parenting" relationship before the baby was born gave me some serious heartbreak for this sweet baby. The thought of the back and forth, the hard sharing of holidays, major events and especially the day to day unrest a child undoubtably feels being passed around were killing me inside. I continuously had this ever growing resentment toward him that I was choosing what he wanted instead of what I instinctually felt was best for my son.
After weeks of tossing and turning and waking up in the night with true anxiety, I finally called my case worker and scheduled a meeting to talk. I had questions. What were my rights? I needed to know what my options were and if it was impossible to even consider adoption due to the biological fathers disagreement. If there was no chance legally then I could put adoption to rest and make parenting work, against my better judgement. I went into the meeting that day very hopeful for the news that the choice was mine. I so badly needed to hear that I had power over this innocent life and I was able to make a better decision for his benefit.
What that meeting brought was a game changer. I had more rights than I thought and I had the power to choose. It didn't take long to switch gears and find an acceptance with a second adoption and myself for even being in the same situation again. Yes, it came with embarrassment and a hellish kind of shame. However, with a miracle spirit, it also came with an understanding of what was going to happen. I had done this before. I decided I could either hate myself for this reality or use it as a strength. I knew the healing that came with it and the unexpected joy of placing a healthy baby with a prepared and deserving couple. I knew the confirming feelings of Gods plan unfolding. The events coming up were not new to me. I found the "why" in it last time and slowly I was finding the "why" this time around.
What I came to realize was that owning up to it instead of hiding it gave me a liberation from the shame. That is something I want to share with all birth moms and especially second or third time birth moms. Just own it! Your story should be told and you are no less for it. Each sweet child deserves the best chance for a healthy life and if choosing to place is what is right for you then I am proud to be among you!
Once I decided on the adoption and the process was rolling I moved forward in life with relief and peace in my choice. Other than handling the disapproval from the birth father and a separate sadness for him about how it had to happen I had put most of the anxieties about the future to rest. I could appreciate his desire to parent and his willingness to do so but I couldn't let that be the blind fold to what the reality was. I couldn't have lived with knowing there was a window of time to choose more certainty for my son and that I didn't follow my instinct as a mother. Some may say the act of deciding and moving forward without his consent was harsh and unfair. My natural reponse to that is thankfully empowering. I was overwhelmed with conviction. I still am. He told me no early on so I had to move forward without him. We had many dicussuons about why he wouldn't agree and they all came back to what he wanted out of it. The reality is that someone more concerned about what they want and what is more fun for them than the life of the child won't look at every option no matter what. They won't face their limitations or the raw truth of their situation. I knew I had to do this on my own because allowing the impaired opinion of someone else to influence something so huge was weakness on my part. Hell yeah I struggled with fear of what the birth father would feel or think or what his circle would have to say about it. I stressed about the outcome, absolutely! However, I would choose that perception from outside sources any day before I try to face myself for backing away from what I knew was right just to avoid opinions of others. The truth is, I am a mother. I was sent this sweet boy. I had his whole life in my body and in my hands! If I wasn't going to fight for him, who would? When I take that approach there is no question, the biological father and I were not ready. We hadn't planned or prepared to parent. I felt sadness because he couldn't realize it.
I have said this before but it's worth repeating. Having sex does not qualify you for parenthood. Yes, scientifically you made a baby but raising a child takes much more than science. Sleeping together doesn't equal love. One irresponsible night does not warrant an entire life of a child resulting in turbulence, two seperate homes, different parenting appraoches and ideals or worse things that come with certain situations. A summer fling does not come with the luxury of selfishness. Do you think it's easy for me to admit my behavior last summer and the immaturities that got me here? No, it's not, but it's the ugly truth and I would rather look it in the face and give this delicate little life a freaking chance!
The father and I do not agree on these matters and perhaps mine is the unpopular opinion worldwide. I don't care. This is bigger and more important than avoiding the emotion or pain of accepting your mistakes and limitations. I was confident then and moreso now that this baby belonged with a couple in love and ready to offer all of their best.
And that is exactly what I found. The details of the entire expereince could fill a novel so I will break it up in pieces. What I can say is that the feeling that came in the hospital as I brought him into the world confirmed to me that I had placed that precious boy with his parents, the people he was meant to be with. The aftermath of this decision has been much harder than expected and I couldn't have prepared for the emotions it has brought.
BUT! I would not change it for the world. I love my son just as I love each sweet baby that I physically brought down from Heaven. My conviction as a mother out weighs the opinions of others and I know I did the right thing... again. Heaven doesn't mess with adoption and I am so grateful for the love and support shown through my struggle.
I am an advocate for adoption. I am an advocate of proper birth control and want to use this platform to bring awareness. Please be smart. If you are not ready for the lifestyle it should require to raise a child, use birth control! If you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant in an unfit situation, look into your options. I know how scary it can be, believe me! Reach out for support and love, you are still very much worthy of help and comfort as you navigate next steps. I couldn't have had as much peace through this without the judgement free people I am blessed to have around me.
My story will continue as both of my adoptions are open and a big part of my life. I love all three of my babies and my choices will not always make sense to outsiders but I will say that I am happy. I feel deep joy when I get to hold or see either child I placed for adoption. I thrive as they thrive in the family and home I couldn't provide.
I vividly remember the fall of 2017, about a month before I placed Juniper for adoption. Hardly anyone knew I was pregnant and planning on adoption. At that time I was mentally preparing for the backlash of negativity coming once it was no longer under wraps. The opinions, judgements and disapprovals were inevitably coming in my mind. I knew I was making the right choice and I was confident in that but I now had to ready myself to defend it publically as I decided to share my story.
My method of preparation was to root myself in my reasons why. I just knew if I explained my "why's" I could make anyone understand. I believed so heavily that my decision was the obvious best choice. I also understood that it wasn't so obvious to others right away. However, I was convinced once someone knew my reasons they would immediately get it. I shared my first blog post a week post placement. There were two surprises after I went live.
The first surprise was the amount of positive feedback and support I received! Secondly I was surpirised I was actually lacking that disapproval I expected to have which was such a relief but very shocking. I had questions from people but none that I felt came form a place of disagreement. If anything it was simple, genuine curiosity which I was happy to face instead.
Fast forward to today. I have recently faced the opposition in my decision I expected to have in October 2017. I have gained so much peace in sharing my story over the past 18 months and I accepted that society really is gracious just in time to realize it is not 100% gracious. I finally felt the heavy weight of disapproval. I actually had feelings of inadequecy I hadn't faced yet as a birthmom, almost as if I deserved less in my life for choosing to place. The opinions of others were really impacting what I believed about myself, that I deserve a happy marraige to someone amazing and more children in my future. I had moments of doubt that I was tainted and second rate because I had had an unplanned pregnancy.
After feeling that pain for the first time I decided to talk about the stereotypes that come with being a birthmother and a few things I did to restore my self worth. Fortunately the adoption community has grown and expanded so many minds so these steroetypes are much less common but they are out there and even years after placement may effect birthmoms. Self-esteem, relationships, the healing process, etc. may all be effected.
At first I was overwhelmed with defensiveness and anger I hadn't yet felt. I have since accepted that I cannot change someone's opinion. I cannot make them understand me and my choice but I can choose to look beyond their lack of understanding to the bigger picture.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about birthmothers and the facts.
1. We are all teen moms.
Actually I was 24, divorced and already a mother to a 3 year old. Many other birthmothers I know personally are in their 30's and even 40's when they chose to place. You can still decide that you are not equippped to parent even if you aren't 16 years old. We are allowed to know our limitations at any age. If anything it may be more difficult as you can see loopholes in where you may feel ready to parent so that black and white line is much more watered down. People expect you to parent at an older age. I had this question many times, "You already have a daughter, why wouldn't you choose to parent your second?" I have written about that more in depth in previous posts so I will spare detail but I knew my limitations at that time. I couldn't romanticize parenting and having a new little baby in my circumstances. I knew what it took and I am glad I had that self awareness to say no, I cannot provide what I know she deserves right now.
2. We are addicts.
Some are addicts, most aren't. BUT that is true of people in general. To me, if that is the case, then why aren't we applauding the small percentage that are admitting it and want better for thier babies?
3. We are uneducated.
In fact, more that half of birthmothers have an associates degree and much more than that have their highschool diploma. Studies show that women who choose to place pursue higher education and finish school with a defgree. I have personally chose not to go back to school but I made that choice long before even having my first daughter and it definitely had nothing to do with my unplanned pregnancy or decision to place. I have since had some big career growth and believe that was partly possible because I chose to allow someone ready to parent to be there for her 100%.
4. We sleep around.
This is a big one for me. I was irresponsible with birth control regularity. I wasn't moonlighting at the local bordello. Each of my pregnancies were while in a committed relationship and yes, I own the fact that is still not a reason to neglect birth control but when people hear birthmother they probably think we are sleeping around.
I will be the first to raise my hand when it comes to knowingly staying in an unhealthy relationship and allowing the actions that lead me to where I am. If you know me or read this blog you know I am well aware of my flaws in this area. I am not justifying the fact that I have had two unplanned pregnancies just because we were in a relationship. I do however refuse to feel like less because my physical state proves I was sexually active when most everyone is. I can only try to make the best of it once it happens. I am to the point where I see there is a line of viewing myself as trashy for having unplanned preganncy OR I can precieve myslef as classy and worthy of the best things in life!
5. We just don't want the baby.
Also false and probably the most hurtful bias. That is why some women abort. They don't want the inconvenience of preganancy. For a birthmom to go through 9 months of this just to have empty arms at the end is exactly the opposite. Birthmoms want their babies, but they want them in the right circumstances and that is much more selfless than choosing to parent knowing you cannot provide what someone else can. I say this a lot but I know my limitations. I know I am a single mom already facing all that comes with even one child and her dad. I would have been lying to myslef if I told myself I could have done all of that again at that time. I feel deep sadness when I hear "How could she take it out on that poor baby," or that I am selfish for not "bucking up and parenting." Guess what? I did buck up. I fulfilled my role in her life and I am so blessed to be able to see that confirmation daily that I did the right thing.
There are probably more common mosconceptions I didn't touch on. As sad as it is that this is still an issue with all that goes on in the world I am happy to say that there is support and genuine respect for your decision as a birthmom. So many incredible families are brought together through your sacrifice.
For me, the prejudices have hit close to home in recent weeks and I have a few ways I have been combatting them that may help a fellow birthmom out there.
First I go back to "My Why's." I reread words I wrote when I made my decision. I look at all it takes to be there emotionally, financially and physically for a baby and remember what my limitations were at the time. This really gives me my power back as I remember that I took charge of my situation with my baby's best interest at heart.
Second, I reach out to those who I know supported me then and support me now. They remind me that there is understanding and open minds we can lean on. It is good to know the negative opinions are so small in number compared to the supportive ones.
Third and most difficult sometimes, I pray to understand those who judge me. I sincerely hope they can let go of the biases and disapproval and realize that my dicision was MINE. It does not help me to feel anger towards those who don't understand. It does not serve me to wallow in those opinions. I am a birthmom. Plain and simple. I know what it means to me and that is all that matters!
Fourth and final for now, I try to use social media carefully. Anyone with eyes and a laptop can critisize you online. Do not put yourself out there if you allow those faceless comments to effect you. Just don't go there. Network validation is pretty empty if it is all you have to rely on. Be okay with yourself and your decision first and then you may be ready to share your incredible, unique story. If you are struggling at any stage in your motherhood, be aware of online risks and rewards. You are more than a blanket steroetype! Remember that!
Ultimately this is how I look at it. You are beautiful, the world is big and life is long! Let yourself be happy, let yourself progress unapologetically and hold tight to the truth that you owe nothing to anyone. You have every right, as does everyone, to learn lessons your own way and put your self worth first!
Your families love you, your babies love and revere you and I am very proud to be among this community of strong women.
It's nearly impossible to explain what I feel at this stage in my second accidental pregnancy, but this is where I try. I have gone over and over the events in my life that brought me here, twice. The actions and lack of actions cause most to shake their head in disbelief. Believe me, I am shaking my head right along with them.
If you are unfamiliar with my story here it is in a nutshell. I had my first child in 2014 in the middle of an unhealthy marraige. After seperating with my now Ex husband I became pregnant in a short lived relationship. I placed that baby with her family October 2017 through the process and blessing of adoption. I am still a single mom just trying to figure out life and love after so many unexpected things.
My adoption experience in 2017 taught me so much! It taught me sacrifice, selfless love and an inner strength I never imagined I could have. I learned to trust my instincts and fight for my children when certain parties didn't agree. I gained a second family and a self respect I may not have found otherwise. Through choosing adoption I faced questions of why and I'm hoping this post can answer those questions.
Even with all the positive that came from placing Juniper in 2017, I've come to realize it didnt cure all my flawed decision making. I thought wisdom and control in my intimate relationships was among the lessons learned, but in August of 2018 another positive pregnacy test found its way into my hands. Shame and embarrasment filled me first, then fear and confusion followed them with hearbreak. Joy and excitement weren't among the emotions this time around, very much like my other pregnancies. I have conducted my life in a way that each positive test has only brought panic! These negative emotions surrounding pregnancy are ones I am very familiar with. Some may say that's dark and sad but the truth is the truth. I haven't had the stability a baby requires and deserves.
My opinions about what children need and deserve in the home are not everyones' opinions and I understand that, but until I find a positive test in my hand while in a healthy marraige where my husband and I are committed to eachother and the success of our baby, I won't feel that excitement. I can't pretend playing house is enough for a child. I won't let the fun and cute anticipation of a baby cloud my judgement of what is actually best. Long term success and happiness for a child requires two parents in the home. I don't have that, the father doesn't have that, but there are plenty of deserving couples who do!
I'm sure all of this sounds harsh but I can say it because I've been on both sides. I kept a baby when I knew her parents wouldn't be together and I placed one with an incredible couple able to provide that stability. Each of my kids are perfect! They each have all the potential in the world to succeed but I am raw and genuine when I say the baby I placed has the home life and parental dynamic all kids deserve. My first daughter is with her dad half the week and then me half the week. That is a different enviroment and parenting style on constant rotation. No one can tell me that is best or healthy for a young heart and mind. No one can say that torn feeling between mom and dad doesn't affect her. I know because I face it daily. I see the pain in my child's face when she has to leave her dad to come with me or leave me to go with her dad. I feel responsible and even though I wouldn't trade her for the world I wish every second things were defferent for her.
I completely understand and empathize with those who have faced divorce and that is now the reality for their children. I am a statistic of divorce after all. Sometimes it's necessary. However, I am 23 weeks pregnant. I have the chance and time to change that reality for this baby just as I did with my second baby. I have the opportunity now to give this baby everything he deserves. I can't help but follow all these feelings up with the obvious truth that I have demonstrated irresponsibility in a big way with all three of my pregnancies. I have been wreckless with human life and the very least I can do is conscider better options going forward.
This is blunt, but having sex does not qualify you for parenthood. Making a baby is the easy part almost anyone can do but it does not mean you are ready or deserving to parent. Self control and building a healthy home life BEFORE having sex does. Preparation, dedication and intent make parents. I don't feel anymore deserving to parent this baby than a stranger on the street. Yes, having a newborn is so indescribably wonderful, being the one and only for that child is an amazing thing. However, the minute I chose to neglect safety options or abstinence in an uncommited relationship, this stopped being about me.
I am not here to condemn those who have parented from a similar situation. I am just sharing my opinion and feelings about my own hand in bringing innocent spirits to this world.
So why am I choosing to parent?
It takes two to tango. Both parents have rights.
As much as I already love this sweet baby; that love, for me, doesn't translate to keeping him and continuing to struggle to provide in hopes of one day getting it together. It doesn't mean dropping him off with a state funded facility 40 hours a week for a stranger to raise. The love God naturally gives mothers doesn't mean ignoring the facts. The facts are, I have to work full time to make ends meet. I am no where near remarraige or offering a complete family for my kids. The option for me to stay home and help delevop his talents and self worth won't be on the table for a long time. The time I will have with him is even less because I"ll be spliting it with his dad. The father has to work full time and is in similar circumstances.
Even though I feel one way, love translates different for everyone. Love, to him, may mean facing the struggle. It may mean finding peace with split parent time for the next 18 years. That love may mean focusing on what is good and fun about parenting. The difference in opinion is what makes this hard.
My feelings about this have been taken in all sorts of ways. I have heard I am selfish, I have been accused of just not wanting him and I have been asked why I am "taking it out on the baby." On the contrary, I am sincerely wanting what is best for him, even if that means it's not with me.
The past five months have been difficult. The past five months have brought justifications and acceptance for some things and just further confusion for others. The nine months it takes to bring a baby to the world forces you to take a good hard look at who you are and what you really have to offer. I have had the chance to bring this process to fruition three times and each time I have seen what I lack. I have also seen my potential as a mother. I have seen strengths and felt hope in one day having what I want, but even then I am overcome with the knowledge that adoption isn't my choice, it's God's. It is beautiful and beneficial for anyone blessed enough to be involved.
I have consistently had a hard time taking the option of adoption off the table and despite my strong stance, I know I can and will rise to the occasion of parenting. I will make the very most of the time I have with him and I know he will be exuisite!
I may feel one way people don't understand and that is okay because I know it is with my child's best interest at heart. The father may feel a way I don't understand but in time the gap will be bridged. The outcome will make sense and more valuable life lessons will be learned.
I love all my kids very much! I feel the way I feel because I love them. Bringing babies to this world is a special calling that I have come to accept. I truly believe there are bigger things at play and they will be made known to me in time. I don't get affected by opinions of others or lack of understanding because this is not about how people see me. This is about these children and their future. I am prepared to find peace with the results of my actions and as I move forward may I always focus on the bigger picture, and birth control. ;) A little humor to lighten the heaviness of this post... :/
I have debated keeping all of these things to myself but I need to face it in order to move on from the negative emotional reprocussions of a repeat mistake. I understand how huge it is but life is long and I have felt the mercies of God and support of so many loved ones.
As the due date nears I pray for understanding. I pray that this sweet boy knows I love him. I am sure of his need to be here and even from an unplanned beginning that his life will be everything he deserves.
What is it like to be a birth mom through the holidays?
I placed my little girl in October last year, just as the holiday season was beginning. It was raw through the following months and being around family was nice but I still felt a loss for a little spirit that could have been joining us. I guess I was surprised at how much of my emotional progress depended on me. I had assumed the holiday spirit and family traditions would carry me through it. I was supported immensely by family, friends and strangers who followed my story. Even with that added strength, somehow it still wasn't enough.
I had to fake a few smiles and force myself to attend some family gatherings. I felt bad I wasn't more in tune with the loved ones I did have around me but I found some peace in owning how I felt. I finally decided to give credit to the taxing emotional experience I has just gone through. My biggest saving grace, and not all birth moms have this mercy, was being around my baby girl.
I am blessed with an open adoption and an incredible friendship with my adoptive parents so as I look back to last year, being in touch with them was what made the difference. I was able to see them and remind myself she wasn't gone, she was just bringing another family joy. A joy without comparison! That time spent with them was doing a handful of healing on it's own.
If your adoption is closed and that relief is harder to find this time of year I have a few thoughts that may help bring some peace. Those moments of loss are incredibly difficult and can bring you to question your decision. My advice is to think back to your "Why." Why you chose this for your baby to begin with. Remind yourself of those peaceful feelings you had when you chose a better path for your precious child. Yes, they aren't with you for these special times but they are building bonds and memories with the people God placed here for them and you're an angel for making that possible!
It is absolutely challenging to stay positive and upbeat every day, all the time, I understand that. Continue to surround yourself with support and lean on your agency if needed. They saw you through the process and can give you the perspective to help you get through the heartache. I know I can reach out to my case worker for strength, no matter the time of year.
If you're years past placement or even decades, and adoption was a part of your past no one knows about. Don't do this season alone. You can also find a calm from support. Seek out an agency or fellow birth parents. Having someone know what you're going through will make a world of difference.
Open or closed, fresh or seasoned; regardless of the stage you're in, let those around you lend support! While families gather and what's meant to be joyous seems daunting, remember why you chose adoption. I personally found it helpful to do a few things:
- Light candles and bring in scents from my childhood that helped me feel comforted and close to my roots.
- Play traditional holiday music to remind me of the purpose of this season and in turn remind me how important my decision was.
- Write down how you feel and know it's okay to be sad, confused, lonely, etc. but try to find joy despite the pain. Reach out honestly for connection and support!
As we head into this holiday season I have been able to feel more in control of my emotions by preparing for those down days. I have set aside alone time to write, read, and pamper myself physically and emotionally. I have a system and visits scheduled with my adoptive family.
If your heart aches through this season or all year long, try to move forward knowing you are admired and loved for your sacrifice. My heart is with you during this season and I pray for happy holidays for you and your loved ones!