'Happiness Guilt' is a real emotion and heaven knows I suffer with it! Given what the last 3+ years of my life have been like, maybe it's to be expected.
Being a birth mother is hard in the depths of pregnancy and placement but you never know what to expect six months to a year later. I am blessed to be the birth mom to two perfect babies and the aftermath of each placement has come with different lessons, challenges and celebrations.
After my first placement, I didn't know it at the time, but I was feeling guilt for actually being happy. My life had improved with work, I was dating a great guy and I was recapturing my happiness again but the result of that was surprising amounts of guilt. I will try to explain why.
As a birth mother, you choose to place your child with a family ready and able of taking better care of that them than you can, whatever those circumstances are. The choice to do that is not easy. In my case, if I felt capable of being there for both babies in the best way possible I absolutely would want to raise them. I knew my limits financially and more importantly emotionally. After unhealthy relationships and being buried in what felt like mistake after mistake, it was the best option for me both times. I could see I was not prepared, twice. I realized I created a mess for each baby to be born into, twice! And it was a hard pill to sallow that I wasn't in a safe place to parent a new baby twice. That is the driver behind my self doubt now. That is the reason I struggle to accept good things that come my way.
Deciding another mother can give more than you can is a serious decision and I didn't take either lightly. I had to strip my life of all the "help" I was offered, the idea of a new baby, the excitement and anticipation of being pregnant and I had to get real with myself. So much about that process is painful. Realizing the demands of a new baby and where that fits into a single mothers schedule and even more straining, her emotional ability to maintain it all, made my decision.
It sounds like I am more considering how it would have been hard for me as the mother to choose to parent, but the truth is, it was no longer about me. Evaluating the realistic outcome of my baby being at daycare 40 hours a week while I worked is not about me, it is about that six week old. It is about handing my baby over to be essentially raised by an employee of the facility. I am not saying that is wrong. It is what is necessary sometimes and I was forced to look at that reality and I still had time to choose something better. That is not to mention growing up with an absent father or worse. (That is a topic for another day)
My point is, the path to choosing adoption is a road of accountability and reality checks. My life at the time, both times, was centered on rough relationships. I was already a single mom from my marriage, I was working 40 hours a week and barely scraping by in every aspect, including my happiness.
Fast forward to today. Six months post placement of my second baby and my life is actually really good! I have so many reasons to be genuinely happy now. Finally! I am in the healthiest and most loving relationship I have ever had, I am working at a great company where I make more money than I ever thought I could and I am living the life I never felt I was worthy of. Now I am facing the feelings of guilt. I am questioning if I am supposed to have all of this and so soon.
Aren't I supposed to struggle longer? Don't I need to repeat this same cycle a while longer to make placing my babies worth it? Am I allowed to get it all together less than a year after placement? Bow could I be this happy already?
The worry sets in when I think of how much my life has changed over the past six months and how if I were in these circumstances then, I could have kept both babies and been equipped to raise them in the way they deserved to be. I guess it is in my head that as a birth mother, I need to struggle and fight for years to have the happiness and stability I should have had before ever getting pregnant.
After I placed Juniper in 2017 I look back at that year and I was self sabotaging at every corner because I didn't feel justified in my happiness. Those destructive behaviors are what ultimately lead to my second unplanned pregnancy. I made the life I felt I deserved. A life of pain and regrets and emotionally draining relationships.
I am in a complete opposite place now. I am so happy and everyday I find new ways to keep growing. I have those moments that I question if I am worthy or deserving of this life and I have to battle the past sometimes. The way I win those battles has changed my overall perspective. I could choose to dwell in that low self esteem and doubt it all, resulting in continuous heartache OR I can stand tall knowing I made the right choice for that specific time and I am becoming the woman all my babies can be proud of. I faced my demons and I showed them the door. I choose to believe that I deserve this happiness and success because I fought the urges the past six months to self destruct and I ended up here. I finally changed the course of my life!
Placing both sweet babies for adoption was absolutely right at the time. Both of those processes needed to happen in the way and at the times they did and I don't doubt that for a second. My "happiness guilt" lessens everyday and until it is completely gone I am just grateful to know that we can improve our lives and regardless of the past we get to write our own story. My babies are a big part of mine and I am grateful I get to see them grow in the homes meant for them.
I used to think it was either only they win being raised by more capable families or no one does if I choose to parent, but now I see we all get to win!