Adoption as a Band-Aid

purple bandaid

image c/o www.carstickers.com

It’s probably no surprise to you that some people hate adoption.

There are entire activist groups and many, many websites warning women about the “adoption industry” and the people in it.

We appreciate a lot of what these folks have to say. There is a large for-profit adoption industry, and it is extremely troubling how some facilitators and attorneys take advantage of women when they are at their most vulnerable. Before the 1980s, thousands upon thousands of women were coerced into choosing adoption; that number is far lower today, but it is not at zero.

We differ from anti-adoption groups in that we don’t think adoption is always bad for women; in fact, we have seen firsthand how it can lead to positive and healthy outcomes for women, their children, and those children’s adoptive families. We see these outcomes when women feel that they are at a point in their lives or in a situation where, for whatever reason, parenting does not seem like the best option. Parenting is a different experience for everyone, and not everybody wants to be a parent or wants to parent multiple children. Some women choose adoption because they do not feel emotionally ready to care for a child, because they have dreams and goals they plan to accomplish on their own, or because parenting was not part of the plan for this time in their life. There are as many reasons to choose adoption as there are birth mothers.

But anti-adoption groups are right that many women choose adoption largely because they feel that they can’t parent, and it is here that the larger issue, on which we all agree, arises: there are too many factors that make women feel that they can’t parent. Nearly all of the women with whom we work feel financially incapable of supporting a child (or another child), and that is unsurprising given that poverty rates in our country are staggering and that those rates are especially high for single mothers and women of color. They are unsurprising when we consider the sexism, racism, and violence against women that pervade our country’s history. When a woman becomes pregnant, it often seems that the odds are stacked against her. And that isn’t fair.

A great deal of very important activism is happening to fight back against the factors that make parenting so difficult, but it takes time. One commenter on an anti-adoption forum said recently, “Most infants in America that are adoptable are born to healthy women whose only disadvantages are being young and/or being unmarried. Rather than helping such young women (they are typically young) make an ‘adoption plan,’ as if that were somehow an ordinary or ‘respectable’ response to an untimely pregnancy, why not support that young woman so she can keep and raise her child?” The problem is that even though you and I may agree that women deserve support, our country isn’t there yet. There is very little financial support available for women who feel comfortable asking for it, not to mention the lack of support that exists for women facing other difficulties such as sexual or physical violence, drug addiction, and mental health challenges. And what do we do in the meantime, as we work towards becoming a place where an unplanned pregnancy doesn’t have to be so incredibly difficult?

In many cases, adoption is a “Band-Aid” over a much larger problem, a problem that concerns women’s social, economic, and physical rights, a problem that makes parenting far more difficult than it should be. But people are going to need Band-Aids until that larger problem is solved. We believe that when pregnant women are facing circumstances that make them unsure if parenting is the best choice, they have the right to consider other options and do whatever makes the most sense for them. We agree that it’s unfair that those difficult circumstances exist, and we hope that one day the odds won’t be stacked against so many women. But in the meantime, we have to trust women to do what is right for them given their unique lives and experiences.

Do you agree that the necessity of adoption speaks to a much larger problem? Tell us about the factors that contributed to your decision in the comments below.


It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

it's okay to change

image c/o thekissofjoy.com

The “revocation period” is the period of time birth parents have to revoke their consent to adoption after they have signed the paperwork (which they usually do at the hospital 24-72 hours after delivery). The length of the revocation period depends on the state: in Maryland it’s thirty days and in DC and Virginia it’s ten days. Revocations happen at every adoption agency, but birth parents who change their mind are often worried that they are somehow doing something wrong. Below are the main concerns we hear from birth parents who are revoking their consent.

1. “I’m being selfish and letting everyone down.”

On the contrary, you did something responsible by planning out how you would proceed. A change of plans doesn’t negate the importance of that process. If your baby had already been placed with an adoptive family by the time you revoked your consent, then they are likely to feel sad and disappointed, but those are emotions that the adoption agency will work with them to manage as they move forward in their adoption journey. Your change of heart will not keep them from becoming parents in the future; the agency will continue to work with them to find the right match. Remember, when it comes down to it, no family truly wants to parent a baby whose birth parent wishes they had never made an adoption plan. The greatest service that you can do for an adoptive family is to carefully consider your own feelings and make the decision that is best for you and your baby, even if that decision is not to make an adoption plan.

2. “I wasted the adoption agency’s time.”

Educating people about their pregnancy options is a service that Adoptions Together and other ethical agencies provide as part of their mission to build healthy families through adoption. If we help you explore adoption and you decide it is not right for you, then we have still provided that service and fulfilled our mission – so it’s all good! Educating people about adoption and planning with parents who are considering it is our job, whether or not an adoption plan winds up being the end result.

3. “I should have decided sooner.”

Planning not to parent can be an important step along the way to making the decision to parent. If you were not originally sure whether you wanted to parent, then you owed it to your child and yourself to investigate, research, and think seriously about all of your options. Had you decided to parent without doing so, then you would have been selling yourself short, and you might always have wondered whether you should have considered adoption more seriously.

Did you change your mind at any point during the adoption process? What decision did you end up making? Tell us what you think in the comments!


Jenna’s Story

guest post

Today’s guest post was written by Jenna Myers, a birth mother who placed her daughter with an adoptive family in 2009.

I’m beyond uncomfortable as I sit alone in the bright, yellow-walled waiting room at the doctor’s office, my fingers and feet swollen with the pressure of what feels like a cinder block crushing my bladder. I can’t help but notice every detail about the women who surround me: the way they hold their husbands’ hands with excitement and anticipation, the obnoxiously expensive maternity clothes that drape their bodies in just a way that makes their sudden weight gain and pop belly flattering, and the books they read about what to expect.

And here I sit in my oversized sweatpants, holding the tears back from erupting.  I have smeared mascara, bags under my eyes, and a nine-month-old sinus infection.

My name’s called out, crashing my train of thought.

“Jenna Myers?” asks an overly cheerful nurse in scrubs with small pastel hand prints on it.  “Follow me.”

Same procedure, different day, for the nurse and for me. Weight, temperature, blood pressure, pee into a cup, and wait.

“The doctor will be in shortly. Undress from the waist down and drape that over you,” the nurse explains, closing the door behind her.

Ten minutes pass before the doctor gives a small knock and barges in, clipboard in hand.  He manages to make awkward conversation while simultaneously poking and prodding around inside of me.

“It’s almost time, the baby has dropped and you are two centimeters dilated. I noticed the amniotic fluid levels are lower than normal. If they drop anymore, we will have to perform an emergency C-section.  I understand you are placing the child for adoption?” he asks, his tone professional and impersonal.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Okay then, I will put that in our records.  I will see you in a few days for your next check-up.”

As I walk out of the office, I feel all eyes on me.  If they only knew.

****

Now, I’m not very religious, but every night for the next few days I pray myself to sleep, in hope that it will cause these fluid levels to drop.  The combination of excitement, fear, impending relief, and grief is weighing on my stomach like a small sandbag.  My hands lay pressed against my bulging basketball belly, fingers crossed inside my hoodie pocket so no one can see the childish superstition I still carry with me at twenty-one.

“Jenna Myers?” a woman calls out.  “Come with me, sweetie.”  This woman is not the nurse from the other day, but she is soft spoken, with sympathetic eyes.  She puts her hand on my shoulder as she leads me into the sonogram room. As I lay on the table, she says: “You’re placing her for adoption? That’s very brave of you.”

“Yeah. I really just want her out of me at this point. I’m ready to start fresh,” I reply quickly, as I feel the burn of unwelcome tears attempting to make their appearance.  I swallow hard, but my chin still quivers.

“You are doing an amazing thing, Jenna. You are a strong woman,” the nurse says as she rubs my shoulder and hands me a tissue.

“I just don’t want to give….my baby….away…on Christmas!” I finally blurt out in between sobs.

“Well, I can help you with that. You are already ‘full term’, and if your levels have fallen since your last visit, they will most likely want to do an emergency C-section.  Can I just measure the lowest amount of fluid for you instead?” she asks.  I quietly shake my head as I feel a single tear tumble down my cheek.  The levels are low enough for the C-section.  Looks like today’s the day.

It’s as if every minute I feel a different emotion: sadness, excitement, nervousness, relief.  I get into my car, take a deep breath and take my phone out of my pocket.  It’s time to make the call to Lindsey, my adoptions counselor.

“Call Daniel! I’m going in today! Tell him today is the day he gets to meet his daughter!” I say before Lindsey can even say ‘hello.’ Daniel and Elsa are the perfect couple to adopt my baby.  They are who I would’ve chosen, had I been able to pick my own parents.  Elsa is in Sweden and will be taking the next flight home, so Daniel will be meeting me at the hospital.  I knew this was going to happen and I wish Elsa could be here too.  Reality sets in as the excitement starts to wear off the closer I get to my house.

“This is the best Christmas gift you could give,” I repeatedly tell myself.

Sarah, my best friend, is supposed to be spending this wonderful stay in the hospital with me, but she’s in Texas.  Why the hell she is in Texas, I have no idea.  But she is about to board a flight home. My mother is the lucky lady who gets to deal with me.  Two hours pass too quickly, and I’m not ready for any of this, but I can’t wait.  How I feel is too damn confusing.

Finally, Sarah comes running in, with a duffel bag twice her size. “I’m here! You waited for me! That was so nice of you!” she jokes.

“I held her in just for you, how’d you know?” I shoot back.  Not long after Sarah, the doctor walks through the door to go over procedures.  Sarah spends this time getting ready for the “O.R.”– playing dress up, basically.  Her silliness is a pleasant compliment to the craziness of emotion that’s going on.  The curtain flings back, and there stands Sarah, head to toe in blue disposable scrubs.  She has it all on- the hair cap (covering a short mohawk), the blue paper jumpsuit, the shoe covers.  She dramatically turns around while snapping her last latex glove on her hand.  This is why Sarah is my best friend.

The anesthesiologist comes in to prepare me, and Sarah leaves.

“Sit up straight, lean forward, and hug the pillow.  Now do not move.  Your legs will begin to feel very heavy, and you won’t be able to move them, so don’t panic when you can’t.  Also, you won’t be able to feel yourself breathing, but you will be.  So don’t panic about that either,” the anesthesiologist casually states.

“Don’t panic?  I won’t know that I am breathing, and I’ll be paralyzed from the chest down.”  I’m already panicking.  I’ve never felt so claustrophobic in my own body before.  The needle goes in and I jump, of course.

“Now just lay back and rest your arms here,” he says while he moves my arms out to my sides as if I’m flying.  He starts to strap my arms down to a board and a giant sheet flies up over my face.  If I wasn’t feeling claustrophobic before, I definitely am now.

“No, no, no, no.  You can’t do that to me!  I will have a panic attack!” I try to explain to him.  At that moment, Sarah is finally allowed in the room and I thank god.  Together we convince the anesthesiologist to let me have my arms.  He explains that it’s a natural instinct for a woman to grab her stomach during a C-section. So, I promise not to grab my stomach and I shut up.

The C-section is grueling.  The numbness of the anesthesia and pressure from the doctor moving my organs out of the way as if they are toys in the living room floor doesn’t help. “I’m not very happy with you, Dr. Norman,” I tell my OB/GYN.

“That’s why I didn’t come in here any sooner!” he snaps back.  He and I have a similar sense of humor and he gets me to chuckle.  Sarah starts talking to distract me since I voice how uncomfortable I am about every ten seconds.  Suddenly, everything slows down.  The discomfort is there, but it’s okay. It’s morphine.

My eyes jump around the room to find the clock. It’s 3:33 pm.  The small cry I’ve been waiting to hear breaks my concentration, then silence again.

“Was that the baby?  Why did she stop crying?  Where did she go?” I ask in a slight panic.

“That was your daughter!  We are going to weigh her and get her vitals in another room.  That’s what you wanted, right?” Dr. Norman replies.

“Yeah, that’s what I wanted. Does she look healthy?” I ask.

“She looks so healthy, I can’t imagine a baby that big inside such a small girl!” he says.  Knowing she’s okay puts me at an indescribable ease.  I swear another half an hour passes before I get to go into recovery, a very uncomfortable thirty minutes.

The recovery room is depressing.  It’s dark, and the woman to my left is nursing her newborn, husband by her side.  The nurses are short with me, as if they are at the tail end of a twelve hour shift.  Sarah is giving updates to everyone, as Lindsey comes to check on me.

“How are Daniel and the baby?” I immediately ask.

“Daniel and Emma are doing great.  He is such a proud Dad!  You gave a wonderful Christmas gift today.  Do you still not want to see Emma until the papers are signed tomorrow?” Lindsey asks.

“Yeah, it’s probably best that way.  I don’t want to have any chance to change my mind.  I can’t do that to Daniel, Elsa or Emma,” I reply confidently.

Morning comes too fast.  It’s time to sign the papers.  After the paperwork is complete, the nurse walks me over to the nursery where Emma is.  I immediately know which baby is her.

“Oh, okay,” I say when I see her for the first time.  I turn around and slowly shuffle back to my room.  The face I put on for these people scares me.  So confident on the outside, but I feel like I’m dying on the inside.  Like someone took my soul out of my body, and I’m left empty, sad and alone.

I spend my night yearning, bawling, weeping.  The release is like an avalanche, uncontrollable, yet I welcome it as it wipes out all the things in my past and lays a fresh foundation for my future.

It’s a new day and Daniel wants me to spend some alone time with Emma, just the two of us with no one to analyze me.  I appreciate his empathy and trust, as this can’t be easy for him either.  I sing to Emma, tell her how much I love her, and just stare at her for hours while she lies asleep in my arms.  Now I understand what it is like to be a mother, I feel what it is like to be a mother, a person I never thought I could be.

A few hours pass, and Elsa bursts through my door, tears streaming down her face. But before even looking at Emma, or Daniel or anyone, she runs to me and gives me the biggest hug and the biggest kiss on the cheek.  I smile, reminded again of why I chose Elsa to be Emma’s mom and hand Elsa her new baby girl.  I quietly say “congratulations.”  Elsa’s face lights up.  The room goes silent.  A flash lights up the room.  Daniel has his camera on Elsa so he could capture her face the very first time she sees Emma.  Her eyes radiate an unconditional love I have never witnessed before.  The only sound in the room is Elsa’s joyful, thankful sobbing as she holds her newborn daughter. It is in this moment that I realize the gift I have been given.


What Every Birth Father Should Know

99222-Fathers-Day-Just-Ahead

photo c/o www.desireehartsock.com

The approach of Father’s Day has got us thinking about how little the adoption community talks about birth fathers and their rights.

Birth fathers’ underrepresentation in portrayals of adoption (except every once in a while as the “evil” man who takes a baby away from adoptive parents) means that many people don’t realize that birth fathers have a say in the adoption process. As a birth father, you have the right to be part of the decision making and to play a role in your child’s life if you want to.

If You Want to Parent

By law, any adoption agency working with a birth mother must make every effort to locate and notify the birth father about the adoption plan. Even if the birth mother has already given temporary custody of the child to an adoption agency or family, no legal adoption can happen until you, the birth father, have been notified. Each state has a different notification process; in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, you have 30-60 days after you find out to decide whether you would prefer to parent or to move forward with the adoption.

If You Choose Adoption

Like your child’s birth mother, you have the right to choose and meet your baby’s adoptive family and to remain involved in their life through open adoption. Many birth fathers with open adoptions find themselves feeling tentative about asking for their yearly meetings or updates, especially if they are no longer involved with their child’s birth mother. Remember, your relationship status does not change your right to be part of your child’s life. You can ask for updates and meetings whether or not your child’s birth mother is around or involved.

If You Are Incarcerated

A birth father who wants to parent but is incarcerated may be able to work with his local department of social services to determine how to make that possible once he is released. If your release date is not coming up soon, then it may be difficult for you to make a plan to take the place of adoption. Obviously, you cannot force your child’s birth mother to parent, but we have worked with birth fathers who had family members willing to be part of a parenting plan until their release. And even if you are not able to provide an alternative plan and the adoption goes forward despite your objection, you can still be a part of your child’s life after the fact through open adoption. (For information on asking for openness in a closed adoption, go here or here).

The bottom line as that whether you and your child’s birth mother choose parenting or adoption, you can remain involved.

Darrick Rizzo is a birth father who has written a lot about the adoption of his son; he currently has a post up at America Adopts about how difficult Father’s Day is for him. There aren’t very many birth father voices in the media, so consider taking look at his article, and let us know what you think. You can also add your voice to the birth father discussion by leaving a comment below.


“What If I See Them At the Grocery Store?”

grocery store

image c/o www.vectorart.com

We are often asked by birth parents and adoptive families alike, “What if we run into one another in public?” The prospect of running into your child’s adoptive family at a time and place where you weren’t expecting to see them can seem scary, but if you think in advance about what to do, you’ll be less likely to freeze up if it happens (you know, like you did that time you ran into your ex at the grocery store). You could even talk to your child’s adoptive family about what would be most comfortable for you both in that situation. This is an especially good idea if you live in the same community and know that there is a strong likelihood you’ll see each other around at some point.

So what do you do if you’re waiting in line at Starbucks for your expensive milkshake-like drink and your child and his mom walk through the door? Well, think about what you normally do when you run into an acquaintance or a friend. You probably smile, say hi, chat for a moment, and continue with your errands, right? You can do the same thing if you see your child’s family. Be your normal self, talk for a few minutes about how everyone’s doing, and, since chances are you’ll both have somewhere else to get to, pick up your yummy drink and say a friendly goodbye.

Birth parents and adoptive families do fine in these situations; the difficult part sometimes comes afterward, when the birth parent starts replaying their reaction over and over in their head. “Was the way I said ‘hi’ weird? What did they really mean when they asked me how things were going?” That sort of thinking can drive a person crazy, so don’t just let your brain keep rewinding itself – find someone to talk to and let it out. It’s normal to feel a little anxious or upset after something happens that you weren’t anticipating, and depending upon how long it’s been since you made your adoption plan and how you’re doing emotionally at the time, it could bring up some feelings of grief and loss, so it’s important to have someone you can talk to, whether it’s your adoption counselor (hi there!) or a friend or family member.

Have you run into your child’s adoptive family at the grocery store or somewhere else? What was it like? How did you feel afterward?


“A Case for the Misunderstood Birth Mom”

cookie cutter

image c/o etsy.com

Wynter Kaiser, a birth mother and the founder of the Made to Mother project, wrote an important article that was posted today over at America Adopts. In it, she discusses how the idealized adoption scenario where “a young girl gets pregnant and loves the baby so much that she decides to give it a better home and life than she can offer” romanticizes what is usually a much more complex situation. She fully acknowledges that many birth mothers do feel anguished about their decision and feel a connection with their child that makes them want to play a role in that child’s life, but she reminds her readers that “we are not cookie cutters;” she, personally, appreciates the communication she receives from her child’s adoptive family but does not feel the need to seek it out.

Wynter makes an important point that not all birth mothers want contact with their child or their child’s adoptive family, and that the reasons why are as varied and unique as their stories and lives are. Here at Birth Parent Place we post a lot about open adoption, so we were glad to be reminded by Wynter’s post that one of the most important things about any adoption plan is that the birth mother is empowered and in control.

We encourage women to leave the door open for updates or meetings for a couple of reasons. First, we have worked with a large number of women who initially rejected playing any role in their child’s life but then changed their minds. Second, research has shown that openness is very beneficial for adopted children in terms of their emotional development. For these reasons, we urge birth mothers not to dismiss openness right away based solely on how they feel at the time of delivery; however, we also believe that no birth mother should be pressured to engage in a relationship with her child or that child’s family. There is no right or wrong way to do adoption as long as everyone’s rights are respected.

Do you agree with Wynter that adoption scenarios tend to be idealized or romanticized? How do you feel about openness? Have your feelings changed at all over time?


#Placed

Hopefully you had the chance to see Birth Mother Baskets’ wonderful video kicking off last month’s #placed campaign; if not, click the link above to watch it! We enjoyed reading people’s responses on Twitter and Facebook throughout the month (go to Birthmothers 4 Adoption to see some great ones that people posted).

The terms “gave up,” “gave away,” and “put up,” are used too frequently and they misrepresent what birth mothers do when they thoughtfully and carefully #place their babies for adoption. Making an adoption plan is a difficult choice made out of tremendous love; the notion that it happens because a parent does not want their child would be laughable if it weren’t so hurtful. As birth mother Lindsey Mathis explained on the Birth Mom Baskets site, “We gave LOVE, gave LIFE, but we NEVER gave up!”

What do you do when people use phrases like “gave up” to describe adoption? Do you respond, or do you let it slide?


Asking for Openness in Your Child’s Adoption: Part II

three doors in a a row - red, yellow, green - all doors open

image c/o publishingguru.blogspot.com

Last Thursday we posted about the importance of reaching out to your adoption agency to ask for annual meetings or updates, and we stressed that the door is always open for contact, no matter how long it’s been. We let you know that even if you did not make a written contact agreement as part of your child’s adoption plan, you still have the right to ask for openness, and that any ethical agency will do its best to get you at least a letter or picture update from your child’s adoptive family.

So, let’s say you’ve contacted your adoption agency, or you’ve written a letter or e-mail to your child and their family. Now what? Waiting for a response after you’ve reached out can be difficult. Sometimes it takes an adoptive family a couple of weeks or a month to get back to a birth parent, and in some cases, it takes years. In the meantime, it is important that you take care of yourself so that you do not become consumed by feelings of helplessness or anxiety. Try to remember that there are many reasons why it might take a family some time to respond to a request for contact, and that many of those reasons have nothing at all to do with you; families can get very busy, and they all go through rough patches. We have worked with several families who, because of what was going on in their lives, were initially unresponsive to birth parents’ requests for contact, but who turned out to be very open minded about keeping in touch. It might also help to remember that after your child turns 18 or 21, you will be able to reach out to them directly (these ages correspond to the laws in DC and Maryland, respectively). This might seem like a long way away, but sometimes it helps just to know that this option will be available no matter what happens.

Also remember that this is uncharted territory for adoptive parents, too, and if you haven’t been in touch before now, then they, just like you, are new to this. They, too, are probably nervous; they, too, are likely to be concerned about making a good impression. And in the same way it might have taken you months or years to work up the courage to write them a note, they might need time to get their bearings and become comfortable with the idea of being in touch with you. That doesn’t mean it will never happen! A little bit of patience and understanding on your end might just go a long way for your future relationship. The fact is that adoption is a lifelong process for everyone, including adoptive parents, and in order for communication to happen, you will all need to be patient with one another.

Are you a birth parent currently waiting to hear back from your child’s adoptive family? Have you gone through this process in the past? Tell us about your experiences!


Asking for Openness in Your Child’s Adoption

open doorimage c/o vickicaruana.blogspot.com

Ever found yourself in an “After you!” “No, after you!” situation, where both people are trying to be polite, and the result is that no one gets to walk through the door? We see the same thing happen with birth parents and adoptive families when it comes to their annual updates or meetings! Many birth parents don’t ask about scheduling updates or meetings because they don’t want to be seen as pushy, and at the same time, a lot of adoptive parents aren’t sure if their child’s birth parents even want an update or meeting, so, not wanting to pressure anyone, they stay silent. As both parties waffle as to whether they should be the first to do something, time goes by and sometimes feelings get hurt.

The solution? Remember that it’s always okay to ask for your annual meeting or update! At Adoptions Together, we rely on birth parents to let us know when they are ready for an update or meeting, so don’t wait for us to contact you – give us a call! We’re always happy to hear from you. This applies not only to birth mothers but to birth fathers as well; a birth father can get updates and have meetings with his child and his child’s adoptive family whether or not he is in a relationship with his child’s birth mother and regardless of whether she has contact with their child. For all birth parents, even if we haven’t heard from you for a long time – even if you’ve never had a meeting or update – the door is always open. It takes some birth parents years to become emotionally ready to make contact with their child, and that’s okay.

If you placed your child through a different agency or through a lawyer or facilitator and you want to get in touch with your child and their adoptive family, call or e-mail the person who was your primary contact during the adoption process. Even if you do not have a written agreement, you have every right to ask for openness, and any ethical agency will do their best to get you, at the very least, a letter or picture update from your child’s adoptive family.

We know that asking for updates and scheduling meetings can be scary, especially the first time you do it. You may be worried that your child’s adoptive family will say no, or you might feel apprehensive about starting a relationship that will bring up a lot of different emotions for you. We can talk with you about those feelings, give you information about what your updates or meetings might be like, and walk you through the process. Opening this door can be a wonderful experience for you and for your child and their adoptive family – someone just has to be the first to walk through it.


“Adoption Saved My Life”

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image c/o www,shutterstock.com

When browsing birth parent blogs last week, we were touched to read Courtney’s April post at I’ll Love You For Always where she explained her conviction that “adoption saved my life.” She describes how seven months prior she had been so depressed that she “could scarcely get up to make my oldest something to eat” and how the path she was on was “dangerously close to costing me everything. Even my life.” The process of adoption, she explains, gave her hope. Through the love and compassion of her baby’s adoptive family and a few other people, she came to know herself to be a person “worthy of happiness and success,” whereas if she had not made the adoption plan, she doubts whether she would even be alive today.

Courtney’s story got us thinking about the many women we’ve worked with who were at a rough place in life when they became pregnant and for whom that pregnancy was an incentive for change. Whether they chose parenting or adoption, the desire to be the best parent or birth parent possible motivated them to work hard to make changes that improved their lives. For some of our clients who chose adoption, the desire to maintain a relationship with their child and their child’s adoptive family and to be a positive presence in their child’s life helped drive their efforts to overcome major struggles. Often, those struggles were financial; in her post, for example, Courtney describes how before she placed her baby, she was living in a hotel room with her two children with nothing but vouchers with which to clothe them. We have heard from many birth mothers that adoption played a large role in their ability to become (or remain) financially stable. It is wonderful to read on Courtney’s blog that she is now leasing an apartment and doing better both financially and emotionally.

Read Courtney’s story and let us know what you think! We’d also love to hear from you about how adoption affected your life.