November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we are filling our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for! We are still accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please honor today’s story, from the perspective of a: Mother – who chose to place her child in the arms of another family. The story is important, beautiful and powerful… & the honesty speaks volumes. Of all the posts we’ve shared this month, we envision that this was the most difficult to write. Our sincerest thanks to this Birthmother for putting her experience, love and grief into words. There is such value in your story and we are filled with gratitude that you have allowed us the privilege of sharing it.
Birthmother. Such a simple word with an entire world of complexities behind it and one incredibly important piece to the miracle of adoption. People who are foreign or unrelated to adoption may think of a birthmother as a woman who doesn’t want her child or someone who doesn’t want to take responsibility for her actions. People who are familiar with adoption may view a birthmother as I do—a courageous, selfless, loving woman who gave life to a child, then decided to give her child more.
I am a birthmother to the most incredible, beautiful, loved little girl who ever existed. I made a voluntary plan of adoption for my daughter, a decision that did not come lightly, at the young age of 17. Upon discovering my pregnancy, I was afraid and alone. Abortion weighed heavily on my mind during the first few weeks of that discovery. Being so frightened of this life changing circumstance I finally told my cousin, my confidant, and through speaking about it, I decided to continue with my pregnancy.
Telling the rest of my family was not so easy. While I didn’t expect a congratulatory celebration, I was astounded and deeply hurt by the harsh rejection I faced for the majority of my pregnancy. At this point, my options were to find a new family for my child or to have my child and not return home. I chose the latter. I graduated high school after my first semester of my junior year, started working, applied for college, and just knew I could make this work. I could fulfill my dreams of graduating college and having an established career while simultaneously raising a child without familial support. I would struggle, but I was capable, intelligent, driven, and had enough love for my child to be a good parent. I knew from the moment I decided to follow through with my pregnancy that I would be enough. However, about the time I was six months pregnant I decided I wanted her to have more than just enough.
Just as I had a plan for my future with my daughter put into place, adoption was put back onto my heart by my own will this time. For me, it was a sudden moment of realization that this decision wasn’t about me anymore. Soon I would be bringing this little girl into the world and this decision had to be about her, what was best for her, what I wanted her future to look like, and in that moment I became a mother. I realized I didn’t want her to spend her childhood waiting for me to get my life together. I had to put my child first, and as a parent, that’s what you do. You put your child first.
I went to multiple adoption agencies in order to have the largest pool of waiting families to pick from as possible. I decided if I found the perfect family then I would make an adoption plan, but I had very high expectations of that family. I was still very confused and didn’t think it was possible for anyone to love her as much as I did. But I still looked through dozens of albums and met with some waiting families. I was let down a few times, hopeful a few times, but ultimately I was running out of time.
I met with one couple less than six weeks before my due date, and I remember leaving that meeting sort of at peace. The next two days following, however, were the most exhausting and confusing that I can recall. I was playing out three scenarios in my head: two were with separate potential adoptive parents and the third was me parenting. I was describing each one to a friend, and I remember so clearly her saying to me, “Brooke, it sounds like you made your decision.” And I realized it was true. The last couple I had met with would be my Perri’s parents.
My first feeling was such an inner peace that I hadn’t experienced at all throughout my entire pregnancy. Then I felt sad. I knew my time left with my little girl was not long at all. I spent the next several weeks getting to know the couple I had chosen to be my daughter’s parents, and we planned what our open adoption would look like.
Just seven short weeks after our first meeting, Perri was born. I was instantly overwhelmed by the love that flooded out for this little girl. I was in a state of euphoria and held her close on my chest, staring at her immaculate beauty. She wailed when she first came out, but then was calm, quiet, and so perfect. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of her. Her parents held her next. Seeing them all together as a family for the first time, watching her, adoring her, didn’t make me sad, but proud. I was so proud of this amazing child I brought into the world. The time in the hospital was short, but for two days I was that little girl’s mother; two days that I will treasure for the rest of my lifetime.
A year and a half later, we still have a lot of communication in our adoption. We visit often, and I receive pictures when I ask. My daughter is healthy, loved, well-taken care of, and so happy. I know I couldn’t have provided for her in the same way her parents do, so every time I am with my daughter I am reassured that I made the right decision. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my decision. Each stage of life Perri enters brings and will continue to bring a new wave of emotions for me deal with.
I would be lying if I said open adoption was rosy and beautiful all the time. Often adoption is ugly and messy, even the healthy, “ideal” adoption situations. There are still those times when I replay every moment in my head that I had a chance to change my mind and have my little girl back. Sometimes I am angry and resentful at each person who played a hand in carrying out my daughter’s adoption. I get sad when I hear Perri say “mama” and it’s not to address me or when she is hurt and it isn’t me she wants to console her. I realize, though, that each one of those passionate emotions stems from the same emotion that led me to this decision in the first place—the great love I have for my child. There’s not an hour that goes by that I am not thinking of her. Sometimes they are sad thoughts, like wishing she was with me in this very moment, that I could be her mommy, missing her so much that my heart actually feels broken. But more often there are thoughts of contentment and happiness.
I always wonder what silly thing she is doing in this very minute or what new quirk will she have when I see her next. I love seeing how much she has grown in the past month; I love watching her thrive with her family and that she is happy and learning new things; I love that she gives me kisses when she sees me now. Whether I am with her or away from her, she is always the center of my world and the light of my life.
An important aspect of adoption awareness is awareness of birthmothers’ experiences. My experience as a birthmother is one that is real and valid. I am simply a mother who chose to give her child more, who aches for her child when they are apart, and who loves her daughter more than words can describe. The love a birthmother has for her child is the greatest, most sacrificial love there is. To be a part of that makes me proud to be a birthmother.
Please note: If you or a loved one would like to talk with our staff about an unexpected pregnancy – please call our office at 559.229.9862. Although we are indeed an adoption agency ~ we can help you consider all your options, suggest resources and answer questions. We will support you in creating the life for your child that -you- feel is best.