If there is one thing that concerns me more than my own personal feelings from my involvement with adoption, it is how my son, Noah (an adoptee) may feel from his experience. If I hurt as a result of my choice, then that is my punishment. But if my child hurts from my choice, then that is my fought and often times, that is the root of a birth parent’s anguish. It’s called guilt.
I fully understand that no matter how abandoned I felt from my children’s father, or how isolated I felt from my family, and how much pain I experienced as a result of my choice, it still doesn’t compare to the feelings that adoptees may experience at some point in their life, especially since they were not involved in the decision making. The choice was made for them.
Another thing about adoption that troubles me is when I hear the term “gave up”. I’ve read comments from followers on Facebook, blogs and community groups say things like, “She gave up her baby,” or “My mother gave me up,” or “I’m thinking about giving up my baby.” Yes, believe it or not, unintended pregnant women still say this. It’s an old term that some human being coined the phrase “gave up” as an appropriate term within the adoption industry many years ago. I wish I had a copy of the legal documents from the 50’s – 60’s so I could see if that term actually exists in the legal papers. I assume that what they meant is that the biological parent “gave up” their parental rights now more commonly known as relinquished their parental rights to their child.
Actually, per my legal documents, the birth parent(s) signs a “Placement Agreement of a Child” prior to the delivery and then after delivery, signs an “Affidavit of Relinquishment of Parental Rights to Licensed Child-Placing Agency.”
It does sound heartless for a parent to be able to choose to agree to give up or relinquish their parental rights to their child. And often times it gets misconstrued as the parent “gave up their child” as if the parent did not want their baby boy or baby girl. How else can a parent just sign away and terminate their rights?
You see most often, it is not about the child. It’s about the parent feeling they are inadequate. Often times, they have been told verbally or subliminally that they are not capable to parent this child. As for me, I was parenting my first born son, Jaren. I understood all too well the time, expense, energy and emotional toll it takes to parent a child. Moreover, I had no relatives nearby and the biological father and his entire family who did live nearby showed no interest in helping me in any way support Jaren, so I expected more of the same response when our second child was conceived.
I remember watching the local news and seeing a story about some mother who killed her offspring’s as if a trigger went off inside her. Unlike most people who were hateful and judgmental, I wondered how a woman, who had loved her children so much, could turn around and brutally kill her offspring. What could have set this mother off? What pushed her to her breaking point and made her mind snap out of control. And that’s when I considered my options. As much as I didn’t like the adoption option, I surely did not want to push myself past my limit and risk losing emotional control and possibly harming my kids. No, I may have actually killed my children but I may have abused them. And that is not a risk that I was willing to take.
Adoption is never easy for anyone. I like being a single mother a whole lot more than being a birth mother. That doesn’t mean I dislike being a birth mother to Noah. It means that society is more socially accepting of single mothers than they are of birth mothers. And I’ve shared with many women within the birthparent community and at my birth mothers support group who are filled with grief and sometimes guilt that it is an unnatural experience for a woman to let go of her infant. For many of us, it goes against every grain in our body. I imagine it is difficult to lose your child at an older stage as well, whether the parent was neglectful or not.
But what I can tell you for myself, I didn’t choose adoption because I didn’t want to be a parent to my second born child. I chose adoption because given my circumstance at that present time, I wasn’t confident I could parent both of my children adequately as a single mother, the way they deserved to be parented.
Who knows if Noah’s life is better or worse than if I would have chosen to raise him with Jaren? Personally, I don’t like to think in terms of better or worse. I like to think Jaren and Noah both have had a good life but only they can say for sure. I am certain once they have grown and matured into men, they will look back on their life and analyze it. And I can only hope that when they do, they will look back fondly on the memories we have shared together as a family.
Most of all, I hope both of my sons understand and know that they are always loved and were always wanted.