In honor of November being National Adoption Month, I am running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents. Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.
By an anonymous birthmother
Adoption has touched every part of my life:
At age sixteen, I was best friends with someone who was adopted; at age eighteen, I placed a baby for adoption (in secret); and also at eighteen, I learned I had a brother who had been placed for adoption nine years before I was born.
Seeing adoption from my particular points of view is an experience I would not wish on anyone.
My friend --we'll call her Sue-- has no interest in her birth family. She holds no grudge. She just feels her adoptive parents are her parents and has no desire to explore any further.
When I made the decision to give up my baby for adoption, I was influenced by Sue's point of view.
I chose open adoption in the hopes of one day knowing the child I had been unable to raise. I chose and met the adoptive parents--we'll call them the Smith's. I even told them both they were more than welcome to view this as the birth of THEIR child.
The day I chose adoption, I stopped thinking of the baby as mine. I likened myself to a surrogate. I was carrying someone else’s child. I explained this to the Smiths when I invited them into the delivery room. Mr. Smith declined, but Mrs. Smith was there and was the first person to see her baby.
She was literally there the moment her child entered the world and took its first breath.
For almost two years, I received cards and pictures from the Smiths. But I could not bring myself to write back. It just hurt too much, I was afraid to say the wrong thing, I was afraid of hurting the baby in some way.
It has been fifteen years since Mrs. Smith watched her baby come into the world and fifteen years of daily kicking myself for not writing back. Sure, I could go to the agency and drop off a letter, but part of me feels not worthy enough to contact the Smiths.
I also would never forgive myself if "the baby" opened the letter first. I have an agreement with the Smiths that "the baby" not seek me out until after eighteen years. (only to ensure the maturity to understand the situation).
I am so afraid "the baby" will never seek me out. I'm afraid of never knowing what happened after that first breath.
My family never knew I went through any of this. How did I hide it?
I was living at home, but by the time I was showing it was cooler weather so I just wore a lot of layers and big sweaters, and spent as little time at home as possible. I am not a small person, so already being overweight hid the pregnancy as well.
As for delivery, I had arranged for a close friend to cover for me and say I was spending the night at her house. When I went into labor, I was not at home and called my mom and told her I was not coming home that night or the next. She didn't question it, I was rarely home anyway. I also was working 3 shifts at 2 different jobs at the time so my family was used to not seeing me. As for work, I called in sick, and was only out a few days.
Carrying the silent burden of my pregnancy was made all the more difficult when I learned:
My mother gave up my brother, forcibly, in 1969. She was not given any other option. She was sent to a home for unwed mothers and told never to tell anyone. They gave her a fake name, and after the birth of her baby she was then required to care for him for two weeks until the adoptive family was approved.
After twenty-seven years, my brother found my mom and made contact.
I was secretly pregnant with the Smith's baby at the time. To this day, no one in my family knows about my baby.
Adoption is a wonderful choice, I will always believe that.
But my personal story is one of sadness only because of the lost connections. I fear the Smith's child will feel as uninterested in me as my friend, Sue, feels about her birth family, and will never try to seek me out. On the flip side of that it would also make me feel good knowing the child is happy and does not feel the need for anything else.
As for my brother, after fifteen years we have seen him ten or so times. He is a self-proclaimed "slow mover" and we respect that and let him come to us when he is ready.
My friend Sue is now married with two biological children and is looking to adopt a third. She still has no plans to contact her birth family.
I will never regret the choice I made. I made it for the baby, not myself. I just hope one day to see the Smiths again.
Thank you for giving me an outlet to tell the story I have held onto for fifteen painful years.