This guest post is by Rachel Jacobs, a birthmother.
Open adoption? I had never heard about it until I was six weeks pregnant with my son back in 2014.
All I knew about adoption was that there were closed adoptions where the mother never saw her child or had to search for him many years after placement.
I knew I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be easy to find in case my son ever had questions that only I could answer.
Honestly, when I discovered I was pregnant my first thought wasn’t adoption. It was abortion.
And yet deep down I knew I couldn’t go through with it because I had grown up in a baptist household. Also, I was totally against killing an innocent child and wanted to give a child a reason to live.
I love children, and because of that I started blaming myself for my unplanned pregnancy.
I felt guilty and all these negative thoughts wracked my brain, including the fear that my parents were going to kill me.
But that changed when my counselor told me “it takes two to tango.” After that, I realized that I shouldn’t blame myself for everything that had happened. A guy was involved and he was partly responsible too.
At the time, I was living at home and knew that I wasn’t financially or mentally ready to be a single mom.
I was lucky because even after I told my family about my pregnancy, they continued to love me and gave me all the support they possibly could.
At the advice of my family and friends, I started seeing an adoption counselor to deal with my sudden turn in events.
She was very helpful and explained to me the different options that I had.
After going over everything, I knew that I wanted to give my son up for adoption.
Despite being extremely sick throughout my pregnancy, I started to look at potential families with my mother.
I couldn’t believe how many people wanted to adopt!
Some of the things that I looked for in an adoptive family were
- a Christian household
- respectful to having children that biologically were not theirs
- good or decent jobs and in a good position to raise a child
Through a family friend, I ended up finding a family.
When I met them for the first time, I was very nervous. But I felt a connection with them through their heartbreaking story of not being able to conceive on their own.
During my several meetings with them, I was touched by their honestly and compassion.
I felt that they would be extremely grateful that I could give them something they had been longing for for a while.
Looking back, it’s very hard to describe in words what I felt when I met them. But at the end I was relieved that I had found the perfect family for my son.
After I made my adoption decision and found them, my feelings of guilt were slowly replaced by other feelings.
I felt brave for being able to have the strength to give up my son when I knew deep down that I could not provide him with a loving and stable environment that the adoptive family could give him.
I felt hopeful that I could meet him and explain that I did this all out of love by giving him to a couple that would give the world to him. And that I could tell him myself in a way that he would understand why I did what I did.
I felt like I was a miracle to this childless family who otherwise would still be searching for a child to hold and love as their own.
I knew that I had made the right decision when I saw the excited, yet motherly and caring look on the adoptive mother’s face at the hospital after I asked her, “Do you want to hold your son?”
After placing my son, it was difficult to get back to “normal” life.
Everywhere I went, it felt like everyone was on eggshells, not really sure of how to react around me.
During this time I discovered that there were different support groups so I checked them out and attended a few meetings here and there.
The feeling of being isolated and alone — the “only one”—slowly faded as I became surrounded by others with similar experiences.
Today, I am still hurting but I’ve learn to take things one day at a time.
It’s still a struggle to get back to my “normal” life but I’ve been working on loving and caring for myself daily as well as keeping myself busy with several part-time jobs.
Occasionally I feel sad when I think about my son. But at the same time, I’m glad he’s doing okay and growing like a healthy boy should.
His adoptive family is so grateful and gives me plenty of space regarding how he is doing.
One of the things that I wished I had known about open adoption when I first started my journey is that there are resources out there that can help you.
I would have been easier than starting at Square One and having to Google everything because I didn’t know where to begin.
I wish there was much more information about it beside what I found online and through my doctor.
If you’re a woman who’s considering placing your baby for adoption you probably have questions about everything: Should I parent? Can I go through with my adoption decision? Is it the right thing to do?
I wouldn’t worry about having conflicting feelings or second guessing yourself.
Trust me. I had these feelings and many more running through my head when I was pregnant and thinking of placing my baby. It’s okay to have them.
My advice is get counseling and talk your feelings out because you likely will have a lot of emotions to get off your chest.
I know it’s difficult at first to think about adoption but you will feel a a lot better after talking about everything.
I have a tendency to keep everything inside and to not express myself. But I felt really relived and at peace when I let all my emotions out instead of letting them build up.
I would also advise you to find a support group nearby so you don’t have to feel like you’re dealing with this alone.
There are other women out there that have gone through the same heartache and difficult trials who can help you.
I think the best part of my adoption journey has been being able to have a completely open adoption with my son’s adoptive family and getting updates about him and their lives as well.
I am so glad that they are continuing to love and care for him while slowly introducing him to the concept of adoption.
Rachel Jacobs lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, and loves animals and writing. She is currently working on a mystery novel that she hopes to publish one day.
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