It seems that nearly every website, blog or story that’s considered “pro adoption” contains some negative comment or warning about what will happen to you or your child if you decide to go ahead with your placement plan.
What may be surprising is that some of the harshest comments come from birthmothers themselves.
Jessalynn Bills Speight, who placed her baby five years ago, says she was “blown away” when she first discovered that there were birthmothers who hated open adoption.
Today, she understands more about them and why they may feel the way the do. But that hasn’t affected her own positive feelings about open adoption or her placement.
She loves open adoption.
In fact, she loves it so much that she started a website called Birthmothers4Adoption to help connect other birthmothers and to encourage women facing an unplanned pregnancy to consider open adoption as an option.
These days, she’s also busy putting together an adoption retreat for all members of the triad for May 2014. (America Adopts! is a proud sponsor).
I’ll be telling you more about the retreat as we get closer to the date. For now, here’s part of a recent conversation I had with Jessalynn in which she explained why she’s such an unabashed open adoption supporter and how she deals with negative comments by other birthmothers.
1. Why Birthmothers4Adoption — why not Birthmothers In Adoption or Birthmothers Against Adoption?
I love adoption. It made a huge difference in my life. I am so blessed, I don’t know how I could ever be against adoption. Although we are in adoption, I am FOR adoption. Lots of birthmoms are in adoption but are not for it.
At the same time, this does not mean I am for every expectant mom placing for adoption. I believe everyone needs to make the best choice for the baby. For me, that was adoption.
2. What was it about your personal experience that led you to celebrate your decision to place with other birthmothers?
I just had such a wonderful experience. I wanted to tell everyone about it. I actually started blogging because I was trying to work through my thoughts and feelings. It just transitioned into me celebrating adoption for everything it is. So many people cling to the old school stereotypes of birthmoms, I wanted to show those are the exception not the rule.
I was blown away. Never in a million years did I expect it. There are people who HATE adoption. I just didn’t understand it at first. As I did more research I realized that most of them were people who had bad experiences or were in the “baby snatch era”. Instead of being mad and hating them, I had to make the choice to feel bad for them and be understanding.
4. Did their views or experiences ever give you second thoughts about going through with your decision?
No. Never. I am fully confident in my choice. Although there have been times where I have thought what if, I have never regretted my decision.
5. How do you stay positive about your decision when you come across blogs or comments that accuse you of drinking the “adoption kool-aid” and tell you how one day you’re going to regret your decision and that your child will grow up to hate you?
I laugh. It’s been five years. I love adoption more than ever. If this is adoption kool-aid….serve me some more. I love it! I have an extra family, a beautiful birthdaughter, and I have made lots of new friends.
6. The media and public tend to lump all birthmothers together in one big group. How have you worked to get out the message that adoption has changed, and so has the birthmother experience?
I just try to explain that times have changed. By sharing my experience and showing that open adoptions can work, and birthmoms can be well adjusted women. Just because I have an open adoption does not mean I will show up on the adoptive couple’s doorstep at 2 am demanding to see “My Baby”.
My birthdaughter is my birthdaughter. She is their daughter. They raise her, take care of her, and teach her. They are mom and dad. People need to understand most birthmoms are not drug-crazed prostitutes looking to sell their kids. By sharing my story, and encouraging others to do the same, I hope people see adoption can be a beautiful thing.
7. Tell me about the birthmothers in your group. Are they mostly mothers who have recently placed or are they from all across the board?
They are at all different walks of life. I have had a blogger who placed as early as six weeks prior and one who placed 25 years ago. I think having different walks of life, different situations, and different stories are important. You can’t learn if you only hear the same story over and over again.
8. Do you have to be in an open adoption experience to join?
Nope! We have several birthmoms who blog for us with closed adoptions. The great thing is they still love and support adoption.
9. Do you believe that an open adoption is a better option than a closed ones?
Absolutely. I think it depends on the people as far as the degree of openness, but, I think everyone should have at least a somewhat open adoption. Adoptees deserve to know they weren’t abandoned. Birthmoms deserve to know their child is alive and well. Even if it means one letter every year and never meeting, openness has been proven to be healthier for everyone. The hard part is when adoptive couples are too insecure with their infertility or birthmoms do not understand healthy boundaries.
10. Adoption can be a beautiful thing but it also involves loss and grieving. How do you get expectant parents to feel optimistic about their decision and the future and still be realistic about the pain they’ll experience?
Everyone needs time to grieve. The important thing is to not fall into what I call “the pit of despair”. Cry for a while, then stand up and do something. You will never move on but you should move forward. It is incredibly important to not let sadness or grief of any kind to consume your life. Everyone has the choice to deserve happiness. I just tell birthmoms to write their feelings, attend group, and remember why they chose placement in the first place.
11. Do you believe that adoption is a viable option for anyone with an unplanned pregnancy or are there certain people that you wouldn’t recommend it to?
I absolutely think any unplanned pregnancy should always consider adoption. I often have expectant moms say, “I could never do that” or “It’s too hard”. It is hard, you can do it, it is possible. I didn’t enjoy the choice of adoption. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. It wasn’t easy. No choice is easy. You chose to put yourself at risk for pregnancy, the child did not. Now it is your turn to make the most mature decision for the child, not yourself. The truth is, if your relationship is probably not going to work, and single parenting isn’t going to be the best choice, adoption is an amazing option.
12. Let’s say a woman with an unplanned pregnancy is thinking about adoption but not sure whether it’s right for her. What do you recommend she should do — is there anything in particular that can help her make a decision?
I am a numbers gal. I made pros and cons lists. I sought outside opinions. It is important to think logically. Sure, it sounds fun to keep your baby and have them love you….but is it the best choice? Research. Think about the consequences of each choice in a mature way. I could have made single parenting work, but she would have been traded back and forth between her father and I, she would have had to be in day care 90 percent of the day so I could work, and I wouldn’t have been able to provide the life she deserved.
It is hard when expectant moms think they are thinking of the child’s best interest but are really thinking about themselves. Adoption is not for everyone, but is an option. I just encourage them to ask themselves the hard questions. It makes a lot of them hate me for a minute, but if I have to be the bad guy to get them to see the reality…then so be it.
What do you think of Jessalynn’s story? How do you deal with negative comments about open adoption? How do you stay positive about the choices that you’ve made to place your baby for adoption or to adopt? Leave your comments in the space below.