This guest post is by Andrea, a birthmother.
Why do people say I “gave up” my baby for adoption?
When I became pregnant with Olivia, I didn’t give her up. I didn’t drop her off at the fire station, put her in a dumpster or leave her on someone’s doorstep without any questions asked.
I made an adoption plan for her. I carefully looked for a mother and father who would love and care for her and then I met them and built a relationship.
I made the decision to place her the day after I found out I was pregnant.
I literally stayed up all night thinking about what it would be like to be a single mom versus making an adoption plan.
Realizing that being a single mom would be extremely hard, I talked to a counselor at an abortion clinic.
When I told her that I had decided to carry my baby and make an adoption plan, she told me I would be blessing a couple with my baby.
I made the decision quickly but I knew making a placement plan would be the best choice.
I didn’t want to have to fight Olivia’s dad for child support, but I didn’t want him to have custody either.
I knew that she needed a lot more in order to grow up and become a successful member of society.
Fast forward to the present day: I have a very open adoption. I receive pictures almost every day and I see Olivia on a monthly basis.
I didn’t “give her up.”
So why do people refer to adoption as “giving up” or “giving away” a baby?
Having an open adoption was very important to me because I wanted to see Olivia even if it was from afar.
I knew I would have questions about her: Was she being cared for in the way that I wanted? Does she have the life she deserves? Is she happy?
I loved Olivia the minute I found out I was pregnant so there was no way I could turn my back on her. I wouldn’t have been happy with a semi-open adoption either. I needed visits.
For me, open adoption meant gaining another part of a family. I wasn’t going to just give my baby away and run.
After I found Olivia’s adoptive parents, her adoptive mother and I texted everyday, shopped for her nursery, went to doctors appointments, and even spent the Monday before my due date getting a pedicure and going to dinner.
Amy and I talked about things like how often I would see Olivia, what kind of role I’d play, and what she would call me.
We talked about family vacations, spending holidays together, and doing things as a family.
I told Amy about my fears, but also about my hopes for the future and what kind of relationship I wanted to have with Olivia.
We grew so close pre-placement that Amy, who’s like a sister to me, was in the delivery room when Olivia was born. I wouldn’t change a thing about our time getting to know each other.
Spending time with her and her husband, Brandon, helped me feel confident about my decision to place. I really got to know who they were not only as parents but also as people.
That’s why our relationship works so well today.
Sure, I signed off my rights to being her mom. But I didn’t cut off contact with her or her family.
I didn’t give up on being an influence to her. I didn’t leave her with questions. I’m still very much a part of her life and she’s very much a part of mine.
I see Olivia, Amy and Brandon once a month. We’ve spent Easter and Mother’s Day together and I went to her newborn photo shoot a week after we left the hospital.
Initially I told Amy I’d like four visits a year. I figured that was enough. But as we grew closer we agreed on once a month.
Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to only see Olivia four times a year, but I’m beyond grateful Amy is letting me have as much time with her as I get.
I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything because I get to see Olivia grow, and has really helped me emotionally and given me the strength to keep going forward.
Whether it’s pictures or a visit, I always have something to look forward to and never have to wonder when I will see her again.
I cringe whenever people refer to adoption as “giving up” or “giving away” a baby because that’s not the way it is.
They assume that I’m not a good person because I placed Olivia with another family.
But I didn’t choose open adoption because she was unwanted or unloved.
I chose it because I loved her more than anything in the world.
People just assume that all birthmoms are drug addicts or homeless or 16 and don’t want anything to do with their children. But that’s so far from the truth.
I’m a functioning, responsible adult who recognized my child needed more than what I could provide.
Birthmothers in an open adoption love and cherish our children as if we were parenting them.
I challenge everyone to think about the terms they use when they refer to us and our decisions. It’s never about “giving up” or “giving away.”
Instead of “giving up” Olivia, I placed her in the arms of a family I knew and trusted. I made plans for her and gave her opportunities that I couldn’t give her.
I made sure she was going to have the best life possible. And I kept our relationship open because I love her and her parents too much to completely let go.
So no, I didn’t give up my baby. And I never ever will.
Birthmoms give, and give up, a lot. But we never give up on our children.
Andrea is a hairstylist, student (hopeful double major in criminal justice/psychology) and pug mama. Visit her birthmom/life style blog here.
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