Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Adoption Story

I received a distinct impression to write about a very sacred and personal life experience. I am not necessarily a guarded, secretive person who believes that mistakes or off color life moments should be buried away in the back of some long forgotten closet. On the other hand, I do think it wise to practice discretion regarding the time and place and people to whom one shares such experiences. With that said, I am choosing to post one of the most spiritual and heart wrenching moments of my life on a very impersonal and indiscrete blog. What a paradox.

On March 15, 2006 I signed away my parental rights to a beautiful, healthy baby girl that I would have named Hannah Elizabeth. I placed her in the arms of her new mother along with all my hopes and dreams for that little life. What trust I had in this good women to love her new baby as much I did, and to be willing to sacrifice her own desires to give every opportunity to that little girl. I was a mother for 2 days, and it was beautiful. I made one of the most difficult decisions a mother can make because I firmly believed that it was the best decision I could make as her mother.

Before I continue my story, I want to impress upon everyone reading this that my narrative is not an endorsement of adoption, but simply my journey, my decision, and the lessons I was able to forge from the whole process. The decision to place a child for adoption will always be so extremely personal, and it will not be the right decision for everyone regardless of the similarities of their situations. It is a decision that must be made with a combination of cold and hard logic, steady and meaningful prayer, as well as self interest and selflessness. It is not a decision to be made lightly or to be offered as a “solution”.

I was 24 years old and I wanted a baby. For my culture my biological clock was ticking and I didn’t have much time. So, I wasn’t careful and tadah! biology did its thing. Very soon after discovering I was going to have a baby after all, I understood that it wasn’t ONLY the baby I wanted but the whole package. I wanted a husband, a family. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to be a mom, I wanted my baby, but I did not want to be a single mother.

I began searching couples on an adoption website, reading their profiles, looking at pictures, emailing several. I also began figuring out how I was going to pay for a child. I didn’t have insurance and didn’t qualify for aid. I couldn’t live in student housing with a baby. Where would I live? Would I move in with family? The questions swirled as I worked on two different scenarios simultaneously: keeping the baby or placing the baby.

Long story short: I found a family with a mother that was the kind of mother I wanted to be. In essence, I found the closest resemblance to me that I could, to be the mother of my baby. She was great. I would have doubts about placing my baby and then I would read a new email from her and I would instantly feel at ease again.

She never made false promises. She was always honest and open. She was secure in her place as a mother and never threatened by my status as “birthmother.” She was my friend; genuinely interested in me and not just in “getting my baby.” I felt loved and respected.

My reasons for choosing adoption were largely influenced by my beliefs. I can not pretend that ones belief systems could not or should not play a key role in a decision as crucial as adoption. I believed that the best place for a child is in a two parent home. I wanted my baby to have a daddy. I wanted my baby to be able to be enrolled in sports, art, music, dance, and any other activity she wanted. I knew I would not be able to provide everything I wanted for her as a single mother with out an education or career. I also knew that it would be difficult for me to ever obtain my education while being a single mother.  I wouldn’t be the example I wanted to be for my baby.  I wanted to be the one to raise my child; I didn’t want to have my baby in daycare for 8 or 9 hours a day.

As the months passed, and I felt her kick, and saw her in the ultrasounds I cried almost every day. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to keep her! That was my baby, how could I just give away my baby that I had wanted so much? She was growing inside of me! I cried almost every night for several months. There would be days that I was too depressed to get out of bed and I would cry and cry.

The day before I gave birth, I still did not know what I was going to do. I drove to a place where I could feel God’s presence and hopefully gain inspiration of the right thing for me and my baby. I cried, and I prayed begging God to help me know the right choice to make. (This was one of many many prayers). Surprising to me, I felt that I could make either decision and we would be fine. My success and the success of my child were not contingent on this choice. I still didn’t know what I would do…but I knew that either way I wasn’t going to ruin her life or mine.

The day after giving birth I called the family and set the wheels for adoption in motion. The social services agent that I had been working with came to the hospital to give me a car seat and to fill me in on the paperwork process. My best friend was on the other side of the room holding my baby. I tried not to cry, but just hearing that I would sign my rights away, that she wouldn’t be mine anymore, that this decision was the final one that would severe all ties to my first baby, to the most wonderful thing I could ever create forever and completely was too much for me to handle. I could barely listen to the social worker because I couldn’t stop crying.

We drove to the agency to end my parental rights and severe the familial bond that had grown and gained strength over 9 months and for the 2 days in the hospital. The closer we got to the agency the harder I cried. I couldn’t stop. My heart was breaking and I was choosing this pain for myself. I was choosing to never hear her little sounds again. I was choosing to not see her grow, to not hear her voice, to not be in her life, and it hurt. It hurt me more than I ever thought I could hurt. I thought “I should have had an abortion. I should have ended it before I ever felt this.”

I think when we experience such deep, terrible, and unavoidable emotions the instinct is to reach for anything, any thought, any alternative that could have made it disappear. I had never once considered abortion. It is not in line with my personal beliefs, but I know I was reacting to the overwhelming pain that placing my child for adoption was causing me. At that moment in my agony I was reaching for any alternative, even one I would never have chosen, to create an illusion of comfort. But in reality, my only option was to face my decision, which meant accepting the pain my choice was causing. Even though I was driving to the agency and could have ended my suffering simply by changing directions, my mind was set. I do not remember making a conscious choice “I will place my baby for adoption,” but clearly the decision was made. It is not easy to place your child. It ripped out my heart to say goodbye to that precious little girl, to my beautiful little baby girl.

As I signed the paper work, I wept the entire time. I could barely see; the tears wouldn’t stop. The sobbing was coming from my belly as I read line after line telling me that I was no longer this baby’s mother. I was no longer a part of her life. I was a stranger. I had given her life, I had allowed her in this world, I was giving another couple the opportunity I had wanted! And yet I was signing my name that I would be nothing in my baby’s life…in that baby’s life….in their baby’s life. But that is the reality of it which can not nor should not be sugar coated. By placing my child for adoption I was agreeing that any part I played in her life would be dictated by her parents. If they chose to include me, great, if not, then that was great too. Being a birth mother to an adopted child does not and should not guarantee me some special set of rights. I knew that. I knew I was at the mercy of strangers to include me. I am at the mercy of the future desires of a someday adult if she wants to cultivate a relationship with her birthmother. But there are no guarantees. I have no rights to that relationship, I have no right to demand or expect it. I only have a hope.

Oh and how I hope! I hoped so many things for that little baby. I hoped and I prayed that she would be strong, smart, beautiful, funny, courageous, inquisitive, athletic, and creative and so much more! How I hoped that she would care to know about me when she was older, that she would care to make me a part of her life. But I knew that I might never realize any of those hopes. And that made me cry.

I spent a few minutes alone with my baby, saying goodbye, crying goodbye. Reminding her how much I loved her. How I would always love her, How it was my overwhelming love for her that gave me strength to say goodbye…forever. I assured her that her family would love her, that she would be happy with them, and that no one would love her more than her new mommy. I told her to never forget those things.

Somehow I stopped crying. I walked into the room where her new parents where waiting and as I placed their baby in the mothers arms, we embraced. It was the most beautiful experience for me. We were both holding her baby, and we were holding one another in a hug of love, compassion, gratitude, and a shared faith in a plan of salvation that bound us as family. I didn’t feel the need to cry anymore. The moment I saw the woman I had chosen to be the mother of my baby, I knew I made the right decision. I knew she would fulfill all the prayers I had for my baby. I knew she would be the kind of mother I wanted to be. I knew that the little baby we held together was safe with that woman as her mother.

Oh I still missed my baby. I did. I went home, laid my head on my mothers lap and said “oh I miss her.” Even though I was comforted in my decision, and even though I had confidence in her new mother, I really really missed my baby. I missed her little noises, her little ears and hands, I missed the way her long baby neck extended when she cried, I missed her sweet little mouth. I missed her so much. But I wasn’t sad. I didn’t cry anymore. There was emptiness, but it didn’t ache. My heart was healed by my wonderful experience with my baby’s new mother.

I have been a lucky birthmother. My family and their family met together for lunch the day after the adoption (baby not present). It was comforting for me to know that they were open and inclusive to their baby’s birth family. They were not scared, or intimidated. They were loving and understanding, and they were always grateful for the gift I had given them.  My luck continued, my mother and I were invited to visit with the baby and her mother a few days later before they traveled back to their home state. I was able to hold her again, and feed her, and snuggle her, and hear her little noises. That was a blessing for me and my mother. It was sweet to say goodbye one last time.

I remained in contact with the family. I told them of my life, they told me of theirs. 3 months later, they made a special trip to visit me and I was able to hold and play with that precious little girl that I had given life to. I no longer referred to her as “my baby.” She was their baby. That was a reality that I had come to terms with before I even signed the paperwork. I believe that is one reason why I could not stop crying, I refused to lie to myself about the situation. She was not my baby any more.

Now 3 and ½ years later, my friendship with her family, especially her mother, has only become stronger. My own family has been able to build bonds of friendship with their family. They have visited one another on several occasions. We send gifts. They traveled to celebrate the birth of my sister’s baby. They came to my wedding and dressed in the colors of my immediate family. I gained more family from the adoption, I didn’t lose anything. Because my birth daughter is the age of my nieces and because I have a sisterly bond with her mother it felt natural to refer to her as my niece. I am lucky.

I do not believe my experience is typical, I think it is the ideal. But my experience is what is possible when we care about the feelings of others. When we are honest with ourselves and the position our choices place us in. I believe that that couple loved me for me, not only because I gave them a child. They cultivated a relationship with me because they cared for me, not simply as a means to get a baby. They never let my biological bond with their baby affect their knowledge that they are this child’s parents, and no amount of genetics can outweigh the love and sacrifice that they give as parents. They know that she can look at me as her birthmother but always know who her real mommy is. They are confident with their relationship with their child. It is their security, charity, confidence, and humility that has allowed our two families to cultivate and maintain a loving relationship. I can see all my hopes coming true because they are amazing!

Do not base a decision to place your child for adoption based solely on my experiences. Do not think it is easy. Do not expect to be a part of your child’s life. The realities must be faced with cold logic. The decision to keep your child will not be any easier. There are pains, struggles, and sacrifices in connection to motherhood. Neither decision will keep you from tears, or will guarantee happiness. Which is why such a decision should never be made lightly. It is not the right choice for everyone. I really believe that it could be more harmful for some people. This is a moment in ones life when brutal honesty is the only answer. I had to be brutally honest about my goals, my desires, my beliefs. I had to really look inside myself and deeply evaluate the course my life was one, where I wanted it to go, and how I thought it could get there. I had to honestly determine if a child would harm my goals and then I would become a hindrance in my own baby’s life. I had to think about all these things and so many more!

Adoption is not nor should it be considered an easy or fix all decision. It is a heartbreaking and painful process, one that I could never repeat, and yet it allowed some of the greatest blessings to come into my life. There are pro’s and con’s. I was very lucky to be guided to the perfect family for me.


  1. So glad you shared your experience

  2. That really was raw and beautiful. I have had a few adoptions experiences on both the receiving and giving end. Such a beautiful thing! Glad your experience was perfect for you. It should be!

  3. I love you Angela. This was so precious to read...from the very deepest part of my heart...i'm so grateful...

  4. Angela you amaze me. I looked at all of your 6 million pictures yesterday :) & I was amazed. I look at Caz & I'm amazed. I've considered your strength & courage & I'm amazed. And now I'm very grateful to be allowed to read this experience written in your own hand - & - I'm amazed.
    I love you Angela. Please forgive me if that makes you uncomfortable because you really don't know me. But I really do love you. I think about you always when I'm with Caz. I love her so much. You are both so beautiful inside & out & she is everything you said you hoped she would be. She's a very lucky little girl to have two such amazing mothers.
    Thank you Angela

  5. You are so wonderful, a daughter of God. Thank you for sharing your life. You are blessing to my son, best blessing he has received. And you are blessing for us. I love you very much.

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have so much respect for you. This gives me courage as I enter into my own journey as a hopeful adoptive parent.

  7. this is awesome. One of my sons is adopted. I can't put into words the love and respect I have for his birth mom. Birth moms are my hero. The ability to sacrifice like that, is so admirable. This is so beautiful. I love when birth moms share their story.

  8. Amazing. Thank you, Angela. I can't pretend to relate, but your opened is a gift I needed on this mother's day. Blessings and continued peace. <3

  9. Amazing. Thank you, Angela. I can't pretend to relate, but your opened is a gift I needed on this mother's day. Blessings and continued peace. <3