As you know, my blog focuses heavily on issues surrounding two parties of the adoption triad: the adoptee and adoptive parents. But recently, I interviewed a birthmother. So if you haven’t read the first post in this series on my Interview with a Birthmother, you can back up now and do that.
In this post, you will begin learning more about her and her journey. My next post in the series will wrap up her interview. (And I will share some of my reflections on my conversations with her.) But first … bear with me as I take you through one more brief aside. (And then, FINALLY, the interview!) 🙂
What is the Adoption Triad (or Triangle)?
The adoption symbol (pictured above), with its interwoven heart and triangle, depicts the interconnection of the three parties involved in all adoptions. When people refer to the adoption triad, or adoption triangle, they are referring to:
- The Adoptee,
- The Birth Parents, and
- The Adoptive Parents.
A Bit About the Birthmother and Her Situation
Since my blog is primarily a foster care and foster adoption blog, it is important for you to know up front that the birthmother I interviewed is NOT the birthmother of a child who went into foster care. Hence, some of the adoption triad relationship dynamics will be different in her situation than in a foster care adoption. However, there is much commonality (we will get to that later), as well as takeaways for all of us in the adoption triad, regardless of the specific situation. You will find out more about her specific situation as the interview unfolds.
BEAN: If you feel comfortable, would you mind telling us about the circumstances that led up to you feeling like adoption was the best option for your child? (You can be as vague or as specific as you want.)
BIRTHMOTHER: I was dating someone who I knew in my heart wasn’t a great choice for me but I gave in to the attraction (bad boy anyone?!). I was 19 years old and had been severely undereducated about sex. It didn’t take long before I was pregnant and I knew that while he was a fairly abysmal boyfriend, he was going to be an even worse parenting partner. I made the decision, while he was away and cheating as it turns out, to leave and try to get clear about what I was going to do. All of my life I had looked forward to being a mom. It was my dream.
Deep in my gut I knew that I needed to place the baby for adoption. I warred with that decision on my own because I didn’t want any final choice to be influenced by anyone else. I didn’t want to be able to “blame” anyone for my choices, whatever they were. It took me a month to say it out loud to my parents and another 2 weeks before I was ready to actually talk about it and start making a plan.
I wouldn’t say there was any one reason or another that I can pinpoint. Just my own heart.
BEAN: Did you waver on your decision, or was it pretty clear-cut for you to move forward in that way?
BIRTHMOTHER: As I alluded to before, I was really clear throughout my pregnancy that I was meant to place my daughter for adoption. I planned and did paperwork. I read resumes, had phone interviews and poured over the details looking for what I was looking for. Is that a thing? Yes, it is. It means I had no clue what I was looking for but I was looking closely at EVERYTHING. I met with a non-profit counselor [Lois Baxter at The Birth Connection in Sacramento, CA] who specializes in helping birth mothers look at parenting and adoption specifically. We had several projects and worksheets that I didn’t understand. I wrote pros and cons to both parenting and adoption. I wrote my reasons for placing my daughter. I rolled my eyes…a lot.
Roughly 2 hours after I came home, I fell apart. I was begging my parents to get her back. I couldn’t bear the pain. I couldn’t picture coming back from the trauma. I still knew that the adopting family would be the best for her but I didn’t feel like I could go through with it. I figured I could do good enough. It was an emotional tornado in that house. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for MY mom to watch her baby in that space. There I was on the floor in absolute agony. My mom called the counselor and she had me get out the papers. The Papers. You guys, seriously. I was pissed that she wasn’t getting my daughter but there were The Papers. In my own handwriting. The only person who could get through to me was me. I didn’t want to read it because I knew there was no way to argue with it.
So yes, I wavered in the pain, but I came out of it about 24 hours later. I was ravaged but alive.
BEAN: How did it feel to say goodbye to your child?
BIRTHMOTHER: I haven’t said goodbye. Our relationship shifted as we left the hospital which I’ve talked about before but it wasn’t goodbye…just a change.
BEAN: In what way were you able to find an adoptive home for your child? (IE Church, family friend, private agency, etc.)
BIRTHMOTHER: I was fortunate to work through an amazing attorney out of Santa Barbara, Doug Donnelly. I still have never met him in person and he didn’t represent me. He represented the adopting parents but he took amazing care of us.
BEAN: Do you know where your child is living now? Do you have contact with his/her adoptive parents? If so, how much, how often, and how does that go?
BIRTHMOTHER: I do know where she is. We have an open adoption, which really just means “not closed”. Our relationship has gone through its many phases. There have been periods of time where we are in closer contact and other times when our lives have only brushed. The ability to reach out and have contact has been a great source of comfort to all of us. We’ve never felt cut off. They’ve reached out with questions. I’ve shared opinions they’ve felt the opposite about. We have a mutual respect for each other but don’t feel forced to do any given thing because of the nature of that relationship.
“Not closed.” I loved that phrase, because of the wide range of “open-ness” in open adoptions. It is not a one-size-fits-all label. (Next week, I’ll explore this a bit more.)
I hope that hearing from such an open and vulnerable warrior mom is blessing your life like it has been in mine. It takes a tremendous about of emotional work to be able to share so freely, and I have treasured our conversations. But …
There is more to come!
So don’t miss next week’s birthmother interview conclusion!