In an effort to show the “real faces” of adoption, Heather at Production, Not Reproduction hosts Adoption Bloggers Interview Project, aptly timed during the month of November which is National Adoption Awareness Month. I should also take a moment to thank her for organizing this project, as well as the fabulous Open Adoption Roundtable.
I signed up because I wanted to get to know another story of adoption; I have my favorite adoption bloggers that I regularly read, and I occasionally run into another here and there. This is a fabulous way to connect with more readers, with more writers, and more people impacted by adoption.
As such, I was paired with the very sweet Betty Anne. Like me, she is a birthmother. Betty Anne also recently welcomed her son James (he’s absolutely precious!) into the world with her husband, Scott. She blogs about her journey as a new mother, her adorable cats, and of course, her open adoption with her daughter Chloe. She has a real genuine spirit, and was a pleasure to get to know. Check her out, after you read her responses to my questions, of course.
1. What led you to choosing adoption?
Prior to getting pregnant, I didn’t think I wanted kids. Ever. In conversations with girlfriends about “What would you do if you got pregnant?” I always said I would place the child for adoption. Obviously that’s a lot easier said in a hypothetical situation than done in reality. I was single, 25 years old, and had decided to go back to school to become a nurse when I found out I was pregnant. One of my first thoughts: adoption. But I had no idea about the logistics of it. So I made some phone calls to local agencies and set up a couple of appointments. One of the agencies had a particularly helpful birthmother counselor-person that I spoke with. She helped paint the broad strokes of what choosing adoption could look like for me. I cried in her office. I knew it would be hard going into that appointment, but talking with her that day made it much more real (and therefore painful). Throughout the whole pregnancy I went back and forth, weighing my decision to either be a single parent or place my daughter for adoption. I had a lot of support from my family and friends. Nobody really pushed me into my decision. I felt like it was totally up to me to decide what was best for me and my daughter, and that either way I would have support from those that loved me. Six weeks before she was born, I finalized my decision to place Chloe for adoption. I picked a family almost the same week. In the end, what it came down to was this: I wanted a better life for Chloe than I was able to provide her at that time. I knew I could love her as much as (or more than!) anybody else. What I could not do was provide for her, financially or emotionally. I wanted her to have a healthy relationship modeled for her by a mom and dad, instead of going back and forth between two houses in different cities to spend time with each of her parents, who didn’t agree on much at all.
2. Are you still in contact with Chloe’s birthfather? If so, what is your relationship like? Does he receive any pictures or contact?
Chloe’s birthfather and I are no longer in contact, and I feel good about that. We stayed in touch over the phone or via email for the first couple years of her life. After that, I didn’t see any reason for us to stay in touch. We had no future together, of that I was certain. He and Chloe’s mom had each other’s email addresses. They didn’t need me as a middle man. Because of that, I stopped responding to his texts or emails. As I understand it, he still emails Chloe’s mom about twice a year. He’s never met her in person.
3. Tell me about one memory that sticks out for you, when you were pregnant with Chloe:
One fun memory I have of being pregnant with Chloe: Around 20 weeks pregnant, I went on a cruise with my sister. While we were sitting in the Miami airport waiting for our return flight, I was reading a book, propped on my belly. I wasn’t visibly pregnant, although none of my clothes were fitting anymore. As I was sitting there reading, the book tipped forward for a second, as if somebody had pushed on it. Somebody HAD pushed on it! It was Chloe! That was the first time I remember her kicking. It was such a weird feeling! I remember thinking how strange it was to feel something INSIDE my body that WAS NOT me! Since that was my first pregnancy, that memory is very special to me.
4. When did you tell Scott about the adoption? What was his reaction?
Ah…telling Scott. He was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant. We were good friends at that time. Well, he was a good friend to me. I don’t know how well I treated him. He was a great listener and was very supportive. Fast forward to four years later when we started dating–I never had to figure out how to tell him. He knew me when I was pregnant. He knew I had placed Chloe for adoption. In fact, he says he credits her for our relationship. According to him, I changed after she was born. I was softer, less calloused, all around more of the type of person with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
5. Do you feel that your adoption has made you a different mother than you would have been for your son, had you not given birth to Chloe?
As I mentioned before, prior to Chloe, I didn’t think I wanted to have kids. After Chloe, I completely understood what all the “hubbub” was about. Being a part of bringing her into this world was by far the coolest thing I had ever participated in at that point in my life. So, yes, I would say it has made me a different mother than I would have been otherwise. Mostly because I don’t know that I would have chosen to become a mother otherwise. I am so, so, so very grateful for her.
6. Do you think you would consider adopting a child of your own?
I would definitely consider adopting children. Scott and I have discussed it before. Adoption has been such a life-changing-for-the-better kind of thing in my life. I would love to experience the other side of the adoption triad: being an adoptive parent. I think my experience as a birthmother would make being an adoptive parent all the more interesting. Would it be challenging? Absolutely. 1) Because I think being an adoptive parent is challenging in ways I don’t even know because I haven’t walked in those shoes yet. 2) Because I would compare my behavior/experience to that of my child’s birthmother. I would want her to act how I acted (or so I think, anyway). Soooo…. We’ll see how it plays out.
7. For you what is the hardest part of being a birthmother?
Hmm..the hardest thing about being a birthmother… That is a great question. I would have to say the hardest part is grieving the loss of that child. What might have been. What my relationship with her would have looked like if I had chosen to parent. Grieving the loss of control. Grieving the loss of getting to make any decisions for her life, other than who her parents would be. Trusting somebody else to raise your child….wow. It hurts just to type that! These things are hard for me, and I felt absolutely certain about my decision. I can’t imagine the grief others experience if they felt coerced into adoption.
8. Share your favorite post on your blog regarding your adoption; explain why you love it.
I wrote about comparing the two times I’ve left the hospital after having a baby. I love this post because the emotions it evokes in me are big, raw, and real. I don’t want to forget how it felt in 2004. I don’t want to forget how different it felt in 2011.
9. If there was one thing you could tell society about birthmothers, what would it be?
If I could tell society one thing about birthmothers: If you think that a birthmother places a child for adoption because she doesn’t “want” the child, you don’t understand adoption at all. I actually had somebody say that to me once. “You put her up for adoption because you didn’t want her?” I’ll tell you what I wanted–I wanted to punch that lady in the face for even saying such a thing. 🙂 One of my favorite quotes: “Adoption is not a breaking of trust but a keeping of faith, not an abdication of responsibility but an act of redemption, not the abandonment of a baby but an abandonment of self for a baby’s sake.”
10. How open is your adoption? Do you wish it was more open? Less? Explain.
My adoption is uncharacteristically open. We do not have a legal contract stipulating the terms of our open adoption. Although I would have been crushed if they shut me out of their lives, I knew I would never take them to court if they stopped letting me see her, so I didn’t think we needed a legal contract. I chose a family from my parents’ church. At that time, my brother and his family, my parents and I all went to the same church. I saw Chloe and her family all the time. Both of our families had a lot of interaction. My mom babysat for Chloe and her brother regularly for the first couple of years. I lived at home then, so I saw Chloe a lot. We all still live in the same general area. (about 30 minutes from each other) Throughout the years, thus far, our openness has ebbed and flowed. Sometimes we are in closer contact than others. I actually haven’t seen Chloe in a long time, but I hear about her regularly. We’ll have to figure out if and how our families will interact now that James is in the picture (2nd child, parenting him). Chloe’s parents are very laid back and easy going. I so appreciate this about them. We have just sort of figured it out as we’ve gone along in our relationship, tweaking it as needed. And so far, that’s worked well.
If you are interested in reading more perspectives on adoption, check out the list here.