Adoptions are cause for many intense feelings. The adoptive parents are thrilled, overjoyed and grateful. The birth mother can feel sadness or grief, but also relief and gratitude from knowing her child will be happy and that she has given a priceless gift to the adoptive parents. Like most experiences that cause such profound emotions, the effects of the adoption and the emotions attached to it will resurface periodically over the years.
Birth mothers have months to ponder and weigh options before deciding on adoption. They go through pros and cons of that choice and then, one fateful day, place their child in the arms of another. Here are seven things those women want the rest of us to know about that life-changing decision:
1. They aren't "giving their child up for adoption"
A commonly used phrase is "give up for adoption." However, that phrase has a negative connotation. Instead, these mothers prefer the terms "choosing adoption" or "placing for adoption." In actuality, they don't believe they are giving anything up. Instead, they are choosing a different life for both themselves and their children.
2. They love their children
Mothers don't choose to put their children up for adoption because they are incapable of mothering or because they don't want to care for their child. They do it because they believe it is the best option for their child.
Ashlee, who placed her daughter in adoption a year ago, said, "I would have loved to raise my daughter, but I decided that she needed a stable home... I placed her for adoption because I couldn't give her a life she deserved."
3. Adoption is hard
Leigh (name has been changed for privacy) gave birth to Benjamin in November 2009, and has an open adoption, although she has yet to see Ben in person.
In Kristin Hill Taylor's book "Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith and My Family," Leigh said, "I grieved as any mother would after delivering and losing her child. I felt like I was being torn apart. Even though I knew it was the right decision, it was still hard to let him go."
4. Mothers get a better life
Even though it is hard to give up their children, women who place their children in adoption believe that not only is it the best option for their children, it's the best option for their own life as well.
"I think that adoption is a great idea for any mother who might have reservations about having a child at a bad time in their life," Leigh said. "I've never believed in abortion, and to give someone a child who might not be able to have one or to someone who might be able to give the child better opportunities in life is wonderful."
5. They don't regret their decision
While a birth mom's decision will always bring up vivid emotions, many would not go back and change it. When Ashlee was asked why she didn't regret her choice, she answered, "Because my baby is happy, fed and sheltered. That's all that matters to me. That's all I ever wanted for her."
Likewise, after giving birth, Leigh said, "I cried for many days and still do every now and then, but I still know it was the right thing and wouldn't change my decision for anything."
6. Meeting their children incites mixed feelings
Mandy (name has been changed) had just finished her freshman year in college when she gave birth to Catherine in May 2007. She has an open adoption and met her daughter for the first time when she was six years old. Mandy told Taylor about the moment she first met Catherine, "It was a very exciting and somewhat unsettling moment. I was excited to get the initial meeting out of the way and get to know her personality a little."
7. Open adoption can be uncomfortable
For many mothers, an open adoption (an adoption where the parents have varying amounts of contact and types of relationships with their children) can be an awkward balance because she doesn't understand her role in her child's life. In her New York Times article, Amy Seek, whose open adoption allows her to often spend time with her biological son stated,"I don't know how to be any kind of mother, much less one who surrendered her child but is back to help build a Lego castle."
8. Open adoption can be helpful
On the other hand, Mandy stated, "I think meeting with [my daughter] at a younger age was very beneficial to her and her comfort level with being adopted. It will also help her deal with some of the questions that might come up later in life and being comfortable with asking them. It helped me get more comfortable with the idea of answering questions for her. It will only get easier and easier to see her from here out."
9. They miss their children every day
It's nearly impossible for any mother to not think about her children. Even though they may not be parenting their children, they don't forget them.
"Even though I am not raising my daughter, she is still in my heart and I miss and love her every day," Ashlee said.