Thoughts on Adoption Fundraising

When I found myself pregnant at the age of 18 I knew I did not have the resources to raise a child properly. I lacked the emotional and financial resources necessary for a young woman in college (well I had yet to start college when the stick turned blue) needed to (in my opinion) properly raise a child. The fact that I was not married and the baby’s father was just as young and lacking the same resources as I did  somehow mattered very little to my family. Unwed/Unplanned pregnancies are part of my family culture starting even before my birth to an unwed mother in 1969. Unlike the rest of the family, I was actually riddled with shame and guilt that I was indeed pregnant. I did not have time to be pregnant because I had other plans..most importantly my plan included getting as far away from “those people” (a/k/a my family) as possible. As I stared at the blue stick i thought, I do not know how to do this and worst of all I have nothing to offer this baby. That one factor weighed heavily on my mind as my pregnancy progressed and influenced my plan to place my unborn child for adoption.

We all want what is best for our children. I used to believe that a two parent household where there was no danger of going hungry, no danger of being cold and no danger of always having second hand everything was what every child deserved..ugh if only I knew then what I know now. We all know that private adoption is very expensive. A healthy white infant can cost upwards of $40,000 to adopt and I am well aware those costs are daunting. Adopting through the state or public welfare system is virtually free or at the minimum low cost in comparison. I knew I was poor, doomed to life on public assistance, possibly life in the same public housing projects I was raised in and wanted out of if I decided to parent  and I did not want that for my child.  What never crossed my mind, was the people I held in such high esteem as pillars of their community and possessing so much more than I in that exact moment of my life including financial stability would need to fundraise to be able to afford their adoption.

I am not sure if I live my life in a vacuum or if I removed myself from all things adoption but I never once fathomed that people would expect others to contribute to the cost of their adoption. There are several Facebook pages dedicated to this very thing and what struck me as disturbing was how entitled some of the prospective adoptive parents feel to publicly solicit money from others to help them. One particular page that I became privy to featured the following comment by the prospective adoptive parent who was upset by the fact that several mothers who placed their children disagreed with her auction/fundraiser..she even went so far in previous comments to state that “Satan” sent these people in her path but Jesus prevailed. UGH but here is what she posted..I copied and pasted this before it was removed

“Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that some of the hatred being spread on here will stop but it will take some work to keep it that way. I am reporting not just blocking people so that hopefully some of them will not hurt anyone else. This doesn’t bother me as they are only words but this is not the place for it so have patience and remember that God is leading us and he will get us thru these hating people. Thanks for sticking up for us it does mean a lot to me. Now back to the selling of necklaces.  Who is going to buy one. Let me know so I can get excited about each dollar closer to being a mommy.”

Each dollar closer to being a mommy? A young woman considering adoption for her child will never know this. The pregnant woman will think placing her child with this woman who longs to be a mother will be what is best for her child when by this person’s own words it is not about the child..it is about her. Those words make me nauseous to read.

These are the same types of people who will be offended if I or anyone else mention that for all intents and purposes they are asking people to help them buy their child. These people will be offended if it is mentioned to them that maybe if they do not have the money to buy their womb fresh baby and want to experience the joys of parenting that maybe they should look to foster and/or adopt out of the foster care system. These are the people who like to ignore that question and keep  talking about how they should not be denied the chance to have a baby. These are the same people who more likely than not will tell a pregnant mother whatever they need to tell her to gain her trust so she will give them her baby. These are the people who have the potential to close the adoption once everything is final and they have what they want. These are the people who will hide behind scriptures to justify their actions and behaviors.

Adoption is not the new pregnant and fundraising to defray the costs of adoption should not be socially acceptable in any way . The woman here should be ashamed of herself for those words but she will not be because anyone pointing out to her the harsh truths of adoption are satanic and out to hurt her. She is like so many hopeful adoptive mothers on social media so wrapped up in her own wants and desires that she can not possibly see any truths but the ones she fabricated to suit her own needs. If she truly wanted to adopt for the sake of a child she would not be trying to sell necklaces to buy what she wants but can not have and looking to help a child who is truly in need of a loving and stable home. 

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Dear Adoptress

Dear Carol,

It is obvious that even though the boy is now a man, you refuse to open up his adoption. It baffles me that you are unwilling to share with him the details that he needs to know to even research on his own, like his adoption information including a letter I wrote to him are at the Bellows Falls Court House. I do not understand your reasoning behind this? Are you still afraid that he will chose me over you? If that is the case then I think that you need to realize that people can love many others in their lives and still hold their parents dear. You neglect to recognize with these behaviors that I am his mother, I always have been and I always will be. You are his parent, the one I entrusted to care for him and to keep true the promises you made when I entrusted you with my heart and soul all those years ago.

I wrote you an email a few months back after K’s 25th birthday and still no reply from you..the email was not threatening it was in fact very loving and guess what ? I know you never passed on any of the message to K. What you also do not know is thanks to social media that K and I have found one another and we talk several times per week. What I know is he has been searching for me, he has missed me and he wants for us to be in one another’s lives. Maybe you have figured out that K and I are friends on Facebook and maybe you have not..but we are and it has been a privilege to see through photos and posts the handsome young man he grown to be. I give you props for doing a great job raising him despite the bible thumping. I have love and respect for the fact that my son is happy and well-adjusted but I am still so hurt and angry that you failed to keep our relationship active so that he never had any questions about who he is and how he came to be.

SO in case you do not know..I am meeting K and M in Europe in a few short weeks..it scares the crap out of me but I am taking a leap of faith. I am grateful that K and I have a chance to start a new relationship as friends and it has nothing to do with you. I am grateful to get to know the young man who shares so many of my quirky personality traits and interests and looks like his younger siblings. I am looking forward to the rest of our lives and all the good, bad and everything in between.

It would be nice if you could open your heart and mind and merge our families as one ..but I am not counting on anything. Just know I did nothing to deserve what you did by cutting us out of his life..in fact if you think about it you would not have K if it were not for me. I hope you change your mind some day..in the meantime I will enjoy the time I with K and M

 

Pie Crust Promises

I have a question to pose..how many of us actually form opinions based on facts vs feelings? Many years ago there was an adoption case that took place in Michigan known in the media as  the “Baby Jessica” case. For those of you not familiar with the case the synopsis is a young woman got pregnant and made the choice to place her daughter for adoption with a  couple in Michigan. After the mother signed a Termination of Parental Rights agreement (TPR) and falsely named another man as the father of her baby she had a change of mind, informed the true birth father of his paternity and from there things got heated. The father of “baby Jessica” informed the courts he never terminated  his parental and sued to regain custody of his daughter. The couple who at the time were in the process of adopting “Jessica” fought long and hard to keep the little girl they grew to love in their custody but ultimately lost. During the days when the story was a highlight in the national media I followed the case since it was very close to home for me. Three short years before this case was thrust into the spotlight I was “Jessica’s” birth mother in many ways and agreed to allow another family to adopt and raise my son even though I doubted my decision every step of the way.  By the time the “jessica” case was national news, I developed a sanctimonious attitude towards adoption, believing that I had done the selfless thing and gave my son a better life than I was able to offer him at the moment. I hated this birth mother and father for ripping that little girl out of the only home she knew. I believe I used the words selfish and despicable when I spoke of the birth family. Looking back, I think I needed to feel that way otherwise what I did was all wrong and the reality of my situation would haunt me.

I recently read interviews and facts that were published on this case and see it with a different set of older and wiser eyes. I can understand the perspective of the couple who invested much time and money into adopting a child they brought home and bonded with. I also now more than ever understand where the biological family came from as well. So many people looking at that case or anything else to do with adoption think once a woman places her child that her ties to the child are severed..she should simply move on, she did the right thing (in their opinion) so now it is time to step aside and allow the “real’ parents to live happily ever after.

Just imagine if you will, how you would feel if someone came in and took away a child you just gave birth to? You are still hurting from the pain of physically giving birth, your hormones as dropping fast and furious and have just met this little person who until this moment was really an abstract concept? Then imagine there is a woman on the other side of you telling you “you are an angel”,  “you will always be a part of our family”..trying to hold the baby, taking pictures and all you can think is please hand him to me. IF you go through with passing the baby into this woman’s care, you are still hurting because by now your milk has come in and it is painful and you are feeling not quite yourself emotionally and it is time to say goodbye. Another woman walks out of the hospital with your baby, she will give him a name she has chosen out for him, his birth certificate will say that she and her husband/partner are his parents and all traces of you are erased.  Can you imagine what it feels like to give birth and walk away empty handed?

Imagine still, after you walk away agreeing that even though the other couple will be known to your child as mom and dad that you are promised to be a part of his life. In those days before the baby is really  real you are an angel, you are giving an infertile couple the thing they want most..a baby. The truth is to quote Mary Poppins..those are “Pie crust promises..easily made…easily broken”. So many women walk away thinking the people who adopt their children have everyone’s best interests at heart and truth is most adoptive parents do what is best for themselves, for their circumstances and their lives. Many Birth mothers find themselves cut out f their children’s lives, the adoptive parents find ways to demonize the natural mother and contact is lost.

In my adoption story, Kevin’s mother promised me that I would always be a part of his life. She agreed to raising Kevin in the Catholic faith, she agreed to a lot of things that she never followed through on. I have come to find out that she told Kevin that I loved him enough to give him up, she turned me into just that “poor girl” who had no other choice than to allow them to raise him as their own. I am left what did I do to be cut out of his life? Am I that horrible that she felt the need to protect my son from his mother? I never challenged her parenthood of him ever and I can think is Carol like most adoptive mothers become fearful and threatened by the presence of the child’s natural mother. Carol had nothing to fear then, I adored her..today is a different story.

I ask that those of you who truly have not experienced adoption to save your opinions for one side of the others since there are 3 sides to every adoption story, the parents, the adopters and the child..no child is selfish for wanting to know where they come from, mothers are not wrong when they ache for their lost children and wonder if they are warm , healthy and happy…infertile couples are not wrong for wanting to raise a child ..they just need to realize that simply giving a child a name, a home and raising said child in their image is not enough to erase the mother/child bond, it does not diminish the need we all have to know “Who am I “?  They need to realize that a child is not a possession rather they are human beings with feelings, curiosities and genetic ties that do not change when their mother signs a TPR. Promises made in the early days of their adoption process need to be kept  and honored ..adoption and parenting are hard work and all sides need to consider that the only person who matters most is the child.

Finally ..speaking of children..I am going to reunite with my child in Ireland of all places in exactly 1 month from today..wish me luck and send me strength

 

 

 

Anyone BUT Them…

I have been all over the map emotionally when it comes to my adoption journey. At the onset, there was a sense of relief , a sense that my son was going to be safe and well cared for and with that relief there was a sense of sadness. Scratch that..there was an overwhelming sense of grief that I can not put words to and I bottled up because I was expected to move on. Everyone in my life told me I did the right thing, I gave my son life in more ways than one and he was better off without me. I suppose I was grateful, I still had contact with him, I still got to see him on a regular basis and know that he was cared for and loved this was a new concept of adoption to me since most adopted people I was exposed to knew nothing regarding their families of origin and never to my knowledge met their mothers. I considered myself lucky, blessed even by the people who adopted my son since they said they wanted me to always be a part of his life.

Things were alright for the first few years of his life,but there were subtle signs (well maybe not so subtle but I was still drinking the kool aid) such as things said to me about already agreed upon terms of the adoption or little remarks made in my presence. Then the adopters closed the adoption and that was it, no more pictures, no more visits, no more phone calls..nothing for seventeen years.

My son and I recently reconnected thanks to Facebook. He told me he is grateful  I made the incredibly difficult choice to place him for adoption. I know looking back at my 19 year old self that decision was the best thing for both of us but I wish I could rewrite our history just slightly. In a few short emails and Facebook messages seventeen years melted away but for me I am stuck in a new wave of guilt and regret.

We shared bits and pieces of our stories and where life has taken us in the years we have been apart. He is a magnificent young man, in love with life and a wonderful young lady. My son has his whole life ahead of him. He recently took up the greatest adventure of his young life and moved to a foreign country to start life in her native land. We discovered that despite our time apart and his time in his adoptive family we are more alike than different on so many fundamental levels. We have similar quirks and habits, we get annoyed by the same traits in people, and our sense of humor is oddly off kilter , this truly dispels the nurture vs nature argument in my opinion. This certainly is more than I ever expected. However there are moments like today when we talk and I hear things from him regarding his adoption journey and I feel the air being sucked out of my lungs slowly and painfully.

My son (and yes he is still MY son) was never told much about me except that I was young and his adoption was good for me and good for the adopters. The family told this young man that they always wanted a son but C did not want to give birth at her advanced age. The adoptive mother was 43 when my son joined their family and according to C things all worked out the way they were meant to. For reasons beyond my comprehension they refused to to tell him anything as basic as my first name. K told me a story about finding an old photo album during a recent visit home and saw a picture of himself with 4 girls in his driveway, three of the girls are his sisters and the fourth he questioned C if the girl was his birth mother. I am told C stumbled her words and said yeah maybe it might be, K had to ask her why she could not even give him a straight answer because that girl in the picture is his mother and she gave him a half assed answer. I am asking WHY is this necessary? C knows my name, she even knows where I live, I never challenged her motherhood of my son, I never questioned her love or devotion to him but I ask why is it that I am so awful and unworthy that even my first name can not be mentioned?

If I could rewrite our history knowing then what I know now, it is possible adoption might have still factored into our story..however I would choose ANYONE BUT THEM.  K’s adoptive family all but manipulated my decisions from the moment they got involved with me. K’s adoptive Family told him as I found out today that he often reached out to the more than he did me. They filled his head with their version of the truth and in turn diminished my role in his life to that poor (and I mean in the financial sense) who needed them to rescue him from a terrible life of poverty and despair had I not been brave (stupid) enough to give him to them.

Let me set the record straight..MY son more often than not reached out to me for comfort, I was often blocked by them or told oh honey let me take care of him, you rest, you go back to school..oh let me get that messy diaper, see how easy it is to do this. Yeah it was totally easy for a woman with nineteen plus years of parenting experience to do all of those things versus a young woman with no mother and very little parental guidance. After a while you lose your confidence and think maybe i am not good enough and believe that the only person who can do take care of the baby is the person manipulating you and eventually you just give up..

An Adoption Story 25 years later

ImageThis beautiful little boy was once mine to keep, however I  allowed doubt, fear and other people’s influence to cloud my judgement. I felt scared and unworthy to be his mother, so I made the worst decision of my life and I asked “friends” of mine to adopt him and raise him as their own.

In the moment, I found myself caught up in the rhetoric that I was making the difficult but brave choice for my son. As his birth mother I was being selfless and giving a family a precious gift and I used that to justify my decision. I was told I was doing good, I made the right choice and gave him life. some days those sentiments echoed in my head and were enough to get me through the day..other days I found myself lost, aching for my child and so very alone.

Alone, lonely, and isolated are the words I can use to best describe how my life has often felt during the past 25 years. I have kept my secret for 25 years, always holding my breath, hoping no one would find out and judge me. Truth is the person who judges me the harshest is me. Twenty five years have passed and I still am unable to forgive myself for being young, for having sex before I married, for getting caught and getting pregnant..for being alone. I was the very smart and very good girl who was not allowed to make these mistakes…I had a bright future ahead of me, I was salutatorian of my high school class, I worked hard to pay my own tuition at a private school, I was going to college with loads of scholarship money. One night changed everything…my friends were having a party after the prom on Cape Cod…I went ..I drank vodka for the first time…I lost my virginity…I got pregnant.

I had a decision to make, I thought about abortion, but my very strong Catholic faith is part of who I am and I could not abort a child who did not ask to be conceived. I went deep into denial but managed to take good care of myself and my unborn baby, always went to the doctor, never drank or partied, went to class and kept a low profile. Adoption seemed like the best answer to insure both myself and the baby would ok, but no one tells you what you will feel after the baby is born and that was where I found myself.

My son, whom I named Kevin Padraig was born March 9, 1988 at 5:47 AM after a rather short labor and intense and difficult birth. Kevin weighed 8 lbs, 9.5 ounces and had  the fullest head of blonde hair I ever saw on a newborn.  I did not want to get attached to him after he was born, but the moment they placed him in my arms I looked into that gorgeous little face and I fell head over heels in love. The first words I said to him were “I love you beautiful boy” and the last words I ever said to him were “I am sorry” he was 8 at the time.  The road to hell is most definitely paved with good intentions and my intentions that morning were filled with pure love. That moment was the first and only time I was able to fall head over heels in love instantaneously with another human being. SInce then, I have become more protective of my feelings and have always been terrified of losing my other children. That is the funny thing about being a birth mother, we carry our lost children with us always and our experiences are part of our story forever.

I was born an illegitimate child to a woman not very capable of taking care of herself and really had no business taking care of me and I was terrified with the very act of giving birth at the age of 18 years and 11 months fate would turn me into my mother. There were no people in my life I trusted enough or believed in enough to tell me everything would eventually work itself out and be OK. I looked into the eyes of my child and felt totally unprepared and unworthy to accept the responsibility of being his mother. I planned to allow him to be adopted right form the hospital, but the more time I spent with him, the less I was inclined to let Kevin go. I was his mother, he was my son and we bonded in our time in the hospital. I knew I was about to become another statistic as a teen mother who was unwed and unemployed and I did not care..well I did care but in the moment I simply found myself in love with my bundle of joy.

Things changed drastically when reality struck…I was living with my aunt in an over crowded small apartment with eviction looming over my head constantly, I was depending on welfare to provide for my child and a “friend” stepped in with an offer that seemed too good to pass up. That was when the old monsters Fear and Self Doubt entered my soul and I felt like I was not good enough to raise Kevin and our story changed forever.