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