There are some topics that are harder to write about than others. One topic that I usually struggle with is adoption.
While on the surface, I can talk about how wonderful the gift of adoption can be and that yes it is hard on the birth parents (and family) and potentially the adoptee, I find it much more difficult to delve into the actual feelings that go along with this decision that affects you for your entire life.
I am a birth mother. I was a young teen when I had gotten pregnant, and told next to no one when I found out. I was young and naïve, with the mentality that if I ignore it, it will work itself out. It’ll just ‘go away’. The thing is, I knew better. Deep down I knew at some point I would have to face this, but I preferred later rather than sooner. As people at school started to notice, never once did I feel isolated. However, I found myself realizing that while people were ‘okay’ with this around me, I would still have to face up to my family alone. I’m not ready to go into all the things that happened when they found out, as I don’t particularly like to re-visit that aspect. What I do remember is that adoption was the only option on the table for me. Many will say that everyone has options. But the reality of it is that yes, there are options, but there are consequences of EVERY option, none of which seemed appealing. In my case, I didn’t feel like there were options except one. On the surface, I remained quite disconnected, and unemotional about the whole adoption process. I would cry, but no one really knew why I was crying. At the time I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I wanted my baby. It seemed so taboo. And I found myself beating myself up over it, saying everything that I thought everyone wanted to hear. Not saying what may have been the most important thing at the time. I want to keep my baby.
After my family found out about my pregnancy, and the adoption preparations began, I chose the family that would raise my child from profiles that the agency thought I might be okay with. The family was chosen.
When my child was born, I remember being in the hospital, and I remember giving birth….but what stands out to me, and what will always be that thought that kills me inside, was walking out of the hospital, and leaving my child behind. I cried that day because it hurt.
Being young and resilient, it didn’t take me long to find myself back in school and taking on the regular ‘problems’ of a teenager again. That’s not to say that I didn’t think about my child, or feel sad at times. It’s just that there was a lot more to keep my mind occupied. Finishing high school and getting into a good university was my ultimate goal at that time.
Fast forward to my early to mid-20’s. I found myself in and out of bouts of depression (self-diagnosed of course). I would be so pulled back into feelings I didn’t allow myself to feel when I had given my child up for adoption that I was angry a lot and rebellious just to feel some sense of control over myself. Having those feelings and not really knowing how to cope began my long journey into becoming more positively in-tune with myself and the world around me. That’s not to say I still didn’t have moments of anger and sadness, but I developed the coping mechanisms of “this experience makes me who I am”, “what can I learn from this, or what am I SUPPOSED to learn from this”, “I have to come out of this experience stronger”, “Don’t let this take you down”. At first, it wasn’t my voice that I heard. It was the voice of a friend that always seemed to put me back into the right frame of mind. Now I find that it’s my own voice giving myself the advice.
Now beyond 30, I find that I’m affected more by this. My child is now a grown person, with thoughts and feelings that I know nothing about. My feelings are now a different sadness. I try not to regret my decision for adoption, but the “what ifs” still find their way in. I tell myself all the positives, that my child must have had a great life; two parents that could give them everything; a normal childhood; and not dealing with the stigma of a teenage mom (does that still exist). With all the wonderful things I tell myself, my sadness now comes from the thought of “what is my child thinking and feeling?” Do they know they’re adopted? And if they do, do they know I loved them then, and do now? And does that even matter to them?
We all live with the consequences of our actions, and while this was and always will be a sad experience, I feel that I’ve come out of it stronger, and have found a way to feel at least a little inner peace about it.