My name is Lauren, I grew up in Ohio and I’m a birth mother.
On top of being a birthmother, I am also an adoptee. I was adopted at 6 days old. It was a closed adoption. I grew up knowing I was adopted and always had a longing to meet my biological family. My adoptive family are my rocks. They have encouraged me in every step I have taken. They have been there to pick up the pieces when my decisions fell apart, and have helped me soar and succeed when my decisions were beneficial. They encouraged me to find my biological family. I have since found them and am in reunion with them.
I grew up having a great appreciation for my birthmother. That she chose something so difficult at her young age of 20. That she loved me so much she chose to give me a life she couldn’t provide.
I came to a point in my life where I was rebelling. While I had always been a rebel, I was getting the last of that “I’ll show you” ‘teenage’ behavior out of my system. I was in a relationship with someone who encouraged dishonest behavior and who was emotionally and manipulatively abusive. And honestly, I was too blinded by the idea of things to see what was happening.
I was also chronically depressed. I had been diagnosed bipolar somewhere between the age of 13-16 (not sure on the exact age)- a diagnosis that was later, during my pregnancy, thrown out. I was taking medication that I didn’t need to be on, I was having mood swings and experimenting with risk taking behaviors. Even though our relationship wasn’t healthy we were committed to one another and however, not having protected sex. I had just healed from a broken leg (the result of a fall) and had not been taking my birth control regularly. He also later told me he had altered my birth control so that I would have gotten pregnant regardless. The day I learned I was pregnant, I was actually planning on breaking up with him. However, the discovery scared me out of doing so. I did not want to be pregnant and alone.
About a month after I discovered I was pregnant, I had a miscarriage. I hadn’t been into the doctor yet. I had an appointment scheduled for roughly a week later. I woke up in the middle of the night with intense cramps and massive amounts of bleeding. I called my mom and dad and my mom came upstairs. She is a nurse, and told me it appeared to be a miscarriage. She comforted me and helped me get cleaned up. The entire night I tried getting in contact with my boyfriend (the father) but he never picked up his phone.
In the morning when I told him what had happened, after he finally answered, he accused me of killing HIS child. I told him I wanted him out of my life at that very moment. I had been mourning the loss of our child the entire night, and I was not going to deal with his abuse or hurtful behavior any longer.
2 weeks later I went in for a check up to see if everything was ok with me physically, and for a DNC procedure. However, I mentioned I was still experiencing morning sickness. The doctor said it could just be the hormones leveling out but wanted to test just in case. I learned on February 20th, 2013 I was still pregnant, an absolute miracle.
The doctor informed me it had been twins and one had not attached.
I was now single, and so much happier. I called to inform him I was still pregnant and pursuing all of my options. I met with some friends who had been single parents and listened as they retold their struggles.
I weighed out all of my options. I knew I did not want to become another statistic dependent on the state, I know many people have done so and gone off to make successful lives for themselves, but that life was not what I wanted for myself or my unborn baby.I knew how awesome adoption could be, witnessing it in my own life, as well as my sisters. I started to do research on adoption agencies. I realized the only way I could guarantee my son a mother and a father from birth was adoption.
I knew it was the right thing to do and I had to choose it for my son.
Leaving the hospital was hard. There is no easy way to say it. It was especially hard because I had spent so much time with him during my stay. I was discharged an hour after signing my papers. I felt rushed. I felt like I was getting kicked out because the deed was done and the baby belonged to someone else now.
As I was being wheeled through the hospital towards the exit I saw his parents (whom I deeply love!) and my social worker signing their papers… and the tears just started to flow. I held tightly to the bouquet of flowers they had given me the night before. I wanted to turn around multiple times and rip up my papers. I wanted to change time and refuse to sign them. I was a mess. But through the mess and sadness I knew what I had done was the best. I knew it was what he deserved. I cried for quite some time when I got home.
I really wish people would erase any and all stereotypes they have picked up watching lifetime movies or any show with an adoption plot line. Every birth mother does not want to come steal her baby back from you. Every birth mother is not going to stalk you, or try to kidnap their child. We are not 16 year old girls who can’t keep our legs closed. We are not all drug addicts. We are business professionals, we are college students, we are parents, we are fully capable of living normal lives.
Just because a birthmother chooses adoption doesn’t mean that child was unwanted. I would have done ANYTHING to change my circumstances so I’d have been able to parent. This is something we’ve talked about at the retreats I lead, a woman does not dream about being a birthmother at a young age. None of us got pregnant just to place the child for adoption, this was never something we WANTED to do. A birthmother does not settle on adoption lightly. The amount of critical thinking and problem solving that occurs in a birthmothers brain is astronomical. We have MONTHS to think and process what would be best for our child’s 18 years of dependent life. That takes a massive amount of maturity and love. These children are loved from day one.
I’ve lost 80lbs, am about to receive my Associates degree, and then pursue a bachelor’s in social work so I can become a Birth Mother counselor and spread awareness on how truly important post placement care is for birth mothers.
For adoptive parents out there with an open adoption, or considering an open adoption: encourage your child’s birth mother to join a support group, or a attend retreat, or at least see a therapist to help them deal with the grief. Nothing is too little, if you are in an open adoption share as much as you can. She will love to witness the child saying their first words, taking their first steps, art projects, first day of school. She doesn’t need to be present and there for it, but share a video or picture with her :) When you take that macaroni picture off the fridge, send it to her to appreciate! Be open, every relationship needs open and honest communication. Be honest and open with her. If you feel like you could handle doing more visits mention it! If she asks you a question about maybe decreasing visits or cutting them out all together – talk it out! Share your emotions and feelings with each other. Find something that will work for all of you. Be flexible. Sometimes a birth mom just can’t handle seeing the pictures and won’t want a visit. It could just be too hard for her, let her know that’s fine.
It’s also ok to say no. If you’re not comfortable with something, you have every right to say no! Boundaries and communication are seriously so important in this dynamic/relationship. Establish a baseline and go from there, map out what you’re comfortable with as far as visits, contact and updates and then discuss it between you and her. Make It work.
Not every open adoption is going to be the same. Where some go on vacation together, or have the birthmother babysit the child. Others keep it to a certain number of visits a year and letters with pictures. Find what works for you. If you end up having an awesome bond with your birthmother and you see yourself going and doing weekends together, AWESOME. If not, that’s cool too! As the child ages, let them decide how much contact they want to have. If they don’t want to have a visit don’t force it. You don’t want that child to grow up resenting you for forcing them to see their birth mother.
In a nut shell, be open about your feelings and communicate them clearly. Communicate constructively.
Encourage her and don’t be scared to thank her, your happiest day, is her hardest day.
Lauren leads retreats for Birth Mothers through Caring For Birth Mothers. To find out more information about how to get connected or plugged into this important organization please click here!
You can also find a Facebook page for Birth Moms here and and Instagram page here!