We Do Survive

My name is Ashley, I grew up in Utah and I’m a birth mom.

I am 10.5 years post placement and I am terrified every day of my life. I made a choice, and I live with the consequences of that decision every. Single. day….for the rest of my life…

My journey to adoption started in the abortion clinic. I was off-again in my “on-again, off-again” relationship when I found myself pregnant. We were living in different states and I was terrified. Even as a believer, even though I didn’t believe morally in abortion I knew that I could NOT BE PREGNANT. It was a fate worse than death. I have been quoted that “I would rather face God at judgment for an abortion than my community in an unplanned pregnancy.”

… I really hope we all take a second and think about what that statement is really saying…  

Abortion is a fear based decision. And there is a lot that plays into that… I needed to not be pregnant and the only solution for that was abortion. 

I know this is hard to talk about but this is reality…abortion was an option on the table…if only for a moment that needs to be looked at. As I prepared for my ultra sound the nurse shared a statement with me that changed my life forever… “I am sorry but you are too far along for us to perform this procedure. We can’t help you.”  

At that moment I got dressed, received a cash refund and walked out knowing that adoption had become my only option.

I think picking a family to raise your child is the most ridiculous process on the planet. I never wanted that kind of power. Who was I to deem one family worthy of a child and not another. How, from a brief blog or scrapbook page was I supposed to pick someone, a stranger in all aspects to raise my child, to take my child as their own and have the kind of faith and strength needed to hope that it would all work out and be everything that it seems to be? I see it is an impossible burden and don’t believe it can ever be done with a complete peace of heart.  

There are few words that truly describe the way I felt leaving the hospital without my son. I had a powerful event take place that I think really describes both ends so vividly. When I walked out of my room with my dad and headed down the hallway I saw them…the family who would claim my baby boy as their own. I was leaving broken, grieving and lost (my dad would later claim that he felt like he was leaving his grandson’s funeral). And down at the end of the hall was an expectant family celebrating. They had balloons and gifts for the baby, and they were smiling, they were complete and happy. I made eye contact with the adoptive mother and in that moment I hated her. My father knew that I needed to get out fast…He found an exit and literally had to carry me at that moment out of the hospital. 

Adoption is born of tragedy, in grief and heartbreak. But at the end of the hallway is celebration. There is great beauty in the broken and celebration after the fog lifts. 

Adoption is the most complex and beautiful thing that I have ever had the privilege of being associated with. It wrecked me in the most beautiful and complicated ways. 

I think that the greatest miracle of adoption is that we do survive. That there is life after placement. 

My son is a part of me forever. I am his mother forever.  That does not take away from the love and work and sacrifices and pain and joy that his mother has lived through. She is in the trenches daily with him. I gave him life and she is helping him live it. If I honor him then I honor her. It is a package deal. 

To adoptive families out there I leave you with this: You don’t owe your birth mother anything. You are not obligated to them because they “gave you a child.” You are never going to be able to feel like you can “re-pay” that debt. But be a person of integrity.  IF you promise something, keep it. It truly could be a matter of life or death for the birth mother. 
We are not a threat. We are mothers, without children.  We PICKED YOU! We needed you to step up and do all that we felt we couldn’t. At the end of the day if you are loving that child as your own, if you are honoring our story and if you are doing the very best you can to parent that innocent child then you are doing exactly what was asked of you. The rest is gravy. But please don’t ever let fear dictate your relationships. Be open, communicate with us, be willing to recognize that like ANY other relationship in your life this will take some work, compromise and forgiveness…and flexibility. You can’t save me…I have to do that on my own! But please stay open to me.  

To my son that I placed for adoption: I love you. You are with me always. I made a decision that I believed to be the very best for both of us. I don’t regret that decision.  You are old enough to have an opinion about that, I am prepared for opposition. It was never about not wanting or loving you. I know that doesn’t ever seem like enough…I know you need more to understand, that you want more to understand and I pray that in time we will be able to sit knee to knee and have that conversation.  We are connected and that string always pulls so strong. 

To society:  It is not a glamorous thing to find yourself in an unplanned pregnancy. It is terrifying and embarrassing and life changing. It tests every moral fiber, every piece of your identity and your character. It changes you. I am a Birth Mother forever, it is a part of me forever. I am not proud to be a birth mother, I know what choices I made that brought me to this decision, which gave me this title. But I did the best I could.  Educate yourself on the facts, be open to discussion and always show love and compassion.

To any Birth Mother: You have been the angriest at yourself. That you even found yourself in this position, that you put yourself in a place where you even had to make this choice. You feel you should have known better, that you should have cared more, that you should have had more respect for who you are. But you are human and you will disappoint. Your child is beautiful, you are beautiful. You can forgive yourself, you can allow yourself happiness and joy. You don’t have to punish yourself over and over. You can find hope in a life after placement. You were never meant to stay stuck and don’t let this experience, this life changing experience keep you from living up to your true potential. YOU ARE WORTH MORE! 

Ashley is the founder of Big Tough Girl, a source for empowering and building up women! Head over to her site to find her podcasts, blog posts and workshops!