The birth mother talks about her experience with open adoption.

“In the summer of 2014, I became a birth mother.” It wasn’t planned, and I couldn’t have anticipated my narrative would turn out the way it did at the time. I found out I was pregnant in November of 2013. Nothing came out of my mouth. I didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. I didn’t want to disclose I was expecting a child and wasn’t prepared to be a mother.

When I finally spoke with my boyfriend at the time, we scheduled an abortion in Washington, DC. They told me I was too far along when they completed the exam before we could schedule the operation. They were unable to assist me. I would have to fly two-thirds of the way across the nation if I wanted to have an abortion.

We were not going to be able to accomplish it. I was enraged. Scared. Overwhelmed. I was at a loss for what to do. This was a real pregnancy, and neither of us was prepared to be parents. As a result, adoption was our only option. I know that seems harsh, but I wouldn’t trade it now for anything.

I grabbed my laptop a few days later and began browsing for an adoption agency. If you’ve never done anything like this before, be warned: it produces so many results that your mind will spin. After that, I went to the website after website. I have no idea what I’m looking for. I’m not sure who I should contact regarding my predicament.

I didn’t know much about adoption aside from what I’d learned through the media and movies I’d seen over the years, and that information wasn’t exactly educational. They offered me a flyer for an adoption agency when I eventually said something about wanting to pursue adoption at an ob/GYN appointment. I dialed the agency’s number, and that was the end of my hunt.

My father didn’t tell me about my pregnancy and adoption for years after he found out I was expecting. My mother had to act as a middleman. I was advised I couldn’t bring the baby home because it would never leave if he saw it. ‘You created your bed, now lie in it,’ was a sentence that was told to me. Because I chose adoption over motherhood, I was practically rejected by my family.

I know I was fortunate that the agency my OB/GYN recommended to me treated me with respect and did not put me under any pressure, because I know that not every expectant mother chooses the first adoption agency she contacts. I recall filling out tonnes of documentation, both medical and social background. When I was attempting to decide who to place my daughter with, I remember browsing through profile books of waiting families.

As I sorted profile books into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles, I felt shallow. My judgments were based on carefully selected photographs, the wording on pages, and my intuition. I had diligently limited down all of the dozens of families I looked at to just my top three before leaving that second meeting.

My top family didn’t have any images in their book that made me feel a connection with them, and it wasn’t anything they wrote among the pictures that told me who they were. It was the way they’d begun the letter at the start of their profile book.

‘Dear Expectant Parent’ or ‘Dear Birth Mom’ had been used in so many letters. The whole situation became chilly and disconnected as a result of this. However, their letter…their letter was unlike any other. ‘Dear Friend, we’re wondering if reading these letters is as difficult as writing them.’ It was a method for them to show me that I’m still a person, not just a way for them to acquire a child.

Young pregnant woman takes a photo of her baby bump in an orange dress
Courtesy of Katy Young

Later that day, I remember contacting my counselor to see if I could swap the two families I had chosen as two and three. She indicated I could replace them at any time, but there was no need because my first choice had said yes.

Everything seemed to be starting to fall into place at this point. I was working at an agency where I was respected and listened to. My papers had been completed. My daughter had been assigned to a family. All that was left was for me to deliver my kid and sign my release of rights.

Her due date had come and gone. There was no action. We can induce at 40+1 or 41+2, according to my OB/GYN. I decided to wait a little longer before getting induced. Before we forced it, I reasoned, there would be more time for things to happen naturally. I went into labor 8 days after my due date, the day before I was supposed to go in for an induction.

My biological father arrived at the hospital after I was admitted. The labor was proceeding, and the contractions were becoming increasingly painful. I did obtain an epidural, but only after I was curled up on my side and crying from contractions. It was like a night and day change after the epidural had taken effect. I was sitting up, talking and joking while scrolling through social media on my phone.

For me, my birth father, and my mother, the monitor by my bed became a source of entertainment. Our best assumption is that we were able to observe numerous women on the floor, allowing nurses to keep an eye on everyone regardless of who was in which room. On this monitor, we observed the contraction graphs of all the different women, as well as my own, and had amusing chats about what might be going on in the room or in that mother’s mind.

My recall is hazy, but I believe I only pushed for about an hour and a half. A beautiful baby girl entered this world at 6:30 p.m., making me a mother. She has whisked away to the newborn station, where she was measured, weighed, and cleaned up. I didn’t think I deserved to see her at the time. So, my mother was the first to see my daughter, but she first begged for my permission.

Birth mom holds newborn daughter in the hospital while she stares into the camera with big, dark eyes
Courtesy of Katy Young

The next evening, my pregnancy counselor arrived at the hospital. When she arrived, my daughter was sleeping in my room. We spoke and joked a lot, and she slept on my chest the whole time until I signed the paperwork to terminate her parental rights. It wasn’t easy, but it seemed right to me.

Birth mom and dad take a photo in the hospital with their newborn daughter before giving her up for adoption
Courtesy of Katy Young

After signing my termination papers, I was dismissed the next day. I returned home with a rumbling stomach, empty arms, and a tangle of hormones. When my body had been prepared to care for this new life, it was difficult to return to ‘regular’ life without my kid.

My revocation term expired eight days after I was discharged. I was unable to change my mind and, as a result, the adoption was effectively canceled. I wished I could have been in a position to parent my daughter, but I knew my birth father and I weren’t ready. There was never any serious consideration that I would reverse the adoption plan.

The one memory from the placement that everyone who was there remembers is the birth dad holding our daughter and getting ready to place her for the first time in the arms of her adoptive father. ‘It’s time to go see your father now,’ he replied, looking down at her.

Birth parents and adoptive parents take a group photo together with their shared daughter
Courtesy of Katy Young

I don’t recall what we did after the placement meeting. I’m not sure if I stayed the night with my biological father or went home. I’m not sure what I was thinking, and I’m not sure what he was thinking. We’ve had our share of bumps in the road during the last roughly eight years. But it’s the fact that we communicate that gets us through – albeit not always as well as we could.

Every six months, I get a plethora of images, and I see her every six months – but things alternate, so something happens every three months. She has known who I am since she was a child. When she was five, I asked her if she knew where her name originated from, and she told me that her first name came from me and her middle name came from her (adoptive) parents.

Birth mom compares a photo of her as a child on the left and a photo of her daughter on the right
Courtesy of Katy Young
Little girl jumps around in pink skates and elbow and knee pads
Courtesy of Katy Young

Even though I’ve been around for a while, I still have to remind myself of some things daily:

• No two open adoptions are alike; don’t compare yours to an open adoption posted on social media by another birth mother.

• Being a birth mother isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

• You can keep in touch with your child after they’ve been placed with you.

• Try to include your parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles in this adoption constellation, as well as your child and adoptive parents. Whoever wants to be a part of your child’s life adds another someone to adore them and a new tie to their birth family.”

Birth mom and daughter take a selfie together during an outdoor visit together
Courtesy of Katy Young
Birth mom takes a selfie while drinking coffee in the bed of a truck
Courtesy of Katy Young

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