What Kind of Person Am I?

I have a new friend who was adopted and has recently happily reunited with her birthparents/firstparents. Growing up, she often wondered what kind of person gives up a child. As a birthmother, I feel like I can shed a little bit of light on that question, which many adoptees may be asking themselves. In preparation for the possibility of one day reuniting with my birthson, I have been reading countless stories of other birthmoms out there and I’ve discovered a common factor.

What kind of person gives up a beautiful human being to virtual strangers?

An overwhelmed one. That is the simple answer. As far as my personal story, I was overwhelmed by the circumstances I created around me. As a young college girl, I blindly ran through my days, trying to escape the responsibilities of life and school, searching for love, but not loving myself enough to really be open to the possibility. I married very young to a very wrong person, and rather than discovering that escape route, I found myself handling a lot more responsibility than just going to school and making a decision on what to do with my life. Fast forward in time to  1 year and 3 months after saying “I do,” I finally left the abusive relationship with a 9-month-old baby, discovering a couple of months later that another was on the way. I was an uneducated, single mother, living in a town where I had no family and not many close friends; I was seriously overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by a lack of financial means, social support, and fear of not ever being able to provide a “good life” for my children.

Some of the stories I have read are truly tragic. The so-called “baby scoop era” where countless women and young girls were forced to place their babies in closed adoptions because they were unmarried and their families didn’t want to carry the burden of shame by which our society judges such “sins.” Overwhelmed by the demands of their parents and society, many of these birthmothers were forced to relinquish their rights to their babies involuntarily.

Some were not cut out to be parents or became pregnant by criminal means. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of following through in a role they did not want.

Poverty, lack of social support systems (perceived or real), parental or societal pressures, and any combination of these aspects can contribute to a person’s choice to keep or relinquish a child, and even without the help of society’s prying eyes, many of these birthmothers judge themselves harshly. They live with so many regrets and so many “If only…” statements playing in their mind. I can say that living with the knowledge carries its own punishment. “How many kids do you have?” Silently subtract 1, when you give your answer. Cautiously remembering to alter your history, adjust your life story… After all, you can’t include your birthchild’s story into the pregnancy discussions that women share with their friends countless times over the years.

Because what kind of person are you?

For so many years, I’ve been burying that question deep inside my heart. Now, I’m facing the possibility of reunion and even though it is the day I have been looking forward to for so long, it terrifies me. Guilt that I never acknowledged has surfaced unexpectedly, so I’m trying to embrace the lesson and to forgive myself for the difficult, yet at the same time wonderful choice I made 18 years ago. Wonderful because even today, with the roller coaster of emotions that have been riding through my heart and brain, I am grateful that I was able to give quite possibly the greatest gift a person could give to another. I am grateful for the hopeful couple I met through the agency who have loved and raised him and given him every opportunity that any parent would want for their child. I am grateful that he is a healthy and happy young man with a childhood full of joyful experiences.

To my dear, new friend, and to everyone else out there who may be wondering or discovering for themselves, the kind of person who gives away their child may not be that much different from you. 🙂 Love and light to us all.

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