Why It Happens

Birthmom here – I am looking for a little encouragement from anyone who has experienced open adoption and that had a good experience. I unfortunately did not join any groups like this one where adoptee voices are prioritized while pregnant and did move forward with the adoption, and I grieve every single day.

I had a small handful of friends encourage me to keep my baby with me, but the majority of friends and family told me that they thought adoption was the right thing to do and that I was making a good choice. It sounded nice, but it was so hurtful to feel like I wasn’t good enough for my baby. And I love him so much, I didn’t want to make a “selfish” choice and keep him with me when there was another family that would be better for him.

Now that I read all of these posts from mature adoptees and I’m heartbroken that I didn’t believe in myself and that I gave him away. When I was pregnant and in financial hardship, feeling alone and emotional – I only wanted to do the right thing. And I felt so little confidence in myself, and hearing those other voices saying that “adoption is love” and “adoption is selfless”, made me feel like I’d be selfish for wanting to keep my baby because I’d put him into a life of struggle and financial insecurity.

So I broke my own heart and put myself last. I live with a deep pain and a regret that will last the rest of my days. I love my mom, and I’ve told her how hurtful it was when I was pregnant to hear her tell me that she thought I did the right thing by choosing adoption. She says she would have supported me either way – but I know that if I kept my baby with me, it would have been with minimal support to prove her point – that I am not enough and to punish me for getting pregnant when I couldn’t support myself and my 17 year old son.

My 17 year old (who was 15 during the time I was pregnant) encouraged me to go through with adoption because he said that life was hard with it being just the 2 of us. And that the baby deserved more and deserved to have both a mom and a dad. Having my son tell me these things was also hurtful because I feel like I’m a great mom to him, but if he thinks these things, then he added on to those feelings like I wasn’t good enough.

My baby is now 10 months old and we have an open adoption. I’m hoping that he grows up feeling loved and secure. I have a great relationship with his adoptive parents and I really love who and how they are, but I do miss him everyday. I can’t change the past or the decision I made, though I wish I could. My true wish is that he was still with me. I wish I stumbled across a group like this one before I made that permanent decision. But I didn’t. The only thing I can do now is move forward with life as it is and hope that everything will turn out ok.

Not The Same

Raising adoptees is not the same as raising biological kids. An adoptees reactions are not the same. Their emotions are not the same. Their needs are not the same. They SEE and FEEL things differently. They process interactions with others differently and often in a way that is negative towards their own selves. Adoptive parents NEED to know this and recognize this.

You need to weigh your words and actions before you do them and think about what you are saying and talk through in your own head how your words and actions might be received by the adoptee in your life….and adjust accordingly.

Just because your child seems happy and outgoing or in control on the outside does not mean she/he isn’t struggling on the inside. Adoption creates trauma and from what I learned from many adoptee accounts is that trauma usually creates a person that struggles a lot with self esteem, fear of rejection and control. Those seem to be pretty consistent.

Here’s one first person account of how it feels –

My adoptive mom was running errands and so was late to pick me up from an after school activity. Everyone was gone and it was just the teacher and me. First I was super uncomfortable and embarrassed to be the only one still there. As each minute passed, I was petrified she was not coming. I had pretty instantly started writing this script in my head..”she’s not coming, the teacher is going to have to call the principal, what if something terrible happened to her, I am sure my dad will not let me stay with them, where would I go”….and in and on it went. It didn’t end when my adoptive mom finally showed up. Those feelings that invoked, turned into a week of crying, and others in my family thought there was no reason for my behavior. That is was just random crying at literally everything. It would come out of nowhere.

She ends her sharing with this appeal –

Don’t let your kids be me. I don’t wish that on anyone. The emotional toll is immense. It changed my life in ways I wish it didn’t. Learn all you can about the trauma response and help meet them where they need you to be, not where they tell you or where you or anyone else thinks they should be. If you are listening, you will eventually get it and your actions and reactions with your child will come naturally to you in beneficial and supportive ways.