Recently I decided that I wanted copies of all the paperwork I had filled out while pregnant. I was really curious to see what everything said. This time with more mature eyes and a more mature heart. I had to utilize two adoption agencies during my pregnancy. Because I picked my child’s adoptive parents from an adoption agency ad that was based halfway across the country, my state said that I had to have an in-state agency to represent me. So, I got two agencies. One for me, one for them. Unfortunately for me, my in-state agency is no longer operating. It’s out of business and I have no idea where those records would be (I plan to call the state and inquire but I’m not hopeful). However, the other agency did send me the personal information I had filled out for them. They were very good about it, too. Within hours of sending my email requesting this information I had received it. When I opened the email and saw the attachments, and nice note directing me on how to go about finding the other records, I was ecstatic! One more piece of IKL that would help jog my memory of that time. One more piece of proof I didn’t dream it all up! Once I opened them, however, it was a different story.
Be Careful What You Wish For
I should have known that reading these papers would put me back in that place. The scared young girl-woman constantly looking for a way out of being separated from the child I was about to have. Suddenly I was 20 again. All the emotions of that time were present and real. Reading through my answers was devastating.
My social worker from the in-state agency would visit once a week to “check up” on me. These were supposed to be “counseling” sessions to help me come to a decision on whether or not to choose adoption. She would provide me with information about the grieving process in one visit. In another she would ask questions about why I was choosing adoption. It was at one of these sessions that I expressed misgivings about giving up my baby because I didn’t have any money. I didn’t feel that was an appropriate reason to choose adoption. I started asking about social services programs, food stamps, housing, etc. The social worker then brought up the “emotional cost” of having another baby in our home. She asked if I felt that the emotional toll would be worth it. She asked a lot of questions about my emotionally stability if I were to have another child. She then informed me that I would not being choosing adoption purely for financial reasons. Based on my answers (of course another baby would be stressful – even in the most ideal situations) she informed me that it would be a combination of emotional and financial reasons. There you have it. Subtle coercion.
I had totally blocked this out. I do remember, over the years, sounding off on Internet forums far and wide about the reasons I chose adoption. Sometimes I would be confronted by nasty people. They would say, “You gave your baby away because you didn’t have money? Who does that? Who gives their baby away?” My response was always, “No, not just because of money. Emotionally I could not have done it!” This conversation with the social worker was something I had not clearly remembered until I read my response on the paperwork I filled out.
I clearly specified “emotionally & financially” because, in my mind, financially alone was not a good enough reason. This doesn’t, however, change the truth. Financially was the only reason. No matter what anyone else tried to make me see. If I had been able to financially provide, regardless of how hard it is to raise a child, I would never had relinquished. It wouldn’t have even been a blip on my radar. My financial situation was what was CAUSING my emotional stress. Not a baby. Not IKL. She wouldn’t have made me emotionally stressed. I read back through this now and wonder, “what the hell was I thinking?” After listening to adopted persons for years and how they feel I realize that my daughter may interpret this one day as, “My birth caused her emotional distress.” Nothing could be further from the truth. My lack of financial stability caused me emotional stress. Being separated permanently from her caused me emotional stress, still does. Not her. She couldn’t have.
My hope is that she never sees this, but I’m pretty sure her parents have a copy as I signed permission for them to have it all. If she does see this I hope she knows that it wasn’t my words. I didn’t really think that. It was what I was convinced to think.