Preliminary Data – Birthmother Survey

The survey I had posted has been up for ten days now. This survey will remain up for another 20 days but I wanted to take the time to go over some preliminary findings. My interpretation of them will be done after the survey has closed, but I wanted to see what you all out there think. Perception is something that may be different from person to person. I’m not sure if I’m seeing things one way because of my experiences in life or if what I’m perceiving these results to indicate is actually the reality. I guess there will never be a definitive answer to that question, in regards to this research. However, I would love any input anyone would like to share. All opinions are welcome and respected.

So far I have a total of 112 completed surveys. I locked the survey so that it may only be taken once per IP address. That is not to say that someone couldn’t use a virtual private network or hook up to someone else’s internet and take it again, but I don’t see any reason to do that in this case. I am going to assume that the 112 completed surveys are unique and that the possibility of duplicate is too low to even be considered in the results.

Overwhelmingly, the majority of responders were 26 or more years into being a birthmother. Approximately 34% to be exact. Only 6% were less than one year in. The middle groups of years were somewhat well-rounded.

There’s seems to be a good representation of states in the US but we are missing a few. There are also international responses (which is okay as well).

Almost 75% of the responders utilized an agency versus a private adoption.

Approximately 56% of responders say they have identifying information (such as last names or addresses) for the adoptive parents of their child.(Yay!) However, that means 44% do not. (Boo!)

Almost 53% say they were forced to relinquish. I defined forced as being threatened by someone you relied on for support to avoid homelessness, or just forced by the legal definition of forced. Another 3% weren’t even sure if they had been forced or not. This is quite disturbing.

An overwhelming 69% of responders say that most or all of their family and friends agreed with adoption for their circumstances.

Coincidentally, 74% say no one tried to give them resources for other options or change their mind.

(This intrigues me most and I’m really curious to hear what some people think about the above two statistics)

The number one reason for citing relinquishment was for financial reasons with not having a support system coming in at a close second.

When asked if they regretted their decision, 66% of responders said yes, 24% said sometimes, and 4% said they didn’t know.

When asked if the open or closed adoption they were promised changed, 41% said there was less contact than originally agreed upon and 18% said there was more. Another 41% said they have the exact amount of contact that was agreed upon (this included closed adoptions that were agreed upon).

When making an open adoption agreement, I was scared to ask for more contact and made to feel like I should be happy to just get what I was getting. I wondered if other women had felt the same. Over 64% of women with open adoptions said they had wanted more contact but were scared to ask.

Here is one of the most interesting things, since people like to use it as an excuse to deny adoptees access to their original birth certificates –

I asked about reunion and where each mother was at this time. Some are in reunion and its going good, some not so good, some plan to contact the children they relinquished in the future, and some had no need for reunification because their child already knows them thanks to open adoption. The only answer that NO ONE selected was, “I have not yet reunited with my child and have no desire to.” 0 answers for a total of 0% picking this answer. Certainly there are birthmothers who reject contact, I don’t believe it is the norm, though.

I asked about support groups and over 12% of the women who responded were not in one at all. I found this heartbreaking. I gain so much from my support groups. They keep me sane most days.

I’ll leave you with a few comments that were left on some open-ended questions.

Where do you think you would be right now if adoption had not become a part of your life?

“If I had not relinquished? My son’s Father was an attorney in NYC; while he was not given the opportunity to do the right theing by both myself and the agency, I do believe he would have. SO.. I would have had an apartment in NYC. I would have had a nanny. I would have had my education paid for. I would not have punished myself by withholding art form my life. I would have finished art school. After that.. who knows where life would have taken me, but it would be better becasue I would have had my son.”

“I am sure my whole life would of been different. I think I would of worked harder to provide and make his life wonderful. Instead I went the alcohol and sex route for many years. I wanted to get pregnant again to somehow “fix” it.”

“It affected every aspect of my life. It is hard to know where to start with that.”

“I would be lonely… And I wouldn’t have a life. I think I would be unhappy. I love my son, but I couldn’t give him a great life, like his parents are giving him now.”

“Happy. Stable. Unmedicated.”

“I would be the mother of a much more secure child, who would be secure in my love for him. He is currently an addict and homeless.”

“I would just be an average teenager trying to decide what to major in in college.”

“Sane, trusting, complete Enjoying Grandparenthood without just accepting the crumbs offered.”

“The same place I am,a good place, (working full time & full time college student) I would be parenting both of my children, not just 1.”

“Homeless, and struggling to raise my son.”

“Parenting four children instead of three. And exponentially better equipped mentally and emotionally.”

If there was anything you could have changed about your adoption experience at the time of pregnancy/birth/relinquishment/immediate post adoption what would that be?

“I’d have known the full scope of my options.”

“I wouldn’t of done it. Someone would of counseled me to all options, not just adoption.”

“I wish I would have held him more in the hospital. I wish I would have taken more time with him. I also wish I had more support from my family.”

“Coercion and guilt laid on me by the agency when I wasnt sure if I would sign TPR.”

“I had no knowledge of open adoption, it was not offered, I thought closed was just how it was done.”

“Knowing that adoption does not guarantee a better life; that adoptees feel rejected and abandoned and have a higher rate of suicide, drug addiction etc. Knowing that i’d be married in two years after relinquishing and he would have accepted my child.”

“Are you kidding? I would have parented my daughter.”

“I wouldn’t change a thing.”

“I would’ve married my sons father. Then I would’ve been able to keep my firstborn. And NOT have gone home for help.”

“I would have known the truth and done more research.”

“I wish I would have spent more time and bonded with my baby girl while she was still in the hospital and I had rights to her.”

“I wish I had been strong enough to go against my parents and go off on my own. I wish I didn’t care what society thought. I wish I hadn’t been sent to a maternity home in a different state to be left until I had given birth and placed my son.”

“I would not have let the adoptive parents be so involved in my life. And would not have let them be in the delivery room.”

“Talked to other birthmoms about their experiences and seek counseling sooner.”

“Ran, not walked away!”

“I would have ran away with my baby and would have gotten help from social services.”

“Spent time with my baby. Held him.”

“Everything….that I never had to go through any of it.”

Please feel free to leave any comments or clarifications from previous questions here.

“I suffered the most horrific, cruel thing anyone could ever do to someone – my own mother railroaded me to sign my only child away forever. I wish I had known how hard reunion would be for me. I dearly wanted my son back in my life and he is someone elses family. He is their son. I lost him forever really. Reunion has been a hard reality for me. I am more hurt now than ever but at least I know what happened to him.”

“Family and religion turned their backs on me and my son.”

“I’m so angry that agencies rush things. that they make you feel obligated to the paparents (sic: potential adoptive parents) that they lie about what kind of contract you can have and then they take your baby and the aparents (sic: adoptive parents) don’t have to do any of the things they promised. so hurt so angry I fear any kind of agency because of the betrayal and I’m still so floored that they can do whatever the fuck they want at the expense of my heart and my family. They lie that they offer pregnancy help. they just want to get you in the door. I’m really broken and my kids want to know their sister. some days the grief is so visceral and intense I’m afraid I’ll die from being sad.”

“Hindsight is 40/40. I was young ( 17), more submissive, and naive than I am now. Wish I had been strong enough to stand up to my parent and refuse to go along with THEIR plans.”

“Adoption changed my entire life. I’m a totally different person than I was and it isn’t for the better.”

” I did not have the financial ability to parent my child at that time. I did not have the emotional ability to parent my child at that time. I did not have a support system that would make it possible to parent my child. I was scared for my child’s safety if I parented because of other people (such as a biological father) that would be in my child’s life. I just wasn’t ready to be a parent.”

“We are very blessed to have the adopted parents we have. We can see our son anytime and if they feel we have seen them in a while they come to us. Which is awesome but the pain of placing your child is the worst feeling to ever have.”

If you have not yet taken this survey but wish to, please go to: Birthmother Survey

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7 thoughts on “Preliminary Data – Birthmother Survey

  1. “An overwhelming 69% of responders say that most or all of their family and friends agreed with adoption for their circumstances.

    Coincidentally, 74% say no one tried to give them resources for other options or change their mind.”

    To me, this shows that, as we know, the general public – which in this case is the friends and family around us- just has no clue about the realities f relinquishment and they have no clue what we need. So they look at the situation as many do.. all logic, no heart, no biology…and think it makes sense. Plus they buy into the ideal that the “option” is a choice an therefore valid – it MUST be something we are somewhat into doing.

    The problem I see is that as a society we have been conditioned to believe that “support” means nodding our heads and agreeing with another person no matter what. We are afraid to question other people’s choices, because that’s just not what we think friends should do.

    I mean take it out of adoption. How many times has anyone been a in a relationship for a long time with basically a jerk, and NO ONE says anything bad about that guy. Oh, maybe there is a brave outspoken friend who calls it like they see it, but most of the time we don’t want to listen and we drop the friend because she is “not supportive”.. and then, you break up with the jerk. Then suddenly ALL these people are like ” Yeah, I didn’t like him”. And you’re left thinking.. wow.. why didn’t you tell me? I wouldn’t have wasted the last 3 years trying to make it work!”

    I really think adoption relinquishment tends to work the same way… at least for me. I can’t blame my friends as they were in the same boat as me. They had no clue and had nothing to offer me really. But family? I do feel failed there; they had age and experience and something to offer, but just turned a blind eye. Granted, we had no adoption experiences ( known) in my family, so there is just that ignorance, but in the end, you have a bunch of folks just blindly agreeing with the “choice” becaue they think they are somehow helping or making it easier? It just makes it very clear to me that we need to continue educating the general public about the realities of a birth mother’s life and the reisks of relinquishment for both original families and the adoptees.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Preliminary Data – Birthmother Survey | Musings of the Lame

  3. “When asked if they regretted their decision, 66% of responders said yes, 24% said sometimes, and 4% said they didn’t know.” A lifetime of regret is not a fact that is mentioned to potential birthmothers by adoption agencies or religious groups.

    Thank you for creating this survey. There it is – in black and white – the truth about adoption.

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  4. When publishing the final results, could you please separate the open vs closed questions when it comes to level of contact that either changed or remained what was promised? That will give a clear view of whether can’t that were closed changed to open and how many open changed to closed.

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  5. Great idea. I will do my best to differentiate the two. The majority of people that responded to this question specified there adoption was already closed. This question was mostly geared for the purposes of the question you asked above. I’ll tweak things a bit. Thanks!

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