The Adoption Rollercoaster: Reunion?

As my relinquished daughter gets older it’s become more difficult to keep up with personal updates in regards to my adoption story. The older she gets, the more I realize that it isn’t just my story to tell and I have become conflicted about just what to share and what to keep private.

I see so many birthmom blogs of mothers early into the adoption journey blogging all the details of their great open adoption story. I see the same thing with adoptive parents as well. I’m guilty of putting things out there without thinking as well. I’d just like to remind everyone to be cautious when publicly sharing your story. The way you see things may not (probably isn’t) exactly how your child does.

Even so, I would like to share some things that have transpired. I’ll keep things simple out of respect for IKL’s privacy. I won’t imply that I know how she feels. This is just my side of the story and I’ll stick with facts and how I feel.

I learned that some decisions had been made for my daughter, by her adoptive parents, that I did not agree with. I felt there were some definite issues going on and could reasonably correlate adoption to some of them – again, my opinion. As you already know, I had an open adoption, with direct communication with my daughter (phone calls, visits, etc) until she was almost 2 years old. Direct communication, and visits, were cut off at this time. I still received periodic updates from her adoptive parents, sometimes sporadically, through email and there were a few photo albums mailed over a decade. I saw things through their eyes and while my daughter was becoming old enough to express herself and how she feels, I was not privy to what that may be. I’m going to assume it was the same for her as well.

Where were we? Some decisions were made to address “behavioral problems” and I didn’t agree with those decisions. I felt that the decisions made would reinforce any feelings of rejection or abandonment and wouldn’t really get down to the root of the problem which, I believed, adoption played at least some part in. I do believe her adoptive parents felt they were doing what is best, even if I didn’t agree – and it still didn’t mean it was right or the appropriate course of action. Of course I never expressed this to them for fear of risking communication being cut off altogether.

This started 2 years of emotional hell and the realization that I may have made a huge mistake. My fog began to lift and I found my voice.

At the beginning of that 2 year period, I went out on a limb and asked permission to write to my daughter for the first time. My request was received well and with much enthusiasm. I was hopeful that maybe the door to openness would begin to unlock. Previous attempts and open invitations to Skype, connect via social media, and visit were unanswered. Well, the open invitations to visit (and some even included that my daughter not need to be present if they were uncomfortable with that) were always answered with, “if we’re ever in that state.” So, the warm welcome to write a letter directly to her gave me hope and was something I viewed as promising. After all, regardless of any hard feelings, what’s truly best for my daughter would be for her to NOT be put into a position of Us vs. Them. She should never have to “choose.”

My first letter, written 2 years ago, came about 6 months after I learned of the decisions made as a desperate attempt to help heal any wounds caused by adoption that may not be being acknowledged. Carefully I composed an email, written to her, for her adoptive mom to print out and pass on, explaining, to the best of my ability, why she was relinquished and a little bit of information about what me and her father were like. I had to choose my words carefully as it would be first read by her adoptive mother and father. But I wanted to be honest. Quite the conundrum.

After hitting “send” I waited. A few hours later I received a message back saying that it was “beautifully prophetic” (whatever that means) and would be printed, placed in an envelope, and given to her.

Time went by. A few months later I decided to take a bolder step and send a photo book of our family and another, more casual, letter. I asked if the attorney’s address I had, from all those years prior, was still okay to send things. I didn’t get a response right away so I sent the package anyway. A few days later an email arrived with a PO Box address I could send anything in the future. This, again, gave me more hope. More openness. They were now allowing me to know the town they lived in, even if not their address.

About every 3 months me and the kids would send letters. Sometimes we’d include other things. Pictures, a life book, a handmade pillow, etc. Each time IKL’s adoptive mother would email that she was receiving these things but was not yet ready to respond or have contact but that she was hopeful that one day she would. Part of me would be devastated each time but the other part of me understood and didn’t want to push too hard. I felt that if she didn’t wish to receive communication, at all, I would be informed.

Things went on this way for a while and then, almost a year ago, we got a package in the mail. You can read about that here: https://musingsofabirthmom.com/2015/01/12/the-letter/

4 months after that, I learned that my older parented daughter had received communication from IKL via social media. I won’t go into the details as that is their story to tell, but, suffice to say, I learned a few things that my parented daughter felt was important to share.

IKL had written me a letter, before my husband’s letter, and was under the assumption it had been mailed to me. I never received any letter.

IKL thought I had received her letter and was ignoring her since I never wrote back. (I had been writing every 3 months – this leads me to believe not all – maybe not any – of my letters or packages had been given to her)

IKL was more than ready, excited even, to have a relationship with her first family – again, my perception.

IKL did not want her adoptive parents, at first, knowing she was talking to her sister.

It was very hard not to jump in and tell her the truth. I don’t have all the facts and do not want to put her in the Us vs. Them game. I encouraged my parented daughter to encourage IKL to be forthcoming with her parents and removed myself from the situation altogether. I was not going to be the one to “tattle” on her for talking to her sister and betray any small amount of trust she might have for me. Nothing she was doing was dangerous and I made an executive decision, as her mother, to let the relationship unfold while guiding and educating my parented daughter about reunion. I thought she needed this contact and that it was good for both girls.

A few months later, I received an odd email from IKL’s adoptive mother stating that IKL had told her she was talking to my parented daughter. Just that line. Nothing more. I responded that I had never spoken to IKL and that I was glad she had told her. I asked how she felt about it. Her response what that she thought it was great and that I could talk to her if I wanted, too…she’d ask IKL how she felt about it.

I waited a few days, to see if I’d get an email back, and heard nothing. Since IKL had liked a few of my photos on one social media site, I decided I would initiate a hello message. I’d been given permission to talk to her, so I did. It went well. Short, awkward, and beautiful.

As it stands now, a few more months in, my parented daughter and IKL continue to grow closer thanks to social media. I’m more cautious about contact as I don’t want to overwhelm her. I want her to know I’m here, but I don’t want to be pushy. 15 is a difficult age for any kid without throwing in the added bonus of being bombarded by a whole other family eager to get to know you.

She’s always receptive and kind when I do message her. I see, in her, a tenacity, a love for life, pain, ambivalence, passion, stubbornness and a huge heart. It amazes me just how much like myself and my husband she is.

So, for now, we are okay. Baby steps. I’m not foolish enough to think this will be a happy ending to a reunion. I know it takes work and I’m not even at the tip of the iceberg for all to come in the future. I am hopeful, though. Hopeful that maybe one day we can build a relationship and make up for lost time. (is there really ever any making up for it, though?) 

For now I am happy that my children get to have some sort of relationship with each other, on their own terms, and that I still have the possibility of one with her. Far too many of my dear friends have crossed that bridge into “no hope” and it breaks my heart.

I’m letting IKL take the lead, make the choices, decide for herself. No one else has, thus far. She’s earned it. Hopefully she’ll decide to take the lead with a place in my life. If she doesn’t, I’d be heartbroken, but understanding.

I was never supposed to be in a “reunion.” I was promised my daughter would grow up knowing us. That’s what’s most infuriating. But, there’s nothing I can do about that now except look forward.

As of right now, I’ll continue to ride the adoption roller coaster and enjoy the plateau for a while.

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Sibling Grief In Adoption

“I never know what to say when someone asks me how many brothers or sisters I have.”

This came out of my 12-year-old’s mouth while I was driving the other day. There was no warning for a statement such as this. No conversation that I can think of that brought it on. We were listening to the radio and she just blurted it out. It caught me off guard and I wasn’t really sure what to say. I have tried my best not to shroud in secrecy that her father and I relinquished the daughter that came before her. I would never want to give any of my children the impression that IKL is someone we should be ashamed of or someone who should be kept secret. To do so would deny her and denying her would be to deny our love for her. Regardless of this, for a child growing up with a sister who has been lost to adoption, challenges unique to these “parented children” are most definitely present. She is not ashamed of her sister and would love for nothing more than to have some sort of relationship with her. She used to be very vocal about how she has four siblings, not three. It seems that, over time, the reactions she has garnered from people have made her more aware that she has lost something. She is now uncomfortable disclosing to people that she has another sister, out there in the world, that she doesn’t know. She is uncomfortable with the fact that she doesn’t know her and this is, most likely, what is bothering her the most.

It is in moments like this that I freeze. Mom is supposed to have all the answers and yet I stumbled along not knowing exactly what was best to say. Instead of offering her a solution I sympathized with her. I stated, “I know how you feel, honey. Sometimes when people ask me how many kids I have I don’t know what to say either.” Her reply emphasized her guilt. If she did not include IKL in the “sibling count” then it made her feel horrible to dismiss someone so important in her life, her sister. If she did include her the questions came – some of them she could not answer and it reminded her that she had suffered a loss in her life, a tremendous loss. She was clearly looking to me for advice and stalling was not good enough. She wanted answers from me.

“You know that you don’t have to tell people how many siblings you have if they aren’t someone important in your life, right? You can say ‘I’d rather not discuss my sisters and brothers.’ and that is okay.” This was not a good enough answer for her. She said, “Well, like on worksheets at school when sometimes they ask you how many siblings you have or when you have to write about your family or family tree. That stuff. I feel like I’m lying if I don’t include her and I feel like I’m lying if I do.” And there it is. The catalyst for her dilemma. It is a legal lie to say that she has another sister, an emotional one to say she doesn’t. Where does the middle ground exist? It really doesn’t. She continued, “You know because I’m like really close to G and D and M but I’m not so close to IKL.” It was with this statement that my heart wanted to break into a million pieces. “Not so close” wasn’t sufficient enough to describe the lack of relationship between A and IKL. There was no relationship. She didn’t know her at all. Yes, A has written her letters, but the communication has been one-sided. IKL has never spoken to A. In A’s mind, however, it wasn’t safe to admit this. She needed to say they were “not so close.”

I had no answers for her. I told her that she should do what her heart told her to do and screw everyone else. Yes, that’s what I told her. If it made her feel uncomfortable to have to explain that she had a sister that was relinquished, then don’t tell them. If it made her feel bad to deny her sister, then do tell them. Still she was unsatisfied. Both of those options left her feeling bad. I told her how sorry I was because that was all I could do. One last statement and the conversation was done. “I just wish I never had a sister that was adopted out and that she just lived with us and we were normal.” My heart broke some more.

When going over options and deciding whether we should “choose” adoption, our other children were taken into consideration. The experts were telling us that we needed to consider the financial and emotional strain a new baby would place on the kids we already had. Another mouth to feed and care for would take away from them and they may suffer for it. I never imagined that the heartache adoption would wreak in my children’s lives would be so much worse than going without material things for a little while or having one more person to share mom with. My 12-year-old’s psychologist, in her first report, wrote that A told a story about a frog. The frog’s sister had been given up for adoption and the frog worried about this sister all the time.  She noted, “Underlying anxiety issues in regards to biological sister relinquished for adoption” How could this possibly be? I was told that my children would be better off. How could the ONLY child who has not one memory of the daughter I gave up be suffering so much? This was not supposed to be, yet it was and it is. There is nothing I can do to make it better. I am powerless. I cannot force a relationship and I cannot take back the years that were lost. I don’t have a time machine. I can only try to help her through her grief while I am still navigating mine.

I know that some of you may be thinking that she is picking up on things I have said or done. To that I say, “Are you stupid?” Why in the world would I project my feelings onto her? IKL is talked about as something positive in our household and nothing else. A has come to feel this pain on her own accord, because something is missing in her life. Already having one older sister she knows that bond that sisters share, which adds to this. She is constantly thinking about the “what could have been.”

Should I have never told my children about IKL or the adoption at all? Then they wouldn’t have known or felt any of this grief. No, they wouldn’t have. Not at all growing up. Except when they did find out, and they would have, it may have been more destructive and devastating for ALL of my kids, IKL included. I refuse to keep her a secret. She deserves more than that. And I refuse to lie to my children. Even if it is a lie by omission. These lies will have to be addressed one day and I do not want to go down that rabbit hole.

Sibling grief in adoption loss is very real. Parented children, born prior to placement as well as after, are affected by it. There are no books about it, no expert advice. There isn’t even a children’s book in existence that deals with the loss of a sibling to adoption. There are literally no tools to help parented children navigate adoption. What I’m learning is that they do face a lot of the same challenges that us adults face. The only difference is they had no say so in it at all. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Like adoptees who sometimes feel like their lives are not in their own control, parented children can sometimes feel the same way.

It can hit you like a ton of bricks, the realization that your choices have caused your children psychological issues. Some will say, “Well, we’re going to have an open adoption so my children will always know their brother/sister and won’t have these problems.” I just laugh. I was going to have an open adoption, too. Go ahead and make your plans and hopefully they will work out. But when they don’t, you’ll be left picking up the pieces.

Life in Limbo

My last personal update was in the middle of January so I figured it was time to write again. I’ve been struggling a bit more with things, in regards to adoption, and I think that getting it all out would be helpful. I am almost finished writing a memoir novella about the time of my pregnancy, birth and the following weeks. I know this has taken its toll on my emotional health as revisiting that time period is always difficult, let alone writing about it. At the same time, it is healing to get it all out. I plan to self publish on Kindle with the majority of the proceeds going to our new organization “Saving Our Sisters” for family preservation efforts.

So where am I now? I feel as though my life is in a perpetual state of limbo. I am always waiting for the next communication, the next picture, the next update. As of lately my thoughts have obsessively gone to everything adoption. I play out endless amounts of scenarios in my head. In some scenarios IKL comes to visit with her adoptive parents and we all have a great time and continue to grow closer and closer over time and are just one big happy family. In another, IKL decides she doesn’t like the intrusion of her privacy and tells her adoptive parents to stop giving us updates. In yet another scenario, IKL hasn’t said anything at all but we have overstepped boundaries by writing and sending pictures every three months and they have decided to cut off contact altogether.

These are all extreme possibilities. I know that, rationally. I still can’t keep my mind from going there and to countless other places that are similar. I feel as if I am living in this fantasy world that I cannot escape. My parented children have surely suffered for it, as my attention is not 100% on them, as well as my friends and family.

If you may recall, from my last personal update, my husband had received our first direct communication, ever, from IKL. We were, and continue to be, overjoyed. She had asked him to please write to her, as he never had before, and he did. We all did. I emailed IKL’s adoptive mother and let her know we had sent the letters off. She responded that IKL would be happy to know J would be writing this time. I tracked our letter and it was delivered. And I haven’t heard anything since.

No email, no letters, no nothing. For all I know that package is still sitting in the special PO Box that is set up for us to send things. I hate wondering, questioning, not knowing. Did we cross the line? Did we say something wrong? Did she get the letters? Is everything okay? I don’t think its purposeful. I doubt that IKL’s family obsesses about this adoption stuff like I do. But still, it hurts to wait for crumbs.

Easter is just around the corner so today I sent off another “package.” It included lighthearted letters from myself, J, and our youngest daughter. I also made a DVD compilation of our home videos over the years for IKL to “see us in action” so to speak. Since she has no memory or recollection of seeing us in person, or hearing our voices, I thought it would be nice to further complete her picture of who we are. I am wondering if that, in and of itself, will be enough to cross the imaginary line that may or may not exist within our adoption relationship. Will her adoptive parents be upset about this? Will they let her watch it? Will they feel like we are communicating TOO much? I’m sure I’ll fret over this package being mailed until I hear a response, if that’s any time soon. I will probably torture myself with more outlandish (yet possible) scenarios. I don’t know what to do to escape it. I can’t stop writing and sending things to IKL. She enjoys it, needs it, wants it. I have to keep doing it.

I need to learn to relax. I need to trust that if I’ve stepped over the line that I will be politely told with no hard feelings.

Easier said than done. I am powerless. Really, IKL is powerless. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know our last names and I would bet that her adoptive parents determine when she can look at pictures we’ve sent and which things she is to have now versus later. I remember, at the beginning, sending a letter along with her right after TPR. I told her all the reasons I was doing what I was doing. I’m sure there was a lot of “adoption positive” speak. I have no copy of the letter but I remember the general gist of it. I poured my heart out with love. I also gave pictures of my other children and family members to her parents-to-be and the first letter they ever wrote talked about her “birth family box” and how things were being stored in there for her. I wonder if she’s ever seen any of this or if they don’t feel it’s the right time yet.

Yes, we have no control. Neither does IKL. Even as a teenager.

My oldest daughter, M, did not write this time. When I informed everyone we were sending off another package in time for the Easter holiday she said, “Do I have to write her?” My heart broke. I asked her why she wouldn’t want to and she replied, “I don’t know what to say. She never writes back.” I think the withholding of a letter (the first time for M) is a way for her to have some control over things. She is hurt that IKL has never written back and is upset that J received the first letter when he had never written at all. Her reasoning is probably, “Dad didn’t write at all and she wrote him. If I don’t write then maybe she’ll write me.”

How do I help her understand? I feel like the limbo of my life also extends to my children and juggling doing what is best for them and protecting them. But what is protecting one child may be hurting the other. I cannot force M to write to her sister but this means that IKL may get her feelings hurt with the absence of a letter from M for the first time. And I am powerless to get IKL to write to M. Even if I wasn’t, I would never want to force her to do something she wasn’t comfortable with either.

These are all the things I wasn’t told about. A successful reunion, in the future, relies on more than just me and IKL. There are so many outside factors to be included that could make or break it. My other parented children, my husband, IKL’s family. I worry that M not writing to IKL may hurt our chances of building a relationship in the future.

This all sounds so very self-centered, and maybe it is. I want nothing more in the world than to have a part, any part – even a tiny part, in IKL and her family’s life. My heart has been hurting for so many years.

This isn’t what I signed up for. I had no idea. I really didn’t know.

Inside the Mind of a Birthmother – Results Are In!

I know I said that I would keep this survey open until February 5th, but it is almost the 3rd and there hasn’t been any new responses in 2 days. I am going to be busy with work this week so I decided to do my data analysis today. And away we go!

DISCLAIMER: This is not a “scientific” survey. That means that I had no way to “vet” the responders to make sure they were really birthmoms. The survey results are “honor-based.” This means that I trust that the responders were honest in their responses.

There were 181 completed surveys and a total of 429 unique visitors. This means that of 429 people, 181 completed the entire survey and the rest completed it partially. Each individual question will reflect percentages of only people who completed that question. Percentages will be rounded to a whole number.

The following questions were asked in a survey. I asked that only mothers of domestic infant adoption respond.

1) How many years ago did you terminate your parental rights?

8% responded less than one year into being a birthmother.

13% responded 1-3 years.

10% responded 4-7 years.

10% responded 8-15 years.

18% responded 16-25 years.

41% responded over 25 years.

Analysis/Opinion: A fairly good representation with most mothers being 16 years or more into being a birthmother. I do not know, statistically, how many women became birthmothers in each year because no such data exists. This could mean there are more women who are birthmothers that are 16 years or more in or it could mean that after 16 years you become more socially aware of adoption and seek out surveys such as mine or support groups. I have no way to tell. This was simply a “control” question.

2) What state did you relinquish your parental rights in?

Instead of listing all 50 states, I will just give you the top 5.

Texas & California- 9% (each)

Illinois – 8%

New York – 7%

Florida – 6%

Ohio & Washington & Utah – 4% (each)

Analysis/Opinion: It seems that an even representation from all 50 states have responded. Texas and California, being the biggest states, had the most respondents. Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Washington, and Utah do have more respondents than all the other states (by far) which was odd to me. This could be taken different ways. These states also have some of the toughest laws where a birthmother (or father) are concerned. Rights can be signed away very soon after birth and there is no revocation period. These states are notorious for “speeding up” the termination of parental rights. Or, it could just be a fluke that more people from these states responded and not representative of the rate of relinquishment in this state at all. This question was for control purposes. 

3) What kind of adoption were you a participant in?

Agency – 74%

Private – 26%

Analysis/Opinion: As expected, agencies are the winner by far for procuring infants.

4) If you used an agency, which agency did you go through?

As with states, I will give you the top 5.

Catholic Charities/Social Services – 11%

Lutheran Child and Family Services, Independent Adoption Center, Bethany Christian Services – 5% (each)

Children’s Home and Aid Society (or its state by state run entities) – 4%

LDS Services – 3%

Gladney Center for Adoption & The Cradle – 2%

(The rest of the agencies accounted for only 1 response each. There were approximately 100 agencies listed.)

Analysis/Opinion: The top two winners, by far, have been in the business of adoption for a VERY long time so this is no surprise. Adoption is also correlated to religion and is pushed, morally, to girls who become pregnant out of wedlock. No particular religion is more about this than another, but of the 90 secular adoption agencies that were given as responses, the non-secular ones came out way on top. 

5) There are many varying degrees of open/closed adoption. Please choose which one best suits your situation AT THIS TIME.

I have an open adoption and have visits at least twice a year. I was provided with identifying information such as address and last name for the adoptive parents. – 22%

I have an open adoption but visits are not set in stone. They typically happen less than twice a year. I was provided with identifying information such as address and last name for the adoptive parents. – 8%

I have an open adoption but do not have visits. I receive updates and pictures and I was provided with identifying information such as address and last name for the adoptive parents. – 11%

I have an open adoption but do not have visits. I receive all updates and pictures through a third party such as an agency or attorney. I do not know identifying information such as last names or addresses of the adoptive parents. – 9%

I have and open adoption but do not have visits. I do not have any identifying information about the adoptive parents. I receive all updates and pictures from the adoptive parents anonymously but directly from them. – 3%

I have an open adoption but do not get updates or pictures. I was given identifying information about the adoptive parents such as last names or addresses. – 6%

I have a closed adoption but was given identifying information such as last names or address of the adoptive parents. – 8%

I have a closed adoption and do not know any identifying information about the adoptive parents or my child. – 34%

Analysis/Opinion: There are quite a few things here I would like to point out. First of all, it should be obvious that how one person would perceive an “open” adoption may vary greatly from how another person does. It is subjective. That is why I went into such detail with this question. If you’ll notice, 2 of the answers are essentially the same except for one I used the word “open” and for the very next one I used the word “closed.” Both of these answers state that identifying information about the adoptive parents is known but the respondent does not receive updates. The only difference between the two potential answers is the words  “open” and “closed.”  I’m not sure how one could have an “open” adoption if you do not receive pictures or updates of your child, but apparently some people think that knowing identifying information is considered an open adoption. While others consider it a closed adoption. I would like to point out that no contact with your child or their adoptive parents, no matter how much information you are privy to about their family, is widely viewed as a CLOSED adoption. The good news is that 30% of respondents have truly open adoptions. They have identifying information about the people who adopted their child, they get to see their child, and they get updates.  The not so good news is that 23% of birthmothers receive updates about their child, but do NOT have any contact with that child. Of that 23%, 12% do not know identifying information at all. And then there is that 34% that get no updates, know no identifying information, and never have. Closed adoptions from the start. Since this number is almost exactly the same as those who are 26 years or more in, I can guess that those who responded with a closed adoption are likely to also be the mothers who responded that they have been a birthmother for 26 or more years. The baby scoop era. Does this mean that birthmothers today are better off? We have open adoptions, right? From the looks of what KIND of open adoptions we are getting (the majority NOT having identifying information) it seems that open adoption may be the tool to pacify the mothers in order to keep the adoption machine going. See my post: Baby Scoop Era Vs. Coercion Era

6) Were you forced by your parents (or anyone else you relied on to support you) to terminate parental rights? By this I mean, were you threatened with homelessness, being kicked out, or anything else?

Yes – 49%

No – 47%

I don’t know – 4%

Analysis/Opinion: I purposely defined what I consider “forced” to be so there would be no room for misunderstanding. If someone you rely on to support you in order to survive, such as your parents or a boyfriend, is threatening that if you do not give your baby up for adoption they will kick you out, you have been FORCED into terminating your parental rights. This number really threw me for a loop. I did not expect that the majority of responses would say they were forced. I thought that the correlation to the the number of responses from women 26 years or more in may match (again, baby scoop era) but this number is much larger. And 4% do not know if they were forced. They have not been able to figure it out. That means that, most likely, some factor in their life was forcing them. This is a SAD SAD number. Half of all women who give babies up for adoption did so because they were forced to. This figure, in and of itself, means there is a need for MAJOR reform. Not just on the adoptees rights front, but the expectant mother (notice I didn’t say birthmother) front as well. A vulnerable woman facing an unplanned pregnancy does not need to be forced into forever surrendering her motherhood to that child.

7) Did your family and close friends agree with the adoption?

Yes, most or all of them did. – 70%

No, only a few of them did. – 23%

No, none of them did. – 7%

Analysis/Opinion: At face value this statistic seems to point to a supportive family. As we have seen, in the previous questions, the expectant mother, not adoption, is what needs to be supported. I feel that many people are scared to speak up in regards to an “adoption plan.” It is taboo. In their minds it is the same thing as telling a woman, “you shouldn’t get an abortion/you should get an abortion.” This is different and this is really where people need to be educated. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say, “If you don’t want to do this, I will help you” or “You CAN do this, you know. I have faith in you and will be there for you.” We are constantly bombarded with images and stories about how great adoption is so most people are unaware of the deep emotional pain it causes. I am willing to bet that these numbers would be way lower if family members of girls facing a crisis pregnancy were aware of the lifetime of pain that their loved one will go through with relinquishment of their child. Not offering another option, such as parenting, is the same thing as not offering support. You may think you are being supportive by “supporting” her adoption decision but you’re not. She needs to hear she can do it and you’ll help her. 

8) If you were not forced or coerced into an adoption, did anyone attempt to change your mind about adoption? Please choose the best answer.

No, no one tried to change my mind or provided me resources on other options. – 35% (see my analysis above)

No, no one tried to change my mind but some people did give me resources for other options. – 7% (again, see above)

Yes, one or two people offered me help or provided me with resources in an attempt to change my mind.- 7%

Yes, many people tried to change my mind and offered me help or provided me with resources. – 3%

Yes, one or more people tried to get me to change my mind but no one offered help or provided resources. – 14%

I was forced or coerced. – 34%

Analysis/Opinion: As you can see, it is not enough just to try to change someone’s mind. You have to be prepared to give them real resources that will help. You can say you don’t want them to suffer the loss of their child through adoption until you are blue in the face. The fact remains that you cannot feed a baby or provide a roof over their head if you do not have the proper resources. These numbers back up my assertion in the previous question. Overwhelmingly, most people did not even bring up parenting over adoption to these women. Only 3% of birthmothers that responded said a lot of people tried to change their mind AND provided them the resources to parent. I am going to assume that the number of people who have considered adoption in the past, but did not go through with it, would have a staggeringly higher number than this because they DID NOT end up relinquishing children. This is just a hunch, though, because statistics of these sorts are not kept. You be the judge. 

9) What was your MAIN reason in relinquishing parental rights. I understand there may be many but please choose the one that was the most pressing.

I did not have the financial ability to parent my child at that time. – 26%

I did not have the emotional ability to parent my child at that time. – 4%

I did not have a support system that would make it possible to parent my child. – 22%

There was no reason, I wanted to parent my child but was forced to sign. – 11%

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. – 5%

The circumstances of the child’s conception were not good. – 4%

I just wasn’t ready to be a parent. – 4%

Other (answers were typed in) – 25%

Analysis/Opinion: Since a vast amount of people typed in their responses I will give a summary. A good majority were telling their stories but stated financial reasons. I literally have life stories of people in these typed in answers. They are so full of hurt and sadness. It is truly sad. Let’s look at the fixed responses, though. Again, financial reasons and having a good support system seem to top the list of reasons women relinquish babies. This is a travesty. It really is. Money and no one to be there for them means being separated from their baby. We need to fix this. We need to fix the thought process being relayed to expectant mothers that they need to be well off financially to be a good parent. We need to stop accepting that a support system doesn’t exist. When a woman walks into an adoption agency a support system should be provided to her. Not one that says “I’ll be here for you only while you are giving your baby up” but one that says, “Here is a local support group for single mothers” or something along those lines. Mothers need to know that their financial situation is TEMPORARY. And you can be a rock star mommy and still eat Hamburger Helper every night. As far as women who feel their child would be in danger if they parented because of another person….again, how sad is this? Because of the actions of another human being they must be forever separated from their motherhood to their child. Why are there not laws in place that will prevent this?

10) Do you regret that you terminated your parental rights? Do you wish you could turn back the clock and never do it?

Yes – 65%

No – 9%

I don’t know – 3%

Sometimes – 23%

Analysis/Opinion: I think this expresses VERY WELL the pain, doubts, and sadness that goes with being a birthmother. And it IS forever. 65% of women regret their decision. 26% are not sure if they do or sometimes do regret it. Only 9% are totally at peace with being a birthmother, or so they say. Remember that 8% of our respondents were less than one year in. I am going to make an educated guess that the 8% less than a year in also count for a good majority (most?) of those who answered “no” to this question. Which would further prove that you really do not understand the magnitude of what being a birthmother is until much later on, for most. I know that, for me, my heart had no idea. My brain understood, but my heart didn’t. It does now.

11) Did the open adoption you were promised change?

Yes, we have more contact than originally planned. – 17%

Yes, we have less contact that originally planned. – 31%

No, it’s the same as what was planned. – 38%

I never had an open adoption. – 14%

Analysis/Opinion: 55% of people who responded have the same amount of contact as planned or more (17%) which is good, but not good enough. According to respondents, 31% of people are in a betrayed open adoption. This means they were promised contact that they did not get. When we take out the number for those who never had an open adoption, the statistic becomes more staggering. Essentially, statistically, according to MY survey, you have about a 60% chance of your open adoption being betrayed. This is shameful. Again, legislation should be enacted to TRULY enforce open adoption contracts. Oregon, so I’m told by a very reliable source, is pretty much the only state that holds adoptive parents responsible for upholding their promises. Even states with “legally binding” open adoption contracts really don’t enforce them. You must come up with thousands of dollars to fight it and they will simply say it is not in the child’s best interests. You lose.

12) When making an adoption plan, were you totally comfortable with the level of contact that was agreed upon?

Yes, it was exactly what I wanted. – 36%

No, I wanted to have more contact or information but was scared to ask. – 64%

No, I wanted less contact or information but was scared to say so. – 1/2 % (or 1 respondent)

Analysis/Opnion: Wow, only 36% of birthmothers were comfortable with the level of contact agreed upon. A staggering 64% wanted to ask for more contact but were too scared. Let me ask you this. If agencies/attorneys do not coerce women into surrendering their child then why would any birthomother, who supposedly is in control of everything and has all the power pre-birth, be scared to ask for MORE contact? I remember my experience. I was encouraged to be “flexible” and not too “demanding” otherwise I may not find a couple that was willing to work with me or wanted the same level of contact that I did. This is a crock. No, an adoptive parent should not promise contact they don’t intend to keep. But, agencies/attorneys do not need to be discouraging expectant mothers from looking elsewhere to find a couple that DOES want the level of contact they do. This is all about fulfilling the client’s needs. The AGENCY OR ATTORNEY’S client’s needs. A success rate. This is coercive and it is WRONG. If you don’t have clients that will fit with that expectant mother, direct them to an agency that does. No mother should ever be made to feel scared to ask for the amount of contact that they want. The amount of contact that will help them live with themselves. 

13) In regards to reunion, where are you at this time?

I am reunited with the child I relinquished and it has gone well so far. – 32%

I am reunited with the child I relinquished and it is not going so well. – 20%

I have not yet reunited with my child but plan to attempt it in the future. – 26%

I have not yet reunited with my child and do not plan to unless they contact me. – 5%

I have not yet reunited with my child and have no desire to. – 0% and 0 responses

I have no need to reunite at this time because they have always known who I am and have always had contact with me. – 17%

Analysis/Opinion: I asked this question to see if my theory was right. To dispel the myth that adoption records must remained sealed and privacy of all parties (not giving out identifying information) should be protected. The only ones being protected by these archaic practices are the self-interests of adoptive parents who are not secure enough in their parenthood to be willing to admit that another set of parents exists and that is where their child came from. 0 people said they did not want contact with their child. I understand that rejection does happen in reunion on both sides of the fence but I believe that statistic is so low (if you look at just my statistics alone it would be less than 1/2% and I’m betting its even lower) that it isn’t even relevant. A small number of women want to be in reunion but are going to wait for their child to contact them. I feel bad for these women. I feel as if they have been so very wronged. They have been made to believe they don’t deserve to search. Or they know how scary it is and have been through so much pain cannot even consider the possibility (no matter how small) of rejection. They would rather maintain the fantasy child that they have kept inside their heart and not risk possibly being hurt than seek the very real possibility of a wonderful reunion. How heartbreaking. I can’t say that I blame them, though. Adoption can be traumatizing. 

14) Are you a member of any support groups?

Yes, online only. – 62%

Yes, in person only. – 1% (or 2 respondents)

Yes online and in person. – 17%

No. – 21%

Analysis/Opinion: I am very glad to see these women reaching out to support groups whether they are online or in person. 62% of people have support groups exclusively online. What a wonderful thing the Internet has done for us. We are able to connect in ways that we couldn’t before. I wish this kind of forum had been present for me 14 years ago. I get angry at the women who have this outlet available to them but choose to ignore the truths being told to them. I cannot ignore, however, that 21% of women have no support system at all. Online OR in person. That saddens me. My support groups keep me going most days. I would like to invite any of those women to contact me (whether they totally disagree with my mission or not) and I WILL find a support group that fits you. I am very familiar with many of them, even ones I prefer not to be in myself. 

The next three questions were open ended questions. One of which giving an opportunity to clarify anything or to leave comments.  This is my warning to you. The rest of this blog post will be long. I am going to copy and paste ALL the responses here for everyone to read (with the exception of the comments/clarifications question. I will only address and direct questions and give answers to those) I do not want to take anyone’s voice away and I believe they wrote what they did for a reason. I will post them in the order they were received. Some may be confusing and others won’t. I am not correcting grammar, spelling or punctuation. They will be posted as they were written. I will make sure they are kept separate to add a little organization to the emotional thought process. I will refrain from giving my own opinions but will address any questions or comments directly seeking an answer from me.

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

Note: I have noticed a trend in the answers to some of these questions. College life being stressed as more important than parenting and a loyalty to the adoptive parents (as if their happiness was part of the equation in the choice to relinquish). I have also noticed a trend to assume that if they had not relinquished they would be living in poverty on public assistance for the rest of their lives. Which simply isn’t true in all (maybe most?) cases but is something you are told to think about when you go for a “consult” about adoption.

“I have honestly never thought about this. I always knew adoption was the right answer and I have never looked back on it negatively. My daughter is where she was always meant to be.”

“Me and the birth father would be married and raising the baby together”

“I think I would have never had panic attacks or depression which has gotten in the way of achieving making a good life. I think I would have followed through with college and have a secure and stable career.”

“I believe I would be in the same place but have my daughter.”

“My son and I are both damaged from it.”

“My son and I are both damaged from it.”

“I don’t know it was long ago”

“If adoption had not become a part of my life I would now be confident and well adjusted. I would be a respected active member of society. I would be teaching math in a University. I would be a marine biologist with Scripps Institute of Oceanography. I would be a partner in an international law firm. Most importantly I would be the mother of my beautiful daughter mother-in-law to my daughter’s husband and grandmother to her children – my grandchildren. I would be planning birthday and Christmas gifts. I would be sending Valentine’s and St Patrick’s and Halloween cards with stickers. I would be planning holiday vacations with my daughter and grandchildren.”

“I don’t want to think about it. I was too young to be a parent and would have had to give up my independence and freedom. My family disagreed with my plan but I wanted my child to have a family with two parents who wanted a baby.”

“I am not sure. I might have still been with my ex not knowing what he did to my kids or I would have my kids and still have an ex.”

“I think I would be enjoying life and not just existing within it. I am still wearing my “guilt skin” and still feel different from other women. I have not been able or had any need to have a close friend since the adoption thirty-six years ago. I still cannot believe the impact adoption is still having in the daily events of my life.”

“I would be a happy mother of 3. I might be having a successful happy life now–as it was I did not think it was right for me to succeed not with having given away my son in the way it happened.”

“An alternate universe where I would be happy more often than not.”

“I would have been with my son living a very happy life with my husband and children. I would not have a broken heart. I would not be having nightmares because of the way I was treated in the maternity prison.”

“professional artist”

“With my baby and raising him as best as possible with complete love and devotion.”

“I would be living without PTSD. Likely living instead of forcing myself to survive.”

“I honestly don’t know. I have mourned the loss of my beautiful daughter every day of her life. I am married to a wonderful man and have three more children. I reunited with my daughter in NYC this year which was bittersweet. So hard to sit across from your own child and realize you are a complete stranger to her. Her Adoptive Parents have been split and possibly divorcing and she was an only child. She is very successful professionally but I see a deep sadness in her eyes. She holds a lot inside which she has told me and I just wish people knew the sadness I have held too.”

“Exactly where I am today with the exception of having my son.”

“There’s no way to know because adoption has changed who I am as a person. I think my adoption has added a maturity and patience with other people to my character.”

“I would be more at peace and without the constant feeling of sadness and loss.”

“disconnected”

“Overwhelmed”

“I have honestly no idea. It changed EVERYTHING!”

“Probably married with grown children”

“Unhappy and overwhelmed with having a new baby at home.”

“I’d be struggling to care for 3 children and work and trying to work in school. It was what was best for everyone involved and I still get to see him. I’m close with his adoptive family. I couldn’t have chosen a better couple.”

“It is difficult to say where I would be if I did not chose adoption. I would have had plenty of support but I don’t think I would be nearly as happy with myself as I am now. I think I would be struggling with who I am as a person. I also don’t think I would be a year away from graduation college.”

“Adoption has been part of my life since 3 weeks after my 18th birthday. Now it is nearly half a century later and I don’t have the least idea what my life would have been or where I’d be right now.”

“I would not be on a good place and neither would the child. We would be struggling financially just to survive.”

“I know in my heart I wouldn’t be as successful with work and school if I had kept my son. But that doesn’t mean that there are times I totally regret what I have done.”

“I would have probably lost my child to DCFS because of my Mental health”

“Probably working multiple jobs and living in my mom’s basement.”

“Happily a mother of two and not 1 biological … I wouldn’t be in an unhappy unhealthy marriage with two step kids that ingavevti do everything for. I probably wouldn’t be so unhappy depressed angry hurt miserable sad hopeless helpless angry at myself hurtful!!!”

“happy”

“struggling with money fighting with the dad. No I’m going to college I wouldn’t be doing this if not for the adoption”

“Single mom”

“I would not be where I’m at with my schooling and with the great life I have now. I have grown up so much”

“I would not be where I’m at with my schooling and with the great life I have now. I have grown up so much”

“Better off!”

“I would be a single mom of two!”

“I’ve never really thought about it.”

“I would say I would be much happier and more trusting. In 1969 there were no resources for me.”

“I’d say maybe right where I am. Emotionally”

“In January 2015”

“I would not have spent years suffering from depression wondering how my son was doing. I resent the people who were not there for me and have issues now trusting anyone. If I had a support system and people who cared enough to step up I feel my life would have been a lot different.”

“My heart would be whole. My family would be complete. My children would NOT have suffered the way that they have.”

“good question…I would have raised my 1st son…don’t know if I would have had my second son.”

“Wow”

“I was never helped in trying to get my children back. I would be working and be active part of the community.”

“I would be a lot more happier with my life”

“This is an impossible question since I joined the military in reaction to the loss of my child. That changed the direction of my life in ways that I can’t imagine.”

“I would have a positive relationship with all my children including the daughter taken away from me.”

“I wouldn’t be a mangled woman dogged by inability to trust self-loathing regret shame rage and I would be more financially stable. My son went to rehab twice before 18th birthday–he was devastated when they closed the adoption at 7 years old.”

“I do not know the answer to that question. As an adoptee myself adoption has ALWAYS been a part of my life.”

“I honestly don’t know but I do know I wouldn’t feel this grief everyday.”

“I would be a single mother with one job looking for a second job never going out and making sure that my child had everything theu needed before me”

“I would be struggling terribly I’m afraid. I know that my son is a complete joy and blessing but taking on the role of a parent is much more than I am able to handle at this point in my life. I believe I will be a wonderful mother one day but if I was a mother right now I think I would be depressed. I think I would be out on my own (now I live with the love of my life (not the father) and am persuing my lifelong dream of modeling -which I also wouldn’t have the time to do) I wouldn’t have the amazing people in my life that I met through being pregnant and the adoption and his family would still be just a lonely couple.”

“I would have by daughter and we would be happy it would be tough but we would have eachother and be happy”

“I don’t know about this. It is a nightmare question I avoid. Nothing but an invitation to the regret monster. Hey regret want to play? No thanks.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I would have been with my Dad for a while and then got public assistance to help me.”

“My daughter would have been loved her whole life and would have known it if I had raised her! I probably would not have become an alcoholic/drug addict if I had kept her. I would not have been sad/suicidal most of my life. My life would not have been a life of unending pain. I don’t know for sure if I would have had any other children or not (because my husband said he would not have married me if I had an illegitimate child) but I would have been a much more present mother to subsequent children than I was to my kept children.”

“I think my life and my daughter’s life would have been better had I not given her up. I would have been able to get my education so I would probably have an awesomely good paying job right now. I never would have met any of the losers I went out with/married and divorced nor would my daughter have met her crappy loser ex-husband who didn’t approve of our reunion btw… I am not sure I just wish I could recapture the joy I used to have. I would be a very different person: different career choice different husband; different ‘me’.”

“#12: the “plan” was that I give up my parenthood permanently which excludes any further knowledge of your child. #13: I have been looking for him for over twenty years! I think I’d be a much happier person for having followed my heart. I would know how brave I was to stand up for what I really wanted. Instead I feel like a failure have depression. I would have the knowledge that he was ok or not. Yes I wish I could go back all the time.”

“I have no idea”

“I was forced by my husband TWICE to give up my babies. Iprobably would have been a single parent and things may have even been better since I would have been forced to make it on my own.”

“Overall- less broken. I’ve experienced all types of abuse but the trauma from losing my daughter to adoption brought me to the point of suicide and beyond. If adoption hadn’t become a part of my life I wouldn’t have PTSD and depression as badly as I do. I wouldn’t be so negative irritable angry and antisocial. I wouldn’t be triggered by stupid little things like the name “Megan” or any transracial adoptive family in public. I might not have finished my degree. I might of gotten kicked out of my moms house at the time but that would of benefited both of us in the end because I’d have my daughter and she’d be all I need. She still is all I need.”

“i would be the rightful mother of my daughter.”

I think in the long run I’d be happier overall more fulfilled. I was never able to have a child of my own to raise (secondary infertility) and have huge regrets because of this. I have suffered depression and anxiety I believe as a result of the trauma and loss. I also was not able to complete college due to the anxiety and inability to focus.”

“i really don’t know. before my son was born i had a rocky year where i lost a close friend of my mothers to cancer and two weeks later I lost my boyfriend to a drunk driver. my son is a result of my boyfriends best friend “comforting” me through his loss. he took advantage of my grieving state. I wasn’t raped. just that he took advantage of my weakened state to ‘get some’. I cannot think of what life could have been like had I kept him because his father would have been a part of it and sharing custody with a meth addict would have been scary. but If i hadn’t gotten pregnant i think my life would have been very different I would have been able to properly grieve my losses instead of compounding them I wouldn’t have become a guinea pig for the pharmaceutical industry re: depression anxiety mental breakdown and been on so much medication (which i have managed to get off 6 yrs ago completely). i would have had a more clear idea of what i wanted to do when i graduated instead of having one trauma after another breaking me down”

“I would have suffered less suicidal despair.”

“Live a good life with my son. If someone really cared.”

“Parenting my child in a stable 2-parent home.”

“Hard to explain at this time”

“I think I would be where I am but with my beautiful daughter in my heart and home instead of being alienated from me and a virtual stranger. My emotional pain would not be what it is.”

“Married to birth father and parenting our children”

“Idk where but I’d be happy and feel whole…”

“If I parented my son I don’t think I would have come as far as I have. There is of course no way to no for sure but it seems highly unlikely considering the circumstances that brought me here. I don’t think I would be mentally well a good parent financially stable etc.”

“Impossible to know”

“Same place but a true mother of five.”

“Same place. Just would have far less sadness in my life”

“College educated with less children. Don’t believe I would have chosen the same path I did had I kept my son. The path I took I believe was in direct connection of my adoption loss.”

“Sitting somewhere possibly with family friends & have all my kids with me. Just me & them forever. I’d be stressed & probably broke but we would be just fine.”

“It is really hard for me to guess. I think we would have had to move in with family and have been unable to support ourselves for quite a while.”

“Unsure.”

“I would have raised my girls together (I had another baby girl 15 months after my first and I married their father when my relinquished baby was 5 months old and already gone. ). I did not stay with their father but maybe would have if I was not so tortured and angry with him about the loss of our first daughter. I would have had a happier life with both my daughters instead of a life plagued with agony grief self blame and regrets. Everything would have been different. Instead I never married again after him never had more children never had the husband home and family I’d always wanted never got an education or owned a home turned to alcohol early in to numb the pain and was an overworked angry single mom for my other daughter  although I did the best I could for her always. Adoption ruined my life.”

“i would still have my friends if they hadn’t turned on me after the adoption and B-dad and I would be married instead of 2nd time engaged.”

“Happy!”

“I have no idea.”

“I would not have chronic PTSD. I would have MY daughter in my life. She would not have been molested by the adoptive family.”

“Alot better emotionally”

“I wouldn’t have had a need to go to counseling”

“It’s hard to say, had I raised my son things in my life would have been so different, I wouldn’t have my younger 2 children, but my oldest might still be alive. My placed son’s birth father promised to make him a SIDS baby if there wasn’t an abortion so we would have spent the first years moving constant, who knows where we would have ended up settling down. I know I sound paranoid, however things at that time made me believe him, I was a victim of domestic abuse. I wouldn’t have lived a lie for so many years. Most didn’t know about my son and those that did didn’t know exactly when he was born or if it was a boy or a girl.”

My normal self and not so depressed and hard on myself.”

“Much happier, still retired, more secure about old age.”

“I really don’t know. Too much depends on whether I’d have had any family support since I was a minor (15).”

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

“I do not think I would have attended college. I do not think I would have married and moved hundreds of miles away from my family. I believe I would live solely on government assistance and charitable hand-outs. I believe I would be in a constant struggle to feed, clothe, shelter, and care for my daughter.”

“Very hard to say. Probably would not have been able to return to University, met the man there who would later become my husband, and not have the 3 wonderful children, whom I cherish and dearly love and are such a huge part of my life now.”

“Homeless, and struggling to raise my son.”

“too lon a story to write ere. I ave no real idea….”

“Good question. Parenting two sons instead one.”

“I’m not sure. I would hope I would have still finished college but not sure.”

“Being an adoptee and birthmother I cant even imagine where I would be.”

“Who knows where I would be. I know I wouldn’t have my four other children and would be with my son. Those are the only things I can say for sure.”

“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.”

“I think that my situation would be exactly the same except I would be parenting my child.”

I would have Children, and a Husband, and Grandchildren! I would not have nightmares, I would be able to look at a baby without crying. I wouldn’t have deep depression and have to take pills for it and I would NOT have PTSD! What Catholic Charities did to me was awful and a sin!The Roman Catholic’s have apologized to us Birth Mothers, But I will NEVER forgive those awful people! What they have put me through for 45 years is criminal! They ruined my life! I made a mistake when I was young, they should have told me HOW to keep my baby IF I wanted to. They should have told me about the resources that I could have contacted and helped me keep my Baby. My Baby was NOT a gift to some strangers! Just because they wanted a child, these strangers should have adopted true orphans!! My Daughter was NOT an Orphan! She had a family that loved her and wanted to keep her. It was Society, and Catholic Charities that did this to our loving family. They changed my Daughter’s name, took her identity away, changed her whole birth certificate around saying the adoptive Mother was the one who gave birth to her. That is a LIE!! I always went to a Catholic School and they always taught us not to lie and to trust in God. I don’t think MY God wanted them to lie and cheat to take my Baby away! They even told some girls their baby had died! This was in 1970, What do you think about that? We were supposed to go on like it never happened and never tell anybody! All secrets and lies! When My Baby was born they never told me what Gender my baby was and they wouldn’t let me see her or touch her, They threw a rag on my eyes, so I couldn’t see and strapped me down so I couldn’t run after my baby!I screamed for my baby and they told me to shut up. Very Very Cruel. The way I found out I had a Daughter is because the Social Worker slipped and told me. Then they also told me another lie. They told me the Adoptive parents were there to pick up my baby. Well 44 years later my daughter told me she was in ST. Vincents Orphanage for 2 months!! I was livid…This all took place in Chicago Illinois at Resserection Hospital. I wonder if anyone even cares about the cruelty that The Nuns did to me? I would like to ask whomever is reading this, could you do this to some young girl? Rip her heart out forever? God says I should forgive people because they know not what they do. How can I forgive these Nun’s who knew what they were doing!! All because of the Money!!! How dare they? Adoption has to stop!! Animals don’t even do this to their young, but Humans do? I am just disgusted with the whole adoption thing. For 44 years I NEVER could forget, could you? I never knew if she was alive or dead! The grief is unbearable. All the Secrets and Lies. Adoption is NOT natural….remember, animals don’t do it, why? Because it is against nature1 All the Secret’s and Lie’s……”

“A much less angry person at the least”

“Having Two Boys And In A PlaCe With Them.”

“Not sure…alone and without support.”

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

“My kids would be together. I would have been able to move forward with my life if my daughter was with me and her siblings. I’ve been dealing with waves of grief and I have lost my ability to trust people and agencies. I think I would be more together and happier. instead I’ve lost so much to grief and feel like my grief is dismissed by the world and that makes it even harder to bear and trust.”

“I would not have met and married my husband because the night we met I would have been at home caring for my baby…just that alone would have totally changed the course of my life and I know I wouldn’t have been able to get where we are financial without him.”

“I dont know”

“Happier, and working on my degree in school.”

“A TOTALLY different person”

“Happy family with my 4 daughters (names omitted for privacy reasons but they were listed)”

“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’m really not sure.”

“I would be raising my daughter on my own. She would know me as her mom instead of her aunt”

“I would be a different person, one with some feeling of self worth.”

“an accountant. seriously. mentally and emotionally healthy. far better off in almost every way. the kids I hae now might be different, and I wouldn’t change them for the world.”

“A lot happier”

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

“Id be healthier psychologically. Other than that my life would just be “different”.”

“A single mom raising for children. Possibly hard to continually explain that father is not in their lives.”

“Happy. Stable. Unmedicated.”

“Trying to raise a 3 yr old in a chaotic and abusive situation.”

“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 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.”

“Raising my children as a single parent which I would give anything to to to be together with 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.”

“I can’t really say. I most likely wouldn’t have met my husband as I moved away from my daughter’s bio father. Whatever the case, without adoption I would have raised my daughter.”

“No idea”

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

“I doubt I would have even finished high school. My parents were divorced and my mother struggled to keep the lights on. Having our utilities cut off was not uncommon. We were isolated with no extended family or close family friends to assist in any way. I think we would have had incredibly difficult and miserable lives. My son suffered from severe allergies and respiratory issues – I don’t know how I would have been able to get proper treatment for him. so I felt completely trapped. If I had tried to raise my son I couldn’t Google information on teen parenting or how to get help I got pregnant at 15 and delivered at 16. I do know that I was not mature enough nor did I have the financial or familial support and resources needed to raise my son. We didn’t have any sort of family or community safety net. 25 years ago”

“It would have been hard because I was 13. I really don’t know where I would be but I would be happier. I would have eventually married his father.”

“Certainly would have less issues to deal with.”

“Life would be harder”

“I would be happier. Immensely happier.”

“I would be in a different marriage”

“I would not have spend so many years very angry and very depressed.”

“I would have a better relationship with my parents”

“I don’t know”

“Both my girls would have been raised together. We could have made it TOGETHER. Within 9 years I had married”

“Impossible to tell. I have a fantastic husband and marriage and two great kids I have raised I also have a successful career. If i’d kept my son I would have had to return to my home country where I would have had all the resources and support i’d need. I would have been a single welfare mom for a while but knowing now what I’m capable of I probably would still been a success. I would not have the otherwise great life I’ve built for myself or my two other children that I love as much as the one I gave away. If I’d aborted which was the preferred way of dealing with crisis pregnancy back in the 1980’s”

“had my 2nd daughter divorced and was a single mother anyway…raising her alone with no child support. The ache of not knowing where she was missing her was outrageous. (Did not know there was a term [date rape] for what we survived; she was MY child; now she is again! 52 years later! 10 yrs into reunion.)”

“I probably would not have decided to get my act together”

“get into a serious relationship get an education and a career. Who know’s where I’d have ended up. One thing I can be sure of I wouldn’t have had to deal with the grief pain and loss of adoption.”

“I would be the only mother my adult son has ever had. I would likely have a different husband and different subsequent children. I would be unburdened by trauma and grief of losing him. He would call me mom and not by my first name.”

“I think my financial success would have been about the same – emotionally I would have felt less like a fraudulent mother to my other children. The lies and secrets really took their toll. I had trouble nurturing my children as I felt like I had no right to pretend to be a real mother to anyone. When my children found out at the time of my reunion my daughter said “this explains a lot”.”

“I imagine my life would be better. Happier. Not broken”

“No better… No worse.”

“less depressed and probably would have been able to live my life the way I had planned. My daughter would have been with me and together we would have both had a better chance of happier”

“Happier”

“Who knows? I only know I would be a mother parenting my only child she would know me and know that I love her and always will.”

“Would it have been easy no but we would have had each other. Adoption was the worst thing that ever happened to me and my daughter. I cringe every time I hear the word.”

“I would probably be completely on my own and most likely be ostracized from my family.”

I can only imagine… I would have been a better mother to the children I did raise. I would be a better wife”

“I would have my first child with me and it would have turned out exactly as it is with my second child–the horrible father would be gone and I’d be raising my child. My second child wouldn’t exist but I remember almost forcing her father to impregnate me because I wanted “my baby”. I got pregnant on purpose to try to replace my lost son.”

“would be better to myself. I would be healthier. But then again ~ how do I know? Maybe being pregnant and because of that quitting smoking pot saved me? Maybe I would have let myself continue down that path? IDK…”

“in the beginning I’m sure I would have been on welfare which would not have been healthy. I’m sure that in time I would have gotten it together enough to support us both. But we certainly wouldn’t have the great lives that we have today if I’d kept my daughter.”

“living with my parents”

“I would be in a much better place. I am currently unable to function without loads of antidepressants due to the loss of my child through adoption.”

“In a completely different life. It changed EVERYTHING.”

“I’d probably still be married to his father.”

“Happy with my daughter ! I’ve never been able to get past the loss !!!!!!!!!!”

“I’m not sure. I can’t imagine living life without this constant cross to bear. It would have been nice to not ever know this kind of heart-break.”

“Happily raising my daughter.”

“I think that I would have had a much happier life. For over 50 years I was devastated over the loss of my son. I hired a detective to no avail. This year”

“my daughter found my son and we have been reunited happily for seven months. The deepest wound of my life relinquishing my son has become my greatest blessing in life. I think adoption messed up both our lives.”

“Healthier emotionally….unlikely to have suffered chronic depression as I have.”

“I would probably still be in an abusive relationship raising a child I loved but could really not support financially or emotionally.”

“possibly living in my hometown who knows.”

“be a Navy wife and maybe not getting married in 6 months. I might possibly still be with the birthfather”

“I’d be taking an adorable 4 yr old to preschool. I’d probably be less financially established”

“I think I would have been more happier in my life if I didn’t have adoption in my past. I think a lot of things reflects back on what I did.”

“in finishing school”

“I think I would have been more successful in life”

16) 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?

Note: A common trend you will find here is “rushed” “out of time” and “fast.” What IS the rush to get that termination of rights signed so quick? To be sure that even if the mother changes her mind there is nothing she can do. Which leads to another common trend in these answers, “I wouldn’t have signed the paper” or “It wouldn’t have happened.”

“I was lied to in many ways and taken advantage of due to my age and naivety. knowing what I know now I would have never singed the papers and I wish I had information given to me to about support out there for 15 year old to keep the baby”

“If I could have changed anything I would have wanted more info about what I was actually signing and what it truly meant( which would mean I would not have signed the papers) I also would have liked a complete mental evaluation on the adopters as well as background check”

“Not signed those papers!!”

“Never to have ever had it happen.”

“I never would have signed the papers.”

“I don’t know”

“If there was anything I could have changed about my adoption experience oh how could I? I fell pregnant at the age of sixteen by a boy who wanted to be a priest he abandoned me. My Catholic mother and Catholic grandmother were worried about what the neighbors would think they were so embarrassed it was all about them they abandoned me. The Catholic Maternity ‘prison’ the Catholic Hospital and the adoption agency had their own agenda. Welfare – I could not get help because my parents were financially responsible for me (but not their grand-daughter). Vocational training – they would not train me for a job because no one would hire me.”

“More grief support afterwards and fewer people pushing a more open adoption. I am not a bad person for not wanting to be a mom but also not wanting an abortion”

“I wish I had to be informed of all the social resources available to me as well as be legally informed of my rights and the entire adoption process. I was informed that I signed consent the day after birth early in the morning and before I had seen my doctor. I have not be able to recall signing anything.”

“I was 16! It was 1976. I was banished to St. Anne’s Maternity Home in Los Angeles. I was the only person with an adoption plan. The home was supposed to be for unwed mothers. Most of the occupants were secretly married and keeping their babies and were lying for free housing and medical care. Forced Group Counseling and Parental Training Classes were a cruel joke for me. My Mother allowed me to come home for the birth. My college money was used to pay prenatal and HospitaI costs. I wish my newborn would have been given to me when I asked so I would have felt like I had the chance to say good bye or change my mind. That the doctor would not have been so cruel and sadistic. That they had not talked me out of signing the birth certificate. That I would have been told the truth about how adoption destroys the lives of all involved. That I hadn’t been misled about why the baby was in foster care for three months. The Adoptive Mother and I were told completely different reasons. I wish I knew the truth. I know I never will.”

“I would not have allowed my mother to lock me up in the maternity prison. I would have been able to contact my boyfriend and we would have been married and we would have been able to keep our son”

“for it to not have happened at all”

“I would be more confident of my choice but now all I can feel is confused and sad and it’s too late.”

“Signing adoption paperwork in the hospital and not having my own attorney. Also not giving myself enough time after birth with my baby before deciding on adoption. Instead of thinking it was better to not spend much time with my baby before adoptive parents had him  should have spent that time with him so I would know if I was going to keep him or still give him up. I thought it would be harder to let go if I spent time with him but I feel there is not an easier or harder way to deal with the feelings of loss like I do. If anything maybe it would be easier to let go of him after spending time with him if I still chose to give him up instead of not really knowing him enough and spending time with him and choosing to not give him up but to keep him. If I had not given him up immediately then which ever choice I made”

“I would have loved to know the negative side of adoption instead of only hearing about pooping rainbows and the love you “show to your child by giving them a better life than they ever could have with me'”

“I would have loved for someone in my family to have given me another option. I wish they would have said you can keep your child and we’ll figure it out. You don’t have to marry the father…you can still go to college. We will help you. That didn’t happen but when my younger brother found himself in the same situation a few years later with a girl he had just hooked up with on a couple of occasions my parents invited her and her baby to come and live in their home so my brother could figure out what they wanted to do. They are married with 4 kids now. I was happy for my brother but….A Double standard..I think so!! The shame has to be acknowledged and abolished!”

“Trusted my gut advocated for myself. I didn’t know I could change my mind. I felt that I had made a commitment and needed to follow through.”

“Nothing. It has been an incredibly painful experience but my son is happy and that’s what this was all about.”

“Had better counseling and information. Would have asked more questions? Really wish I had a supportive family. My husband of 40 years plus has recently come to realize that I did not even have sisters that truly care or cared about me. In all our married life he says that they did nothing to help or encourage me. He says he can remember us doing a lot for the older sisters and my parents.”

“Don’t drink the fucking koolaide. The adoption counselors are NOT there to help you. They are there to take your baby away. I don’t know how they sleep at night – because I still don’t.”

“I wouldn’t have done it if I knew what I know now. I would have punched the social workers in the nose for even suggesting such a horrible thing.”

“Nothing. It went great.”

“I wish it wasn’t a secret. I wish I could talk about him with my family and friends. But that was a necessary sacrifice.”

“There is nothing I would really like to change. I wish I could have support in person rather than just online. My adoption counselor lives 6 hours away and I don’t know anything birthmoms in the area and there is no resource to reach out and find them.”

“I’ve never felt that I’ve had any support in any way or at any time during the process.”

“I was not prepared for the emotional toll this has taken. Fortunately I get pictures everyday speak with the adoptive parents a couple of times a day and know that my son is in the best of situations for him. It’s only been 8 weeks for me.”

“I would of had my rubes tied after my last son so I never had to go through the pain I’ve gone through with the adoption”

“I would have more say of what went on. I was just told what would happen and why. I never felt like I had a say in anything. I should have known what I wanted to happen and had the guts to stand up for myself.”

“Nothing. It’s everything I hoped for; so far.”

“I wish my family had been supportive and social services had offered me any options to keep my don.”

“Had it agreed on with visits”

“I didn’t tell anybody I was pregant and adoption was talked about in hospital I had already thought about it. Everything felt rushed with doing it after I gave birth.”

“they would not have changed her name and I didn’t have to sign for a year”

“the agency and asking for more support more options more help more discussion time”

“To know what I know now”

“I would have more support to keep my daughter! I needed my family to emotionally support me and they did not!”

“I would not have made it so easy on the APs (sic: APs are a common abbreviation for adoptive parents in birthmom land)

“I loved the baby growing inside of me. I was 16 had nothing to offer but Love; lets face it you can’t raise children on love alone. He contacted me 1 3/4 years ago at the age of 43 years.”

“I wish to God there were resources available at that time. Even though I was raped”

“I would not have placed the child for adoption. I was severely depressed during my pregnancy and because I knew I was not going to be able to parent I disengaged from my pregnancy and just went through the motions of it.”

“I would make sure the other mom was not in the delivery room! Also pre-birth matching is extremely coercive because moms feel obligated to the family the chose.”

“I would’ve liked the adoptive parents and I to write down our expectations of each other.”

“I would NOT have listened to my parents and done everything to keep my sons with me!!!”

“I would have never taken things so upbeat and would have never underestimated the seriousness of how people and the government are”

“I would change my closed adoption to an open with me and my family having rights to see my child”

“If I still had to go through with adoption? I would have chosen a different family that I felt more comfortable with. I would have never left NICU. I would have breastfed my son.”

“That’s a loaded question. The things I would have changed really have nothing to do with me. It has to do with other people specifically my adopted mom. She offered ZERO support in my ability to parent. She was quite insistent that I place my son for adoption. But I still maintain that it was my decision. If I had decided to parent she would have gotten over it. My child just didn’t deserve to go through the instability I was experiencing at the time of his conception and birth. I have been trying to change her view of me my whole life. It hasn’t worked yet.”

“NEVER INVOLVING POTENTIAL ADOPTERS–THEY BROWBEAT ME AND THREATENED ME AND MADE FALSE PROMISES AND BOUGHT ME GROCERIES MADE ME FEEL BEHOLDEN!”

“That I would not have been told by my mother to forget her.”

“Aside from not losing my child I would have wanted an open adoption but was told that although they were possible they weren’t good for the mother who would find it unbearable to see her child but not be able to raise him or her.”

“I would not have let anyone talk me into giving my baby away!!”

“To stay away from the Mormon Church bishops and to stay far far away from LDS Family Services.”

“I wouldn’t have done it. If that isn’t the question – I still had to do it but change something – well – I would have chosen a private open adoption or at the very least – demanded to meet the parents and interview them in person. I wouldn’t have trusted the agency and sent that letter that they helped me send which then led to the family saying they never wanted to hear from me ever again.”

“Known more about what was going on and kept more stuff that was my daughter’s for myself and not given her stuff to her parents”

“I truly don’t think I would’ve changed anything. I sometimes think “what if”‘s … and wish I would’ve chosen to keep him however in the long run … I am extremely proud of myself … it took such courage to do such a taboo nsane thing (growing up in WV it wasn’t accepted by many people I knew at first) but it is so empowering … I really wouldn’t change a damn thing.”

“I would wish for compassion kindness empathy. I received none.”

“I would have never given her up. Adoption is not what I thought it was. And yes I am bitter because I was misled and lied to just so they could get my child. If I knew now what I didn’t know then (and they purposely didn’t tell me) I NEVER would have given her up!!!!”

“I would have talked to more birthmothers that weren’t just working for the sw I relinquished through. I would have learned about custody and the law in regards to my childs birthfather and would have gotten a restraining order to keep him from taking the baby. I would have written a very detailed open adoption contract which would have included a plan b clause if things were not working out well parties agree to mediation which will be paid based on income of both parties and during the time of mediation nothing will change in the contract unless both parties agree (and the contract would have been made legally binding and if court was needed it would also be paid by the adoptive parents (ie typed as the higher income earner being that they would always make more than me) if they had to pay it they would be less likely to take it to court as mediation would be cheaper. theres way more but thats the just of it.”

“I would have waited longer to sign papers. I would have demanded to take him home until i was ready to decide. I would have not had the ap’s in the delivery room. I would not have gotten to know them before birth. I would have learned about adoption law where I live and truly learn about my rights”

“I wish that I had more self-confidence and self-esteem to feel that I was worthy to parent my daughter. I lived with my mother when pregnant she was recently divorced and struggling to support me. Though verbally she told me she would support whatever decision I made her actions said otherwise. I felt that bringing a baby into our home would be a tremendous burden for her. I also felt a tremendous sense of shame from my family. I also was concerned that the birthfather who had shown early signs of abusive behavior would insist on being part of our lives. I felt trapped. I was offered no counseling except one session with a social worker. Despite living under my mother’s roof I felt completely alone.”

“i would’ve married the father of my child which was what we both wanted.”

“Most everything about my adoption experience was manipulative abusive and based on lies. I would change most everything about my adoption experience. I would never move into my mothers house (who forced me to chose adoption). I would never chose the Dr I felt forced to chose because I couldn’t find any other doctors who took Medicaid. He forced me to have an emergency C-section because he didn’t want to wait longer than 12 hours for me to  give birth. The C-section anesthesia caused me to have an allergic reaction which made it impossible to bond with my daughter for the first 24-36 hours of her life. This allergic reaction also gave the adoptive parents the chance to take over my daughter’s care and the adoptive mother forced my daughter to suck on her breasts without my permission before I signed my rights away. I was discharged by this impatient doctor 48 hours after birth when the standard time for C-section recovery is 72 hours. I asked for more time to be with my daughter and change my mind. He said “no Medicaid won’t pay for it.” He lied. They rushed the signing. I was all alone sobbing and pressured by many hovering people. I didn’t read the papers and pressured by many hovering people. I didn’t read the papers I don’t remember if I said goodbye to my daughter. I asked for my daughter back that night only to find out my worst nightmare…. I can’t change my mind. I fought for my daughter for almost 2 years and lost. My wonderful open adoption has never existed. I lost my daughter my former best friend who linked me to the couple and testified against me and most of all my soul. So yes I’d change everything about my adoption experience. And I’d make sure I kept my baby.”

“That I had never signed those papers and left my husband.”

“Having a real choice.”

“That anybody at all would talk about it.”

“Ask lost if questions get name numbers say no no no”

“The adoptive parents not at any doctors appointments or in the delivery room. But of course if I could change it I wish my parents and fathers parents and me and bfather would have met to talk about the best way to go forward with the situation instead of everyone running for cover and getting me out of town ASAP!!! F—ers!!!!”

“So much. I should never have signed. I should have screamed at anyone who suggested adoption was a good thing. I should have fought to the death to keep my daughter. I should have trusted myself as young as I was.”

“Open adoption where I could have been a part of her life from the time my daughter was born”

“Never having signed/support to parent. If adoption was inevitable more time prior to signing TPR and refusing to allow my child out of my sight.”

“I would have taken her from the hospital and not given a crap what the bitch aka my mother said”

“Fought for the right to parent my child.”

“That my family and the father of my baby would have cared for us instead of throwing us to the curb.”

“I wish I had chosen a family in-state a completely open adoption. I wish the APs had been Christians like their profile said they were.”

“To much to list. Don’t want to go there emotionally to answer.”

“I wish that when I was being told all these things to expect when the papers were signed & filed I wish I would’ve asked them to put in writing not just verbal. I took the families word for it cause I was naive & trusted them. But I didn’t & now I have no contact with my girls. They are 5 & 7. Bond was there already.”

“I would not have let the maternal care providers know in advance. I would have kept the hospital experience for myself and allowed the pap (sic: pap in adoption land stands for prospective adoptive parents) to come only as visitors for a short amount of time and not sign until after I took baby home. I also would have gotten into therapy.

“To have been able to raise my child by having an extended family member help out until I was able to do so.”

“Everything….that I never had to go through any of it that I never contacted the agency that my baby’s father would have stepped up and married me earlier that my family would have been supportive. It didn’t have to happen. I was 26 and all I ever wanted was to be a mom. But baby’s father turned out to be a liar and a cheater and did not behave in an honorable way and left me to deal with it on my own. All the agency cared about was getting my baby not helping me find ways to parent. They and the doctors and hospital put me through hell. It was terribly traumatic and I never recovered.”

“Spent time with my baby. Held him fed him. Told them i wanted to parent and not be worried.”

“More emotional help”

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

“To not give my son up”

“The adoptive family would have kept their promise of visitation with me and my older son.”

“Wish i would’ve been informed i could have visits with her.”

“ran, not walked away!”

“Other than keeping my daughter? I would’ve added her father’s name to the birth certificate. I’d already argued with the registrar to be able to name her (I won) and I was tired and still on pain meds from c-section. I was ordered to leave the place for his name blank. I should’ve just added it. I fretted over this for years. When I received a copy a few years back I asked the clerk if there was a way to amend the bc so that his name could be added. She was floored.”

“That it didn’t happen.”

“N/A”

“1. Ask more questions of the CAS social worker!!!!! 2. Ask about options ( like General Welfare or other possible financial benefits available for single parents) 3. Stand up to my parents (who were forcing me to relinquish my child for adoption ) 4. Held my child in the hospital.”

“Looking into the adoption agency sooner than I did more conversation about support available at the time for bot myself and my mother who was grieving at the time as my father died the weekend I got pregnant. No one thought it was ok to ask for help or to find out if it was available. Luckily I had a neighbor who had some knowledge.”

“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 counceling sooner”

“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 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.”

“To not have gone through with the adoption”

“I would not have done it”

“Allowing me to see her a few times before the adoption finalized at 18 months old. I believe the initial grieving process would have gone much smoother.”

“never go to the agency. never believe their lies. they promised ongoing frequent visits and for my daughter to know my other daughter and grow up kind of like cousins. I had no idea the adoption plan was a bunch of malarkey. i would have not done pre matching. not allowed anyone from the agency to come to the hospital. I would have waited months to decide and no one should ever ever ever be signing anything right after birth. I have so much guilt and grief and I wanted to keep her. we went in on dec 3 and she was born dec18 and they took her away. it was so rushed and so many things were not right.”

“Made sure that I had legal representation, not believed the complete lies told by Nuns Taken my child home with me”

“Nothing”

“Been wiser in my choiceS.”

“I would have known the truth and done more reasearch”

“I wouldn’t let the Catholic Church Scare me into Adoption! I would have fought for my baby more! I was one of the MILLIONS of girls that wanted my Daughter and parent her. Not give her to STRANGERS, I would keep the family unit alive, Family Preservation would have been so much better.”

“I would have parented my child.”

“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.”

“Spent more time bonding with my son and more pictures!”

“I would have tried harder to convince her birth father we could have done parenting on our own. Or I wouldn’t have let him decide where she went/ changed his mind That I wouldn’t have been a bad mother”

“1. not gotten pregnant despite 2 layers of protection 2, just had an abortion 3. kept my baby 4. been fully informed and not coerced 5. been allowed to grieve”

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

“Not do it”

“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”

“When I escaped the Catholic Charities maternity “home” I should NOT have gone home.”

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

“I wish i would have been more proactive in making the adoptive parents keep their word on more updates and photos.”

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

“Never placed! I was so uneducated about things, about adoption about assistance.,,”

“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.”

“I would not have called the agency and relinquished. I would have made sure my Son’s father was inform d and I would have fought for the financial support i was entitled to and parented my baby.”

“Coercion and guilt laid on me by the agency when I wasnt sure if I would sign TPR.” (sic: TPR stands for termination of parental rights)

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

“Live closer.”

“I would have asked to get the visiting rights that we agreed upon in writing. I would have stood up and asked for what I wanted. I was too afraid and too young to do that for myself.”

“I wouldn’t have gone through with it.”

“During my pregnancy and my son’s relinquishment I wish that I would have had access to someone that could have served as an objective advocate on my behalf. I was barely 16 at the time of my son’s birth and I was so eager to do the “right thing” and be seen as a “good” birth mother so I didn’t question anything that the agency did or said. I was convinced they cared for me and my son and that they would follow through with sending pictures and updates throughout my son’s life. I only received three pictures in my son’s first year of life and then they stopped. Also he was experiencing respiratory difficulty and was transferred to a different hospital. I was never able to hold my son nor was I offered the opportunity to visit him after he was transferred. I hadn’t relinquished him at that point – there was no reason I shouldn’t have been able to visit him in the hospital. I wish that it could have at least been an open adoption and that we could have known one another through the years instead of being completely closed off until we reunited in Nov 2012.”

“at the time of my son’s birth I would have perhaps not relinquished so easily….I thought you either had the money and the support to parent or you had no partner”

“To have parented; to have had “stones” to buck the system & my parents. Such pain I’d only wish on my worst enemy.”

“I should have had more information about adoption and other options.”

“I didn’t allow my son’s adoptive parent in the delivery room and i’m glad of that. I have thought that I should not have allowed them in the hospital at all”

“I would not have listened to case worker. I would have listened to my heart.”

“More contact with AP’s. I’m in a closed adoption. No other option given. Occasional (every other yr or so) non-identifying letters filtered thru the agency. More post-adoption counseling for BMoms!!!!!”

“Kept my baby. Period.”

“I would have been more bold and sought out resources. But speculation on what the teen I was would do when I am now in my 60’s is futile. I was unaware at the time of what I was actually capable of handling and everyone around me gave a “no” vote of confidence in my abilities. In retrospect my parents were more concerned with reputation and grasped on to that reason that exonerated them… That being my immaturity and lack of ability to parent – how very convenient that the agency provided them with a moral loophole to escape their outrageous lack of caring for their own flesh and blood!”

“I would have taken my baby and ran and begged my grandma to take us in”

“I was told that I would have other children and this was supposed to be some sort of consolation……I never was able to conceive again……”

“Nothing would have made the adoption of my son away from me alright. What could have prevented it was clear and practical help. That would”ve given me confidence and independence – two things I didn’t have at the time.”

“I hid my pregnancy and labored in my dorm room and rushed to the university hospital where my child was born within minutes of arriving. I was likely in a state of shock and believed anything anyone told me about adoption. I wish I would’ve taken the time and did my own research without being so influenced by everyone else.”

“That I took more of I stand. I was still naïve and clueless”

“That the adoption counselor would not be allowed to harass me and isolate me before and after the birth of my child.”

“I wouldn’t have done it.”

“No.”

“I would have insisted on holding my child immediately. I would have cherished my pregnancy my motherhood while I had it. I would have mailed those letters and cards to the adoption agency as my son was growing up.”

“I had an aunt and uncle that lived in California and I wish that I kept my son and moved there. The other option would have been for my boyfriend and I to stand up to our parents and refuse to give this child up. We were young 17 turning 18 and we were both very bright. We could have made a marriage work. At the time I lived in New York. In hindsight I would have kept my daughter. If I could go back even if it was a small part of my life for the last 26 years. Listened to my heart and gut and kept my daughter no matter what and had enough sense to have gone to someone who might have helped me regardless of my parents.”

“Been able to stand up to parents”

“I would have been more informed. More informed about the choices I had. More informed about the life long pain I would feel. More informed about the psychological damage adoption does to both me and the my child”

“Nothing.”

“The agency experience.”

“I would have admitted to the adopting parents that finances were playing a role in my decision. I would have had the guts to have my relinquishment paperwork altered so that I relinquished directly to the parents I selected and would have full control if the adoption with them fell through for any reason. Instead I basically signed my daughter away to an organization. Sometimes I wish I had breastfed her or asked for more time with her in the hospital. I wouldn’t have waited so long to tell my friends what was going on.”

“now from being in support groups I know that most adoptive parents revoke on that promise. I just wished I knew that I had a choice and my daughter could have been a part although I did not know there was such thing as open adoption until after we reunited and I was seeing a therapist because I was going through a lot of emotional things caused by the adoption that I realized I didn’t have until the reunion. I didn’t know I had a choice”

“Nothing. As hard as it was and always will be on some level”

“I would not be who I am today.”

“To have asserted myself more than I did. To have contacted the birthfather…he was completely left out of it.”

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

“Every adoption is different. Every circumstance is different. To ask some of these questions is to assume that the birth parent looks back and wishes it never happened. If you want to truly understand there should be more well balanced questions.”

My response to this comment: The reality is, as you can see from the responses, some women (a lot actually) do look back and regret their decision or had no choice at all. My questions covered as many responses as possible, in my opinion. I wanted to truly understand which is why I left room for the bad experiences and did not sugar coat anything. Every adoption is different and every circumstance is different. Which is why I was so thorough. And why I gave every woman a chance to tell her truth.

In closing, I would like to give a BIG thank you to all of you ladies who helped me show others a better portrait of birth/first/natural mothers by completing this survey. You are all so very special to me. Even the ones I have never met or spoke with. We are sisters. I hope that in some way someone can gain something from reading this. Remember that you had a part in it.

Lost, Then Found.

Well, all I can say is “that was fast.” About a week ago I blogged about some of my family’s secrets. Hidden in the blog post was a quip about my mother’s biological “half” brother that was out there somewhere. We had no last name, no exact birth date, no connection (on paper) to her birthfather and pretty much nothing to go on to possibly find him.

Writing about my mother’s birthfather stirred a renewed interest in me to search, once again, for my mother’s brother. And that’s what I decided to do. I tried everything you could think of, for days, and then decided to give up. Until today. My Aunt, out of the blue, remembered his last name. It was all uphill from there. Within hours I had found him. Upon pulling up his Facebook profile I knew. I looked at the picture and knew he was my family, my uncle. I knew he was my mother’s brother. I messaged my mom with a link to the profile and wrote, “I found him.”  She was driving so didn’t get it right away. I wasn’t sure if I should friend request him or not. Even though this was my uncle, I wanted to let my mom take the lead. I waited a few minutes and called her. I told her I had found him and to check her messages for a link to the profile. She gave me the go ahead to friend request him and message him. I did both and even paid the $1 to Facebook so it would go into his inbox and not his “other” folder. I also friend requested his girlfriend (who he had listed as his spouse on Facebook) as a back up. My mom did the same. His girlfriend was the first to accept my request. So I messaged her right away. It took an hour for her to accept but it felt like days. I told her who I was, who I was looking for, and how I had come to find her profile. I saw that she had “seen” the message and about 20 minutes transpired. I was terrified that maybe a rejection would follow and that is why she was taking so long to reply. And then she did. She told me that my uncle would write to me and to friend request him on Facebook. I told her I already had. I told her that I had always known about him, I told her that our family loved him and missed him.  A little while later I received a message from him. It said, “Hello J, I am glad to meet you……. I didn’t know you existed an that’s a real shame about our family.” He was glad to meet me! (albeit through Facebook). He also wrote my mother. My mother messaged me and said, “I saw his picture and I loved him.” It was beautiful. And everyone was overjoyed. He was glad to be found. He always wondered where his family was. He looked for them in crowds. He said we all looked alike! And he said we need to meet as soon as we can. No more time wasted.

My mom got the opportunity to talk to him on the phone. He is doing well and he is okay. Awesome. We live a couple states away but we are going to plan a visit. He may come up to us and is really looking forward to it. My mom got to talk to her brother. How awesome is that? I am still trying to wrap my head around that. It’s so exciting, yet sad at the same time. Sad for years lost. Happy to be found again.

I hope that my birth-grandfather is smiling down. I hope that he can see how what was lost was found. I hope that this can bring things full circle and that peace and healing will come with it. Regardless of the sins of my grandfather, he is the common link that binds us together as family. There is so much I want to ask my uncle. So much I want to see. Does he have the same mannerisms as us? Does he sing like my mom and daughter? Is he musically talented at all? Is he a little firecracker like my mom? In good time my questions will be answered. For now I have peace. The puzzle is complete and I didn’t find a grave like so many others before me. My prayers were answered and I thank God for that.