I chose adoption for my daughters when I was twenty-three. I was raised by a single mother who was an alcoholic. She fancied abusive relationships, and moving was like breathing for us. She died in a car accident when I was seventeen; the drunk driver that killed her was herself. With no family to speak of, I soon was headed in the same direction. To stop that from happening, I married the first man that didn’t hit me or put me down. It was a very short “courtship.” Within three months we were married, and two weeks later we became pregnant.
After our daughter was born, certain behaviors began to emerge, and I realized that my husband was emotionally unstable. By this time, I was pregnant with our second child. We discussed adoption for the second child and dismissed it almost immediately. I couldn’t entertain the thought of “choosing” which child to keep or of denying my daughter of her sibling.
Becoming a Single Mother
After our second daughter was born, the situation with him only worsened. I realized I was on my way to being a single mother with no family of my own and no support system. (His family was as unstable as he was.)
Calling for Information
One morning I woke up KNOWING what I needed to do so that my precious girls would have everything I knew I could never provide. Picking up that phone to call an adoption agency was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was consumed with guilt and shame just by trying to call for information. I thought, “How can I even THINK of this? How can I GIVE UP my own children?” I just kept telling myself I was only getting information; it didn’t mean that I didn’t LOVE them or didn’t WANT them.
Discussing Adoption with Nancy
I called a couple of places, left some messages, and was treated with as much sensitivity as I would have received had I been ordering a pizza. Then I received a call from Nancy Cannon of Adoption Associates. After a good deal of time spent calming me down, Nancy offered to come meet with us, just to give us information. We discussed options, and Nancy provided me with profiles of couples that were open to adopting both children. I looked for a family that had values, goals, and beliefs similar to my own. There was one couple in particular that stood out to me. They were unable to carry a pregnancy to term and had already suffered a miscarriage. After a lot of soul searching, I agreed to meet with them.
The way this story has been told since this point on is that I did not choose the adoptive family. My oldest daughter did. She was what some would call a “Momma’s girl.” She didn’t take to strangers. Within fifteen minutes of talking with this couple, my daughter took her dolly, blankie, and “binky” and crawled on the woman’s lap…all by herself. Any doubt or fear of making a mistake disappeared at that point. I knew my daughter, and she felt safe and comfortable with them. We had a few more “dates” where we all spent time together and got to know each other better. Then we decided to go through with the adoption. The girls were one and one-half years and three months old at the time.
I knew that releasing my rights was going to be the hardest thing in the world. I just kept telling myself that this way I COULD give them a family, support, and unending amounts of love and security. I would also be able to see that they were happy and well taken care of through letters and pictures. Their adoptive parents and I are very close, and the girls know who I am. Most importantly, they know that we all love them.
Advice for Other Women
I was asked to offer any advice that I thought might be useful for women who are considering adoption. I don’t really know what to say to that. Choosing adoption was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and though I do not regret my decision, I admit that, for me, some hurt remains, even after the papers were signed. I know that there are things that will never go away no matter how much time passes. My love is one of them. The pain I still feel is because of my unending love for these girls.
But even with the hurt, I would never do this differently. I see the smiles and the unconditional love that my daughters give and receive. That is something that can never be faked. Someone once asked me if it would have been easier if I had done a closed adoption. My answer is, “No, not for me.” I NEED to know that they are happy and healthy (they are), I need to know that they are as loved by their adoptive parents as they are by me (are they ever!), and most importantly, I need the reassurance that I didn’t make a mistake for them.
Peace of Mind
I would caution, though, that some people in your life may not be supportive of you. When facing these circumstances, I gained comfort in knowing that the life that I wanted for my children is exactly what they have. Peace of mind is very rare, but I have it because I did the right thing for them.
Since the adoption, I have picked up new hobbies, explored areas of interest, and recently enrolled for classes at the local community college. My dream is to make something of myself so that at the very least, my daughters can be proud of what I did for them AND for myself.