adopting blog

Inspiration, Resources, Opinions & Advice From Our Adoption Community

Single, Pregnant, And Choosing To Place My Baby For Adoption

At hospital placing my baby for adoption

I don’t think I’ve ever written anything this important since I was in high school. So starting this out, I may sound a little rusty. However, I am just going to have a conversation with you about adoption and tell you how I became involved.

When I was in high school I found myself pregnant and I had a slew of people reaching out to me just wanting to talk, and help, or present different options for me. All I heard from these individuals was, “Let me tell you what to do. You can’t do this on your own. You need to give away this baby.” (I know that in the adoption community, we don’t like the phrase “give away”. But to the 17-year-old me that is exactly what it sounded like.) I, like many others I know and interact with, was not educated in adoption at all and I wanted no part of it. I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t capable. I didn’t want to think that I wasn’t what was best for my child. I didn’t want to entertain the idea that his father and I wouldn’t have a perfect future and family together.

I found a single expectant mothers group that met weekly and they discussed any option other than abortion. I went each week because as a pregnant teenager I didn’t have much control over what and where I got to go. I would go each week and I would listen and connect to expectant mothers and watch them become birth mothers. And I loved them and their strength and their vulnerability. But my mind had been made up from day one and no one was going to change it. I was going to prove everyone wrong.

At 18, I had my son and my relationship with his father quickly crumbled. Soon enough, I was on my own. I continued to go to this group weekly and watch new expectant mothers come in and continue to listen to birth mothers. I quickly became an adoption advocate. I will NEVER regret my choice to parent my son because being his mom has made me the person I am today. But I would go home from this group full of guilt. I wasn’t enough. I was robbing my son of a better life. I took away his chance at a happy, two-parent home. Near his second birthday, I was so in love with the strength these birth mothers had and I realized they weren’t choosing placement to get rid of a problem, to cover a mistake, or to give away their baby. It was the complete opposite. These women loved their babies more than themselves and they chose to break their own hearts with faith that it was what was best for their children. With that realization, I made myself a promise that if I ever found myself unwed and pregnant again that there really wasn’t any option other than choosing placement.

Let’s skip forward a few years now, 6 or 7 years, and here I found myself in pretty much the exact same position. I was pregnant. It wasn’t planned. And I was terrified. I also felt so much peace, as I had spent years at that point learning about adoption and thinking about what kind of adoption I would want to be involved in. I had spent years going over the pros and cons of placement. The reasons why I would place and the reasons why I wouldn’t. Because of these years, it was much easier to make the decision to place my daughter for adoption. Not because adoption is easy, but because I had dug so deep into the reasons why I would or wouldn’t place a child.

Why I Choose To Place My Baby for Adoption

There are so many reasons an expectant mother will choose to place their child and they are very deep and personal ones that are specific to her situation. No situation is identical. But the one thing all birth moms I’ve come in contact with have in common is their undying love for their child.

I was in a relationship with a person who wanted someone to control rather than someone to love. It was the shortest and most trauma-inducing relationship I have ever experienced. He told me that I was going to have a baby with him whether I liked it or not. Without going into too much detail, he not only put me - but also my son - through a lot. It never should have happened and I never should have let my son become involved. Seeing the effect he had on my son after only a few short months showed me he was not someone I ever wanted to be involved with any further.

When I think of the life I want for my children, I don’t want them to need for anything. I want them to have a world of possibility in front of them. I want them to be in a home with a mom and a dad who are there for them 110%, day and night. I knew that I was unable to provide that, as I had been a single mom for 7 years and was still struggling to make sure my son’s needs were met.

My therapist and adoption counselor is the same woman I worked with when I was pregnant with my son. And with my daughter’s pregnancy she showed me one of the best decision-making tools I’ve ever seen and I love sharing it with others.

Pictured above is a simple target drawn. In the center is the unborn baby, the second ring is the expectant mother, and the outer ring is the family of the expectant mother. While looking at this target, I would think of positives and negatives about placing or parenting. Each pro or con would have a positive or negative effect and this target helped me visualize who would be affected. For example, If I said that a con to adoption was that my daughter wouldn’t be with me every day, a pro of that would be that she would be in a home with two parents. If I said that a pro of parenting would be that I wouldn’t have to be sad about not having my daughter, a con was that I couldn’t provide a stable home, which, in turn, could negatively affect her. I thought of all my pros and cons and would add "+” and "-” symbols into the ring of who was affected positively and negatively with each pro and con. By the end of the exercise, it became so blatantly obvious: the positives about placing all fell into the child’s ring, while the positives to parenting all fell into the other two rings. Even with this exercise, it was never an easy choice. And honestly, I don’t feel like there is a right or wrong choice when finding yourself single and pregnant. Either can work and be the right choice. It is truly about what you are most comfortable with, what you can live with, and what you can make happen.

I never didn’t want my daughter. Even though the circumstances in which she came to me were less than preferable, she didn’t have anything to do with that. And I loved her from the moment I knew I was carrying her. It is because of this love that I was able to place her. I knew that I wanted an open adoption because I never would have been able to place her if I couldn’t have contact with her. I also knew that I needed her to be protected from the pure evil I still feel her birth father is. (I don’t feel this way about all birth fathers and I know some pretty amazing birth fathers who are very involved in their children’s lives). I needed to know that she would have the whole world at her feet, with no limitations.

I reached out to my daughter’s future parents the same day I received a positive pregnancy test. So I had almost 9 months to pick their brains and ask all the nitty-gritty questions. Within the first month we talked about breastfeeding and circumcision and 'will you love them if they are gay' and 'how do I know you will love them the way I already do'? By the time I was induced, I felt like I had another sister and best friend. And I trusted that my daughter’s soon-to-be dad was going to be the best dad she could ever have. We worked together on a birth plan and a placement plan and we haven’t stopped communicating since.

Placement and Life After

There are so many different ways to place your baby. I have known birth mothers who have relinquished and placed at the same time and left the hospital with empty arms. I have known birth mothers who have taken their child home to parent for a week and then decided to relinquish and place. And I have seen everything in between.

Having time with my daughter was the most important thing to me. I didn’t want it to all happen quickly and be over with. The only times she was not in my arms at the hospital was when the nurses came to take her and when her soon-to-be parents were there enjoying some skin-to-skin and bonding. I didn’t even sleep while I was in the hospital because it was so unimportant at the time.

Before going to the hospital I had discussed with her parents that I wanted to keep her in the room with me and that I wanted to be the first to have skin-to-skin contact and breastfeed her. I would be her mother fully until relinquishment papers had been signed. We also agreed that upon my hospital release I would do the relinquishment. But, before placement, we also agreed that I would be able to take her with me to a hotel for some true one-on-one time together. I am so grateful to her parents for allowing me to have that night with her. I was able to enjoy every second with her and just talk with her about how much I loved her. I was able to process things more clearly in a quiet space with no interruptions. We met the next morning for a formal placement with my counselor. I don’t think anything has ever hurt more in my life than walking into a building with both of my children and driving away with only one. I will never sugarcoat how much that sucked.

Now I am sitting here writing about my adoption experience and we just passed the one-year mark, and you know, it hasn’t been easy. But it also hasn’t been terrible.

This year has been even harder than I thought. I definitely did not plan for a pandemic hitting just a few months after placement. That was by far the hardest part about this first year. Because my daughter was so young, in-person visits quickly became a very hard thing to come by. And when they did happen, there was zero physical contact. I feel like even though I have had contact with my daughter and her family almost daily, I got a small taste of what a closed adoption must be like. Seeing my daughter and not being able to touch her has sucked. Every fiber in my soul has craved her touch. Although it has been hard and I have been sad about not having physical contact with her, I am not the least bit upset with her parents. I knew that they would do what they believe is best for her, regardless of what I want. And that is just what they did.

I think in a lot of ways I lucked out in the parents department for my daughter. She has two amazing people who care not only for her, but also for the well-being of her birth family. She has adoptive parents who will do exactly what they feel is best. I know they will protect her every single day. They are amazing and I will forever be grateful to them for letting me be part of their adoption story because I am so happy that they are a part of mine.

Final Thoughts and Rambles on Adoption

Like I said at the beginning, writing isn’t something I’ve done much of since high school. So opening and closing things is not my forte. But I just want to peace together some final thoughts:

If you are pregnant and adoption is a possibility (even a slight one), embrace it. Learn about it. Research it. Look at adoptive parents. Look into the type of adoption you want. Write down what you want and don’t settle. If you find something that isn’t what you want, keep moving. While I do feel there are no right or wrong choices when it comes to placement or parenting, I do believe things happen for a reason and that they will work out as they are supposed to.

Don’t ever feel like you are alone. Being single and pregnant is truly one of the loneliest feelings out there. But just know there are so many women who have been in your shoes and there are many more who will be in your shoes after you. Take this time to sit back and reflect on what you want for yourself, but more importantly, what you want for your baby.

If you are a hopeful adoptive parent, please, please, please listen to the birth mother voices out there. Listen to their stories and decide what kind of adoption you want. Please be honest with any expectant mother you are in contact with and don’t make any agreements you don’t plan to keep. Talk about the hard questions and make sure you are on the same page. If your wants and needs aren’t matching up with an expectant mother, don’t settle for less than you want, and don’t promise more than you are willing to give. I will say it again: things happen for a reason and if you aren’t on the same page as an expectant mother, as painful as it may be, perhaps that child isn’t your child and there is another expectant mother out there waiting to find you.

If you are an adoptee reading this, just know that I have all the love and respect in the world for you. I know adoption is not always unicorns and glitter and I know that it has evolved so much over the years. Know that you are loved. Know that your feelings, whether positive or negative, are valid and you have every right to feel that way.

In closing, adoption is not easy. But I also don’t feel like it is the worst thing in the world. I love adoption. I love my son. I love my daughter and I love my daughter’s family. Adoption has changed my world several times and I know it will continue to do so and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me and my babies.