Things I Wish I'd Known Before Placing My Child For Adoption Transcript

Episode 1 Podcast > Full Transcript

All My Love: Stories of Hope, Inspiration & Support from A Birth Mother. A podcast brought to you by

All right. So, I just wanted to, number one, start off with welcoming everybody. Hello and welcome to my very first podcast. I'm pretty excited.

So, I just wanted to introduce myself. Hi, my name is Emily. I am 26 years old and I live in Utah, which is a fun place to be. I grew up here my whole life. I became a single mom right out of high school. And my son is my whole world. I love him to death. He's my greatest entertainer. I like to do a lot of fun things. I like to read. I like to run in Ragnars. If you don't know what those are, they're the best. I enjoy all sorts of things. I like to adventure. I like to try new things because they scare me and it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

And so, I mean, obviously you're wondering, “This is an adoption podcast.” So, you probably want to know where does adoption that in my life. You know, I said – Number one, I keep saying, “you know.” That needs to stop. Let me just catch myself right there.

So, how does adoption fit in my life? I am a birth mother; a birth mom. I placed my little girl in an open adoption in November of 2019. So, we just hit her first birthday, the one-year mark; all of that fun stuff. So, that is where adoption fits in, in my life.

I also have been to an adoption support group ever since I was pregnant with my son. It isn't 100% an adoption support group. It's a single-expectant-mothers group. However, the majority of the women that I met coming through there ended up placing their babies as well.

So, I have a very, very strong support for birth moms. After watching so many women come in single and pregnant and scared and watching them learn about adoption, watching them fall in love with adoption, watching all of their adoption stories unfold, turned me into 100%, the biggest adoption advocate out there. As big of an adoption advocate as you can be as a single mom.

And so, I knew that if I ever found myself single and pregnant again, that without a doubt, I would place my child. It's not that I don't love my son. And it's not that I don't love being his mom; because I do. He's turned me into who I am today and I think he's amazing. But as a single mom, there are a lot of things that I can't give him. There are a lot of things that he misses out on because of my choice to parent. So, with that being said, that's where adoption fits in, in my life.

So now, moving on, I kind of wanted to give a brief rundown what my plan is, what we're going to talk about today, and then we'll just dive right in. So, I kind of, here we are just testing the waters. So, I want to go over today, things that I wish I knew before placing my daughter. I want to go over things that I learned from other birth mothers, watching them go through it, talking with them. I want to talk about just a couple little tips for hopeful adoptive parents. And then we want to wrap up with just what my future plans are for this podcast.

So, number one; what are things I wish I knew before placing my daughter? Number one, the biggest thing that I wish I knew beforehand was how this would affect my family and my relationship with my family when it comes to adoption.

So, because of my experience, because of having gone to that single-expectant-mothers group; I started going in 2012 when I found myself pregnant. And we went in there and a lot of things that were talked about were about the girls and how are they going to deal with their grief? How are they going to navigate through this? And we would talk about the logistics, the legalities, the step-by-step; you're going to come in and you're going to look at profiles, you're going to pick some families, you can talk to them, you're going to get to know them, you're going to, you know, all of these things. We talked about how you're going to get from single and expectant to becoming a birth mom and how to deal with that in your life afterwards.

But we didn't talk much ever about how it would affect your family and your relationship with them. And I mean, every family is different and you can't expect everybody to fit in one mold; it's not a cookie cutter. Adoption is – I don't think there's anything the same about two adoptions. You take one adoption and another adoption and you compare them, there will be similarities, but there is never anything the same.

So, you can't expect family to be the same. You can't expect them to react the same. But I wish that it was something that more people knew about because I went in, thinking that this was going to be all rainbows and butterflies, because of how much I already knew about adoption, forgetting that my family doesn't have a whole lot of experience with adoption.

And the experiences that they do have are from years ago. And adoption is always changing, especially open adoption. It changes daily. Open adoption today is different than open adoption was a year ago. It's different than it was five years ago, 10 years ago.

So, if you think about my parents, especially, open adoption wasn't a thing when they knew people going through it, when they knew adoptees, when they knew people placing. So, they don't have the best experience with it. And I've been in it for eight years now, learning about it, seeing the ins and outs of everybody else's adoption stories. And so, with their lack of education, they were really hurt and really upset.

And I don't expect them to not feel those feelings because adoption is hard. It's not easy. And I mean, especially my parents, you think about that this is another grand baby of theirs, and the first girl in our family. And to them, it was, “Well, she's here, but do I love her? Do I not? I don't know how to feel. Am I ever going to get to see her? Is she gone forever? Like, how do I…?” You know, there's a lot of emotions to process there. And a lot of trust that they have to put in. And it's hard obviously to trust in the unknown, while they didn't know much about adoption. They didn't know what trust to put.

My mom had a coworker whose daughter was a birth mom who placed, and the adoptive parents made promises of, “Yes, this will be open. You'll always hear from us. You'll always know where we are. We'll never disappear.” And as soon as that adoption was finalized, they packed up and moved and disappeared. And that open adoption didn't stay very open. And those promises made at the beginning weren't kept.

So, I could see from my mother's eyes, watching me walk into this so trusting and so ready to dive in, it was really hard for her because she was scared.

It's hard for my siblings because again, sometimes it's easier for them to pretend that it's not real than to feel it. I had some really hard conversations with my sister. My adoption is very open. I text with my daughter's parents most days out of the week. It's weird if we go more than two days without any contact.

They ended up moving to Utah; it wasn't to be closer to me. It wasn't about me at all. However, there in Utah. They're only, if traffic's bad, a couple of hours away. But if traffic's not bad, I can get to them in under two hours. So, they're really close.

And so, when they did her blessing; that's a thing that they do with the church that they're affiliated with. They give babies a blessing in the church, and it's a big ordeal. They invite family, friends, anybody; they invite this baby’s support system.

And so, I was invited, naturally. If I wasn't invited, I would have asked for an invite. And so, I reached out to my family to try and get some RSVPs and my sister, because of the hurt that she was feeling; the loss and the grief, her way of handling it was to just kind of pretend that it wasn't real. And so, I asked her and she told me that my daughter was not her family. And so, hearing stuff like that is really hard. But I also can't be mad at her because that's the way that she chooses to deal with her grief.

So, we've had a lot of hard conversations between me and my family and where they fit in, in this open adoption and where they can fit in versus where they're choosing to fit in, the things about adoption they know, the education that they choose to hold onto, the education that they choose to ignore.

So, I really, really, really wish that I knew how this adoption journey would affect my family and their relationship. I wish that I had learned how to navigate that, that I had learned ways to help them prepare, ways to talk to them about it without losing my cool. I didn't talk to my sister for almost two weeks after she told me that my daughter wasn't hurting family because I was so hurt.

And it took me, I had to sit down and put myself in her shoes before I was finally able to talk to her again, because I can't be mad at her for having her feelings. Everybody's allowed to have their feelings and that's no different in the case of adoption.

So, that is by far one of the biggest things that I wish I had known before placing.

So, a few other things, and these ones are probably going to be a loss smaller. I'll probably go off on them, but probably not as much as the family relationship and all of that, that we just went over it. There's so much more to it.

So, I wish I knew that it's okay to ask for what you need and that you don't need to be afraid. And I mean, I guess I knew that, but I didn't know it. I thought that it was one of those things that people say to make you feel comfortable, just like when somebody is upset and you don't really know how to help them, and you're like, “Well, I'm here if you need…” You know, when people tell you that, you're kind of like, “All right, whatever. I'm still going to be upset. Thanks for telling me that you're here, but I don't really know what that means.”

That's kind of how I took when I was told by other birth bombs, by my counselor who helped facilitate my adoption. Anytime I heard, “It's okay to ask what you need. Don't be afraid to ask what you need.” I was like, “Okay, whatever. Like if I ask for something, what if all of a sudden, they hate me and they close the adoption or they make things less than what I need; less than what I want?”

So, I was terrified to ask. And that has been one of the biggest things that I struggled with in 2020. Obviously, you all know this pandemic; the Corona virus. It was the one thing that I didn't plan for when I was making my adoption plans.

I'm very much a planner. I think, through all of the ifs, ands, buts, could haves, should haves. I played through every scenario in my head and I did not plan for Covid. And so that was really hard for me to deal with adoption wise, because my daughter's family, they are very, very, “Let's not have anybody come to the hospital to visit unless they're vaccinated. Don't come around our babies unless you're vaccinated.”

So, when the CDC was social distancing; don't visit with people that are inside your home, mask up, all these things, that was so hard. Because I had, up until the lockdown, it happened, I think I hadn't gotten more than 14 days away from my daughter after placement. I was pumping and donating breast milk for her. So, when I had my freezer full, I would just send a text, “Hey, I've got milk. When's a good time to come down? I'd love to get in some snuggles.”

So, I was there visiting. I was able to hold her for at least a couple of minutes. And there was, I hadn't gone more than 14 days without doing that until lockdown.

And then it went from being a text away from holding my daughter to taking milk, dropping it off at the garage, then getting back in my car so that they could come out to the garage and load it up into their freezer. And then it was, waving at her through the window. Or they would set her up on a blanket in the grass and I would say on the driveway.

And that was so hard, not being able to have physical contact with my daughter. I'd never thought going into an open adoption that I wouldn't be able to touch my daughter.

So, that really wore on me. And I didn't express it for a really long time, because I was still grateful. I was like, “They're doing so much for me. I can't ask for more because they're already letting me drive down to drop this off and letting me sit in their driveway for a little bit, while she crawls around on the grass or letting me have my mask on and sit a little bit closer without touching.” So, I was so grateful how dare I ask for more? You know?

But that was killing me inside. I remember crying to my therapist, just repeatedly saying, “I just want to touch her. I just want to touch her.”

And so, at that point it had been over 200 days since I had had physical contact with her. And I don't know about you, but me as a parent where I have my son with me all day, every day. And like, just knowing that as a mother, craving a physical contact and being there and not being able to have it, it was terrible.

So, after that therapy appointment where I sobbed for an hour, just saying that I wanted to touch my daughter; I just wanted to hold her. I was like, “Okay, what's the worst happened?” They said that I can always ask; I don't need to be afraid to ask.

So, I texted my daughter's parents and explained to them how my therapy appointment had gone. We've got a pretty decent relationship. They know that I go to therapy. I tell them all about it. I tell them all of my breakthroughs; I fill them in.

So, I told them how that appointment went. And, that it was getting especially hard, with her birthday coming up, and just dealing with the grief. And because I was able to reach out and talk to them, we were able to come to a compromise where, “Hey, how about we hang out. We'll go to the zoo. It's outdoors. You can hold her, but let's wear a double mask, so that she stays safe.”

And that was like a breakthrough moment for me, because then I finally, almost a year after placement, realized that it really is okay to ask for what you need. Because really, the worst they can say is, “No.”

But it didn't ruin our relationship. They didn't say, “No” because they understand and they get it. They're her parents. And they understand, as a parent, that you need to have that physical contact with your children. So, we were able to work together as a team so that we could make things happen for her.

Then another thing that I wish I had known before placing is that relationships with the birth family. And I say “the birth family” because, I mean, my daughter's birth family, they're not all my family. There's a whole other set of genes that helped create her. And there is a lot of tough navigation when it comes to having your child have a relationship with all of their birth family.

And this is something that I got a lot of backlash on, and there I do have regrets, and I wish I had known more about how to navigate relationships with birth family. And this is with my daughter's birth father's family.

But I decided pretty early on in my pregnancy that it wasn't fair to my daughter to not have access to all of her birth family, just because I was choosing to place. I felt guilty because I was like, “Well, why does my dad and why does my mom, and why are my siblings have that opportunity, have that open door to have that relationship with my daughter when there are all these other people that have the exact same blood relation to her without that opportunity?”

So, I reached out to them and I let them know that they were welcomed, that that door was open for them to have that relationship as well. I had talked it over with, at that point, her hopeful adoptive parents. I was still an expectant mother. I wasn't a birth mother yet. And we were both on the same page that we feel like adoptees, obviously growing up, there's going to be the identity crisis. They're going to want to know where they came from. They're going to want somebody to relate to, they want to know where their eye color came from or why they have this random family illness; like they need access to their birth family.

And so, I thought, “I'll be so nice and this will be so good for her.” And I wish that I knew earlier that I don't have to be in charge of managing that relationship. Because I stress myself out so much worrying about things.

And I don't want to put drama in other people's lives. I am very, “I don't want the drama. Don't give me the drama”, but I also have a really hard time walking away from drama if I'm involved in it. And I involved myself in the drama because this is still my daughter. I don't parent her, but I still refer to her as my daughter, because I made her, she's my own flesh and blood, and you don't just cut that tie easily.

And so, when there are people who are having a relationship with my daughter, people that I know, people that I've spent time with, I was really kind of uptight.

And I remember at the hospital, I was like, “Hey, I'm going to make a group message between you guys and me and her parents. And we can, if you guys feel like you need to visit, you can let me know. I'll ask them. We can all figure it out.”

I felt like I needed to be that middleman. And it took me a lot of upset to realize that it's so much easier to think of it as my relationship with my daughter and her parents and then her birth family's relationship with her parents and her.

And I said those in that order because I think, first and foremost, my interpretation of things that have been expressed to me by her family, by her parents are that my relationship with her is what's the most important. And any other birth family relationships, those are added in; those are bonuses. So, the relationship with me and my daughter is important. And the rest, like her birth family, they need to have a good relationship with her parents to have a good relationship with her.

And I don't know if that makes sense. And I don't know if that makes me sound terrible. However, that's my interpretation of it. And I love that I now know that I don't have to manage that relationship, because it just brings on past trauma regarding her birth father and brings up a lot of upset. And let's be real; when I'm upset. I'm not very good at thinking before I speak. And I don't want to ruin my daughter's relationship and access to her birth family because of my own feelings. So, I needed to put my feelings aside and allow that relationship to be managed by not me.

So, I wish that I had known that choosing to involve the rest of the birth family doesn't need to be on my shoulders. So, it doesn't need to be on your shoulders either. And if you have a poor relationship with, you know, if you're an expectant mother and you have a poor relationship with your child's father and family, just remember that there is still as much blood and genes from them as there is from you and your family. And like really your child would benefit from having that relationship.

And just know that you don't have to be the one to facilitate that. You can have an open conversation with the potential adoptive parents and let them manage that relationship, because your child benefit.

And then kind of tagging onto that are one of the last things that I wish I knew before placing was that I'm not in charge. And that is so hard for me because I am a single mom and I'm used to calling all the shots. I'm mom and dad all day, every day. So, I know every detail of my son's life. There's not a piece of what happens that I don't know about. I know when he's sick. I know when he's upset. I know when he bonks his head, when he gets a scratch, when he's hurt, when he goes to the doctor, when he doesn't what he's doing, what he loves, all of these things, what he gets to eat, how he gets to play when he gets to play; all of these things.

And there are things that I've seen that my daughter does; I've gotten videos, I've gotten text updates all the time and I love it. And I love hearing about it. And she's doing amazing. She's so smart and she's so happy and she's so fearless and loving. And it, 100%, is due to all of the things that her parents decided were best for her, that I, as a parent, wouldn't have.

And so, I mean, obviously, you know when you sign those papers, when you relinquish your rights as a parent, they very blatantly and very quite rudely say that you're not in charge; that you're no longer interested in this child, which I know. They have to put it like that to make sure you understand legally you're not the boss anymore. But it's hard sometimes.

And so, I know that we worked really well together, leading up to her birth and placement, but I guess maybe it was more something that was hard for me to accept rather than something I wish that I had learned. But the second you sign those papers, the second you put ink to paper, you're no longer in charge.

Yes, in an open adoption, you might get some say on some things, you might get to express an opinion, but at the end of the day, you are not the one calling the shots.

So, those are just a few things that I wish that I had known prior to placing. And I hope that that kind of shed some light. There's obviously so much more to it and there's so much to learn and there's always new things. I'm still learning new things.

So, I'm sure that that list will continue to grow. I know that it's already a pretty big list and I'm barely put – We just touched the tip of the iceberg there.

Well, I think that is probably going to wrap up my very first inaugural episode of the All My Love podcast. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And I really can't wait to do it again.

I delight to thank my sponsor, and really just everybody that has worked with me to help this come together. And just a future thanks to those that I plan on bringing on the show.

Be sure to tune in again, there will be more episodes to follow. We'll pick up right where we left off on our next episode.