One word to describe how you felt the moment you discovered you were pregnant?
Why did you choose adoption?
I've always been pro-life, yet I was definitely put to the test when I found out I was pregnant. Adoption seemed to be the best option as I loved my baby and wanted him to have more than what I could provide. I was a single mother, with three small boys. I was living on public assistance, in low-income housing, with plans to begin college in the Winter Semester. I was also very angry at the baby's father, and mad at myself for the choices I had made. I wasn't a teenager, I was 29 years old and should have known better. The thought of raising another child with the feelings I had concerned me. I didn't know how I could emotionally handle another child.
Who played the biggest role in your decision to place your child for adoption?
A dear friend of mine called me and asked what my plans were. No one else had been so bold to ask. She started the wheels in motion. My friend was a professional in the child-welfare system, and she happened to have received a biography from her sister in Colorado, who was friends with the prospective adoptive couple, Mike and Lindsey. She said she didn't know why her sister sent her the biography, but it had been sitting on her desk for two weeks. She asked if I'd like to see the biography and the picture of them. I told her I would. While waiting for biography to come in the mail, I spoke to my pastor and he confirmed that adoption was the right decision.
What did you think about adoption before you placed? And after you placed?
I have always been positive about adoption. My sister had placed 13 years prior to my pregnancy so I was somewhat familiar with adoption. I have no regrets over my decision. My sister's adoption was very closed, whereas mine was an open adoption. I selected the couple, visited with them during my pregnancy and knew where they lived, had their phone numbers, etc.
Looking back, what do you wish you had known then that you know today?
I did not realize the possibility of having second thoughts about adoption and how it would affect the prospective adoptive couple. At about five months of my pregnancy, I suddenly became fearful of my adoption plan. I changed my mind and called the couple to tell them. They told me later they felt as if the baby had died, and they mourned over the loss. I did not realize what this would do to them.
If you could dispel a myth about adoption or birth mothers - what would you say?
A myth about adoption is that it's a selfish act. It is quite the contrary. I loved my child and cared enough about his future to be raised in an environment I could not give him. I was struggling with my self-worth at that time. I already had three children to raise and had dragged them through my struggles. It was not fair to put another child through it. It took a lot to make an adoption plan. But knowing I was actually making a plan gave me comfort in that I could select the family I knew would give my child a good life. It is not a selfish act, but a selfless act indeed.
When, if ever, have you felt most discouraged about your decision to place?
Discouragement hit me when I made a bad decision to re-unite with the baby's father after placement. When the couple found out they were very upset and never wanted to speak with me again. That is when the openness closed for me. This made me extremely sad. A couple of years after I gave birth, I remember reflecting on my child and the adoption. I suddenly had a panic attack and was frantic in my thoughts about getting my child back. I knew that was unrealistic and ridiculous. Once I regained my thoughts and reminded myself as to the reasons I had placed, I knew it had been the best decision. I was able to accept my decision, and I have never regretted it. To this day, 36 years later, I have never been discouraged or have had any regrets about my decision, despite the fact, the openness was gone to have contact with my son.
What's been the greatest reward or surprise of being a birth mother?
My greatest reward is in knowing that my son, Shawn, was raised by two loving parents and he's become a responsible young man. My greatest surprise is that because of Facebook, he has united with his brothers. He actually has met all three of my sons! It pleases me that he's "friends" with his half-brothers. He has no desire at this time to meet me, and I've accepted it. I am not concerned nor do I feel an urgency to meet. He knows a lot about me, and I'm sure has seen pictures of me on Facebook. Ever since he was born, I've always sent him a card on his birthday along with an updated picture every year. The agency told me that his parents always picked up the things I sent. I hoped and prayed that one day he would read them all. I found out later from my middle son, who happens to live in the same town as Shawn, that he has all my letters and pictures.
What's your greatest wish for birth mothers today?
My wish is to have a good positive network of support around them both during and also after their pregnancy. For me, it seemed everyone slowly disappeared, yet I still longed to talk with someone who could relate to me. Sadly, there was no one. I called other agencies to see if they had any type of support group, and there were none. Consequently, in 1988 I began a support group which lasted several years while living in El Paso. I continue to be open to meeting one-on-one with a birth mother or even resume starting another support group.
What excites you about BraveLove?
I am excited to have found BraveLove and I applaud you for presenting a positive perspective on adoption. I started several years ago an Adoption Awareness page initially for the purposes of gathering other birth mothers together to share their stories and give support. But, it became more of a clearinghouse, if you will, for anyone in the adoption triad who needs resources. Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to meet other birth mothers through BraveLove.