Terri's Story

yaoqi-lai-19621.jpgI knew from the moment I made my decision to place my child for adoption that it would have to be an open arrangement because I would want to be involved in my child’s life.

I was told by the agency that I could choose between semi-open or closed adoption. I chose semi-open. If you're getting ready to place your child for adoption and have chosen the semi-open arrangement, there are some things I'd like to share about my experience:

As a birth mom who picked semi-open adoption in 2000 while living in a maternity home, I can tell you that you will be given profiles by the adoption center to look over of the prospective adoptive parents you have to choose from. The profiles are like mini-scrapbooks of pictures, information; etc. The couple assembles these for you to get to know them better. I took it a step further and made my own for them, too.

Once you choose the couple that you want to parent your child, you may talk to them on the phone and arrange to meet at the adoption center. Then, after visiting for a few minutes there you may go to dinner with them where you all can get to know each other better. They may ask you questions about your family, health, goals, education; etc. and you can share what information you feel would be helpful or interesting to them as well.

In between the birth of your child and Placement Day (the day you place your child with his parents), you might have regular contact with the adoptive parents by phone, mail, or email. You may also have another dinner date with them and meet any other siblings in the family, if applicable. You can invite the adoptive mom to your sonograms or any doctor visits that you feel would be useful to her if you are comfortable doing so. I did this and was so glad I did. The adoptive mom was very grateful and excited to get a copy of the sonogram. She also got to meet the doctor who would be delivering her daughter and she was thrilled.

After Placement, you might get letters, videos, cards, pictures, emails, and regular updates from them of your child and you can send the same. Although you might not visit them at their house, you may get visits with your birth son or daughter at a public place two or three times a year. This depends on the level of openness.

During visits, which may not last more than two or three hours at a time, you might take pictures and catch up on things. My first visit, which was totally unexpected, was the date of the finalization of adoption and the couple had just gone to court. They arranged to meet me at a nearby restaurant and I got to meet some of their family.

When I walked in the adoptive mom later told me that her sister said she knew I was the birth mom.

I found the adoptive mom’s sister and her other relatives there to be so gracious and welcoming to me and it meant so much. I was so excited to be able to see my birth daughter after eight months.

I knew she would probably be told at some point who I was in a way that she understand and I knew she might call me by my first name or a different title from “Mom.”

In August of 2000 I placed my daughter for adoption shortly after she was born because I couldn’t take care of her.

Luckily it is a semi-open adoption which means we get to exchange letters, pictures, cards, gifts, emails and texts.I have even gotten to see my daughter three times a year starting several years ago.

I remembered when I moved into the maternity home how I’d never seen so much food in my life. It was like the Garden of Eden, I joked to myself. For the first time since before college I didn’t have to worry about where my next meal was coming from. It was a great feeling, one that I was grateful to have for nine months. 

Being a birth mom was like being an animal in a zoo when we went out in public sometimes. People stared, gawked, whispered, looked at each other, pointed. You could tell they wanted to ask us questions but wouldn’t dare. Being stared at changed me and allowed me to feel what others must go through. I was used to being stared at as a kid for various reasons. But, this was different because we were all pregnant and didn’t have a man by our side. I learned that just because we were pregnant and single we were not less than and that some of us had been raped, date raped, and that none of us were in a position to be judged by society who were only judging us by our outward appearance, not knowing our stories

What I’ve learned about myself through the experience of being a birth mom is that I have nothing to be ashamed of and that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible; that I can survive pretty much anything. I’ve learned about a mother’s love and that you can love your daughter just as much as if she lived with you. I’ve learned how to be happy for other birth moms that have gone on to have other children but it took me years to get there. Now that I’m 57 I’m there.