When a child asks you questions, the hardest ones to answer usually start with, “Why…?” Why this? Why that? Why not? That infamous word can bring adults to the peak of frustration, or to the perfect opportunity to enlighten. There are also those instances where the question ‘why’ sends shivers down your spine. One of those instances is when a child asks, “Why did my birth parents place me?”
When a child asks their adoptive or birth parents, it can be hard to answer because it’s usually riddled with poor choices, heartache, and life-altering decisions. The difficult thing about it in a question and answer setting like this is that all adoption stories are different with their own individualistic set of circumstance. I couldn’t speak for another birth mother, just like one president of the United States couldn’t speak for another president. We all have totally different lives that happened to lead us to the same position.
I don’t usually like talking about adoptions that occur due to force because I can’t relate. These birth mothers did not choose adoption; it was chosen for them. But in this case, it’s only fair to mention them as possibilities. If a mother is strung out on drugs and puts her child in harm’s way, then that child was placed because their birth mother had a hard time with reality and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) put her child first.
If a teen gets pregnant and gets pushed around by her parents to place her child because they don’t want to be embarrassed by her choices, that child was placed because the people who should have been her support system were selfish and she was defenseless.
Its circumstances like these that I can’t fathom. I can’t even put myself in their shoes to guess how they got to such a dark place. And because of that, I can only guess that these children were placed because someone else thought it was best.
Those are examples of worst-case scenarios. There is a whole other side to the spectrum that highlights the beauty and blessing of adoption. More often than not, they still start out rough, but the overall reason for placement is love. In this, the twenty-first century, I would venture to say that most adoptions take place because of love for the child. It’s a choice made to enhance the chance the child has for happiness and success. This was the case when I placed my son. As I write this response to why your parents placed you for adoption, it is September 11, my son’s birthday. Today, five years ago, I gave my son a running start on life.
Nine months prior, I made some very destructive life choices that lead to me getting pregnant. The birth father didn’t want to be with me and didn’t want me to bear his child. He made threats that escalated until he said he would beat me until I miscarried. When I told one of my parents, I was met with pressure to abort. When I told some of my friends, I was abandoned and left without support. But those were just the outside forces guiding me toward adoption. I had a miserable job making less than $10 an hour, I was in community college without an idea of what to do, and I had no stable father figure to help me raise a child. In my situation, the only option was adoption.
I didn’t place my son because I didn’t love him; I love him like I love the child I now parent. I didn’t place him because I didn’t want him; I ache when I go too long without seeing his face or hearing his voice. I didn’t place him because I was unsafe or threatening; I would give up my life for him.
I placed him because I wanted what was best for him.
I placed him because I wanted him to have a father.
I placed him because I wanted him to have the necessities of life.
I placed him because I wanted someone smart to help him with his homework.
I placed him because I wanted his parents to have time to spend with him.
I placed him because I wanted him to have everything I couldn’t give him and more.
I placed him because I love him.
There is no doubt in my mind, that the birth mothers out there who chose adoption, not those who were forced, but those who chose adoption for their child, did it because they feel the same way. They chose adoption because they loved their child.
Lindsey Olsen is a birth mother who placed her son in 2012. She is also a parent to a beautiful little girl, and wife to (who she thinks is) the most amazing man in the world. Her favorite things are her faith, her family, and her country.