How do you encourage your daughter to place her baby? Here’s the short answer: you don’t encourage her to place her baby, but rather you encourage her to make the best decision for her and her baby, even if that isn’t adoption. Looking back, my mother was rather suggestive at the beginning. I am an adopted child, so it was an obvious option for me to consider, but I am pretty sure it was the only answer my mother thought was good for me. She didn’t hold that opinion back either. I was extremely blindsided by outside pressures when I was faced with an unexpected pregnancy.
I grew up in a super religious home, so abortion was almost as bad as me pregnant at 18 if you asked the congregation. So, I was really only faced with two options as I embarked on this whirlwind of emotions and chaos. I was freaking out. Still to this day, I remember thinking that I never thought this would be me. In fact, I only took a pregnancy test because I was at the doctor’s office for bronchitis or some kind of upper respiratory thing and I happened to think, “Hmm, I don’t think I have had a period in quite a while. Maybe I should take a pregnancy test.” I had them do one really fast while I was there. I remember my pediatrician coming in the room and saying, “Do you have a boyfriend?” I knew where this was going, but I was honest and said, “kind of a few.” “Well, you might want to talk with them about what’s going on, because you are pregnant.”
After I found out that I was pregnant, I was beyond terrified to tell my mother that I was pregnant. I had been seeing an OB-GYN since I was 16, because my parents found out that I was sexually active. My parents have always had a pretty strong opinion about what I should and should not be doing. Which is fair, but it wasn’t always handled the best of ways. My mom didn’t believe me when I first told her that I was pregnant. In fact, we drove back to the doctor’s office together so a nurse could verify that I was indeed pregnant. I almost immediately got bombarded with well, clearly, you need to place the baby for adoption. My mom really meant well and she loves me so very much, but I want to really press on how hard all of this was for me so that you as a mother, can gain a new perspective and hopefully remove your desires from the equation so that you can be more objective.
If you immediately try to encourage your daughter to place her baby for adoption, she may not want to. When my mom tried to encourage me to place my child for adoption, I immediately didn’t want to. I, like many rebellious teenagers, wanted to do the opposite of anything my parents ever really wanted me to do. So, I decided I wanted to parent. I was set on that and I even ended up marrying the guy that I believed to be the father of my child even though he was 13 years older than I was and a real jerk. I quickly found myself in an abusive marriage that I escaped from about a month later. I finished out my pregnancy alone and decided I could handle this as a divorced single mom.
When I had my child, I had never felt love like I did when I saw him for the first time. He is so precious to me. However, I was a child, raising a child. It only took six months for me to realize I was doing a horrible job raising my son. I knew that I needed help. Thankfully, since he had already been a part of our lives for a while, my parents adopted him. I struggled a lot and hurt deeply over the next few years. It felt like someone was gutting me when I signed over my rights as his mother. It took years for me to settle down enough to heal and to have a healthy relationship with my parents.
Looking back, I realize that I did the best I could in that season of life. I don’t regret it, I just wish I would have figured out how to successfully grow up and parent him. However, that isn’t my reality. I tell you all of this because I want more for your child. I would never wish for someone to have to relinquish their rights and separate from their child. It is a long journey of grief and while the decision might be validated through adoption moving forward, it’ll never stop impacting your child. It will never stop impacting you either.
A few years after the scenario above, I found out that I was pregnant again. With all of the knowledge I had from my first unexpected pregnancy, I was able to decide the same day I found out I was pregnant, that I wanted to look into adoption and move forward with it. I wish I would have had the resources to make parenting happen, but I wasn’t to a place that I felt was right for that season of life to happen. I didn’t think it would be fair to my child if I didn’t know if I would make rent, or even be able to get diapers or food. The desire to be my children’s mother was always there. That’s just not the path I forged. With my second adoption process, it was an open adoption and they were local to my area. So fast forward to 11 years later, I see her often, she knows I am her birth mother and that my son is her brother, and we have an amazing relationship. I am so lucky on both counts that I am able to be so present in my kiddos’ lives. But I have cried so many tears, I have felt like I was being ripped into shreds, I have grieved motherhood, and I have fought extremely hard to heal and fight stigmas around adoption. Being a birth mother is a challenging position. So why is it important for you not to encourage your daughter to place her child for adoption? Because she needs to make this choice herself. She needs to feel confident in her plan.
How Can You Encourage Your Daughter to Choose?
Get as many resources as you possibly can on all of her options. If you have a strong feeling against one of those options, push past that and get some information on it. Yes, it is okay to present the pros and cons of an option, but you need to do that for all of them. Make it clear that you are being objective and while you want to be helpful, you also want her to feel empowered to decide what is best. Also, sharing that you trust her to do what she believes is right for her and her baby, is a great way to empower her and to help her find independence at this moment.
I get it, it’s not easy to let go of the control and hope that your child finds success moving forward, but you have to do it. The reality is that we never know what the future can hold, so try and be open-minded and support her regardless of what that looks like. If you cannot do that, then I think you need to be honest with her that you cannot be objective or supportive of any outcome, so you need to step back. Again, I realize that is super difficult, but she really needs to focus on her thoughts and not the opinions of others.
How Do I Honor My Daughter If She Does Choose to Place Her Baby For Adoption?
If your daughter decides that she would like to move forward and make an adoption plan, offer to go with her to the agencies that she is looking into. Research questions that expectant mothers might want to ask when talking to agencies from the beginning. Listen to birth mother stories and learn from them. Help your daughter process her journey by letting her vent to you or to bounce thoughts off of you. Continue to do mother-daughter things with her during her pregnancy and try to normalize your time together as much as you can. This is an extremely high-pressured time of her life she needs an escape sometimes to just be a daughter and to enjoy a shopping day or spa day with mom. As a daughter I can say, sometimes I just really need my mama. Nothing else can soothe me like being with her in some circumstances. Be that solid foundation for her while she weathers the storm.
When she asks for your advice or opinions, such as if she should place her baby for adoption, empower her to make choices, but also offer listening or objective feedback. When she is choosing an adoptive family for her baby, encourage her to get to know them and to be really transparent about what she is expecting from an open adoption or semi-open adoption. During birth, ask her what she wants to happen. Does she want you to be there? Does she want the adoptive parents to be there? Does she want alone time after birth so that she and the baby can bond? What kind of support does she need and want? This is the hardest part of the journey when considering placing a child for adoption. Grief is bound to creep up on her at some point as the reality of the decision she might make sets in.
When I was in the hospital, I quickly realized that the time I had with my baby there was the only us time I’d ever get. I soaked in every single moment where she was mine and I was hers. But the gravity of that reality also reminded me that I would leave without her. I don’t think I have ever cried as much as I did the week after her birth. I isolated myself and only came out to eat and to visit my daughter every day for a couple of hours. I decided to do placement the Friday after I gave birth, so when that day came, I locked my emotions away and stayed strong for her. Placement day was so heavy.
I visited that room six years later and the moment I stepped into the room a shockwave of emotions overwhelmed me. I ended up having to excuse myself from the group and take a moment. You see, I understand that you want what is best for your daughter and that’s why you are trying to find the best way to support her, but to place her baby for adoption is a huge choice that impacts everyone involved. That is why it is so important for her to find her own way to a decision in regards to her unexpected pregnancy. But take heart dear mama, your support is meaningful to her and she needs you—just be mindful and intentional with how you go about it.