When I was just 9 years old, my world was shaken up. No, there wasn’t an earthquake, but it felt like one in my house. My 16-year-old sister had gotten pregnant. We were raised in a strong Christian home. She was my best friend. I idolized her. When she came home late at night, we would sneak out to go get ice cream. I was excited about the idea of a new baby. My sister married the baby’s father, but it didn’t work out. She left our home and went to school in another state. In my young eyes, I thought my parents were shunning her and forcing her to make decisions she did not want to make.
Getting pregnant in your teens was not well-accepted in the 70s. The community would look at your family as if it were flawed in some way. Pregnancy was considered taboo and not to be talked about, especially in the Christian world. Since my sister’s marriage arrangement didn’t work, the choice had to be made whether to keep the baby. The decision was made to place the baby for adoption. This shattered my dreams of having a baby in our house. “Adoption for my baby?” I was angry with my father for “making” her give her baby away.
Being so young, I only knew part of the story at that time. Since then, I have learned things that make it more clear and easier to understand and accept. The high school my sister had been attending would not allow her to stay in school while she was pregnant. Therefore, my parents had not, in fact, sent her away due to shame or embarrassment. My mother had actually considered raising the baby as her own.
It was a very difficult decision to place the baby for adoption. It was something they could all finally agree on. Therefore, my parents had not, in fact, forced my sister into placing her baby for adoption. She consented that, “adoption for my baby,” was the right choice. As difficult as that was, I eventually accepted the idea too. Being the fifth child in a family of six, there were bound to be more babies for me to love.
Those years have long since passed. My sister and her daughter have reunited and have a relationship that they both cherish. Things didn’t go as planned with the adoption, but her daughter had a good life. Now, as adults, they have gained knowledge and friendship. Adoption had been the best choice for both of them at the time.
If you are reading this, you are most likely facing the biggest decision you have ever had to make. Although unplanned, and perhaps unwed, pregnancy is much more common today and more accepted by the general public. You may be in a situation where you are unable to take care of a baby, financially, or otherwise. You may be very young and have the desire to further your education; a baby could make that more difficult. There are several different scenarios that may have brought you to this article. Is adoption for my baby the right choice? If so, then what are the next steps?
In preparing to write this article, I reached out to a couple of women I know who have placed their babies in adoptive homes. In each case, the choice was their own. Both have had positive experiences with the decision that was made. In both situations, the expectant mother wanted to make sure her baby was going to be loved and taken care of by both a mother and a father. This was important to them. This may or may not be a factor you consider. They both also wanted to make sure that the baby was placed with the family they had chosen. Each of them says that they think of their adopted child, daily. The love never leaves a mother’s heart.
Advice from one birth mother says to make the decision based on what is best for the baby. Decide what you want the relationship to look like after the adoptive placement of your baby. She wishes she had established what she wanted the future to look like. She also suggests that you find support groups and other people who have gone through the challenges you are facing.
The other birth mother I spoke to sent gifts and cards to her baby boy for years after his placement. The adoptive family would, in turn, send pictures and updates on his life. She says she always felt happy to receive news about him. Eventually, she married and had other children and told them about her baby. They never made any judgments and accepted him lovingly. She and her son have met and continue to have a friendship they both cherish. This mother wants you to know that adoption is the greatest gift you can give to a family who, for whatever reason, cannot have a child. She never regretted her decision.
Is adoption for my baby really the right choice? In making this decision, you have a lot to consider. Who do you have that will be there for you as you navigate your way through unknown territory? There are several adoption support groups. You can check with your local health and welfare website for support groups available near you. There are also adoption sites where you can receive support and guidelines. Adoption.org, Adoption.com, and Adopting.org are just three of the many you can find online. All of these sites can help you find answers to some of the questions you might have. You will find multiple resources on adoption websites. They are there for you and ready and willing to help.
In considering adoption for your baby, you might look at how it will benefit the life of your unborn child. Take the necessary time to review the pros and cons of placing your baby for adoption. The adoption plan is yours to create. You need to know what you want your adoption plan to look like. In speaking with an adoptive mother, she voiced how important it is to establish boundaries in the beginning. “When the birth mother and adoptive family have open communication, it recenters the conversation around love rather than the identity and abandonment issues that may come up later.” This might be a very emotional time for you, and tensions can run high. You need to make decisions based on your own knowledge and feelings. No one else can, or should, do this for you. Adoption agencies have professionals who can direct you in making your decisions. Find an adoption agency that will consider your input and place your needs and desires first. Remember, they are here for you, and ethical adoption agencies should have your best interests at heart.
In considering the needs of your unborn baby and what is best for them, I reached out to some adoptees. I asked them what they would say to their birth mother if given the chance. One of them said she appreciates the sacrifice her birth mother made in placing her for adoption. She knows she had to weigh very heavy options. “What was best for me, but also what was best for her. She made a very difficult decision and did what she felt would help both of our lives progress forward. I am grateful for her decision.” The other girl I spoke to also said she was grateful for her birth mother’s decision. Her birth mother knew she could not take care of another child. She said, “I wouldn’t have the life I have now.” In both situations, gratitude was foundational for the adoptee. One was adopted at birth and the other at 2-years-old. Though the circumstances were different in each case, they both involved a loving mother who cared about her child and wanted what was best for all involved.
I have not had to make this decision but have been on the receiving end of this difficult choice. I can tell you as an adoptive mother, that the gift of a child is unmatched by any other possession a person can give. It is the most selfless, loving act I can think of. I have witnessed it not only in my life, but also in many other adoptive families I am acquainted with. In the words of one adoptive mother, who has one biological child and three adopted children, “I would say that what my children’s birth mothers did was done out of the ultimate feelings of motherhood. They loved these children enough to let them go to a situation where they would have a better chance at life. It’s not about abandonment; it’s about love and expanding a family.” Another adoptive mother whom I spoke with said, “After being told I couldn’t have any more children, what a joyful blessing it was to have someone willing to let me raise their child.”
As a 9-year-old girl, I had no idea how adoption would affect my life. At the age of 16, I met my future husband. He is from a family with seven children, two of whom were adopted. I witnessed firsthand how love continued to grow through adoption. I was there as they adopted their second child and have watched him grow into a strong, young man. I observed how every child was treated the same in the family while recognizing each of their individual needs. I didn’t know that at some point in my life I would experience secondary infertility and go through the adoption process with my husband to adopt a baby. Nor did I know that my desire to be a mother would be so strong that it would prompt me to be a foster parent, and, in turn, I would adopt a child from the system.
After looking at the options, if you decide that adoption for my baby is the right choice for you, you will need to decide which kind of adoption you want. Choose an adoption agency wisely; make sure they are right for you. Check online reviews and maybe even speak with someone who has worked with them before. As you review interested couples or family’s profiles, consider how your child will fit into their lives. If it is an open adoption, how will you fit into their lives? You may know right away, or it might take a while to choose. Do not rush into anything, and remember it is ultimately your decision. You may choose to work directly with an attorney if you already have a family in mind. If you are a person who prays, you may want to ask for help in making this life-changing decision.
Once you have made the decision concerning adoption for your baby, hopefully, you will be able to find peace. There will be times of grief and heartache over the coming months, and maybe even years. But hopefully you will know that you made the right choice for you and your baby, and you blessed the lives of a family. You might echo the words of a song written by Michael McLean, “If you choose to tell him, and if he wants to know how the one who gave him life could bear to let him go. Just tell him there were sleepless nights I prayed and paced the floors. And knew the only peace I’d find, was if this child was yours.” (“From God’s Arms, To My Arms, To Yours”)
Choosing adoption for your baby is a very personal decision, and it should always be yours to make and what you feel is the right thing for you and your baby. As a mother of six children, two of whom were adopted, I am a strong advocate for adoption. My life, and the lives of my family, have been positively impacted by this selfless act. Only you know the answer: “Adoption for my baby?”
Cindy Hill was introduced to adoption when she was 9 years old as she watched her 16-year-old sister place her baby for adoption. She had no idea how adoption would impact her life. Cindy married her high school sweetheart and they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this past June. They have 6 children, 2 of whom are adopted. In addition, they have 12 busy grandchildren. Pre-Covid, they enjoyed Sunday dinner together each week. During their 4 years of foster care, they had 34 children in their home, either for respite care or long term placements. Cindy has always had a great love for children, especially newborns and young teens as they learn to navigate the world. For the last 12 years, Cindy has been a substitute teacher for grades K-12 for their local school district. She is an active member of her church congregation. Cindy loves yard sales and finding bargains to decorate her home. She has always enjoyed writing poetry and keeps a journal. (13uponthehill.blogspot.com) She and her husband have one son at home who will graduate in May, leaving them as empty nesters with their small herd of cattle.