A Birth Mom’s Perspective

Posted in Adoption Option by

I love my blog and I love the mish mosh of reader and commenters. Everyone has something to contribute even though we’re all so distinctly different and on such distinctly different paths. I also love that I get to share my experience and through doing so dispel some of the myths and B.S. out there about adoption. Last week I wrote a posting about Beautiful Birth Mom’s and about the process that most birth mom’s will go through now prior to giving up their babies for adoption.

Of course, there is so much more involved in an adoption that just the BM’s, the AP’s play a vital role in who will select them as well. As part of the very long questionnaire we had to complete (we took over two hours to complete ours) there are a number of questions asked which go a long way in matching AP’s with BM’s. We had to answer some very uncomfortable questions and were forced to think about circumstances and situations I’m sure most expectant parents don’t have to face. We had to think carefully about the answers we gave because they could affect the rest of our lives. Aside from the usual race question, which we had expected. We also had to answer questions like:

  • Would you adopt a HIV+ baby
  • Would you adopt a baby conceived from rape
  • Would you adopt a baby conceived from incest
  • Would you adopt a baby with medical conditions – non life threatening
  • Would you adopt a baby with medical conditions – life threatening

These are hard questions to answer, for anyone to answer, let alone an infertile couple who have struggled for a child of their own for the better part of a decade. But we had to be sensible about it, we had to think long-term, we had to think about the impact on our physical, emotional, spiritual and financial well-being if we were to adopt a child, for example, that had a serious birth defect or illness. We had to consider the implications of adopting a baby with a life threatening illness, after spending almost 8 years trying to conceive and suffering through recurrent miscarriage, did we have what it takes to struggle through infant illness on top of that?

In the end we agreed that we would accept all of the above except for the HIV+ babies and the babies with life threatening illness. Thankfully God was in charge and we landed up with a healthy baby. But what would we have done if we hadn’t been so lucky? What would we have done if the precious angel we had longed for, cried for, hoped for, prayed for had come out and she was ill? I really don’t know. It’s hard to say what one would do in any situation unless you’ve been there yourself. I do know that the second I saw Ava being born I fell completely and utterly in love with her. I do know that Walter fell in love with her the second he laid eyes on her, so would we have been able to reject her? To walk away from her if she hadn’t been born “perfect”?

I received an email after my Beautiful Birth Mom’s post, from a BM who’d given her baby up for adoption in 1992. It would seem that adoption was still in the dark ages, even in the ’90’s and no where near what it is today. This BM was not even allowed a moment of quiet time to say goodbye to her baby, she had to say goodbye to her out in the busy passage way, as she lay in the bassinet. No SW to comfort her, all alone, she said farewell and left her baby. What was to follow is any mother’s worst nightmare:

I choose a couple while I was pregnant to adopt ***** and all went very well with the meeting we had while I was pregnant. Unbeknown to us, after she was born, she needed emergency surgery to remove a kidney and needed substantial medical follow-ups in the first few years of her life (not life-threatening btw). Anyhow, 2 days after her birth, I was contacted by my SW to tell me that said couple had decided not to adopt Claire due to these medical complications (and I don’t believe the reasons were financial as she was at joberg gen at the time and all costs were to be carried by the state). To say I became livid/heart-broken/hysterical is an understatement. She was now alone in the hospital and would go into care until a new family was found for her. Thankfully it all ended well and in hind-sight, looking at her now..I see she was much better suited to the family that ultimately raised her and they love her dearly.
What I wanted to ask is do you think, in your opinion, adoptive parents can be justified in changing their minds if there are medical problems after promising the BM to love the child as if it were their own? I could never fathom how they changed their minds when they were so desperate for a child…and actually condemned them for many years. Strange hey..or do you think this kind of thing happens regularly?

I was dumb struck when I read this email. Firstly, I was horrified for this BM’s part. Can you imagine having to make the heart wrenching decision to give your baby up for adoption, only to hear that her AP’s have rejected her and that she is now lying, all alone, in the maternity ward of a hospital. As a mother, I cannot being to imagine the anguish this must have caused this BM. When I put myself in her position and I imagine its my child that has been rejected and left alone in hospital, I feel quite hysterical just at the thought of it, so I cannot imagine what it must have been like to go through.  When I think about the AP’s I really do wonder what made them come to that decision, how they came to that decision. As an infertile couple, coming so close to finally having the family we’d longed for, I just don’t think either Walter or I could have walked away, regardless.

I know the day before Ava was born Walter had a mini melt down, it was stressful and it totally freaked me out. In the middle of a massive baby shopping spree, while having brunch at Mugg and Bean with my mother, Walter suddenly announced that he was feeling all rather stressed about the situation and that he wanted me to know that should the baby be born and he didn’t feel right about it, that he was going to walk away and he expected me to do the same. I was besides myself after he’d dropped that mini bomb but in hindsight I realize he’s reaction was much like a nervous groom getting cold feet right before the wedding. Later the same day we met our BM and the meeting was so wonderful that all of our fears were put to rest and Walter’s mini melt down was all forgotten.

I wonder how often that happens? I wonder how AP’s make the choice to walk away? I wonder how BM’s cope with the rejection of their babies that they offer as such beautiful gifts?

July 29, 2010
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19 Comments

  • Reply lea2109

    So many things to deal with, I can’t even imagine the fears, the worry, the what-ifs that might fill your mind during this process.

    July 29, 2010 at 7:06 am
  • Reply Nisey

    Our sw told us an horrific story of how a couple “returned” their baby because it had red hair and they didn’t want a child with red hair.

    I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so callous.

    I was also shocked when we did our screening, part of the questionnaire was about the childs physical attributes. We were going to adopt a mixed race child and some questions asked things like – how curly the hair could be, how dark the skin was etc.

    July 29, 2010 at 7:29 am
  • Reply mayflowerladybugs

    What a horrible thing to have happened to that poor woman, what anguish! Life really is just so complicated and in the words of my husband ‘some people are just crap’.

    July 29, 2010 at 8:10 am
  • Reply skrambled

    Its a very interesting post Shaz. People are strange and complicated. I can’t imagine what that poor BM must have felt. How horrible.

    July 29, 2010 at 9:39 am
  • Reply samcy

    I cannot imagine that this would even happen… People are certainly VERY strange creatures.

    xxx

    July 29, 2010 at 9:58 am
  • Reply vroutjie

    Hi Shaz,

    I have actually starting thinking about this exact thing recently as our SW discussed a baby that was up for adoption due to the BM (a minor) being raped – ultimately there was something wrong and the BM went into premature labour and the baby was born but died after a few hours. I then starting thinking about are we willing to adopt a baby that was conceived as a result of rape and also what if the baby is ill or needed medical attention – what then? I still need to discuss all these issues with my DH, but I think that I am also not prepared to adopt an HIV+ baby and life threatening might also not be ideal, but the rest, I think I can live with, but as you say, birth mothers don’t really have that choice, do they?

    July 29, 2010 at 10:20 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Totally agree Vroutjie! That was how we came to our decision as well. I just kept thinking that babies born of incest and rape are just as innocent as any other baby born and that they were as deserving of a loving home. In hind sight, I’m very glad that we don’t have to explain something like that to Ava one day. As it is, I have a heavy heart each time I think about her realizing more and more each day that she was adopted, how she’s going to feel, how it will affect her. Imagine how much more difficult that would be if she were a product of rape or incest.
      But having said that, we would still have accepted that innocent baby regardless!

      July 29, 2010 at 11:12 am
  • Reply Me

    I find it very sad that people in general still sometimes struggle to accept a baby for what it is, a blessing, a new life just wanting to be loved and cared for. Regardless of what form that life comes in, deformed, disabled, ill, black, white, curly hair, no hair, it still wants AND deserves the same thing all babies do LOVE and PROTECTION.

    To choose to give back a baby because it requires perhaps more love than a “normal healthy” baby would is ludicrous, to give a baby back because of the colour of it’s hair? I’m sorry but those type of people truly don’t deserve the blessing of a baby, through biological means or the wonder of adoption.

    July 29, 2010 at 10:37 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Like I said Rach, its easy to assume what one would do, but you simply don’t know till you’re faced with the situation. Those are hard questions to answer and when you’re not considering adoption you probably think you know exactly how to answer them but trust me, when you’re in the situation, its a lot harder to deal with.

      July 29, 2010 at 11:10 am
      • Reply marina1605

        You’re right Sharon, you will only know how you feel if you’re put in the situation, but what those people did to that poor, innocent baby and BM was terrible. A baby is not a toy or item of furniture that you can return if you’re not completely satisfied with the end product. If they had had their own biological child and he/she was born with the same problem, they wouldn’t have walked away surely?

        July 29, 2010 at 11:53 am
  • Reply trishdg

    That is just such a heartbreaking story and so upsetting for everyone. I wonder if those first adoptive parents now regret the decision to cancel the adoption.

    July 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I thought the same thing Trish. I wondered how they must have felt and how they coped with that decision. Having been through adoption, I cannot imagine how it must have been for them to just walk away. I wonder why they chose to do it but mostly I wondered how they managed to do it! Because it would have broken me!

      July 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply shirl34

    As I said to Sharon, Im very loathe to admit that the decision for my first AP’s not to adopt my daughter must have been very hard for them. I only know it was because of the medical problems and they must have had their reasons. To prepare for her arrival, see her in hospital, hold, kiss and cuddle her and then leave her behind must have been hard. Well..i like to think that it was. I have no idea if they ever regretted the decision but did hear months later when I went to meet my new parents, that they had left the Princess Alice and adopted privately.

    I guess the reason for my email to Sharon was to ask if AP’s have a right to be ‘picky and choosey’ when adopting?? And Im not talking about race/rape/hiv etc etc, Im talking about when the baby is born with unexpected illness. Natural mothers cannot give their children for adoption if they are ill when born,and absolutely no offence intended…but I dont find it reasonable that AP’s actually have that choice.

    My daughter has grown up to be wonderfully healthy in every way, even thou’ she only has one kidney. She plays sports at provincial level, dances and does all the other things normal teenagers do!

    To this very day, I find it hard to swallow that my first parents rejected my child just because they would have had to take her to hospital a few times a year to make sure her remaining kidney was functioning as it should. I just find it very hard to believe!

    July 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      100% agree with you Shirls! As I said in a mail to you earlier this week, if Ava had come out and something had been wrong with her, never mind my responsibility to her, I could NEVER have abandoned her BM who gave us such a beautiful gift.
      And while I agree with you that AP’s should not be allowed to abscond on that, and I think all of us here agree that we simply wouldn’t do that, you wouldn’t really want someone raising your child who wasn’t 100% committed to your child and their needs.
      Its SUCH a difficult topic. And I think MayflowerLadyBudg hit the nail on the head when she said her husband always tells her that some people are just “crap”. I guess that sums it up, as trivial as that may sound.
      But seriously, I wonder how on earth did they live with themselves after make that choice? My conscience would have killed me, I would have felt so guilty, not just for rejecting something beautiful that another human being gave me but also for rejecting an innocent baby that had no say or choice in any of this!

      July 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm
      • Reply shirl34

        No, absolutely…Since meeting her, I have repeatedly thanked my lucky stars that she did end up with the parents she did. They are wonderful people. And as I told Claire when we discussed this, the first parents were simply not worthy of her. End of story.

        I also just want to highlight from a BM perspective the difficulty in going through the process..when you are handed a bunch of files of AP’s and having to choose. You know they are all desperate for a baby…and you hold one of those couples future literally in the palm of your hand, as well as your babies destiny.I asked myself in those following days how I could have been so wrong in my choice? There was absolutely no inkling when we met of the ultimate betrayal that was going to follow! I like to believe thou’, that mine was an isolated case and not the norm!

        July 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm
  • Reply pandoragelb

    I remember answering those questions, it was hard! You don’t want to be choosy. If you give birth, you only have a choice in the question of genes, and who would abandon a sick baby? Our baby was 2 months old and healthy, but had she been ill, it would have been too late anyway, we were in love with her after 5 minutes! I could not have left her behind, no matter what.
    I often wonder how hard the choice is for BM’s, to decide in a short time the entire life and future of your child! And I have to agree, you wouldn’t want someone who was not 100% committed to your baby, so rather someone like that walks away. I’m so glad it worked out for the best, Shirls.

    July 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm
  • Reply Mash

    Some people are just crap, it’s true! I heard a story of a wealthy Sandton couple who gave birth to a Downs Syndrome baby. It totally didn’t fit in with their life plans, so they LEFT HER AT THE HOSPITAL!!!!! And no doubt went home to conceive a new child. Like returning faulty goods to a shop. Or what about that woman in France who had two children, and from then on just smothered the next 8 children she gave birth to!

    Shirley, I’m a huge believer in fate. I think that if you hadn’t chosen those “wrong” AP’s, the space wouldn’t have been created for the perfectly “right” AP’s to enter her life, even though it must have been a terrible experience.

    It’s like some of us have to be infertile for the child that was destined to be ours, to come to us through adoption.

    My grandfather was born with only one kidney and they only discovered it when he was in his eighties!

    July 30, 2010 at 9:48 am
  • Reply orbit365

    That must have been very traumatic for the BM to hear that her baby had essentially been rejected. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been for her. Some people are just crap. Of that, there is no doubt.xx

    Julia

    July 31, 2010 at 10:03 am
  • Reply hcouperus

    Thanks Shirl and Sharon for sharing your stories. Having never had to think about any of these issue, thank you so much for giving us your story! I admire you both! I agree with the rest of the comments, some people DO NOT deserve children (NOR a lot of other things either for that matter!!!)

    July 31, 2010 at 11:22 am
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