Fear surrounds us, especially now... but what arouses fear in the word adoption? In the process of adoption or the act of choosing adoption for a baby yet to hear your voice or open their eyes, what scares you?
Spinning on the wicked we've seen in the world with our own eyes and sometimes have touched with our own hands, our imaginations go wild. What if I pick the wrong family? What if my child doesn't know the authenticity of my choice for adoption? What if things were different with the birth father? What if the grief cripples me? What if I regret it?"
What if's" can drown you and will certainly try their hand in the matter, but empowering yourself can prepare you for the "what if" battle. Empower yourself with knowledge; knowledge of your choices from reputable sources, knowledge of resources available, knowledge of your deep desires (write them down), and knowledge of the strength in your support group. And sometimes, strength in acknowledging that some of your supporters have their own agenda. That's when you pull out your perfectly doodled dreams for you. There are counselors available to brainstorm with you the possible plans for you and your baby so you can gain additional emotional knowledge.
At the end of the day (and probably the next day), "what if's" and fear will try to daunt you, but there is beauty beyond it; that is where faith steps in. This incredible birth mother, E. Marie took the plunge into adoption and was met with some of her greatest fears.
BEING THE BIRTH MOM OF AN ADOPTED CHILD
My story is a little different, but it may not be as different than I think. This is my story of how my first-born son was adopted and the effects it has had on me.
I gave birth to my first child on 11/17/2010 and his name was Gabriel Donovan. I was 17 years old at the time. My son was conceived under unfortunate circumstances (I will probably open up about how he as conceived at a later time). I fell in love with Gabriel instantly, I knew I had never known love before until I held that little boy in my arms. He was P.E.R.F.E.C.T. and I created him. I took to motherhood as if it was my calling. I was mama bear and would protect my child at all costs. This is where everything changed, the day I had to choose my child’s protection over my home.
Things at home were a little rocky at the time. My mother was an alcoholic. I am proud to say she is sober now, but back then it was not a safe environment for me to raise my son. I moved in with old family friends of my family. The couple had known my mom and my family for years, my mom and the woman I lived with grew up together and were best friends. But life happens and sometimes we have to remove people out of our lives for the better. The only issue with this was that it was my mom that the woman I lived with was erasing from her life. Not only did she erase her from her own life, but from mine as well. I was upset with my mom for many reasons so I didn’t want to see her, or talk to her at the time. I needed some time and space, but… it escalated. Eventually the couple (we will call them Bob and Sara to protect their identities) told my family I wanted nothing to do with them at all, indefinitely. Then, they told me that my family wanted nothing to do with me because I moved out. Not just my mom, but my brothers, aunts, cousins, they cut everyone out of their life and mine. I had no phone and by the time they got me one, I was convinced that no one cared about me anymore. I was lost, depressed, and confused. All I knew was that they were my family at that point and that is all that mattered. They got me on my feet, got me back in school, and helped me figure out what I wanted in life. I wanted to make my Grandfather proud because that was my father figure growing up. I decided I wanted to go to the Air Force to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps. I knew I could make a good life for me and my son.
As time went on Bob and Sara started putting things in my head. They would constantly tell me that “young mothers don’t get very far in life“, “life is 10x harder for single young mothers“, “maybe there’s another family that can take better care of him so you can follow your dreams“, etc.. For a few days in a row they would make remarks such as “have you though about what we said?, have you thought about adoption?” and being young, naive, and having a history of depression, after hearing it so much I started to really think “what if they are right?” I thought, “maybe he is better off with someone else“, “maybe I’m not good enough“, “he deserves a better life“, “what am I thinking?” They were pretty much all I had and all I felt I could trust. The only people I felt would be able to provide my son a good life would be them if I decided to let anyone adopt him, as I was not open to letting a stranger adopt my child. I figured they wouldn’t say anything if they didn’t mean well so they have to be just looking out for me, I told them about what I thought about adoption and them being my only choice and from that day my life changed forever.
They started the adoption process and it was happening whether I was fully ready or comprehended what I was getting myself into.
Being alone and without family started to take a toll on me. I started getting really depressed. “Why didn’t my family want me? Why haven’t they tried to get me back? Do they really not care?” I was more depressed than I had ever been. Everything I had been through up until that point in my life hit me like a brick wall swinging back and forth, plundering into my face over and over. I was suicidal, I was on the verge of self-harm, I called the suicide hotline a few times and hung up, but every time I found myself falling all I could do was think about Gabriel.. This is when I really felt guilty. He was all I had, but now he won’t be mine so it was like I had nothing to live for, I could change my mind but what if they kick me out? where would I go? where would we live? what would I do? I still couldn’t bare the thought of not being in his life at all had I decided to take my life but I just couldn’t take it anymore I was so lost, broken, my heart felt empty every day and it was my own fault. How could I ever fall into that idea of adoption, but there’s no turning back. A word is a promise and they were my only family, I couldn’t lose the only family I had. So, I felt like I couldn’t take back what I said. I felt like because I had told them I’ be willing to allow them to adopt him that was it and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
FYI: IF YOU KNEW ME GROWING UP, YOU KNOW I’M A PUSH OVER, I’M NAIVE, I TRUST TOO EASILY, I CAN’T SAY NO, AND I WAS TOO SCARED TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF IN ANY SITUATION. THIS WAS A BIG CAUSE FOR ALL THE ABUSE I DEALT WITH IN LIFE. I had no guidance in this adoption, I was completely alone. I turned 18 and things started going fast. I think everyone assumed because I was now 18 years old that I’m adult enough to make my own decisions. But, I wasn’t, actually far from “adult enough” due to my past. I needed guidance and the only guidance I had was leading me into a huge life decision with a blindfold and a pen to sign whatever was put in front of me. I didn’t understand half of the paperwork and the only assistance I had was from the lady explaining the papers to me and having me sign. I am not good with face-to-face confrontation, I am not very social and I am no good when it comes to strangers and people I don’t know on a personal basis. I was intimidated, anxious, scared and she wasn’t very friendly, she treated me as a child and told me what a great thing I was doing. This didn’t make me feel better, only worse, but also made me doubt myself that much more as a mother.
There was one night me and their son “Henry” – that’s what we will call him.. snuck out and went to a club. We ran into my cousin! She told me everyone was worried about me, my mom was a mess, my brothers were asking about me and I had no idea what to think. I thought my family wanted nothing to do with me, all the while they are constantly crying and wishing I’d come home. I was so confused. How could the only people I had in my life, the only people I trust, lie to me like that? I didn’t know how to feel. They gave me a great life. They pushed me to be the best version of myself. They clothed me, and showered me with feelings of a functional family.. I had no idea who to believe, what to believe.
It got pretty ugly when I confronted them about it and that was the first time I ever had an anxiety attack. I couldn’t breathe, my head was pounding, my heart racing, my palms sweaty, I was nauseous, I was lightheaded, I couldn’t speak, I almost felt as though I was going to pass out and started hitting the cupboards because I couldn’t let air out of my lungs! After that I just wanted to leave and go back home to my family, but we were already too far into the adoption and Sara was too attached and she was not going to let me walk out of the house with Gabriel. I had no idea what to do. I was in a mess that I made unintentionally, under pressure, and not in a clear head space, and I had no idea how to fix it. I just wanted to run away. I told them if I couldn’t take him to let me just hurry up and sign the papers so I can leave because I couldn’t take it anymore. My heart was torn apart. Some may think I was a horrible person for doing this.. I should have fought harder for Gabriel, I should have tried harder, I could have stayed to just be with him, but staying there was not good for me mentally and I was still a child, eighteen but a child nonetheless. I knew they were amazing people, aside from the situation between them and myself, and they are great parents which I knew because I grew up with them and their son and watched them raise him. They always had the best interest in mind when it came to parenting, I was just a different story. Upon signing the papers we came to an agreement, I would still remain family, I would receive pictures and updates about Gabriel once or twice per year, and I would still be welcome for holidays as family. With these conditions we agreed on a closed adoption out of respect for Bob and Sara. I felt as though signing it as a closed adoption would show my respect for them as Gabriel’s new parents and allow us to have a good relationship without them worrying I would try and pull anything after everything we had already been through. This is where I made a huge mistake…
Once the papers were finalized, I moved out and moved in with my friend. I got back in contact with my mom and family and things got kind of ugly. I tried contacting Bob and Sara to get pictures and to know how Gabriel was doing without me there. They shut me out instantly. They told me it would be best if w did not communicate for a while as they all needed to adjust to their new lives. I understood but it only got worse.
I made mistakes and eventually those mistakes led me to stew in my sorrows of losing my son. It was hard because it was my decision but it wasn’t my decision. I signed the papers but mentally I was not stable enough to sign those papers and should not have done so without more guidance and therapy to ensure I was mentally stable for making such a decision. I was naive and immature, I was easily manipulated and Bob and Sara knew that or at least they should have, seeing as they have known me my entire life and knew what I had gone through growing up and the effects it had on me. I can’t win. I am either the bad mom who gave up her son or I’m a victim. That part of my life is blurry these days because I want to forget, I want to be angry, but I still want to respect them and love them for all they did for me, but I resent them for turning their backs on me, but, but, but…. I have no idea how to feel. I feel like I have no right to feel any certain way.. I’m heartbroken and my only hope is that one day Gabriel will come find me and allow me in his life on his terms and I hope Bob, Sara and I can be civil. I don’t want to hate them just as I don’t want them to hate me, I don’t want to talk badly of them and hope they won’t speak ill of me, they are my first born child’s parents and I am ok with that, I respect that. I just wish I knew what he looked like, I wish I knew how he does in school, what his best subjects are, what are his favorite games or colors. That is all I have ever wanted. But I guess I will have to wait until the day he is able to tell me on his own and hopefully his parents will give their blessing to allow us to have a relationship. I don’t wish to take him away from them, not anymore, I know they will raise him to be a great man. I am broken in all honesty, I am filled with sorrow year after year not knowing what he looks like anymore. His name was changed during the adoption so now “Gabriel Donovan Cerda” seems like a memory, a dream, a brief acquaintance from my past and it breaks my heart. I don’t know who this boy is. I know who Gabriel was but he is no longer Gabriel and no longer a baby. He’s a 9 year old boy who goes by something else now. I’m a stranger to this life that I brought into the world.. and it hurts. It helps that I have an amazing support system. I have family and friends (aka more family) and an amazing husband who all know how to help me stay out of a funk and help me not get consumed by depression, and when I need to cry, they let me and sit by my side while I ugly cry while hunched in a ball. I am grateful for my support team.
Being the birth mom of an adopted child is hard. I don’t regret it because I know he is probably living his best life, super healthy and happier than he could ever be. But, I do miss him, it still kills me, and I have to deal with the choice I made EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! I imagine what he looks like, I have dreams about him when he was a baby and have even had dreams about running into him as a young adult and it’s hard to wake up from those dreams. I lay in bed with my eyes closed for hours, sometimes even the whole day when I have those dreams because I miss him so much and just wish I could know what a handsome and wonderful boy he is growing into.
This is my life… some know part of the story, others none of it at all, and some have made up stories about what happened.. Here is the truth. My truth about how I became the birth mom of an adopted child… Your name sounds like a memory Of someone I used to know But you’re not that person anymore You go by something different these days And I have no idea who you are I wish I still knew you
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The bravery that E. Marie exudes in this article is inspirational not just in terms of adoption, but in the times of international disaster, stress, and uncertainty. Her optimism and invincible ability to cope are what deems birth mothers to be birth warriors. Adoption is beautiful, but is certainly not for the faint at heart. Any expectant mom considering adoption is brave and definitely deserves to know it is not all rainbows and lollipops.
Not all adoption agencies are created equal nor are the families affiliated with them. If you have any questions about the adoption process, post-placement contact, and grieving support, contact Special Delivery Adoption Agency at 806-367-6755.
"Courage is knowing not what to fear" -Plato