“I could never give up a baby.”
While working as a birth parent caseworker, this was a sentiment that I heard constantly from those inquiring about my line of work. The individuals making these statements typically fell into three categories.
The first (and worst) were those uttering the phrase with hints of judgment. Their undertones clearly indicated that a mother who found herself contemplating adoption must have made drastically poor life decisions that the “average” woman would never encounter. While the women I worked with were anything but average, to the naked eye they were not dissimilar from anybody else.
There was not any one type of birthmother. I worked with ages ranging from teens to forties, single parents, couples, married couples, straight-A college students, career-driven women, healthy pregnancies, and devastating diagnoses…the diverse list could go on and on. The only similarity between every single one of these women was love and deep desire to ensure the absolute best future for their child.
The second (and largest) group made this statement with an air of incredulity, and perhaps ignorance. They were absolutely unable to fathom how a parent could make the decision to part from their child, some even arguing that it would be better for the parent and child to struggle together than flourish separately.
Let me assure you that the decision to place a child for adoption is not one that is made lightly. Regardless of the situation surrounding a pregnancy, making an adoption plan is never an easy thing. Being a parent means putting your child’s needs first, so imagine for a moment the heartbreaking reality of becoming a parent, and at the same time knowing that the best thing you can do to meet the needs of your child is place them with another family.
The third group is one who understands. Maybe adoption has touched their own lives in some way, or they’ve been able to witness the amazing and unique triad between birth parents, adoptive parents, and child. They are aware that nobody is “giving up,” and forgo using this kind of negative language. Instead, these individuals might comment on the emotional strain of creating an adoption plan.
Whatever group you may fall into, and whether or not I agree with your sentiment, I may agree with your statement as a whole. I had the privilege of working with so many amazing birth parents. These extraordinary women and couples put their own hearts aside to create the life they wish they could provide for their child, and give hope to couples who are longing to become parents.
After becoming a parent myself, I am that much more in awe of their truly selfless gift. Ultimately, if you think “I could never give up a baby/make an adoption plan,” you would probably be right. Placing a child takes an absolutely incredible amount of love, maturity and emotional strength that most people simply don’t possess.