I’ve received a lot of good advice over the years but one piece I often think about in terms of having placed my daughter for adoption ten years ago next month.
And that is: “Go With Your Gut.”
Recently I was contacted by a woman struggling to make the same decision:
“Well, your story stuck with me. I apologize in advance if anything I say or ask is too personal. However the basics are: I’m 31, six months pregnant, and in the last month or so have really considered adoption for the baby. I have done a ton of research and reading (like you I have a journalism background) but as I found from the beginning of my pregnancy there is not a lot of information or stories about women who are older (as opposed to being 16 and in high school, 18 in college, etc.). Although I am 31, this is still a ‘crisis’ unplanned pregnancy and I just haven’t been able to find a lot of support or information on how to navigate it!
Well, from the beginning I thought I would raise the child and just ‘figure it out’. I did not make that decision lightly. I have had an abortion before and it was a very bad experience. I knew if I ever got pregnant again I would not go through with an abortion and I would carry the baby. Well, as soon as I told the father (I had been dating him for about half a year) he told me point blank he would not be involved and that was the last I heard from him. It is good riddance but it was a little hard. Obviously pregnancy is a big huge experience and emotional thing not to mention trying to figure out what is best for a child, and being left alone with your thoughts (in my case at least) is not always the best thing.
I basically took the attitude that my intelligence, willingness to work hard, resourcefulness, determination; etc. would see me through. I have read all the pregnancy/childbirth/newborn books, went to some classes, found a counseling center for single moms, researched all the legal steps regarding the father; etc. At the time I didn’t have health insurance and I even found a subsidized state program that would cover prenatal and delivery if I paid a portion. I work so I don’t qualify for Medi-Cal or state programs like food stamps. I started saving every penny I could and stocking up on baby basics, trying to make a plan for where to live; etc. I was doing okay. Then the sixth month or so kicked in and BAM! I think reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I started to think of the immediate concerns. Where am I going to live? Can I afford it? (right now I have a roommate), as well as the future concerns – there will be no father in her life, can I handle that? I don’t have a family support network – How am I going to compensate? I have had depression in the past, (went off the meds when I found out about being pregnant). Will this affect my ablities to parent and love the child?
So, as you know all of the what ifs and future worries; etc. all compounded and I found myself utterly stressed out and bewildered.
However, I know that you advise not to take other peoples’ opinions or desires into account. It is my decision. I have told my parents, sister (only family I have, my parents are divorced and I don’t have a good relationship with my mom), and close friends. I figured that I could build a support network and everyone so far has been supprtive and kind. My mom isn’t being supportive and advised adoption from the beginning (I think she would have suggested abortion if the timing was early enough). My sister thinks I can’t provide for the child financially or emotionally and that I am better off with adoption since it would provide a lot of things that I can’t and also free me up to take charge of my life and get into a better place, emotionally, financially; etc. I am a mature and smart person but a lot of these things are true. I can’t change some things that are definite concerns. Financially I work but just pay the bills and I have debts that I need to take care of, the father and father’s side of the family will never be involved and that is sad for a child to grow up without a family network, I do have depression (which has definitely bloomed again and caused me to feel disconnected, resentful and angry about this pregnancy), I have supportive friends but they are not going to babysit while I work or help me at 3 a.m. with a newborn; etc. etc.
So, anyway I am considering adoption.
I know it will be an experience that will change my life and I will mourn. But I want to go into it with the positive belief that this is doing a GOOD thing and providing a home and two parents and a stable family life for a child (which I would want to provide, but can’t). I think some of my friends are confused because they figure, ‘Wow, at 31 years old you should be old enough and responsible enough to parent your own child and even though it will be tough, you are old enough and mature enough to figure it out.’
But they aren’t in my shoes and honestly this is never the way I planned my life to go. I like kids and if I met a great man and decided to marry or partner with him and kids were part of that plan, that would be welcome. But I never wanted to be a single mom, never had my biological clock tick so much that I was interested in doing parenthood on my own; etc. And especially after going through six months of pregnancy and planning and worry, there is a lot that parenthood entails and I feel a deep sadness about not sharing it with someone, not having the stories and family history to pass on to the child, and that I would sort of be robbing her of the chance of a full and stable and abundant family life if I choose to single parent.
Also I share the same views as you. I do not qualify for government aid because I work, and if absolutely neccessary yes I would be okay with applying for services if I did qualify, but would not want it to be a long term thing. You don’t need to be a millionaire to have a child but they do cost money and depending on government aid or whatever is not a long term solution and plan for raising a child and his or her needs. Also I keep thinking, ‘Well, when my life gets tough or my car breaks down or I can’t afford a trip to the dentist or whatnot, I can handle it, I’m an adult and can roll with my life and sacrifice; etc.’ But to drag a child through that, the instability and uncertainty isn’t fair. I will have to work obviously, and have no family members that could babysit or help with child care. My dad and stepmom live across the country and have suggested I move closer to them (They live in a considerably cheaper area to live than where I am. They are in Orlando and I am in Los Angeles) so that they can help out and I will be at least near them. It isn’t a bad idea at all and I am grateful they have offered. However, it still puts the child in the situation of a struggling single mother trying to raise a child on her own with very limited resources financially, emotionally; etc.
Sure if someone wrote me a check for a million dollars tomorrow, that might solve some of my immediate issues. However, I can’t make up a father out of thin air (this guy is not going to ‘come around,’ believe me and he’s going to be extremely hard to pin down for child support). I can’t create a big family out of thin air (my family is very small, just sister dad/stepmom, and a somewhat estranged mom). I will have to work full time and putting a child in daycare while I work multiple jobs and never see her is not really being a great parent either.”
So, to this prospective birth mom, I said Kudos to you, whatever you decide.
As for me, going with my gut in my situation was the hardest and smartest thing I ever did.