Birth Mother Series: Gina’s Story

Over the years, we have worked with hundreds of birth mothers. Each have their own story and experiences that led to them making an adoption plan. Many have felt isolated and alone not knowing anyone else who has placed a child for adoption. Unfortunately, many birth parents have felt pushed to keep their adoptions secret because of the idea that it is disgraceful or selfish. As adoption professionals, we know that the choice to place a child for adoption is not shameful. Birth parents show incredible strength and love for their child when making an adoption plan.

Still the fact remains that so many birth parents feel alone in this process. To help build community and connection, we are sharing the experiences of real birth parents and their feelings about adoption. This is Gina’s story.

Gina’s First Journal Entry: November, 2013

I had an ultrasound two days ago and confirmed that this baby is a boy. Early the next morning, as I lie awake, I also confirmed what I’ve been denying for so long: I cannot raise this child. Even now, I hesitate to write that because it makes it real, brings the truth to life. But the truth is inevitable: I cannot give this child the life he deserves.

I dealt with this once at the beginning of my pregnancy. I dismissed it, along with the idea of adoption, even after I involved an adoption agency and a couple hoping to adopt. I felt pretty bad.

I want more than anything else to raise this baby, but it’s not about what I want; it’s about what’s best for the baby. No matter what, he will always be my son, and my oldest son will always be his brother, but I have decided to place him for adoption. It will give him the best chance to be happy, healthy, and successful.

Gina’s Second Journal Entry: January, 2014

In less than a month, I’ll be giving birth to two separate entities: a beautiful baby boy and my ugly, selfish desires.

As the beginning of the year starts and the end of my pregnancy approaches, I look back and reflect on all the brokenness, anger, and sadness I experienced in the past year and I can’t be anything but grateful for it because along with all that came growth, maturation, wisdom, peace, and love. All of that far outweighs all the pain I went through because when I decided to look at things from a different perspective, I realized that I wasn’t really losing anything. In fact, as I write this, I wonder what I’ve done to acquire so much. I feel so blessed and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead!

I never dreamt that the couple adopting this baby would become part of my family, but they have. I strongly believe we have taken the openness of adoption to a whole new level and I am proud of that. I consider them two of my most cherished friends and hold them close to my heart. We communicate almost daily and when we talk on the phone, it’s for hours at a time. Our relationship is one that is built on 100% trust and communication. They have given me hope and knocked down walls in me that I didn’t even know existed.

The adoptive couple thank me all the time for giving them the “opportunity” to be parents. The reason I put the word “opportunity” in quotes is because I don’t feel that it is an opportunity; I feel that this is their destiny. I haven’t really given them much of anything. I’m just a catalyst in a plan that is far bigger than all of us. I believe the Lord knew before I even became pregnant that this child belonged to them, and nothing, not even me trying to change my mind, would prevent that from happening. So, I don’t really feel I made a decision to place the baby for adoption; I simply came to the realization that these amazing people were the parents of this amazing child.

At about 37 weeks, I have three more weeks to go. That’s 21 days, give-or-take, and that just blows my mind! It’s starting to feel surreal and surprisingly exciting. If anything, I should be thanking the adoptive parents, along with my adoption counselor, Mary. I’m not the same person I was about eight months ago. I was selfish, closed-minded, and stubborn. I had no goals in life, no direction, no purpose. Meeting these three people has changed my life drastically. I have discovered my life’s purpose of helping others and after giving birth, I plan on taking steps to achieve my long-term goal of obtaining my Master’s degree in Social Work. Who knows where that will take me?!

So, my advice for anyone contemplating placing a child for adoption? Take the time to really listen to what everything inside of you says. Collaborate on both your heart and your mind, but don’t listen to what anyone else says. It’s not a decision you can afford to regret, and if you take the time to really listen to what’s inside of you while keeping in mind what’s best for the child, you won’t.

Gina’s 3rd Journal Entry: March, 2014

Has it been a week already? It feels like it was just yesterday that I gave birth, and at the same time, it feels like a lifetime has passed me by.

Now it finally comes crashing in, the imminent wave of grief that was looming over me in the final days of my pregnancy like a stalker keeping a watchful eye on his innocent prey. I knew it was inevitable, and I even confided in Max’s adoptive mother Tina shortly before giving birth to him, “I know I’m going to feel sad, but I don’t right now; I’m actually excited and happy for you and Markus.” And I meant every word. I was, however, a little ill-prepared for what was to come.

As I lay on the OR table and the C-section began, Tina sat next to me, held my hand, and we looked at each other. When the doctor told Markus to get the camera ready, Tina and I looked at each other as if to say “This is it!” I’m surprised I didn’t break her tiny hand when I squeezed it. When Max’s shrill cry suddenly filled the room, I began to sob as well, shaking violently, uncontrollably with emotion. I jokingly told Tina later that I did the “ugly cry.” Dr. Schwartz held him up for us to see and I was in absolute awe of my second son. Except, I knew he wasn’t really mine. He never was to begin with, and I knew that. That didn’t stop me from loving him any less and I tried not to think about it at the time.

I willed each day in the hospital not to pass with every fiber of my being. It was one less day I had to hold, cuddle, kiss, talk to, look at, and spend time with Max. It was one less day with my son’s adoptive parents, one less day with my new family. I would’ve gladly stopped taking my pain meds, worn the thin and scratchy hospital gowns, and slept in that uncomfortable hospital bed for an entire year just to have one more day with them. One.

The day came when I had to let go, legally speaking. My adoption counselor Mary came in and, after an exchange of warm greetings, sat in front of me and pulled out a small stack of papers. Compared to the insurmountable joy and grief it simultaneously represented, on the surface, this was all just legal mumbo jumbo. We went over it page by page, until we came across the one that, once signed, would legally make that innocent angel Markus and Tina’s child. Not mine.

Tears began to fill my eyes and stream steadily down my face. Mary stopped mid-way through the page. “Do you want me to sit next to you?” she asked me softly, my pain becoming hers. We’d been on this journey together and now was not the time to turn down her help. I shook my head up and down vigorously as I couldn’t speak because now, my chest was heaving and I was hyperventilating. I gasped for air as I grabbed her leg to steady myself. I blinked away my tears and forced myself to slow my breathing long enough to sign the paper. I then turned my head, closed my eyes, and pushed the paper toward Mary before I gave myself the opportunity to be selfish and take control of a situation I had no business taking control of. This was all in God’s hands.

This is a pain I’ve never felt before. It is literally very fresh. It is foreign. It is scary. It is not like the death of a loved one. I’ve lost many loved ones to death in the 27 years I’ve been alive, and I’m familiar with that pain. I know that you have to let go completely and when you find acceptance in your loved one’s death, you find peace. Adoption is different than death. You don’t completely hold on, but you don’t completely let go. You have to find a balance, and that, I’ve realized, might take a while.

I think this whole thing is about balance. Not grieving too much but recognizing my pain and giving it a voice. Allowing myself to think about it, but not letting it consume me. Working hard to achieve my goals, but having a little fun sometimes, too. Finding this balance is taking care of myself. I know it won’t always hurt this badly, and as I’ve learned, all pain in life has a purpose. This pain will ultimately help me help others.

Gina’s 4th Journal Entry: June, 2014

I am a birth mother.

One hundred days ago today, I placed my younger son, Max, for adoption. Today, I am setting the record straight.

I did not “give up” or “give away” my baby. I didn’t give up on anything, nor did I donate him like a hand-me-down article of clothing. He is a human being. The correct term to use is “place for adoption;” it may seem like it doesn’t matter, and had I never experienced the situation, I wouldn’t have known better either. Words are very powerful and can either be used to build up or break down, so use them wisely.

I placed my son for adoption not because I don’t love him, but because I do. So much in fact, that I listened when called to put his needs above my selfish desire to raise him. The majority of birthmothers do want to raise their children. The horror stories you hear about child abuse and neglect reflect the selfishness and carelessness of parents who should’ve considered adoption but didn’t.

For those who say or think that they could never place their child for adoption (sometimes in a condescending tone), you never realize your true strength until you’re put in a situation that requires more than you think you can give. Placing my son for adoption has changed who I am at the very core of my being, and for the better, but it wasn’t easy. Put simply, it took a lot of courage.

Max does not have “adoptive parents;” he has parents, and they became parents through adoption, just as I became a parent to my older son through pregnancy. When you call them “adoptive parents,” you make the way they became parents more important than the fact that they are; I had to learn this, too. They should be regarded and respected as parents like anyone else.

Although I do feel a loss, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would take away anything from this process. I have found a family in Max’s parents; I have never been more committed to, vulnerable, or honest with anyone in my life except these people. They are two of my best friends. This journey is not one riddled with baggage or shame; rather, it is one filled with great joy and love! It has given me hope for my future and I am taking steps to better myself as a person. I have learned that all pain in life has its purpose, and there is freedom and joy in discovering that purpose.

Life is also about perspective; if we think our life is horrible, it usually is. We can’t go wrong by recognizing and embracing our humanity and our ability to withstand turmoil. It is a sign that a change needs to occur, and our ability to make a change is what makes us strong.

To this day, I have yet to feel regret, and I know that if I ever do, it will come from a selfish place, a desire to raise my son. However, even if I could “change my mind,” I would never even think to do so, because I know with all of my heart, mind, body, and soul that he is where he belongs. Nothing makes me happier than knowing everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to.

Feel free to ask me questions. If you want to judge me harshly, feel free to do that, too; I’m pretty sure I can handle it.

I am a birth mother.