Friday, April 30, 2010

Adoption...not an easy gift to unwrap

Last night my friend Jeri (who adopted her daughter 4 days before Samuel was born and was the vessel through which we were led to meet our birth mom) and I sat down with a mutual friend who is waiting for her baby girl to be born via a 21-year-old birth mom on May 10.

We chatted for a couple hours about adoption: attorneys, home studies, fees, paperwork, talking with your child, legal aspects, the birth, showers, etc.

One thing became very clear in our conversation: when you are waiting for your child to be born through another woman's womb, adoptive parents have absolutely no control.

And that's simply unfair.

Adoptive parents don't have the slightest say in anything related to the baby's birth unless the birth mom is OK with that: keep the baby in the room, take the baby out of the room, be at the hospital, don't be at the hospital, discharge, don't discharge.

I am not saying that this is wrong. It's just...unfair.

Someone else calls all the shots that surround the birth of your child.

Now, to be clear, this was not the case for Ryan and I. Samuel had already been born when we met Samantha, so we didn't have to experience this lack of control. In fact, Samantha left all decision up to us immediately and we are so thankful for that. I recognize that our situation is rather unique in many ways.

But for many birth parents, the lack of control is frustrating to say the least.

On top of a lack of control, it can be very intrusive to go through the Home Study process. Adoptive parents are questioned about everything: health history, home life, childhood, marriage, employment. Very personal questions are asked about each parent. It is absolutely mentally draining to fill out all the paperwork and meet with a social worker for hours.

Let me say that IT IS WORTH IT. No question it's worth it. I would do it every year if I had to in order to have the gift of Samuel.

But just because it's worth it, doesn't make it easy. You've struggled with trying to conceive for years and when the opportunity arises to become parents, those in the adoption process often feel as though they have to prove why they are worthy of this new role.

I sound like I'm complaining. I don't mean to. And I certainly don't mean to talk anyone out of adopting who is considering this option for their family.

I'm just trying to voice frustration, communicate truth and educate clearly about the adoption process.

I do not know what it is like to conceive a baby and then choose to give that baby to another family to raise and love. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for birth moms who choose that route for their child.

Adoption is a gift beyond gifts. I thank the Lord for it daily.

But it's not an easy gift to unwrap. It is a gift that needs to be wrapped with patience, understanding, and acceptance.


fromica said...

Hey Stacy,
I am a friend of Scott and Megan's and I have been following your blog for a while. My husband and I are expecting our 3rd little girl in just two months and hope to adopt after this baby. We are looking through Bethany right now. I was wondering who you went through and also about the financial end of things...were you able to find any grants or help with the cost of adopting?
Your blogs on adopting continue to clarify that my husband and I are supposed to adopt and I really look forward to taking a little one into our home.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

Definately worth it. In every way. I think this post is very heartfelt and honest.

Sometimes, though, all the trying to prove you are worthy of being a good parent doesn't go according to plan. I've never known greater heartache in my life. Being told by total strangers that my husband and I are unfit parents? Worse than years of infertility :( At least I could say my infertility has a (or several) purpose/s.

With the prospect of foster care on the horizon, I often think about the similarity and the differences between the two. I believe FC is going to be an even greater challenge in the long run, but I'm sure will be absolutely worth it, as well, in the end.

Macie said...

Wow, just wow. I understand that you are trying to show all of the emotions involved in the adoption process but this post sort of hit me wrong. I have several very close family members (immediate family close) and friends who have been on both sides of the adoption situation and I also have dealt with infertility though I did end up conceiving my children. Just giving background so you know I have actually thought about this a bit though not obviously to the degree of someone going through it.

I guess my response is that we really have less control than we think about most things surrounding birth in general, even if we are the one actually giving birth. (i say this as as person who did tons of research, planning, etc into childbirth and still was blown away by how out of control so much of the experience can be)It makes sense
then that in an adoption process this feeling of lack of control is magnified. It has to be uncomfortable to say the

I guess i am taken aback because it sounds like people want control over things that they really shouldn't and can't have any control over. Is it horrible to not have control over the first moments of your child's life-yes, obviously but the reality is that's the situation we all are in if we have a child, it just is clearer with an adoption process.

Ugh, I will ponder this but my instant visceral response is so strong I felt compelled to comment. I stood with my friend as she handed her newborn baby over to his
adoptive mother. It was profound,it was moving but it has never been clearer to me that while the adoptive mother gained a child my friend in a very real way lost one. I know the loss of miscarriage, I don't have any idea what it is like having a child being raised by another and having literally no say in the rest of his entire childhood. In some ways I think that the miscarriage is easier to deal with because I never go to bed at night wondering how my little one is doing in God's care.

Sorry to be emotional, I respect your honesty and openness in your blog post. I just had a different response, I hope that doesn't offend you.

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

So true! I am really feeling these emotions right now as we sit for a birthmother to decide between us and another couple. Gods will be done!

Stacy said...

Thank you for your comment! I was laying in bed last night thinking "I can't believe no one has disagreed with anything I wrote in my post today (or any post I've written for that matter)." Someone out there has got to have an opinion on this and someone has got to have a differing viewpoint - so thank you for sharing.

And yes I agree that in giving birth many things are out of our control - they are in the Lord's hands only.

We do not have control over when the baby comes, how long labor is, the health of the child, etc. But what my friend is struggling with is that she was told by the social worker that the birth mom does not want her to have anyone at the hospital except for her and her husband. No parents, siblings, friends. No one to offer them support or celebrate when the baby is born. And that's the 'control' aspect that seems so unfair.

But she'll deal with it and move on.

Maybe more than the birth mom calling the shots, this aspect of adoption is what seems to feel particularly unfair to adoptive parents: "You've struggled with trying to conceive for years and when the opportunity arises to become parents, those in the adoption process often feel as though they have to prove why they are worthy of this new role."

Macie you are so correct in that from the birth mom's perspective, she also loses control. When she signs those papers she has no control over that child's future. Thank you for pointing that out.

These are good things to ponder and discuss so I appreciate feedback and comments that help me to process and continue to learn.

- Stacy

jayfersgirl said...

I think this post is great...of course as a mom who has given birth, I knew I had no control over what my labor would be like, for instance.
But I did have control over what I put into my body during pregnancy, how I took care of myself, whether I took drugs in labor (I didn't), the fact that I wanted my baby in my room with me at all times, the fact that I wanted her on my chest immediately and weighing her could come later, the fact that I would breastfeed and she would never have formula, the fact that she wouldn't have a paci until breastfeeding was established, etc.
There is a LOT that you get to control when you give birth to a baby, and it would be SO difficult to not have control over those things.
So I really understood this post, even though I've never adopted a baby and it made me realize the loss that is present even in adopting a baby...because you are gaining a baby, but you are missing out on some things as well.
Thank you for this.

macie said...

I have been thinking about this post and really really love your latest post on thinking/praying for birth mothers in the hospital and while they deal with postpartum changes etc. I think the insight in that post was really helpful in clarifying the situation and it would be great to link these two posts together.


I think you are correct when you talk about the things you did have control over but honestly I think much of that was a complete illusion. Of course we can decide what we put in our bodies while pregnant and that is huge, however we don't always know what things actual impact a fetus. (e.g. of the drugs taken in my mother's era that caused massive problems come to mind) While it is great that you didn't have pain meds, were able to bond, breastfeed etc that isn't always so "in our control." You didn't have control over situations that would have resulted in emergency c-sections, premature birth or any number of situations that can happen in birth/pregnancy. The thing is I fully support non-medicated childbirth, breastfeeding, immediate contact, low intervention and I did have a birth like that, I also had a miscarriage and a birth that did not go "as planned." It was the experiences that weren't according to plan that really opened my eyes to how little is always in our control. I believe in making good choices, becoming informed about birth etc. I think it helps but it doesn't actually give us control. If I had control my miscarriage wouldn't have happened, my body would have responded "properly" and I wouldn't have had an emergency C-section resulting in a premature birth, if I had control I would have had 3 unmedicated beautiful births but I didn't.

Of course we have more control when we are actually pregnant with a child that we are going to raise ourselves but...oops kid awake more later

macie said...

I guess what really struck me is that the adoptive mother wanted people in the hospital to celebrate at the exact moment the birth mother may not have felt like it was a celebration. There is a reason that many birth mothers don't stay in the maternity ward for their hospital stay, there is a reason why many check out of the hospital early, I remember my cousin crying as she was wheeled into the elevator after labor and the elevator was full of people bringing flowers and gifts all wrapped in pastel baby colors. It just seems petty to be irritable about not being able to have people there to celebrate, you have a lifetime, the birth mother may not have even been able to hold the baby. (as many don't because then they won't be able to let him/her go) I know that sounds harsh to an adoptive mother, and I'm sorry but I know for me dealing with fertility issues really brought out my petty/control freak/judgmental tendencies and it helped to have someone tell me to "grow up, it's not fair, life isn't fair, deal with it." I mean this nicely honestly I have a best friend who calls me on my pettiness but loves and understands where it comes from, that's why she is my best friend. ok now the kid is really awake! ;)

Alliyah's BM said...

As a Birth Mother I feel very upset at what you just wrote. You make all the decisions regarding the raising of the child we birth. We get no say in how our child is raised, what you choose to do with our child, or even how often we get to see our birth child. Yet you want to take away the few days we have with our child? Those few days we get to experience what you get for a life time. Please think of us. Our heart's are ripped from our bodies in giving you a child we cannot raise. Let us have our 2 or 3 days.

Julie said...

I just found your blog and love this post. We connected with our Isabella's birth mother when Isabella was 3 days old so we missed out on the hospital experience...dramatic or not. I sometimes get sad that I wasn't there for her birth, but realize that God spared me the emotional rollercoaster of being unable to control anything in the hospital anyway.
I look forward to reading more of you story!