It’s normal to have mixed feelings after placing your child for adoption. Many birth parents feel satisfaction knowing their child lives with parents who love and provide for them. They feel empowered as birth parents because their adoption decision helped provide their child with a good life.
Some birth parents find that the sense of loss is more profound than they expected. It’s totally normal to feel sad after the adoption is complete or to feel reassured and relieved. Having mixed emotions is very common, and your feelings might get complicated.
As you think about adoption for your baby, know that you’re not alone. Many women have been where you are right now, and today we’re sharing what birth mothers have said adoption was like for them.
It helps to see things from the perspective of a woman who has already chosen adoption. Hearing from her can help you know what to expect during the process. One of the best ways to learn about open adoption is to learn from women who have already chosen adoption for their children.
All names and identifying information have been removed for privacy reasons.
What’s It Like to Place Your Baby for Adoption?
“As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I couldn’t give my baby the kind of life that I wanted to. My boyfriend and I were going to college full-time, and I quickly realized we couldn’t become parents right then. How would we afford everything a baby needs when we were only working part-time at two work-study jobs?!
While it was challenging to choose adoption, it has honestly been the most rewarding experience of my life. I was able to continue with my college plans and goals while at the same time giving my son two loving parents who are financially stable and responsible. Adoption let me give my son the BEST life possible! “
“”When I got pregnant again, I couldn’t afford to be a mom to yet another child. I wanted this baby to have a good life with every opportunity she could get. So, I made an open adoption plan because I needed to know what was going on in my baby’s life and how she was doing. I love that I can keep in contact with my daughter throughout her life! I feel secure knowing that she’s being well taken care of.”
“I knew I wanted to have visits…The adoptive couple knew that they would raise their daughter to know that she was adopted and to know the blessing of adoption. It’s great for a child to know! I didn’t want there to be any awkwardness as she got older and was asking ‘where’s my birth mom?’ She’s growing up knowing who I am, so she won’t have those questions.”
“My Adoption Coordinator and I talked about adoption and what I wanted. I still wanted to be in my child’s life if possible. She said that what I was asking for was very much possible and that I could be picky about who I would choose to raise my child. It was then that I decided to put my baby up for adoption. The adoptive mom was beside me and my best friend was on the other side during labor! I handed my firstborn and most precious gift to another woman, trusting that she would care for and love her unconditionally, and she doesn’t take that for granted.
The night I signed off my parental rights was very emotional. I held my daughter the entire time and told her how much I loved her. I told her I was doing what was best for her and that one day she would understand. When I got to the last paper, I stopped and stared at my baby to make sure this was what really needed to be done. I went back and forth in my head for what seemed like forever, but it was just a few minutes. I signed. I was mad at myself for not being able to take care of my child. If I’m honest, I was mad at God, too, for giving me such a perfect gift just for it to be taken away.
I chose adoption for my baby because she deserved everything, and I wanted her to have the best life possible. I made that decision because I trust the adoptive couple I chose to be the parents my daughter needed them to be.”
“I was 22, living at home with my mom and my 2-year-old daughter, when I found out I was pregnant again. Once he found out I was pregnant, my boyfriend disappeared. I knew I didn’t want to get an abortion, and I couldn’t handle parenting another kid, so I called an adoption place. Since I was confident that adoption was the right choice for my situation, I focused my time and energy on my daughter and work.
I was able to narrow down the adoptive families for my baby to my top 3. I spoke with each of them on the phone and then decided on the adoptive couple that I felt a connection with. I kept working during my pregnancy, delivered, and after healing, went back to work and night school. I got help paying for school through a scholarship created especially for birth moms!
Today, I get updates on my son through photos and videos the adoptive family posts on Facebook. We also meet up in person once a year. Adoption was the best thing I could’ve done for my baby and my daughter.
When my son was born, I just looked at him. I studied his fingers and toes and kissed the top of his head. I told him how much I loved him and how wonderful his life would be with two people that loved him as much as I did. I knew I’d done the right thing. The adoptive parents came in and carried him home as we’d planned, and I cried, but I never doubted that what I did wasn’t the best for him, for me, and for my daughter. I thought a lot about my adoption decision and planned it out a lot, so I know the choice I made was the right one. I don’t have any regrets.”
“I was so upset when I found out I was pregnant! I had no job, and my life was a mess! How did I get pregnant? From a one-night stand with some guy I met at a party. When I saw the positive pregnancy test, my first reaction was doubt, then fear. I made an appointment to get an abortion, but at the last minute, I changed my mind. So, I started looking into adoption and creating an adoption plan.
I looked at adoptive family websites and talked to a few couples. I was able to meet the family I liked the best in person. I really felt for them in their struggles to have a baby, and I decided they were the ones who should raise my baby.
We talked every week and ended up becoming very close. They traveled to my hometown when my labor started and stayed until I left the hospital a few days later. Seeing the joy on their faces at becoming parents made me so happy! We still keep in touch, and they send me updates on my daughter. I like that I can always know how my daughter is doing and that she’s in good hands. Now I feel like I can go on and make a better life for myself. It was a tough choice, but I know I did the right thing.”
Getting the Support You Need
Talking with a licensed counselor with adoption experience can provide support and help you work through your emotions. Another way to get the support you need is by talking with others who’ve been through adoption.
We encourage such counseling both during and after the adoption process. At no cost to you, we will connect you with a licensed, third-party therapist. By “third-party,” we mean that this counselor has no personal interest in whether or not you follow through with adoption. She is there to help you sort through the range of emotions you might be dealing with.
Peer support is also available to you for free. In a peer support session, you’ll chat with another woman who chose adoption. She can tell you what to expect as you get closer to your baby’s birth because she’s been where you are. You can learn more about Lifetime’s Peer Support Program and meet the birth mothers here.
Lifetime Adoption is here to give you all the information you need about adoption so that you can make an informed decision about your pregnancy. We want you to know that you have choices and rights with open adoption.
Whether you choose adoption or not, it’s important to find those who will support you during and after your pregnancy and adoption planning.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 28, 2017, and has since been updated.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.