“I Don’t Understand How Someone Could Give Up Her Baby!”
This is Part Ten of a series on Adoption called Everything I Want You to Know About Adoption. To see the links to each individual post in this series, click the “adoption” tab on the nav bar at the top of the blog, or click here.
I have fielded this particular question (which is really not a question at all, but more of an accusation and a judgment on the moral character of the birthmother) more times than I’d like, for sure. With one of our adoptions, I had a person in my life who said this to me repeatedly—no matter how I responded. It was emotionally exhausting, to say the least.
To be fair, most of the time when a person voices this question/concern/judgment, it comes from the heart of one who
a. Loves the adoptive couple and thinks they have their best interest in mind.
b. Has neither a heart for nor a biblical understanding of adoption—on any level.
c. Is simply trying to connect, converse or relate to the adoptive situation in some way.
So, keeping that in mind, I have thought it wise to believe the best about the person making the statement and respond in a loving manner. And yes, it is very difficult to respond in love when what I really want to do is slap someone.
Maybe it’s just me, but I have a really hard time responding in love sometimes.
And it just occurred to me that there is a good chance someone reading this today has made the exact same statement. And maybe this person is you. And maybe you think I want to slap you.
I choose to believe the best about you and respond in love.
Some Birthmothers HAVE Done Very Bad Things
But placing her baby for adoption is not one of them.
True. There are some birthmothers who, after they discovered they were pregnant, chose to abuse drugs or alcohol, continued to smoke cigarettes and eat junk, and refused to step foot in a doctor’s office for prenatal care. Worse yet, some birthmoms have abused or neglected their children. Some birthmothers are incarcerated and/or stripped of their parental rights because of this abuse or illegal behavior.
Yes. It is horrible. I hate it.
Some birthmothers have done very, very bad things.
I honestly don’t know what kind of person abuses and neglects children. A deeply flawed person, I suppose. A deeply flawed person in desperate need of God’s grace and salvation.
I, too, am deeply flawed—in different ways.
I, too, am in desperate need of God’s grace and salvation.
And so are you. And so are the people who ask this question.
So, the only thing I can do with these horrible-birthmom-scenarios is to extend grace. I must place that mom in the capable and loving arms of God. Only God knows how to handle every horrible situation.
But The Typical Birthmother is NOT Abusive and Neglectful
According to Glenda Carr, (the Christian adoption coordinator I used for Elijah’s adoption,) the typical birthmother she sees at Bundle of Hope looks more like this:
1. She is usually in her last trimester of pregnancy
2. She is typically in good health, but has had limited prenatal care
3. She does not drink alcohol, nor does she abuse illegal drugs
4. She tested negative for HIV
5. She is normally between the ages of 14–35 years
6. She is already parenting a child, normally a single parent
7. She has little or no financial support
8. She does not want foster care for her child
9. She does not want the state to help with her adoption plan and chooses a private adoption plan
10. She wants a Christian couple to instill moral values and Godly character to the child
11. She wants a happily married couple with a big extended family that is excited about the adoption and is supportive
12. She is very nervous about meeting with the adoptive family. She wants them not to think badly of her but to understand her situation.
Most birthmothers are not terrible people. At all. Most of them are not out to sell their babies or neglect their children or abuse illegal drugs.
Most birthmothers are scared. And embarrassed. Most of them realize they have made a terrible mistake in conceiving a child that they cannot take care of themselves.
Most birthmothers have no support from the birthfathers. Most birthmothers have very little support from their family and friends. In fact, most birthmothers receive significant pressure from their friends and family to simply abort the baby and “move on.”
In a culture and time where a woman can walk into Planned Parenthood pregnant and walk out not pregnant, I will tell you what I choose to call “the kind of person who gives up her baby.”
Strong. Brave. Extraordinary.
It is an extraordinary girl who chooses to accept the consequences of her decisions, even when it goes against every piece of advice she is getting.
It is an extraordinary girl who endures morning sickness, fatigue, weight gain, stretch marks, labor, delivery, recovery, leaking breasts and radical hormone fluctuations—all so her baby can have a better life with another family.
It’s an extraordinary girl who can wisely assess her situation and decide that she cannot provide a good life for her baby.
It is an extraordinary girl who can pore through information on adoptive couples and attempt to choose the best home for her little one.
It is an extraordinary girl who potentially faces every future birthday and holiday with a heavy heart—wondering if her baby is okay or if she made the right decision.
It is an extraordinary woman who overcomes unbelievable obstacles to make another couple’s dream come true.
Great great post. This is so very true.
Amen Sister! This is an awesome post and so very true!
Brings tears to my eyes. SO TRUE. My heart goes out to them. I work at a crisis pregnancy center & we just had a young girl this week who is choosing to place her baby for adoption. The very first thing she said was, " I just know everyone is going to think I'm a horrible person". My heart broke for her but rejoiced for that couple who might now have their prayers answered with a baby of their own. I shared that very thing with her. That her sacrifice was going to be the answer to someone else's prayers. And btw, she is a single mother who is jobless & has no way to care for this baby.
Being an adoptive parent and involved in the foster care system, I see more dysfunction than I ever thought existed. Many of these birth parents have made horrible and damaging decisions that resulted in the removal of their children. However, there are times when I can clearly see that they are doing the best they know how. Many times these birth parents are a product of the environment they grew up in. Many times they fight as hard as they can for their children. Many times they lose their parental rights because they are not able to pull it together. And, many times they are heartbroken when they have to sign their parental rights away because they are not able to care for their child. In my experience, I've learned that no matter what the circumstances are behind a child's adoption, you can pretty much guarantee that it is not easy for the birthparent to "give up their child". There is nothing "flip" about it.
"there are times when I can clearly see that they are doing the best they know how. Many times these birth parents are a product of the environment they grew up in. Many times they fight as hard as they can for their children. Many times they lose their parental rights because they are not able to pull it together."
Anonymous, this is the side some people never see or consider. Thank you for making this point.
"I just know everyone is going to think I'm a horrible person".
That breaks my heart.
I am adopted… My daughter is adopting three in South Africa.
As much as we might blame abandonment on a million different reasons, there is still God who moves in hearts to take up these children and offer their devoted love as if they had always been their own. It is a picture of God's amazing love for us, ransoming us and adopting us into His Royal family. When I look at the circumstances of my life that lead to adoption, I can only say that I thank God for ordering each of my days. Eucharisteo for the breath he gave me and each day I now have to bring honour to His precious name. Forever grateful that though one should cast me away, there is always One who holds me in the palm of His hand <3
So glad you have this blog… look forward to coming back again