Mandy* placed her son (Justin*) for adoption 11 years ago. She was 17 years old at the time of Justin’s birth and developed a strong relationship with Social Worker, Claire Schulz Bergman throughout the adoption process. Mandy has stayed in contact with Claire over the years for support, to check in about Justin and share interesting news about her life. She is currently parenting two beautiful children. Mandy agreed to speak with Claire about the impact that adoption has had on her life and to share what she learned about herself by going through the adoption process.
Q: First off, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog post. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Justin was born! How often do you think of him?
A: I think about him every day. I wonder how he is, if he is healthy and how he is doing in school. I chose a semi-open adoption where I had contact with him the first year and then occasional pictures and letter updates about him after that. This is fine for me. I honestly don’t know if I could handle any more than that right now because I’m busy trying to parent my other children. I am open to him reaching out to me if he is interested in knowing more about me in the future, though.
Q: I know you wrote him a letter last year for the first time since he was born. What prompted you to do this?
A: I tried to write him a letter each year on his birthday since he was born, but I struggled with what to say. I would write a letter and then not send it because I didn’t know what to tell him. Last year I learned some information about my other children that I thought he should know and so I finally decided to send the letter I wrote. I also wanted him to know that I love him and hope that he is happy.
Q: Do you ever imagine what he thinks about you?
A: Yes. I wonder if he hates me. When I really think about it, I’m sure he doesn’t. I was able to get to know his parents before he was born and I was able to tell them my reasons for choosing adoption. I was 17 when he was born; I wasn’t ready to be a parent. His parents know that I did adoption because I wanted the best for him. I believe this is what they tell him if he asks.
Q: What did you learn about yourself by going through the adoption process?
A: How strong I was …am. I am proud of myself that I was actually able to do all the things I’ve done since Justin was born. Everybody thought that I was going to drop out of high school, but I graduated. I sunk into a depression after Justin’s birth for a lot of reasons: I was post-partum, my mom got divorced, my housing was unstable, but I had the strength to push through and the willingness to move forward. I’m really proud of that.
I really feel that doing adoption was a positive experience. In hindsight, I realize that the struggle and self-doubt that came after placing him was important for me to go through because it changed me as a person. I have more confidence in myself now and I know I can do hard things, because I already did one of the hardest things in my life.
Q: What was the most helpful thing for you during your pregnancy and Justin’s adoption?
A: The support from my mom and grandmother. They supported me through everything, especially my grandmother. I could call and talk to her about anything. They would check in with me to make sure I was still doing what I thought was best and I knew that they would support me with whatever my decision was. They were also there for me after he was born, when I was so sad. They really helped me through that hard time.
It also helped to get to know Justin’s parents. They’re really nice and I felt good about him going with them. You also helped a lot. You were there whenever I had questions and you never pushed me to do adoption.
Q: What advice would you give to other expectant parents considering adoption?
A: Follow your gut. Ask questions. Seek help. Find someone who has gone through this before and talk to her. Chances are, whatever you’re feeling is normal and hearing someone say “yeah, me too” will help you feel better.
*names have been changed for confidentiality