A Birth Mother's Story: Morgan

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My name is Morgan. I got pregnant when I was fifteen. He was conceived at the end of June and I didn’t find out that I was pregnant until August, a month after my sixteenth birthday. My first mistake was waiting so long to tell anybody. My mom found out from my older sister because I was too scared to tell her myself. My sister was actually the one who had helped me find the adoptive parents that I chose. The hardest thing that I ever had to do was meet with the adoptive parents. My first questions to myself were, “what if they don’t like me?” or “what if after I have this baby they never want to talk to me again?”  You might think “what if I don’t find a family that I like”, and to be honest that’s what I thought too. You can’t think negative! That is the worst thing you could do. From the moment I read David and Danielle’s(adoptive mother and father) bio I knew they were who I wanted to raise my baby, not because I didn’t want to raise him but because I wouldn’t be able to give the precious human the life that he deserved.

This leads to the other most important part to me. I do have an open adoption. David and Danielle give me updates about two times a week(most of the time). This baby boy was born May 30, at 5:00 a.m. exactly and I will never forget that date until the day I die. Knowing that I gave the best gift in the entire world to best, most kind-hearted, sweet, human beings to have ever walked this earth. I actually met David and Danielle the day before I had my baby. I was in labor while I met with them! The first question that I asked is if Danielle wanted to be in the delivery room with me. Of course she said yes. It was a good bonding time for the both of us to be together at that moment, and she held my hand through all of it. She did the skin to skin because that would just be another attachment that would be hard to let go of.

I am not going to lie to any of you reading this. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. All I think when I get these feelings are “He is with the people that I trust the most right now.” The other thing that I have that I look at when I get upset is a scrapbook. I actually have two scrapbooks, one for the pictures of updates they give me and the pictures of his month check-ins, how much he weighs. The other one I have is one for all of the times that we meet so I can watch him change and grow as I flip through the pages. These are a big help.

It gets better I promise. I just did some of my senior pictures and I met up with them! It was my seventeenth birthday. The best birthday I could ever have was spent with the little boy that was growing in me for 9 months. I held him, I talked to him, I kissed him and it all felt normal to me. It was never awkward, it was amazing that I still feel like his mother. When I handed him back to Danielle he looked at me for 5 almost minutes and this may be silly, but it felt like he still had a connection with me and almost knew who I was. He is now 4 months and 6 days old and he is the most handsome little man I have ever laid my eyes on.

David and Danielle got me a Birth Mothers Day gift, which was a picture of the sweet baby framed, a card and a few other things and I keep that picture and the cards that they had gotten me by my bedside so I can wake up and always see a picture of why I’m still going strong with my decision. If you do this you will be giving someone the most precious gift that you can give to someone that can’t have their own little miracle. To this day I still talk to the family, get updates and we even talk about how we are. This family has my heart and they will always have my heart as long as I’m still here!

-Sincerely Morgan

Birth Mother Stories: Deja's story

Birth Mother Stories: Deja's Story

My name is Deja. I am 21 years old and I was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. I placed my son Elijah up for adoption in October of 2016 and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far in my life. When I was 4 months pregnant I found out that I was expecting. My first thought was to get an abortion. I thought I had my mind set so I started the process. I went to my first appointment where they gave me an assessment and asked various questions about why I wanted to do abortion. After the two hour appointment I made my next appointment which would be the abortion. I did all the paperwork, I took the dilation pills and then it was time to get the ultrasound to see the placement of the baby. When they put the probe on my belly I got anxious. Then I looked at the computer screen and I saw a baby. A baby with a heartbeat. A baby that was moving, kicking, and sucking its fingers. My heart dropped into my stomach. I couldn't do it. I started crying and saw that I bleeding and thought I was losing this baby but I got up, put my clothes on and left. I remember speeding out of the parking lot, almost hitting a sign and I kept going without looking back. I stopped at the PDQ gas station and parked. I thought, “What am I going to do now? I can’t take care of another baby. I already have two kids I’m struggling with. God help me”. I wondered and cried about what I was going to do next and I still didn't know.

Three days after that, I looked on the internet for adoption agencies and that is where I found Adoptions of Wisconsin. I gave them a call to set up an appointment. I knew that I couldn't parent this innocent child and that he didn't deserve to be taken off this earth because it wasn't his fault he was here. That is where my journey began. I met a woman by the name of Megan. She was a pretty, young, educated woman whom I was drawn to at first sight. I knew she would be there with me through it all and she has been, even after my parental rights were terminated. I had the jitters in my belly. I was scared and anxious about this whole thing but I began to open up and explain to her why I wanted to choose adoption. She then gave me a folder with lots and lots of beautiful different families inside of it. I looked that over for about a week and saw a couple that I thought would be perfect. I called Megan and told her, and from there she set up our first meeting with each other.

We met at a little cafe in Sun Prairie. Boy was I scared and had knots in my stomach. I thought “What if they don't like me? What if they don't want an African American baby? What if they don't want a baby boy? Are they nice?” Then as I saw them walk into the back of the café, my face lit up and conversation flowed so easily. I knew they were the right parents for my son Elijah! And that's how I chose them! From then on I was set on them parenting my child and that I was going to go through with this. I always had the thoughts in the back of my mind – “What if I wanted to parent my baby? How I would be able to have this child I’d been carrying and hand it over to stranger? What would my baby think of me? Would he hate me? Would he think I didn't love him?”

On October 4th of 2016 I got to the doctor’s office and they said they wanted to do the c section that day because Elijah was not gaining weight inside of me. Megan raced to the hospital and sat with me and comforted me while we waited. I was so scared. We then called the adoptive parents. I was so nervous because they weren't answering. Shortly after, they returned the calls and were so shocked this was all happening that day. They rushed right over to Meriter hospital where I was. The adoptive mom was in the room with me the whole time during the c section. I felt so safe and so much love and support with her just being there but I was scared to be going through yet another c section. Didn't take long until we heard this little mouse like cry and it was Elijah who weighed 4 lbs 4 ounces! I cried tears of joy as they took him and cleaned him up and rolled him out to see his parents. His dad got to even cut his umbilical cord! I was in the hospital for a few days to recover.

I had initially decided I didn’t want to spend much time with him. It felt too dangerous for me to get my heart too attached to this fragile baby that I knew I couldn’t care for. But I was already attached. I love Elijah so much and decided that I did want to hold him and get some pictures with him. I held Elijah maybe twice and took one picture with him and his new family. My family came and so did the adoptive parent’s family. Everyone came to meet this new bundle of joy who had so many people who loved him. Elijah spent most of his first days in the hospital with his adoptive parents which made me both happy and sad, but I knew what I had to do. When I was leaving, I went in to say goodbye to them and to my now, few days old baby boy Elijah. That was the hardest thing I think I ever had to do in my life. I cried and cried and told the adoptive parents, “Thank you and I love you guys and please take good care of our baby boy!” Megan was there and we went back into my hospital room where I cried even more. Then I left. I was so torn up but I knew this was right for me and for my baby boy.

Now after all of this, I’m close with the adoptive parents and they genuinely love me and love Elijah. All the worries I had went out the window.  I still get those “what if” moments and sometimes it is hard but I still know I wouldn't have had it any other way! I recently saw him and got to spend time with him. He is now 3 months old and getting so big! Such a handsome little man with amazing parents. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without open adoption. Thank you to Megan for making this the most comfortable and life changing experience and for being there through it all. Thank you to the adoptive parents for being in my life and parenting my son Elijah. He will always know he has two mommies and two families that love him with all of their hearts. And thank you Adoptions of Wisconsin you have really forever changed my life in the most amazing ways.

Deja

Not Enough Words - Birth Mom Poem

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A birth mom poem written by an AOW birth mom:

Not Enough Words

12/13/16

My heart stopped the first time I heard yours beat,

You have no clue my love, how many struggles we over came

It was a great feat.

You gave me courage and hope when I had none,

Everything that I can claim,

You helped me over come!

At night I’d sing to you and you’d sing back,

The prayers I couldn’t pray,

You held the faith that I lacked.

Maybe you were my Guardian Angel, my Shepard through the dark and the pain,

I don’t think I’ll ever lose you,

Inside of me you’ll always remain.

I may not get to see you grow or see your first step,

I may not come to birthdays or be there when you’re upset,

However, my heart and mind and spirit will be with you every single day

Just like I was guiding you in every single way.

The hardest thing I ever did was having to give you away

And the second hardest thing was not being able to tell you all I had to say.

I will always love you.

Birth Mother Stories: A Child is a Marvelous Gift - For Emerson

For Emerson, because a child is a marvelous gift.

The life carried to term by a mother has limitless hope and potential. If born healthy, the only bounds to that life are the conditions into which he is born. This magnificent gift, if received at the wrong time, can experience a life that is much more difficult and fraught with challenge than he would have under different circumstances.

This was the case with my son.

Emerson came into existence by an act of love. He was never unwanted by his mother or me. Of course, he came to us a point where everything was unstable. Our relationship, our location, and our jobs were not defined. His mother and I were just starting out again after a rough breakup with each other. We didn’t know if it would work out. She had just graduated and was about to start a new job in a new city, half a country away from me. She hadn’t even moved in to her new apartment when she had taken the pregnancy test. Suffice it to say, her career was just starting – and she planned to take a drastic career shift again in a few years anyway. I had a year left of college, and without this degree, I would have zilch earning potential. Hadn’t even started on my career ladder. Adding to it all, her father detested me and my mother shunned her.

Emerson wasn’t to blame for any of this. He, like the rest of us, didn’t choose to be conceived when he was and to whom he was. So, there we were, at a crossroads. The mother and I were both afraid of being trapped; we had seen the consequences of wedlock marriages, and we were both wary of becoming resentful of each other – and at worst – our child.

On the other hand, we both had been privileged. We had family members who would be willing to help take care of Emerson, we were both capable of working good jobs, and her father had offered plenty of financial support for the child. I immediately knew that perhaps the only responsible thing to do was to man up, sacrifice, and make it work. For Emerson.

Then, I decided to think about it. What kind of a man would intentionally expose his child to instability, uncertainty, and guaranteed hardship? What man would bring his child into a situation where that blameless life would be worse off, at least initially, than he himself had been? I had never prepared for being a parent, and I knew that I could not provide Emerson everything he needed from a father to be as happy and fulfilled as I have been in life. I found it unconscionable to choose to raise him, when there was another option. For Emerson, I wanted to give him the best of life and what it had to offer.

Who am I to deny a better life to my son?

My parents had been wanting and preparing for a child for years when they had me. They were thus vastly more able to appreciate the gift of life, and less likely to take it for granted. I knew that there were other couples out there who, for whatever reason, could not receive that gift and desperately wanted it. The mother and I agreed on this point, and she decided to start searching for these couples.

Months later, she called me and told me that she found them. A perfect fit. Dedicated, generous, willing parents who only lacked one person to make themselves whole. I flew out to meet them and make our final decision.

Of course, I felt anxiety before the meeting. Who were these two that Emerson might call Mom and Dad? Did they have security? Did they love each other enough? Were they ready? Would this couple sacrifice what I could not for a child that none of us had yet met?

I knew within minutes.

With the gracious assistance of our wonderful Adoptions of Wisconsin counselor, Megan, the first conversation I had with the adoptive parents puts all my fears to rest. They expressed everything I wanted – selflessness, hope, joviality, affection, dedication, and preparedness – and expressed it all both explicitly and subtly. They radiated authenticity in addition to, most importantly, a comfortable love for one another. I could tell immediately that this couple would be there for Emerson, through thick and thin.

The adoptive parents were everything I wanted to be for my son, but knew I couldn’t. And that’s why, minutes after finishing the meeting, I gave my blessing.

Although I didn’t know anything about it, I quickly found that the adoption process itself was painless. The only suffering Emerson’s mother and I had was emotional. It is greatly painful to give up someone you love, even to capable hands. The adoption social worker was magnanimous throughout, and the adoptive parents were eminently supportive and reassuring. But, to be honest, Emerson’s mother was my biggest pillar during the ensuing months. We helped one another through difficult moments, rejoiced at good ones, and took care of each other. Rather than tearing our relationship apart, as I may once have feared, the decision to put our son up for adoption brought us much closer. Even after putting up a child for adoption we survive as a strong couple to this day.

The remainder of her pregnancy was basically a get-to-know period with the adoptive parents. They welcomed us into their home and addressed truthfully any questions or concerns we may have had. As time wore on, we all become more comfortable with each other and more confident that this was the right decision for Emerson. We celebrated milestones as a group, from the ultrasounds and first kicks to the harried preparations for labor. We got to know and understand how the adoptive parents would approach parenting in the future, and what role the mother and I would play in Emerson’s life. Altogether, we made sure that Emerson would start his life in the best condition we could provide.

And then, nine months after the decision was made, he arrived. I had given birth to a child.

My son, a child, a living boy. A bundle of happiness and curiosity. Potential and possibly incarnate. A biological miracle; the sum of generations of humanity. All our cumulative laughter, and joy, and wonder. The best and worst traits of all my ancestors lay nude before me. His mother was overjoyed, and the adoptive parents were enchanted. The room was magic. But. . . after the unpreventable bliss at seeing a new life begin, a great sadness took hold. I realized that I could not take care of my son. I had failed him already. I was not going to be his father. Then I realized something that simultaneously erased the sadness and restored my joy. He wasn’t just my son.

Our son. He was our son. Emerson has a bigger family than most everyone else. His mother and I weren’t going to abandon him. What we gave him, and it was perhaps our greatest gift, was two more people that will love him unconditionally. Emerson will have a life with perpetual support and acceptance, in addition to stability and security. If this child is to know one feeling, that feeling is to be loved. We have four people (and many more) to make sure of that. Open adoption has allowed us to all be a part of his life.

So, while there is sadness and pain at the separation, there is an uplifting solace in knowing we made the best decision. And more than making the best decision, we made the right decision. For us, in our current situation, and for the adoptive parents. And most importantly:

For Emerson.

A birth parent asks, "How do I manage the grief associated with making an adoption plan?"

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The adoption process is one that intrinsically involves grief and loss.  When birth parents decide to relinquish their newborn for adoption, they will often go through a grief process not unlike what a person experiences when a loved one passes. The grief stages are the same (denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance); birth parents do not move through them in any nice neat order or set period of time, nor should they be expected to. Grief associated with making an adoption plan is complicated for birth parents because of the ambiguous nature of the loss.

An example of how the grief process can get complicated is that feelings such as numbness, confusion and denial may cause a birth mother to fail to recall significant details such as the date and time of the birth and her child’s birth weight.  The inability to recall such details can complicate the normal grieving process by causing guilt and feelings of shame for not being able to remember specific details.

When numbness and denial subside, often birth mothers experience an eruption of feelings such as anger, sadness, shame and guilt.  Opportunities to express these feelings in a natural and supported way are important for validating the loss and coping with the grief associated with an adoptive placement.  For birth mothers who have kept their pregnancy and adoption plan secret, the secrecy, shame and lack of public acknowledgment means that opportunities to release these difficult feelings don’t exist.  When natural means of releasing these feelings are not available, the feelings often get stifled, ignored or are manifested in unhealthy ways.

It is helpful if there is a friend, family member or counselor with whom a birth mother can share her feelings, pregnancy and adoption plan.  This person’s role is to listen, validate her grief and loss and allow for healthy ways to express difficult feelings.  This support person can also be present at the birth to record important details which she may want to remember at a later date.  It can also be helpful to journal any memories of the birth and hospital stay as soon as possible before those memories fade.  Mementos such as foot prints, crib cards and pictures can also be very helpful in having something tangible to hold onto during especially difficult times.

Giving birth to a baby and placing the baby with adoptive parents are very significant life events.  During times of grief, it is helpful to remember the time prior to the loss and the person for whom one is grieving.  Being able to call to mind details, read journal entries or hold onto mementos are helpful ways of validating the significance of the loss and can lead to positive management of the grief process.  Our compassionate adoption social workers are trained to help birth parents move through the grief process in a healthy way. We understand the special circumstances surrounding birth parent grief and are here to be a support person to birth parents (and their families) in an effort to help eliminate any barriers to healthy grieving.