Adoption is bittersweet. There is great loss but also great joy. I have experienced the miracle of adoption twice in my life. The first time when we adopted my daughter over eighteen years ago and the second time when my daughter placed her infant son for adoption. She desperately wanted to raise him but in the end was too young and had too many struggles of her own to be able to properly care for him. My grandson is now thriving in his new adoptive family and he will remain an integral part of my life through our open adoption relationship with his new parents.
I learned that my daughter was pregnant when she was barely seventeen years old. Her father and I, along with her boyfriend and his family, encouraged her strongly to consider placing the baby for adoption but she was determined to try to raise him on her own. I don’t think anybody realizes what it takes to raise a child but especially when you are so young and trying to for the most part do it single handed. It just became too much for her which was so heartbreaking as a parent to see.
I first met Claire, one of the social workers at Adoptions of Wisconsin, when my daughter was in crisis and it was clear she could no longer safely take care of her son who was eight months old at the time.. With the support of the birth father and his parents we started exploring options for adoption. This was one of the most difficult times in my life and I found amazing support and understanding navigating this road at AOW.
Our main focus was on what we thought was best for our grandson and that was to have two stable, loving, committed parents to raise him. By this time my daughter realized and accepted that she could not take care of her son and agreed that adoption was best for him. It was very important though that we find a family who would allow us to remain an important part of his life.
My daughter’s adoption was not “Open” and I think she has long struggled with the uncertainty of why she was placed for adoption. I think that struggle played in to her unwillingness to consider adoption when she first learned she was pregnant. For those reasons we actively sought out prospective adoptive families who where receptive to an open relationship with both families. Our hope is that with him knowing his birth families, he will know how much he was cherished from the time of his birth and be able to understand why it was that his very young parents could not raise him.
There is a huge leap of faith going through the decision process of choosing a family as none of the commitments to ongoing contact are legally binding. It requires a great deal of trust. It is an emotionally charged time, meeting prospective parents who so desperately want to raise a child. It brought me back to the time eighteen years earlier as we waited for our daughter to be born and the uncertainty of whether we would become parents.
As a parent we all want the best for our children. We want to keep them safe and protect them from heartbreak and sadness. It was devastating to me to see my daughter suffer so much through this time yet at the same time I was so proud of her. She could have chosen to terminate her pregnancy but she did not. She did an amazing job of loving this little guy for many months until she went into a crisis of her own. I admired her courage through the interview process of finding parents who she could entrust her son to. She chose wisely and I will be forever thankful to his adoptive parents who allow us to continue to shower this little guy with all the love and attention he deserves. He knows me as Nana, and when I go to see him and find his little outstretched arms waiting for me my heart leaps with joy.
As for my daughter, she is still struggling to find her way but my hope and prayer is that knowing she will have a role to play in her son’s life she will find her footing again. When she does, I trust that the parents she chose for her son will be waiting to embrace her as I know they are forever grateful for the gift of their child.