I've seen some interesting comments come through recently on my blog. In full disclosure, I absolutely moderate comments because it's my blog and I can. Unfortunately, there are people who choose to write hurtful things about our open adoption. I know there is tremendous hurt and pain for anyone who has had a negative experience with adoption - whether an adoptee, a birthmother or an adoptive parent - and I would never want to diminish that or cause more hurt to someone already hurting, but I do want to address a comment from someone who asked for me to respond publicly on my blog.
The writer says this:
"How wonderful. I can see how poverty prevented you from raising your fist daughter. You really seem to have a hard time making ends meet. How do you explain to your daughter why you gave her away? I'd love for you to share that with your readers."
Sure, I'd love to share my response with my readers. First of all, I think it's poor judgement to make an assessment of someone's ability to make ends meet based solely on reading their blog. Nevertheless, at this point in my life I'm not having a difficult time making ends meet. And the reason is because I had the opportunity to earn my college degree, to complete multiple unpaid internships, and to serve as a leader with several student organizations on campus - all of this while supporting myself financially for four years - so that when I finally did graduate, I had the education and experience necessary to land a great job that enables me to pay my bills each month. Yes, there was a time when I had trouble making ends meet - and that time was when I was 18-years-old and pregnant. Since that time, I have worked really, really hard to get to the point where I am today, and I'm not ashamed of the hard work I've put in or any of the things I have accomplished.
I'm not saying that I couldn't have earned a college degree or accomplished great things while raising a child singlehandedly - I know plenty of capable single parents who have done it and done it phenomenally. But I sure as heck am saying that I would not be where I am today, and more importantly, Deanna would not have had the quality of life or opportunities she has been provided with either. Not to mention having two parents who have been fully committed to her well-being and emotional growth since before she was born, and too-many-to-count people who love her and have positively impacted her life in some way.
For most of the first few years after placing, I was consumed with guilt and depression. I cried often (in private), wondering how Deanna would feel about her adoption. Would she hate me? Would she want to have a relationship with me when she got older? What questions would she have about her placement and how would I answer them? My faith has gotten me through those difficult times. When I made the choice to follow Christ, I realized that there was a bigger plan and purpose for my life and that sharing my experience with open adoption could help others. Because of Christ, I know that I have been forgiven, redeemed, restored, and made new. Sitting around and feeling sorry for myself was no longer an option. Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." That verse gave me strength in those hard times.
To suggest that placing my daughter would only be justified if I weren't able to "make ends meet" - eight years later - makes no sense to me. If someone is truly curious and wants to gain insight about something, by all means, please ask questions. Ask, ask away. I encourage it, and I appreciate an open and honest discussion. But please don't (try) to post anonymous comments with the purposeful intent of making someone feel bad about the choices I have made. By the way, I do have a personal email address that is published on my blog, so you don't have to remain anonymous.
Something that really bothers me is the public's perception of birthmothers. We're not poverty-stricken, uneducated morons. We're smart, courageous women who made a selfless choice to give our children something we could not provide at the time. We each have our own unique set of not-so-pretty circumstances that played a role in our decisions to place. And our decisions are not always based solely on finances. Society tells us: If you have the finances to raise a child, but you decide to place, then you must be really selfish. Yes, finances are an important factor in deciding whether or not to place a child for adoption because let's face it... you have to be able to support yourself and another human being, but there is so much more to it than that. So much more. There are plenty of people who have more than enough money, but may not be capable of parenting. I can tell you that at 18, I was not financially or emotionally capable of being responsible for the wellbeing of not just myself, but another human being. An incredibly precious one at that. And that's the bottom line.
So to answer the question, what will I say to my daughter to explain my decision? To be honest, I'm really not sure. Will I say the perfect words to make it all better? No, probably not. But will the words I say come from the depths of my heart and be the complete and honest truth? You bet. Because of open adoption, I have the privilege of being able to answer any of Deanna's questions at any time. Whenever she wants. Or maybe never if she doesn't want to talk about it. But that choice is ultimately hers now.
That's the beauty of open adoption.