ElizabethAnn

Who Birthmoms Are

150 posts in this topic

Very emotional story... I wonder sometimes about the moment when expectant mothers first think about adoption. What is that one defining moment like? I know this birthmother says that it was like the fog cleared out of the room, but I wonder if most expectant mothers feel peace or panic? I know this woman also feared for her child's life, so an adoption plan was a selfless act in many ways... because she was keeping him safe and because she felt another family was right for his upbringing.

Some of the comments to this story reinforce how different peoples' mindsets are about adoption in general. Some are really disheartening. I hate when I read stories like these and people say "the baby would have been better off with his mother... not adoptive mother... but MOTHER." I'm sure birthparents feel a sting when comments like these are made with the opposite connotation. Many things make a mother, by definition... and that's why I feel I rightfully share that title with my son's birthmother, but it still stings to hear someone insinuate that I'm not my child's mother. I know it kills me when people say that a child doesn't "belong to" adoptive parents... no, he is mine. He's MY son and I'm HIS mother. He's also blessed to have a birthmother who loves him very much who sacrificed a lot of heartache to bring him into this world. Neither role should be diminished.

Good for this woman for making a caring plan for her child. I didn't read where this was an open adoption, but maybe I missed something? At the end, I saw where the APs were open and willing for phone chats, exchanging photos, etc. I hope this brings everyone peace down the road. Thanks for the link, E.

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What a powerful story. Yes, there are a lot of stereo-types about Birth-Moms and Adoptive Parents. It makes me quite sad that some people have such a closed mind-set.

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Melissa, the agency she went with encouraged open adoption but it seemed that maybe she wasn't as ready for that yet as the adoptive parents were. I'm glad that the note from the adoptive parents let her know that they are there for her whenever she wants to come around. So I think there's hope that it will be open but things can change (which I think we all know how that goes, as you go through the ever evolving relationship with your child's family).

I didn't read the additional comments below but after what you read I'm glad that I didn't. I know I'm guilty of judging people and making comments when I shouldn't from time to time but our experience with adoption has made me take a step back to re-think things before making those judgments. I wish people would take that from stories like this, to realize that there are many definitions of a mother or of family, for that matter, and we can each learn from other's experiences to make us more well rounded, caring people.

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Powerful story. Amazing how drastically life can change in an instant.

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Last night we attended our homegroup (a small group of people from church). Our current study is about knowing who you are in Christ. One of the exercises was to tell your children every day for a week that they are fearfully and wonderfully made just as they are. The wording of it reminded me very much of proper adoption language, and some discussions we have been having with Makenzie lately about where she came from. She has mentioned that she "misses M" (her first mom) and that she "wishes she could've come out of my tummy." I tell her that M misses her too, and that I am glad she didn't come from my tummy because I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have her wonderful voice if she came from me, or her beautiful green eyes, or her fabulous sense of balance, etc. etc.

So, I mentioned that I was an adoptive mom and that this is a discussion in our house a lot. My daughter is absolutely fearfully and wonderfully made. She is a unique person all to her own. Her first parents loved her SO MUCH that they shattered their own hearts just to give her the life they thought she deserves. I tell her often how God placed her with us. She is a special blessing.

Well, we are in a new group of people (they had no idea we had adopted), and this woman across from me just started bawling. I thought she was just touched by the messages my child heard (she is rather emotional, and cried several times during our video series last night).

After our meeting, she approached me and gave me a big hug. It seems she is a birthmother. She became pregnant as a teenager and was forced to place her son for adoption. She still beats herself up thinking that perhaps she should have fought more to keep him, but she knows deep down it was for the best. She recently re-established contact with him (he turned 18) and she found him on Facebook. She asked if he would like to meet her (she has dreamed of him all these years). At first, he wanted to. He posted about how he finally had the opportunity to meet the woman he had always wondered about. Then his adoptive parents got involved. They promised at placement to send her updates and pictures (they didn't). They told their son that it was best to leave his first mother alone because he would most likely be disappointed in her character.

She is a wonderful woman. She is the proud mother of a four year old son, happily married, gainfully employed, and sweet as peaches. I can't imagine why the adoptive parents would poison this boy so. She did the most responsible thing possible for her at that time. She is amazing, and she still adores him SO MUCH. She worries about his safety and his health. She prays for the choices he makes (he's a freshman in college - lots of partying going on). She is every bit a mother in her regard to him as I am to my daughter that I parent every day.

She was just greatly touched that we spoke so positively to Makenzie about her first parents. She asked me to pray for her birthson and his family. She wants desperately to reach out, but so far, he refuses to answer her anytime she messages him, so she is just watching his updates and praying he comes around.

I cried with her for awhile after we spoke. She really wants to talk to Makenzie and reassure her that her first parents do love her deeply (Makenzie doubts this a lot right now, despite our reassurances that they adore her as much as we do. It is hard for a six year old to understand such grown up things). I am looking forward to developing a relationship with her.

I don't know how often this happens, but I hope someone will read this post and feel compelled to reach out to their child's first family again. Don't be afraid. This dear woman doesn't want to replace her son's adoptive parents, she just wants to touch that sweet boy again. She wants to hug him close and let him know that not once has he left her thoughts. Not once has his birthday gone by that she didn't think of him. She is thankful for the life his adoptive parents provide for him. She is thankful that he has the opportunity to go to college debt free - something she still hasn't done. She is proud of him and all that he is. She just wants him to know he is deeply loved by more than his parents. She wants his adoptive parents to know how thankful she is to them for all that they have done. She wants to support his adoptive parents, and her son, in this life as hard as it is.

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What an amazing story, Tina. It helps demonstrate how important it is for those of us who are adoptive parents to keep up with our promises and maintain an open adoption if that's what all parties agreed to. I never like to hear that adoptive parents go back on their promises of sending updates/photos. Yes, at times you may not want to put in the effort or wish that things were different and that you didn't have that responsibility. But I think you have to realize that adoption is not just about you, it's about the children and what is best for them. "Protecting" a child from a relationship with their birthfamily when you can't even predict what that relationship will entail or be like is not the answer. No one said that would be easy but now it puts that boy in a difficult place with both his adoptive parents and birthmom. I very much hope that she is able to make that connection with her son and find peace with this!

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That's a beautiful testimony, Tina... thank you. And please welcome your friend from church to join Abrazo's Forum, if she needs support from a whole bunch of people who truly do "get it." Let her become Makenzie's "fairy godbirthmother" if appropriate... adoption is always about those with big hearts standing in for each other when someone else can't be there, after all. Big hugs to you both (and to Makenzie, too.)

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Elizabeth,

I spoke to her about talking to Makenzie. We are planning some "play dates" in the future so that Makenzie will become more comfortable around her. Her son is a year younger than Makenzie, so it shouldn't be too hard for them to play together.

She offered to speak with Makenzie, and I am going to let her. I think Makenzie needs a physical reassurance that she really was loved very much.

I hadn't thought of inviting her to Abrazo, but I'm going to do so now. Thanks!

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Wow, Tina! Your sweet , loving words brought me to tears, girl! I had no idea I had made THAT much of an impression. Thank you sooo much for inviting me here and to be a part of your precious Makenzie's life! I'm honored. :-) She and I will have our "talk" very soon and I pray that God will use it to heal some of her sweet little heart.

I really believe that his A-mom was supportive of our reunion, but A-dad was not. A-dad was adopted himself and I think his relationship with his Bmom was not positive, so he talked my son out of meeting me. But this is just a guess, since he won't contact me. I have made it known to Gerald (that's his name) that he can contact me whenever he wants but that he will have to be the one to reach out once he is comfortable doing so, and that I will not push him. That's all I can do...and so I wait...again. The waiting is always the hardest part. But at least, now I can see his hansome face in pix whenever I want, which is a lot more than I had before he came of age!

And again, thanks so much to everyone for welcoming me here! It is awesome to find people who actually get it after almost 21 years of carrying this on my own. :wub:

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Laurie - we're so glad you're here, too! This week has brought us some very important perspective to the forum... my son's birthmama, Bianca, and you as well! It's a point of view we don't hear nearly enough, so I hope you'll really make yourself at home and post often. We're excited to have you and we'll all keep you and a hopeful reunion with your son in our prayers!

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Welcome, Laurie! We're delighted to have you as part of our Abrazo family! I am so sorry your son's parents didn't keep their promises and were not supportive of your reunion, but "good things come to them that wait!" and we will all keep you and your boy in our prayers in the meantime. You might really find comfort in the stories of some other first moms who placed elsewhere and found support here on Abrazo's Forum while they waited out the years until their children were in a place where they were ready for reunion with or without their parents' blessing... look for posts by Lisa (Linlacor) and Paula, on the Birthparent Blogs. And feel free to launch one of your own, if you'd like. You have amazing wisdom and experience to share, and we all learn best from each other around here. Big hugs to you!

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Welcome Laurie!!!!

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Tina, your story made me bawl uncontrollably. It breaks my heart that some people want to poison their children with lies and nonsense. How can you speak so ill of the person who gave you life? I understand that I will never understand what it is like to need adoption to complete my family, but geez!? My heart breaks for you Laurie. If you want to talk I am here. I may be able to offer you some words of encouragement or if you just want to cry I can listen. Perhaps you could start your own blog under the section "birthparent blogs". Ypu will find nothing but lobe and support there. Pm me if you need to talk. I'm here for you.

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Laurie, welcome to the forum! I hope you find the support you are looking for here.

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Laurie-

Sure hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day! Keep posting!

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Thanks Dyna, I did have a great Mother's Day! It was always a very rough day for me before I had my youngest son, Alex. He is a 4 year old ball of energy and my pride and joy! But before that Mother's Day was always the toughest. I guess because I felt very overlooked and forgotten...like I had no right to claim motherhood, while everything inside me screamed "but I'm a mother too!". But now I know that it doesn't matter whether I was ever recognized or not, I AM a mother and have been since I was 16 even if no one knew. I have Alex and every bit of love I have for My firstborn (Gerald), I can now lavish on Alex. :)

:D and Elly Mae, I have started a birthparent blog titled "Laurie's Life" :rolleyes: .

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Laurie, that is so great that you started a blog! It's a great way to express what you are feeling, learning, and thinking about. I hope it's a really wonderful experience for you on the forum!

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A nice blog piece from a birthmother (guest post on Chocolate Hair/ Vanilla Care!)

http://www.chocolate...-about.html?m=1

Awesome post, although it left me a little sad as it sounds like she doesn't have contact with her child. Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

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A nice blog piece from a birthmother (guest post on Chocolate Hair/ Vanilla Care!)

http://www.chocolate...-about.html?m=1

Awesome post, although it left me a little sad as it sounds like she doesn't have contact with her child. Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

I know! I thought the same thing. But then I thought she wrote so well and offered a good perspective! Hopefully they will reunite some day!

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We were all thinking the same thing about the lack of contact. I do think it was a very well written piece and helps to break down so many of the stereotypes we all hear.

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Hannah,

Thanks for posting.

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Be sure to visit Abrazo's newest website, http://www.birthmomstrong.com :wub:

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Elizabeth, Thank you for this post. It is sad to me that essentially birth moms are being relegated to some lower class sect, as if they are the "untouchables" from India. Abrazo and you are doing an extraordinary job in educating people, adoptive parents and birth moms in realizing their value. If you can reach one person then you have reached thousands. Be encouraged because you have certainly provided us with a fantastic education and we enjoy sharing open adoption with the "blind or the knowingly ignorant".

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There's a great new feature article in Cosmopolitan magazine this month, all about birthmothers:

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a52816/adoption-what-its-really-like/

(Text appears below, in case the link goes bad.)

What It's Really Like to Place Your Baby For Adoption

"I took her in my arms and walked down to where the expectant family sat in the waiting room. The walk seemed to last forever​."​

By Lane Moore

Feb 1, 2016

There are countless reasons why a woman would decide to place her child for adoption, and none of them are easy or obvious. In this week's Sex Talk Realness, Cosmopolitan.com spoke with four women about what it's like to place your child in another family's care and how they feel about the decision that changed their life.

How old are you?

Woman A: 24.

Woman B: 26.

Woman C: 28.

Woman D: 33.

How old were you when you placed your child for adoption?

Woman A: 20.

Woman B: 19.

Woman C: 16.

Woman D: 21.

How old was your child at the time?

Woman A: He was three days old when he left the hospital with his parents and I signed the relinquishment paperwork a few days after that.

Woman B: 24 hours old.

Woman C: Newborn.

Woman D: Newborn.

Did you have any other children before you placed your child for adoption? Have you had any other children since?

Woman A: No.

Woman B: No other children at the time. I now parent a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy.

Woman C: I've had one child since the adoption and I also have a step-child.

Woman D: Before I placed my daughter, I also had a son who was 3 years old. Since the birth of the child I placed, I have had two children, a boy and a girl.

Why did you feel adoption was the best option?

Woman A: My sisters all had children very young and I watched all my sisters struggle to raise them. My parents also took over custody for my oldest nephews, so I knew that being a young mother was not something that was right for me. Everyone says how selfless you are when you place a child for adoption, but I felt very selfish for choosing to make an adoption plan because I felt like I was putting my future over my child's, but I knew he would have a better chance if he had parents who were ready for him. His birth father still had another year left in school, and I was barely working ten hours a week at my job. Besides the heartbreak that came along with the decision to place a child, there were no cons for us to choose adoption.

Woman B: I had been raised in a single parent home for six years and it was really hard for me. I respect my mother tremendously for doing what she had to do, but I did not want to choose that for my child. When I got pregnant, I was only 19-years-old, and in college and also in the military. I knew that for me and my child, adoption was the very best choice.

Woman C: I hadn't heard much about adoption, but I looked into it with the help of my mom. I thought it was best because I wanted my child to be raised in a two-parent home with responsible, mature adults. The pros were that my child would have more opportunities and be raised in the best circumstances. And I could finish school and become a responsible, mature adult myself. The con was that I'd have to endure a lot of heartbreak.

Woman D: When I found out that I was pregnant with her, I was already single parent and was also unemployed and did not have a stable place to live. For about a month of my pregnancy I was living in a homeless shelter in Nebraska with my son and I knew that I could not provide for this precious life that was growing inside of me. I really wanted her to have everything and that did not seem possible if I decided to keep her.

Did you ever consider alternatives to adoption?

Woman A: We found out very late in the pregnancy, so we didn't really have any options besides adoption or parenting ourselves. However if I found out I was pregnant again now, I would definitely look into abortion. We were lucky in many aspects with our decision to make an adoption plan, but it was really hard, and I still struggle with guilt.

Woman B: I considered abortion for a very small moment in time. My thought was that I could just "take care of it" and then not have to tell anyone, but in my heart I could not go through with it. In terms of the choice to parent the child myself, I didn't want to work 60 hours a week, have my child in day care, and never see her. Also, her birth father was not a safe person and I knew that sharing custody would not be a good thing.

Woman C: I considered all alternatives, but in the end adoption is what felt right. I didn't think abortion or parenting would be the best option. I felt a sense of responsibility and it made me want to see the pregnancy through, but I also knew that I wasn't ready for parenting. At sixteen, I hadn't developed enough maturity or patience to be the kind of mother a child deserves.

Woman D: The only other option I felt I had was parenting the child. I knew that I wanted to have the baby, but I also knew that I was not going to be able to provide for her.

How involved was the birth father in your decision to place the child for adoption? And what is your current relationship with him?

Woman A: He was very involved. He was my biggest supporter and advocate. We picked a family together and I am so very grateful he was involved. He was so strong throughout the process and I can't imagine having to go through it alone. We're still together, and he continues to be my best friend. Even when things can be complicated between us, I know he always has my back.

Woman B: He was involved from start to finish in the sense that he knew what I was doing and how I was doing it. However, he was not involved in the pregnancy, which is part of why I chose adoption. He seemed rather unimpressed with the idea of helping me take care of the life he helped create. He never helped me financially, emotionally, or otherwise. He did sign the papers and was invited to meet the couple, but didn't want to do that. He also declined to be present for her birth. I tried relentlessly to get him involved, but he wasn't interested in it.

Woman C: He was initially against the adoption and said he wanted to parent the child instead. Unfortunately, he wasn't capable of that due to his battling several addictions and being in and out of jail. He also wasn't around when my daughter was born, but he did want to maintain contact with her through a semi-open adoption (where I receive letters, but no visits). We speak rarely now, but we're friends on social media. Neither one of us sees the child, but I believe his family receives photo and letter updates as well.

Woman D: He was not involved in my decision at all. I decided on my own that adoption was the best option. We didn't end on bad terms, but we weren't friends either. I informed him that I had picked a family and he asked if I would consider letting his mom or sister raise the baby and I told him absolutely not. He didn't argue with me about it or push the issue. When it was time for him to sign over his rights, he did so willingly. We talk once every few years on social media but I have not seen him in a little over 4 years.

Who did you discuss the decision with and how did they respond?

Woman A: I didn't discuss it with anyone, actually. I knew my family wouldn't be supportive, so I never said anything until I was in the hospital. Looking back, I regret that because it wasn't fair to my family to just not tell them, but at the time, it felt like the right decision. My oldest sister had wanted to place her two children for adoption after they were born because she was so young at the time, but my parents didn't let her and took on raising my nephews themselves. My other sisters decided to parent their children themselves, but their getting pregnant so young still didn't go over well with my parents. I am very lucky that my parents have come around four years later, but I still don't talk to one of my sisters anymore because of our disagreement over my decision to place the child.

Woman B: I discussed the decision with my parents, a few of my friends, and my church leader. All of them were relatively supportive. I was surprised that some of my best friends started ignoring me after hearing I would be placing the child and never really checked in on me to see how I was doing. But because of that, I was forced to make some new friends who are now my best friends.

Woman C: I discussed it with my parents initially and they were very supportive. I also talked about it with my family and friends. Some of them couldn't understand why I would choose adoption, but most were really supportive.

Woman D: I told my parents that I was considering adoption and they were supportive, but I know they wanted me to consider keeping her. I also told my son's grandmother that I was pregnant and that I was considering adoption and she was so supportive and loving. She told me that she knew a couple that wanted to adopt a baby, which didn't end up working out, but it was so nice having that support.

0What were your biggest fears about adoption?

Woman A: I mostly feared falling out with my family, which unfortunately did happen. Then after placing the child, I was afraid that my son's adoptive family wouldn't want to keep in contact with me, and I wouldn't know anything about our son. I was also afraid that I would never get over placing the child and that I would regret it forever and would be stuck with a decision that would affect me for the rest of my life.

Woman B: My biggest fears about adoption were that my child would grow up to hate me. I was really terrified that she would not understand why I placed her. To counteract this, I chose to have an open adoption. I write her a letter every year to explain a little more of why I chose to place her as well. She has access to these letters and things I send her when and if she wants them.

Woman C: I worried I'd regret it and would later want to go back on my decision despite knowing that it was best. I just knew it would be hard and I didn't know if I was strong enough to let go, but it turned out OK.

Woman D: I was afraid that my birth daughter would hate me for placing her for adoption and would wonder why I placed her and not my son. I was afraid that I would be shamed by others for choosing adoption. I was afraid that my son would hate me for placing his sister for adoption.

How did you find an agency (if you used one) and the family you ended up placing the child with?

Woman A: I found my agency through a social worker who gave me a list of agencies in the area. The one I went with was the first I saw on the paper, and the social worker said they were a very good agency she had worked with in the past. So on her word, we contacted them. It was the best decision ever. They met us at the hospital and kept us entertained while we looked through family binders. My social worker is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She always supported me and helped me, not only through the adoption, but other parts of my life as well. She went with me on a college visit, and encouraged me to take education courses and to write about my experience with adoption. She advocated for me with my family and helped me establish new boundaries with my son's parents and never judged me.

Woman B: I went through the agency that my church leader recommended. I was given a stack of scrapbook pages with all the families' information on it. I basically was making piles on my family room floor. One day, my roommate came in and she asked me what I was doing. I didn't know her very well at the time, but she then told me about her aunt and uncle who were hoping to adopt. I asked her to have them send me their profile, and when I saw it, something in me just clicked. I just knew they were the ones. They weren't exactly what I was looking for or thought I wanted, but I just knew it in my heart that they were meant to be her parents.

Woman C: It was actually the father's mom who helped orchestrate my finding the family. I had only just begun looking at parent profiles when she told me there was a couple she knew who wanted to adopt. When I met them, I knew right away. They were perfect.

Woman D: I was looking in the newspaper and I saw an ad for an adoption center and called and spoke with them. Within a week I received a huge packet in the mail with forms needing to be filled out along with sending proof of pregnancy. Then I started receiving packets in the mail about potential adoptive families. Once I picked a family the agency notified the potential couple and they set up a conference call and we met via the phone for the first time. It was a very emotional phone call. I cried a lot.

How big of a part did you play in deciding which family you would place the child with? What made you choose them?

Woman A: Me and my son's birth father chose the family together. We were open to anyone, really, single parents adopting, gay couples, etc. We just wanted someone who clicked with us. There had to have been like fifty profiles in the binder we were looking through and eventually I just got tired of looking. Fortunately, my son's birth father kept looking and found our son's eventual parents. They were the last profile in the book and as soon as I looked at their profile, I knew they were it. I didn't read their profile in detail at first, but what sold me was a goofy picture of them on the last page posing with a penguin from a friend's wedding. They looked so happy and I just knew that they were who I wanted to be my son's parents.

Woman B: I ran it past the birth father and he wasn't interested in helping me choose, so I did it on my own and I let him know when I chose a family. I chose this family because of the feeling in my heart. I also liked that they had two older sons, enjoyed music, raised animals, and were religious.

Woman C: They were genuine and very kind, but funny too. They were so great I kind of wanted to be a part of their family.

Woman D: I chose the family by myself. It was the last packet that I received in the mail. I had looked at what seemed like hundreds of packets and I could not decide on a family, so I called the agency and said, "I cannot do it. You pick!" They said I had to pick someone and I just said, "How do you pick someone to raise your child?" It was overwhelming and seemed hopeless to me. My counselor said that she had one more packet that she wanted me to look at. When it came in the mail, I opened it and I was overcome with emotion. They were a beautiful couple that radiated love and happiness and they seemed so perfect! I read their story and their biography and I felt connected to them. I wanted to help build their family.

Did you have any stipulations? Like, you only wanted a closed or open adoption, or other boundaries you wanted to set?

Woman A: At first, I wasn't sure what I wanted. I didn't have any experience with adoption outside of watching Juno a few times. My agency had a basic openness option where you would get pictures and letters every month for the first six months, then once a year on their birthday, and one visit a year. That sounded good to me. We did it that way for the first six months and I was so excited every time I got a new letter in the mail. After six months though, the letters stopped and I was unexpectedly upset. I didn't want to step on my son's parents toes by asking for more contact, but I had loved getting so many updates and I was anxious for more. I asked my social worker if she could reach out and give them my email and see if they were open to letting me have more contact. The next day, I received an email from my son's mom. They said they had also wanted me to have more contact, but didn't want to intrude on my healing or what I wanted. Now we email three or more times a month and exchange a ton of photos.

Woman B: At the time I wasn't really sure what I wanted. Initially, after I chose the family, I told them I only wanted letters and pictures, but it later became much more. We still see each other every year and we also FaceTime and Skype. We really love each other. It's like having an extra family. Her mom is one of my favorite people in the world and her dad is someone I feel I can always turn to for sound advice.

Woman C: We agreed on a semi-open adoption, with letters and photos. I also asked that they would let her have a sibling and they adopted a little boy a few years later.

Woman D: When I was 8 months pregnant I met with the attorney that was representing me in the adoption. I told him that I would like to add to the adoption agreement that in the event that anything were to happen to my birth daughter (like cancer, organ transplant, death) I wanted to be notified. The attorney said that was an unreasonable request and that the adoptive couple would likely not go for that. Looking back, it was unreasonable for the attorney to say what he did, but I was naive and I didn't know any better, so I didn't argue with him. I also didn't have anyone there on my behalf looking out for me and I thought that the attorney would know best.

Did the family you placed your child with have any boundaries they wanted you to follow?

Woman A: Not really. We were both really open about what we thought would work best and were lucky that we agreed on everything. My son's parents are such kind and wonderful people. I can't sing their praises enough. They have always been so conscious about what I was going through and being respectful. Even now, they continue to email me even though I don't always respond. They are really dedicated to my being a part of our son's life and vice versa.

Woman B: No. They were very clear from the beginning that they had an open heart and open arms. They didn't just want my baby, they wanted me to be part of the family and they have held true to that.

Woman C: Not really. We had discussed our expectations beforehand and they've since been met.

Woman D: It was supposed to be a semi-open adoption where I'd receive pictures for the first three years along with updates. Any pictures or updates after that would be given upon request, but the last day that I saw the family and my birth daughter was at the hotel. They were so thankful and loving and the new parents kept promising to always send me pictures and updates.

Describe the day and process of the child going from your home to the family's home.

Woman A: My son was never in my home and instead left the hospital with his parents. I had been discharged before he was, but me and his birth father decided to stick around so we could all leave the hospital together. We had also chose to not see our son while we were in the hospital. We wanted the first thing our son saw to be his parents and not us. That was very important to us, but it was still a bittersweet moment. The birth father and I hugged outside the hospital and watched his parents leave with the child. It was worth it.

Woman B: That day was somber. We had a small placement ceremony at the agency where the family and I exchanged letters, gifts, and hugs and talked about what to expect after the placement. Then I placed her in her family's arms, turned around, and walked out. My dad took me to Olive Garden where we sat down and ordered food but I couldn't eat it. I left the restaurant and sat in his truck until our food was ready and we did take-out instead. Later, he drove me to my mom's house where I stayed with my best friend and they both tried to make me laugh while we went through Target with me sitting on the motorized cart. Later that night after everyone went to bed, I just sat in front of the computer scrolling through her pictures over and over and over again. I wasn't crying, I wasn't angry, I wasn't anything. I was numb.

Woman C: After my daughter's birth I spent three days in the hospital with her and my family and the adoptive family were both present during my stay. On the third day I had to say goodbye to my daughter so she could go home with her new parents. The nurses brought her to me and she was swaddled tight and sleeping soundly. I took her in my arms and made the walk down the long corridor where the expectant family sat in the waiting room. The walk seemed to last forever and tears streamed down my face the whole way. I placed her in the arms of her new mother (and she cried too), and then I gathered my things and went home. I haven't had any contact with her since.

Woman D: The day she was born was the same day that I went home without her. I checked myself out of the hospital a few hours after giving birth. Listening to the babies cry in the neighboring rooms brought tears to my eyes and I did not see a reason for me to stay. The adoptive couple had been at the hospital from the moment I was admitted and they were in the delivery room when she was born. The hospital was accommodating to our situation and put the adoptive parents and my birth daughter in a family room near the NICU. I called a friend that was taking care of my son and she came to pick me up.

What aspects (physical or emotional) of placing your child for adoption surprised you?

Woman A: I was surprised that I felt so guilty. I never regretted my decision or anything like that, but I was shocked by the amount of guilt I felt then and continue to feel. I feel bad that I couldn't take care of my son, that I shirked my responsibilities as his mother, and that I couldn't provide for him. But then I remember how much he's able to do because of his parents and those are things I would have never been able to help him do. He's such a smart, sweet, and well-rounded boy and I attribute a lot of that to his parents. I was angry for a long time as well, due to a combination of jealously of my son's parents and being angry at myself for getting into a situation where I had to make an adoption plan to begin with. But after time, the anger has faded, and I'm pretty at peace with the whole thing.

Woman B: I was really surprised by how little support I got from the agency afterward. Thankfully, I was able to go to a support group once a week and the women in the support group saved me. But most of the support came from family and my two best friends. I also was surprised by my milk coming in and wasn't sure how to stop that. That was really painful. The last thing was just how hard it truly was. There was one particular moment in the hospital where I literally felt my heart split in two. My daughter was so incredibly perfect and amazing. I had no idea the love I could have for a child at only 19 years old.

Woman C: Physically, I was surprised when my milk supply dried up because I obviously wasn't breast feeding. No one discussed that with me and at 16, I found the whole process weird. Emotionally, the process was difficult. I didn't realize how long that pain would last and I didn't know how to help myself in the healing process because I didn't really talk to anyone about all the grief I felt. I didn't really speak in depth about it until a few years later.

Woman D: The amount of mourning that I did really surprised me. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to celebrate her life and the wonderful person I know she is becoming. I am loving her from afar.

Did you ever have a change of heart or start second-guessing your decision to place your child for adoption?

Woman A: Never. There are times when I wish my son was with me, but I couldn't imagine him without his parents. They are all so perfect for each other and there is a proud feeling of knowing that I was part of creating a family. I was so lucky with my son's parents because I loved them so much that there wasn't enough room for doubt to creep in.

Woman B: No. There were and are moments that I miss her so immensely that I have to lay down and crawl under my covers to cry. There are also times when all I can think about is the what ifs, but I still know with every fiber of my being it was the right decision to place her for adoption.

Woman C: The night I came home from the hospital I had a horrible nightmare that my daughter had died and it really threw me. But as hard as it was, I never wavered in knowing I had made the right decision.

Woman D: I had a few change of heart moments. When I held her alone in my hospital room I counted her eye lashes and watched her breathe. I smelled her hair and listened to her heartbeat. I told her that I loved her very much and I recited a prayer to her that I also told my son every night. I thought about taking her home instead and what I would say to the family if I did that and then I quickly remembered I had nothing to take her home to. The last chance to change my mind was the day they were leaving to go back to their home state. I went to their hotel with my mom and my son to say goodbye and hold her one last time and I also wanted to hand deliver a letter I had written to her. I remember writing "I carried you in love." I remember my mom saying it would be OK to change my mind and that she will support me in my decision, but I took a deep breath and with tears in my eyes, I knew that I had to follow through with the adoption.

What is your present relationship with the child like, if any?

Woman A: My son is only four, so he's not capable of emailing me himself yet, but he knows who I am, and we've had in-person visits where we play together and hold hands. He calls me by my first name and has an adoption book filled with pictures and the info packets that me and his birth father filled out. He also talks about me with his parents and says he's had dreams about me.

Woman B: My relationship with her is amazing, but there was a definite learning curve at first. Her family and I had to work on getting used to each other, just like you would with any other relationship. My birth daughter calls me whenever she wants and she texts me from her mom's phone all the time. Every time I get a text from her my whole day is better. We also see each other often. I love that now she is getting old enough to ask me questions and I love that I get to answer them.

Woman C: We don't have contact, but I have left it up to her if she wants to meet me in the future. I really hope she does, but if not that is OK, too. Whatever she wants is most important. The adoption was never going to be hidden from her. Her adoptive parents have photos of me to show her, should she ever ask and it was agreed that they would tell her as much as she wanted to know as she began becoming curious about it growing up.

Woman D: I do not have a relationship with my birth daughter at all.

What is your relationship with the family like, if any?

Woman A: We have a great relationship. They are the kind of people I would want to be friends with even if we didn't have the connection of our son. Most of our conversations are about our son, but I also share other details about my life with them. My son's mom loves when I share pictures of our dog. I often write about adoption and I always share my articles with my son's mother and we discuss them together.

Woman B: I have never met such loving people. They believe in educating her as much as possible and in teaching her who she is and why she should be proud of her heritage. They tell her how much me and her birth father love her. Her family and I are family, we just are. We can even go do stuff without my birth daughter and still have such an awesome time. I don't think it would have worked so well with a different family.

Woman C: I get a letter and photo from them every Christmas. I keep meaning to contact the adoptive mom and let her know about some of the things I've written. I have a feeling she would gladly receive any contact I made with her.

Woman D: I do not have a relationship with the family at all. This is not by my choice. At the time of placement I agreed with the original agreement of pictures and updates every year for the first three years, however when we were in the hotel room, so much more was promised. I knew that it was a closed adoption in the sense that I would not have contact with her. I guess I just didn't think that meant forever. About five years ago I really wanted to see the daughter I placed, so I contacted the agency and they contacted the adoptive family. Within a few weeks I received an 8x10 photo collage of various pictures of her and a letter letting me know how wonderful she was doing. About the same time the package arrived, I was contacted by the agency and informed that this would be the last update and pictures that I would receive. The adoptive family felt they had met their obligation by providing pictures for the first three years. I was devastated and heartbroken. I could not understand how two people that were so thankful and overjoyed for this wonderful gift, could at the same time be so cold-hearted and closed off. In 2015, I contacted the agency again wanting to know if I would be able to have some pictures and an update. The agency spent several hours on the phone with the family, but sadly they stood firm in their decision, saying, "This isn't what we signed up for." I was heartbroken. I was informed that they would accept some photos from me, though, and in December 2015, I made a trip out to the agency and hand delivered a letter, a scrapbook that included photos of everyone in my family, and a bound book of our family tree dating back to the 1600s. I wanted her to know where she came from. In the back of the scrap book, I also wrote out our nightly prayer so she will always have it. I got confirmation in January that the agency mailed my package to the family, but as of today I have not heard from them. Even though my adoption did not turn out to be our ideal adoption, it does not mean that adoption is not a beautiful thing.

Do you still think about the child at all?

Woman A: All the time. I think of him when I see other children his age or when I'm in the store and I see little boy's clothes and toys. I think of him whenever I see trains (he loves them) or whenever I talk with his birth father. Our son is so much like him. I also think of him whenever I look at his birth father because they look so much alike. He is also the background on my phone and I love sharing pictures of him with my friends.

Woman B: I think about her everyday, several times a day. I love her very, very much. My children know about her. There are pictures of her and her family in our house. I will never stop thinking about her.

Woman C: All the time. She is 11 now and I wonder about what she is like and if we will one day meet.

Woman D: I think about her every day. Her picture hangs in our hallway with the rest of the family photos. Every night when I tuck the kids into bed we say our prayers and we mention her every time.

What are your feelings about your decision to choose adoption now?

Woman A: For the most part, I feel good about it. I still have some negative connotations because of what happened with my family after I made the decision, but I feel happy about the adoption itself. I'm so glad my son has amazing parents who do so many great things for him. They made my decision so easy and peaceful, even though it was still the hardest thing I've done. I am super lucky.

Woman B: It is still the hardest thing I have ever done. My heart hurts when I think about those moments in the hospital, the placement, and then the grieving after placement. I can't believe I got through it.

Woman C: I'm really happy that I made that choice. I have had an incredible journey since the adoption and I know she is an amazing young girl. She's so talented and full of life. In my own little way, I've impacted someone's life for the better, which is cool.

Woman D: I wish I would have had someone explaining to me what my rights were and that it was OK to voice what I wanted to have happen in my adoption.

If you could change anything about your adoption experience, what would it be?

Woman A: I wish I had been brave enough to discuss my decision with my family and made things easier for them, but besides that, I have no regrets and am happy with how things turned out. It gave me the motivation to change my life and actually do something with it.

Woman B: I wish that the agency had helped me more and that I'd been able to get professional counseling earlier on in my process. I also wish the birth father could have been more involved, but you can't change other people. I wish that my parents had more desire to be involved in her life. I wish that they could see what a beautiful human she is and want more contact with her, but I think it is too hard for them.

Woman C: I wish I could've have found someone to help walk me through the process post-adoption. I kind of lost my way for a while. I didn't cope with the pain I felt, so instead I fell into a steady stream of destructive behavior. I was punishing myself because I worried that my not being ready to be a mother had let her down. I later came to grips with the fact that my choice put her on a better path and that I had an opportunity to make something really great of myself. I wanted to make my daughter proud. I wished I had realized that sooner.

Woman D: I would have chosen to have an open adoption.

What advice would you give other people considering placing a child for adoption?

Woman A: I always tell people who are considering adoption to look into finding stories from birth parents, and not just the stories about positive experiences. Read about the birth parents who were forgotten about, who are struggling, who desperately want their children back. Then read about people like me, who love their children's parents and who had a great agency that helped them. Read about adoptive parents and their struggles. Most importantly, read stories from adoptees who are often pushed aside and not listened to. Realize that your decision to place will also affect your child and weigh those consequences. Find an agency who will advocate for you and present all your different options to you and not just want they want. Build a support group of other birth parents and reach out to them. It took me so long to reach out and I wish I had done it sooner. Get yourself therapy if you need it, especially after placing. Listen to your gut, and don't let anyone push you into something you are not behind 100 percent.

Woman B: Research adoption, read other birth mom stories, and make sure it's what you want to do. I think many women are influenced by others' suggestions or pushed to choose what other people want. I believe in women being completely informed in their choices so they can try to understand all the pros, cons, and consequences. Make sure your agency or attorney lines up professional counseling for you. Also, I want them to know that they are not alone. Everywhere I go I meet birth parents. They are everywhere. We are a community and we are an army of support.

Woman C: Everyone has to choose what is right for them and their child. I think adoption is a really great option that shouldn't be overlooked.

Woman D: The biggest piece of advice that I would give to people considering adoption would be to write down what your expectations are and how much involvement you want to have with your birth child and the adoptive family. That way, when you are considering potential adoptive families you can compare it with their expectations.

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