To Keep My Baby Safe
“I need to keep my baby safe, can you help me?” the young woman asked us, with tears in her eyes.
She’d tried everything to get away from her abuser, she told us. She’d been through the shelter programs. She’d changed her number. She’d gotten protection orders. She’d gotten off social media. She even tried moving out of town a time or two.
Each time, though, he seemed to find her. Or she went back with him. (Same difference, she said.)
Child Protective Services ended up taking her other children, concerned that she was unable or unwilling to shield them from the father who had hurt her, despite her best efforts. She was fighting to get them back.
The last thing she needed was another child, and yet, shortly after he’d beaten her for the last time and she’d left him, she’d learned she was pregnant… again.
That’s probably not by accident, either; women are often forced to become pregnant by abusive partners, as an act of control.
“I should’ve gotten a tubal after my last kid was born,” she cried. “I didn’t want this to happen again, because I knew he’d try to trap me. I knew I’d end up having to leave. And I hate to sound awful but I don’t need any more children. I don’t want another reminder of him. It’s not this baby’s fault, though. I just need a family to take him in and to keep my baby safe. He deserves that, right?”
Extra Vulnerable: Abuse & Pregnancy
Women in abusive relationships are at the very highest risks when pregnant. The March of Dimes reports that 1 in 6 women have been domestic violence victims during pregnancy and it’s a problem that is prevalent worldwide.
In South Texas, this is a particular problem as well, because the National Latino Network reports that one in three Latinas has experienced intimate partner violence, yet silence often creates a conspiracy that protests the abusers, at the expense of victims and their children.
No mother should have to forfeit her child for adoption simply to escape abuse, and we told her this. There are programs and facilities that can help intimate partner violence survivors who are parenting or wish to do so. Most communities have shelters that offer free counseling and legal services in addition to emergency housing and medical referrals.
The young mother who had turned to Abrazo for help knew all this, however. The problem she faced was that despite all she had lost as a result of her abusive relationship, she knew she would likely go back to him, just as she’d done over and over again, and despite all the risks. “I know it’s crazy, I know it’s probably not going to get better, but I know myself. I know how I am,” she said.
It’s tragic, but it’s a story that plays out month after month, in cities and marriages and families across all socioeconomic stratum. It’s one kind of tragedy when it involves only adults, but it’s a whole ‘nother nightmare when children are involved.
The Protection Adoption Can Offer
The frightening reality is that most parents who are abusive towards their partners will eventually have the same sort of anger and control issues with their kids. And children who grow up in homes where there is abuse or violence are more prone to replicate the same behaviors in their homes when they become adults, sadly.
Mothers who make adoption plans through Abrazo are not required to be in contact with the father of the child they’re placing. Unlike some agencies that put the burden on the mother to “get the dad to sign,” Abrazo takes care of all necessary legal details so that the father is required to deal with Abrazo directly and the mother’s privacy is protected by the agency. In Texas, an alleged father is not entitled to access to the child without a court order; open adoption arrangements can be structured to allow him to have an entirely separate and confidential relationship with the adopting family if necessary, so that the mother’s well-being is not compromised by his participation.
More importantly, Abrazo offers ongoing counseling and emotional support to the placing parent/s, so that they are reinforced in their intentions to seek out healthier relationships going forward.
The mother in the account above was able to safely deliver and place her baby boy with the adopting couple of her choice. He is growing up safe and sound in a home where there is no fighting, no hitting, no shouting and no police presence. His birthmother is now enjoying supervised visits with her child in state care, and she has begun working towards a home health care certification. The birthfather is locked up at present, but his relatives still message the birthmom from time to time to relay his requests that she come visit him and send him money. If she has already done so, she’s not told Abrazo yet… but that’s her business.
Because keeping children safe is Abrazo’s business, something this mother acknowledged in a recent text to the agency staff, which read simply :
“THANK U for helping to keep my baby safe. ABRAZO IS :100:!!!”