By Melinda P // Birth Mother
Tips for Birth Mothers
An unplanned pregnancy is a shocking, scary, and surreal thing that no one thinks will ever happen to him or her. As a teenager, I placed 2 children with the same family (click here to read my story) and learned a lot about adoption while going through the process.
Full disclosure: placing Leilah and Greyson was the best possible thing I could have done for those kids and for myself. I don’t regret it for a day and I wouldn’t change a thing. No two situations are the same, and I don’t believe that adoption is right for everyone. But I do believe that it is incredibly overlooked as an option. Only 2%-3% of women facing a crisis pregnancy choose adoption for their child. If you are in an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption for your child, the following is my real and honest advice.
The Birth and Hospital Experience for a Mother
Before delivery, make a plan. Write out how you would like everything to go at the hospital, through placement, who you would like to be there, etc. If the time comes and things change, that’s okay! It was helpful for me to have an “outline” that I shared with friends and family.
I didn’t anticipate how bad the labor pains would be. Do some research and try to prepare yourself a little in case things don’t go according to plan. Having a baby is always an emotional, scary, painful experience. Labor is also an incredibly beautiful thing. When they say that your body just knows what to do, they aren’t joking. You will know when you’re in labor, you will know when to push, you will know how to breathe through it. Your body can do incredible things and I promise you can do it! Knowing that you will be placing this baby makes it that much more emotional, painful and beautiful. When Leilah was born, I was shocked at how much love I had for her right away. I was so excited to finally meet her, but so sad already that I wouldn’t be taking her home. It hit me right away.
That love can be overwhelming. You can choose to let it consume you or you can use it to keep you focused on your decision. I suggest writing a letter to your baby while you’re pregnant. Write down all the reasons you’re choosing to place and how much you love this baby. The love can cloud your decision; so bring that letter with you to help you remember your reasons for placing.
Do what you feel comfortable with. If you want visitors, have them. If you don’t, then don’t be afraid to tell people to leave. This time you have with the baby is going to be so crucial and important, you don’t want to regret anything.
Take as much time with the baby as you need. This time is very precious, so use it wisely. If you want a lot of people there, have them there! If you want to be alone with the baby, be alone with the baby. The first time around, I definitely let way too many people come. I know that a lot of people wanted to meet the baby, but family and very close friends should have been my priority. I made privacy a priority the second time around and I enjoyed that hospital experience so much more. Both times I had the adoptive couple stay at the hospital with me in another room, which was very helpful. I loved seeing them meet the new baby and create a bond from the beginning. This isn’t the way to go for everyone, but I needed it.
You will have to work with a hospital social worker to get all of the legal stuff worked out. I also worked with an adoption agency. You will have to sign relinquishment papers, but you’re not allowed to sign until you’ve been off of pain medication for at least 24 hours, so most birth mothers that I know stay in the hospital for 48 hours or more. You will most likely have people asking you (nurses, social workers, family members) if you’re 100% sure about your decision. It was something that bothered me while I was in the hospital, but I know that it was done all out of concern and love.
Take time to hold your baby for as long as you’d like. Memorize their face. Tell them you love them and why you’re doing this for them.
Placement Day as a Birth Mother
I’ll be totally honest here: there is nothing that can quite prepare you for placement. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t think people really talk about how hard it is because they don’t want it to scare you away from thinking about adoption, but I think being honest is important.
Placement is different for everyone. For me, it happened at the hospital on the second day with both of my babies. Some people choose to place at an agency, some even choose to take the baby home and “parent” for a week or so before placement. Gauge how you’re feeling. There is no right or wrong way to go about this.
Both times I placed, I had those closest to me in the room. The actual act of placing a baby into his mother’s arms is the most difficult thing I have ever done. It felt as if I was literally ripping my heart out for those babies. But at the same time, seeing the joy those babies brought to that amazing family was worth all the pain.
You will feel every emotion possible.
Leave when you’re ready. Both times I placed, there was a point where I just knew it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and I didn’t linger.
People say all the time they can’t do it, that placing their baby into someone else’s arms would be too hard for them to do. But I can tell you this: You can do it! It is possible and it is worth it.
Recovery and Post-Placement
Coming home from the hospital as an empty-handed birth mother is not easy. You will go through a grieving process, just like you would with any other loss. I cried on and off for many days; I didn’t want to leave my room or talk to anyone. I needed time to be alone and that was okay. It is important, however, to try and get some positivity in your life. On top of all of this, you are recovering from labor and delivery. You will be sore, bleeding, and tired. Take time to rest and recover! Your body and mind will thank you.
I experienced Postpartum Depression with both of my children. I think placing a baby amplified the symptoms I experienced. Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor about how you’re feeling so that you can look through all of your options to get you on the right track.
I was surprised with how long it took me to feel somewhat back to “normal” both mentally and physically. Once you get the green light from your doctor, I highly suggest exercising, staying busy with work/school/friends, and making a plan for your future. I needed to focus on doing things that would make the babies I placed proud of me. Because of the depression, doing that was easier said than done, but it is a very important thing to do.
I wish I would have relied more on the many resources provided around the country both online and in my own state. There are so many girls who know what you’re going through and who are willing to talk to and help you!
The Relationship a Birth Mother has with the Adoptive Family
Communication, communication, communication! That is the number one thing I wish someone had told me before I placed. The relationship between the birth family and adoptive parents is so unique. It can be such a beautiful [connection] full of love, respect, and gratitude. But there can also be feelings of jealousy, resentment, and sadness. You need to communicate through these feelings to have a successful open adoption. It’s something that I wish I had done much more over the years.
If you need space, communicate it. If you need more pictures or visits, communicate it. Don’t be afraid of hurting feelings; I promise that it will hurt more if you harbor your emotions. Just know that you both love each other and want the other to be happy and comfortable in this relationship.
The main goal between you and the adoptive parents revolves around the child. Focus on the fact that you all love this child and want what’s best for him/her. Things might change over time, and that’s okay! Be honest and open, and as the child grows up, be involved in the process as well.
You CAN do this. You will feel normal again. It will be hard, but it is so incredibly worth it if you truly believe that it is the best choice for your child.