There exists in the United States a certain stigma regarding the women who give up a child for adoption. The stereotype has two general forms. The first birth mother concept is that of the teen mom. She is young, immature and unsophisticated, likely not even a senior in high school.
The second birth mother possibility possesses some fatal flaw(s) that make her an unfit mother. She almost certainly uses drugs or alcohol, probably both, and cannot seem to get her life straight. No job lasts long and she never graduated or received her GED.
Like most stereotypes, the ones people often hold regarding birth mothers make broad generalizations that are incredibly inaccurate and totally devoid of nuance. For example, the majority of women in this category did indeed complete High School, with nearly half also holding college degrees.
What is worse about these characterizations is they are insulting and have unintended consequences at times when women are already vulnerable. I would know. I had my second child in September of 2015 and watched as he was discharged from the hospital days before me in the care of his new family.
I certainly did not fit the stereotype. I was 32 years old, I graduated high school in the top 10% of my class and earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology. I am open about an issue with substance abuse in my 20’s, a desperate attempt to self-treat undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, I got treatment and got better.
I was still rebuilding my life when I got pregnant. I already had a son, one who had been affected by my past. Make no mistake, I desperately wanted to keep my second son, but his older brother needed me more and I could not provide for both the way they deserved.
During my pregnancy, I had always intended to keep minimal lines of communication open. My little one’s premature birth, however, brought him into the world with no one but me to tell him how much he was loved.
I chose the adoptive parents the day after he was born. They are exactly what I would wish for as parents to my child and we have completely open communication now. I saw them and my son not long ago when I went to visit for my son’s birthday.
My story is just one among many, with no two of them identical. In telling it, I hope readers can see that there is no typical birth mother. No word exists to express the anguish of the choice birth mothers make. In recognizing that each woman’s background creates differing needs, post adoption care will be able to better assist women to heal and move forward.