Often I am asked why we placed Brit if we so badly want a relationship with her. A very fair question.
The simple answer is: When we chose adoption we chose a permanent solution to a temporary situation.
BF and I had just started dating. We had been together a matter of weeks when I got pregnant. There is no excuse for why. We are old enough to know better, we are educated, we are responsible in most other areas of our lives. We simply did not communicate well about this area of our relationship.
When I found I was pregnant we were faced with what we felt like was an unbelievable set of circumstances. Two people, just getting to know each other, newly divorced, raising 5 boys of our own as single parents. Both over 35 years old and 'done having children'. Or so we thought.
BF is an accountant. He is calculated. He plans. He rationalizes. And it takes him a REALLY long time to make a commitment to something/someone. He has to be certain.
I am impulsive. I love fast and easily. I believe all things will work out for the best and that people are good. I trust and forgive easily. I deal with things only if I have to. Denial is a preferred method for difficult situations if at all possible.
So being unexpectedly pregnant threw both of us for a loop. It didn't fit into any plan BF had for his life, and I simply did not know what to do about it. We were overwhelmed.
While it is probably an understood, I think it bears stating. Pregnancy does not induce the most clear thinking of a woman's life. Hormones wreak havoc. Thoughts swirl. Tears come easily. Insanity is just below the surface. Small problems can become huge issues resulting in overreaction. To say the least.
I just couldn't fathom how I was going to be able to parent the 3 boys I had, plus care for a new baby. I felt like the weight of bearing that load was oppressive. And not fair to any of the children involved. Especially this child.
BF was equally overwhelmed. The idea of parenting a child with someone he had just started dating (I am quite a catch but he didn't realize it yet, lol), was more than he could imagine.
We had a problem (so we thought), so we had to find a solution. Abortion was not an option for me so that was quickly eliminated. So we could parent or place this child with another family.
We found ourselves saying over and over again how we wanted this child to have a set of married parents, just like our boys had when they were born. We wanted him/her to have an idyllic childhood, like we had planned for our boys. We both hated the fact that our children were now dealing with divorced parents. We had never wanted that for any of them.
So if we could give this child an advantage instead of a disadvantage by providing her with a loving, intact family from the very beginning, weren't we doing the right thing for her?
That was our justification.
Brit deserved two married parents, just like her brothers had when they were born.
So we made the decision to place without ever seriously considering parenting. Parenting just didn't seem to be the logical choice. We believed we should do the 'right thing' for this child, giving her married parents.
We chose her parents, and began developing our relationship with them. They became a part of our lives.
The abbreviated version of that story would be: A couple wanted to be parents, heard about us, thought we were the solution to their problem (infertility). We saw them as the solution to our need for a married set of parents for our child.
It was as simple as that. They were good people, the kind of people we thought would be great parents. They were like us. They were willing and able to do what we thought we could not.
Now for the hindsight...
BF and I should have spent alot of time talking about parenting. We should have let our hearts realize that this was OUR child. We should have only considered parenting until we could justify why we couldn't parent.
I did not do adequate research. Once I made the decision that adoption was our choice, I did not want to read horror stories. I didn't want to hear about anything that would conflict with what I believed would be a fairy tale ending to this story. So I stopped reading anything except happy adoption supportive literature.
Brit's parents were not done dealing with infertility. They knew they wanted to be parents. Adoption was the next logical solution to make that happen. They had not had any pre-adoption counseling. They had just begun inquiring about adoption. They had barely had a chance to process what parenting an adopted child would entail. I believe they were not yet prepared for becoming parents through adoption (just like we were not prepared to become 'birthparents'). They were ready to be parents. But being adoptive parents takes a whole heap of fortitude that not everyone is able to handle, especially without professional advice before you enter an adoption relationship.
BF and I had no idea what having a child who we would not be able to have a relationship with would do to us as people. We had no idea how strong the desire would be for us to have a relationship with our child after she was born. We were convinced this would be a neat and tidy situation. Child has parents, parents love baby, we are happy for all of them and their perfect world.
I should have not become so emotionally vested in my relationship with Brit's adoptive mother. Because every time I had thoughts about keeping Brit, I thought about how it would hurt her mom and I didn't want to hurt her/them.
Although we saw two separate counselors repeatedly, I should have found someone who had extensive birthparent experience. I should have sought wise counsel.
There are so many more things I could list here. But it all comes down to this...
If only we would have known then what we know now, the decision would have been different.
BF and I should be parenting Brit. We should have parented her from the beginning. We should not have ever entertained the idea of adoption. We are capable, experienced parents and we should have just pulled ourselves up and said, we can do this. It might not be ideal, but we can do this.
I am not anti-adoption. I do believe there are some people who should not or cannot parent children, whether or not they give birth to them. But what I have realized is that if at all possible, keeping a child with his or her birth family should be the very first choice. Even if it is hard.
But if it cannot be done, for reasons that are more than just temporary, then the child should still be allowed a relationship with his/her first family.
I made what I thought was the logical choice for Brit's well being based only on the circumstances as they presented themselves at that time. There was SO much more to consider. We thought we were doing the right thing.
BF and I are good parents. We are good providers. We love our children. We should have spent more time focusing on that.
The adoption decision is irrevocable (especially in Kansas, there is absolutely no recourse. Papers are signed 48 hours after birth and there is no revocation period.).
My daughter is being raised by a different family. That is the reality.
All we can do now is try to make this the very best situation for her. The decision was made. Right or wrong. It's over.
I will not undermine her parents. They are her parents now. I will support them, and love them. That's what families do. I will do my part to make this the very best relationship I can. Even when it's hard.
I have no blame for anyone but myself. I made the decision. I am now living the consequences of that decision. The regret and grief is self-inflicted.
Now, we are going to do everything in our power to be available to that little girl. We are going to work on our relationship with her parents. We are vested. We will not just give up on the idea of an open adoption just because it is hard. Families work through relationship struggles. We are committed to filling whatever role we are allowed to have in the life of sweet Brit. We are going to continue to love her to pieces. And hopefully, that will not have to be from afar.
Please do not read the preceding and make any assumption that I am against adoption. There are people who should be parents. People who may not give birth to a child, but who love the child in their life as if they did.
Adoption is not an innately bad thing. On the contrary, I believe that adoption can be a beautiful thing. I derive so much joy from reading about my friends who have beautiful, healthy, open adoptions. Not perfect adoption relationships. But they make the best of what they have. Just like any of us do as parents. They respect the role of everyone in the adoption relationship and they are child centric, focusing on what is best for the child, not just what is least painful for the adults.
Because of my research and now very personal interest in adoption relationships, I have also developed a heart for children in foster care. Those children DESERVE families who love them. Forever families. I am so thankful there are good people who are willing to take on that role for those children.
There are no manuals for life (with the exception of the Bible, which I should read more!). We are all just trying to do the best we can, adapting as we go along.
Life is complicated and people are messy. We are all doing what we think is best.
And everyone should be treated with a little more grace and compassion. Everyone.