In this week’s episode of Voices of Your Village I dove into part two of our adoption series. I had the opportunity to chat with birth mom, Annaleece, about her experience being pregnant with her birth daughter, making the decision to place Charlie for adoption, and the relationship that she has with her now.
Annaleece shared the circumstances that led to her becoming pregnant at the age of 17. Having experienced sexual abuse, Annaleece was working through that trauma. She moved out of her parents’ house and soon after she found out she was pregnant. Initially, adoption wasn’t on her radar. Her relationship with the birth father wasn’t ideal, but she did have the support of her parents. She actually felt a little resistant to the idea of adoption initially because she felt bombarded with all of the suggestions she was getting from other people.
Things began to change for Annaleece when she reached the point in her pregnancy that she was feeling her birth daughter move around in her womb. That tangible feeling of having a human inside her body led Annaleece to the idea of adoption. She knew that her relationship with the birth father was not healthy, and that they had very different ideas about parenting. There was no way that they were going to be able to co-parent effectively. Taking all of this into consideration, Annaleece felt that she wanted better for Charlie.
Annaleece shared her experience using a facilitator, and reaching out to the family that ultimately adopted her birth daughter. Annaleece chose a facilitator to avoid some of the ethical issues that are associated with some agencies. Annaleece invited Charlie’s adoptive parents to be present at the birth. But for the two days following, Annaleece spent quality, private time with Charlie. She felt that it was important to have that time to bond with her birth daughter and to fully understand the implications of her decision to place her for adoption. After two days, she relinquished her rights and began the journey of navigating the emotions of that. Although she felt confident that she was placing her daughter in the best environment possible, there was a lot of emotional trauma surrounding the adoption. Annaleece shared that adoption is always traumatic in some way, for all involved.
Prior to the adoption, Annaleece and Charlie’s adoptive parents put a visitation schedule in place. Annaleece emphasizes the importance of getting visitation expectations established prior to an adoption because one person’s idea of an open adoption can be very different than another person’s. In all of it, Annaleece has had Charlie’s best interest at heart. Annaleece and Charlie have a great relationship and look forward to spending time together. Annaleece and Charlie’s parents are open with Charlie about the adoption and talk to her about in an age-appropriate way. Annaleece shared that part of why an open adoption was so important to her, was so that Charlie had access to her to answer her questions and to know the circumstances of her adoption. Adoption can be particularly traumatic for the adoptee, and Annaleece believes that in general, adoptees should have access to their birth parents, unless they decide otherwise.
Annaleece also shared some of the legal and financial logistics of the adoption and how that agreement was worked out with the adoptive family. Maintaining her ethics was important to Annaleece in regards to the financial aspect of the process. She also shared the resources she sought out to help her process the adoption. Support groups where she can connect with other birth parents have been important to Annaleece’s process. One support group that she has found particularly helpful is a facebook group for birth moms.
We wrapped up with Annaleece reflecting on what she would have told her 17 year old self as she navigated the adoption. Annaleece shared that she wouldn’t change the birth of her daughter or the adoption. But she would change some of the decisions she made before and after Charlie’s conception and birth. She wishes that she had known her worth and felt like enough. She shared that it took her a long time to forgive herself, even though she knew she was making the right decision. Annaleece emphasized the importance of being open about what you need as a birth parent, so that the people around you know how to help you.