Every action has a reaction that follows. Whether you like the reaction or not, there are always going to be pros and cons to every decision that you make in life. Even something as simple as the food you decide to put in your body will have a negative or positive effect on you, depending on what you choose to eat.
Relationships are a bit more complicated than determining your meal plan. You can control what goes into your body, but you can’t control the reactions of others to your own decisions. Free will is the greatest gift that we have been given. It is a God-gifted blessing, so that we can choose how to live our lives. Whether you believe God gave us free will, or if you believe in manifest destiny, the truth remains the same: Cause and effect are inevitable.
The choice of adoption belongs to the woman who has conceived the child. While this may not seem fair to those who don’t agree with her decision, it is irrelevant since it is ultimately a birth mother’s choice to determine whether adoption is the best option. However, while there are great benefits that come with the choice for adoption, there are also consequences. Adoption is not a decision to be made lightly. Once finalization has occurred, the choice is final. The ramifications of the choice for adoption are significant, and should be given serious consideration before following through.
Let’s start with some of the benefits of adoption:
1. Birth mothers choose the parents who will raise her child.
A woman who finds herself dealing with an unexpected pregnancy may already know the people who will raise her child. Perhaps she has known them her whole life, or perhaps fate has brought them together in perfect timing. Perhaps the woman does not know who she will choose to raise her child, but knows that adoption is the best, and perhaps only, option. Adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, and other sources are available for this woman to find the parents she knows will be the best fit for her child. Having a choice as to who will raise your child is an incredibly empowering realization and experience.
2. Adoption is an opportunity to give a child the best life they could ever have.
I would think it’s fair to say that women who are facing an adoption decision are struggling in one or many more aspects of their lives. Whether it be mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically or otherwise, the struggle is real. Facing an unexpected pregnancy before you are truly ready to parent can be incredibly terrifying. It’s hard enough to raise a child under the best circumstances, let alone poor circumstances. Choosing adoption means offering your child a life that you know you just couldn’t provide for them. It’s truly a sacrificial gift.
3. Peace of mind for the safety and security of your baby.
Along with choosing the parents that your child will have and gifting them with a better life comes the benefit of peace of mind for your child. I remember always feeling so frantic that I couldn’t provide for my baby. After meeting his soon-to-be adoptive parents, I felt this sense of peace wash over me. It was breathtaking. I knew that my son would be safe and secure for the rest of his life. He wouldn’t be dependent on me anymore, but I didn’t need him to. I needed him to be dependent on people who could provide for him. Peace of mind is a priceless benefit of choosing adoption.
4. Another chance at life for a birth mother.
Life is completely interrupted when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy. Absolutely everything changes when you find out you are expecting, let alone when you weren’t prepared to be expecting. A woman’s body changes, her hormones shift, her circumstances may look bleak, and relationships respond to the unexpected pregnancy for better or worse. The point is, when a woman becomes pregnant, her life changes. It will entirely shift the core of your being. Going from caring for yourself first to supporting the little life inside of you changes every single priority. Choosing adoption allows for an unprepared birth mother to have a second shot at life. It allows for more mature decisions to be made in the future, and it really is a wake-up call for those who are not walking a happy and healthy path.
5. Remaining in contact with the birth child.
Choosing an open adoption allows for a woman to continue being in her child’s life without the legal obligations that comes with parenting. Depending on the level of openness and frequency of communication, a birth mother may genuinely feel fulfilled in her relationship with her child through an open adoption. Obviously there will be bumps along the road, and the waters will shift with the tide, but navigating through an open adoption is far from impossible. A birth mother who cannot parent but desires to have a relationship with her child may find an open adoption the ideal situation.
Let’s talk about some of the consequences of choosing adoption:
1. Experiencing intense and, at times, overwhelming emotions.
There is just no way around it: choosing adoption is emotionally painful. Not only are you going to deal with grieving a loss related to your child, and perhaps the loss of others in your life who pulled their support, but you will also grieve losing the role of “mother” to your child. You may feel empty at times and lost. These wounds take time to heal, and no matter what you do to try to avoid it, eventually you will have to process these losses and go through the grieving process.
2. Birth mothers have no legal rights to their adopted birth children.
Once finalization has occurred, the process of the adoption itself is over. There is no more room for a woman to change her mind or choose different parents. She has made a decision that she cannot change and that is to completely relinquish all legal rights to her child.
3. Going through the grief process in the long-term.
Healing is a journey, not a destination. I chose adoption over seven years ago, and I am still walking a path of healing. At times, the negative feelings associated with grief surface for me. I have a hard time being around my birth son for long periods of time. My relationship with the adoptive parents is always evolving, as is the growing relationship I am developing with my son. There is no short-term solution for dealing with the grief. Once a birth mother, always a birth mother.
4. There is the possibility of regretting the choice for adoption.
I hate to say it, but it’s true: While it’s rare, you may regret your adoption decision. I’m not going to sugar coat the truth and tell you that once you choose adoption, life is smooth sailing from there. Life is messy, at times it’s confusing, and sometimes it’s a rollercoaster ride. Throw choosing adoption into an already chaotic situation, and your life will either get better or worse depending upon the choices that you make. I have no regrets, but there are women out there who do. They felt pressured to make a decision they were not mature enough or equipped to make. Make sure when you are seriously considering adoption that you consult with an adoption professional or pregnancy counselor. They are equipped with the tools and information to help women who are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy to make the best decisions for themselves and their children. This is the best way to avoid regretting any decisions you may make while experiencing such a difficult time in life.
5. You may lose some relationships that are important to you.
Not everyone is going to agree with your decision for adoption. There may be people in your life for whom you care deeply, but will cut you out of their life if you follow through with your adoption decision. This will only add to the aspects of choosing adoption that you will need to heal from. These relationships may be rekindled at a later date, but some of them may disappear forever.
Remember, while the cons seem rather harsh, and potentially terrifying, healing is the right and responsibility of every birth mother. Healing is possible, and it can be a miraculous journey if you are dedicated to walking it. Trust me, I’m living proof.
Look at Your Own Life
Honestly, it’s crucial to assess your own personal situation. Take a genuine and truthful look at the different aspects of your life, including the emotional, spiritual, physical, mental and financial components, before you make an adoption decision. The cons of choosing adoption for your baby may outweigh the pros for you and vice versa. Whatever you do, make sure you are positive it is the right choice for you. If you don’t know if it’s the right choice and just cannot achieve some peace of mind throughout the process, then adoption may not be the best decision for you. However, if you feel a sense of peace for yourself and for the future of your child, then trust your instincts.
Make yourself a pros and cons list for yourself regarding the choice for adoption. Keep it to yourself, or share with someone in your support system. Do you feel at peace about your decision?
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.