Do I regret my decision to choose adoption? No.
What is Regret?
Regret is a loaded word. It implies that one wishes they could go back in time and change something, perhaps use a time machine and make one or two different decisions. Fantasies involve different choices, different interactions with people, and taking knowledge we may have in the present into the past with us. I get it. I do.
Regret can swirl into a tornado of emotions and negative thoughts. Regret can completely consume us. It has the nasty side effect of causing massive amounts of resentment toward ourselves, our faith, and others.
Regret is no joke, and when it’s experienced, it comes with a multitude of pain.
My Take on Regret
Do I have regrets in my life? That’s a loaded question because the question uses such a loaded word.
I have spent a significant period of my life reflecting on the past. Sometimes, the time I spent was productive in helping me to make better choices. Sometimes, it was basically morbid reflection that served no purpose but to send me on a guilt and shame spiral. That’s the thing about being self-aware and reflective; sometimes you can take it too far. I have been known to do that at times. I am better at catching myself now when I commit to unhealthy reflective time, and can more readily snap my mind out of it and shift my focus elsewhere.
I know that more people deal with racing and morbid thoughts than care to admit it. I have been writing long enough about my thoughts to be able to identify similar thoughts that others struggle with. Plus, I’ve had people confess their struggle to me as well. We are not as alone as I think we feel, or even sometimes want to believe.
The thing about morbid self-reflection: it serves almost no purpose whatsoever. It can consume us and plant seeds of doubt within our minds about the choices we have made in our lives. I get it though. It happens.
Back to the Part About Being a Birth Mother
What has all of this got to do with having regrets as a birth mother? Well, I don’t have regrets as a birth mother. I know some of you may be thinking that I sound pretentious and confident, but please know that is not the case. What I am is self-aware. What I have is a belief system and understanding of myself as a woman that has led me to this conclusion. Believe me, I have thought about whether I have regrets. I have racked my brain through fantasy scenarios regarding choosing adoption, and asked myself all the questions.
What I know about regret, for myself, is this: I have always made the best decisions I possibly could with the knowledge I had about my situation at the time that I made those decisions. While I haven’t had the experience in my life of always making the healthiest of decisions, I have spent it making the ones that I believed were the right decisions.
I Did the Best I Could with What I Had
When I was facing the decision of whether to place my baby for adoption or to keep custody of my baby, I was on a spiritual, emotional and mental rollercoaster of questions about what decision to make. Remember, I had my child for six months before choosing adoption. I was a full-time single mother for a period, and was looking at making a permanent decision that would change the outcome of not only my life, but the life of my child as well. Let’s not forget the friends and family members who are affected by adoption as well. It is not a decision birth mothers take lightly.
I had offers from friends and family members to care for my child for a period while I could “get stable.” I also had people who were closer friends offer to adopt my child so that he could be raised closer to me than if I placed him with a family I didn’t know. I had the option of going to the courts to get child support so I could get on government welfare assistance. I had options.
Can You Really Have Regrets?
There is no way for me to realistically say that I have regrets about my decision for adoption, because that would mean that I wish I had made different decisions. The implications of such an idea are more than even my mind can comprehend. Sure, if I had different circumstances, more support, more money, maybe things would have been different. But I didn’t have any of those things. I had the hand that I was dealt, and that I participated in.
It is impossible for me to regret a decision I made when, at the time, I believed it to be the right decision. To this day, I am still grateful that I made the decision that I did.
We Have Choices
Regret, and giving into the idea of what it implies, is something I have decided to walk away from in my life. Living in morbid reflection of “coulda, woulda, shoulda” is not where I want to mentally live my life today. It’s not that I haven’t experienced the feeling of regret, it’s that I realize it is not productive, and therefore, I have learned how to live without such feelings.
If you have regrets, you are not alone, but perhaps you could cut yourself some slack. Perhaps you could allow yourself to experience grief and loss without beating yourself up for an old decision that you made. Part of life is maturing as we grow up. There is an adage that implies youth is a waste without wisdom. Yet, life is what it is. We don’t have time machines. We can’t force ourselves to have knowledge and maturity that we don’t have, or aren’t ready to have.
We Are Only Human
I’m sure that most people make decisions they believe to be right, even if they may be unhealthy ones. Most people do not set out in life to make bad choices. Most people believe they are good and moral. If you find you are trapped in regret, know that you don’t have to live there. While there may always be some level of pain, and you find that you may need to walk a path of healing, that doesn’t mean that you should live in misery.
I implore you to allow yourself happiness. It is yet another choice that we are offered in life. And it is our life to do with it what we choose. Don’t let the regret of the past determine the course of your future. Learn from your mistakes, make different choices, and move on.
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.