“I Didn’t Give Away My Baby”: My Birthmother Story

This guest post is by Lindsay Cates, a birthmother.

The strength it took me to walk out of the hospital without my baby 1½ years ago is inexplicable.

The only thing that has filled the void has been my son’s wonderful parents.

They have been amazing and given Haden the most incredible life—more than I could have ever asked for.

I think people, especially women, can’t imagine “giving” their baby “away.” But I didn’t give away my baby.

Because people are so uneducated about open adoption, they automatically view it as some terrible act of selfishness or hate.

This is one of the reasons I want to share my birthmother story.

I believe that if more people could see how truly positive and loving it is to bless a family with a child, they would change the way they feel about birthmothers and open adoption in general.


Haden and me.

My placement story began in the fall of 2013.

I had just ended a five year relationship that I had with the father of my two children and had started seeing a new man who had three children of his own.

We bonded over our previous failed relationships and things seemed to be going well.

Fast forward a few months ahead to the spring of 2014 and suddenly I found my entire world crashing down on me with an unplanned pregnancy.

My mind was racing. How could I have a baby with this man I was just getting to know? How could we afford to take on another child?

How would we raise him in two separate homes and, for goodness sake, did we even care enough for one another to make it work?

Like a coward, I texted him because I couldn’t face him. His reaction? We have to get an abortion.

I was furious. How dare he blame this innocent baby for our carelessness?

Well, I wasn’t having that. I thought about trying to parent my baby without him, but I was terrified. I was already struggling trying to make ends meet.

I felt like a failure. Never in a million years had I thought I would be in this situation. I decided to go online and research adoption.

I started exploring adoption because I loved my child enough to give him life and to place him in the arms of two people who would help him live it in ways that I couldn’t.

I wanted to raise Haden but if I would have kept him out of selfishness, my two other children would have suffered and that’s not what I wanted for them.


After feeling Haden moving and kicking and growing inside of my belly, I knew I wouldn’t survive a closed adoption.

My heart would have been broken forever if I couldn’t see and hold him or get pictures and updates.

I know some birthmothers who have closed adoptions and they regret it.

Adoption and placement stories are never the same, but I just knew I couldn’t go on without being a part of Haden’s life, even if it meant that I would have to watch from a distance.

He means everything to me.

After reading up on adoption I knew that it was my only option The next step was deciding whether or not I wanted it to be open.

Could I really sit back and watch another mother and father raise my child? Would I want my baby to know me? Would it hurt more or less not knowing?

I finally realized that I had to stop being selfish. I had to stop worrying about me, me, me, and how this would make ME feel or look.

I knew I loved that baby growing inside of me and I had to do what was best for him.

I didn’t get up the courage to contact an adoption agency until I was almost 30 weeks pregnant. At this point I had a set plan and I was okay with how things were going.

I didn’t get to pick a forever family for my son on my own because I waited too long to contact an agency.

But God had a different plan: After I delivered, an agency worker came and said they had a family and that the woman who would be my birth son’s mother couldn’t have children of her own.

I broke down crying, holding this beautiful little baby boy and I knew in that moment that this was her son. This perfect angel was sent to me for her and her husband!

 I was feeling so many emotions it was unreal. My son had parents! Two people who would love him and give him the entire world.


Haden and his adoptive dad.

 That night in the hospital as I held him while he was still my son and I was still his mother, I explained to him my choice and I begged and pleaded with God to help him understand that my choice was made out of pure love for him.

 I held him so close to my heart knowing that I wouldn’t be there for any more of those precious moments.

Although I knew that I wanted a pretty open adoption, I wasn’t sure how much I could handle. At one point I completely distanced myself and Haden’s parents respected that.


Haden and his adoptive mom.

They are willing to be as open as I want and they reassure me that Haden will know who I am. We have no secrets and I am grateful for that but I’m still trying to find a balance.

It’s tough at times, but I know that open adoption is forever shifting and changing.

I know I’ll get there someday soon as my heart continues to heal, as for now this triad is as happy as can be!

Placing your child is not giving them up or giving them away.

Although I grieve for a child that is still alive I would not change a single step in my journey.

Open adoption has forever changed me and the way I love.

Aside from God, who else can complete a family? A birth mother can. There are families who are broken because they want a child.

Adoption heals their hearts. How can that ever be something awful? It’s a loving gift.

Haden’s parents had made a promise to me that they would always help reassure me that I have made the right choice and they continue to hold that promise.


They have let me be a part of so many moments that I was sure I would miss out on.

I love seeing Haden with them and how much he loves them. Open adoption is a beautiful, wonderful, bittersweet choice.

I’ve learned that it’s not about losing anything. It’s about gaining more hope, more happiness, and more love. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Lindsay Cates is 26 years and birthmom strong and proud! She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania where she raises two young children.

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