What I Wish I Knew About Adoption Before I Placed My Baby

This guest post is by Terri Rimmer, a birthmother and author. 

April 17th was the anniversary of my birth daughter McKenna’s adoption finalization in 2001.

I remember Jan. 2, 2000 when I found out I was pregnant and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not raise my daughter but that I would have to place her for adoption.

It would be the hardest thing I would ever do – or have done since.

Still, I prayed about it for two weeks even after talking it over with Jon, the birth father, and being in agreement with him.

At first we were going to choose my sister to raise our child but her partner didn’t want the birth mother to know the identity of her mother so I wasn’t going to do that.

I remember when I worked at Catholic Charities four years previous and the staff talking about a local place called The Gladney Center for Adoption, a maternity home that took in unwed mothers.

You could live there or not – your choice.

So, after I went to Planned Parenthood since I couldn’t afford to go to a doctor to confirm my dollar store pregnancy test (which my friend had to pay for) and they told me I was, indeed, pregnant, I asked for a Gladney brochure and they gave me one without any hesitation.

I made an appointment to take a tour and Jon went with me.

It was overwhelming, to say the least, but throughout the whole ordeal I knew in my heart it was the right choice.

However, looking back, there are many things I wish I had known about adoption before I placed.

For instance, I didn’t know that there was so much stigma still about the issue in the 21st century.

I had to quit two jobs because of bullying by co-workers because they didn’t accept my choice, even though I didn’t tell them about my decision – my bosses did.

I would go home crying daily until I just couldn’t take the stress any more so I had to quit.

I didn’t know that this experience would make me stronger than I have ever been in my life, that I could ever love a human being more than I ever thought possible, that I would be willing to kill and die for someone and not think about myself so much 24 hours a day like I used to, that she would give me a reason for living.

I didn’t know that I could withstand days and nights of depression and get past it through months and years of not thinking it would get better until finally it did and I had something to look forward to.

I didn’t know that I would meet other expectant birth moms in my daily life who were struggling with the decision or who had made the decision and that I could be a beacon of hope for them.

They were placed in my path and I was able to give nurturing to them.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that in my most painful place that years later I would be giving them words of hope.

And that word “Hope” is my birth daughter’s middle name. I gave it to her but the adoptive parents liked it and kept it, which usually doesn’t happen.

And, since April 2001, I have gotten to see McKenna 2-3 times a year, another miracle that I didn’t know would happen.

Another thing I wish I knew about adoption before I placed was that it is staggering how many children are in need of adopting and yet so many families are turned down for silly reasons.

On the flip side, it is truly disturbing how many people thought that I should’ve gotten an abortion or raised McKenna myself, knowing that I had nothing to offer her and that I was mentally unstable when there were families out there who would love her.

Even more troublesome is society’s mentality that if you get accidentally pregnant and you’re not equipped to handle it, as I was at 34 for the first time, then you should just be on welfare and that that’s okay to just accept that kind of life for you and your child.

I wanted more for McKenna. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t raise her. I wanted her to have the life I couldn’t give her and all that that entails.

Mother’s Day was last weekend and it used to be that I would dread it and get depressed.

I wish I knew that some birth moms with depression take longer to heal when my fellow birth moms seemed to bounce back quicker.

But I’m still here and I’m healing. And I’m a proud mom.

Despite all of this, I don’t regret a thing.

Terri Rimmer is a birthmother and author of the book, MacKenzie’s Hope

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