A variety of factors may lead to a mother’s decision to consider an adoption plan for her child. She may have questions or fears about her readiness to be a mother or about her ability to provide for her child. The birth father may or may not be currently involved in her life. For some women this may be during the 1st month, 4th month, or the 7th month of the pregnancy. For others this may be at the delivery or in the days or weeks following the birth of her baby because of circumstances that she did not anticipate that now require her to consider adoption for her child.
As the Maternity Case Manager for Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans for over 10 years, I have had the opportunity to educate and support birth parents of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. The mothers and fathers I have worked with have all had many different reasons for considering adoption. However, the one similarity for each is that they have all wanted to make the best plan for their baby because of the love the have for their child. Adoption has changed a lot over the years from closed adoption to more openness in adoption. Openness can range from selecting the adoptive family, meeting the adoptive family, receiving pictures, and ongoing communication through telephone calls, emails, visits, etc. Openness is not about co-parenting, it is about birth parents and adoptive parents that share a love for the child.
Like many mothers experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, Allie was shocked and confused when she learned she was pregnant earlier this year. She was twenty years old, not working, and still living with her parents. She and her boyfriend had just broken up a few weeks earlier. Her family was surprised, but very supportive when she shared the news of her pregnancy.
At some point in her pregnancy, Allie began to realize that everyone else was happier about the pregnancy than she was. Allie realized that she did not feel ready to be a mother and was fearful that she would not be able to provide for her child. Although Allie’s family was willing to help parent, she did not feel it was their responsibility. She felt that her baby deserved more than what she could provide and began to consider adoption. Allie chose to work with Catholic Charities because she comes from a Catholic family. Her mom knew of several extended families members and friends who had adopted from Catholic Charities over the years. They all had good experiences, so Allie decided to make the call.
Although the process of planning adoption can be overwhelming, Allie was relieved to learn about open adoption and ways she could remain a part of her baby’s life. She was surprised to learn that she could select the adoptive family, meet them, and stay in contact with them after her son’s birth. The more Allie learned about the process, the more comfortable she felt about adoption. Allie selected her child’s adoptive family about a month before her due date. Although she was she nervous to meet them, she felt very comfortable with them from the beginning. Allie felt the family she selected could give her son the type of life she wanted for him: a financially stable mom and a dad with a big extended family. Allie and the adoptive family met several times before her son’s birth. With each meeting, she felt more and more comfortable with her decision.
Following through with the decision to place a child for adoption may be the most difficult decision a parent can make. When Allie first learned she was pregnant, she thought of her pregnancy as a problem. But over time this “problem” became her son who she loved more than life itself. Allie made the decision to visit with her son following his birth. She held him for hours and told him why she felt adoption was best for him and all about the couple who would become his parents. Allie chose to be present when her son was placed with his adoptive parents. Allie felt peace seeing her son with his adoptive family.
Allie has remained in regular contact with her son’s adoptive parents since placement. They text and email each other on a regular basis and have visited several times. Every time she gets an update or has a visit with her son she is comforted to see that her baby is loved, happy, and healthy. This is what she always wanted for him and is why she made the decision to place her child for adoption.
Allie’s story confirms the truly loving, selfless act of adoption. Although her experience is unique, it is similar in many ways to other parents who have chosen adoption. Birth parents love their children and through open adoption they are able to see first-hand that their child is doing well and living the life they hoped for when they chose adoption for their child.
For the child, open adoption provides the answers to questions the child may have about adoption and his birth family as the child grows. The child will also know that he was loved by his birth mother at the time of birth and is still loved because she remains a part of his life.
Cindy Falgoust graduated from Nicholls State University with a Bachelor of Science in Child Family and Social Services in 2000. She has been working in the adoption field for 13 years, providing services to expectant parents considering adoption and to adoptive families. She and her husband, Chris, have been married for 12 years and are the proud parents of three beautiful children, Zack, Luke, and Emma.