Given the interconnectedness of our modern world, it is likely that everyone knows someone who has either been adopted, adopted a child, or made the decision to give a biological child up for adoption. There is no doubt that these tough choices deeply impact the lives of everyone involved, but the outcomes are varied and look drastically different for each individual. By sharing with those who have been directly involved in these processes, perhaps we can become better supporters and allies for our fellow mothers. The following stories are true accounts of two women whose lives have been touched by adoption; they include raw emotions and truths that are meant to provide us with a better understanding of just how impactful the world of adoption can be. Some facts, names, and locations have been changed to protect their identities.
Anne’s Adoption Story
Anne was born in central Wisconsin to a family of 6. She was a bright young woman who loved her family and loved being outdoors. When she was 17, she and her boyfriend became pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned and came as a surprise to her family. Her parents expressed their concern and dissatisfaction on many occasions and eventually gave her an ultimatum: give the child up for adoption or move away from the house and end communication with the family. After much inner tumult, Anne decided to give the baby up for adoption. This decision would prove to have endless influences through the rest of her life.
Years later, Anne lived in Milwaukee and was a powerful force in the telecommunications industry. Despite outward appearances of a peace and happiness, she consistently shared her sadness at the loss of her daughter with her best friend and sister, Jenny. According to Jenny, these feelings grew stronger and stronger over the years and culminated with an attempt to locate and reach out to the woman who was now in her 20s. After multiple failed attempts at communicating with her, Anne stopped her efforts. Roughly two years later, she decided to end her own life in the peace and quiet of her suburban Milwaukee home.
A few years later, in a beautiful turn of events, Anne’s best friend Jenny was able to locate the woman and they have since forged a deep friendship founded on the respect and love they have for their sister and biological mother. They have shared stories about Anne’s teenage years, compared photographs of the young woman and her mother and, recently, discussed the many ways that Anne’s new granddaughter, Chloe, resembles her grandmother. While the physical meeting between Anne and her daughter never took place, the relationship that her daughter and her best friend share stands as a serendipitous reminder of the strength and resilience Anne courageously possessed.
Tracey’s Adoption Story
Tracey, a midwife, and her husband were the parents of four biological children who ranged in ages from 16 to eight. As a midwife, she met hundreds of expecting mothers a year, some of whom were struggling to decide if they were able to parent their coming babies. She greeted each and every woman with compassion and respect, regardless of their life circumstances and decision-making strategies around this issue.
One day, her colleague met a woman who had decided she was not going to parent her baby; she had decided that the child would be better off in the care of another family, and she had specific desires for the placement of her baby. After work, Tracey and her colleague were chatting about the events of the day when this woman’s story came up. Tracey’s family fit the description of the biological mother’s ideal household and ultimately, Tracey and her husband decided that they had a lot more love to give and happily expressed their willingness to adopt the child when it was born.
As with most of these tough decisions, the pregnant woman spent a great deal of time mulling over this decision. She eventually changed her mind and decided to keep her child. Tracey and her husband were overjoyed that the woman wanted to keep the baby and fully supported her decision.
Years later, completely coincidentally, Tracey met the very same woman in a hospital ward in Toronto. She was working as a nurse in the maternity ward and told magnificent stories about her teenage daughter. She was as proud as a mother could be and was excited to tell of her musical talents and school successes.
The preparation and planning Tracey and her family did to adopt the baby inspired them to move forward in the process, even after they received news that they were not doing to parent that specific child. Tracey and her husband ultimately adopted not one, but two, young children from China who are presently active and healthy teenagers who enjoy celebrating their Chinese heritage. Tracey and the nurse continue to stay in contact and share parenting stories of love and laughter often.
These narratives are just two of millions that take place daily around the world, but they serve as clear examples of the painstaking decisions women make to ensure that their children are loved and cared for. The love a woman displays for her child may be manifested in many forms; for some, it appears as the choice to place them in the home of another family so they are given the care they need. For others, it appears the decision to love and nurture them no matter how much of a struggle it might be. The most important lesson we can take from these stories is that a woman’s choice about the future of her child is hers and should be appreciated and respected as such. Perhaps sharing stories like these will move us to a more accepting future where women and their choices are celebrated and appreciated just as they are.
Courtney Tucker’s background is in international development, with specific emphasis on community-led projects that support women and children. She’s currently living in central Uganda and working with a small group of women who are living with HIV/AIDS. She enjoys cross-cultural exchange and believes there is much to be learned from sharing and growing with women of the world.
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