Adoption vs. single mothering – either choice is difficult…

Posted on January 9, 2008. Filed under: Adoption emotions, Eli & me, My Adoption Story, Why I write | Tags: , , , |

By Joy A. Kennelly

Since my Typepad blog, Pure, Unadulterated Joy is acting up (which really bums me out because it’s thrown away hours of my writing with whatever glitch or hacking is going on), I thought I’d pop over to my other blogs and spread the love.

I’ve not wanted to share this, but feel the need to get it off my chest because I feel relieved to have made the decision I’ve made instead which I can now share.

I almost walked out of my son’s life this Christmas because I get tired of feeling like I’m pushing myself on the parents (even though they assure me I’m not), but was encouraged by my friend who has lost a child to divorce not to let go of the love.

He’s right. I need my son’s love in my life and he needs me too. I know it must be hard as an adoptive parent to feel like there’s some other person sharing your child’s love, but as my favorite psychologist, Marlou Russell, always assures me, there is room in a child’s life for everyone and you can never give a child too much love.

I will share a few funny comments I’ve received over the years from people unfamiliar with open adoption related to this blog. An old room-mate in New York when I was telling her about my open adoption situation asked me at the end, “When do you get him back?” I guess feeling like if it was open, then I get to decide when I’m ready to parent again. That made me LOL.

I assured her it was a forever decision and I would never take him back although there have been other birth parents who might have in the past. (I think it’s rare when it happens, but it’s so shocking that the media attacks the story like vultures to make it bigger than it really should be. )

Then, the other night when traveling with a single mom who assured me she could NEVER have placed her child in an adoption, said to me, “Well the adoptive parents are just leasing him. You own him.” Crazy!:) I know she was trying to make me feel good about my decision, but I already do so… I don’t envy her life one bit.

I guess that’s why adoptive parents can be so freaked out when a birthmother wants to stay involved with their child. That’s why I started this blog. There are so many misconceptions and one-sided views of adoption – usually only the adoptee or the adoptive parent’s views are shared.

I feel it’s time to share the other side. To show that we’re not all drug addicts, crazy, weird, hard-hearted, or whatever else that society sometimes likes to label us and put us in a box.

Most of us, according to some research I’ve done over the years, are college-educated, we’ve thought long and hard about our decision, and we suffer the loss of a child just as if anyone might in a death.

Some of us never recover, but those of us who pursue counseling and receive love and support from friends and family go on to live happy and productive lives. I think the attitude you carry into any situation will determine how you live through it.

I chose to make a very difficult decision nine years ago because I didn’t want to hurt my child based on my life experiences. I also didn’t want to be beholden to the birthfather for 18 years. Lastly, I saw what a difficult life so many single mothers experience and decided to give myself and my son a better life.

I know it’s very patriarchal in this day and age, but I believe children need fathers. Men provide children with skills and support that women just can’t offer which is why I chose to place my child in a two-parent home. I grew up that way and wanted my son to have the advantages I had from that experience (despite all the issues that type of life can bring up too!)

Yes, my choice to place my son in adoption was very logic-driven, but it was also very sacrificial, emotional, and deeply painful, but it’s something I’m proud to have done for my child. I wasn’t in the position emotionally, financially, spiritually or physically to give my son the life I wanted him to have when I became pregnant and chose to allow other people to raise him as a result.

Judge me. Condemn me. Do what you will, but I know in my heart of hearts I made the right life choice for both of us. I’m proud that I’ve worked through all the issues and come out the other side a stronger, better person for it.

I never want my son to doubt I did what I did out of love for him which is why I’ll stay in his life as long as he needs me to be there to show that to him. I don’t think you ever stop being a mom even though you don’t raise your child. You do become almost the aunt in certain respects – all of the love and fun with none of the responsibility.

However, it does have its heartaches too. Don’t get me wrong. I just choose to dwell on the positive aspects and ignore the other.

Okay, that’s all for now. Have a good one!


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One Response to “Adoption vs. single mothering – either choice is difficult…”

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This is perhaps one of the most heartfelt, unselfish essays I have ever read on the subject of adoption. I commend your bravery, faith and generous heart, your maturity. You made what appears to be a very wise and responsible decision in choosing a family to raise your son if you were not in a position to raise him yourself. Doing the right thing for your child isn’t always easy, and you should be very proud of your decision not only to choose adoption but to remain in his life. He is a lucky boy to have so much love surrounding him.

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