It’s About Making the Most Loving Decision Possible
By Ashley Dooley Wohlgemuth, Education and Support Director
Until I began working in adoptions, I used to talk about parents “giving up” their child for adoption. That can have has such a negative connotation. I’m giving up my night to watch my friend’s kids. I’m giving up on the hope of good weather. I’m giving up on the dream of ever getting that promotion.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I knowingly met someone who benefited from adoption. Our freshman year of college, Anne and I lived right down the hall from each other. She talked openly about being adopted. Her parents—the adoptive couple—were not able to conceive children on their own, but really wanted a family. Anne had a wonderful life. She grew up surrounded by love, always knowing that she was adopted. I learned that adoption was not about giving up at all.
Every Adoption Journey is Unique
Fast forward to my first job out of college. One of my coworkers had three biological daughters. As her girls got older, this amazing woman and her husband felt like their family was not complete so they adopted two young brothers from Russia.
As my life has continued, I’ve had the privilege of knowing several close friends and family who have become adoptive parents. They feel blessed beyond words. It was a privilege to follow them through their adoption journeys. Each one was unique. Most were like a roller coaster ride with ups and downs and twists and turns throughout the journey. One couple had to return home without their newest addition, after the birth mother decided to parent her baby. Never once did any of them talk about their soon-to-be child being given up for adoption.
Birth mothers make amazingly selfless and very loving decisions to place—not give up—their children for adoption. These are deeply personal decisions, and in many cases the birth mothers also experience their own roller coaster of emotions. I would imagine the majority of you reading this know someone who is either an adoptive parent or an adoptee. Far fewer readers know that they may have a friend of family member who is a birth parent who placed a child for adoption. Depending on the decade of the adoption, the decision to place the child for adoption may be known by no one other than the birth mother or a small circle who have never talked about it.
“The Family and Life I Wanted for Her”
At Catholic Charities, our birth parent coordinators support birth parents that have made this very important life decision. Recently, one of the birth parent coordinators shared the sentiments of a birth mother after she had received an update on the baby she placed.
“This is exactly the family and life that I wanted for her and I am so happy. I think about her every day and am so grateful to them. These pictures make me so happy. Please tell them thank you.”
As we observe and celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, I invite you to join all of us who work in adoption or have seen the beauty of adoption first hand to carefully select your words when you hear about adoption the next time.