My name is Sheila, I grew up in Boston and I’m a birth mom.
When I realized that I was pregnant, I was in denial for about a month. I was terrified to tell my boyfriend, because I truly didn’t know how he would react. From the beginning I knew I wasn’t ready to be a parent, especially if I was to become a single parent; but I thought that if my boyfriend was supportive, then maybe we could figure it out…together.
When I mustered up the courage to tell my boyfriend that I was pregnant, he demanded that I have an abortion. He also asked me if it was really his baby. Needless to say, that conversation did not go well. After I told him and saw his reaction, I knew that adoption was the best option for my child. I wasn’t as worried to tell my parents, because I knew that they would support me no matter what decision I made (but I think they were somewhat relieved when I told them I was considering adoption).
I eventually found out that I was pregnant with a baby boy. Ever since I was young I’ve dreamed of having a family and being a mother, and I always wanted my first child to be a boy. Finding out I was having a boy made it harder, but God had a plan for my son. Having my son grow up in a home where God was at the center was of the utmost importance to me, because of how important that had been in my own childhood. I remember my social worker coming to my apartment with scrapbooks of waiting families. I read so many ‘stories’ of families, and got a glimpse into their lives. Eventually I narrowed it down to three waiting families. I met with them and ‘interviewed’ them one by one. By that time, I had made my own scrapbook and presented it to each of those families. I remember being nervous to meet with those families, and I wondered how on earth I was going to make the decision of who would be the parents for my son. Such a daunting decision! But after I met C and S I just knew. I had peace and assurance that they were my son’s parents.
There was an element of fear in my decision to make an adoption plan, but it was specifically related to my son’s birth father. After I told him I was pregnant on that day in my apartment, I never saw him again. He made it very clear by his words and actions that he would not support me. Throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, I spoke to him on the phone, in an effort to explain to him why I thought adoption was the best option for our son. His demand that I have an abortion made it clear to me that he was not interested in parenting. And I knew I wasn’t ready to parent on my own.
But we didn’t see eye to eye with adoption…
He didn’t agree to the adoption until almost one month after our son was born. During that month, I was scared that he wouldn’t agree to the it and I would have to break my promise to C and S and take their son away from them.
There were a lot of tears leaving the hospital without my son. My tears were a result of sadness, relief and fear. Sadness that I was loosing the ability to mother my child, something I had dreamed of since I was young. Relief that my son was going to be cared for and – hopefully – raised by a wonderful couple. Fear that my son’s birth father wouldn’t ultimately agree to the adoption. But my parents and my brother were there to cry with me and support me when I left the hospital on that chilly October night. I was also still in a lot of physical pain, because my goodness is giving birth painful! I think my physical pain was exacerbated by the emotional pain of saying goodbye to my son and my dream.
I want the world to know that I love my son, and I didn’t abandon him when I made the decision to place him for adoption. I remember talking to one of my co-workers when I was pregnant; he knew that I loved kids and wondered why I was making this decision. I told him that the decision wasn’t about me, it was about my son. I wanted my son to grow up with two parents in a home where he would know nothing but love, and where he would be able to have opportunities that I might not be able to provide if I was to parent him solo.
I think people probably assume that birth mothers are being selfish by making an adoption plan and placing their child for adoption, when in fact it is an incredibly selfless act. I think there’s also an assumption that birth parents don’t have their life together (job, housing, support, etc.) and that’s why they make an adoption plan; while that might be true of some birth parents, that was not the case for me.
For me, placing my son for adoption was both the hardest thing and the best thing that I’ve ever done. It was hard because of all the emotions I felt – pain (both physical and emotional), fear, sadness, emptiness. It was good because I learned a lot about myself, and because it’s shaped my life and my career into something I’m passionate about – adoption. I also want the world to know that the pain we feel doesn’t ever truly go away – it ebbs and flows. I used to be very ashamed of my pregnancy and my adoption plan, and it wasn’t something I shared with a lot of people. That shame has faded, and been replaced with pride. I’m proud that I was able to make this decision for my son, and proud that our families have been able to maintain a relationship as we navigate life.
My son’s parents have accepted me into their family, and together we’ve redefined what family looks like. Essentially it boils down to my son having more people to love him. He has an extra set of grandparents, and his only cousin is my brother’s son. He wouldn’t have that relationship with my nephew if his adoptive parents hadn’t allowed my family to come alongside theirs.
It’s fair to assume that my life changed drastically after I placed my son for adoption. But it was more than just the adoption that changed the course of my life. I worked as an accountant for 8 years, but in 2011 I quit that job. There were a series of events that occurred wherein I realized that I needed to follow the path that God had planned for me. I went back to school and got my Masters in Social Work. In July 2013 I started working for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as an ongoing social worker. When I went back to school, it was for the purpose of someday working in adoption. I became an adoption social worker at DCF in October 2014; today I work with 23 children whose permanency goal has changed to adoption. It’s my job to come alongside these children and support them in finding their forever homes. The parents of the children I work with have not willingly made adoption plans for their children, but some have been able to recognize that they cannot care for their children and have voluntarily terminated their parental rights. While I haven’t shared my adoption story with the majority of my clients, I have been able to use my experience to try to relate to the birth families involved with DCF. It’s challenging work, but not work I could do as confidently without my own life experience. My son is almost 12 years old; from a very young age he understood that I was his birth mom and C is his mommy. As difficult as this experience has been, it’s one I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.