Do you hear it? That voice, the one in your head. It starts small, with just a whisper, but straining to hear the words only encourages the voice to grow into a loud, mean hiss.
My little voice cycles through various accusations of incompetence, selfishness, fault, stupidity — whatever the insecurity of the day.
When I was in the process of making my adoption decision, I wrestled with the doubts this voice constantly threw at me. Posing as a helpful conscience, the voice barked, “You are just copping out of your responsibility by giving him for adoption. Babies are a lot of work and you just don’t want to do it. You’re trying to erase the slate and start over as if this didn’t happen, as if you can run away from the consequences of your bad choices.”
The voice hinted that my baby was a punishment I was trying to escape. It told me I was a coward for even thinking about adoption. It labeled me a bad, self-centered mother.
Here on the other side of my adoption decision, I shake my head at this voice. Unlike what the voice professed as truth, adoption is not an “escape” from my baby. I did not push the “easy” button when I signed over my rights.
But when I was in the thick of it — pregnant, doubtful, ashamed — I thought there was a chance I was being a coward for wanting to give him to another family.
A “consequence” is a result of any action. Sometimes these results are negative, sometimes positive. So when I call my pregnancy a consequence of my bad choices, I am not casting disparaging remarks at my baby; rather, I am observing the natural order of the universe.
The voice that told me I was ducking consequences never acknowledged this definition, or validated the consequences I accepted through adoption.
Like other mothers, I live with the insecurity of my ability to parent, doubt about whether I made the right decision, and scrutiny of my motherhood from others. The context is specific to each mother and child, but these core consequences still exist.
Since the voice preyed on my common fears, I was unprepared for the difficult, unique consequences of adoption.
As a child grows, a parent cares for him or her in different ways. Babies need to be changed, fed, amused, held. Toddlers begin learning to care for themselves, and by the time they are teenagers, children are hopefully ready to transition into adulthood. In this way, the “burden” of childcare shifts and even lightens as the child ages. The parents’ responsibility and quality of care may not change, but with most children, the intense, hands-on caregiving will eventually stop.
I’m sure as Dominic grows that our relationship will evolve, but since I am not holding his “burden of care,” I fear that what I do carry will grow heavier instead of lighter. The weight of missed moments will sit on my shoulders for the rest of my life. We will always be separated. These consequences are not anything to be diminished or overlooked.
When that voice pipes up these days, I confront it with the truth. No, I am not the one on-call 24/7. But I am living with consequences as his birthmother.
How do you think the birth of a child creates consequences for those involved in his or her life? What consequences has adoption brought to you? Birthmothers, did placing your child make you feel like you were ducking responsibility? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.