How a Mathematic Theory Gives My Placement Purpose

How a Mathematic Theory Gives My Placement Purpose
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“Do you believe Dominic is here for a reason?”

I blinked at my counselor. It was a yes-or-no question, but the answer seemed more complicated than what those small words could express.

No? Yes? I mean, sometimes?

“I don’t know,” I said after an awkward silence.

She let the topic drop. The day she asked was an especially dark one for me, but not for any apparent reason. Just one of those days when everything feels heavy and shallow and simply unbearable — a day when Grief says, “Pay attention to me!”

Hope and Optimism will often calm Grief, but sometimes Fear swoops in to upset the cart again with big, broad life questions that have no simple answer.

Does my life have a purpose? Or, more specifically, does my adoption journey/birthmotherhood have a purpose? Is there a bigger picture or greater reason for my anguish that I cannot see?

From my life experience, albeit a relatively short one, I’ve concluded that these questions are universal. Everyone asks him/herself a version of “purpose questions” at irregular intervals in life. The answers to these questions seem to depend mainly on three factors (at least for me):

  1. Spiritual convictions
  2. Sense of self-efficacy (in other words, the belief or lack thereof that you can influence your own future)
  3. Degree of depression or hope at the point in time in which the question is asked

To answer these “purpose questions,” let’s consider a mathematical tool: chaos theory.

Also known as the butterfly effect, chaos theory surmises that “small events in a fluid system can have broad and unpredictable effects down the road,” according to the simplest definition I could find.

An example of this theory is how rounding numbers in computations can lead to an error at the end of the calculation.

Mathematicians argue that chaos theory cannot be applied outside of mathematical systems. But, according to their own definition, what greater fluid system is there than life itself?

If chaos theory is true for life events, then it stands to reason that when birthmothers place their children, that act has a greater overall effect that may not be immediately apparent. Whether good or bad, this effect serves some purpose in a greater scheme.

In the deepest part of my heart, I believe Dominic is here for a reason. I believe I placed him for a reason, even though I do not fully understand where the decision will lead.

I know a few birthmothers who placed in the 1960s/70s during the Baby Scoop Era, when single, pregnant young women were quite literally forced into adoptions.

These birthmothers were separated from their children at birth, but decades later, reconnected with them. Nearly everything about each of their lives now hinges on that placement. The birthmothers’ and children’s lives would be totally different if that first domino hadn’t fallen the way it did.

I see them, how they survived and that they had it much harder than me in many ways, and it gives me hope that my life will turn out OK. That there is a purpose to what feels like agonizing madness.


What “purpose questions” do you ask yourself? Birthmothers, have you struggled with finding a purpose in your decision to place? Leave a reply in the comment box below. Please be familiar with the comment policy.

One thought on “How a Mathematic Theory Gives My Placement Purpose

  1. Anke Hodenpijl

    My faith helps me find peace in the midst of chaos. I often think of throwing a pebble into a peaceful lake and watching the ripples change the surface. I can’t even see what effect it’s had under the surface. We may never know how our ripple-effect will change the world, but it does. For now, your sharing your story is one of the pebbles you have been given, creating yet more ripples.

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