' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: When a 'mistake' became a child

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When a 'mistake' became a child

The Bristol Palin story has opened up the debate about abortion because of course...some are thinking, Bristol could have had an abortion. And then there's the language that calls the baby a "mistake," and how that impacts adopted people.

It's a tricky labyrinth because for those of us who gave up children, the pregnancy--there's no way around it--was a "mistake." The pregnancy was a "problem." It was a life--our lives--that were being turned upside down by an unplanned, and yes, unwanted pregnancy. Those of you who have read Birthmark know that I tried to have an abortion. At the time, I was 22, not married to the father (who was married to someone else), living on my own just out of college, without resources, and yes, my pregnancy, was a "problem." It was 1966 when it seemed unthinkable to raise--even admit I was pregnant--on my own.

But once you don't have the abortion, once you go go through the months of having your body and mind turn to a child, your child, everything changes. The "problem" became "him." (I thought I was having a boy up until the moment she was born.) And no matter what I felt before, my feelings turned to love and an aching desire to keep my baby, even though that seemed impossible at the time. So what was once a mistake becomes a child, your child, who you love more than you ever thought possible.

My husband, who was his mother's second child, was born at a time when the family was in financial difficulty, and he once heard that he wasn't particularly wanted...when his mother got pregnant. But that didn't alter one whit the love he felt from his mother; in fact, he turned out to be closer to her than his older brother.

So adoptees, though the word "mistake" is hard to hear, know that it doesn't refer to you as the baby or the person you became. My mistake turned into my daughter Jane and though she had a difficult life, I was always glad to be a part of it when she let me. --lorraine

And here's a comment from Linda:

I keep reminding myself that no one pointed a gun to my head, no one forced to to choose adoption (though therapy decades later told me "of course being a student at a Catholic women's college influenced my decision." My parents would have supported an abortion, in fact, my father sent me money for that purpose and I banked it. A single pregnant woman will believe anything, and I believed the sperm donor.

I know a couple of women who have expressed regret over their choosing abortion, but most, as Lorraine has often told me, can live with their choice without much remorse. I always said if I had to do it again I would still choose adoption, but my position changed post-reunion. I don't know what I'd choose (to raise my child or abort) but I'm 99 percent certain I wouldn't choose adoption.

I was 19 and believed the social worker and the whole "my child will have a better life with a loving couple" myth--marriage wasn't even on my radar. I wanted a brilliant career with a home on both coasts. Sarah Kershaw's article in today's (Thursday 9/4) NY Times more eloquently expresses my sentiments I posted yesterday in response to your blog:

Sociologists say that what drives the failure of teenage marriages — and some also say the postwar young marriage boom may have contributed to the divorce explosion of the 1970s — is the complex condition of being an unformed adult.

“They may not know quite what they want in a lifetime partner,” Dr. Popenoe said. “They still often have years of education to complete, as well as getting settled in the work world, and those two things may change their outlook on life considerably.”

And from Jane:

Giving up a baby is totally different from an abortion or a miscarriage. It causes extreme depression and obsessive thinking, not just an occasional sigh. I thought reunion would resolve some of these feelings -- it has helped but there is still pain.

I cringe every time I see bumper stickers that say "adoption, not abortion."

Lorraine again: Yes, it is sad when people who want to have children can't have them, but that doesn't entitle them to somebody else's baby.



  1. Thank you for this:

    "I always said if I had to do it again I would still choose adoption, but my position changed post-reunion. I don't know what I'd choose (to raise my child or abort) but I'm 99 percent certain I wouldn't choose adoption."

    because I've been emotionally orn for so many years for having this exact same thought. Would I choose adoption again? Absolutely not. Would I ever suggest that someone else go through with an adoption?...again, No.

    I feel like it is selfish on my behalf to thin this way. I gave my daughter life but it has taken an immeasurable toll on me. I obsess, I scan every adoption message board I can find. I cry, I get angry but I'll never "get over it."

    Don't get me wrong, I function at a normal level, I hold a job, just finished a rigorous RN degree while being a single parent but there is deep sorrow in my heart for my child who walks this earth that I have never seen and don't know if I ever will. There is a void in my life and I selfishly think that it would have been much easier to abort. I could have, I knew in plenty of time but I didn't. I'm not saying that I wish I had, only that I would never chose again nor suggest that someone else chose this path.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest and I apologize for the long drawn out post.

  2. I never considered my child a "mistake" or a "problem" for me. In many ways, getting pregnant saved my life/sanity as I could direct my attention to something other than myself and my problems at the time. I was comfortable placing my child for adoption, though I would have preferred an open adoption but that wasn't an option at the time. I contemplated abortion but knew it wasn't for me. That is one thing I would never do to my body but that is my personal choice. I am solidly pro-choice and every woman needs to make a decision she can live with her whole life. All options should be explored to make an informed decision.

    I really don’t think adoptive parents should be made to feel guilty for wanting and loving children. There are circumstances that warrant adoption and mine was one of them. There was no way I would allow anyone in my family to touch my child after the way they treated me. I could have kept my child but I knew I could not prevent the abuse that was sure to come. I am grateful that my son does not relate to my childhood. Even if his childhood had not been good, I would be comfortable with my decision.

  3. Here is yet another viewpoint: my son was never a mistake. Yes, I was terrified and it was a problem when my boyfriend would not marry me, but it was his rejection of both me and my child that was the problem and tragedy, not our son's conception or birth. Unplanned is not the same as "mistake".

    I never wanted and never would have had an abortion. My biggest regret is that I did not have the guts to keep him, not that he was born, and I would go through it all again so that he could be in the world. I bitterly regret the surrender, not the birth and not my wonderful son.

    Adoptees should not think every mother who later surrendered considered abortion or regrets not having one.

    I don't feel I am in a position to judge what anyone else has done or wanted to do, but wanted to include my sincere feelings in this discussion as well.

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  6. Do I think of my son as a mistake? NO.

    Would I have preferred an abortion? NO.

    Would I claim to be happy about adoption. NEVER.

    The only thing I wanted was to be his mother. That is where the adoption vs. abortion debate falls apart. Where is the option for motherhood? Why is motherhood discouraged?

    I'm inclined to think that adoption and abortion both have the potential to allow us to shirk our responsibilites when it comes to sex. This applies to both women and men (I think some men are perfectly happly to use both abortion and adoption as a way out of fatherhood, child support, etc. Same goes for some parents of pregnant women.) I would have LOVED the opportunity to be responsible for by baby, but that option was taken from me.

    I don't like the idea of abortion as birth control, but I also don't like the idea of adoption as birth control, especially when it is imposed on young women by their parents and boyfriends.

  7. I have lived with the pain and loss of my daughter for 44 years now and the reunion did not take the loss or the hurt away. I still cry and get mad at the injustice that was delt to me and to my daughter both.

    I'm sorry some adoptees feel worthless because they shouldn't. I'm sorry I feel bad about myself at times too, but I shouldn't. We can only do our best in this world and live with the outcome. It seems to direct our destinations and how we handle it is up to us. Because NOW, we DO have a choice.


  8. Linda's reference to 'the sperm donor' really rubs me the wrong way. She is referring to her child's father. He may be a real creep in many ways. He may have raped her. I don't know. He may refer to himself as a 'sperm donor'. But he is her child's FATHER/ 50% genetic material. She could show respect and honor to her child by acknowledging the fatherhood instead of dismissing it.

  9. Actually, Being Me, I always referred to him respectfully, i.e., he was my daughter's father. Thankfully my pregnancy was simply love gone amok. My daughter chose to refer to him as the sperm donor from day one, so I followed her lead. While he provided 50% of her genetic material, she chose not to acknowledge his contribution. Her biological father, her adoptive father and her adoptive brother all share the same name, so perhaps it was her way of keeping them straight. I assure you I haven't harbored any ill will toward my daughter's father, and let him know through channels I forgave him long ago.

  10. Linda, thanks for your explanation. (It still gives me the creeps. But --?)

    How long have you and your daughter been in reunion?

  11. As I stated in an earlier blog, my daughter found me 8-1/2 years ago. We had a challenging relationship for five years, she didn't speak to me at all for one of them. We had typical reunion issues. I was invited to her wedding three years ago and that was the last time I saw/heard from her. No explanation, lots of second hand info. As I've said before, my head understands why she cut me off, but my heart doesn't. It just doesn't make sense to me. Like everyone else who's left wanting in a reunion relationship, I try to move forward every day, channel the time and energy I devoted to my relationship in other meaningful activities and causes.

  12. I know I maybe very late with this comment. However, I'm a 24 year old who has endured alot as well growing up the way I did. I was born to two irresponsible young adults and later found myself in custody of my Mother's oldest sister. Now I was not adopted however later my mother had a lil boy and then late a girl they both are adopted and growing up I was aware of all of this because my aunt handled my mothers affairs and it was not a secret. It pained me growing up with my mom being in and out of the psychiatric hospital for most of my life were I dont know who she was as a person when she had her right mind to know I have a brother and a sister and dont know where to find them what they look like what are their personalities are we anything alike, ect the list goes on and although I was blessed to have my aunt and uncle to intervene. My childhood, I remember being sad and gloomy alot of the time the feeling of being out of place I knew my father he was everything I thought was a good father and he did his best but nothing filled in that void of my mother. To know. I had great examples but nothing like my own mother. I said that to say this, I ended up pregnant at a very young age looking for that void filler in the wrong place. Daddy was doing his own thing which I learned of his drug addiction. I had an abortion and i was awake too. and I tell you if God didnt use me for an example as to why you shouldn't do what I have done then you must cant hear or see. That by the way made me make a promise to God that I will never do that again and I swore to be the best mother i could be next time if ever given the blessing to have a gift so special again. And I was blessed with my now 2 year old son Jeremiah 7 years later born to me unwed which I show no glory on. I was stressed didnt know whether i was coming or going but I stayed in the Lord and my son's father and I did our best to make it work. We lost his father in his sleep March 9th 2009. Although we were not married we loved each other the best way we knew how. Whether one count for more than another I love him always and forever with a aching heart of how much we used to share our lives our son the love for one another and so forth. But Im more joyful throught this sorrow and all when I look at my beautiful sons face to see him grow and be part of that. That which I did not have. I love my child so much it consumes me with joyful tears and astonishment and I will die for my child and give my last breathe for my child to save him and as so I live to do for my Lord Father. and knowing I can love as to which my Father in heaven loves me I would never have known if I didnt have nor kept my son. Never, I was selfish and too focused on myself and the minute I knew I was having a baby I knew I had to come back to Christ because I didnt want to mess up not again not even a lil bit. And God obviously Loves me because he heard my promise. He heard me period. from then on I knew he listened and heard me. I love my son he is MY blessing and through it all I didnt have a good job but I stayed in my word and placed all my faith in My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I havent had to work hard or fret or complain about anything the Almighty King himself provides for me and my son He has made a way out of no way. And we are well tooken care of by His mercy and grace. And I mean it I'm forever grateful and my son is very smart and he is very happy totally not the childhood i grew up in. even with two married role models I was not happy I'm talking from the age my son is today.

  13. And I'm forever happy and blessed to get to witness my son's growing and me being able to share my knowledge of the Lord with him how to pray and even correcting his tempertantrums I appreciate and take very seriously parenting as a single parent because He will know his Father of all fathers that his biological fathers passing isnt what makes him weak its what makes him strong in like wise to my trials and tribulations i have and had faced. I could NEVER see myself not seeking God first in all things that I do because he makes everyhting right reguardless as what anyone may think is just and fair. Sorry it was soo long but I had to tell you everything for you to have a clear understanding to my complete balance on NOT running away from your lack of understanding or better judgement. Keep your eyes on the Lord at all times.



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