Blog Talk Radio Transcript: Air Date 11-14-17 (you may listen to the podcast by clicking on the audio link, or read the transcript of the podcast below)
I walked into planned parenthood thinking I was going to have an abortion. One of the workers asked If I had considered adoption. What she shared with me changed my antiquated ideas about what I thought adoption was, into an adoption plan. However, finding the right agency was a little challenging. The first two places I contacted made me feel like I was part of an assembly line, just a number. That gave me pause. Then I talked with a caseworker named Nancy. She was kind, and considerate. She explained the process, and helped me understand that I had choices. She helped me recognize that I was not giving my baby away. With her help I realized that my decision was one of a responsible parent. I was making a loving decision to place my child for adoption.
Jennifer J: Hi and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworski and I’m a social worker with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates premier talk radio blog show. Adoption Associates was founded in 1990, and we specialize in both domestic and international adoption. We provide private adoption services throughout all of Michigan, with offices located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw. Anywhere in Michigan, you can find a connection to Adoption Associates.
Adoption Associates brings knowledge, support and understanding in adoption. Adoption is not only our specialty, but it is our passion. One of Adoption Associate’s commitments is to this weekly radio show to help educate and support adoptive families, birth families, and the adoption community. We are very, very glad that you’re listening in today and are in support of our Adoption Focus Podcast.
We have a really special month going on in November, with it being National Adoption Awareness Month. We are devoting November to topics that are of interest and importance to birth mothers. Today we have Caitlyn with us and she’s gonna be talking about why giving up a baby for adoption is really not giving up a baby, that terminology that we hear so often.
If you are listening today and you’d like to call in during the show with questions or comments, we would love to hear from you. You can do so by calling 347-850-1100, again, 347-850-1100 with any questions or comments. I’d like to welcome now to the show Caitlyn. Caitlyn are you with us?
Caitlyn: I am. Thank you for having me.
Jennifer J: Thank you so much for being on today’s podcast. I know that sometimes this can be a little bit intimidating, so hopefully not for you. It was five years ago Caitlyn that you placed your child for adoption and you’ve agreed so graciously to come on today to talk about this. I was hoping that you could share a little bit about the circumstances that you were facing when you made your decision to plan adoption for your baby.
Caitlyn: At the time, I was actually in a relationship with a man and I was actually on birth control. I had experienced about a month’s worth of really bad morning sickness that lasted all day, and that was really the only thing that led me to wonder if I was pregnant. So, I took a pregnancy test. I took five more pregnancy tests and they came back positive. Then I scheduled an appointment at a Planned Parenthood actually to confirm the pregnancy like, for sure, there’s no going back.
You always hear the story of the false positives and that sort of thing with pregnancy tests and I just wanted to make … During the course of that, it came back as I was pregnant, was for sure and it just kind of left me with a, what do I do now? By the time I had confirmed the pregnancy, my relationship with this man, I knew it wasn’t gonna work out, so I was left having a conversation with him basically saying, “I wanna break up with you and by the way, I’m also pregnant,” which is a very awkward conversation to have.
I ended up actually going back to Planned Parenthood to have an abortion because at the time, my idea of adoption was, it was always closed. You never got to meet your child, they never got any information about you, that sort of thing. Before they actually provide the abortion, they actually give you a survey and it just kind of gets your thoughts on what your ideas of adoption, your knowledge of other options.
Based on that, they actually took me aside before the abortion procedure and said, “Have you thought about adoption?” Adoption is something that in recent years has really changed and evolved. It’s a lot different than what most people think adoption is, which like I said, I had thought it was just closed and that was it. Basically, we had like a therapy session in the middle of a Planned Parenthood in this private room.
They gave me information like phone numbers to call different adoption agencies throughout the state. That was kind of my first consideration of adoption, was actually at a Planned Parenthood. They actually would not allow me to go through with the abortion until I’d explored adoption and decided whether that was a path I wanted to take.
Jennifer J: So really Caitlyn first of all, thank you for sharing that. I know that that’s very personal to you, but it’s very interesting to me that you went in with a plan and this one question changed the course of your decision making, changed the course of how you chose to handle and address this unplanned pregnancy. Have you thought of adoption? That simple question. What was your original or initial response or thought or feeling when you heard that question?
Caitlyn: My initial feeling was, no. I am the only child of a single parent. My mother raised me by herself and you have no knowledge of my father. I don’t know his name, that sort of thing and I of course I’m approaching from the idea that it’s always closed. I didn’t know that I could receive information about the child, and thought that I would never get to contact the child until a certain period, if ever.
I just remember growing up as a teenager and having questions and I didn’t want my child to have those same questions. It was really in that meeting where the counselor said that adoption has really changed. It’s really evolved over the last couple pf decades and there are other options other than closed. That was really the first time that I started to consider, “Okay, well maybe adoption is an option for me if that’s what’s available as an option.”
Jennifer J: Okay, so here you are hearing this for the first time thinking maybe this is an option. Let’s talk through how you ultimately made the decision that you were choosing adoption for your child.
Caitlyn: I got home that day and I was still processing everything. The information that they gave me. There were several agencies and several phone numbers. I called the first couple of phone numbers. One went to a voicemail and I was just not comfortable leaving a voicemail. I wanted to talk to a person right away, and I know realistically that that’s not a feasible thing all the time, people are busy.
But at that moment in time, I was already uncertain of what I was doing and I was uncertain of adoption and I just wanted to get right into talking with somebody to get that reassurance. Then the second number I called, it just left me with this feeling that I was a number, if that and it was more like, “You’re giving your child up. That’s all that we’re interested in is your child. We have all these families waiting and we just want your child.”
It was almost like a transaction and that just left a really bad taste in my mouth because I feel … I’m a person you know. I’m going through all these feeling and all these emotions and thoughts and I want there to be somebody on the other side of this understanding or at least empathizing with what I’m going through. I just never got that feeling from that agency.
I called the third number and that was actually you guys and when I called it, it was a different feeling right away. It was very warm. It was very expecting and that’s actually when I made an appointment with Nancy. Nancy has been amazing. From the very beginning, she’s felt like a mother to me. I know that’s kind of odd to say, but she’s just been very nurturing, very empathizing and understanding and that was exactly what I needed to help combat the feelings of not being enough and whether I could go through with this.
All the doubts and the shame that initially is kind of intertwined with that, she was very reassuring about it and that was very helpful to me making the decision to actually go through with it. Making that decision that this is the right path for me.
Jennifer J: Yeah, you needed someone to stand next to you, to understand you, to hear you and to help answer probably the hundred questions that you had.
Jennifer J: Absolutely. So, once you made the decision, now we’re here and you’ve made the decision and you chose a family, how were you feeling at that point? I mean, you had a bit of a path to even get there and for many people they say that’s the beginning, but that wasn’t really the beginning. You went through a lot. You went to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, then you educated yourself. You called numerous agencies. You met with a case worker with Adoption Associates and now here you are. You’re into this adoption planning and you have a family. What were you feeling at that point?
Caitlyn: It is so hard to describe the feeling that you have at that moment. I feel like it is a daily, even sometimes a moment by moment decision that you are continuously making. Is this still right for me? Is this still right for my child? It’s something that you have to do a lot of introspection on. I am not the most self-aware person in the world and it was something that you really had to dig deep into yourself and basically peel back all the layers of who you think you are, the things that you think you should do based on perception of people around you.
You really just have kind of bare your soul and figure out who you are as a person and what you are going to stand for. What you will accept, what you won’t accept. It’s a very, very difficult process, and it’s something that like I said, it’s a daily thing. There’s a lot of different feeling intertwined with it. There’s shame. There’s grief. There’s joy. The adoptive couple that I chose for Alissa, they’re amazing people.
Funny enough, I always tell them, I say that they are exactly the kind of parents … The adoptive father is the father that I wish I had, and the adoptive mother is actually exactly like my mother in some ways. So, it’s almost like I kind of was choosing the family that I wish I could have provided for my daughter. It’s something that you kind of have to come to terms with that this is something that is the best option and the best choice for my daughter.
It’s a lot to deal with the feeling that you are not enough. That’s the big thing that you have to deal with, is that feeling of not enough. You kind of over time have to deal with that emotion. You have to swallow that emotion, work it out and piece it out and be realistic about the situation and about your feeling. It’s so complicated. It’s really hard to describe.
Jennifer J: Well Caitlyn, you’ve done an excellent job describing that even though you say it’s difficult. When I hear you talk about reevaluating your decision, and you said you went through this process of asking yourself who you are and what you stand for. That was the process for you of coming to terms of what’s best for my child and what’s best for my child may not feel like what’s best for me personally because there are all of those complicated emotions that you just described.
For those people that are listening, I do hope that we’re depicting this in a way that is clear that this was not an easy decision. This isn’t a decision that you ever planned to make or circumstances that you ever intended to be in. But I recognize Caitlyn that you put a lot of time and consideration into your decision.
When we were talking before the podcast today, you mentioned something. I wanna get it right here. You called it the after effects of adoption. That’s the after adoption. What does that mean for you? Describe that for me and our listeners to help us understand what you’re talking about with that.
Caitlyn: The after effects of adoption is basically … The way I dealt with the after effects of adoption is, I basically had this box. And in this box with all the emotions that I experienced throughout the process, all the emotions that I continued experience after facing my daughter for adoption, it’s an ever changing box. It doesn’t look the same from day to day. It doesn’t look the same from month to month and it really is the effect of having to be so strong and yet be vulnerable at the same time.
In order to do this, you have to have strength in your vulnerability. And unfortunately, vulnerability also is kind of tied into fear. Sometimes on some days, that fear speaks louder than the strength of your vulnerability. You kind of have to process that fear in the same way that you process that vulnerability. You have to be realistic about your decision and the decision that you made.
Like I said, there’s a lot of , “I’m not enough.” There’s a lot of shame tied into it and toy have to process and pick out each of those emotions and look at them from different perspectives and understand that it’s not that you weren’t enough, it’s that you were strong enough to make the best possible decision for your child. That best possible decision was placing your child with a couple who was ready, who had planned for years and were so eager to have a child.
In that way, at the same time that you’re sacrificing for your child, you’re also giving them the best possible life. That is an incredibly long and difficult process, and it’s definitely the place I’m in today in. In regards to my decision is definitely not in the same place I was in even a couple of months or six months after the decision I made. It’s kind of an evolving process.
Jennifer J: When you talk about picking it apart and processing that, first of all kudos to you for facing that and doing that. It’s not an easy task and that’s something that women have to find a way to do but, what did that look like for you? Is this something that you did independent of anyone else? Is this something that you did with the assistance of a counselor or a friend or a parent? What did it look like for you this process?
Caitlyn: One of the things that really helped with me is that … I think our first meeting was around my fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. Nancy actually had the great idea to get together a birth mother support group. It’s literally just a group of fellow birth mothers and we all meet every so often, maybe once a week or once a month. We just sat down and just spewed our emotion so to speak.
We shared some pizza, we shared some crackers and we kind of talked about everything. We talked about the emotions that we were experiencing, about our thoughts, about the way that we were processing things. That was so important for me to realize that I am not the only one in this situation that feels this emotion or feels this way or has this particular thought. That was very important for me to understand that the emotions that I’m going through are okay.
It’s okay to feel shame. It’s okay to be grieving as long as we can process it and understand it, manage it and kind of tuck it back. Initially when you’re going through this process, Nancy says it’s a lot and it’s actually very true. You kind of have your emotions and what you’re feeling and the grief that you feel out on your sleeve and it’s very, very vulnerable. It’s very intimate.
Then as time goes by and you’re using the support group with the fellow birth mothers and you’re processing everything, as time goes by and you’re processing, it slowly, slowly moves inside of you back to where it belongs. It kind of tucks back into your heart and your soul and you’re able to reexamine it and process it from a place of privacy and a place that doesn’t feel quite as vulnerable and it allows you to have a better perspective on everything that happened.
And like I said, the birth mother group was so important to that and I am still really good friends with all the birth mothers in that group. We don’t meet as often anymore. It kind of is a cycle thing, but I still maintain very string friendships with all of them. I know that years from now, decades from now, if we meet again if we haven’t met for a long time, that it’ll just click again and it’ll be like the time hasn’t passed. That is so important to me.
Jennifer J: I appreciate that you talked about time passing like it didn’t pass. So, we’re five years later now. What is your vantage point at this time, how do you see your adoption plan and adoption in general?
Caitlyn: I view it as one of if not the most positive thing and heart wrenching things to ever happen in my life. I feel like this was the stepping stone to make me who I am today. I have a strength and a conviction in my decisions that I never had before I had to make that decision and I feel like I am a lot more empathetic to other people.
It’s made me understand that we really don’t know what other people are going through in their daily lives. If you saw me on the street, you’d have no idea and it’s just overall made me a kinder person. I am more caring about the relationships that I make. I have a great relationship with the adoptive. I have a great relationship with my daughter and it’s kind of just strengthened all of the relationships in my life. I think it’s just the most important thing that happened and it’s the basic foundation of who I am today.
Jennifer J: Wow! That’s really, really incredible. Thank you so much for sharing that, I’m very touched by your words and by your openness today. We are approaching the end of the podcast. We’ve still got some time, but I wanted Caitlyn, to give you a minute to offer any other thoughts or maybe discuss something that I’ve overlooked in our conversation today. We’ve touched on a lot of very personal and important topics and I wanna make sure that we’re getting everything here that you feel is important to be said to.
Caitlyn: The adoptive couples that are out there, I want to give them hope. This is, and I’m actually kind of tearing up right now. This is such an amazing experience and one day their day will come to and they’ll get to experience the joy of parenthood. I just want to make sure that they understand that from the birth mother’s side, we appreciate what they do so much, that they would be willing to love and provide for a child that is not directly theirs.
I could not have made the decision that I made from this place of love and vulnerability if it wasn’t for the love and vulnerability of an adoptive couple. I don’t think they get enough reassurance from birth mothers necessarily just because every situation that a birth mother is in is different, but I treasure the adoptive couples that are out there just patiently waiting for their opportunity to love a child that’s not theirs. Obviously I’m getting choked up, but I just wanna make sure that they understand that its so appreciated and yeah, that’s it.
Jennifer J: That is incredibly kind of you to bring up the adoptive family perspective in our podcast today to. That’s fantastic. I did want to ask you, today our topic was why “giving up” a baby for adoption is not really giving up a baby. I think that in your words today, you have demonstrated to us the time and attention, the self-education, what you did. This was a very well thought plan for you. Clearly this wasn’t an easy decision or one that you ever planned to make, but do you have anything else that you wanna talk about? We’ve talked about so many things in reference to this concept of giving up a baby for adoption.
Caitlyn: During the time that you process the experience, one of the things that you come to realize is that motherhood is not about necessarily actively mothering your child. Motherhood looks different and even though I am the only one that will look at my daughter as being my daughter, she will grow up to consider her adoptive mother as her mother.
So, even though I’m really the only one that will consider myself her mother, the sacrifice and the thought and the planning that went into this adoption plan is just as much mothering as actively mothering her would’ve been.
Jennifer J: Yeah, absolutely. It was a parenting decision. It was your first parenting decision to choose her parents and to choose the kind of life that you wanted for her Caitlyn. From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank you. I’m sending hugs through these podcasts lines to you for today. Just a fantastic amount of information that you’ve given and we’re gonna continue this conversation with another birth mother next Tuesday on Adoption Focus Podcast.
Hopefully those of you that are listening today will join us again next week as we speak with Amber about openness in adoption and the impact of that on her life and her adoption decision. So Caitlyn once again, really appreciate you today.
Caitlyn: Thank you do much.
Jennifer J: Those of you looking to connect with Adoption Associates or interested in more information, we would love to hear from you at 800-677-2367 or visit us on the web at adoptionassociates.net. For now, this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus, have a great day everyone. Bye-bye.
(Aired on BlogTalk Radio on 11-14-17)