Air Date: 4.26.16 Evaluating Transracial Adoption
You can read the transcript below, or you can listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Jennifer J.: Hi, and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworski. I’m a social worker with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoptions Associates’ premier talk radio blog show. Adoption Associates and its staff are trusted leaders in adoption. We have placed over 5,000 children into loving homes. Since 1990 we have advocated, supported, and nurtured both birth families and adoptive families. Our offices are located in Jennison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw. Our pregnancy and adoption services are available throughout all of Michigan. One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is to this weekly radio show, so thank you for listening in today. We hope that you find this forum to be inspirational, educational and thought-provoking. Today we’re excited to be speaking with Lindsay. Lindsay, are you with us?
Lindsay: I am.
Jennifer J.: Awesome.
Lindsay: Good morning.
Jennifer J.: Good morning. You are a birth mother who made a placement, I think, about three years ago. Is that right?
Lindsay: That is correct. Really, the decision process started about four years ago.
Jennifer J.: Okay. Why don’t you get us started maybe by talking about the decision, and how this came to be, and what you were faced with four years ago.
Lindsay: Sure. I was actually in a relationship where I was engaged and was honestly, looking forward to planning a wedding and all of those exciting moments. Then late in January of that year I found myself in an unplanned pregnancy. Honestly, the first thoughts were okay, now instead of planning for a wedding, we’re going to be planning for a baby arriving. Just through other circumstances and as things evolved, that initial excitement, especially on my fiance’s end, turned to really a downward spiral in the relationship. He very much wanted me to have an abortion. I think he had a lot of pressure from family members as well especially his mother. There was a long period of time where I felt very alone. I didn’t talk to anyone about what was going on. I honestly felt like that was my only option, was to have an abortion.
Jennifer J.: Okay. That really isn’t something, it sounds like, that you wanted for yourself, but you just felt that that was the only alternative.
Lindsay: Correct. It never felt right inside of me. I did make an appointment, but right after I made the appointment I picked up the phone, and I called my mom. I’m very thankful that I did that because a part of me wanted no one to know what was going on, but then the other part of me wanted someone to talk me down from the ledge, so to speak. That full conversation was very important because initially, my mom, she was very supportive and said that she would support me no matter what decision that I made. After we spoke, she called me right back because both she and my dad had abortions in their past. Had they had a do over, they would have done things differently. She wanted me to know that that was not my only option and really, pointed me in the direction of people who could help educate me about adoption.
Jennifer J.: Talking to your mom was a turning point for you in the decision that you were facing.
Jennifer J.: What happened from there? Obviously, you’re faced with choices and decisions. I think that in talking with you before you talked to me about some misconceptions about what adoption meant and what it looked like. Can you talk about how you went from possibly considering abortion to making the adoption decision?
Lindsay: Absolutely. From that initial conversation with my mom, things were looking better again, but all of that pressure to have an abortion started again. I did make a second appointment, but again, it did not sit right with me that that was the right decision for me. My mom encouraged me to keep my ultrasound appointment. I had my initial ultrasound appointment while I was still living away from Michigan. I think that that was very much the turning point because once I saw that there was a child inside of me and even at such an early stage, I think I was about 12 weeks. I could see the arms, and the legs, the feet, and a little turned up nose. All of that was present. I knew from that moment on that I could not have an abortion. I did have misconceptions about an adoption plan. I was really worried that once I had the baby that she would be floating around out there somewhere waiting for someone to choose her. I never wanted her to feel unwanted because that was never the case. That was never my intention.
Jennifer J.: Sure. In making the decision to place your baby for adoption, you did end a relationship and then move back to Michigan. Is that right?
Lindsay: I did, yes.
Jennifer J.: Okay. Was Michigan home?
Lindsay: It is home, yes.
Jennifer J.: Okay. You came home. Other than your family, what sort of plan did you have for your life at that time?
Lindsay: I had no plan. I think that was the scariest because when I had moved from Michigan I left my home and my job, and everything that was familiar, and that I loved. It was coming back and basically starting all over again. That was very, very scary, but of course, my parents welcomed me with open arms and provided a place for me to live. I, thankfully, found a job very quickly. Nancy was my social worker, and she was very instrumental in dispelling those myths while I was still living out of state, and then when I came back, met with me right away to be that support for me.
Jennifer J.: Good, very good. You mentioned myths. Let’s talk a little bit about those. I know you talked about the misconception of your child lingering somewhere waiting for a family, but there are a couple other myths that I know you had as well. Can we share those?
Lindsay: Sure. I don’t know if I can remember what they were.
Jennifer J.: That’s okay. One of the things that we had talked about off air was that you thought that the adoptive family that you selected were in it for the baby.
Lindsay: Right. I don’t know if I would consider that a myth, but it’s more of a fear that honestly, the other birth mothers that I have gotten to know over the years, we all have that fear because when you’re pregnant, especially if you develop a relationship with the adoptive couple, everything revolves around you. I think it’s a part of the grieving process too. You have misguided, mistruths that are talking in your head that they might all of a sudden disappear in the night, and you’ll never see them again. They’ll all of a sudden not want anything to do with you anymore. Those fears are very real.
Jennifer J.: What was your experience? How did your experience coincide with the fear that you had?
Lindsay: Gosh, not at all. I think probably one of the most meaningful things that my daughter’s adoptive parents told me, they said, “Thank you for believing in us.” When you’re building that relationship with the adoptive couple, it’s very much based on trust. You have to work through all of those fears, I think, on both sides and learn to trust one another, and know how much love is going toward the child from both sides.
Jennifer J.: You selected, personally, this family. Is that correct?
Lindsay: I did, yes.
Jennifer J.: Did you feel like you had an adequate amount of time and opportunity to get to know them during your pregnancy?
Lindsay: I did. I think probably my situation was a little unique where I made my decision fairly early in my pregnancy. I was able to develop a relationship, gosh, that for months into my pregnancy, that we communicated often. They attended doctor appointments with me especially the one where we found out I was having a girl. They even did birthing classes with me because I, of course, had never had a child before and wanted to know what to expect. Bless their hearts, they were willing to go through that with me. We even received special permission to have two people accompanying me because normally, it’s just pregnant mother and whoever her partner is. I had double duty.
Jennifer J.: Your relationship with the adoptive family now, tell us about that.
Lindsay: Sure. From my perspective, I was a little probably overzealous in the beginning thinking that I wanted to see her often, but that honestly prevented me from healing and from moving forward. I have learned that it’s easiest for me to visit on my own terms, but definitely we communicate via email. They’re so wonderful at sending pictures and little tidbits of how she’s doing and what’s going on in their lives. They’re very open to if I reach out and say, “I’d love to come for a visit, when are some good times?” Of course, we celebrate holidays and birthdays as well.
Jennifer J.: Nice, very nice. I know that you had also talked about, you mentioned just now, even the grief associated with making an adoption plan. What things did you do to help yourself and also I’m wondering how you felt that the agency was helpful to you during that time?
Lindsay: I honestly think it was the very first time I met with Nancy, she said, “Is there anything we can do for you?” I asked if they had a support group for birth mothers, and at the time they did not. There were a couple of women who were due about three months before me, so they were a part of the agency as well. Nancy asked if they would be willing to meet, and that’s how it started. This June we will have met for four years.
Jennifer J.: Wonderful.
Lindsay: I think having that group of women who have gone through the journey, or who will be going through the journey, we’re all at different stages, but just having people who actually know exactly what it’s like to go through has been tremendously helpful. Just personal counseling has been very helpful and honestly, for me, talking about my experience and sharing my story has been very healing as well.
Jennifer J.: We appreciate you doing that, and I know there are a lot of women who have benefited from you sharing your story. We love the fact that you’ve remained active in the support group and are trying to give back a little bit. I know that we also talked about some of the things that were most important to you at the time that you were considering early on making the adoption plan, the type of family that you wanted for your baby, and what would give you a sense of peace. Do you remember some of those things? I know it’s been a while, but what was that like?
Lindsay: What was important for me in choosing a family, like what qualities?
Jennifer J.: Absolutely, yes.
Lindsay: It was important for me to choose a family that had a child or children already just because I wanted my daughter to have siblings. That was not a guarantee that I would ever be able to provide on my own. I think the fact that they were able to give her things that I would never be able to, just that stability of the family unit, father, mother, siblings. The family that I chose was also open to open grandparenting. I tend to think of others a lot, so I’ve been thinking of my parents because they have been journeying alongside me. That was very important to me, that they would be able to have a relationship with their granddaughter.
Jennifer J.: Wonderful. That’s wonderful. What’s the most important thing that you feel you did when you were facing your decision, and when the choices lied before you, what was the most important thing that you think you did?
Lindsay: Stepping outside of myself. I think when you’re thinking more selfishly you absolutely want to raise the child on your own and be that parent, but when you look at everything from a more selfless perspective, you want the very best. You have to go above and beyond that normal feeling of parental love because it’s much bigger than you have to feel in order to do that. I always describe it as a birth parent, especially birth mothers, the amount of love that they feel for their child is just a tiny glimpse of how big god’s love is for us. That’s how big of love that we feel for our children, to be able to place them, and to trust another family to parent.
Jennifer J.: I admire that very much, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Thank you.
Jennifer J.: You’re welcome. It sounds also like one of the decisions that you made early on, which originally was not part of your plan, but that you later came to appreciate, was reaching out to somebody. That was your mom, right?
Lindsay: Yes. I think it’s important for all women if they’re facing any kind of unplanned pregnancy or just anything that’s not right, that doesn’t feel right in your heart, you talk to someone, somebody that you trust because, especially in my case, it wasn’t an instance of forcing me to do one thing or another. It’s just that wise mind and that wise voice that will bring you back to a place of making more sensible choices, and just knowing what all of your options are, and guiding you through all of those emotions because especially if you’re in an instance where I was where it was extremely stressful, I was extremely afraid. I didn’t know how anything was going to work out. I had no idea, but to have somebody in your life that you can talk to is very, very important.
Jennifer J.: It sounds like you were lacking information at that time.
Lindsay: Absolutely, true information.
Jennifer J.: Right.
Lindsay: Not the voices talking in my head.
Jennifer J.: Right, absolutely. What would your message be to another woman who might be in an unplanned pregnancy and is unsure of a decision or a choice for her baby? What do you say to her?
Lindsay: It’s very important to consider all of your options. Whether you want to parent or to choose an adoption plan, from my perspective, the most important thing is to choose life. I think choosing an adoption plan is, it’s not a common choice at all because I think so many women don’t understand what it means. They think that they don’t play a role in their child’s future, which is very untrue. Every woman gets to choose the family that her child is placed with, and they get to choose the level of openness and the relationship that they have with that child. There’s no questioning what’s going to happen. You get to walk alongside that child and be a part of that journey for their entire lives. It’s important to receive that information from a trusted adoption source, so there’s no mistruths that are being thought of.
Jennifer J.: Right. You personally, demonstrated an amazing amount of courageousness early on when you were facing a decision and seeking out information, seeking out your mother for support, and making a move across several state lines with no job, no plan. You’re a very brave woman.
Lindsay: Thank you.
Jennifer J.: Your decision and your willingness to share that with the public, the number of lives that you might be touching not only with this show, but I know you’ve taken this on under your wing and supporting other young women. We so appreciate you for doing that and for being on the show today. For our listeners that are looking to connect with Adoption Associates, you may call us at 800-677-2367 or visit us on the web at adoptionassociates.net. We welcome you to join us next week when we speak with Nancy Cannon, director within our agency when she will talk about openness in adoption. For now, thank you for listening in. This is Jennifer on Adoption Focus. Have a great day, everyone.