What Birthparents and Their Parents Say

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Christie:
My mother made a lot of promises to me in order to persuade me to keep my daughter when she was born. Because it was her first grandchild, I felt obligated and pressured to do what she said. She promised me that she would help me raise my daughter in any way that she could. She has broken this promise lots of times and is now trying to take my daughter away from me. If I had known then that this was going to happen, I would have placed my daughter for adoption with a younger family that couldnít have children of their own. That would have been a much better life for her than what she will have now with my disappointed and angry mother.

Karen:
It seems to be working petty well with my daughter being raised by my parents as though she were my little sister, but I must admit that I am starting to feel real uneasy about pretending that I am my daughterís sister. Some day someone is going to have to tell her that I lied to her over and over about who I really am, and that somehow we all thought lying was an acceptable thing to do to her. I feel that she needs to know the whole truth, and that it will be much better if she hears it from me, rather than at some unexpected time from an insensitive stranger or a mean spirited family member. I donít know what to do, and I am afraid that no matter what I do now, my daughter is going to hate me. What should I do?

Ramona:
I am the third generation of single mothers that have raised children without fathers within our very close extended family. My mother, my aunt and my grandmother all help take care of my two sons and the other children in the family. This includes the three children of my sisters. My sons have never met their fathers, except when they were just a few days old. I am beginning to be concerned about whether this is a good environment for my sons to grow up in. How are they going to learn what it means to be a responsible husband and father? As I think back in my own life, I have never been exposed in a significant way to a male role model who showed me by example how a father should participates in raising his children. This is not what I want for my sons. What can I do?

Tammy:
When I was 16, I had a son that has never known his father, mostly because his father could have been one of four different guys and I havenít ever tried to figure out who his father really is. I guess Iím pretty scared of that. My parents are divorced and my mother has been taking care of my son for the last 7 years, but has never adopted him. I am now engaged to be married to a wonderful guy who would like to adopt my son. We want to raise him together as part of our family. My mother says that if I try anything, she will disown me and will fight me for custody of my own son. She is trying real hard to turn my son against me. He even runs away when I come to see him. Whose son is he anyway? Can I take him from my mother? Can she take him from me?

Loretta:
I am writing to you for advice about my fifteen-year-old daughter. I am willing to consent to let my daughter marry the father of her child, who is also fifteen. Neither of them has finished high school, but they have it in their heads that they can make it together with this child. Her boyfriend says it will be a snap, because he has seen his two older sisters do it. Neither is married and they each have two children.

I love my daughter more that I am willing to admit, but I see us loosing control of all of our children over this. It is like a disease is spreading through the hearts and minds of our children, one at a time. Just because the sisters of my daughterís boyfriend tried this teen parenting thing doesnít mean that my three daughters also need to try it. But right now, they all think it is wonderful and so romantic, and that it would be fun to have a little baby to take care of.

I know that this sounds cold and judgmental, but my daughterís boyfriend is a real looser. My daughter is the only good thing that has ever come along in his life, and he is working hard to hang on to her. She is a former honor roll student and a great musician, but has walked away from it all for what she calls true love.

His family loves my daughter and thinks she is good for their son, so they are being supportive and encouraging of the relationship and have offered to let them move in with them, so they can help with "their" grandchild. I hate to feel like I have to compete in this way for the acceptance of my own daughter. This has been like cutting my heart out. I have dreamed about being the most wonderful grandmother ever, but I never in a million years thought it would happen this way to me. There is just something deep inside me that wonít let me support this, but if I donít, I feel like I will be loosing my daughter and grandchild, and maybe even my other daughters as a part of the bargain.

The problem now is that we have been told that we need to go before a judge to get my daughter emancipated, because she is only fifteen. Then we can get her on her own and get back to trying to save our younger daughters from this craziness. I feel like a horrible mother, because I am putting my fifteen-year-old daughter out on the street, not because I am really kicking her out, but because she wants more than anything to get out. Where did I fail as a parent, and how do I keep my other daughters, who are 12 and 14, from following right in her footsteps?

I almost feel like I have one of my legs caught in the jaws of a big bear trap, and I am cutting off my leg to save the rest of my body. I feel HORRIBLE! But I also feel like I must cut my oldest daughter loose to save the other two. Can you see any other way for me to do this?? Should I be supporting her financially in this because she is only 15? Because if we do, everyone else in the family will have to sacrifice big time, and not because of choices that we have made. I feel very strongly that this would not be right or fair to my other daughters and would be sending the wrong message to them. Am I being too strict and judgmental? Do I have a right to do this?

We discussed with our daughter the possibilities of giving this child up for adoption, but she will have no part of this nor will the father. She has told me in no uncertain terms that she wants to marry this boy and move out of our home. So my question I guess is what kind of legal rights do her father and I have? What legal responsibilities do we have because our daughter is still a minor?

Thank you for your time.
Loretta



Claudia:
When I was 16, I had a son that has never known his father, mostly because his father could have been one of four different guys and I havenít ever tried to figure out who his father really is. I guess Iím pretty scared of that. My parents are divorced and my mother has been taking care of my son for the last 7 years, but has never adopted him. I am now engaged to be married to a wonderful guy who would like to adopt my son. We want to raise him together as part of our family. My mother says that if I try anything, she will disown me and will fight me for custody of my own son. She is trying real hard to turn my son against me. He even runs away when I come to see him. Whose son is he anyway? Can I take him from my mother? Can she take him from me?

Melissa:
When I was 14, I knew everything about life and ended up pregnant by a guy who was 19 and an absolute looser. Since I couldnít take care of my son myself, and knew abortion was not for me, I let my parents adopt him. I am now 24 and my son is 9. Knowing what I know now, this was not the best thing for my son or for me.

My son is real confused about what has happened, what that means about who he is and what his future is. He wants to love me and be part of my life and canít understand why I didnít love him enough to be his mother. As a result, he has had a difficult time bonding to my parents and trusting and loving them as his parents. I honestly think it is because I am still around. He just canít seem to get out of the rut he is in and move on emotionally with his new parents while I am still in the picture.

I am in a rut too, and for the last 9 years I have been unable to get my life together enough to move on. I can see that it is because I havenít been able to let my son go emotionally and to release him to be part of his new family. I have no doubt that he is much better off where he is than he could ever have been with me, but he should not have been adopted by my parents. That was a big mistake. I donít say this because I think they are bad parents, because they are wonderful parents.

The adoption was just way too close and it has kept some emotional wounds open and bleeding that needed to heal long ago. I feel like now I must make a choice between my son and the rest of my family. If I stay around and have a relationship with my family, then I will be sacrificing my son. If I leave my family so that my son can move on in his relationship with them, then I loose my son and the rest of my family.

When my son was born, I thought I could keep him and maintain my relationship with my family by letting my parents adopt him. Because I was immature and selfish back then, for the good of my son, I must now leave and will loose my entire family. I know that I must leave, but I am not sure I can stand such a big loss all at once. What can I do?

Fran:
My husband and I were high school sweethearts, and were pushed into marriage by our parents when I got pregnant. Believe it or not, we only had sex once for me to get pregnant, and it was a horrible experience. We lived with my parents until we both graduated from high school, and then we both got jobs to support our new family. Neither one of us ever went on to college, which was really a shame, because we were both good students and liked school. We were both pretty good athletes. My husband was a baseball star, and I played volleyball and tennis real well. In my junior year of high school I was recruited for several college scholarships. When I got pregnant, this all ended.

Over the years, we have had three other children, and have both had to work very hard to provide the thing that our family has needed. It probably wouldnít have been quite so hard if we had gotten better educations. Unlike most couples whose marriages starts in this way, we have been together for over 20 years. I think we are an exception to the general rule.

When our oldest daughter was a sophomore in high school, she got pregnant by a guy that was on drugs and had already dropped out of school as a freshman. He didnít have a job and was living in the basement of his motherís house. He was the youngest of three children and was much younger than the others. Because his parents were divorced when he was about three years old, he really had no direction from either of them. As much as we tried to be supportive of him, he just wouldnít respond to anything. When he started stealing from us to support his habits, we banished him from our house.

By then we were starting to see the handwriting on the wall and knew that a productive relationship between them would never happen. Our daughter was just about as irresponsible as he was, so we finally started suggesting adoption to her. She went along with it and we even found a wonderful couple to adopt her baby. Everything went fine until just after the baby was born.

Unfortunately, we didnít know that the State Department of Social Services assigns caseworkers to each hospital, and part of their job is to "inform" the single birth mothers that have babies at their hospital of all the wonderful welfare and other government benefits that are available to them if they decide to keep their babies.

Well when our daughter and her white knight got hooked up with this caseworker, they became convinced that they would never have to listen to their parents again and would do just fine not working and staying home in the basement of his motherís house and playing with their baby. So that is exactly what happened.

Three years later, it was the same caseworker with the Department of Social Services that helped take this same baby away from our daughter because of serious abuse and neglect by both her and its father. After three more difficult years in foster care, our grandson was finally adopted into a permanent home, where he could have been and should have been six years earlier. For obvious reasons, we are not great fans of the foster care system or the Department of Social Services.

I honestly think the thing that drove a wedge between us and our daughter, and made us ineffective as parents in this very important area of her life, was the fact that every time we would try to talk to her about placing her child for adoption, she would remind us that when I got pregnant in high school that my parents didnít force me to give her up for adoption, but instead supported me, and everything turned out just fine. She thought that somehow things would just work out fine for her like they had worked out for me.

Based on the example of our daughter, two more of our remaining three children also were parents to children out of wedlock in high school. To this day, two of our daughters have not been able to get their acts together. It is obvious that our mistakes as reckless teenagers caused a curse to follow our family. This family curse has now been passed on to the next generation and beyond. There is nothing in our lives that has brought us more sorrow. If I could roll back the clock and change just one thing in my life, I would give anything to change that stupid mistake I made as a teenager. I hope that someone can learn from the mistakes of our family, so they will not have to travel the same road of sorrow that we have traveled. So far, it has already destroyed three generations of our family. How can we stop it now?

Dana:
I have never been angrier or more grateful to my parents over what they did when I got pregnant when I was in high school. I have no idea where I would be today if they had not held me accountable when I was so wrong. Little did I know then that this is one of the most important things that parents can do for their children. It was nothing less than a miracle when they stepped in to protect my helpless little daughter from me, and from my immature and irresponsible behavior.

I slept around a lot in high school, which made me pretty bold about the things I did. By the time that I was 16, I had done it all, several times, and had always been able to get away with it. Because I was able to hide just about everything from my parents, I was usually able to get them to bail me out if I really got in over my head, by convincing them that I had only been bad once, and would never do anything bad again. I knew they were naive and really loved me, so I used that to manipulate them into doing what I wanted them to do.

Just as I though my life couldnít get any better, I got real sick and couldnít seem to get better. When my mother finally took me to the doctor, we both found out for the first time that I was almost three months pregnant.

When we got home, I was able to convince my parents that I only had sex once when I had gotten in a compromising position on a band trip to California, and that I hated it and would never do it again. I almost got away with my lie until the doctor called my mother and told her that the test he had taken showed that I had two different forms of venereal disease and had traces of marijuana in my blood. My cover was blown, and for the first time in my life, I saw both of my parents come totally unglued at exactly the same time.

My parents immediately withdrew me from high school and enrolled me with my school district as a home school student, which the could get away with because my mother had maintained her state teaching certificate.

Since most of my sexual partners were over 18, and I was still a minor, my father put the fear of God into each of them personally and very forcefully, and my reputation on the street as an easy and low risk score was destroyed forever. I was totally and forever humiliated and banished from my formal circle of friends. I was denied phone privileges and was not allowed to go to any of my schoolís social functions. Not even one guy ever dared to call me or even talk with me for fear that my dad would go after them and put them away forever. They believed he meant what he said. He had me convinced too.

From that point on, at 7:00 oíclock every morning, come rain or shine, and even on normal school holidays, my home school began. Five hours later, at Noon, I had a one hour lunch break, during which I also did my own laundry and ironing.

Between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. each day, I worked at my uncleís business, under the watchful supervision of my uncle and aunt. This freed up my mom to do family errands, to prepare for my next day at school, and to have some time for her self. The money I earned at this job paid for my maternity medical insurance, for my school books, and supplies, for my pre-natal vitamins and for the material that I used to sew all of my own maternity clothes. My mother did let me pick out the material and patterns I liked.

My grandmother taught me to sew, and gave me help when I needed it, but I had to actually do the sewing myself. If I messed up, I either had to wear in anyway, or pay for more material to try again. I did some of each. Under these terms, I quickly learned to be a pretty good seamstress, which is a talent that I now cherish, not just because I enjoy it, but because it is an uncommon skill that I mastered on my own, and because I did this under the watchful and loving guidance of my grandmother. Before this time, I had never known my grandmother very well, and I am convinced that my mother knew that my grandmother would be able to get to me, if I just spent some quality time with her. She was right.

I had to do the sewing in the evenings after supper, which I had to help cook and clean up when it was my turn. I could also sew after my homework was finished, or on Saturday, after house cleaning and other chores were done.

My dad was in charge of seeing that my homework was done each evening, and I couldnít go to bed until it was done. This gave mom a break to spend time with my two younger sisters, who watched my whole experience with fear and amazement.

On Sundays, we went to church as a family and spent the rest of the day doing family activities. I had never spent this much time with my family before, and I finally realized that they were pretty wonderful people and were actually fun to be around. That alone has been a wonderful gift for me.

This routine went on until my baby was born and placed for adoption, and for two more months, until it was time for me to start my senior year in high school. I never went back to my old high school, and when I tested to get into my senior classes at my new high school, I tested high enough to be in all honors classes, which was unusual for me, because I had been a mid-"D" student and had never even set foot in an honors class in my life. For some reason this did not scare me or intimidate me, because my home school experience with my mother had taught me to enjoy learning and reading and exploring, just for the joy of it. The experience also provided me with good study skills and powerful self confidence. These will last me a lifetime. When my senior year was over, I had received all Aís, except for one "B", which I received in honors calculus. OK, so I am not a math geek! I was lucky to get the "B".

On the school front, my parents gave me a choice between more home school for my senior year, or a new high school and strict behavior rules. Compared to my home school routine, I was eager to agree to any behavior rules. As a condition of regaining my personal freedoms in progressive stages, based on behavior, my parents put me on an honor code, and believe it or not, I actually welcomed it and on my own, never violated it, not even once. I had been rescued from the brink of personal self-destruction by my parents, and I was convinced that I never wanted to go there again. And I havenít!

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