Dignity of Choice
Today I am sitting here reflecting on the different expectant/birth moms we have worked with through the years with our agency. They have all come from different walks of life. They all have different circumstances when they come to us. Even though some may be similar, every situation and every person are unique.
In a recent meeting with some other adoption professionals, a statement was made when talking about women who may be faced with choosing a private adoption or the state children’s services getting involved in their personal situation. The person said that they believe the mom should have the “Dignity of Choice”. This really stood out to me. So many times, the mom doesn’t know she even has the choice for adoption in certain situations. While we would need to talk with a person about their specific situation, we have seen too many times where a mom is faced with an unplanned pregnancy and may have children already. She may be faced with the possibility of the state stepping in to her situation and taking either the baby she is currently pregnant with, or the state possibly taking the children she already is parenting and/or all the children. What some women may not know is that almost always, if your rights have not been terminated yet, you can always make a private adoption plan with a family of your choice if they have been approved with a home study and certified approval with background checks, etc.
We have seen cases where family and friends may step in and try to talk the mom into keeping the baby or other children with the promise they will help her. We have seen families be successful in talking the mom into this, just for them to have broken promises and not be there for her. Very few times has the family stepped in and been a healthy and safe alternative and help. Most times, the family and friends that convince the mom to parent, are in worse situations than her. Or, they just want to help when the baby is small, but as soon as the child is a little bigger, they disappear. Sometimes there are cultural and community expectations and choices that are impressed or pressured on a mom.
We have seen moms that are clearly overwhelmed and exhausted from trying and trying to parent. We have seen moms that have struggled with substance abuse. We have seen moms that have ended up homeless with their children. We have seen moms stay in unhealthy and abusive relationships just to have a roof over their heads for themselves and their children. Many times, the children witness horrible things or end up abused in those situations.
I am not trying to be negative or the bearer of bad news. I am just trying to be real. We are not here to take people’s children or babies away from them. We are only here to help support a mom and carry out a plan she has made for her child/children, and help it be as positive of an experience as possible. We have an open adoption which can be a very positive alternative. We have sometimes where a relationship can be built that the children can stay in contact with other siblings. We have adoptive parents that are very understanding of the stressful circumstances of a mom and respect her choice of adoption.
All this to say that a mom should have the DIGNITY OF CHOICE! Rather than a state representative or organization telling a mom what she can and can’t do with her child/children, we want her to have a choice. Maybe something has to be done because she is not in a place to parent any further, but she can still know her child can be in a positive situation and she can have a CHOICE. It is not easy, but it is your choice. You are doing the most loving thing and your child can know you did that for them rather than them going into foster care indefinitely, and possibly you not knowing where they are or will end up. With a private adoption, you can meet the adopting parents. You can have a chance to see how your child is doing and how they are growing. You may even have the option of visiting them in the future. When you don’t have the choice and your child/children are taken from you, you lose the choice and the ability to have those answers. We know of people who lost their children and it has been more than 10 years and they still don’t know where their children are or how they are doing. The mom is in a very different place now, but still not able to know anything.
We are here to help! We will be there before, during, and after that choice! We want you to succeed! We want you to be safe! We want your children to be safe! Having that choice is empowering! We will be there every step of the way. If you are in a situation similar to this, please call us and have the DIGNITY OF CHOICE!