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Published 05/10/2010 at 8:14pm  |  Views: 7289
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by Rebecca Caroll
Original Article

Dear Birthmother. Almost twelve years ago, I sat down to my computer to pen the most important letter of my life. Dear Birthmother, I paused, wondering: What should I say to a woman whose name I did not even know? How could I convey to this unknown woman that my husband and I would make the perfect parents for her beloved baby, better than the thousands of other hopeful adoptive parents? Angrily wiping my tears with the sleeve of my blouse, I pondered the words that would not sound like begging to a woman whose "condition" I had desperately desired for myself for the past four years.

When my husband and I married, I was thirty-two years old. Not too old to become pregnant, I believed, but old enough to start a family as soon as possible. Happily, we pursued the path that would lead us into parenthood! After six months, women in their 30s with fewer eggs of lesser quality are recommended to seek medical help in their pursuit of pregnancy. That first call to my ob/gyn would lead us into a four year emotional roller coaster and financial expense from which we are still attempting to recover. Four years later, after our last medical attempt at parenthood failed, I simply said to my husband, "I am done." I was done ravaging my body with hormones and daily shots and intrusive medical procedures, done with the emotional toll it had wrought in our lives. But while we were done pursuing our biological children, we were simply not prepared to relinquish our dream of becoming parents.

With the dream of becoming pregnant put behind me, I clung to my faith that God would lead us to parenthood in a different way, if it was His will. Then, I did what I had always done when there was work to be done; I dug in my heels, did my research and threw myself headlong into the process of adoption. Who knew there were so many ways to adopt children? We investigated and contemplated every available adoption route: international adoption, open adoption, closed adoption, adoption through foster care. The possibilities and consequences were overwhelming.

We were led to the law firm of two brothers who specialized only in adoption. I can sum up our initial meeting with our new adoption attorneys with one word: blunt. There was no mincing of words about the challenges that awaited us in the adoption world. Ultimately, I was able to discern the business of adoption could be boiled down to one economic concept: supply and demand. Unfortunately for us, we were on the wrong side of that equation. As we feared, there were more couples wishing to adopt than birthmothers making an adoption birthplan. But we were happy and grateful to have found these caring attorneys whose passion is to work with birthmothers and adoptive families. This is how I came to be sitting at my computer twelve years ago, searching for the magic words that would bring a baby home to our loving arms.

Today, I wince at the Dear Birthmother letter I crafted on that day and at the next letter I wrote two years later. I still wonder what words our two birthmothers read in those letters that gave them some degree of hope and comfort that their precious children would be safe and loved. My faith in God was forever strengthened through the adoption process and I still marvel that He matched us with two women so amazing they must be angels. From the very day we met, I have wanted to share my thoughts with our birthmothers and the world. I worry that birthmothers do not comprehend the incredible grace and altruism of their adoption plan and I fear the world does not understand the amount of sheer courage birthmothers summon to follow through with their plan of adoption.

I have heard, too many times to count, otherwise intelligent people claiming they cannot understand how a woman could "just give away her baby." What these people fail to see is the amount of agony many birthmothers feel when they struggle to complete a birth plan for their unborn children, often without the support of their family or the birthfather. A birthmother does not just "give away her baby." She plans the life she desperately desires to give her child through her adoption plan, knowing that for whatever reason, she cannot provide that life herself. The people holding these opinions were not in the delivery room with us when our child's birthmother begged her own mother to not allow her to change her mind about proceeding with the adoption no matter how much she begged. They were not in the hospital the day our daughter's birthmother said goodbye to her precious newborn infant, placing her gently in my waiting arms. They did not hear her wail in her suffering as they pushed her in a wheelchair out of our room and down the hall only to go home alone. Anyone witnessing this would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that birthmothers do not just give away their babies. Their children remain in their hearts, often wondering, I fear, if they made the right decision to proceed.

I have also heard it said that birthmothers with an adoption plan "take the easy way out." Please let me assure anyone who believes that carrying a child to term, all the while knowing she will proceed with an adoption plan, is not taking the easy way out. A birthmother who decides to parent her child is not better than a birthmother who proceeds in finding a loving family for her cherished baby. Both choices are difficult and fraught with struggles and apprehension. Those considering the notion that carrying to term and completing an adoption is the easy way should contemplate the fact that our son's birthmother chose to carry our son to term, knowing that her life could be endangered by the pregnancy. She was pre-eclamptic during the first 8 months of her pregnancy, and almost lost her own life when she become severally eclamptic and began having seizures, at which point our son was born by emergency cesarean section four weeks early. Our baby's birthmother was stoic and determined and gave our son life at her own peril.

When a woman is faced with an unexpected and possibly unwanted pregnancy she faces three incredibly difficult choices: to abort, to carry to term and parent her child, or to carry to term and place her child for adoption. Either of these decisions will have lifelong consequences for her and in a broader sense, the world. What I know is that we were blessed when two special women read our Dear Birthmother letter and connected with us in a way that has bound us together for all eternity. These two women, as do all birthmothers who proceed with adoption, have literally changed the course of reality for thousands of people as their decision to allow us to adopt their children has impacted the world in much the same way that a pebble thrown into a pond creates ever growing circles of shock waves throughout the entire pond.

I cannot speak to the decisions made by other women that have experienced an unwanted pregnancy. But, I will tell you that tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary with our family. Our beautiful, introspective and loving eleven-year-old daughter will come home after her cross country meet and present us with her handmade gift, made with all the love she has in her heart for her mom and dad. Our joyous and charming nine-year-old son will struggle to walk on two feet to greet his dad when he arrives home from work, anxious to present a card to his parents that he made on the computer as he cannot write with his hands. And as I stand back and watch this happen, I will wipe tears of joy away with the sleeve of my shirt, knowing that this moment was made possible by the two loving women we call birthmoms. The two women will be part of the fabric of our family for all eternity. These two women have more courage, strength and grace than I would be able to muster in three lifetimes.

Their gifts have given us joy that is immeasurable.

Note: While I am aware that it takes two to create a life, I have not discussed birthfathers in this piece as they were not a part of our adoption process during either of our adoptions.