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While pregnant, and when I made the choice to place my daughter for adoption, I chose placement so that I might have the opportunity to build a fresh start, one where I could prepare myself for when I would be ready for a family. I never considered the weight that placement would bare on me-  the ever creeping thoughts, that I had taken the joy of other people who might want to be apart of her life. Sometimes I feel that I only considered myself and my daughter when I chose to place her. For a while now, I’ve struggled with the idea that my choice of adoption devastated my family. Not only have I dealt with the idea that it severely impacted mine, but I’ve felt deeply that it severed all sides of my daughter’s biological family from being apart of her life.

This is a deep burden to carry. Thoughts impede my mind saying:

“My mom will never truly feel like my daughter’s grandmother, and neither will her birth father’s mother”.

“My parents won’t ever get to babysit their granddaughter, a grandparent’s greatest joy.”

“She won’t grow up with ours, or her father’s family traditions.”

“Her father’s immediate and distant family may never get the opportunities that I’d love to offer them, to meet and enjoy her.”

I’ve caused myself deep anxiety. These thoughts overwhelm me, they make me shut down and cry until my eyes are swollen and no more tears will fall.

***

My daughter’s adoptive family has always been very inclusive, including mine and her biological father’s family- as much as they are able to. About three years ago, the adoptive family made a move to a state several hours away from my current residence. At the time of their move, I was so busy with school and work, that it didn’t phase me. I honestly needed the space to feel that I could commit to what I needed to, without feeling bad for not visiting my daughter enough in my free time. Although, lately I’ve had deep realizations, that not everyone who cares about my daughter was ready for such a big change.

Open adoption has provided me so much freedom in the ability it provides me to still be apart of my daughter’s life, as well to include family members in being apart of her life, too. I have been blessed to have placed my daughter with an adoptive family who is more than willing to include more than just myself in our daughter’s life. I can recall so many instances where they didn’t have to include me and my family, but did so gladly.

They decided to have her dedicated at my church, where not only my parents and siblings could be present, but also my grandmother and my aunt- to meet my daughter, their niece and granddaughter for the first time.

They invited us to her birthdays, where my family, and my daughter’s birth father’s family could come to celebrate her life.

On weekends, when he and I didn’t have to work, my daughter’s birth father and I were always welcome to come visit our daughter. We baked cakes, played with her, shared cups of coffee together, and witnessed her life in a new element.

They even took the time to allow each family to be with her one one one, playing at the park, just getting to see what her life is like apart from us.

But time goes on- life gets busy. I was in college and I worked a full time job. My courses ramped up the closer I got to obtaining my degree, and my free time dissipated. She continues to grow, live, and adapt to her life with her new family, while I become more comfortable with the new life that open adoption provided me.

Many, many things- ups and downs, highs and lows have happened since that day at Greenville Memorial Hospital, where I signed my rights to my daughter over to another family. Even more realizations of that one decision have been made. I have many emotions, but lately I have experienced deep sorrow for not knowing how to fully include everyone that may want to be included in her life.

As I’ve met more of her relatives on her father’s side of the family, I’ve heard them say, “We would love to meet her one day; We really want to get the chance to know her.” That didn’t seem hard. I felt that it was more than attainable, that it would be very easy to make happen, so I smiled and assured them that we would make that happen, sooner than later.

Yet days, months, years have gone by, and I still haven’t been able to fulfill that wish for them. It has made me feel like a failure, like I can’t provide them the one thing they deserve as her rightful and biological family. I beat myself up, mentally and physically- because who am I to keep her from them?

They don’t deserve to miss her as a child, to miss her accomplishments or milestones. But I have to think- my daughter did not deserve a life where I couldn’t provide for her, or where I couldn’t  give her a stable home. I constantly have to remind myself of the reasons behind her adoption, why she is alive, and how I felt at the time of conception. I’m not who I was then, and she’s the reason that I have changed so much since then.

Overwhelmed with such harsh feelings and thoughts towards myself and the choices I have made, I decided to share all of my feelings with my younger sister. Before I could even finish my exact thoughts, she looked at me, nearly frustrated that I was in such a headspace and said very seriously, “Your daughter is not a side show. She can’t just be toted around like a circus animal. You made an amazing decision, and this is just one of the sacrifices that had to be made so that the both of you could thrive. One day, she will meet her family, but until that day, stop worrying what other people think and go, live your life- that’s what your daughter would want for you.”

***

Navigating through the grey areas of adoption can be difficult, mentally exhausting, and very hard. My support system has always been here for me to remind me of what really matters, and that I didn’t ruin anyone else’s life with adoption. Things will continue to happen that will make me recollect on my decision and wonder if I really made the best decision. When I begin to wonder, I always allow myself to feel and to imagine what life could have been like if I had kept my daughter. Once I get it all out and have exhausted every emotion that I am having, I try to think of how even if I did still have her, that there would still be second thoughts, I would still feel that I, as her mother, am still not being the best mom that I can be for her.

These thoughts are personal, they’re hard to work through. This will be a lifelong journey of understanding the decision I made, but I know that every step of the way, I’m not alone in these thoughts. There are birth mothers all around me, going through the same emotions. In the mourning, we can find beauty and comfort in knowing that we aren’t alone.

By choosing open adoption, I have the ability to still be apart of my daughter’s life, and one day my daughter will have the choice to open her life to anyone she chooses. Although we may feel a loss of control, the reason we choose to place isn’t for our ability to hold onto anything, it’s for the courageous act of sacrifice; understanding that we have made a choice bigger than ourselves. We have given our rightful title as mother and father to another woman and another man, to provide our children with hope beyond our own understanding.