In the adoption world, adoptive parents usually get the most spotlight, with adoptees and birthparents getting less attention. I'm interested in bringing to light more stories from birthparents and adoptees to spread awareness of their experiences with adoption to promote healthy conversation. I recently had the chance to interview Brina Collins, a young woman who placed her child for adoption earlier this year, on the positives and negatives about her adoption experience and what she wishes she had known. This is the perspective of one birthmother, based on her personal experiences. She recognizes that other women may have had different experiences and does not claim to speak for all birthmothers. We'd love to hear your comments, but please be respectful to Brina and her experiences.
Brina, you placed your child for adoption this year. What do you know now about the process that you wish you'd known before?
Brina: I wish that I had known how hard it would be. I understood that it would be difficult, but I truly didn't grasp how much I would grieve. I do not have any other children, so I did not understand how much I would love my son. The grief took me by surprise, I wasn't ready for it. I truly believed that open adoption was the cure to birth parent grief; however it is really just a bandaid. Even though I was not prepared for the grief, I would do it all over again because it was the best decision for my son. My love for him made breaking my own heart possible.
How did you educate yourself about your options? Did you feel there was adequate information available?
Brina: After I took a home pregnancy test, I drove to Planned Parenthood to get the positive confirmed. They only did pregnancy tests certain days of the week, so I wasn't able to get it done there. I noticed a pregnancy center right across the street offering free tests and ultrasounds, so I went there. They didn't educate me on any of my options, the woman actually encouraged me to get married to my son's birth father and told me not to use birth control after he was born because it would kill me. I didn't feel this was a trustworthy place. I knew of a friend who had placed her child, so I reached out to her and researched adoption online. I knew that I wasn't in a place to parent and I decided against abortion for my situation. I was set on adoption very early on in my pregnancy.
How did you decide adoption was the right path for you and do you still feel it was the right path?
Brina: I have been a nanny for quite a long time and I come from a very large family. Because of this, I know how hard it is to raise a child. I am in the process of getting my college degree, but I do not have it yet. I knew that if I parented my son, he would spend most of his time with my mother or in daycare because I would be in school or working. His birth father was not going to be involved, so I would be a single mother. I wanted him to have the life I've always dreamed of for my children and that included a two parent family with a stay at home mom. He has that life with his adopted parents and even more than I ever could have dreamed. Because of my choice for adoption, I know that he is safe and well loved. I am able to use my experience to improve myself and help other people. One day I will parent and because of my choice, I know I will appreciate it so much more.
Once you decided on adoption, did you find the emotional support from people in your life that you needed? What support would you recommend expecting women considering adoption seek out?
Brina: At first, no, I did not. My family fought me quite a bit as soon as I told them I planned on placing my son. It took a while for them to accept my decision. During that time I found an amazing group of birth mothers who provided me the love and support I needed. Now, I share updates with my family and allow them to send gifts and letters to my son as well. My mother actually ended up being in the room during my C-section and cut the cord. She had done a complete turnaround during the end of my pregnancy. This experience has brought me closer with a few people and shown me who I didn't need in my life. I would suggest finding friends who love you and don't push their opinions onto you. Reach out to birth parents and check out birthparent forums. They can be such a vital support system.
Is there anything you would change looking back?
Brina: I would have gotten a professional photographer to take more pictures. I would have asked if my son's mom could have been in the C-Section with my mom. I would have taken a different approach to signing the paperwork, because that part of it I disliked and was traumatic for me. Overall, I have very few "regrets" in my process.
What other advice do you have for expectant women considering adoption?
Brina: Do as much research and soul searching as possible. If you are considering adoption, talk to as many birth parents as you can about their experiences. Find out the rights you have in your state and advocate for yourself. If you want an open adoption, make sure you are very clear with yourself, the adoption provider you use, and the prospective adoptive parents on what you want. If it is enforceable in your state, get an open communication agreement legally filed.