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Putting your child up for adoption: The financial and emotional costs by Jan Baker
Created on: May 18, 2008
"There is no cost to birth mothers," is a statement that many adoption agencies proudly announce on their websites. What they mean is that there may be no financial costs. The demand for adoptable newborns is so high that many agencies boast about all the perks available to birth mothers, including as many items as allowed by law in each state. Yes, it is often true that there are many "free" services provided to mothers who place their babies for adoption. There is free adoption counseling and free medical and hospital care. Sometimes, pregnant young women can live for free in luxurious quarters with other pregnant moms who have promised their babies to adoption.
For some pregnant women who relinquish babies to adoption, there may be virtually no financial costs. Pregnant women are wooed and courted, sometimes covertly and other times with less subtlety. The most extreme financial incentive to entice a pregnant woman to place a baby for adoption is probably the college scholarships for birth mothers. Adoption rarely features financial costs for birth mothers.
What about emotional costs? Ah, yes, there's the catch! Although a birth mother may not be hit with financial costs surrounding her unplanned pregnancy if she chooses adoption, there is a generally a profound emotional toll. Mothers who place babies for adoptions are affected in different ways, and in different degrees based on many varying factors. However, most birth mothers profoundly affected by the loss of their children.
It is crucial to understand that the loss of a child to adoption is not a singular event, but a lifelong issue that generally entails painful issues for most birth mothers. As more studies aimed at evaluating the effects of adoption on birth mothers mount, it is obvious that there are immense emotional costs to birth mothers. Most birth mothers mourn the loss of their children throughout their lives and none forget their children and move on effortlessly as they may have been assured that they would.
In fact, it is absurd to suggest that placing a child for adoption is an event that a mother "gets over" and moves on with her life unaffected. Although some proponents of open adoption suggest that this type of adoption eases the pain for birth mothers, it is not necessarily clear that this is the case for all. Open adoptions are generally thought to be better for children, but the affects on mothers who relinquish are still subject to much debate.
Birth mothers in open or closed adoptions rarely expect or are prepared for the lifelong emotional costs that they will likely suffer. After all, they are told by a myriad of people that they are doing the "right thing, the loving thing," and that the satisfaction of seeing their child happy will outweigh any temporary sadness that they might experience. Rarely are they told that their child's birthday and Mothers' Days will forever be excruciating days for them. No one mentions that for the rest of their lives that they will be required to explain their adoption decision to significant others, children and family.
Nor are women considering adoption for their child told about how their self-esteem may plummet after relinquishing their child, and how difficult it may be to ever regain. Little mention is made of the stereotypical and cruel judgments that are made of birthmothers. No one tells a young woman considering adoption for her child, that instead of her pain and sadness diminishing with time that it might just as easily increase over time. What about the regret, guilt, grief and shame that often accompany the birth mother experience? Who explains to a pregnant woman considering adoption for her child that she will pay for her deed by dealing with lifelong longings and ache for her child?
What about that missing piece of your heart that many birth mothers say exists for them? Nothing can ever replace a child in the heart of a mother, and the empty place left by a missing child remains forever. Are their emotional costs to relinquishing a child to adoption? The depth and breadth of those costs is staggering, and hard to imagine unless you have felt and lived with them yourself. Yet the emotional costs that accompany the loss of a child to adoption are real, heart-breaking and with wide-sweeping implications for the rest of a mother's life and often her child's as well.