I have experienced both abortion and adoption. Both options were difficult, but one option, abortion, left me with regrets, whereas adoption gave me an amazing son. Here is my story.
Being a single mum is hard and having twins is extremely challenging. In the early 1990’s, at 23 years of age, I found myself in this situation. A year later I discovered that I was unexpectedly pregnant. I couldn’t imagine how I would cope with another baby and so I decided to have an abortion. My doctor didn’t agree with abortion and so I found one who did. I received no counselling. I had my transport and the procedure paid for by Social Welfare and immediately after the abortion I felt nothing but relief.
Another year went by and again I found myself pregnant. This time my reaction was different. I was now a member of a supportive church and the people there helped me find a couple who were looking to adopt. This couple had been approved as adoptive parents by Social Welfare and had been trying to adopt for years. When I met them, I knew they were the right people to parent my child. I understand that Child, Youth and Family handle adoption differently these days, but back then I was able to take the adoptive parents to my scan appointments and they were present at my baby’s birth.
I spoke to a lawyer who told me that once I signed the adoption papers I would have no legal rights to my child. I decided not to draw up any written contact agreement with the adoptive parents; we just verbally agreed to keep in touch. Placing my son for adoption was the hardest thing I have ever done. It took me six months to feel strong enough to visit them again and I went to stay for a weekend. The adoptive parents are a white middle class couple, very different from me, but they were very welcoming and didn’t look down on me or make me feel inferior.
I struggled to maintain the contact because I found seeing my son very upsetting. When he was five years old I decided I would only see him one more time and then I would cut contact. I still remember the day clearly. We went to a park on his 5th birthday and he came running up to me and said “I love you so much.” That changed my attitude. I realized I needed to stay in touch for him, it wasn’t all about me. From then on I saw him once a year and had phone contact at other times.
When he was fourteen he had adoption issues and he came to stay with me for a while to help work them through. His adoptive parents were amazing and selfless. They never felt threatened; they just wanted to do what was best for him.
I have three other children and my adopted son is in contact with all of them. They consider themselves to be family, with no differences between them. The son I placed for adoption is now married and at his wedding I was able to sit with his adoptive parents. I felt very proud of him.
Adoption hasn’t been easy for me, but it gave him life. He has two families who love him very much. On the other hand, I now regret my abortion. Four years after it, I suddenly realized what I had done and I had to work through the grief of aborting my child. I believe open adoption can be a positive option for a woman who isn’t in a position to parent her child.
*This New Zealand birth mum’s name has been changed to protect her privacy