GUEST BLOG: Shonda's Story

 

I had a 17 hour labor to bring Carson into this world, his parents came up to the hospital about 6 hours after he was born because he was born at 1 am on April 23rd. I remember holding him, and they walking in and me just bursting into tears. I loved his family and him so much and I was just so full of intense emotion that I could do anything. They ended up taking over the recovery room right next to me because our labor recovery wing was not busy. This allowed me to have some privacy and bond with Carson as much as I wanted but let me bring him over when I was feeling too overwhelmed and they could bond with him too.

They live in the same town with me, and that is a crucial part of our open adoption. I have been very blessed with the way everything has worked out and I just hope people can slowly learn about adoption. It has been a very hard topic to educate on because most people never had any need to know about it. I will spend all the time I have to teach people how amazing adoption can be, so here is my opinions on some conceptions of adoption that I have encountered in my daily life as a birth mom in the last 3 years.

I found out I was pregnant on August 25th 2013. I had taken 3 at home pregnancy tests, first one being negative, second being positive, and the third being negative. I knew in my heart that I was though. I got it confirmed through a local resource center that does early ultrasounds for free and I was between 6-7 weeks along.  I was adopted out of foster care when I was 3 years old, and I immediately thought “I am going to make an adoption plan because I can’t parent this child”

I reached out to the father, who ended up not actually being the father (I know, complicated!) He was not thrilled but was on board with the idea of adoption. He did not want to parent, and he sure didn’t want to parent with me. We were in a toxic situation between us. We were super young and immature in our relationship, but he stood by me.

I reached out to our local adoption agency and began the process. I fought an internal battle all 9 months I was pregnant. I knew my final choice was going to be adoption, but I was 21 living on my own and I had many people in my life who were already parenting. I knew I could do it, but I also knew it was not the best choice for Carson.

I picked his family late into the game about a month before he was due but they were the perfect choice. I immediately clicked with them, and our adoption counselor had to cut us off because we were talking too much!

I love talking about my adoption; it’s hard though because I feel like I don’t always automatically get bragging rights like everyone else with kids. Its sometimes awkward bringing up my adoption to people because they don’t know what to say. When people see pictures of Carson on my Facebook wall or my phone or wherever, they will often say, "Is that your ..." and trail off awkwardly. I get that. What do you call someone’s child who isn't their child? I usually just smile and say that yes, that's Carson, and isn't he amazing. I've never cared for the term "birth son." It's just not warm enough to capture the wonderful bundle Carson is. But it also doesn't feel right to say my son all the time. He's just my little baby Carson.  I generally will refer to him as "my baby" which feels the most comfortable. He will always be my baby no matter how old he gets. 

When I placed Carson, I signed papers, to make his parents, his parents.  I see Carson fairly regularly, about once a month give or take. I don't "get" him for weekends or "have" him for outings. Adoption isn't a joint-custody agreement. I carried Carson for 9 months and I love him more than anything, but I am not his mom. I am the "tummy mummy", or birth mom or just Shonda. And I am perfectly happy with that! Carson has everything I could ever want for him. I have always wanted to be a mom but I truly believe that I was not supposed to be Carson's mom. His mom was and I am only happy I found her to fill this role! 

I love Carson so much but I also love his family just as much. Carson would not be the happy amazing baby I know, without his family. I made the sacrifice for him to have this family and I would never want them to feel like I am not thankful that they can fill all the roles I couldn't for my baby. I gained family when I placed Carson and they will ALWAYS be a part of my life. She is Carson's mom. Until he gets older, I don't want to have him feel like I'm trying to take her place. So I am happy to go see Carson as much as his family and I can manage both mentally and physically. I mean there's nothing wrong with more people loving a child :)

That said, yes, I do get to see Carson every few months or so, as occasion warrants. I do not, however, get to see Carson "whenever I want," because that would be ridiculous. I don't think there's anyone on earth I can see whenever I want. I have my own life and schedule, and his parents have theirs, and I certainly don't expect them to drop everything so I can see Carson whenever I want. I text her to make plans that I would love to see them when they have time, to see what’s most convenient for their routine. They have two kids to cater to and I'm my own person. I am more than willing to be flexible about plans

Carson's adoption is open. Openness is a choice that was made between the two of our families it is not a legal obligation and I wouldn't want it to be. His parents don't owe me anything. It's not about me. I've been told how nice it is that they let me see Carson, and I always think, "Yes, and it was nice of me to give them a baby." Niceness on either side isn't the reason for openness. It's about what's best for the little boy we all love so much. We are open and honest about our relationship but we also have boundaries. I'm not going to expect to be there every day and they don't think I'm never going to be around. I might have bad days and I will communicate that I need a few more pics to cheer me up. That's the beauty of open adoption. It is always changing. 

Carson knows me and likes me. He greets me at the door with arms wide open waiting for a hug. He doesn't understand yet that I am the one who gave him life. He knows to expect that I'm going to kiss his chubby cheeks about fifty times when I see him. Carson knows exactly who his mom is, and he might not know who I am exactly yet, but my visits are to help him understand that as time goes on. I want to be around to have him see I always will be, I want him to know that I am here to answer some of those questions that only I can understand. I can hope he knows that I love him and his family so very much and that we both love him incredibly. It's not complicated. People who think that openness confuses a child aren't giving children enough credit. I personally love my open adoption because I didn't have that growing up as an adopted kid. My open adoption relationship is growing and changing just like any other relationship and I can only hope it continues in the best way possible.

Yes, placing Carson was the hardest thing I have done. I also think that is an absurd statement or question to ask me "was it hard?" Have you ever heard other people question other means of grief? No, I didn't lose my son because he still is in my life but I lose my identity of carrying a child for 9 months and returning home with no baby. I lost the identity of the mom I hope to be one day temporarily.  Placement was so, so hard. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I sincerely hope I never have to do anything harder because I don't think I could. But it is also the best, most amazing and wonderful thing that I have ever done. It was worth the hurt. 

I have made many mistakes in my life (and I will probably make a lot more) but Carson isn't one of them. Having Carson was the absolute best thing I've ever done. If I could live my life over I think I'd make exactly the same mistakes again, because if even one little thing were different I might not have had Carson, and the thought of that sounds awful!! I can't imagine my life without him. I can't imagine the world without him. 

I would place him with his family again. I would break my heart again for the sake of my little boy. I am a firm believer of everything happens for a reason and this applies. Carson came into this world for a reason. He changed not only my life but his family's. I strive to be a better person because of him and I have learned so many hard things in life because of him. I have hard days. I feel like this was not the path I was supposed to take some days, but I do not regret my adoption at all. He is perfect and I can only wait to see what this crazy life has in store for us.