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birthmother stories

Anatomy Of A Coerced Surrender
by Pamela


After finding out that I was pregnant, and realizing that I could not go through with an abortion, I called the first number listed under the "abortion alternatives/crisis pregnancy" section of The Yellow Pages. The ad promised counseling and help.

I dialed the number and a volunteer answered. She listened quietly to my story and asked me to come in and talk to a counselor as soon as possible.

On February 25, 1999, I met with a counselor who immediately asked if I had considered adoption. Stunned, I said, "No." She proceeded to recite rates of poverty among single moms, child neglect cases, resentment toward the child for "messing up" the mothers life, etc.

She then told me about the "beautiful, win-win" option of adoption. A well-off couple of my choosing would adopt my baby in a nice, sweet open adoption facilitated by the agency.

I would have the chance to live my life free of the burdens of single motherhood and my child would love me more because he/she would have every thing and every opportunity to succeed in life. Plus, he or she would have the added benefit of being raised by a "loving, married, Christian couple."

It sounded great. I fell hook, line and sinker.

On our next meeting, she took me to the local State Department of Social Services to get me on Medicaid. (And I always thought the agencies and adoptive parents footed the bill for medical expenses. Who knew that it was really the tax payers?)

I didn't want my family to know, as they'd kill Wil, my boyfriend, and go broke trying to help me raise my child, and the agency encouraged me to "make my decisions" away from Wil or anyone else who could "influence" it.

So, on April 12, 1999, I moved in with an agency "Shepherding Family" five-hours away from my home.


"Shepherding Families"or Breeding Mills?

I moved in with the *Fords. On the surface, they were the perfect, made-for-TV family. A devoted mother and father with five respectful children.

Once inside the family circle, it became evident that it was a very controlling household and the home-schooled kids were simply naive.

They were extremely protestant in their views and the mother said more than once that when it came to religion, she was always right and anyone who disagreed with her was simply wrong.

"On whose authority?", I often wondered.

Being a convert to Roman Catholicism, we disagreed on just about everything having to do with the Christian faith. On more than one occasion, I overheard the mother of the family, *Catherine, say to someone that so-and-so "was Catholic and then became Christian."

Since I had left my car back home, I had to rely on the Fords or my new local counselor for rides. Meaning, going to a Catholic Church was out of the question. I had to attend church with the family -- a grossly anti-Catholic service -- every Sunday. I also had to deal with two women who were perpetually late for everything, addicted to the telephone -- home, car and cell -- and convinced that they held some enlightened truth that told them what was best for me and my child.

(Right after I moved in with the Fords, someone close to them was killed, leaving his wife with four young children and one on the way. This woman delivered her child two days after I delivered mine and I now wonder why no one urged her to place her newborn into an adoptive home. Afterall, she was single mom now, too. I guess for these people, in order to deserve the gift of motherhood, you must either be a married holier-than-thou Christian when you have sex and conceive or one who is infertile.)

After a just a few days, I began to feel utterly alone. Everyone that I knew in the town was agency-related. I was never an "expectant mother", "mom-to-be" or even "Pam", I was simply referred to as one of the agency's "birthmothers" -- although I hadn't signed a thing. I felt like a breeding dog in one of those notorious puppy mills. I was a walking uterus for the agency.

Honestly, how many times can one hear that "this is God's child and not yours," that "you owe it to Him and the child to give it up for adoption," and that "you have nothing to offer this child" before you start to believe that you are too pathetic to deserve the baby that God put in your womb?

I'm sorry, but my God does not make mistakes. He puts a child in the womb of the woman who is supposed to raise it. We might not understand His reasoning sometimes. But He does things for a reason.

Blood is thicker than water!

My counselor, *Jennifer, told me one day in the car that she had barely passed her Social Worker recertification and was just reentering the work force after being a stay-at-home mom for 13+ years. When we had our weekly meetings, which were always at an Appleby's, TGI Fridays, or a similar eatery, we talked mainly about her other cases and how my baby was "highly adoptable" because I knew who and where the father was and he had agreed to sign the adoption papers.

She often wondered if I had spent time at the beach which was five blocks from where I was living... that is when she wasn't on her phone or ranting about her kids' problems at school.

On two separate occasions, she talked about her other cases with great description. Once about a young teenager who was brought in by her parents and was against adoption. She told Jennifer that she'd have an abortion before she'd give her child up for adoption. Another time was about a girl who was "raped" by a black guy one night and a white guy a couple of nights later. She had no idea what race her child was going to be or who the father was.

Which makes me wonder, if she was talking to me about her other cases, who was she talking about me to?

In May, I chose several couples from a huge three-inch thick binder filled with bios of hopeful adopters.  Each had a page, front and back, with information on the couple and a photograph.

I narrowed it down to three couples and received their complete bio -- a smaller binder that the couples make.  These scrapbook-styles sales pitches each have a "dear birthmother" letter, photos and other information to make the couple appear to be the most marketable of all the couples waiting to adopt and infant.  Some go to great lengths to impress you... talking about all the trips they make each year, how much money they make, how big their home is and how "family oriented" they are.  They also tug at your heartstrings with their story if infertility... their longing to be parents and how God led them to you.

So, I picked one lovely couple and met them face-to-face on Mother's Day afternoon.

I fell in love with them within five minutes. They seemed so humble and more worthy of a child than I was. We talked about what we all did for a living, where they went to school, our favorite college sports and teams, how they met, how long they'd been married and our expectations for this baby.  They were dressed to the nines and the woman even petted my belly! 

Later that month, they attended my last exam with me. My doctor set up an appointment later that afternoon for me to get an ultrasound to be sure that the baby was heads-down and ready for delivery. We then went to lunch and the couple drove me to the ultrasound appointment. They went back with me to hear the baby's heartbeat and see the ultrasound images. We also decided that they would be in the delivery room to witness the birth.

It was so exciting and we had such a great day. I just knew that they were "the ones" and that I could trust them.



At 4:55 a.m. on Friday, June 11, I woke with a stong need to pee. (Any woman who's been pregnant can understand that feeling!)

In the bathroom, I noticed that the tissue had pink stains on it and I wondered if something was wrong... I wasn't due for another week and a half.

Within an hour I was bleeding heavily and having contractions every five minutes. I couldn't even stand up to take a shower. I called my counselor so that she could call the couple. Catherine then drove me to the hospital... after she got off of the telephone.

At the hospital, I got 25mg of Phenergan for nausea and 25mg of Demerol at 7:30 a.m. That was the extent of my medication. The middle-aged nurse, who had been a midwife in England, was sweet and stayed right by my side.

I have no memories from 9:30-10:30 a.m., but my medical records state that I was pleading for pain medication and that the doctor hadn't arrived and they needed him to OK an epidural.

I do remember looking at the clock at 10:30 a.m. and having the adoptive couple to my left side and Catherine on my right. The nurse was concerned because the doctor still wasn't there yet and I was crowning.

My doctor finally got there at 10:57 a.m. ... two minutes after I'd delivered a 6 pound-12.5 ounce, 19.5 long baby girl.

They laid her on my tummy as the adoptive father cut the cord. I held her and gazed at her. She was BEAUTIFUL. I have never felt so much love in my life.

That night was blur. The couple brought me a dozen red roses and stayed in my room with as we ooed-and-aahhed over *Beth. Visitors came and went and nurses checked on me hourly.

After visiting hours were over, I kept Beth in the room with me. I fed her and held her and counted her toes and breathed in her sweet smell so deep and just fell in love with her.

Saturday was an emotional roller coaster. I didn't think that I could sign those papers the next day. I kept Beth in the room with me all day and just curled up in bed with her beside me.

My counselor came in that evening and told me that since fully open adoptions were not legal in the state I would not be getting any identifying information on the couple. Any and all correspondences would go through the agency. After a year, the couple would not be required to keep in touch.

When she left, I called the Fords and told them that I was thinking about keeping the baby to see if theyd let me return to their home with Beth until I could save up enough money to go home.

Afterall, I was living with them and I had to get their OK before I brought a baby into their home. And since I was stuck in the hospital, I couldn't go out and get a car seat, clothes, diapers or baby food.  I didn't have much money anyway, so I wouldn't have been able to get a hotel room if I needed to. (It was summer and we were in a tourist-trap city. Hotel rates were through the roof... and most were booked already.)

I needed help and they were my only chance.

Catherine was short with me and put Mr. Ford on the phone. He asked me very abruptly what I had to offer this child -- Poverty? Being raised financially by my father, her grandfather? Having a broke, unemployed mother? Wearing hand-me-downs and not having enough to eat or even a decent home.

I felt like such trash for even thinking about taking my baby home by the time he was through.

I hung up the phone and bawled.

When my counselor returned later that night to go over the paper work, I was a mess. I had been crying off and on most of the day.

She left my room and immediately called the couple. She told them that I was having second thoughts and asked them to come to the hospital!

They sat beside my bed gazing at my daughter who was in the bed with me. They were both sobbing and I felt like shit for putting them through this. I felt like I was the cause of their agony, that they deserved Beth more than me and that I was a pitiful human being for second guessing the adoption plan of the almighty "Christian" agency.

My counselor, who stood in the far corner and watched this unfold, started telling me how hard it was to raise a child alone and that it was in my best interest -- and Beth's -- to go through with the "adoption plan."

That I simply couldn't do it alone and that they were a married couple -- a team if you will -- that had enough money and love to raise Beth.

She also tried to use my weak stomach and my fear of being puked on to her advantage. She told me about how her kids always puke on the floor and on her and in the car and how hard it is to take care of them... yadda, yadda, yadda.

(Bringing that emotionally distraught couple to my room while I was having second thoughts was the agency's way of making sure that the adoption went as planned. They used me and they used that lovely couple. I feel that we were simply game pieces in their bizarre game of adoptionopoly.)

At 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, with The Fords sitting to the right of my bed and my "counselor," another counselor from the agency and a notary on my left, I signed the relinquishment papers. I was holding my daughter who was nuzzled against me sleeping. My eye lids were swollen from having cried for over 24-hours straight. The notary, who was a RN in the hospital, kept being paged, so I was rushed through the signing.

I had five sets of eyes glaring down at me and a sleepless couple, who no doubt had a traumatic night as well, waiting outside my hospital room door.

Once it was done, the adoptive parents walked in sobbing and I handed my sleeping angel to them. She awoke during the transfer and let out a blood-curdling cry that still haunts me to this day.

The last sight I had of her was her crying and the couple rushing her away from me.

The Fords then rushed me out of the hospital without even getting me discharged or getting any of my instructions from my doctor.

Back at the Fords home, everyone around me was so happy. The Fords oldest daughter was visiting and had gotten engaged while I was in the hospital. Plus, they had "saved" God's child from a heathen, single-parent home.

After less than a week of their "it was God's plan that this baby be raised by someone else" babble and that I should be happy, not sad, I spent my last $50 on a one-way Greyhound bus ticket and went home.

Back home without my child.



I returned home on Friday, June 18, 1999. I was absolutely depressed. I couldn't eat or sleep and when I did manage to drift off, I would wake to Beth's phantom cries. My milk had come in and the mere thought of a baby would saturate my shirt.

I weighed 172 pounds the day that I delivered and by my 23rd birthday in November, I was down to 120 pounds. All I could do was cry and regret. I wanted to die.

I couldn't get the agency to return my calls and when I went to the local office, there was never anyone available to see me. They were always "short staffed."

It took a call of complaint to their national headquarters to get my local office to call me!

I guess I should have figured it out. They had already obtained my signature, sold my baby and made their profit, so I no longer had anything to offer them. So why should they waste any time on me, right?

I called the agency line one particularly tough night and Mrs. Ford happened to be the volunteer answering the line after-hours. I sobbed and ranted for a good 15 minutes.

When I finished, she told me -- and I'll remember this conversation until the day I die -- "you were the one who spread your legs and got pregnant out of wedlock. You have no right to grieve for this baby."



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