Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"I'm Not What's Best for My Baby"

At Elle Magazine, an article, entitled "I'm Not What's Best for My Baby," about a birth mother's relinquishment of her son for adoption:
On a bright, hot afternoon in July 2010, Julia Barnes* gave birth in a Chicago hospital to a slightly premature but healthy five-pound boy after a short labor. When he emerged, black hair plastered to his head, she looked away and did not ask to hold her child—or, as she kept reminding herself, “the” child.

This was far from the blissful scenario she’d imagined when she and her husband, her college sweetheart Bill, learned she was pregnant the previous fall. But as her stomach had grown and she’d begun picturing her future as a mother, Julia discovered a secret that upended her life.

Lying in the hospital bed, now finding herself unable to take her eyes off her newborn as he was cleaned and swathed by nurses, she focused on what she’d trained herself to think during her pregnancy whenever she felt the jab of a small foot or glanced down to see her abdomen rippling: He doesn’t belong to me, he doesn’t belong to me. Julia had chosen a couple to adopt the baby, and the wife was there—she cut the cord. Watching the adoptive mother trail out of the room behind the nurse and the baby in his crib, Julia silently repeated another mantra: I’m not what’s best for him, I’m not what’s best for him.

Julia was not physically or mentally ill, nor was she poor or very young, unable to make a living, or alone in the world. At the time she gave birth, she was, in fact, a 30-year-old lawyer who’d been thrilled when she conceived the first time she and her husband tried. Yet eight months later, she was intoning to herself, The baby doesn’t belong to me; I’m not what’s best for him.
Read the whole thing.  Not exactly a feel-good piece, and the adoption doesn't seem like a happy ending in the circumstances. I came away from reading it more than a little depressed, which probably wasn't the author's intent.  What about you?

15 comments:

Jenn said...

I thought the whole thing was really sad...

LA Mama said...

Very sad. I can see where she was coming from, but it sounds as if she's still depressed--and at this point is that depression from her ex's horrible treatment of her or from placing her child or BOTH? Can a woman who is that depressed really decide to place her child? (I.E., is she truly of sound mind?) I'm not saying there are easy answers, but these are definitely questions I have.

Anonymous said...

am i missing something? i don't think it's terribly sad. tough decision but sad? sad that her husband was a piece of dirt. she said she is glad she made the decision she made and seems to be doing well. it's the writer that give the impression she's not alright.

Tina said...

I find it sad as well. Its not so much the author's expressed opinion that she's not "alright" but her complete rejection of all her pre preganacy life goals and dependency on her friend even a year later that makes me think she is depressed. Hopefully when she comes out of that she will be truely "alright". Decisions of any kind made while in extreme emotional distress are not always well reasoned no matter how calm and rational the person seems. Her's may have been - but you've got to at least wonder. And that's is what I find sad. That she MAY HAVE* made such a huge decision while essentially not really capable of it and now both she and her son have to live with the result forever. * I don;t know her and you don't - even the author doesn't really. But anyone in this situation might be emotionally compromized.

Meredith said...

As an adoptee, this piece made me incredibly angry. This child instantly had his rights to his roots taken away from him because his well equipped for the future mother only thought in present tense.

Myst said...

You know, its normal to feel this way when having a baby. It is part of worrying and caring for our children. But to go so far as to cut the cord and give the child away is delving into other territory. This adoption should never have been allowed. This woman sounds as though she was suffering from depression and was not at all in a fit state of mind to place her son - far too many unresolved issues to deal with in that short time.

So right now she says she is okay, I wonder how she will be feeling in 10-20 years from now? And how her son will feel? This isn't just sad, it is a whole tragedy.

Melynda said...

Myst said it best, "This isn't just sad, it is a whole tragedy."

Anonymous said...

I too find it sad and for several reasons....and yet I find it baffling that so many folks are quick to presume that her mental state is severally compromised, that her "depression" led her to this drastic decision and that she is incapable of making rational choices....and yet...and yet....those same folks feel she would be able to handle the tremendous demands of parenting a new born, single, while also seeking employment, rediscovering herself outside of a "couple", relocating and healing from a destructive relationship? (among other issues)

Perhaps she then did know herself only too well and understood what we simply cannot: that she was unfit(due to her circumstances) to mother that child or maintain a tie to a child that reminded her too much of a terrible hurt/betrayal in her life.

Is it fair to the child? No.
Should her own mother perhaps pushed harder and insisted she come home and they raise the child together? Perhaps.
Should a true friend/family member have stepped forward and insisted on professional mental help for her? Perhaps.

But in the end, you can't force someone to accept that help. In the end you can't force someone to Mother a child.

And that's sad too.....

Pam

P.S. I also find it odd that she would choose to be the subject of an article....does anyone else find that odd? Exposing this grief, heartache, her decision not to keep the baby??

Anonymous said...

Sad but I think she made the best choice possible for her child. It is an open adoption so at least she will know about the child.

Cassi said...

***Sad but I think she made the best choice possible for her child.***

I don't understand how anyone could even think this. She was a perfectly capable mother. How in the world could it be the best choice possible for her to give up her child to strangers?

I agree with Myst. It is a tragedy. There is no question this woman was dealing with a terrible crisis situation with everything going on and yet there was nothing in place to protect her from making such a life-altering decision without first receiving the counseling she was truly in need of.

This is a heartbreaking story. I can't imagine how it will ever be explained to her child why she gave him up when she was fully able and capable to keep and raise him.

shannon said...

I think that in most cases, the birth parent is what's best for the child.

Anonymous said...

How can any of us know from a story in a magazine if she is fully able and capable of raising a child? The story makes me think she was depressed before having her child (how do you explain staying married to an unemployed, untruthful man) and after having her child? However that does not tell me whether she was or was not fully able and capable of raising her child? I think we all have agendas - those who have adopted want to believe it is in the best interest of the child, those who have been adopted may feel otherwise depending on their own life circumstances, etc. There is so much gray.

Anonymous said...

geez, come on. do you people really think the child would be better off with the mom. she made the decision she thought was best for the child. and it probably was best for the child based on the article. clearly she doesn't 'want' to parent. give her a break. that's the decision some birth parents make. it's a choice in most cases despite what we read on this blog. i'm curious to know what situation some of you would find appropriate for adoption. my, we are all falling off our rockers! someday that child will probably be thankful for the life given. adoption is a solution and many time the BEST solution. read about the case in L.A. today? 2 year old given back to the birth parents? you can tell me that girl was better off with her birth parents, can you? i guess we'll never know since she never made it past 2.

Anonymous said...

Great story. Sad, but at the same tiem, she is fortunate to be living in a time were woman have choices.

Stephanie said...

"Sad but I think she made the best choice possible for her child. It is an open adoption so at least she will know about the child."

Oh yeah, at least "she will know about her child" until the possessive, selfish, cold-hearted adopters slam the door shut, which happens in over 80% of "Open Adoptions". Try something else, anonymous because that tried and true line isn't working anymore. Too many of us have spoken out about the bogus Open Adoption scam.

Welcome to the "best interest of the child" party!! I find it baffling how complete strangers who don't know a young mother from Adam can declare what is best for her child. I find it baffling and disturbing. What gives you the right to declare what is best for someone else's child? The fact that you think you deserve them more? You don't.

No, it is not about the best interests of the child, it is about the best interests of those who want to covet them, clearly. I learned that lesson the hard way.