Madeleine* was 18 when she discovered she was pregnant. She was earning a tiny salary and knew right away that she did not have the means to raise the child growing inside her. The baby’s father had made another woman pregnant and was living with her. He didn’t want to know about another dependant. Madeleine was grateful to have the support of her family, and her father backed her decision to give her baby up for adoption.
“It was a very difficult decision,” she says, 18-years later. “But, I knew it was the best thing I could do for my child. It was in my hands to give her a better life, and to ensure she grew up in a loving family that would give her every opportunity in life.”
Madeleine chose an open adoption and was able to select the couple that seemed to have the closest match to her own value system and background. At seven months, the baby was in distress and Madeleine feared she may lose her. She took great care and carried the baby to full term. Along the way she had the unconditional support of the adoption agency she had approached and the love and care of two social workers who made sure she knew they had her interests and the interests of her baby at heart. The baby was delivered, and given to the adoptive parents shortly after birth. Despite having 60 days to change her mind after she had signed the papers, Madeleine says that it was not an option. “I had prepared myself months beforehand and was happy to stick with my decision.”
Madeleine requested that the new parents keep her up to date on the little girl’s progress. She received photos and information throughout the child’s life and sent the family gifts at significant milestones, to be given to the child once she had reached 18. The adoptive parents had told the child from an early age that she was adopted. She grew up a happy, content and privileged child who was aware that one woman had given birth to her while another had taken on the role of her mother.
When Madeleine shared her story, she was emotional yet at peace. Just a month earlier, with her daughter having turned 18 and completing high school, a meeting had been arranged between birth mother and child. On meeting her daughter for the first time since her birth, Madeleine was struck by their similarities in mannerisms, music taste and idiosyncrasies. Seeing the lovely, balanced child before her, she was reminded again that her ultimate act of love had been the correct choice. For her daughter, she was suddenly part of a second family, experiencing twice the love and acceptance she had known before. They are now embarking on a journey to discover each other, with the support of the adoptive parents and the extended families on both sides.
“In some ways, I now get to enjoy the good part. Here is this wonderful daughter who I can spend time with, without having to have been the disciplinarian, and go through the hard times mothers inevitably experience”, says Madeleine.
She has never regretted her decision and encourages women in a similar situation to think about how they can change the lives of an adoptive couple and give their child the best possible chance in life.
*Names have been changed in the interests of privacy, but this is a true account shared by a woman who want to inspire and assist others facing crisis pregnancy.