Adoption is HOPE

Adoption is hope that your child is going to have the best experience that they can and to be able to thrive and and get what they need, even if you're not able to provide that.

Perhaps more than any other family journey, the process of adoption has been shrouded in misunderstanding and misconception. Its many complexities have often been simplified in order to appease our human inclination toward clear-cut, neat and tidy narratives. But, in reality, the intricacies of adoption do not reside in the black-and-white. There is paradox, there is nuance, there is beauty, and there is hardship. 

Twenty-three years ago at the age of fourteen, Tina encountered these complexities when she became pregnant in her junior year of high school. She shouldered her pregnancy in secret for as long as she could, continuing to live her life as normally as possible. Inevitably, the revelation of her pregnancy initiated a monumental shift in Tina’s life. Similar to many other women facing an unintended pregnancy, she was confronted with the necessity of making a life-altering choice. Deciding the future for both oneself and one’s child in such a situation was daunting, overwhelming and isolating. Understanding that she did not have the capacity to figure out her next steps on her own, Tina relied on a network of counselors and social workers who helped deepen her understanding of what options she had and what resources she had access to. After acknowledging that becoming a teen mom was not realistic for her, Tina started to learn about open adoption. 

For Tina, the consideration of adoption was not easy. At the beginning, adoption didn’t feel like an option for Tina because of this; she simply could not fathom having to place her baby for adoption. This is natural. No mother innately wants to be separated from their child. Society has traditionally stigmatized birthmothers who place their children for adoption, labeling them as being incapable, selfish or – in the extreme –  as failures. This stigma represents a profound failure to acknowledge the fact that a mother’s decision to place her child for adoption embodies her hope to provide her child with the best chance for having a stable, safe, and bright future. It requires outstanding bravery, courage, and selflessness. 

This stigma represents a profound failure to acknowledge the fact that a mother’s decision to place her child for adoption embodies her hope to provide her child with the best chance for having a stable, safe, and bright future.

As she continued on her journey of open adoption, Tina worked alongside counselors and social workers to outline her dreams for her child, interview potential adoptive families, and begin setting plans in place. She was in the driver’s seat of the process and was empowered to make these difficult decisions. Upon meeting the future adoptive family, there was an instant and undeniable connection. With a sense of warmth, love, and acceptance, she had created an adoption constellation that would weave herself, the adoptive parents, and their communities together around a central focal point: her child. It is easy to limit those impacted by an adoption to the adopted person, birthmother, and to the adoptive family, but they are just the middle of a much larger circle. Though it can sometimes be imperfect and messy, the birthmother’s family grows in unexpected and often beautiful ways. 

In the months that followed, the time had come for Tina to go to the hospital to deliver her child. Despite the depth of connection experienced with the adoptive family and her understanding that open adoption was the right choice, the birth of Tina’s baby sparked a profound realization. Holding her child in her arms, Tina comprehended the sheer weight of her decision. It became clear that this choice would reverberate across her entire life. Its impact would not end when the adoption was complete – it would become a part of her identity. It would be lifelong. The hope for a stable life for her child clashed with the innate instinct to keep them close to her, to keep them safe. Though vulnerable and caught in a whirlwind of “what ifs,” her understanding remained; adoption was what would give her child the best chance at life. In her heart, she knew that they did not belong to her. 

Tina remembers the moment she placed her child in the care of their adoptive parents. It is seared into her memory; the blanket, the click of the carseat, the sense of peace amidst the deep feeling of loss. She was giving up a part of herself in order to create a new future filled with more opportunity, more love, and more connection. As time went on, Tina was able to be a part of her child’s early years. Birthdays, milestones, holidays; she was able to be a part of them all. Even when she went on to start a family of her own, Tina maintained a connection with her birth child. Although mostly joyous and loving, the nature of their relationship as they grew was undoubtedly complicated and was occasionally marked by awkward and sometimes difficult conversations. Most importantly, she knew they were safe and happy.

Over two decades later, Tina, her birth child, and their adoptive family are strongly connected and enjoy regular visits. She has come to a place in her journey where she is able to provide the same support to others that she received when she was in need. Now, Tina leads a support group for birthmothers in Calgary, Alberta. Meetings are held monthly and are run through MainSprings Pregnancy and Family Support. Safe spaces that provide birthmothers the opportunity to freely discuss the paradoxical, beautiful, emotionally demanding aspects of adoption are crucial, and Tina extends a warm welcome to anyone needing help or who is curious about adoption. 

As evidenced by Tina’s story, open adoption is a beautifully complicated process that is at once filled with profound hope and loss. It is anything but simple, but nonetheless possesses the ability to provide birth parents, adoptive families, and adopted individuals with a bright future filled with possibilities that otherwise may have been unimaginable. In this way, adoption leads to more: more opportunity, more connection, and more love.

Adoption leads to more: more opportunity, more connection, and more love.

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We are looking for Birth Parents to share their stories and help educate Albertans on the impact of adoption.