Sunday, March 26, 2006


"Kimberly" was supposed to have a BUFA baby. BUFA stands for Baby Up For Adoption and is a well known acronym in our hospital. This mother had planned to give the baby up for adoption for some time. She said she did not want to see the baby after birth, did not want the baby with her in her room, and did not want her family to see or be given information about the family. We are willing to comply with those wishes. I was in attendance at mother's cesarean section, and the baby did fine. Before leaving the C-section room I told mom that her baby was doing well and was normal - I think every birth mother deserves to know that, so they don't wonder or imagine things - and asked her if she wanted to see the baby. She did, so before we took the baby to our nursery mother saw the baby and touched her face.

The nurse who was with me and I commented to each other that we wouldn't be surprised if mother decided to keep the baby; mothers frequently change their mind in these situations.

I don't mind admitting that I feel a lot of ambivalence about adoption. I know it can be great for families unable to conceive children and I know that many kids through adoption are given families and lives that wouldn't be possible otherwise. But seeing a mother say good-bye to her baby for the last time, seeing the baby taken from mother, and seeing the expression on mother's face, makes you realize that has got to be one of the most heart wrenching experiences on earth. I suspect, too, that the birth mother thinks about the child she gave up every single day the rest of her life. Whenever we have a mother who is considering adoption and wavering about it, I find myself rooting for the birth mother, hoping that she'll keep the baby, hoping another person won't have to go through that awful separation experience.

Kimberly didn't change her mind, and in this case I was privileged to see what I usually don't observe, the happy part of adoption, where adoptive mom meets her new baby. One of the pharmacy workers in our hospital was looking for a baby to adopt, and she was given this baby. When she came to take her home she was thrilled. I've seen her several days since then and it is great to see the persistent smile on her face. I can't help but wonder, though, if the height of her joy might be matched by the depth of the birth mother's sorrow.


Blogger Flea said...

Adoption is a great institution that should be encouraged.

Embrace it, man. It's a good thing.



5:22 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

Good post.

Adoption may be a good thing, but there's a long history of coercion that goes along with it. Single mothers are pressured into giving up children, often for financial reasons---but financial strain is almost always temporary---giving your child away is permanent.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous armchair ethicist said...

What a great post. I completely share your uneasy ambivalence. Who is there for the birthmom when her heart is breaking in pieces, months and months later, long after she's supposed to be "over" it? Very tough stuff.

1:13 AM  
Blogger neuroticillinifan said...

One of these days I'll write my adoption stories on my blog. In the meantime, I will tell you here that as an adoptive mother I have watched two girls go through this process, one who changed her mind and one who didn't. It is undoubtedly heartbreaking for the birthmother. Sometimes it is the right decision for the birthmother to keep the baby. Sometimes it is the right decision for the birthmother not to. Like all other aspects of life, sometimes the right decision is made, sometimes not. We all continue to carry on, bearing with us the consequences of all of our decisions, both good and bad.

I leave you with words I'll never forget and may bring more questions than answers, said to me by my son's birthmother as we discussed whether it was right for her to give up her son. She said, "I know if I keep him he will end up in the foster care system like I did. I don't want that life for him."

10:54 AM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, all. It's interesting to see the various opinions. Like our friend from Illinois says, sometimes the right decision is made, sometimes not.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not every birth mother is meant to be a mom or wants to be a mom.

And not every birth mother feels sorrow at giving up a baby for adoption.

You might see tears and think it's all about sadness, when it's really about relief that the 9 month nightmare is over and the woman can get back to having a normal life.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Clementine said...

I am an adoptive mom of a 5-week old baby girl. My wife and I were in the labor and delivery room when she was born and we have been parenting her since that time. Baby is still in the NICU and we expect her to come home in 2-3 weeks.

If you have any suggestions for parenting in the NICU, I'd appreciate them. This is a very difficult time for my wife and me--we don't know when to speak up and when to shut up.

Thans for writing this blog.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How convenient that the adoptive mother just happened to be a colleague who worked in the hospital pharmacy... my stepdaughter and her husband have been trying to adopt a baby for almost three years and one situation after another falls through at the eleventh hour, usually after months of anticipation and expense. I can't help but wonder how many potential parents like these were leapfrogged over by this hospital employee. I understand giving up a baby is heartbreaking, but so is being promised a child and having it taken away immediately after birth.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Justice for Mother and Child said...

It is definitely an ethical issue having an infertile that works for a hospital be the one with 1st dibs on this infant. Adoption as an institution is vile. Infertiles need to get over their infertility and adopt a puppy.

6:53 PM  
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