What do you wish you Nora and Ruth had asked you before C’s birth?
“We agree that after the adoption we’ll be like extended family to each other—so tell me about what that looks like to you. What are your family relationships like?” Because as it turns out, we have very different ideas of what your duties and rights are as family.
But if we go totally into fantasy land—well, I have a friend who is a birthmother who works for Catholic Charities, and she both helps women parent and does adoptions. She loves to tell the story of one particular match where, at the eleventh hour, the prospective adoptive mother said to the expectant mother, “Listen: You can parent, you should parent, and we want to support you in that.” And the expectant mother did parent, and it turned out well. (It really makes me wonder what CC’s education is like for prospective adoptive parents!) Anyway: in fantasy land, this is what I want to have happened. I felt awfully indebted to them at the end, and of course they felt as though they had made an investment. Being formally let off the hook would have been miraculous.
Is there anything anyone could have said to make you realize then what you know now, that placing him wasn’t the right decision for you and Mr. Book?
This is kind of a gross answer, but. If Mr. Book hadn’t wanted abortion, I would never have considered adoption. His second choice was parenting, not adoption, but I was too panicked about his primary wish for abortion to be able to hear that. I’m pro-choice, and had always assumed that I would terminate an unplanned pregnancy, but when I got pregnant I realized that it wasn’t something that I could do—and Mr. Book continued to believe that it was the right and obvious solution. Additionally, I think that if someone had been able to make me understand that I wouldn’t have to be a mom like my mother (whom I love), I wouldn’t have been so eager to save a child from myself.
Do you think if you had more contact during these first few years of his life you would have felt more comfortable with your decision?
I don’t think so; I think that relinquishment was pretty thoroughly the wrong choice for us, regardless of the way the adoption might play out. But I do wish that we’d had more contact, and that Ruth and Nora were open to contact with our families.
Do you wish the relinquishment laws were different so that you had more time to think about it?
I don’t know whether that would have helped me, honestly; I didn’t let myself even think about my decision until Cricket was six months old or so. But I do think that it was completely, ridiculously unethical that I was able to sign away my son forever, with no revocation period, two hours after he was born (I did not actually sign until twenty-four hours after his birth, when I was still completely out of it. I wish that hadn’t happened.)
This one is out of left field and not really apropos because you are with Mr. Book, but do you think b-fathers/first-fathers should have more control over placement decisions? Or should is it a woman’s rights issue that expectant/placing moms should be able to make and control?
This is a sticky one. On the one hand, I think that fathers have a right to their children, and am sickened by cases in which pregnant women are flown to Utah to avoid any chance that fathers might be able to parent. Heck, the agency I went through tried to talk me out of listing Mr. Book on the birth certificate, presumably to make it easier to screw him should he balk at signing away his child. I do think that there should be some way to sift out men who are abusive—but I don’t have the answer on how to balance the rights of men to their children and the rights of women to their own bodies and to protect their children from monsters.