First, I am sorry if you have found yourself in an unplanned/unexpected situation and you are scared. I truly understand having been there myself and if you, like myself, are afraid of telling anyone, then it is a very lonely and isolated place to be. I hope we can make this easier for you and find for you a way to navigate the months ahead.
Right now you probably have a lot of things swirling inside you - emotions, thoughts, hormones even! - a lot is going on. This only makes things more confusing and harder to determine what it is you need to do for yourself and your unborn baby.
I should disclose right now that I am NOT a counsellor nor am I a qualified professional in psychology or anything to do with counselling. What I can tell you is I am a great listener and I have been where you are and spoken to many other women in the exact same place. I can support and give you as much information as you need to make proper informed choices for you and your baby and if I feel I cannot, I can point you towards organisations who can.
If you have stumbled on my blog because you searched for adoption, well, that is a huge discussion and I usually like to follow up one on one rather than through my blog because there is a lot to digest and these decisions are not ones to be made lightly.
Very quickly however, here is a run down on the realities of adoption in New Zealand:
- Adoption is a legal process that permanently severs a mother from her child and the rest of the child's family - ie grandparents, furture siblings, aunts, uncles etc. Through adoption, your child is made a stranger to you and you become a stranger to your child in terms of the law.
- New Zealand does NOT have Open Adoption as a legal option. The current law has NO provisions for legally enforced open adoption and the only legal adoptions at this current time are closed adoptions. Whilst there are stories of successful adoption placements where families give the mother varying degrees of contact, it would be remiss of me or any other organisation or counsellor to not make you aware that it is a verbal agreement ONLY and can be closed at any point should the people adopting your child desire it to. I know this from personal experience and the experiences of other mothers who have lost or placed children to/for adoption.
- Adoption is known to have lifelong mental health consequences to both the mother and her child as well as the extended families. Placing a child for adoption does not mean you no longer have responsibilities for your child; it just means you do not have the day to day care of your child or involvment in your child's life. Once a mother, always a mother regardless of what happens to your child and one day your future children may want information and your child may want to have a relationship with you and the rest of your (which is also their) family.
- When a child is adopted, their birth certificate is altered to reflect the adoptive parents as if they are the biological parents. The real birth certificate, the legal document that records who gave birth to the child is locked away and is only accessible after a child is 20 in New Zealand. Whilst this may not be important to a mother, many adopted adults have shared how distressing this is to them as a birth certificate is a record of birth, not a record of whom a child grows up with.
- Whilst pregnant, it is easy to find yourself vulnerable and impressionable to the ideas and wishes of others. Should you be pushed into placing your child for adoption (which is actually illegal) and sign an adoption consent, please be aware THERE IS NO REVOCATION PERIOD. In other words, no matter how your consent is obtained be it influenced, bullied, forced etc, once you sign that consent, that is it. Unless you have very clear evidence which proves this is a coerced consent, then you will find yourself very unlikely to revoke/withdraw that consent and regain your baby.
- Currently in New Zealand, we operate under an Act which was put in place in 1955. This was a time when the majority of adoptions were forced and this was a practise that was worldwide. Australia recently took accountability for their own part in the actions taken to forcibly adopt children and apologised to the many affected by these harsh practises. It is the only country to have taken this step. You can read the full apology transcript here. New Zealand meanwhile still operates through the exact same law it did back then making mothers and their babies vulnerable to the same or similar practises depending how lucky or unlucky you are.
Should you wish to discuss the full impacts of adoption or other choices available, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you further or direct you to those who can. I understand this is a very difficult time and my aim is to remain as neutral as possible although my wish is to see families stay together. I am not here to judge your decision however and will do my best to advocate for you during what is a very scary time.
Thank you for reading if you made your way to the bottom and I wish you all the very best. Please email me if you are interested in more information.
The list of blogs on the side of this blog - I have a varying amount by adopted adults, mothers of adoption loss, adoptive parents and others involved in adoption.
Book: "The Primal Wound" by Nancy Verrier
Book: " Journey of the Adopted Self" Betty Jean Lifton
Book: "Birthmothers" Merry Bloch Jones
Book: "The Secret Life of the Unborn Child" Dr Thomas Verny with John Kelly