Unforgettable Decision: Giving Up My Child

In Features, My Piece of the Sky, Opinion by Ariel SilverSpirit

It was 1978. I was 22 years old, had been married for 4 years, and recently widowed, four days before my son’s first birthday. The marriage was not a happy one, but it was my first.

When I met John, who was blind from diabetes at a summer camp for blind adults, he was a wild left over hippie. I was a hippie wannabe: wild and immature. Married each other for all the wrong reasons but we loved each other in our own strange way.

Brian, our first and only son, was placed in a foster home when he was only 7 months old under pressure from the state. John and I were no longer together. He had left me.

As a married couple we were at the camp where we first met when I suspected I was pregnant. I was very emotionally confused. I knew that I wasn’t ready to care and raise a child even though I was a married woman who wanted to have children. I kept my mouth shut and did my best which wasn’t too good. But, I loved my son very much.

The decision came when the state told me I should give him up for adoption. I didn’t like being forced into anything, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Although I had been using drugs and drank a little, too, I was always aware of my intuition, and what many people call their conscience.

It wouldn’t let me rest, no matter how intoxicated I got. It told me in no uncertain terms that Brian would be better off in a stable home with two responsible parents. I knew it was right.

My decision to allow Brian to stay with the foster family was based on these issues, but the most important deciding fact that enabled me to let him go was the one most powerful force that guided me my entire life- LOVE.

Although I wasn’t good at showing love, I truly loved my son, just as my parents loved me, but had a strange way of showing it. I didn’t want him growing up the same way I did. I knew my son deserved better- I wanted to give him the one thing I never had; a stable life with lots of love.

How could I expect to bring him up alone? Who would want to marry me anyway? What if I couldn’t handle it, considering I wasn’t doing a good job now?

He’d be bitter, angry, and destructive, like me. He wouldn’t understand my anger, and I didn’t want to burden him with it. I knew I was immature and unable to give him what he needed.

So I did what I knew in my heart was the best thing for him.

Of course there was a part of me that wanted to keep him and do my best, the selfish part, perhaps, or some strange maternal instinct which was still very underdeveloped, but I was smart enough, aware enough, realistic and responsible enough to do what was in his best interest, what was right for him, so I sent him to be adopted by his foster family.

Reluctantly, I signed the papers around June of 1978. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but in that unforgettable moment, when I decided to do it, my heart felt at peace.

I sent with him a photo album with pictures of me, his father, and our home. I also gave him all the things that were given to him by us, our friends, and the charitable groups who donated to us. The decision I made changed my life forever, when I signed those papers, and I believe I gave him a chance at a better life than I could provide.

This past March 18th was his 29th birthday. I still haven’t tried to find him. It’s not just because I’m afraid, though a part of me is, but the main reason is, during the years that followed my decision, I believed he was better off without me in his life.

I did not grow up well, physically or emotionally, and still bear the scars of those years, yet, despite all this, I’m still able to listen to my intuition.

In looking back on my troubled life, I know I did the right thing, and was at least unselfish enough to ensure a more hopeful future for my son. I wanted him to have all the things I didn’t, and couldn’t give him. I wanted him to be secure, and know he was loved.

It is my deepest wish that wherever he is, he grew up well, happy, and safe, in a loving home that gave him the guidance and wisdom he’d need, so he could show that love to others, as well as loving and respecting himself.