AZ Pregnancy Help Logo

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #56 – The Hardest Time for a Birth Mother

Ron Reigns:
Welcome. And thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters In Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the adoption issues from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of that kid. And that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
All I could think about was needing to save my son. My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry; I’m the executive director, president, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the creator of The You Before Me Campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on school counseling. I was adopted at three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s a pretty commonly known notion, fact, perception that a birth mother will at some point experience a difficult time during her adoption journey. What’s unknown, underrecognized, studied, and evaluated is the most challenging time. What it looks like. What it actually might be. Everybody would assume that the most difficult time for a birth mother would be saying goodbye to the baby.

Ron Reigns:
In the hospital.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. Signing the consent docs and all that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. For some women, that is the most challenging time. That doesn’t mean that’s the hardest time for every woman.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Well, because we’ve brought upon this podcast many times, everybody’s different. And has their other triggers and things that are difficult for them. Some people find that part easy, I would think.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, and again, it depends on walking in their shoes. When you walk in somebody’s shoes, you walk through all the experiences that they’ve had that shaped them into the person they are today. You are shaped by the experiences you’ve had, the hurdles you’ve overcome, the education you’ve received, and the experiences you have had or have not had. And those factors all determine and influence how you’re going to respond in this situation.

Ron Reigns:
Any given situation.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Sure.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
As we walk through this podcast, we’re going to focus on some areas that a birth mother may consider as her most challenging time during the adoption journey. And I think this is important to recognize because when an adoption caseworker or an adoptive family is with the birth mother, they may not realize that the current situation is challenging for them. And they may think, no, the most challenging part coming, the most intricate details coming. Well, I can attest and say that the birth mothers that I’ve worked with over the last 15 years, a lot of them, yes, it is in the hospital. But a lot of them it’s not. And sometimes, the most challenging time is making the appointment and walking through the agency door.

Ron Reigns:
I was just thinking of making that initial phone call. Saying, “Hey, Building
Arizona Families,” or whoever they’re going with, “I think I’m ready to embark on an adoption journey.” Just making that first step in so many cases, that’s so hard for me to step out of my comfort zone and go, “Okay, this is the direction I want to head.” It’s not easy at all. So I can see that being a tough time for some people.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. It’s not easy. And many women look at that moment as admitting that parenting is not the right choice for this child, for them. And it won’t benefit their baby because of the situation or circumstances they are currently in. And accepting that, voicing it, and acknowledging it is enormous.

Ron Reigns:
Do you think it feels like failure when they make that choice?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. I think to them, it does.

Ron Reigns:
Right. I’m not saying it is a failure, but the feeling.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. To them, I do think so. I think it’s defeat. I think many of them struggle with condemnation, and they feel that they’re letting themselves down, their baby down, their family members down, their friends down. They don’t know how people are going to perceive them. They don’t know what they’re going to be judged. A lot of them don’t understand the adoption process. And so they’re going into this unknown entity with this decision that they’ve made, and they’re trying to wrap their head around it. Sometimes when women walk through the doors of our agency, they look like a deer in headlights. And they’re nervous, and they’re scared, and they don’t know really what’s going to happen at that first meeting. They want to make sure they ask all the right questions, and they want to make sure they understand the paperwork, which can be intimidating.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that’s why it’s essential before you even begin an intake process with a new client that you talk to them. And you tell them a bit of yourself and the agency. And you listen to them, and you to their story. When I meet with a birth mother after she has completed the intake process, and I talk to her, as I’ve stated before in podcasts, it’s really to let them know how much I respect them. And I think that what they’re doing is fantastic.

Ron Reigns:
And beautiful.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And how much adoption has benefited me, how it has affected my life, and how I, in turn, am now able to help other people because of the selfless choice my mother made. And again, it’s breaking down the barriers. One of the first things I say is when they walk in, they’re nervous or whatever. And I ask them, “What are you nervous about?” And they say, “Well, you’re the director and president.” And I said, “Those are titles. I’m me. Forget the titles.”

Ron Reigns:
You’re Kelly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, absolutely. Forget the titles. They intimidate me too. So let’s just talk. It’s just you and me, we’re just two people, and I’m no different than you. I was placed for adoption. And I talk about my history and where I come from, and I let them know I wouldn’t be sitting on this side of the desk had my mom not placed me for adoption. I know I would be sitting right next to you. And you’re giving your baby the same opportunity that my mom gave me. And so that is a tough time for a lot of women-

Ron Reigns:
Many women, yeah-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Who is choosing an option? Another tough time is sharing their adoption decision choice with family and friends because they don’t know the feedback or the response they’re going to elicit when they tell them.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And they don’t want to feel like they’re letting somebody down. They don’t want someone to be angry with them. When they tell the birth father, they don’t want to. They don’t want him to break up with them if they’re in a relationship. They don’t want him to be angry or try to pressure her. And that’s tough.

Ron Reigns:
I’ve reviewed a lot of the intakes, and I’m always surprised; maybe it’s just my naivete, but at how many of them, when they’re asked, does your family know about this? And what do they or what would they think of your adoption choice? And how often they reply that either, “No, they don’t know.” But especially when they say, “They are not supportive, or they would not be supportive.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
And it breaks my heart a little because you’re doing something so wonderful. And to either know or think that your family wouldn’t support this choice.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And I think-

Ron Reigns:
So I can see that fear of it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Absolutely. It’s polarizing.

Ron Reigns:
A huge thing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think what is impressive is when I have a birth mother who comes in with her mother, and I will tell the mother’s mother, “Thank you so much for coming and supporting your daughter. You always say you want your mom next to you in your hardest moments. And this is her hardest moment. Yeah. And you showed up. And even if this isn’t the dream that you had for your daughter, and this isn’t what you wanted her life to come to a head at right here, this moment, you showed up. And just sitting next to her, holding her hand, and being there will mean more to her than anything you would ever do, give or say to her.”

Ron Reigns:
Beyond the birth mother herself, if you think about your support in this choice and you helping your daughter go through it, it will be something so wonderful for your grandchild.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. If the birth mother chooses an open adoption, that allows the grandmother to be a part of that.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Is that sometimes put into the post-adoption communication agreement or not really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It can’t be because she wouldn’t. To have a post-adoption communication agreement, you need to have a. She would have to sign a consent. And there’s no consent for her to sign.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But as long as she’s with her daughter, she can be in the Skypes, and she can be at the visit. If her daughter brings her and she can see the letters and pictures, she can.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And again, that all depends a lot on the adopting family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s so incredible. And I think the fact that you have been working with your wife’s law firm and helping with the paperwork and things like that; I think that that gives you an incredible insight to really what these women are going through and what-

Ron Reigns:
To some of the tragedy and triumph.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And when you see somebody, as we’ve talked about, standing on a street corner, or using drugs, you have no idea as a society what caused them to get there. You don’t know what experiences they’ve had. You don’t see what traumas they’ve witnessed, been a part of, or experienced. And everybody is so quick to make a judgment or an assessment on somebody without really understanding. And that’s unfair. And birth mothers feel that. They don’t want to be stereotyped. They don’t want to be stigmatized. They don’t want people to group them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And it’s hard. Another struggle is what goes on in their head. Some birth mothers have the most challenging time in the middle of the night. I tell them the monsters in their head at three in the morning when you wake up, and you’re second-guessing yourself, and you’re rethinking everything. Like I said, in your head, you’re just going crazy thinking, am I doing the right thing? What am I doing? Am I crazy? Some nights are long. And when a birth mother is struggling like that in the middle of the night, my recommendation to them is if it happens where you go through these moments of sheer panic and confusion, and you’re not sure about things, is to write out on a journal or a piece of paper, your reasons for choosing adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And maybe some positive affirmation statements and keep them by your bed. And at three in the morning, when you wake up and start to panic, just reread them. And reassure yourself, no, you’re not crazy. It’s okay to be upset. But let’s go back as to why you’re choosing adoption, why this is important, why this is an attractive choice, how your baby is going to benefit, how you are going to help knowing that your baby is in a safe and beautiful and wonderful home.

Ron Reigns:
That’s a great idea. And not just for birth mothers; sometimes that helps all of us have some sleepless nights and worry about the future.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. Because if you have something already right next to you, and it has every reason that you’ve made a choice you’ve made, the most significant way to bring peace to yourself is through reassurance. And when you’re already disoriented, because you woke up in the middle of the night, because you can’t sleep throughout the night, it’s not always easy to remember those fine-tuned details. So by rereading them, you can then close your eyes and go back to sleep.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So another one, obviously, yes, is leaving the hospital and saying goodbye. I have seen moms; there’s one particular one, she had twins. And she wanted to take pictures. A lot of the birth moms love pictures. I love pictures, so I get it. And when the twins were born, the adoptive family was so excited. And what was neat about it is the birth mother thought they were adorable. She didn’t want to change their diapers. She didn’t want to feed them. She said it looked like a lot of work. She just looked at them and said, “It’s all you, enjoy. I’ll just watch.”

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
She spent her time in the hospital with the adoptive family and the babies. And it was adorable when she took some pictures. Well, I took pictures of her holding the babies. The minute the photos were done, she’s like, “Okay. Here you go.”

Ron Reigns:
Handoff, quick.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And it was just. She was alight. She had made her choice. She was at peace with her choice. She loved the family. And I think the family did everything right, in the sense that they allowed her to create the ebb and flow of the hospital. They didn’t push; they didn’t pull. They just were present.

Ron Reigns:
They didn’t take the babies from her, but they didn’t push them on her.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Nope. They asked her, and they respected [crosstalk 00:14:54].

Ron Reigns:
Where she was comfortable.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They didn’t do the, “Do you want to hold the baby? Are you sure you don’t want to hold the baby? Do you want to hold the baby one more time?” They didn’t do any of that.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It was just natural, and nothing felt forced. I’ve walked into hospital rooms, the adoptive family is in the room, the birth moms in the room, and the birth mother is cradling the baby as closely as she can. And the adopted mom is standing over the birth mother, waiting for her to hand the baby back. And those moments are awful.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. For everybody.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Everybody.

Ron Reigns:
Around. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They’re awful. Nobody wants to see a birth mother sobbing hysterically as she’s leaving the hospital. The adoptive family doesn’t; the caseworkers are struggling with it. The birth mother is beside herself. And those are the moments that don’t just go away in your head. Even as a caseworker, those are the moments that you struggle with because you want her to be so confident in her decision, and you want her to be okay. That’s what you wish for her is that she’s going to be okay. And you know ultimately she’ll get there. But watching somebody struggle is tough.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Often, when a birth mother is struggling, the adoptive parents will work because they start to feel guilt like they’re doing something wrong, hurting the birth mother, and taking her baby. And that’s not what this is. But it’s very, very hard.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Those situations. Yeah. They’re awful. At the same time, you just keep going. When it’s time for discharge, you just keep going. You just keep going through the motions. Often, our caseworkers will spend extra time as we’re getting the mom back to her room at her apartment, or the hotel, or wherever she is, and make sure she has food and all the supplies that she needs for aftercare. Then we’ll check in on her in an hour or two and make sure she’s doing okay.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Because those are challenging moments, and at the same time, as I said, we see the moms that are like, “Okay, let’s go. I’m out of here.” We have the moms that leave AMA, against medical advice, early. Not with our permission, approval, or assistance, mind you.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But they’ve had the baby, and they’re done.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And sometimes, unfortunately, it’s because they’re beginning to become dope sick, and they need to get a fix. Other times they’ve decided it’s too difficult emotionally, and they’re out of there.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And some of them just don’t like hospitals. And as we’ve learned in previous podcasts, sometimes hospitals and they are just not a good mix.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so. Yes.

Ron Reigns:
They’re doing, I guess, what comes naturally to them and what they need to do at that moment. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. I also recommend that birth mothers see the adoptive mother and father with the baby. It may hurt initially, and it may be painful, and there may be feelings of jealousy and resentfulness. But in the future, those memories will stick in their head, and they’ll know how much their baby is loved. And those moments will bring them peace.

Ron Reigns:
And at that time, they may not realize it, but later on, when she looks back at those memories of them holding the child, maybe she’ll kind of. It’ll come clear that this was the perfect choice for that child and her.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And when adoptive families love bomb the birth moms, it’s essential to understand that they need not stop doing that once the baby’s born. So when an adoptive family walks into a hospital room, the first person they should look at is the birth mom.

Ron Reigns:
Right. You’ve said that before.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And make a big deal out of her. I have seen adoptive parents walk into a hospital room, and they’ve had this fantastic relationship with the birth mom, and they dive for the baby.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And you kind of understand it instinctually, but-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, that says to the first mom, I was worried all along that you were just doing this because you wanted my baby and you weren’t as interested in me. And so it’s important to remember that’s still her baby.
Ron Reigns:
And always will be.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And until she signs consents, yes. And so it’s essential to give her that respect. Regarding respecting birth moms, in care of my birth mom, and all birth mothers who have we worked with in the past and the future, they’re my heroes. They are superhuman, in my opinion. People have said to me, “I don’t understand how a woman could place a baby for adoption.” And I say, “But then you don’t understand how a woman is in a place that, that is the choice that she makes.” Because you’re in a different place in your life, and you have additional resources and support structures.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And if you didn’t have those, you would want the very best for your baby. Just like this, the birth mother wants the very best for her baby. And she is selfless enough to make a choice that so many people wouldn’t have the courage or the ability to create. And that’s why I say that I think a birth mother turns into the Incredible Hulk with her strength and Batman with her sense of bravery. And just stays permanently as a Wonder Woman. Because to do this, you have to be strong enough, smart enough, and dedicated enough to get through the moments that are so incredibly hard. And the fact that we, as a society, don’t celebrate every time a birth mother chooses abortion over parenting a child that winds up into the system.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We only look at her like, oh, she placed her baby for adoption. Not as this superhero that she is. If I had a lamp and a genie popped out, my wish would be that birth mothers would get the respect they deserve. That we would see-
Ron Reigns:
Right. Not just from the industry, not just from the adoptive parents, but from society.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
I agree.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That is when somebody says, “I’m placing my baby for adoption.” That people would be like, “That’s incredible. That’s so amazing.”

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. You are a fantastic individual. You’re a beautiful person.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
People give that to women that are surrogates. But women who are birth mothers don’t get that same response. And so I think we need to look at that. Why do we value, appreciate, and respect surrogates on one level and birth mothers on another? And I think that hopefully, these podcasts will educate people and teach people what adoption is because there’s nothing more beautiful than an adoption choice and a mother putting her baby before herself.

Ron Reigns:
We have a pregnancy crisis hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112. Or you can call our toll-free number 1-800-340-9665. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing, and start creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters In Adoption. Written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and edited by me, Ron Reigns. Rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts if you enjoy this podcast. And as always, thanks to Grapes for letting us use their song I don’t Know as our theme song. Join us next time for Birth Mother Matters In Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns, and we’ll see you then.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: