When we first brought Tessa home, my grandma was quite disturbed in meeting Crystal, Tessa’s firstmom.
Now, I love my Grandma, and she was an amazing woman. Almost 90 years old, she had seen space shuttles and the internet replace horse & buggies and telegrams.
But she was stuck in an absolutely incorrect view of birthmothers.
She was both grateful to Crystal for making me a mom, and contemptuous of her for “giving up her child.” Indeed, most mothers — by birth or adoption — have trouble imagining the unimaginable. Grandma couldn’t get over, “what kind of woman does this?”
Here’s a post that helps explain what an act of love relinquishment can be. The bigger point of Abebech‘s post is that adoption should only take place when the mother absolutely can’t (or won’t, in rare cases) take care of a child. It’s called the “Burning Building Test,” and I use it when I teach classes to hopeful adoptive parents.
I was impressed, at the time, by an adoptive mother who had defended the mother of her child. Someone had said “I could never give up my baby,” to which she responded, “Could you if you were in a burning building?”
And she elaborated: relinquishing a child for adoption was like tossing your child to safety, from the window of a burning building. It was not an unloving act, the act of a woman pathologically unattached to her child, but a supreme act of love.
Yes, I thought, that’s a good way to explain it to people outside the adoption community, people who don’t get what it is our child’s mother would have to have done: a woman would be compelled to throw her child from a burning building, and I would be there to catch that child. She and I would recognize each other equally as mothers, and I would know that there was nothing else that she could do.
I explain why it’s right and necessary that adopting couples use an ethical agency, one that doesn’t pursue or coerce expectant mothers. One that helps fully explore the option of parenting. One that cares more about the adoption process than about the agency’s stats on placements. One that can balance the needs and rights of both adopting couples and expectant parents. One that is aware of the Burning Building Test.
Crystal says that our agency passed this test. And because of that, she and I have created a symbiotic (rather than adversarial) relationship that endures years later, with no end in sight.
That’s what kind of woman does this. One with boundless love for her child.