There’s been a lot of talk about how the downturn in the economy is “forcing” expectant parents to place their babies for adoption. There have been “big” articles about how the economic downturn is leaving mothers with no option but to place, thus boosting the adoption rate for waiting families. While I don’t want to dis anyone’s decision, I want those who are still making their decision to consider some very important things about an economic downturn like we are currently experiencing.
Before I tell you all the reasons why basing your parenting versus placing decision on the current economic downturn, let me say this: I do understand the concept. I really do. When I was pregnant with the Munchkin, I found myself in a down-and-out financial mess. I had been working to save money for myself and my daughter but when my health caught me off guard and I was placed on bed rest at 18 weeks, my world fell apart around me. I was scared. I knew that I needed money to provide for my child. I didn’t have that money. And I hit panic mode quickly.
So, trust me, I know how the current economy must have many an expectant parent acting in panic mode. But I need you to pause and consider a few things before you hand your child over based on financial reasons alone.
What are those things?
1. Adoptive parents are not exempt from financial hardship. I encourage you to do a little Google searching right now or even visit our own forums and simply look at what is going on in the lives of families who were once financially stable. Waiting families are having to find different ways to fund their adoption plans. More over, adoptive parents simply aren’t exempt. They have been laid off. They have lost homes. They have had to change the way in which they spend their money. Just like the rest of us. True, they may not be starting from the ground up like you but I want you to realize that financial issues are not only something that expectant parents deal with… especially now.
2. Have you researched where your current income level places you with regard to financial assistance? If you have been laid off or if you’re working at a poorly paying job, you may be eligible for things like Medicaid (to pay for your pregnancy health insurance and your child’s health insurance), food stamps, housing assistance and/or cash assistance. More over, when your child is born, you may also be eligible for help with child care. While a year or two ago you might not have been eligible for such programs, maybe you are today. Have you called to ask? Do so.
3. Newborn babies don’t “need” a lot. They need a safe place to live, your breastmilk, some clothes, diapers, your love and that’s really about it. Clothes can be bought cheaply via eBay or yard sales. In fact, you can inherit them for free if you ask around. (We also pass clothes on to friends!) If you’re unsure about the ins and outs of breastfeeding, contact your local WIC office or hunt down a local lactation consultant. Solid foods don’t need to be started for six months. If you’re eligible for the food assistance I mentioned in the last point, that should help with the cost. If not, you could plan on really improving your situation in the next six months before that next cost is incurred. As for diapers, don’t rule out cloth diapers. Trust me. They save money!
There are other reasons why this economy shouldn’t be your sole reason for placing your child for adoption. The main reason, however, is this: don’t ever relinquish your child based on one reason, especially one that is subject to change. When it comes down to it, if you can only think of one reason to place your child for adoption, perhaps you should be taking a harder look at parenting. As an example, there were multiple reasons why I decided to place my daughter. It’s true that finances played a large part in that decision making process but there were other things that pushed me toward the adoption side of the equation. Furthermore, financial instability can become financial stability (and vice versa, really) in a short amount of time. I know this because my financial situation did a 180 degree turn with three months of my daughter’s birth. It was a wake-up call that I always let people know about when considering placement.
In the end, remember that we’re all experiencing this financially difficult time. Normal, everyday parents. Adoptive families. Expectant parents who got that way on purpose. And expectant parents who were surprised by two lines on a stick. We’re all in this together. Don’t ever let yourself feel as though you are “less than” because you have less in your bank account right now. You can be a great mother no matter how much money you do or don’t have in your savings.