As a birthmother I am more familiar with Factor S.B.F. Situation. Birthfather. Future. These three variables required in depth comparison and at least three journals' worth of figuring a solution with at least twenty possible outcomes. The most difficult task at hand is not necessary the one factor, but rather the multitude of variables that arrive once the factor is dissected by the division and multiplication of need, desire, hope, and possibility. What appears to begin as three factors never fails to become at least thirty.
The process is time consuming and extremely difficult, because in the end, no matter what kind of outcome one arrives at ... it still must be evaluated and reviewed by the Teacher of our souls. Anyone who has ever taken an algebra or geometry class knows, even when you believe you've arrived at the correct answer, and by your numbers it does seem to be correct, often times it is still not the true answer. More often, it is about how you arrive at the conclusion than the numbers making sense in the end.
Interesting to me, as a birthmother, is that Adopting mothers also evaluate factors in their decision making process and the evaluation is very similar to mine. One hopeful adopting mother asked this question in the adoption.com chat room last week, "I'm just not sure what type of adoption we want, what kind of questions should I be asking?" Another hopeful mother asked, "I hate that money matters so much, what should I be considering and/or getting from based on the different fees?" One hopeful adopting mother going into the second year of waiting jokingly replied, "Oh, just toss a coin and save yourself the agony." A very tempting idea that everyone laughed over, and one I would assume many of us have actually thought of doing.
Adopting Factors M.B.T, (Money, Birthparents, Time) are consequential factors that if not weighed carefully result in surreptitious maneuvering. Akin to the "carry over" factor, not deciphering the equation fairly to the needs one has can result in having to borrow from one to give to another. This can be disastrous. One adoptive mother says, "We really did not want a domestic adoption because we felt unable, emotionally, to deal with the possibility of a birthmother changing her mind. We chose to do an international adoption. After three years and over eighteen months in a foreign country we came home empty-handed anyway. We finally agreed to try to adopt domestically and within eight months were in an open adoption situation. The emotional energy we've spent has zapped us. The birthfamily asks for far more than we are willing to give and it's a daily battle to work through communication issues. We're very grateful that we are parents, but in the back of our minds we continue to fight with it."
One birthmother wrote, "I told the birthfather about the pregnancy and for the first eight months he was totally supportive of relinquishment. Then, when we started getting closer he started changing his mind. It was awful. He wanted to look at other couples, then he wanted to parent, and then his family got involved and I had to deal with them. Finally I just flat out held my ground and told him I was staying with the parents I'd chosen and that was that. He went ahead with the paperwork, but since the adoption he's been a nail in all our sides. He calls the adoptive parents all the time, wants more visits than agreed to, and even his family is difficult to deal with. It's a mess."
When we "borrow" from one factor to give to another, hoping it will make up for the lack of, we ultimately sacrifice necessary pieces of the over-all equation and only over time do we realize the outcome will show evidence of our maneuvering.
Several honest questions about Factor M.B.T:
Money: Do we go with what costs less? Why are the fees so different? Why pay more when the outcome is really the same? Is it better to use an agency or an attorney?
Birthparent: Do we risk loosing our baby? Can we really commit to openness? How are we going to feel in the long run? Will we be able to share our lives so openly? What will be expected of us? How does our family feel about birthparent contact?
Time: What option will make us parents fastest? How long is too long to wait? What should we do if we feel that we're being over-looked? How do we really know what the waiting list is where we're at?
Several honest questions about Factor S.B.F:
Situation: Do I want to meet and know the adoptive parents? Will my family want to be involved? Am I emotionally ready to commit to a relationship with the adoptive family? Do I have other children at home to consider? Are the reasons behind my pregnancy emotionally too difficult to be involved in the child's life?
Birthfather: Does the birthfather know of the pregnancy? Do I expect my relationship with him to be long term or short term? Is he supportive of relinquishment? How does his family feel? Can I supply adequate information about him to the agency? If I choose adoption and he is not in agreement, how do I go forward?
Future: Do I want an adoptive family within my state, or do I expect to live somewhere else? What happens if in the future I get married and have more children, could they be involved like I will be with the adoptive family? What if I decide that openness is too difficult for me? What if I decide that I want openness? Who, among those involved, (my parents, friends, the agency, adoptive parents, etc.) will really help me begin working towards my future? If there are no resources currently, where do I find them?
As you can see, the prominent factors are littered with additional variables. It is not just as simple as; Money? We have it. Or; Birthfather? No problem. There are families to consider, futures to ponder, and reasons that often do not show themselves until the outcome is near at hand.
How, in the process of figuring these factors, can we possibly expect to have peace? Which factors are we willing to let go of, which are we willing to compromise, and which are we sure to hold our ground on? When it matters more how we arrive at the solution, and not the fact that we arrive at a perfect answer, what signs do we follow to ensure we're headed the right way?
This adoptive mother said it best when she wrote, "The answers weren't on paper, I finally realized, all along they were in my heart."
You may spend more money than you've allotted. You may travel further than expected, or travel closer than thought. You may meet and embrace a birthmother you never imagined to feel so bonded with, or you may be handed a closed adoption when you were seeking openness. You may seek a certain set of standards in a couple only to find that the one you're heart tells you to choose carries an entirely different set of realities. You may not have been able to choose openness, only to find that it grew into openness all on its own.
Proof that my theory works. It's the journey of working towards the solution, the ultimate correct answer that comes from careful examination of the heart.
There is, ultimately one set of over-riding factors.
Heart. Spirit. Ability.
If all else fails, flip a coin between those three.