How did your friends react to you deciding to place? What could they have done to be more supportive?

AMY SCHUMAKER

It was kind of like a split down the middle. When I announced that I was pregnant, a lot of people were excited because it was time where a lot of us were pregnant and getting married and having kids and stuff. Then, when I said, well, I’m not going to parent, I’m going to place. Then it was “Oh.” It was that uncomfortable “Oh, okay.” The friends who were supportive, they were supportive from Day 1 to post-placement. I was actively involved with women’s bible study at the time that I had been involved with probably 4 or 5 years. The bible study leaders I have grown up with in the church, they were only about a year older than I am, and they have struggled with some of the same struggles that I went through. They were there for me. They were there holding my hands.

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They were there for me to cry a shoulder on when I didn’t know if I could follow through with doing the placement. They also made me laugh. They made the support real. After placement, that same bible study, they threw a baby shower for me but it wasn’t a baby shower, it’s a pamper Amy party. At that time what they did, they bought gifts just as we were doing to a baby shower but it was a gift for me. It was gifts like fuzzy socks, my favorite scent soft lotion, and a book that they felt might be a good one for me to read. It was just different things. Another friend made a photo frame for me. Each person who was there at the pamper Amy party had written a one word adjective to describe me. Now to this day I still have that frame with the adjectives and inside that frame is a photo collage of myself and my daughter. I had the extreme supportive friends.

Now in the split side, I had some other friends who were not supportive, especially after placement. Some of the friends who I thought would be supportive of me ended up not being supportive. I would send out pictures and updates when I got updates and pictures of Kylie. One of those friends emailed me back and said “When you’re ready to talk about yourself, please email me. If you only are going to talk about the child of who you place, I don’t want to know.” It was hurtful for me but it was a realization that not everybody agreed with what I went through and that’s okay. That’s their own choice and it was my own choice to do what I wanted. I pretty much stepped away from that friend for many, many years. I didn’t contact her. A couple of year ago, thanks to the creation of Facebook, she did find me in Facebook. She sent me a friend invite and so I went ahead and accepted the invite. Now, am I super close with her? No. She’s more of an acquaintance or anything. She plays a lot of the board games that I do. It is kind of fun to talk about that but when I do post update about my daughter which is not very often, she’s one who is not one to do comments or hit the like button. Other people who were not supportive, then they’re just not supportive. I did lose friends because of my choices but to each their own. I don’t judge them for that. I just know that when you go through a difficult time regardless if it’s a pregnancy or even a divorce or family relations that are difficult, you really know who your true friends are. You know who are the friends that you can call and pour your eyes out to over the phone because you’re bored, you’re sad, you realize that you’re missing the first dance recital, and you’re missing the first Christmas or the 16th Christmas that you’re not being able to be there for.

So I know that I have a strong support system within my family and also why it is important to know other birthmoms so that you can use that support system as well because they understand. They literally understand. You can talk to every counselor in the book but they’re not going to understand unless they’re birthmoms themselves. They can read every grieving type of loss book but it’s different. Adoption grief is extremely different. It’s more different than losing a loved one to death or a miscarriage. I think that people just think that you can move on and you can’t. Every birthmom realizes that you can’t move on. You are always going to have that piece of you that you do want to somewhat talk about.

So now, 11 ½ years later, I am kind of careful about who I do come out to about my adoption story when I first meet people because my husband and I have moved around and I don’t live in the same area anymore. When they ask if I have kids, a lot of times at first I say no until I really get to know them, until I can trust them, until I can really see if they’re going to be able to handle knowing some of the choices that I made in the past. I think that’s an important thing to look for when you are starting to become new friends with people, to really see and think for myself, is this person going to judge me based on their own issues? Are they going to judge me and not want to talk to me again?

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