Thursday, August 26, 2010

Concerned Grandma-to-Be

Question: My daughter is 24, one semester away from her degree, and pregnant. She went into deep denial for almost seven months. At 27 weeks, she came to me with her suspicion. There were no options but to have this baby.

She has stated emphatically that she does not want to keep the baby. I am very sad and wish she would not do this, but I have committed myself to supporting her. Father is not involved, and she has very negative feelings about him. He will sign off his parental rights immediately.

She and I have met her chosen adoptive parents, and they seem lovely. My daughter likes them a lot. Otherwise, she has chosen to go this alone. She has told none of her friends. She has made up excuses why she is not around, and confined herself to my home.

I do not feel she has thoroughly examined this. She has detached. I don't think she has thought that maybe this is what her life was supposed to look like.

I don't want to add stress, but I really want to ask her these delicate questions. She just says she does not see herself as capable of being a mother yet, and does not want this at all. Am I out of line?

Answer of Carolyn Hax, I can think of one argument in favor of pressing her to reconsider: She probably has detached, and hasn't thought that maybe this is what her life was supposed to look like. Those 27 weeks of denying her own body make a persuasive case.
But here are the arguments against pressing her:

She's 24, not 14.

You've clearly already pressed; otherwise, how would you know what "she just says"?
You have a raging conflict of interest. I'm confident you want to shield your daughter from regrets - but I'm positive you want to keep your grandchild close.

Your daughter has talked to you, accepted her pregnancy, chosen adoption, apparently secured the father's cooperation, chosen adoptive parents carefully, introduced them to you, decided not to involve friends, and executed that decision consistently. These aren't the disjointed motions of a sleepwalker. They're the responsible actions of someone who knows what she wants.

These acts may bear no resemblance to what you'd do. Still, we're not all wired the same. If it's in your daughter's nature to tailor her emotions to meet her logistical needs, and to fly solo on big decisions, she's making the right choice in the right way for her. It's not your place to say otherwise, your real pain notwithstanding.

Should she come to regret her decision, she'll need reminders that she did what made sense to her, not that she failed to do as you hoped.


As someone who has researched this field and worked with mother pre- and post relinquishment for more than 30 years, I can assure that her daughter most definitely *IS* still sleepwalking and may continue to for DECADES. The unnatural trauma of the loss of a child will do that to people.

Her reluctance to let anyone know is a major indication of the guilt and shame this process is wrapped in for her and how she feels about herself doing this. It is a harbinger of her life going forward carrying this load of shame. It will destroy her self esteem and all future relationships, living under such a dark could of regret, lies and secrets.

She went from total denial to allowing herself to be convinced by those who have a great stake in obtaining her child for themselves or to make a fee. She is being convinced - by the adoption agency - that she will be able to "put it all behind her' and "get on with her life." Unfortunately, studies indicate just the opposite. No mother can ever forget. She will think of him and wonder how her child is doing at every milestone. Regrets will haunt her. And, in today’s’ day and age no one is safe form being found eventually by a curious adopted out offspring!

You tell the mother of this young woman “I'm positive you want to keep your grandchild close.” And that is quite normal, natural and healthy as well!

It may be ugly for a while, but I encourage this grandma-to-be to demand some rights. If she cannot dissuade her daughter to wait until she sees and hold this child before making such an irrevocable life-long decision that effects so many people, then she should at the very least request that the adoption be open so that she might have updates on her grandchild, and also to leave that door open in the event her daughter changes her mind and regrets closing it so tightly. It is likewise best for the physical and emotional health of the child to be able to keep that door open.

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