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  • Leah Outten

Did I Trade My Motherhood, So She Could Have a Dad?

Sometimes I feel like I traded my opportunity to mother my birth daughter so that she could have a dad who is present and adores her.

It is a painful sacrifice I made.

There, I said it.

I know I would have been a great mother, even at 16 years old. I loved her from the moment those two pink lines appeared. I immediately dreamed of names and clothes and nursery decor. I envisioned how I would “do it all” as a young mom. I had the support of my parents. I had options for taking her to school with me. I knew how to change diapers and soothe babies to sleep– thanks to my siblings being far younger than I.

But I wanted MORE for my baby girl.

I wanted her to have a mom who wasn’t going to be in school or working all the time to get on our feet. I didn’t want her to struggle or feel lonely as my mom and I did growing up. I wanted her to have two stable parents in love and together. I didn’t want her to grow up in divided homes as I did (if she would have had that at all). I wanted more for her.

Mostly, I wanted her to have a dad.

Even before I knew statistically just how important the role of a present and loving father was in a girl’s life, I valued that for her. Perhaps, even above my own role as a mother for her. (Ouch)

While I did grow up with a loving dad, we didn’t live together. I was shuffled back and forth between families every other weekend and shared holidays. I wasn’t told “I love you” much from my Dad. I always enjoyed our visits, he was always kind and we had fun, but I still think that daily absence (and my childhood sexual abuse by another) lead to me into seeking attention and affection from boys to fill that void in my life and attempt to regain the power taken from me. (Counseling…it’s a Godsend to help bring new light and understanding!).

Maybe I didn’t fully understand then why I made my choices at 16 years old, but God did, and I feel He put that value of a father into my heart so she would have what she needed to live a healthier lifestyle than I did.

I see my now 15 year old and how secure she is in WHO she is and WHOSE she is. From watching her dad fall in love with her in the hospital, to their playful banter now, I am so grateful. Grateful she has him and how he has loved her. He’s raised her soaked in a fatherly love (both his own and a Heavenly Father) so that she doesn’t need to look to other guys for that attention. I’ve heard her say, “No guys at my school are worth my time.” She values herself. That’s huge, y’all! THAT is what I want for all my girls. It is so crucial.

That wasn’t me as a teen. I said, “Yes” to people I didn’t even really like, just because I liked the feeling of being liked. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend. I didn’t value myself. I did things I am not proud of for the sake of being liked and feeling loved for a moment, a day, weeks, or months. Praise God for His forgiveness and washing me clean.

I must add as a disclaimer– I wholeheartedly know her Mom is a fantastic mom and person, she loves our daughter well. She loves ME well. We can never replace one another, and I never will try. We each bring value to the adoption (and sometimes literal) table and I love that about us. I am important to our daughter, just as she is, in our own ways. Our daughter can love us both for who we are. She is given the space to have both!

As always, adoption is bittersweet. It is a dance back and forth between pain and joy. I can love adoption and not like it in the same breathe. I can see how God used it for redemption and for good in our life, yet also feel the heartache of the cost of sin. I can be so forever grateful for our open adoption relationship and feel joy that I am blessed to have this kind of bond with them at all, yet also wish it wasn’t that way because I want to be, and could be, her mother.

In a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t be needed. But, it is needed at times in our fallen world. This is why I educate constantly for ethical adoption, so when it is needed, it is done well. This is why I champion for pre-placement education for both hopeful adoptive families and expectant moms. This is why I advocate for post-placement care and counseling for the birth mom…because it’s HARD y’all. We miss out on so much and our hearts never really stop hurting. We need to be able to talk about these things and feel seen and heard.

It’s hard to walk this path, from any side of the triad. But, with more work and understanding we can make adoption better for all sides of the triad.

So, when emotions and thoughts like this pop up, we can give each other the space to feel what we feel and learn from each other.

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