This part of the series (read part 1 here) deals with a really sad and almost inconceivable decision: what makes a mother give away her child to a stranger? How does someone end up in a situation where they have to make this decision? What would you do if this person was one of your close relatives? Noémi and Ádám got into such a situation. While preparing to embark on the path of adoption, one of their relatives was forced to give up her unborn daughter for adoption. Is there a solution to this? The series is about a couple living in Hungary, so it presents the adoption system of Hungary. Written by Noémi Szabó.
A tale or not a tale?
The girl is young, she’s barely turned 22. She’s long been missing her father – her parents got divorced when she was 10. They haven’t been in contact for the last few years, even though she was very close to him before. Her father drinks a lot and he’s not a great role model. The girl has been drifting for years: she got into bad company, skipped school, got expelled from a number of schools and dormitories, she has no profession or a high school diploma. Often, she’d rather party than go to work. Like the prodigal son, she would return to her mother, after getting fined on the train for not having a ticket or being arrested for drinking in a public place. She ran away from home multiple times, sometimes climbing through the window when she was grounded, spending several days in unknown places, not letting her family know where she was – in these cases, the police were searching for her.
But she loves her family and her family loves her. She would do anything for her mother and her siblings. She likes to read and enjoys other people’s company. She loves animals.
But she made a big mistake once. Neither the guy, nor that night was something to write home about. Or was it? Because she got pregnant. None of them had it in their plans; they didn’t want a baby, neither the girl not the guy. The pregnancy was revealed too late so an abortion was out of the question. The guy accepted paternity, enthusiastic at first. He made plans, but didn’t do much to realize them.
Then he was gone. He vanished and no one could reach him anymore. The phone and the internet didn’t help. The girl stayed at home with her mother, many living in a semi-finished house, some without stable jobs. The girl, a single mother without a profession, her own apartment or a stable job, didn’t have too much to look forward to.
Her family supported her in everything, regardless of keeping the baby or giving it up for adoption. It was up to her to decide.
And she did.
The girl, with the help of her family, got in contact with a specialist who’s been working in child protection for decades. Zsuzsa, the specialist explained her everything and tried to persuade her a bit to keep her baby and raise it. But the girl seemed unshakable in her decision, though no one knew her feelings because she didn’t talk about them.
I was fortunate (?) to be able join the first meeting, since it was held in the city I live in. I told Zsuzsa that me and my partner are thinking about adopting a child. She immediately got excited and, hoping for the best, presented her idea: we could also adopt the baby. According to her, there’s no legal obstacle, and she was always in favor of a child staying in the family. She believes that it would be the best for her. The only thing she’s interested in is what’s the best for the infant.
“Children are temporarily or permanently cared for at foster parents as an alternative to residential child care. Thus, children are often raised in foster families for many years, or even into adulthood” (Zsuzsa Bogár: The Psychology of Adoption).
Naturally, the two of us and the rest of the family also thought of this option. But the girl didn’t like the idea, and I can’t blame her for it. We’re close relatives, and we meet often enough to make the situation awkward. Not just awkward, but downright hair-raising! Who would the child call mother? If it was me, then would the girl cry every time the baby does so? None of us could really understand how Zsuzsa imagined this working out without anyone getting seriously hurt. It also came up that we could be the guardians or foster parents of the child. But that would mean that at any time, the girl could take the child back from us, and we couldn’t bear that. Of course, I was hoping all along that she’d make up her mind and the baby would forever stay in the family. I’m sure we could have managed somehow!
The process of giving up a child for adoption
Open adoption: “In such a case, the child is not placed in state care at all; the biological mother or biological parents give up the child for adoption to the adoptive parents. The termination of parental rights form is signed at the child protective services in the presence of the adoptive parents. So, in such cases, the biological parents and the adoptive parents always meet personally, and the form contains the addresses and names of both parties, so this information is exchanged as well” (Zsuzsa Bogár: The Psychology of Adoption).
I thought it would be quite difficult. Not only because of the psychological effects, but also because of bureaucracy. But, believe it or not, as far as paperwork goes, it’s relatively simple to give up your unborn child.
After the meeting with Zsuzsa and reading the books she got from her, another discussion awaited the girl, who remained adamant in her decision. Éva, an employee of a foundation that supports crisis pregnancies and, to a lesser extent, adoptions, guided her through the next steps. They filled out papers and signed them, and the girl told Éva about her family and her living conditions. They went through topics like “No, there are no hereditary diseases in the family,” and “Yes, I’m in regular prenatal care,” as these are the things future adoptive parents are most concerned about.
The foundation soon found a couple who wanted a baby just like the girl’s soon-to-be-born daughter. The girl got a photo of them and learned their first names. They could even have met, but the time of delivery was approaching fast. Over the next year, the girl will be able to receive photos and information about her child through the contact at the foundation. Such is open adoption, but I’ll go into more details about it in the next part of the series.
Making in official
The decision turned into action after the baby girl was born. The girl and the adoptive parents chose her first name together. The parties met for the first time on the day after delivery. The soon-to-be parents started to get acquainted with the newborn while the girl rested. A few days later, she was released from the hospital, so she started running the gauntlet of bureaucracy. Preparing documents to hand them over to the adoptive parents. Signing papers in the presence of a lawyer, taking a picture of both parties that the child can look at when she gets older – that’s all the information she’ll have of her biological mother. Both parties can change their minds before the baby turns 6 weeks old, and then the adoption is final.
In the end, the baby didn’t end up with us. I cried. Our family only got a few photos of the one-day-old; we couldn’t hold her or even hear her voice.
We can hope that as soon as she gets big enough, she’ll want to visit her biological mother and she’ll be able to find her too. Then maybe we, too, can meet her in person. Until then, we can only hope that she is in the right place.
The next part will be about the process of adoption in Hungary.
Source of featured image: pexels.com
Translated by Ádám Hittaller