Brooke Bergman, shares her story of Brave Love as an incredible adoption advocate and mom who placed her daughter for adoption
What are some of the reasons you placed?
For starters, I was seventeen and in high school. I lacked preparation, maturity, and resources. While I had no doubt in my ability to be a good parent given the circumstances, I didn’t want my daughter to spend her childhood waiting for me to get my life together. I was planning to parent for the majority of my pregnancy because I felt the need to prove myself and because I knew adoption would be incredibly painful. But I had a humbling epiphany that this wasn’t about me. When I seriously weighed cost and benefit, adoption was undeniably best for my child.
What stood out about the family you chose?
While looking through albums, there were things I was drawn to in almost every family. I had pretty extensive prerequisites though, and very few families fit all, if not most, of what I was hoping for. Most importantly, I needed to place with people who were genuine in their desire for openness. This isn’t something I could distinguish in a few pages of photos and carefully thought out words, so I never considered anyone I couldn’t meet with first. I met with multiple families, two of whom I loved dearly. Both of their albums were filled with such happiness and love, which was equally reflected in their sweet personalities. How I felt when meeting my Perri’s parents, though, is difficult to describe. Beforehand I was anxious and full of dread, but after the first few minutes, I was at ease. Despite the awkward circumstances, conversation flowed freely and naturally. We had a lot of parallels in our lives that made them seem familiar to me. I left that meeting feeling peaceful followed by a few agonizing days. It was the most painful, but also most humbling, realization that Pj and Ronnie were my daughter’s parents, and I was not.
What is something you wish others knew about birth moms?
A fairly common and terrible misconception is that birth moms don’t want our children. We are all so unique with greatly varying experiences that it’s nearly impossible to make any assumptions or generalizations—but don’t be mistaken here. We love our children; we want our children. An unfortunate fear I’ve encountered lately by those foreign to adoption is that birth parents are dangerous to the children because of lifestyle choices or because they are a direct threat to the stability of their adoptive families. However, the vast majority of birth moms I know are not poverty-stricken with substance abuse problems. They are some of the most highly functioning and capable women I know with a capacity to love like you wouldn’t believe. We aren’t people who should be feared, or people who our kids and their families should be protected from. We want our kids’ families to thrive together and for their parents to feel secure in their roles. We just also want to be recognized and acknowledged for our sacrifice and included in their lives.
What is your biggest fear in adoption?
In open adoption, trust and communication are absolutely key. I have no doubt in Pj’s & Ronnie’s ability to do right by me and our daughter, but being a birth mom is simply terrifying. It is easy to feel at the mercy of the people who have your whole heart. A common and sadly valid fear among birth moms is closed contact or broken promises. I’ve seen it happen far too often on the account of “it’s too hard.” I recognize having a relationship with your child’s birth parents is hard, but nobody signed up for easy when they signed up for adoption. Showing integrity by not overpromising to get what you want or running away when things get hard honors the birth mom, so subsequently honors the child.
My greatest fear is that when my daughter is older, she will see a (hopefully) stable and happy woman who has finished school and traveled the world, and she will resent me for that. While I am able to do these things because I placed, it was never a factor in my decision-making. I fear she will think I placed her for my own freedom and will feel abandonment. Another, rather selfish, fear is that my relationship with Perri will be like every other woman in her life. I’m not her mom, but I do ache for our relationship to be special as she grows older.
What helps you live your life in your new normal?
First and foremost, having a relationship with my daughter and her family has helped immensely, especially when it transitioned from scheduled and contractual to natural and relaxed. I don’t have to wonder about this little life I created because we are always in contact. We are family. Ronnie especially has become one of my greatest friends, and I truly can’t imagine sharing motherhood with anyone else. Our authentic friendship has set the foundation for our trusting relationship and effective communication that is crucial for Perri to view her adoption positively. This has also been beneficial to my own peace of mind. Another important thing is being given the freedom to talk about it. Especially because of the openness, adoption is a frequent topic of conversation, and it is heartwarming when my friends and relatives express interest in my little babe and her family. One of the greatest things I have integrated into my new normal is having an adoption community. Humans have an innate yearning to be relatable. Finding community with not only birth parents, but adoptive parents and adoptees as well, has changed my life and given me infinite perspective. While all of these things contributed to how I merely got by in the first few years, only in the last year have I felt the most liberated since I became a birth mom. This has a lot to do with my recent independence and success. In having positive things happen in my life, I recognize that making a plan of adoption was good for me as well, whereas I previously believed it was best for my daughter but to my own detriment.
How has IPAS helped on your journey?
I became involved with Infant of Prague again at their first Celebrating a Mother’s Decision retreat in 2013. That was the first time I connected with other birth moms on a group level (see above how this changed my life). After this retreat, I started speaking on their birth mom panels. Not only have they allowed me to establish a community of women who have walked a similar path, but they have given me space to use my story for adoption education. I have realized that every person at this agency has their heart in adoption. There is solidarity in meeting anyone who has been involved in adoption; however, this common understanding is unique to find in people who aren’t a part of a triad. Because they possess this understanding, I feel supported just sitting in their presence. Their ability to empathize is incredible. They really join adoptive families in their joy and birth moms in their heartbreak. They offer lifelong support for every member of the adoption triad, which is not only useful, but necessary. I love IPAS, and am better for being involved in the work they do.