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  • Writer's pictureLisa Alice

Courage is not simply one of the virtues,but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CS Lewis

How do we define courage?

I was given up for adoption by my bio-mom, when I was a newborn. She was in college and 20 years old. Raised in a traditional Catholic family, she had 6 younger siblings, strict gender roles and conventional values for the time she lived in. She did not want to marry my bio-father. She said, "he was a, career, college student," who had been going to school for about 7 years. She was afraid to commit to someone who was not motivated to grow or complete what he started.

When she found out she was pregnant, she also discovered her mom was pregnant with her 8th child. Her family was not affluent and struggled for resources. My bio-mom chose to give me up for adoption. She had the legal right to choose an abortion. She was a lifelong Catholic and followed the values of her faith, related to abortion. She went, "away," to an unwed mothers’ home for 8 months. She told me once her sisters thought she went away to, "sewing school," because she sent them bathrobes she had made. She smiled when she said this and there was a bit of sadness in her eyes. I wondered if she missed her sisters and her mom. I also wondered if she missed being in school, carefree and intellectually engaged.

I think her choice was brave. She did not feel she would be an adequate mother for me. She wanted to finish her education so she could support herself as a teacher. She did not want to marry someone out of obligation, duty or guilt. She believed that a couple who were more prepared for the responsibilities of motherhood would be better parents. She was a loving, committed and strong role model to the children was able to raise with her husband after she completed her education and was more prepared to raise a family.

Her choice to give me up for adoption was a choice about love. She loved herself enough to make a pragmatic decision that she was not mature or resourced enough to raise me. She loved me enough to afford me an opportunity at life, with a family that desperately wanted a baby.

Because the prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until around the age of 25, judgment, impulse control and executive function are impaired. Young adults, under this age, frequently make decisions that impact the rest of their lives. They make decisions based on the information they have at the time. Teh make decisions based on poor judgment. They make decisions based on family or spiritual values. They make decision based on really bad impulse control, and they make decisions based on fear.

One of my core values is pragmatism.

My birth mom was intelligent and pragmatic. She saw very clearly what she wanted. She was able to extrapolate the potential outcomes of her decisions, in the moment, and made a choice that was practical and maintained the core values she was raised with according to her spiritual beliefs. She believed life is precious and she lived that value.

One more thing on this little piece of courage.

Giving up a child for adoption is a leap of faith.

The new mother is trusting that their child will be cared for in all physical ways.

They are also trusting that the parents who are adopting that child will love that child as their own. When a parent is offering their child for adoption, they cross a bridge and meet the receiving parent half way across that bridge. The exchange is intended with love and mutual respect. Because giving that child away is giving that child an opportunity at life. Receiving that child is accepting a precious gift.


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