Adoption is an incredibly beautiful, complex, and emotional experience for every person involved. 

The adoptive family excitedly prepares to welcome a new child into their home. For the child, adoption will become an incredibly important part of their story as they grow into a deeper understanding. And for the birth mother, the woman choosing to place her child with a family who will give them a home, safety, and love, a rollercoaster of courage, love, grief, and sacrifice is often involved.

While we often see the “happy endings” of adoption–of an ecstatic couple holding a sweet newborn in their arms, preparing to take their baby home–what is less talked about is the “end” of the story for the birth moms. What is it like during those couple days or hours that they get to hold their child, before placing them in the hands of another family?

Heartwarming, Heartbreaking & Everything in Between

Three birth moms give us a rare and vulnerable glimpse into those secret moments. About what it’s really like to “give birth to a baby that you won’t take home,” and how something so beautiful could also be so painful.

Courtney Mason

“Being a birthmom didn’t come without heartbreak, but it didn’t return void to me.” — Courtney Mason

Follow Courtney’s adoption journey at @realmisscourtney.

“One year ago I left my home state, but no one could prepare me for texting my best friend a week later to her I was pregnant. I came home heartbroken and terrified. I threw up every morning for 39 weeks straight. I was puking every few hours. I hit my knees at 12 weeks, praying for God to take her away. But God knows the plans He has, I didn’t.

That’s the reality of an unplanned pregnancy. Nothing can prepare you for it. I chose adoption even though all I long to be is a wife and a mother. She came into this world as perfect as she was the moment she was conceived. One second has given me the opportunity of a lifetime of love. 10 fingers. 10 toes. 1 heart. A smile I gave her. And a family that will give her the world. 

“Instead of wondering who you might’ve been. I’m wondering you’re gonna be” (Matthew West, “Unplanned”).” Being a birth mom didn’t come without heartbreak, but it also didn’t return void to me.”

Annaleece Fairbanks

“It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t be taking her home. I gave this angel life, and I’ve never been more honored.” — Annaleece Fairbanks

Follow Annaleece’s adoption journey on instagram at @annaleece.fairbanks.

“I cannot even begin to explain to you what it’s like to give birth to a baby you won’t take home. I was only eighteen and terrified. Throwing up with every contraction, sure that I couldn’t make it through the pain.

But my mama held my hand, and Rocky’s adoptive mama held together everything else. (Truly, she’s a champ. She stayed up all night with me, jumping up anytime I needed something so my mama could stay by my side). And somehow I did it. I made it.

This photo was taken a few minutes after I delivered, and it’s the happiest I’ve ever been. To all the expectant mamas: don’t be afraid to bond. Hold your baby first, do skin-to-skin, do everything. Being the first to bond with this beautiful baby was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t be taking her home. I gave this angel life, and I’ve never been more honored.”

Addie Day

“It’s really hard to fight for a small relationship, when all you want is a really big one.” — Addie Day

Follow Addie’s adoption journey on Instagram at @addday_.

“Four years ago today I signed away my rights as Mack’s mother. For two days I held him in my hospital room, without any sleep, crying frequently, trying to soak up every last moment of time where it was just us. 

Although I have had the most positive experience imaginable with adoption, there are still days I want to give up. I want to stop trying because it hurts to say so many goodbyes and hear the negative comments from people who have never been in my shoes. Its painful to hear what I’ve missed out on and see him run to his mom for comfort. It’s heartbreaking that I don’t know every detail of his personality and every element of his mannerisms. And it’s really hard to fight for a small relationship, when all you want is a really big one. 

As a birth mom you become a bystander—it’s a lot of standing back and hoping everything falls together. I try really hard to stay positive, and remind myself how lucky I am to know Mack at all, but this time of year seems to feel more raw every year.

Happy 4th birthday sweet Mack. You’re the best thing I’ve created and the most radiant human I’ve known.”

Birth Moms will Always be Mothers

To all the birth moms who have made the sacrifice of choosing a better life for your child at the expense of an irreplaceable piece of your heart, we see you. Family is such a messy and beautiful thing, and adoption is no different. There is no limit to the sacrifices mothers will make for their children, and that is what birth moms remain: mothers. Even after they leave the hospital with empty arms and aching hearts, but with a peace that they have taken care of their child, whom they will always love.

Mariah Maza is a Writer and Journalist with Voices for the Voiceless, the nonprofit cultural movement to create a world where every person is valued and no one faces unplanned pregnancy alone. To connect with Mariah, email her at

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