Danette Lambert knew she could not give her newborn son the life she wanted him to have, a life where he could wake up in the morning without a care in the world just being a little boy.
Escaping from an abusive relationship with her son’s birth father in Tennessee, Lambert, a Petoskey native, packed up and moved to New York City several years ago to start a new life at culinary school. Shortly after arriving in the big city, she found out she was pregnant.
“I was in shock and I was mad. This was not supposed to happen,” said Lambert, who was 35 at the time.
In an anonymous city where no one knew her, she contemplated abortion and scheduled an appointment. On the way there, she said she had a transformative conversation with God that caused her to change her plans. She moved back to Tennessee and tried to reconcile with the baby’s father, to no avail.
Her diagnosed bipolar disorder made it difficult for her to care for herself, much less a baby on the way. She wanted to give herself a chance at raising her son first, yet “deep in my heart I knew adoption was the best option.”
On May 23, 2006, after giving birth to Micah, a Biblical name she chose to protect him during his journey through life, she brought her boy home and bonded with him for 8 weeks while working with an adoption agency to find a new family for her son.
“I wasn’t ready to place him at birth. I needed to spend some time with him first,” said Lambert. “I wanted to see if I could bring this bipolar under control.”
She moved around several times and eventually determined she could not provide Micah the life she wanted him to have. During a meeting with an adoption representative, she flipped through the pages of prospective families and narrowed in on one family of four, a stable family with a kind-faced father.
“It was important for me that he have a good father,” said Lambert.
The family accepted the invitation to adopt baby Micah and they met with Lambert and several of her supporters at a church. She knew instantly that she had made the right choice, and handed over her baby to his new parents.
It was a moment she said will be forever ingrained in her memory and her heart, and one she knows many, many other birthmoms have had to endure. Still, she contends with a society, she says, that is judgmental of mothers who place their children for adoption, despite the overwhelming experience of entrusting one’s own child into others’ care. “We birthmoms have to trust an agency that these people will raise your children right,” said Lambert, now 39.
She chose to request an open adoption with Micah’s new family so she would have the opportunity to know her son through photos, updates and later in life if he would like. The adoptive family agreed and recently sent her a photo album of the boy’s recent adventures. “(The dad) looked at me and said, ‘You will forever be a part of our family.”
Lambert also said she wants to offer support to other birthmoms, letting them know, during this National Adoption Awareness Month, that feelings of anger and resentment are normal, and to take advantage of counseling services post-adoption — something she did not do.
In the last several months, Lambert has had a chance to get a better handle on her mental illness as well, and was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which stems, she said, from an abusive childhood. The new, correct diagnosis and ensuing treatments make her feel in her heart that she indeed make the right decision for her child.
And since the adoption two and a half years ago, Lambert has become a volunteer support person for birthmoms via several adoption agencies and has spoken on behalf of birthmoms and open adoption on various occasions.
She also noted the importance of support from family and friends, and encourages families facing unplanned pregnancy to support the birthmom before and after the adoption, and not sweep it under the rug never to be discussed again. “Let them grieve. They’re going to cry. They’re going to cry for a long time,” Lambert said.
She remembered talking to her own brother three days after letting go of Micah.
“I said, ‘What did I just do?’” Lambert said. “And he said, ‘You know what you did three nights ago? You just became someone’s hero.’”
Each year, National Adoption Month brings attention to adoption, the families who welcome children into their home and the birthparents who provide new hope for their infants.
This year’s theme is “Answering the Call — You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of teens in foster care who would love to put up with you.”
This year’s theme of adopting teens from foster care builds on the Ad Council’s new public service announcement campaign of the Children’s Bureau, the Adoption Exchange Association and The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids. There are approximately 129,000 children in foster care in the United States waiting for adoptive homes.