I know a woman who is the midst of a major life decision. This driven, intelligent, educated woman has been unemployed for about two years, working for minimum wage part time for almost one, her savings is on empty, her rent and bills a few months behind and her unemployment benefits two seconds from running out. Most of her friends are barely keeping above water and her family is either unknown, estranged, old or dead, so there is no leaning on them for support. To say she’s struggling is an understatement and to top it all off, she’s with child.
Now before you get up in arms and start asking yourself how she could get pregnant while in this situation, the child she is with is not in her womb. This woman has a five-year-old daughter who, before getting laid off, she was taking very good care of. No she wasn’t balling out of control, but she was living comfortably and able to provide for her and her daughter’s basic needs and wants. She followed Suze Orman’s advice and saved a little something for a rainy day and contributed to a 401K, even after she was initially laid off she moved into a smaller apartment and cut back on luxuries like cable, but that was two years ago. Now she’s drowning and terrified that if her situation persists any longer that she and her daughter will be homeless and even worse, terrified her daughter will get taken away.
Recently she heard from a friend who was once in her shoes and moved away, that the job market is looking better in the friend’s current home state. She’s gotten a few job leads out there and wants to make a move in hopes of securing a better life and getting on her feet, however she doesn’t want to disrupt her daughter’s life any more than it already has been. She knows moving away to find work is not a sure shot, but staying hasn’t worked out either. She has a close friend who is financially stable, lives near her daughter’s school and is willing to care for her child until she gets situated in the new state. But can she really give up her child? Every time she thinks of leaving her baby behind her heart breaks, but it also breaks every day knowing that she is not able to do all the things a mother should do to provide, at least not now. She wonders if temporarily giving her child to someone so she can get her life in order is really the best thing to do. Will her daughter hate her or think she’s a failure? Should she take her daughter with her, away from her school and friends, to sleep on the floor of a friend’s house in a different state when there’s still a big chance she’ll still come up short there too?
She racks her brain day and night wondering what she should do, and as a friend all I can do is be a shoulder to lean on and support her in anyway I can, because the reality is in this economy she is one of millions faced with the same heartbreaking choice and the solution can be so much more difficult than it seems.
Could you temporarily give up your child?