What is best for my baby?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

i had a daughter when i was 16, and my parents made me bring her to china so that they can take care of her while i finish school. i really did not want her to leave my side, but i knew it was best for her. she went to china when she was around 3 months old. her one year birthday is coming up (march 26th) so i came to china to visit her. today is my first day here, and i knew that she probably was not going to remember me, but it still hurts! she loves her grandma which is my mom, and her baby sitter alot.

i understand that, but it’s just that i feel so left out of her life! i wanted to bring her back to america with me, (i’m leaving in one month) but now i’m not sure if that is the best way. in america, i’ve already planned out what to do with her. i would have enough money to hire a babysiter, and my grandma (not my mom, but my mom’s mother) would be there to help me out also. I would be part time working, and i would start going to college in the summer since i’ve graduated high school already. the only problem now is that i don’t know if it’s a good idea to take her away from her baby sitter right now, and from my mom, and all these other people that she’s close to. i’m afraid it might traumatize her, since she might miss them. please give me advice on what to do!!

A: If I were seeing you in person, I would ask you if you could possibly stay in China and put off college for a year or two. That would give you time to bond with your baby so that she would be clear about who her mother is if you did eventually decide that it would be best to leave her with your mom while you get your schooling. Extending your visit would also give you time to think things through. I worry that the pressure of a one month visit could force a decision prematurely.

Complicating things is that it will be hard on your daughter no matter what you do. Wherever she goes she will be accompanied by the loss of someone she loves. Leave and she loses you. Take her with you and she loses the people she is closest to. On the other hand, there is love in both places to balance the loss. That gives me confidence that she will probably be okay whichever decision you make.

Luckily, computers make it easier for your daughter to stay in touch with all the people who love her. If you return to the States (with or without her), I hope you can invest in a webcam so she can maintain contact with both of her worlds.

I hope you and your family can talk about all the alternatives and make a choice that is best for everyone. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. I do encourage you to remember that no decision is irreversible. You and the family will do your best to make a good decision. But if it isn’t working for you, you can change your mind. You are only 17. You have plenty of time to be both a student and a mother to your child.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). What is best for my baby?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/04/02/what-is-best-for-my-baby/