At the age of 24, I was a single mother with two children. I was working two jobs, trying to keep my head above water and food in my girls’ bellies. I was trying to balance school, work, and my children. With no support system, this was hard.
When I found out that I was pregnant again, I remember lying in bed thinking there was absolutely no way I could raise another child. I was doing my best with the two I already had; I knew I just didn’t have it in me to add another child to the mix. And I knew the father wouldn’t be any help.
At the appointment to have my pregnancy confirmed, I told the doctor that I wanted to have an abortion. She brought up another choice: adoption. Until that moment, giving up a child had never crossed my mind.
The sheer magnitude of making a decision like this is incredibly overwhelming. It feels like simultaneously treading water and drowning at the same time. Until a solid decision is made, everything’s up in the air. The shame and guilt are like pesky flies, buzzing around your head constantly. Self-loathing shows its face quite often, as well. There’s a feeling of “who the heck do you think you are to be potentially making a literal life or death choice for another human being?” And all of this is mixed in with the despair and weight of even thinking about life with another mouth to feed, another kid to take care of. I hated that my carelessness had put me in this position.
I went with adoption. I seriously considered abortion, but every time I picked up the phone, I would put it back down. I believe all women have the right to make whatever decision they want with regard to their bodies, I just couldn’t make the call. This is what pro-choice means to me—I support all decisions that women make for themselves, even if that decision isn’t right for me.
I decided to carry the baby to term. I began the adoption process by finding an agency and learning all I could about giving up a baby for adoption. I poured over hundreds of home studies (profiles of potential adoptive parents) and the reaction I felt was strong—I cried, got angry, got depressed. I knew I was done having kids and that I couldn’t sacrifice even more of my already thinly-stretched self but it was a difficult and painful process.
After looking at hundreds of adoptive parents, I narrowed it down to 10 couples, then five, then three. I asked my best friend to go over them with me and help me choose. I agonized for weeks. Even though I didn’t want this baby, I needed to have a small sense of control about what would happen to it after it was born. I think that was the hardest part—there was no way that I could or would keep this baby, but I felt a connection.
I tried really hard to separate myself from the process. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling to want the best for a baby, yet, at the same time, not want it. There is an incredible amount of shame and guilt in those feelings. One minute I believed that adoption was the best choice for myself and this baby, the next I felt like I was making the wrong choice and should have chosen to either abort or keep the baby. It was too late to terminate and I couldn’t raise another child.
How on earth do you reconcile these things? How do you know that you’re making the right choice? How are you going to live with it once it’s all said and done? What about later in life when that child decides they want to find you?
I was concerned about how this all would affect my daughters, as well. They weren’t old enough to understand what was going on but it would definitely come up later on. What would I tell them? How would I explain it?
Out of the three home studies, one couple stood out. I kept going back to them. I contacted the adoption agency and asked a lot of questions. I needed to be even a small part of this child’s life, even though I was basically giving it away. Would the adoptive parents be okay with open adoption? When could I meet them?
Meeting the couple who would adopt my child an amazing experience. They were wonderful and we connected immediately. We shared our stories and I knew then that I was making the best choice possible given the circumstances. I knew that even though abortion would have been a good choice for me, adoption was also a good choice for me and the baby.
To be honest, I didn’t lose a child, I gained an extended family. I don’t know if my adoption experience is unique. I still struggle with feelings over it all. I worry that one day he is going to come to me and ask me why I didn’t want him. Or maybe he’ll be angry with me. I don’t know what I’m going to tell him if and when he asks. It’s pretty hard to explain something to someone when you can’t even explain it to yourself.
All I know is that I love him and I made the best choice for both him and myself. Selfish, maybe. But, we have to live with the choices we make. I made mine, and I’ll continue to feel guilt and shame, but I also will continue to love him and be blessed that I will have him in my life no matter what.
I gave him a piece of my heart the day he was born and his parents took him home. He will always hold that piece. I couldn’t be his mother, but he will always be my son.