‘I’m going to be a daddy!’ That was the last time I saw him in person. I felt so alone. How on earth could I give my child to someone else?’: After partner’s death, woman pursues open adoption for son, ‘There is more love than I ever imagined’

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“‘It’s really funny how some of the greatest influences in the world are unintentional. Oftentimes, we’ll see an inspiring video on the internet of an amazing act of kindness, but those involved didn’t have intentions to become internet stars. They did what they did because it was in their nature, and they believed it was right.’

I never would have anticipated these words foreshadowing my own life. Growing up, I always knew I had some big purpose in this world, but I never knew what it was supposed to be. I remember multiple occasions where I told people, ‘My number one goal in life is to make an impact on people’s lives.’ That was actually one of the first things I ever told my son’s birth father when we met

In high school, I was considered the ‘sweet innocent Mormon girl.’ I always strived to be the best person I could be, and my religion was such a passion in my life. When I was a high school junior in 2013, my sister set me up with a boy named Kaden who was serving a church mission with her. We wrote to each other on and off for a year and a half until he came home. At one point, while reading one of his letters, I had the strongest feeling he was meant to play an important role in my life. That feeling never left me.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

When he returned home, I asked him on a date. I remember nervously awaiting his response over Facebook. I flew across the room to my computer the moment he responded. He said yes. We met up at a movie theater, and I bought the tickets before he arrived. While walking back to my vehicle, I heard him yell in a deep voice, ‘MONGIE!’ I turned to see him casually leaning against his car. I tried my hardest not to bolt into his arms because I was trying to play it cool.

From there, we kept talking, and I fell head over heels for him. We went on big adventures together, long drives, trips to amusement parks, and carnivals. He truly swept me off my feet. His humor was unlike any I’ve ever encountered, and it seemed he had me laughing every second we were together.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

A few months into our relationship, even with circumstances being extremely unlikely, I wondered if I could be pregnant. For a while, I had no reason to believe I was, and looking back, it seems weird I was even considering it a possibility, but something just felt off. Things became rocky. I come from a very religious family, so my parents weren’t too psyched about the idea of me staying in a relationship with him. We broke up for a little while but kept talking as though nothing had really changed. One night, I asked him what we would do if I were pregnant. After a long pause, he said, ‘I wonder if we shouldn’t consider adoption. With where we are at in our lives, it would probably be best for the baby.’ The mere idea created a stabbing pain in my chest; I couldn’t even entertain the thought. I refused to. I told him, ‘I could never give my baby away. That would tear my heart apart.’

A week later, I took my eighth pregnancy test. (I know, I was paranoid.) I had honestly anticipated it to be negative because they had all been up to that point. But it came back positive. I screamed for my mom until she ran in. I held it up, and she just hugged me. Shaking with fear, I repeated, ‘I call for a retest!’ I tested positive two more times after that. I told Kaden a few hours later, and his response was, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m going to be a daddy…’ Our lives changed after that. My heart changed a lot too.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

After some intense prayer, Kaden and I came to the conclusion adoption was the route we needed to go. We looked at families together, and he drove up to visit me when he could, bringing pillows, puke buckets, and gum. He was the most incredible young man, always hyping me up when I was sad or sick. On our last date together, he took me to the Utah State Fair. I was so sick that day. I was nauseous, had the worst headache, and it was miserably hot outside. But he really went out of his way to do anything he could to make me feel comfortable. At the end of the night, while we were driving home, I told him I needed to go inside ASAP. When we arrived, he opened my door for me, gave me a hug, and a kiss goodnight, and I specifically remember thinking to myself, ‘Eh, I’ll see him again later.’ I pushed him away and ran inside. That was the last time I saw him in person.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

On the night of September 15, 2015, I texted him for much longer than usual. He said he didn’t want to go to sleep yet, so we talked for two hours longer. At the end of our conversation, he told me he wanted to call me and sing the lyrics I Just Called to Say I Love You but his brother was asleep in the next room. He ended on, ‘With that being said, I love you, Hannah Laura Mongie. Sleep well tonight and sweet dreams.’

The next morning, I received a call from his mother. She told me to give the phone to my mom. I had wondered if something happened to Kaden, but no… That wasn’t possible. Then I heard the words, ‘Kaden passed away this morning.’ The horror of realizing your child will no longer have a father is one I would not wish upon anyone. I did not get out of bed or open the blinds for the next two months. The word ‘adoption’ was no longer in my vocabulary. How on earth could I give my child to someone else when he was my last piece of Kaden — his family’s last piece of him? Any ‘new family’ would not be good enough to love this child in the way we could.

One night, I had a talk with my mom about why Kaden and I had chosen to place, and I realized this was exactly what I needed to do. I prayed so hard and told God, ‘If this child needs to be with another family, you need to get me on board because I am not.’ The next morning, I woke up with this peace in my heart I had never felt before. I was ready.

I spent months wandering around aimlessly, looking for families. I was asked by so many individuals if they could adopt my son. I had lost so many people in my life at this point. Friends had abandoned me due to the fact I was pregnant. Family friends and strangers I had never met hated me because I rejected their request to adopt my baby… I felt so alone. I was waddling to bed every night, out of breath, with no one to help me with the smallest of tasks like take my boots off or change into my pajamas. I would gasp for air trying to lie down and get comfortable, only to cry myself to sleep.

After months of searching through thousands of families on Adoption.com and never feeling like anyone was good enough for my child, I found Brad and Emily Marsh. I read the letter on their profile addressed to the ‘potential birth mother.’ They had expressed how loved birth mothers are in their family, and they are spoken of as angels in their household. I was immediately moved to tears. After stalking every corner of their profile, I ran around the house screaming to everyone, ‘LOOK AT THIS FAMILY!’ I sent them an email that night, and Emily and I texted back and forth for the next two days until we ran out of questions to ask. My parents and I met them in person the following week. The moment I saw their son, Carter, I knew they were the family. I told them two weeks later I wanted them to adopt my son. I had never felt so much peace until I made that decision. I could finally breathe again.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

We became close friends almost immediately. I helped Emily put Tagg’s nursery together, we had a baby shower for her, and they invited me to so many extended family events.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie
Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

The day I gave birth to sweet Taggart was the best and hardest day of my life. As soon as I heard his cry, the clock started. I had 48 hours to spend with Tagg before placement… How was I going to do this? I didn’t know. But I was going to. I spent the next two days soaking up every piece of motherhood I could. I learned to breastfeed, change his diaper, dress him, and I held him with every last piece of my heart. A few hours before placement, my parents forced everyone out of my room so I could be alone with my son. That’s when it all hit me. The last nine months of holding it together and keeping a smile for everyone was finally falling apart. I cried my eyes out with him in my arms until I could hold it together enough to make a video for him. I explained in this video why I chose to place him with his family, how much his daddy Kaden loved him, and how much I and his new family loved him.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie
Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

Since placement, I have stayed in constant contact with the Marshes. All of our families have come together as one, and there is more love than I could have ever imagined. We Facetime, celebrate holidays together, and I even take Tagg out on dates. We also had the opportunity to appear on the Today Show together, due to our story becoming viral.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

I never intended for anyone but a few people to see my video, as it was made for my son. But the responses I have received throughout the years have been mind-blowing. Individuals who grew up hating their birth mothers have told me their entire perspective has changed since watching the video. Resentment turned to gratitude. Birth mothers have said they had chosen to place over abortion, and others even chose open adoption. Some adoptees have also been inspired to search out their birth parents and reunite with them.

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie
Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

I know my story is not the only one like this, but I do believe the attention it has received was meant to change others’ lives and perspectives on adoption. I want to end on a really interesting piece I found in my box of ‘Kaden memories’ last year. A letter he had written to me while we were together, undated. The importance of the note had never occurred to me until I rediscovered it years later.

‘It’s really funny how some of the greatest influences in the world are unintentional. Oftentimes, we’ll see an inspiring video on the internet of an amazing act of kindness, but those involved didn’t have intentions to become internet stars. They did what they did because it was in their nature and they believed it was right… And then there’s you, Hannah. All this talk about unintentional inspiration leads back to you… When I met you and talked with you for the first time I realized that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that he truly does send angels, like you, into our lives to help us remember that there is so much more to life than what we see… So, thank you for being who you are and living the way you do. It’s inspiring and really makes me want to be that much better. You are amazing and don’t ever forget that… Until we meet again, my friend.'”

Courtesy of Hannah Mongie
Courtesy of Hannah Mongie

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hannah Mongie from Provo, Utah. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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