‘I was only 16. I brought my stuffed Eeyore for comfort, a child giving birth to another child. I wanted different for her.’: Mom shares open adoption story, ‘Our families are bound together’

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“One April Sunday in 2004, my Mom and I decided to take an easy hike to enjoy the beautiful weather. Pilot Mountain was close by, and we had gone many times in the previous years. The spring air still had a slight chill to it. My basketball-like 7-month belly was hiding under an old dance team t-shirt, and a light jacket kept me warm. I’m sure I was wearing yoga pants since that’s all I could find to fit my new growing size; no maternity pants fit quite right. They are made for adults, after all, and I was only 16 years old with barely any curves to hold adult pants up.

We had a picnic lunch to fill up my always hungry stomach before we started our walk. I don’t remember our conversations, but I remember it being a good day and enjoying time with my mom. We reached the lookout point, my hands sitting in my jacket pockets as I admired the view. I had seen this same view multiple times before. It wasn’t one as breathtaking as the North Carolina mountains are, but it was still fascinating to see the world below in a different view. Most of it was flat all around, but you could see for miles to nearby cities and other mountains peaking out of nowhere. I had seen this view before, but today something was different. Today it was more beautiful and breathtaking as the seed of grace blossomed in my soul.

Today the view from the mountain top was where God met me. Right there, in the same spot I had been before, He unveiled my eyes to see the reality of my life. I saw how Anna’s life would look, filled with babysitters and a single mom constantly working towards an education or working to pay the bills. I saw a little girl wondering why her father didn’t want to be around. I saw me desperately wishing I could provide for her nicer things than I could. I saw us struggling. It hurt to look at myself, into our future, and the life I had to offer Anna. Before the veil was lifted, I saw myself as super teen mom, able to do it all with naive child-like certainty. I had met many other teen moms who had done it; I could too, right? When the veil lifted and I saw the view from the mountaintop, I knew I was to be different. I was to take the path less chosen.

Courtesy of Leah Outten

The ugliness I saw when God unveiled my heart hurt deeply, and I remember sobbing the rest of the day. The weight of my sin and choices were so heavy, I think I cried mostly to cleanse myself of it all. I cried for the choices I had made in the past; I cried for the choice I had to make for our future. I grieved with an ugly, blotchy-faced, snot-filled cry. And then, I took a breath hours later, now alone in my room, and surrendered. I surrendered my heart to God. I surrendered my desires to parent my Anna, kicking happily in my belly unknowing about the turmoil around her outside my womb. I yielded my everything, laying it down at His feet and finally realizing He knew what was best for me much like a child giving up her stubborn tantrum and yielding to her wise parent. What followed my grieving and tears was peace. It was a supernatural hug from my Heavenly Father saying He had plans to prosper me, not to harm me. It was a gentle reminder He loves me and forgives me. It was a loving embrace I felt Him there with me in the most real way than ever before. I now knew I was a child of God.

While the bond between God and me had been loosely tied many years prior, this was the moment it became a tight knot of strength. It was the beginning of truly surrendering my life to His plans. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, knowing it meant placing my daughter into another mother’s arms. However, when I yielded my own desires, the peace which flowed to my soul confirmed it was the right thing to do.

The view on the mountaintop was a defining moment in my life. It changed my path. It changed my heart. In the following days after choosing adoption, I pondered my heart’s true desires for what I wanted in my daughter’s family and life. I decided I wanted her to have a life similar to, but better than, my own. I grew up in a split family, so I definitely wanted a strong couple. I also wanted her brought up with Christian values, which had brought stability through the tilt-a-whirl ride of my unplanned pregnancy. I also really felt the need for Anna to have a sibling from the get-go. I had no siblings until I was a teenager, so I wanted to know she would not grow up as an only child if they chose not to adopt again. I wanted a family not too far away but not too close either. Most of all, I desired an open adoption and a family who was willing to allow me to be a part of her life as much as was comfortable for everyone. I had a list of the ideal family, and ultimately, all the important aspects of what I wanted within our adoption would be checked off.

Courtesy of Leah Outten

Within two weeks, I had chosen a family for my daughter. With my trembling hands and a big belly, they were the very first profile I looked at. I do not remember what their letter said, but I remember their pictures and how they reminded me of my own family and what I wanted for her. We even had the same kind of dogs! Our first meeting confirmed my decision for adoption. They were so open and loving. Our visions for our relationship and the adoption were on the exact same page. We both wanted an open adoption so both sides of her family would complete her life’s ‘puzzle.’

Through the next two months until our daughter’s birth, additional signs confirming the decision helped me to continue to have peace and know I was doing the best thing for us. Things like us choosing nearly identical first names and picking the same exact middle name without even knowing what the other had in mind. This was comforting and kept me going with a sense of hope, excitement, and peace. We spent the rest of my pregnancy getting to know each other deeper, visiting every few weeks, making phone calls or emailing constantly.

Preparing for her arrival was such a bittersweet time. I treasured my last days and moments with her in my womb—a time when she was only mine and I did not have to share her. I watched my belly in awe as she poked me from the inside. I also spent some time grieving our upcoming separation, wondering how I would handle it. My parents bought me puppies to take care of to help with my grieving process, to have something at home to love and nurture when my arms felt empty. I gathered as much information as I could from support groups online where I met some of my best friends still to this day. Above all, I had supernal peace flowing inside telling me it would all be okay. I knew I would make it through the other side of adoption and I would be stronger for it, as would she in her healthy new home.

By the time our daughter was born, our families already felt bound together over the love for this little girl. The day she was born, I was set to be induced to make sure they would be there. I remember going into the hospital early in the morning, having had little sleep. I brought my favorite stuffed Eeyore to bring me comfort, obviously a child giving birth to another child. I was full of excitement to finally see this little girl in my arms yet dreading this chapter of our time together coming to a close. Twelve hours later, our little girl was born at 9 p.m. on the dot. I remember not being able to speak when she was born, but with tears in my eyes, I sent love to her, hoping she could feel it penetrating her heart just as she had touched mine.

Courtesy of Leah Outten
Courtesy of Leah Outten

As much as I loved her, I knew. I knew she was in existence to be their child. One of my fondest memories of our time in the hospital was watching her adoptive dad hold her for the first time with a tear rolling down his cheek—he was already so in love with her.

I do not mean to brush over the pain of adoption for a birth mother. For me, the grief I felt has softened, like the memory of the pain of childbirth. Some days it may sweep me off my feet and feel like a wound reopened. Sometimes I feel what I have lost. Sometimes I feel the emptiness in my home as we are missing one more smiling face around our dinner table. Sometimes I just need to feel it again, to know she is not forgotten within our family and it was a sacrifice for both of us. But overall, over the last ten years, peace with my choice has held me steady on my path. It has healed wounds and helped me overcome the heartache of placing my child into another’s arms. It certainly was not (still not) an easy experience, but looking back, mostly I just feel and see the good of what adoption has been for us.”

Courtesy of Leah Outten
Courtesy of Leah Outten

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Leah Outten. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more about adoption:

‘The nurse came in and said, ‘Her new parents are ready for her.’ Only 15, I kissed her soft baby cheek, and placed her into the arms of her mama.’: Teen mom embarks on ‘beautiful’ open adoption journey, ‘I couldn’t have picked better parents’

‘How much longer?’ we asked. ‘We can expect twice as long as a straight couple.’ The call came. She was 17.’: Gay dads share open adoption journey, ‘It’s the gift of a lifetime’

‘We got an email titled ‘URGENT.’ The adoptive family changed their minds. They didn’t want him. ‘Would you be willing to adopt?’: Family of 5 adopt newborn from birth mother, start beautiful open adoption

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