‘Neither of us were ready to parent. We made an appointment for an abortion, but I was too far along. I was shunned by family for choosing adoption over parenting.’: Birth mom shares open adoption journey

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“I became a birth mom in summer 2014. It certainly wasn’t planned, and at the time I never could have predicted my story would look the way it does now. In November 2013, I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t say anything to anyone. I didn’t want to believe it was happening. I didn’t want to admit I was pregnant and not ready to be a mom.

When I did talk to my boyfriend at the time, we made an appointment in DC for an abortion. When they did the exam before we could schedule the procedure, they told me I was too far along. They couldn’t help me. If I wanted to go through with an abortion, I would have to fly two-thirds of the way across the country.

There was absolutely no way we could make that happen. I was angry. Scared. Overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to turn. This pregnancy was real, and neither of us were ready to parent. So, the only option we had was adoption. I know it sounds harsh, but I wouldn’t change it for the world now.

A couple days later, I grabbed my laptop to start looking for an adoption agency. If it’s not something you’ve done before, I will warn you it yields so many results your head will spin. I looked at website after website after website. No clue what I should be looking for. No idea who I should be reaching out to about my situation.

I didn’t know anything about adoption that hadn’t come from media or movies I’d watched over the years, and that stuff wasn’t exactly super educational. When I finally said something about wanting to pursue adoption at an ob/gyn appointment, they gave me a pamphlet for an adoption agency. I called the agency and that was pretty much the end of my search.

When my dad found out I was expecting and choosing adoption, he didn’t talk to me about it for years. My mom had to be the go-between. I was told I couldn’t bring the baby home because if he saw it then it would never leave. I had the phrase, ‘You made your bed and now you’ve got to lie in it’ said to me. I was essentially shunned by family for choosing adoption over parenting.

I know I was lucky that I felt respected and not pressured by the agency my ob/gyn pointed me to, because I know not every expectant mom goes with the first adoption agency she contacts. I remember having pages of paperwork to fill out – both medical and social history. I remember looking through profile books of waiting families as I was trying to choose who to place my daughter with.

I felt so incredibly shallow as I separated profile books in ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles. I was basing my decisions on carefully chosen photos, words on pages, and my own instinct. Before I left that second meeting, I had painstakingly narrowed down all the dozens of families I looked at to just my top three.

My top family didn’t have specific pictures in their book that made me feel a connection, and it wasn’t what they had written among the pictures to tell me who they were. It was how they had started the letter at the beginning of their profile book.

So many letters had been started with ‘Dear Expectant Parent’ or ‘Dear Birth mom.’ This made the whole situation feel cold and detached. But their letter…their letter was different from all the others. ‘Dear Friend, we wonder if these letters are as hard to read as they are to write.’ It was a way of showing me they recognize I’m still a person and not just a means of them getting a child.

Young pregnant woman takes a photo of her baby bump in an orange dress
Courtesy of Katy Young

I remember reaching out to my counselor later the same day to see if I could swap the families I had chosen as two and three. She told me I could absolutely swap them, but there was no reason to because my first choice had said ‘yes.’

This was when everything felt like it was really starting to fall into place. I was working with an agency where I felt listened to and respected. My paperwork was done. I had officially chosen a family for my daughter. All that really remained was to deliver my baby and sign my termination of rights.

Her due date came and passed. Nothing happened. My ob/gyn said we can either induce at 40+1 or 41+2. I chose to go longer before being induced. My thought was there would be more time for things to happen naturally before we forced it. Well, 8 days after my due date – the day before I was scheduled to go in for induction – I went into labor.

Once I was admitted, birth dad came to the hospital. Labor was progressing and contractions were getting progressively worse. I did get an epidural, but only after contractions had me curled up on my side and in tears. After the epidural had taken effect, it was like a night and day difference. I was sitting up, scrolling social media on my phone, talking and laughing.

The monitor by my bed became a source of entertainment for me, birth dad, and my mom. Our best guess is we were able to see multiple women on the floor so nurses could keep tabs on everyone regardless of whose room they were in. We watched the contraction graphs of all the different women on this monitor, along with my own, and had amusing conversations about what might be happening in the room or going through that mom’s head.

My memory is a little fuzzy, but I want to say I only pushed for like an hour and a half. At 6:30 p.m., a beautiful baby girl entered this world and made me a momma. She was immediately taken over to the newborn station to be measured and weighed and cleaned up. I didn’t feel like I deserved to see her yet. So, my mom was the first person to see my daughter, but she asked my permission before she did.

Birth mom holds newborn daughter in the hospital while she stares into the camera with big, dark eyes
Courtesy of Katy Young

Fast forward to the next evening when my pregnancy counselor came to the hospital. My daughter was in my room asleep when she arrived. We talked and laughed, rather loudly, and she remained asleep on my chest through it all as I signed my termination of parental rights paperwork. It certainly wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it felt like the only right way to do it for me.

Birth mom and dad take a photo in the hospital with their newborn daughter before giving her up for adoption
Courtesy of Katy Young

I was discharged the day after I signed my termination papers. I went home with an empty belly, empty arms, and hormones all over the place. It was a difficult adjustment back into ‘normal’ life without my baby when my body was prepared to care for this new life.

Eight days after being discharged, my revocation period ended. I could no longer change my mind and essentially cancel the adoption. I absolutely would’ve loved to be in a position to be able to parent my daughter, but I knew birth dad and I simply weren’t ready. There was never any real thought that I would ‘undo’ the adoption plan.

The one memory from placement that always stands out to everyone who was there, is birth dad holding our daughter and getting ready to place her in the arms of her adoptive dad for the first time. He looked down at her and said, ‘It’s time to go to your dad now.’

Birth parents and adoptive parents take a group photo together with their shared daughter
Courtesy of Katy Young

Leaving that placement meeting, I don’t remember what we did. I don’t know if I spent the night with birth dad or if I went home. I don’t remember what I was feeling, and I certainly don’t know what he was feeling. Over the past almost eight years, we have definitely had our rough patches. But what gets us through is the fact that we communicate – maybe not always as well as we could, though.

I get a slew of pictures every six months, and I see her every six months – but things alternate, so there’s something every three months. She knows who I am, and she has from a young age. I remember asking her if she knew where her names came from when she was five, and she was able to tell me her first name came from me while her middle name came from her (adoptive) parents.

Birth mom compares a photo of her as a child on the left and a photo of her daughter on the right
Courtesy of Katy Young
Little girl jumps around in pink skates and elbow and knee pads
Courtesy of Katy Young

I’ve got some years under my belt, but I still have to remind myself of some things almost daily:

·    No two open adoptions look the same – don’t compare yours to another birth mom’s open adoption you see on social media.

·    Being a birth mom isn’t a bad thing.

·    You can still have a relationship with your child after placement.

·    This adoption constellation is bigger than you, your child, and adoptive parents – try to bring in your parents and siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles. Whoever wants to be involved is another person to love your child, and another connection to their birth family.”

Birth mom and daughter take a selfie together during an outdoor visit together
Courtesy of Katy Young
Birth mom takes a selfie while drinking coffee in the bed of a truck
Courtesy of Katy Young

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katy Young. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Twitter. 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 stories like this here:

‘I was the middle child of 3 and the only child placed for adoption. It was the most selfless thing my birth mom ever did.’: Adoptee reconnects with biological family, loses birth mom to addiction

‘How could I have been so selfish for getting pregnant?’ At 18, there was someone growing inside of me.’: Teen birth mom shares emotional adoption plan, ‘I knew they’d never go a day without being loved’

‘In hospice for weeks, she never woke up. ‘Maybe she’s waiting for something.’ I read the email again, out of breath.’: Adoptee reunites with birth mom, finds siblings right before her passing

‘He heard I was a birthmother before I ever got the chance to share. He didn’t assume or judge, he offered empathy.’: Teen birth mom shares appreciation for husband’s compassion

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