“I asked my mom, ‘are you sitting down?’ hearing the confusion as I prepared to tell her my news. I could see the fear on Will’s face, and I could feel the tears behind my eyes as I thought of my news – my biggest failure, that turned out to be one of my biggest blessings. ‘I’m pregnant.’
There have been many ups and downs along this journey. The downs happen when you least expect them, when you’re telling your mind constantly that everything will be okay. The downs happen when you say goodbye to your boyfriend, knowing he’s only a text, phone call, and hour away. They happen when you find out that his schooling is going to take 3 more years at minimum, and you’re torn because you want to keep the baby, but you’re also so in love and you want your significant other to succeed, despite the choices you’ve made. The downs happen when your anxiety kicks in and tells you that he’s going to leave you because you’re being too needy and emotional. The downs happen when you yell at your sister on the phone over something completely stupid, and then call someone else to cry about it. The downs happen when people congratulate you on your pregnancy and all you feel is a stab at how much you’ve failed. They happen when you tell people your decision to give the baby up for adoption and individuals react saying, ‘I didn’t think you were ready to be a mother anyway.’ They happen when strangers you meet at work ask when you’re due and judge you for choosing adoption for your child.
I could go on about the downs, but my story isn’t about that. My story is about the ups and downs, the journey between them. The downs may have been far too many, but the ups were so much more powerful.
When you find out you’re pregnant, and you’re asking yourself how you’ll go on, how you’ll tell everyone, how you can afford a baby, and your boyfriend constantly assures you he’s going to stay by your side through it all – and follows through on that promise. The ups happen when you read about the most amazing family and start crying, because you know in your heart that that family will be the family for the amazing, unplanned miracle that you get to carry. They happen when you meet the family for the first time and come home crying because you just met your unborn child’s mom. They happen when your friends find out that you’re pregnant and are always there for you, even when they’re going through something in their own life just as difficult. The ups are the moments at 2 a.m. when you’ve been crying in the shower, drive while sobbing to get cake, and your boyfriend shows up, frustrated because your anxiety is going crazy, but chooses to be patient and loving anyway. They are the moments you realize your support system is filled with so many more people than you ever imagined. When people check in on you, when one of your best friends in New Jersey sends care packages to your complete surprise. They are the moments, talking with your roommate until 1 a.m. about how much God has brought us both through in our lives, as we learn how to love and support each other.
Those were the moments that got me through 8 months of questioning myself through my fear, doubt, anxiety, and depression. The prayers to God in the middle of the night, asking why He chose me to go through this.
I really have no idea what I would have done without my support system. My thoughts always went to the judgement I would potentially face when I told people, so I waited. And I waited. And I waited even more. There were people I saw every week for all 9 months of my pregnancy that never knew I was pregnant, because I was too scared to tell them. But then there were people that I told before I could even begin to process what was happening.
The night we found out, for instance, I told my sister-in-law. I was in no way ready to tell my parents, and I knew I could trust her to keep quiet about it. She was the person that had been through a similar situation – not exactly the same, but similar. She was the person I went to for advice and venting. She would talk me through some of my feelings and made sure I knew that my feelings were valid – my hurting was valid; my fear was valid. All the things I was too afraid to feel, she let me know I was completely allowed to feel them. She was the person who stressed to me how much communicating my feelings to Will would be important during this time – that if we didn’t make these life-changing decisions together, it could create problems in our relationship.
So I took her advice, even if she didn’t directly realize how much advice she gave me. I let Will know how I was feeling. I tried not to hold anything in, because holding any thoughts in made me hurt more. On days that were harder for me, Will would text me with words of affirmation more often; on days that I was busy, he would text me, just so I knew he was still there; and on days I had nothing going on, and I was left with myself and my thoughts, he was responsive to me. Still, I wished he could be closer to me, physically, during the days I just wanted to cry.
Out of that sadness, a beautiful friendship was built. I won’t go into what she was going through, but my roommate became the physical presence I needed on those days that life was hard and I didn’t know how to make it through the day. She was there so I wouldn’t lock myself in my room and cry all day. She was there for those late-night talks, staying up for hours – praying with each other, bonding with each other, encouraging each other, loving each other, understanding each other, and believing that everything will turn out fine during some of the hardest times of both of our lives. Without Kate, I’m sure my depression and anxiety would have taken over and controlled my life. She was present during the good and the bad. She prayed with me about the decisions Will and I would need to make. She prayed that I would have peace about the decision, and that all sides would understand whatever decision was made.
I never imagined myself in the position I was put in. I had a child growing inside of me. A child whose heartbeat I could hear at my very first ultrasound, when I was only 6 weeks along. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but my vision became fogged. I couldn’t see what the future had, because I didn’t feel ready to be a mom. We weren’t in the position to financially raise a child, we weren’t married or even engaged, Will would be starting school in the fall and I didn’t want to ask him to give that up. I’ve known people that have made it work when they’ve been in an even worse position than we were in, I loved this unborn child, I loved Will.
The first time I brought up the idea of adoption to my parents, I knew they didn’t like the thought. They kept asking me if various people were swaying my decision. I’m a people pleaser, and if anyone were to have swayed my decision, it would have been my parents. I felt like I was being pulled in 2 different directions.
Ultimately, though, the decision had to be made by me and Will, where we were in life at the time, where we saw ourselves in the future, and how it would impact our relationship.
Choosing adoption for your child puts an entirely new view on the subject. At first, I thought that if I chose adoption, I was giving up. I thought I had something to prove by keeping the baby myself, but that was selfish thinking on my part. Choosing adoption is, in many cases, the most loving choice a mother can make for her child. Adoption means giving your child the opportunity to live the best life he or she can. Adoption means that, while you’re not sure you can fully love this child, there is a family anxiously waiting to love this child with every part of their being. Ultimately, adoption means loving your child and your child’s future more than you could ever imagine.
I met Sarah and Alan through my doctor, who gave me a small book they had written for anyone considering adoption for their child to learn about their story. As soon as I read it, a part of me knew that they would be my child’s parents. I couldn’t describe it, but I knew it, before I actually met them. I sat in tears with Kate for at least an hour. I took pictures of the book and sent it to my mom, who was in tears as well. They were unable to have kids themselves, and had already adopted one child, who would be turning 7 only two days after my due date. The book was 3 years old at the time I got it, but there was a note written in it saying that their son prays every night for a baby brother or sister, and had for years.
When I met them in person, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew what I had read in the book about them sounded wonderful, but there is always the chance that they could have fabricated themselves to make them seem better than they are. But they were as genuine as the book made them out to be. I got home and told Kate that I was almost positive I would choose them to adopt my child, but I still wanted Will to meet them, to make sure my feelings were valid rather than my emotions getting in the way. So we set up a time for the four of us to get dinner, and Will agreed with everything I said about the two of them.
I am so glad I had the chance to hand pick the family for my child, because I prayed for peace in the decision every day throughout the decision-making process. The moment I officially chose the family, I began to find the joy in the pregnancy. I began to feel joy in seeing my belly move and feeling the kicks. I began to look forward to giving birth, because I was giving an amazing, Godly family a gift they had been praying 7 years for. Choosing them was a turning point in my pregnancy, because I went from asking why to praising God for His grace.
I knew it would be hard for my mom to come to Tennessee to be here for me when I gave birth, but I knew I wanted her with me. I could tell she was wary about the adoption, and she would make comments over the phone that hurt me, because I knew she didn’t believe in the same way I did that this was the right decision to make. I was confident in the decision, and my mom had trouble trusting my confidence. The week before she came, I prayed every day she would find peace, understand my decision, and know that the decision was God ordained.
Sometimes, God has a sense of humor, and when you ask for an inch, He gives you a mile.
The day before I was scheduled to be induced, my mom had the chance to meet Sarah when we all went out to eat and get pedicures together. I knew I had no reason to worry, but something in me was so afraid that my mom wouldn’t feel the way I did about Sarah; the way I knew Sarah was meant to be this child’s mom. After a full day of relaxing and getting to know each other, my mom began to cry on the way home; crying because of joy, not sadness. Like me, when she read the story about Sarah and Alan, she knew they would be this child’s parents. Of course, these tears were only one small answer to my prayers.
We went to the hospital on Wednesday night for me to start being induced – twelve hours of Cervidil prior to a Pitocin drip. I don’t remember much from that night; I was given Ambien to help me sleep, I remember asking for and taking a second one. After that, I apparently asked for a third and didn’t sleep through the night, but I don’t remember anything besides Will going to his car to sleep around 5 a.m.. We began the Pitocin drip around 7 the next morning.
When you’re in the hospital having a baby, they’ll put monitors on you to watch your contractions. Due to the fact that I am a singer, I was able to control my contractions pretty well from my breathing, having not taken any birthing classes. My mom, roommate, Will, and Sarah were all in the room with me, watching the contractions as they came and went, asking, along with the nurse, how much pain I was in. For a large majority of the day, I was only at a level 3 or 4 and hadn’t had an epidural. When I decided my pain was around a 7 or 8, I very politely said to the nurse, “I think I might want an epidural now.” Had I waited any longer, I wouldn’t have been able to get an epidural. Thankfully, after a night of no sleep, the epidural allowed me to rest some before I actually had this baby.
Around 3:45, my nurse deemed I was about ready to start pushing, so she called my doctor, who came around 4:10. I started pushing around 4:15, and the baby was born at 4:42 p.m. – a perfect 7 lbs, 12 oz, 21 inches long.
Within the midst of all the chaos that happens after a baby is born, there was a face I saw that I thought I recognized but wasn’t expecting to see. The next few hours were a bit of a blur to me, much due to the fact I got sick, was hungry but couldn’t stomach any food, and was just plain drained from pushing a human out of my body. Within those few hours, though, some important stuff happened.
A little backstory – because of her job, Sarah was able to hand-pick all the nurses that would be assigned to me while I was in the hospital. It was nice to know I would be taken care of so well by people that were trusted. When Will’s mom came by later in the day, after seeing the nurse that was assigned to me the day of delivery, she told us that the same nurse helped deliver Will 26 years ago. That may not seem like much, but to me that was more than just a coincidence, because I believe that with God, there is no such thing as coincidence. That brings me back to the face I thought I recognized.
In college, I was in a choir that I absolutely loved. We had the chance to go to Vienna and do so much together, and through all of that, we had all met the director’s wife. I knew she was a nurse of some sort, but I didn’t know what specifically she did or where she worked. I was shocked and surprised when, completely out of the blue, I saw her after my delivery. Things were so crazy at the time that I wasn’t positive whether or not it was her, and if it was, I wasn’t sure whether or not she would recognize me. Some short time after that, she came back to the room to talk to me, when she had the chance to tell me some of her story as well.
As I mentioned earlier, Sarah and Alan had one other child, also adopted, that was almost exactly 7 years older than this child. During those seven years, they had been praying for and longing for another child, and many others had been praying with them. My director’s wife had been one of many that had prayed with Sarah throughout those 7 years, and when Sarah told her that they would be adopting another little boy, she began to pray for the mother of that little boy, having no idea that I was the mother. She went on to give me a gift that was, ‘coincidentally’ in a bag that used my favorite color combination and contained products from one of my absolute favorite stores – she bought this gift before knowing I was the mother of this child. She continued to tell me about her story. I knew that she and her husband had adopted two children, but I had no idea that those two children were 7 years apart in age, to the day. Who better to pray with and understand Sarah than another mother of two that waited 7 years before she was able to adopt a second child?
The next day, while I was still in the hospital, I asked Sarah if I could hold him. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and part of me worried that the emotions would overwhelm me. When I held him, I looked at his perfect face, in awe of the miracle that had taken place. I looked at that face and couldn’t keep a smile from coming to my own, knowing that this child was always meant to belong to Sarah; knowing that while I was his mother, I was never meant to be his mom. I loved him, but I loved him so much to give him a life that he deserved at a time that I wasn’t ready or able to give that to him myself. In that moment, I knew that the entirety of the previous 9 months – 8 months if you’re only including the time I knew I was pregnant – were meant to lead to this moment. My child was not my own, and that was a beautiful moment. It was a moment of pure confidence, love, and joy.
Now that you know my story – or most of it, anyway – I need to tell you something extremely important; something that I probably would have never learned had it not been for this experience. There is a huge stigma surrounding adoption. Not adopting, but adoption; putting a child up for adoption. Let me tell you this, though: there are hundreds, probably thousands of families out there that cannot have children, yet desire to have a family. As a birth mother, I faced so much judgment from strangers about my choice to give my child to someone else. The thing is, when you look at someone in the position I was in, you don’t know their story. You don’t know that they’ve been job hopping just to find a job that will give them more than 10 hours a week. You don’t know that they sometimes need to decide between food, gas, and rent. You don’t know how much they encouraged their significant other to pursue his or her goals without letting an unplanned pregnancy get in the way. You have no idea how difficult this decision was to make; how many hours were spent in prayer. There are so many factors that go into choosing adoption, but I think the most important factor, one that is often forgotten, is love. It is by no means easy to go through that, but I don’t want you to say you’re sorry. I want you to understand that by giving up my child, I was giving him the best life he could live. And if you’re in my position, struggling to make ends meet, and facing an unplanned pregnancy, there aren’t only two options. There is an amazing, sacrificial, option that gives hope to a family that needs it.”
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