Although I find this very difficult to write, I understand just how many people making a decision about sharing their child in an open adoption may be helped. Let me please begin by saying that placing a baby for adoption is by no means an easy decision, or something you will come to terms with overnight, but I promise you, if you do it for the right reasons, it will be so rewarding to know your child has everything he or she could possibly want or need ... and you will still get to watch it all happen.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was just starting a new life in a work-to-housing program for homeless individuals and families. It was only my daughter and me, and I was scared and felt so alone. It was a very difficult program, but I managed to create good relationships with the staff and case managers. I was just a few weeks into my new life when I found out I was pregnant. I was so scared; I had NO idea what to do! I felt the easiest way to "fix" it was to get an abortion, but I knew in my heart it was not right for me. At first, I felt I only had two options: keep the baby (and have no way to support myself and my two children) or have an abortion and live with the guilt.
I considered all of my choices. I prayed and prayed about what I should do, and eventually I found the agency, Adoption Connection. I met with a wonderful woman who gave me options and profiles of families to look at. She let me think about my decisions and in no way pressured me to do anything. I'm not going to lie and say I was ABSOLUTELY set in the beginning, but day by day, I started accepting what I was planning to do. I called a couple of adoptive families, but did not feel the right connection. I was so upset and stressed, I started losing hope, but then I got a call from one of the families who just wanted to check up on me and see how I was doing. We decided to meet for lunch so we could see if we were a good match.
Lunch with the adoptive mother was amazing. We laughed, cried, and answered questions we had. I already knew she was the one, and we decided to meet again with her husband. A few weeks later, after meeting with both of them, I told them I wanted them to raise my son. It felt like a weight was lifted. The stress had fallen off of me, and I was happy knowing that no matter what, my baby boy was going to be safe.
Through the months of my pregnancy, I enjoyed seeing my son's parents. We were like family. We cried together at ultrasounds, and I was excited to call them whenever something new happened. They also attended all of the doctorsí appointments. I wanted them to have the experience of being able to bond with our baby through the whole process, as I knew this is what I would have wanted had I been in their position.
Now, my pregnancy wasnít all cupcakes and rainbows! It was so difficult when people asked what I was going to name my baby, or if I was excited. But I was honest with every person who asked. I told them my baby was being adopted, and his parents were going to decide on his name. I feel this kind of prepared me for what was going to happen after birth. I also told myself over and over what I was doing so I did not back down at the last moment, which I knew I had the legal right to do. I got the looks, the judgments, the "DON'T DO IT!!" speech, but in my heart, I knew what I was doing was right by my son so the negative comments did not bother me. It also was helpful, because after I gave birth to my son, people were not constantly asking where my son was, which would have made it harder for me to heal.
Months passed, and I finally went into labor! I called the adoptive parents, and they were on their way immediately. I couldnít wait till they arrived to share this experience with me. We all wanted to meet our baby boy! It was the most amazing labor experience I have had. They talked me through every contraction, and you could just feel the love in the room.
After my son was born, I got to hold him first. He was so handsome that I immediately fell in love. It was hard to let him go out of my arms, because all I wanted to do was hold him and never let go. But when the doctor handed him to his parents, they were crying tears of joy. They hovered together, crying and smiling, finally joined as a FAMILY. I knew then that this was the most precious gift I had given to anyone. I was proud.
We all spent two days in the hospital. I got to spend time with his parents and with my son alone. I was dreading going home without him, but I knew it was not the end of our relationship. I will not lie to you this will be the hardest part: being in the hospital counting down the minutes until you will go your separate ways. But please remember, through open adoption, your paths will always meet again.
My sonís adoptive parents drove me home so my son could meet all of my friends and family. Then they went home. The reality of it all really did not set in for a few weeks, but when it did, it hit me hard. My friends' children would ask me where my baby was, and I would burst into tears. Seeing pregnant women was very difficult for me. Even looking at some pictures of my son was difficult. Even so, I did not constantly have to ask myself if what I did was right. I knew it was right. So even through the pain I was feeling, I thought of it as something I went through for the love of my son.
My son's parents created a Facebook account for my son. They write stories and post pictures of what they do, and it somehow feels like I'm there sometimes. I love to watch him grow and see how happy and healthy he is. They post about his doctorsí visits, how much weight he has gained, new things he is doing, and even videos of him playing. I catch myself smiling every time.
I have grown so much through the experience of placing my son. It has made me a better person and a better mother. I am proud of what I did for my only son, and I am proud to have brought a family what they desired more than anything in the world. I mean it when I say that my experience has given me so much faith that there are good people in the world. I look at my son's parents and I think about how strong and selfless THEY are to share my son with me.
The couple I chose to raise my son are only concerned about the well-being of our child. They donít want to TAKE him child away, but want to be a part of the child's life. As a birth parent, please understand that you mean everything to these people because you are giving them the gift of being a parent. They respect your decision more than anything, and it truly is a beautiful thing. I don't look at my decision as giving my child up; I look at it as gaining a family.