I knew that being a single mother was not easy. I had two kids from my marriage, and was in the process of a divorce. One day I was persuaded to go to the doctor. I asked for a pregnancy test to prove that my greatest fear. When the nurse came out and asked if I had a medical card, I knew it was true...I was pregnant.
My world came tumbling down; my “husband” was not the father of this baby, and the father was not in my life any longer. I was heartbroken! I was struggling as the sole caretaker of my family, and I was scared of bringing another child into this world. In my culture, having a baby outside of marriage is viewed very negatively. Afraid that I was going to be disowned by my family, I kept my pregnancy a secret, and I went through the remainder of my pregnancy with only a couple friends knowing about it.
While browsing on the internet one day, I tried to figure out a budget for my growing family. With two young children already, I was concerned about where the extra money would come from. I started looking for other options. For me, abortion was completely out of the question. So I looked at adoption laws in Indiana. I came across a link for an adoption agency: www.CenterForFamily.com. I read about their mission, a description of their services for expectant mothers , and the different profiles of families waiting to adopt.
The first family that I read about was Max and Beth. I read their profile and was impressed by it, but continued to read about other families, too. Then I went back to Max and Beth’s profile, and read it again. I quickly realized that this is what I wanted for my baby: a couple with a great relationship who were unable to have children themselves. Also, I wanted a couple that was going to make my child their number one priority. Although I was hesitant, I finally contacted the agency and met with a counselor. Then I wrote a letter to Max and Beth explaining my situation. When I received their reponse, I realized that I had chosen the right family for my baby.
I finally met Beth and Max, accompanied by my adoption counselor. I was a nervous wreck but everything went smoothly. I kept in contact with the adoptive parents but kept my pregnancy a secret from my family. I had an Ultrasound around January and found out I was having a girl Beth and Max were elated when I told them. They told me the name they had picked out, and I fell in love with the name, with them, and the baby growing inside of me. They shared with me that they wanted baby Ellen to have a middle name, but were undecided; so I suggested Carmen. To my surprise they liked the name, so little Ellen Carmen joined the world in March 2014. She was beautiful on the day she was born and she is even more beautiful now.
Max and Beth still keep in touch with me. They share pictures, write letters and we even schedule occasional visits. I have grown so much with this experience. I am very grateful that I found this agency and this wonderful adoptive family for my daughter.
Nobody in my family knows about the adoption. I don't know how they will react when they do find out, but it doesn't matter because I am a better person for having gone through this experience. I am so grateful to Beth and Max for allowing me to continue to be a part of their lives. Being involved in an open adoption has given me a great deal of happiness and comfort.
Placing my baby for adoption was the most difficult decision I've ever faced. I know what it means to experience an unplanned pregnancy. When I hear other women saying that they don’t know what to do because they are expecting and can't afford their baby, I tell them about adoption and my personal experience. I offer to help as much as I can and I refer them to Adoption Center for Family Building for counseling. I am proud to say that I could not have made a better decision for myself and my daughter.
Gina's First Journnal Entry: November, 2013
I had an ultrasound two days ago and confirmed that this baby is a boy. Early the next morning, as I lie awake, I also confirmed what I've been denying for so long: I cannot raise this child. Even now, I hesitate to write that because it makes it real, brings the truth to life. But the truth is inevitable: I cannot give this child the life he deserves.
I dealt with this once at the beginning of my pregnancy. I dismissed it, along with the idea of adoption, even after I involved an adoption agency and a couple hoping to adopt. I felt pretty bad.
I want more than anything else to raise this baby, but it's not about what I want; it's about what's best for the baby. No matter what, he will always be my son, and my oldest son will always be his brother, but I have decided to place him for adoption. It will give him the best chance to be happy, healthy, and successful.
So, my advice for anyone contemplating placing a child for adoption? Take the time to really listen to what everything inside of you says. Collaborate on both your heart and your mind, but don't listen to what anyone else says. It's not a decision you can afford to regret, and if you take the time to really listen to what's inside of you while keeping in mind what's best for the child, you won't.Third entry, December, 2013
Has it been a week already? It feels like it was just yesterday that I gave birth, and at the same time, it feels like a lifetime has passed me by.
Now it finally comes crashing in, the imminent wave of grief that was looming over me in the final days of my pregnancy like a stalker keeping a watchful eye on his innocent prey. I knew it was inevitable, and I even confided in Max’s adoptive mother Tina shortly before giving birth to him, “I know I’m going to feel sad, but I don’t right now; I’m actually excited and happy for you and Markus.” And I meant every word. I was, however, a little ill-prepared for what was to come.
As I lay on the OR table and the C-section began, Tina sat next to me, held my hand, and we looked at each other. When the doctor told Markus to get the camera ready, Tina and I looked at each other as if to say This is it! I’m surprised I didn’t break her tiny hand when I squeezed it. When Max’s shrill cry suddenly filled the room, I began to sob as well, shaking violently, uncontrollably with emotion. I jokingly told Tina later that I did the “ugly cry.” Dr. Schwartz held him up for us to see and I was in absolute awe of my second son. Except, I knew he wasn’t really mine. He never was to begin with, and I knew that. That didn’t stop me from loving him any less and I tried not to think about it at the time.
I willed each day in the hospital not to pass with every fiber of my being. It was one less day I had to hold, cuddle, kiss, talk to, look at, and spend time with Max. It was one less day with my son's adoptive parents, one less day with my new family. I would’ve gladly stopped taking my pain meds, worn the thin and scratchy hospital gowns, and slept in that uncomfortable hospital bed for an entire year just to have one more day with them. One.
The day came when I had to let go, legally speaking. My adoption counselor Mary came in and, after an exchange of warm greetings, sat in front of me and pulled out a small stack of papers. Compared to the insurmountable joy and grief it simultaneously represented, on the surface, this was all just legal mumbo jumbo. We went over it page by page, until we came across the one that, once signed, would legally make that innocent angel Markus and Tina’s child. Not mine.
Tears began to fill my eyes and stream steadily down my face. Mary stopped mid-way through the page. “Do you want me to sit next to you?” she asked me softly, my pain becoming hers. We’d been on this journey together and now was not the time to turn down her help. I shook my head up and down vigorously as I couldn’t speak because now, my chest was heaving and I was hyperventilating. I gasped for air as I grabbed her leg to steady myself. I blinked away my tears and forced myself to slow my breathing long enough to sign the paper. I then turned my head, closed my eyes, and pushed the paper toward Mary before I gave myself the opportunity to be selfish and take control of a situation I had no business taking control of. This was all in God's hands.
This is a pain I’ve never felt before. It is literally very fresh. It is foreign. It is scary. It is not like the death of a loved one. I’ve lost many loved ones to death in the 27 years I’ve been alive, and I’m familiar with that pain. I know that you have to let go completely and when you find acceptance in your loved one’s death, you find peace. Adoption is different than death. You don’t completely hold on, but you don’t completely let go. You have to find a balance, and that, I’ve realized, might take a while.
I think this whole thing is about balance. Not grieving too much, but recognizing my pain and giving it a voice. Allowing myself to think about it, but not letting it consume me. Working hard to achieve my goals, but having a little fun sometimes, too. Finding this balance is taking care of myself. I know it won’t always hurt this badly, and as I've learned, all pain in life has a purpose. This pain will ultimately help me help others.
Gina's 4th Journal Entry: June, 2014
I am a birth mother.
One hundred days ago today, I placed my younger son, Max, for adoption. Today, I am setting the record straight.
I did not "give up" or "give away" my baby. I didn't give up on anything, nor did I donate him like a hand-me-down article of clothing. He is a human being. The correct term to use is "place for adoption;" it may seem like it doesn't matter, and had I never experienced the situation, I wouldn't have known better either. Words are very powerful and can either be used to build up or break down, so use them wisely.
I placed my son for adoption not because I don't love him, but because I do. So much in fact, that I listened when called to put his needs above my selfish desire to raise him. The majority of birthmothers do want to raise their children. The horror stories you hear about child abuse and neglect reflect the selfishness and carelessness of parents who should've considered adoption, but didn't.
For those who say or think that they could never place their child for adoption (sometimes in a condescending tone), you never realize your true strength until you're put in a situation that requires more than you think you can give. Placing my son for adoption has changed who I am at the very core of my being, and for the better, but it wasn't easy. Put simply, it took a lot of courage.
Max does not have "adoptive parents;" he has parents, and they became parents through adoption, just as I became a parent to my older son through pregnancy. When you call them "adoptive parents," you make the way they became parents more important than the fact that they are; I had to learn this, too. They should be regarded and respected as parents like anyone else.
Although I do feel a loss, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would take away anything from this process. I have found a family in Max's parents; I have never been more committed to, vulnerable, or honest with anyone in my life except these people. They are two of my best friends. This journey is not one riddled with baggage or shame; rather, it is one filled with great joy and love! It has given me hope for my future and I am taking steps to better myself as a person. I have learned that all pain in life has its purpose, and there is freedom and joy in discovering that purpose.
Life is also about perspective; if we think our life is horrible, it usually is. We can't go wrong by recognizing and embracing our humanity and our ability to withstand turmoil. It is a sign that a change needs to occur, and our ability to make a change is what makes us strong.
To this day, I have yet to feel regret, and I know that if I ever do, it will come from a selfish place, a desire to raise my son. However, even if I could "change my mind," I would never even think to do so, because I know with all of my heart, mind, body, and soul that he is where he belongs. Nothing makes me happier than knowing everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to.
Feel free to ask me questions. If you want to judge me harshly, feel free to do that, too; I'm pretty sure I can handle it.
I am a birth mother.
I was 19 years old and a college freshman when I met Steve. We had been dating a few months when I became pregnant.
I have two younger sisters and my mom struggles with health issues. I knew my family was unable to support me emotionally, physically, or financially. Plus, Steve and I were both in college at the time and neither of us had a job.
I was unsure what I wanted to do. I talked with Steve and our families about placing the baby for adoption, and they were mostly supportive. Steve and I met with Brooke, a counselor at the Adoption Center for Family Building to develop an adoption plan.
Brooke explained the adoption process and her role. She also gave us profiles of adoptive parents who matched our requirements. We wanted a couple who had been married for at least 5 years and didn't have other children. We fell in love with Elizabeth and Jeremy and couldn’t wait to meet them. Our first meeting went well, and we realized that we had many shared interests. Our relationship with them grew. Steve and I felt we had chosen an awesome couple to raise our baby.
When labor started, I called Elizabeth and Jeremy, and they met Steve and me at the hospital. Our son, Jacob, was born, and I was amazed by the miracle of life! The adoptive parents were thrilled to be at the birth and honored us with an entrustment ceremony they had prepared.
Although the first few months were particularly difficult, I was able to return to school and complete the requirements for my Bachelors Degree. I’m working toward my nursing degree now, but still have two more years of school remaining. Steve and I are no longer in a relationship, but we visit with Jacob, Elizabeth, and Jeremy regularly. Every time I see Jacob’s smiling face I am reassured that I made the right decision.