Five years ago I gave my heart away: I placed my infant daughter for adoption. Not a day has gone by since that I have not thought about her, yet I believe I made the right decision. I share my story in the hope that it might help other young women with the incredibly difficult decision that they must make for themselves and their babies.
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was terrified — terrified of what my parents would say and do; terrified of how the baby's father would react. I told my mom in the only way I could — I wrote her a letter. She responded better then I had hoped. I was sure that my father would kick me out of the house when he found out. Instead he sat still for a while, then he got up and hugged me, assuring me that he would be there for me.
The way Steve,* the baby's father, reacted to the news totally blew my mind. His first question was "Who's the father?" I couldn't believe his reaction. Steve and I had met in October. He was my supervisor at a new job that I had just started. I was immediately attracted to him — I felt like a schoolgirl with a crush. We started dating a few weeks later and were together just about every day after that. When he first told me that he loved me, I was ecstatic. I felt like a completely different person when I was with him. Our wonderful new relationship started to go downhill right after Christmas — although I didn't know it at the time. He had already started dating someone new. When he found out about the baby, it was as if a war had erupted between us. At first, Steve wanted me to have an abortion, but I insisted that I was going to keep my baby. Then he started pushing for adoption, which to me seemed cold-hearted. I couldn't understand how someone could just hand over his or her child for someone else to raise. Steve didn't even want to know what the baby would look like.
Deciding What to Do
One night I woke up suddenly, aware of exactly what I had to do. Perhaps I had been dreaming, but I felt as if I had somehow been told that adoption was the best choice for everyone involved — especially the baby. Given my earlier feelings, I was shocked at the sense of certainty I felt. I went back to sleep that night finally feeling some peace within myself. Other than my family, few people agreed with my decision. Everyone who learned about the situation had an opinion about what I should do and made a point of making sure that I heard their opinion. People asked me why and how I could do such a thing. I tried to politely say that it was in the baby's best interests. I tried to ignore their criticism, but it was hard. Although there were still times I questioned what I was doing, deep down I knew that adoption was the best option for me, for Steve, and most importantly, for the baby. The baby would be happier in a home with two loving parents who could give him or her what he or she needed.
Making the Plan
Once I'd finally made up my mind about adoption, I had to find an adoption agency that wouldn't treat my baby like a commodity. My family and I heard about such an agency from friends who'd adopted a baby boy. The couple had nothing but nice things to say about this agency. They told me that the staff were very personable and that the agency was Christian-based. I didn't bother to look into other alternatives. The agency staff treated me kindly and with respect. They gave me complete control over how things were done. I was able to choose the adoptive parents, which helped me feel more comfortable about my decision. Somehow the process of picking out the adoptive parents helped me cope with my emotions.
The staff asked me for a list of qualities that I wanted the prospective parents to have. From that list and from Steve's and my physical descriptions, the agency chose couples in their files that "matched." I was matched with three couples and was given their profiles to read. Each profile included a very informative and emotional letter written to prospective birth mothers. Each letter provided information about what each person did for a living, what their interests were, and what their extended families were like. These letters gave me some insight into what each couple was like.
Although I read each letter at least 20 times, one of them caught my eye from the very beginning. The couple somehow seemed more sincere and better expressed how much love they had to share with a baby. I was touched by what they had gone through to become parents, and how long they had been waiting. The other two couples sounded more like they were selling something — which in a sense they were. Once I had chosen this couple, I decided to let them know in a very special way that they were finally going to become parents. I bought two cards (one for the mother-to-be and the other for expecting parents), wrote a note in each, then sent the cards through the agency. It was a great way to start a lasting relationship between the adoptive parents and me. Then I had to decide whether or not I wanted to meet this couple. I was glad the decision was mine to make.
When I decided to go ahead, I knew that I couldn't go alone. I asked my mother to go with me. The beginning of the meeting was a bit rocky. We exchanged gifts, little things that helped relieve some of the tension. As the meeting went on, we all began to relax. We talked about our families, and about my pregnancy. This meeting put my mind at ease about what kind of home and family my child would be growing up in. I knew I had made the right choice for my child. Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, John and Caren checked to see how I was doing, through the agency. They also sent me cards and letters of encouragement. At first I thought that the letters would do more harm than good, because they would show me exactly how much this couple wanted my baby. But in reality, they helped me more then I could have imagined. The letters and cards not only showed me how much they wanted my baby, but how much they would love him or her. Although my pregnancy seemed to go by quickly, the bond between my baby and me grew steadily stronger. I began to realize how hard it was going to be to give him or her to the adoptive parents. As the due date grew closer, I tried to block out the fact that this child would not leave the hospital with me.
Giving Away My Heart
At 2:45 a.m. on October 17 my labor began. Because this was my first child, my parents figured I would be in labor for hours. Little did we know.... My father drove me to the hospital — about a thirty-mile drive — while my mother held my hand. I kept telling them that the baby was coming, but they didn't believe me. By the time we pulled up outside the hospital emergency room, the baby's head was crowning. A nurse jumped into the backseat and helped me deliver my beautiful, healthy baby girl. The labor and delivery that my parents thought would take hours took only 1 hour and 55 minutes, start to finish. Out of respect, the first person I called was Steve. Then we called the adoption agency. They let me have the honor of telling the new parents. I congratulated them and told them the exciting story of their new daughter Samantha's birth. I was given the choice of whether I wanted be the one to hand the new parents their precious baby. At first I wasn't sure if I could do so without wanting to run, taking the baby with me. But as I looked down at her beautiful face, I knew I had to be the one to give her to John and Caren. I couldn't have gotten through that day — or any other for that matter — without the help and support from my parents and sister.
Since my daughter's birth, I met and married a wonderful, loving man who thinks of Samantha as his own daughter. I still receive pictures, letters, and even Christmas presents from Samantha, John, and Caren. A few years later, my husband and I welcomed our "second" child into the world. Although I still think about Samantha every day, I am thankful that she has parents who are keeping her safe and happy when I couldn't. As a birth parent, I know that placing a child for adoption — a child that you cannot take care of properly — is the most unselfish thing that any birth mother can do for her child.
To ensure her child's and the adoptive parents' privacy, the writer wishes to remain anonymous.
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