The other day my son was looking through a box in the closet that had old photos in it. He would grab each photo and ask me if that was him or his sister. At the bottom of the box he found a framed photo of me holding a newborn baby in my arms. He asked the same question. I didn’t answer and since he is only three, he didn’t need a response from me. He proudly said: “That is me!” I took the framed picture and set it out on the nightstand. I will tell my children at some point who that baby is. I will tell them he was a boy. I will tell them I gave him up for adoption.
It has been almost 14 years now, since I gave my first child up for adoption. I remember the exact moment when I handed my son over to his new mother and father. I remember I needed help to stand up, as I was still sore and bleeding from childbirth. I will never forget the pain I felt when I left the adoption agency and went home without my baby. It was a choice I made and I believed I was doing the best thing for my son, but I felt awful. I crawled into bed that night and sobbed.
Over the next few days, I sat on ice packs and gently moved from place to place, trying to heal physically. My milk came in which became another painful reminder of the baby I no longer had. It was July and it was hot. I become distraught over the heat and thinking about my newborn in the heat. I called my adoption counselor and asked her to make sure my son’s adoptive parents had air conditioning in their car and home. Of course they did, but I needed reassurance. I needed to know he was going to be “Okay.”
My adoption counselor was a woman who I became close to. She met me in the hospital after I had delivered. One nurse tried to take my son from me after I had him, assuming that I would not want to hold him if I was going to give him up. My counselor insisted that I would be caring for him in the hospital. However difficult it was, I needed to see and absorb my child for as long as I could before I left the hospital and gave him up. I needed to memorize his physical features, his smell and sounds, and know him before I could say goodbye to him.
I also needed to know his adoptive parents. I wanted to choose and meet his future parents. I was 26 when I became pregnant. I wasn’t a young teenage girl that got pregnant the first time she had sex. I was an adult and I was in a relationship with a man. I felt guilty because I was making some mistakes in my personal life and as the relationship with him ended, I felt a huge loss as to what to do.I quickly realized that I just couldn’t have an abortion. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I just didn’t have it in me to abort him. I have never been outspoken about pro-life or pro-choice because I have been at that crossroads. I have had an unplanned pregnancy and had to make that choice. It was a very difficult place to be. I imagined it was an incredibly difficult path either way.
I chose adoption because I realized I had very little support for the option of keeping him. It seemed to big of a leap for my family to help me become a mother to him. This was a hard one for me and it has certainly been something I have had to come to terms with in my relationships with my family. I wanted to give my child a great start in life and I was willing to sacrifice my own happiness for it.
There is a common celebratory day among adoptive parents. They celebrate their: “Gotcha day!” This is the day that they got to take their adoptive baby or child home. I have always found it to be filled with a sad irony for me. The Gotcha day for my birthson’s adoptive parents is in July. For his new parents it was a day to celebrate. They had a big welcome party and I went home and cried.
Adoption has changed quite a lot over the years. Although I acknowledge it as a great way to create a family for loving people that want to become parents, I have experienced the loss from adoption. However, I am grateful that when I had my son, I was given the opportunity to have an open adoption. I have a relationship with my son’s adoptive parents and I cherish that. He has a wonderful mother and father. I still believe I made the best decision for his future life, despite the pain it may have caused me.
I don’t know what our relationship will become once he becomes an adult himself but I pray that it “becomes something more.”