I found out that I was pregnant when I was 19 years old.
I was a sophomore in college, where I was a 6 ½ hour drive from home. My boyfriend lived there, we had not been dating very long, and long distance had been hard. I think I was in denial for about a month. I had put off taking the test because I think I knew the answer but I didn’t want to confirm and have to deal with it. When I told my two best friends at the time, they said we have to take a test. I reluctantly walked in the bathroom and saw the two pink lines. I dropped to the floor, overwhelmed with emotion. What was I going to do? I worked so hard to get into the best university for my major, I wanted my dream job, I wanted to graduate, get married, and then think about kids! My boyfriend was in college working hard on his degree too.
We had a plan, and a teenage pregnancy was definitely not part of it. I felt so scared and so far from home. I went to Planned Parenthood, maybe they could give me more information. The women that helped me that day were so incredibly caring and sweet. They confirmed my pregnancy, talked with me and answered all of my questions. They gave me a bag of pamphlets with information, and I booked an appointment for an ultrasound. Then I had to tell my boyfriend. I was so scared, I had ignored him all day because I couldn’t face it. I thought this would ruin us both. We were both overwhelmed. For about 12 hours we thought about abortion. I tried to sleep.
The next morning I woke up and knew with absolute certainty that abortion wasn’t right for me, but could I really have a baby? Now what? I went to my ultrasound, and I saw this teeny tiny bean. I made that bean, and I fell in love with it. I left that office knowing that no matter what I decided, my life was changed forever.
I told my family. Some were disappointed. Not everyone, though. I did have a lot of support. I finished my semester and prepared to take a semester off. I did not want to fall far behind in college. I didn’t want to give that up. So I signed up for three online classes to take. I looked through all kinds of literature and hundreds of resources online. Could I raise a baby right now? I wanted to go to school and get a job in this career for as long as I could remember. There was no way I could do both.
“I felt like I had known them forever. I knew that these beautiful people were meant to raise the baby I was growing. It felt as right as if I planned the whole thing myself.”
My aunt, whom I am very close to, asked me to meet with an adoption agency. For the few early months before this, I hadn’t even thought of adoption as an option. When I met with my advocate, I almost immediately knew this could be for me. I knew after all the pondering that I was not prepared to raise a baby. I wanted to be able to give my child so much more than I could possibly do at this point in my life. But I knew without a doubt I wanted to be in the baby’s life. I was very worried that there was a chance I wouldn’t get to hear about how the baby was doing. That’s when she explained to us about open adoption, and how this agency spends a great deal of time teaching the prospective adopted parents about how much healthier an open adoption can be on the child to know exactly where they came from. She explained that I would get pictures and letters and visitations. It wasn’t an overnight decision but I knew this is what I wanted to do. The agency made me so comfortable and allowed me to make all the decisions on my own and to take as long as I needed.
Sometime soon we found out that I was carrying a little boy! We looked through the family books my advocate gave us and we picked two families to meet with. We didn’t mesh with the first family but when we met with the second it was as close to magic as I can explain. I felt like I had known them forever. I knew that these beautiful people were meant to raise the baby I was growing. It felt as right as if I planned the whole thing myself. We spent the remainder of my months getting to know this family better. Each time we left a meeting with them I felt even better about this decision. They put my feelings above their own Every. Single. Time.
Sometime along the way I realized that some of my family was sad for me. I remember having to explain to them that I didn’t see this decision as a loss. While I was emotional, I wasn’t overwhelmingly sad. I was excited. Excited to meet the baby I have known only in my tummy. Excited to see him grow and see what our unconventional family would look like. I had accepted a long time ago that my life would change and I wanted it to be for the better. Many people didn’t expect me to feel this way.
The day came, and after over 20 hours of labor, I got to meet Baby B. The adoptive parents and I picked out the name together. They also chose a middle name that coincidentally was my father’s name. Things like this kept happening, solidifying to me that this was meant to be, this family was meant to raise this baby. The few days I spent in the hospital were extremely hard. I don’t think I can put into words how hard it is to prepare to place this perfect baby that you spent 9 months with, to someone else. Yes, I knew it was the right decision. I have never, to this day, doubted that. But actually doing it, ripped at my heart. We met with the family at the agency right from the hospital. I put Baby B in his mother’s arms and it was the most profound moment of my life. We all cried, we all hugged. We photographed the moment. They explained to me, and continue to explain to me that I gave them the greatest gift a person could give.
The next few days were extremely hard. I was in pain both physically and emotionally. My advocate had me write a pro/con list of parenting vs. adoption months prior, and I leaned on that list, reassuring me this was the right decision. Again, I knew it was true but the longing you have, wanting to know what your baby is doing seemed instinctual. Every day got better. And a few weeks later, I got to meet with Baby B and the family. It was amazing. I got to hear all about his firsts. When we had to leave I cried for a long time though. But, each visit after that I cried a little less.
I always look forward to seeing them. It has been 9 years and I know this is exactly how my life was supposed to turn out. My boyfriend and I didn’t end up staying together in the end, however we did stay together a while. I realize I was very lucky to have him during such a hard time, and for him to be so supportive during this journey. We are both in B’s life still, and he has a wife and children of his own. I graduated college on time, even after missing a semester, taking summer classes to finish. I continued on to grad school and now have my dream job that I got right out of grad school. I have traveled much of the country, and feel so much more prepared to start a family of my own. I’ve gotten to experience so many incredible moments and I am so grateful his parents include me in so many memories.
I cannot imagine how either of us, birth or adoptive parents, could manage if we didn’t choose an open adoption. When B has questions, we answer them. He has developed, on his own, an appreciation for me and where he came from. He has told me how special I am. Now at 9 years old, we have this extra-large family, all who love him so much. That is how we always describe it; that he gets to have so many more people who love him. Was this a hard decision to make? Absolutely. But was is the hardest thing I’ve ever done? I may have said yes several years ago but, honestly, not anymore. In choosing open adoption, I was able to make all the decisions each step of the way and make it work for us. And now it’s a natural part of my life.
In retrospect, I really wish there was a more positive connotation when you mention adoption. It’s not all sad. It’s not dysfunctional, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I wish I was given more information at Planned Parenthood about adoption, and at the sonogram appointment, and from each professional I ran into. There are more than just two options when you experience an unplanned pregnancy. I think making adoption more normal in everyday conversation, and sharing our story can help other women and families have more positive experiences like we did. Thank you for sharing and reading my story.