by Brittany Whatley

I was 15 when I found out I was pregnant, sometime in July 2005. My parents found out soon after when I accidentally slipped a note into their hands intended for the birth father.

In this note, I explained my fears, concerns, and how abortion wasn’t an option for me. When I arrived home from school that day, my dad and step mom were both home sitting at the kitchen table. They asked me if I needed to tell them anything. I said no.

They asked again, and I replied with the same answer. They then asked me directly if I was pregnant, and I remember laughing because it caught me so off guard. That night, we discussed options for what pregnancy looks like at 15. They expressed they did not want me to keep the baby, but rather place it up for adoption. I wasn’t open to this idea at all. I think when I found out I was pregnant, I had this storyline play out in my head of what it would look like. It was going to be a hard road but it was happy. Giving my baby over to strangers was not part of the story in my head.

A few weeks after this initial conversation, my parents informed me that I would be moving to Virginia. I would be staying in a maternity home there until the baby was to be born in February. Adoption was the choice that was made for me. There would be no other discussion. I was not happy with the decision of adoption or being sent away. At the home in Virginia, they had many different classes on choosing to parent or choosing the adoption plan. When I knew there was no way I would be allowed to bring this baby home, I started looking through the “life books” made by the waiting families to tell about their life. It’s so hard as an expectant mother to flip through those pages, see the pretty pictures, read though nice stories, and yet also knowing the weight of this decision. I had finally picked a family after days of searching.

The next week, before meeting them, my father called to inform the home that he would be coming to get me. He had found a family for me to give my baby to, and I would not be returning back to the maternity home. I was devastated. Everything was out of my control, and I felt so hopeless. I met the adoptive family on my 16th birthday. Honestly I don’t remember much of that night. We looked through some of their family pictures and they shared some stories of their life. They seemed like nice, sweet, and loving people. I didn’t see them again until the birth of little “J”.

I was induced in January 2006 to ensure their presence at the hospital. That day held the most deep -ooted sadness I have ever felt. She was a beautiful baby. I wasn’t allowed to hold her, but I was able to meet her finally that night. There were many fears from the adoptive family of me bonding with her and changing my mind, but they had no idea that my mind wasn’t allowed to be changed. Upon leaving the hospital a few days later, we all cried and prayed. I was able to kiss her on the head before they drove away with my baby and my heart. The weeks and months that followed are really all a blur. I was adjusting back at home, being homeschooled, and struggling with who I was now. I couldn’t see any of my old friends or have a social life, and that was really hard on me as a person, as well as a teenager. I was suffering, and another decision was made by them to send me away to a Christian boarding school for a year. I think they thought this would help me refocus.

I left early the next morning after they broke the news. This time away was hard. I was away from family and everything I knew as home. I was the oldest girl at the home, so trying to be a positive and encouraging light was a hard task amidst all of the emotions in my 17-year-old self.

I ended up graduating from high school there in 2008 and attended college for a semester in Florida in 2009.  I ran out of money, drive, and passion. I went to Texas to live with my mom. She was heavily addicted to prescription pills and alcohol, and that eventually turned to crystal meth. It was very hard going from such structure to her chaos. I lived with her for almost three years before working enough to save for a car and a place of my own. I then started to nanny on the side, and that quickly grew to full time. One of the families I was very close to moved to Fayetteville, and after begging me everyday for about a month, Fayetteville, Arkansas, was my new home. I have been here for the last four years now and I am so blessed. This was the first time in my  life I’d been able to make decisions for myself. I found a wonderful church and such a sweet church family. I was able to work at a large church in Springdale for a few years, and I was able to finally see what the love and grace of Jesus can look like in your life. I was able to understand that everybody has a mess. Everyone can be forgiven. Everyone can have a new start. God has provided many people in NWA that allow me to be a part of their families, and I will always treasure them.

I recently was able to share my story on a radio program in Colorado called Adoption Now. That interview sparked a conversation between my dad, stepmom and I that I know would not have happened otherwise. This was the first time in 10 years that we were able to sit down and discuss those events. There were tears and we were all able to be honest about feelings, where we were at then versus now, and where we ideally want to be. I truly believe we are all on a road to healing and to a true relationship, which is something I have been missing for a long time. My mom is currently in a rehab facility in Texas. I’m hoping this will be a true wake up call for her, and she can start living a clean life.

“J” will be 11 in January. She’s in the 5th grade, and I am told she is brilliant. She just started playing violin and her parents say she has a natural gift with music. She loves Jesus and anything that sparkles, which makes my momma heart so proud. Her parents are the most amazing, generous, thoughtful, and most Jesus-loving people that I know. They have really gone above and beyond the closed adoption agreement to send me updates, pictures, and we have even had a few phone conversations. They didn’t have any idea of the events surrounding the adoption. It all happened so quickly, and we are really just this year learning about one another as people, rather than the birth parent/adoptive parent relationship. This is the unexplainable happy: looking at a picture of her, but seeing my eyes or my grin in her. Seeing how happy she is with her family, and hearing sweet updates on her life makes it all so happy.

Adoption is really the happiest sad.

After much prayer and  council, I am moving to Castle Rock, Colorado. I will be nannying part time and helping out with the Adoption Now program. I’m so excited for this next start, and I’m beyond grateful for my time here in NWA. So many of you are a forever part of my journey and I’m so blessed by that…

Read Part 2