by Brittany Whatley
The last time I was able to share my story was in October of 2016. I went into detail of my journey as a birth mom and my adoption story. As this is a continuing journey, I would love for you to check out that story first if you missed it.
— Excerpt from October 2016 article
“I was induced in January 2006 to ensure their presence at the hospital. That day held the most deep-rooted 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 home-schooled, 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 closed my last article with a move to Colorado that was days away from taking place. I thought Colorado would hold a lot of restoration of relationships, allow me to work with both sides of adoption through the company I’d work for, and, honestly, allow me to grow my wallet a little bit. Let’s just say, however, that none of those expected outcomes came to pass, but I was so thankful to be welcomed back into NWA with open arms. Unexpectedly, coming home had its challenges, but I was given a bonus family that I never thought I needed. The Harmon family opened their home to me, but most importantly their hearts. Mr. Harmon was the youth pastor at Cross Church in Springdale, and I was given a chance to work there as an assistant. I wasn’t qualified, but they gave me a chance, and I’m so glad they did because I wouldn’t have met them without that opportunity. They even gifted me with an adoption contract of my own, saying that they were committed to being my people for the rest of my life. That’s something I’ve never had. People come and go constantly. I’m forever grateful to them for helping write my story. I’m a better person because of my Harmon family.
I had always had a dream of going to cosmetology school – something on that “one day” list we all have. In 2017, I started the year-long journey. I made some of my dearest friends, and, even better than that, I was there for the next part of my adoption story.
I was a few months from graduation, browsing social media, and saw a post from “J”’s adoptive mom. We had only semi-recently become Facebook friends, and I was always very careful to not like or comment on anything. I just wanted to observe from the outside. I was so thankful to be able to see all of the pictures or funny stories of “J,” and never wanted to do anything to mess up or overstep this privilege. The post I saw was about their family getting ready for a family vacation. I chuckled, because I was also getting ready for a family vacation with my Harmons. We go to Disney every year, and we were just a few days from leaving. I didn’t think much more about it and went on about my day. A few days later, I saw another post. This time, it stopped me in my tracks. This post talked about the weather where they live and the weather in ORLANDO… where they would be vacationing with their whole family. I just sat there, looking at my screen, feeling like I couldn’t even blink my eyes. I was shocked. I was a few days away from making this SAME trip, and was flooded with excitement and questions.
When I tell you we went to the same place at the same time, I just hope your heart is beating as fast as mine. I could write a book on how all of the story worked out, but, honestly, just know it’s nothing short of Him continuing to write my story. A few messages were exchanged between my bonus Mom, Jackie, and my adoptive family, (because you know I was too scared to say anything!) and we all were able to meet. In Disney World, of all places… Jesus is funny sometimes.
My Harmons were able to walk out this story with me. It was such relief to have them there, to have family there. It wasn’t quite the time or the place to spring up a meeting with my “J,” but it was the most perfect reunion between her parents and I. I hadn’t seen these faces since I was 16, leaving a hospital, and now, at 28, I felt like a totally different person. Let’s be honest… I am a different person.
There were so many emotions in those few hours we sat across from one another. Truthfully, as soon as I saw their faces I burst into tears. Our meeting only lasted those few hours, but felt like a blink after all these years. We were able to go back to the beginning of our journey and ask/answer questions we have had over the years. They told me such sweet stories of my girl, and the person she is. It is the strangest feeling to know there is another mini version of you out there that you have yet to meet.
They assured me that they are committed to us knowing one another when the time is right, if that’s what she desires. My heart swells at that statement, and also fills with doubt. I am so thankful to them and grateful for the models they are to her. I meet so many adoptees that have no desire to meet their birth parents, and they have valid reasons. I just have to leave it up to Him and have faith that because of their commitment one day, I’ll meet my “J” once again.
Since this day in November 2017, her family and I have been able to stay in contact a little more. I even like a few posts here and there – baby steps! I have finished up my cosmetology course and have started my own hair business. As with any business, the first year has had its ups and downs, but I have loved being able to pour back into the community. It has been such a joy to mix my passion for making my clients look and feel beautiful with volunteering around NWA. I have truly loved NWA for many reasons, but especially for the amount of resources available. Through churches, non-profits, or state programs… there’s truly so much support around every corner. I have been connected with so many people here.
I’d like to talk about one of my favorite connections, Shared Beginnings, because I wish so badly that I had had these women in my corner 13 years ago. I was invited to a Birth Mom Brunch last year and was able to meet other moms right here in NWA who have chosen life for their children through adoption. It was the first time for me to attend any event like this. I was surrounded by strangers, but felt understood, supported, and loved, all at the same time. At this event we wrote letters to our child and did a balloon release. It was such a special and emotional time. I wanted to know more about this organization, and I knew I wanted to pour back into something I didn’t have all those years ago.
Shared Beginnings’ mission is to provide support, protect, and serve expectant mothers. They work to help girls just like my past self achieve their personal goals. This includes getting a driver’s license, finishing up high school/getting a GED, making a resume, finding a job, and so much more. The women that work here truly care about these young women’s success – beyond their pregnancy and adoption plan – and strive to remove barriers to make these goals obtainable. Remembering the lack of support in my life back in 2016, I love being a small part of making a difference in these young women’s stories. Some stories are hard and messy, but are also so beautiful and written by Him. I’m so thankful for my “happiest sad” and its continuing journey.