In honor of November being National Adoption Month, Portrait of an Adoption is running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents. Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.
I Had To Do What Was Best for All of My Children
By M, Katie’s Birthmother
December 30th, 2002 is the day I discovered I was pregnant with my third child. I was elated but scared. My boyfriend at the time was not thrilled and our relationship was on its way to being over. Little did I know that the next nine months would put me through hell.
All the emotions of a pregnancy are overwhelming as it is, but the events that took place in my life during the pregnancy and in the months that followed are something that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
Out of respect for my family, I will only say that the Department of Children’s Services became involved, and I lost custody of my two older children for fifteen agonizing months. This is important to reveal, because it is the exact reason why I chose to place Katie for adoption.
I had to get my two older children home and protect us all, and I wanted Katie to have a mother and a father and a fresh start. She was an innocent child, and I knew I had to do what was best for all of my children.
I started looking for an adoptive family in June of 2003. I found Carrie and Andrew in July. We met the last weekend of July, and I fell in love with them. They were everything I had envisioned as parents for my child.
Carrie and I could relate about how it feels to lose a child since she lost Matthew just a year prior to adopting Katie. Our lives were in sync although we were strangers.
Carrie and I spent a lot of time together that summer and fall, and I knew in my heart that the baby I was carrying was meant to be theirs. I kept all of my ultrasound pictures and gave them to Carrie. I talked to her everyday and I could talk to her about everything. She was there with me when I gave birth and when I got custody of my children back. She had become my rock, and one of my dearest friends. She still is.
I don’t remember much about Katie’s birth, but I remember Carrie was supposed to help me count when it was time to push. She only made it to two and started crying uncontrollably. I remember Katie was blue and not breathing when she was born. I stayed awake long enough to hear her cry and then I went to sleep.
The next day the hospital provided all three of us with a congratulatory dinner on the birth of our baby. That’s what she was, our baby.
Due to legal complications, Katie was placed in foster care for several months before she could go home to live with Carrie and Andrew. This was an agonizing time for us all, as we waited to see what would happen to Katie.
Carrie and I had talked numerous times about me being in Katie’s life and how I wanted an open adoption so I could still have a part of her to myself. Thankfully, Carrie has been true to her word. Once birthparents sign over their rights to the child, they have no legal ground to see the child again. Carrie could have taken Katie and never let me see her again, but that didn't happen.
Katie was ten months old the first time I saw her after giving birth. I had received many pictures of her, but to see her in the flesh was unreal. She literally took my breath away. She didn’t want much to do with me at that age, but that is to be expected.
It was terribly hard for me to say goodbye to Katie after that visit and the next. A month prior to our third annual visit, I decided it was too painful for me to see her, and I asked to suspend our reunions until I could come to terms with the adoption.
After a four-year hiatus, I called Carrie to ask if we could resume visitations again. By this point, Katie was old enough to understand who I was. We agreed that if I restarted visits, I had to be consistent or I would not be allowed in Katie’s life. I knew it would be in Katie’s best interest for planned visits to occur as scheduled. I know how important it is for an adopted to child to feel loved and wanted. Abandonment is one of the biggest fears an adopted child harbors.
Throughout the subsequent years, we have made annual visits over the summer, usually in July. That is a very special month to us all because it was on July 4th in 2003 that I had called Carrie and asked her and Andrew to adopt my baby. It is a holiday we will never forget. It is the day I had made up my mind to do the adoption regardless of the heartache I would go through.
My older children understand why I chose to place Katie for adoption. They were young when it happened, but now they have grown and can grasp the concept more. My daughter longs for the day that Katie will call her and want to talk about all the things sisters talk about. My son just wants Katie to know he will always protect her and he will always be her big brother.
Katie is the baby in our family, but the oldest in hers. When she visits us, she always squeezes herself between E and D. She has to have them on both sides of her.
Having an open adoption is the most amazing gift Carrie and Andrew can give me. I have a sense of peace knowing that I can pick up the phone anytime I want to and just say hey, I miss Katie today and then she’s there and I can tell her how much I love her and how I think of her every minute of every day.