In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness 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 people with widely varying experiences.
I was just a regular fifteen-year-old girl. I was in all honors classes, on Dance Company, religious and involved in my church activities, had a great group of friends, and was pretty much the last girl in the school you would think would end up as the "pregnant one". There was a boy that I was pretty crazy over. We had passed a few notes back and forth, and eventually one of his notes had his number on it. I was so excited!
This boy and I started texting back and forth throughout the day and did a little innocent flirting. One night he texted me and asked if he could come over to watch a movie. It was late, but like I said, I was totally crazy over this boy, so I of course said yes!
My Mom was a single mom of five kids and was also working full time so she was busy, to say the least. She trusted us to make good decisions, as we were good kids, and I did not have to check if this boy could come over so late, which I know I should have. We watched the movie and ended up holding hands the last ten minutes of it. My stomach was full of butterflies and I could not wait to tell my friends the next day at school! Our late night visits continued for the next few weeks, and each night we got a bit closer to each other.
I had done nothing but "peck" a boy up to this point and I did not know until later that he was much more experienced then I was. I was just so eager to impress him and finally have him refer to me as his "girlfriend", which never happened. I thought our late night visits would result in a relationship, but instead it resulted in a pregnancy. This was from one night that we went too far, or at least too far by my standards.
He left that night, and I was completely sick with myself. I knew I had made a big mistake and there was no going back. I had planned on saving that part of me for marriage and I knew that dream was gone, that quick, gone. The next few weeks, I ignored his texts and tried to avoid him at school. He still had not told any of his friends about me, and I started to see what a huge mistake I had made.
A few weeks passed and summer started. I was so excited to be out of school, but all of the sudden I was so sluggish and nauseous all of the time. I thought that I just had a bug and went on with my life. Finally, my Mom started to notice how sick I was and she suggested that we go to the doctor. She scheduled an appointment for that next week. I honestly did not even think that pregnancy was a possibility. It never even crossed my mind until the day before the appointment.
Once I realized that pregnancy could be a possibility, I got online and started to search through pregnancy symptoms. As I read through each symptom, my stomach sunk deeper and deeper. I could check each one off as one of my symptoms to this strange illness. I walked to my room and opened up my piggy bank.
I took all of the dollar bills and change out and headed to the store. Buying the pregnancy test was terrifying. I felt like the entire world was staring at me with judging eyes, and I just wanted out of the store as quickly as possible. I got home and took the test right away. It said to wait a few minutes, but the positive sign showed up immediately. I convinced myself that it needed more time and let it sit there for 20 more minutes just waiting for it to change to negative, it never did.
Once I realized that this little stick was not going to change its mind, I knew it was time to call my Mom. My stomach would not let me forget what I was about to do. I was so sick, I could not believe I was making this call to my Mother. I was not this girl, I was not this person, but there was nothing I could do to stop it, I had to live up to my actions.
My Mom was obviously in shock, but she handled it better than I expected. She rushed home to make sure I was ok. She started to list my options, Abortion, Adoption, Or raising the baby. I sat there for a moment in my own thoughts when something came out of my mouth that even I was not expecting: "adoption."
It felt right. I knew this was why this horribly terrifying thing was happening to me. It was supposed to happen; it was my job to give someone a baby that they could not have on their own. I was strangely at peace, or at least as peaceful as you can be when you find out you are pregnant at 15.
The next call I had to make was to the Birth Father. He did not answer his phone (big surprise), so I texted him. He texted me back right away with words that pierced like a knife "Are you sure its mine?" I wanted to jump through the phone and strangle him, it hurt so much. The next few texts were asking if I could have an abortion, I told him no and that I had already decided on adoption.
The pregnancy continued and the world around me started to find out about what was going on. Once this started to happen, The Birth Father panicked and told me that he was switching schools to avoid the "drama". This filled me with anger and hurt. He was able to move away from this and pretend like it never happened, while I had it expanding my teenage body to the point that there was no denying it. He stopped talking to me and only talked to me about where and how to sign his parental rights away. I still have so many bitter feelings towards him that I have tried to work through, but have just been unable to accomplish forgiveness towards his behavior.
My Mom and I made our first visit to LDS Family Services after my first doctor’s appointment. They sent me home with a few profiles to look over and told me to come back once I needed more profiles or thought I might have one I was interested in. I had not looked at any of the profiles yet when my Mom got a call from my Aunt in California. She called to let my mom know of a friend of a friend who was looking to adopt. They were unable to conceive on their own and already had two adopted boys.
We gave her my email address and told her to have them email me their information and I would consider them with the rest of the profiles. I got their email and liked what I saw, but wanted to look through the other profiles I had from the agency. I continued my search for the perfect family, but for some reason just kept going back to the first profile I saw, the family my aunt had suggested.
I finally decided to pray about this family to see if they were the right choice. I did not get my answer right away and was becoming discouraged when suddenly something came in the mail, a package, for me! It was a little flip book full of pictures of this family I had been praying about. The day before I got this package, I had made a check list of everything I wanted in a family and as I flipped through this book, it was as if they had watched me make this check list.
Each picture I flipped to, was a picture of them doing something on my check list. I was in complete amazement, I knew I had just received my answer. I found out later, that the adoptive Mom had been laying in bed that night when all of the sudden she had this feeling come over her that this potential Birth Mother needed more information about her family. She got up and started working on the book. Now is that meant to be or what?
My stomach continued to expand and so did my morning sickness. I was so sick and eventually was put on bed rest for mine and the baby’s health. The lack of nutrition caused me to go into pre-term labor at 24 weeks and that was just too early for this little girl to enter the world. At this point I had contacted the family and let them know that I had picked them and to get ready to welcome a beautiful little girl into their home of boys! I sent them ultrasound pictures and our everlasting bond started.
They lived a few states away from me, but we kept in close contact by letters and the adoption agency. They decided to fly in and meet me and my family, I was so nervous! What if this connection I felt with this family was not there in person? What if it did not feel right? I had no clue what I would do if it did not "match up". Luckily for me, that was not the case at all!
Our connection felt so much stronger in person and I was completely at peace about my decision, I knew this is where my little girl was meant to go. I met their two little boys that were soon to be my baby’s big brothers. They were so cute and kept on asking about "baby sister". I loved seeing the excitement in their eyes. We went to dinner with my family so they could meet everyone, it was so great to get to know them and for them to get to see where their baby was coming from.
My pre-term labor would not stop and we had frequent visits to the hospital to be given shots to hopefully slow it down. I headed off to my 34 week appointment assuming it would be just like every other week, but I was very wrong. During the ultra-sound I could tell that they were more concerned than usual, they were not talking to me. They sent me back up to my doctor and she decided to do a "stress test". They strapped the monitors to my belly, gave me sugary juice, and told me that they would watch the baby’s movements over the next hour.
That hour could not have gone by more slowly. I knew the baby was not moving and I was trying everything I could to help. My sister found her most annoying ring tone, turned it up all the way, and set it on my stomach...nothing. The doctor came in after the hour was up and blurted out a sentence that almost gave me a heart attack, "well, it looks like we are going to have a baby today!"
My mind was racing; I had no clue what to think. “I am only 34 weeks, I don't have anything with me, I am not ready, I need to call the adoptive family.” I was numb with anxiety and stress. The doctor pointed me in the direction of Labor and Delivery and told me that she would meet me over there.
Half-way across the hallway, I broke down. I stopped breathing and the tears started. My sister stopped and asked me what was wrong. I gripped my stomach with all the love in the world and said "She is still mine; she is still my baby for another 5 weeks. She is my baby; I am not ready; I can’t do this". I could see the fear in my sister’s eyes, but she somehow calmed me down and prepared me for what was about to happen.
I could do this. I could get this baby here safe and healthy.
My labor was very painful and I did not get any pain meds until I was pretty far along because of several emergency C-Sections that held up the anesthesiologist. My biggest concern was not the pain, it was the adoptive family getting to me in time. I kept on asking the doctor how long she thought I had, hoping that it would be hours, but it just kept on getting shorter and shorter, and she finally entered the world at 7:37 PM.
She was perfect. I have never loved something or someone more than in that moment. I was blissfully happy. The adoptive family luckily made it not too long after she entered the world. They went straight to the NICU to meet their new addition. I wish I could have been there to witness their first meeting, but now when I look back, I think it was good for them to have that moment just the 3 of them.
They came in to see me afterwards and it was just one big cry fest. They gave me two names and let me pick, I was so honored. They also had their extended family come and meet me and peek in on their new addition through the NICU window.
Our baby had to stay in the NICU, so we each got a wrist band allowing us to visit her when we wanted - but no one else. I would go down for feedings as often as I could. I knew these were the only moments we were going to have together and I wanted to soak up every last second. The nurses were also kind enough to allow her to leave the NICU for 30 minutes, no longer, to meet my family and allow them to say goodbye.
It was very hard to watch my family pass around this tiny little girl and try to say goodbye as quickly as possible. I knew their pain was caused by me and my decision, even though they were supportive, I felt guilt pouring out of every inch of my body.
I left the hospital but the baby stayed. The adoptive family practically moved into the hospital so they could spend every moment with her. I also went to the hospital a few times to visit before she was released. I am so grateful for the chance to visit her while she was still so close to me. I will forever appreciate the adoptive family for this.
Once she was ready to leave the hospital, we decided to meet at the agency so I could say goodbye for one final time. This was the single hardest moment of my entire life. They left me alone in the room to say my goodbye. I started to tell her everything I wanted her to know, everything I wanted for her in life, and how much I loved her.
I don't even remember what I said, I just remember her hands. Her tiny beautiful hands. I kissed her hands, toes, face, and tried to memorize everything I could about this little angel. I did not want to forget a single touch, kiss, or smell. I am not sure how much time passed, but I finally felt ready.
The adoptive family came back into the room and I handed my baby over to her new Mommy. I was so happy --at peace, and grateful for them-- but I literally ached from the inside out. I went home and crawled into bed, where I remained for longer than any human being ever should.
I slowly started to notice the painful void fill up with other things in my life. The adoptive family would send me updates and let me know how great she was doing. Each time I saw her beaming smile, I knew I made the right decision. The pain has never left me, but it has gotten easier.
I think about my little angel every day, but I would never change my decision. I love that I am forever connected to these amazing people and I am so grateful for everything they have given my little girl that I could not at the time. I look forward to hopefully meeting her some day and looking at those beautiful hands again.
Haley is now a mom to 3 beautiful little girls, one of which she placed for adoption. She is an adoption advocate and runs a site called Adoption: Share the Love. She loves being a mother and a birth mother.
Portrait of an Adoption has been nominated to the Circle of Moms Top 25 Book Author Mom Blogs! If you are enjoying this adoption series, please support Portrait by clicking here and voting! So easy to do, and you can vote once a day until December 7, 2012.
Portrait of an Adoption is hosted by Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. This year’s adoption series is full, but if you have a story you would like to submit as a candidate for next year’s series, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.