Welcome to the sixth annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
Portrait of an Adoption: What were your thoughts when you first realized you were pregnant?
E: At first, I had a lot of depression type feelings. It was like, I’m not ready for this. This isn’t how I wanted this to happen to me. I was kind of mad that I was getting dealt this hand. I was so careful; I was using birth control. I was being responsible. I felt like I was still a kid in my mind, and now I had to be an adult; it was like this huge burden. My mom always had three rules – 1). Don’t die; 2).Don’t go to jail; 3). Don’t get pregnant, and I always said, "Mom. You know that’s not me; I’m not that kid." And then when it happened and I got pregnant, I felt like everyone was going to turn their backs on me. I thought, my mom doesn’t want to be a grandma; my dad is going to freak out and get angry.
Portrait of an Adoption: How long were you in that state of depression?
E: I found out I was pregnant at 15 weeks and 3 days. The initial depression lasted a few months. I found out he was a boy at 20 weeks, and it all hit me. I was still in shock the rest of that day, and I was really depressed. After I started antidepressants, things got better. One day, I found a little green onesie that said ‘I’m always on active doodie” and I bought it, because it was so cute. We also got a pak-n-play at home. Even having one that clothing item and a pak-n-play made me feel more prepared. The more knowledge I got from my OB and the more I spoke with my therapist, the better I felt.
For weeks, I avoided thinking about how I really felt about the pregnancy. My therapist said, "Even if you only focus on one day at a time, you have to accept that you are pregnant and you are going to have a baby, and whether you keep him or give him up, you will be forever changed. You have to accept this. You will always be his mom, even if you place him for adoption, and you won’t just go back to the life you had." And that really had an impact on me.
Portrait of an Adoption: After that conversation, what was your thinking?
E: I was about 21 weeks along at that conversation. After that session, I would say things about the baby and refer to him as ‘my son’ and it made me realize I was accepting the baby. Once I found out the baby’s gender, he was more real to me, and I couldn’t deny what was happening.
Portrait of an Adoption: What were your reasons for potentially placing him for adoption?
E: I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t so much about financially not being able to take care of him. I do need to finish school and get a career, but I know I will do that and then I will be able to provide for him. It was more about losing myself. I felt like I was losing who I was instead of gaining another side of myself. I thought, my life, the way that I know it, is over, because I’m going to have this human that I’m responsible for. I still think my mom struggles with picturing me as a mom, but she has been more understanding than I thought she would be. My dad, to my surprise, even got excited. He even offered to adopt the baby. I was shocked by how many people offered to adopt when they heard I was considering adoption. Babies bring something out in people.
Portrait of an Adoption: How did you move from viewing the pregnancy as a negative (i.e. my life as I know it is over) and transition into it as something that could be positive?
E: A lot of it had to do my therapist. We talked a lot about stuff like that. He showed me that I’m not losing myself; I’m becoming a different version of me. It kind of clicked that I can be me and be a mom. I felt like I could accept it.
Portrait of an Adoption: How do you feel the world is viewing you now as young and pregnant?
E: I feel like a lot of people are judging me, because I’m choosing to be a single young mom. Certain people get excited for me and are so happy for me, but some of my friends act like they are sorry for me that I’m pregnant. I think it depends on their own background as to how they react. Most people ask me first, ‘Are You Excited?’ And after they see how I feel, then they know how to react.
Portrait of an Adoption: How do you feel about questions about the dad?
E: I understand why people ask, but at the same time, it’s hard not to get irritated, because it’s none of their business. My relationship with the birth father was not healthy, and I do not feel like we need to be together in a romantic relationship in order to be parents. But I still have a decent non-romantic relationship with him, and we can both be parents.
Portrait of an Adoption: How has your pregnancy changed your view of girls in your situation?
E: A lot of times, I remember looking on Facebook and seeing my friends that are the same age as me having kids, and I would react like, "Ugh, that doesn’t surprise me; I figured that would happen to her." I was kind of cruel about it. But now that I’m actually going through it and I see other young girls posting that they are going to be a mom, I’m like, "stuff happens." I’m more open-minded.
Portrait of an Adoption: Do you have any doubts at this point about keeping the baby?
E: I feel 100% sure about keeping him, but sometimes I worry that it isn’t the right choice, because I’m young and not with the father. I do feel it will be okay. I need to find the right support. My mom is good support.
Portrait of an Adoption: Your own mom placed a baby for adoption but also raised two kids alone as a single mom, which has had a huge impact on her life. How much has her situation affected your decision making?
E: I feel like she has affected me a lot. I thought, how and I going to raise a kid on my own? But then I saw that my mom did it with TWO kids without my dad, and so if she can do it, I can do it. It wasn’t always easy growing up, and we don’t always have a nice house, but we can do it. My mom’s placement showed me that adoption is not about not whether or not you want your kids, that it’s about a lot more than that, it’s that you love your kid so much that you want them to have a better life than you can give them. It’s about sharing a miracle.
Portrait of an Adoption: What would you want to say to other young women who are pregnant and scared and alone?
E: Take everything one day at a time. Figure out how you feel about things. No matter what decision you make, it will work out. The people who truly love you will understand.
Portrait of an Adoption: What are you most excited about for when the baby arrives?
E: Kisses and snuggles.
Portrait of an Adoption: What are you most scared about?
E: Making mistakes.
Portrait of an Adoption: What supports do you have lined up to help you?
E: I’ll stay on my antidepressants, and I’ll continue doing therapy. I’m taking classes at a place called The Pregnancy Help Center. They do so much for moms! Their main focus is mental and physical health of mom and baby. That’s where I found my therapist. Even after the baby is born, they offer support. They even have a store with baby supplies, and for each appointment you keep, you get credits to buy baby things. It’s a good place to learn.
Portrait of an Adoption: When you were a little girl, you and your brother came out of foster care and returned to your mom. Your younger sister came out of foster care, and your mom placed her for adoption with our family. Our family is forever part of your family. How can we, your younger sister’s family, be a support to you?
E: By loving me, by loving my baby, by supporting my choice to keep him. Do pretty much what you are doing.
E’s baby was born in September of 2016. He is a happy, thriving newborn, and E loves him with all her heart.
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