What were the circumstances around your pregnancy?
I was 21, attending classes at a community college, and working full time as a server at a local restaurant. I was living between my alcoholic, bipolar mom in a small town in Illinois, and my boyfriend who lived with his parents near Iowa where I worked.
What were your initial thoughts and feelings when you realized you were pregnant?
I was afraid and I wanted to have a medical abortion (abortion pill). I had missed my birth control pills for 2 days, and the pregnancy was completely unintentional.
What made you consider adoption as an option? Was it a difficult decision for you?
When I notified the father of our pregnancy, he first convinced me we should consider getting married and start a family. I decided to forgo the abortion since I didn’t have enough money for one ($500), and it seemed likely the father and I could make it work…until I discovered he was cheating on me! When I confronted him, he accused me of infidelity and denied being the father of our unborn child. I was in a pretty tough spot. The accusations he made were untrue, but it also appeared we would not be able to make the relationship work after all, especially if I couldn’t forgive his actions.
I reached out to my father, who said: “I want to support you if you keep the baby, and even if you want an abortion, I just don’t want to see you give it up.” He ultimately agreed to fund the procedure but never followed through. By the time I realized my Dad wasn’t actually going to provide the financial support for the abortion, I was more than 14 weeks along. At 14 weeks an abortion costs exponentially more and would have been a far more invasive medical procedure. I was not ready for motherhood and that’s when I decided to pursue the path of adoption.
Did you have anyone support you through your decision to make an adoption plan?
My sister was incredibly supportive. She was the one I would count on for everything, actually. She made the pregnancy bearable. Once I decided on a family, their adoption agency provided a therapist to come out once a month, and she was helpful as well. My mother was only supportive of me keeping the baby and becoming a single mother. My dad felt the same (they’re divorced). Aunts and uncles, and even friends were mildly supportive of my decision, although they would encourage me to consider keeping my son. From about 12 weeks on, the father was not in the picture. He denied paternity and withdrew himself from the situation.
Did you know anyone at the time who had placed a baby for adoption? Did you know anyone who had been adopted? How did this influence your decision?
I did not know anyone at the time who had placed a baby for adoption. I may have known a few who were adopted, but I can’t honestly say if this affected my decision one way or the other. In reality, I was trying to make the most of a bad situation, and regardless of others’ experiences, I knew I did not want to be a parent, and that thousands of other people did.
Did you work with an agency? How was that experience?
The adoptive parents used an agency. They were very helpful and even provided a counselor to help me with the process. My counselor was great. I traveled once to the agency with the adoptive parents while I was pregnant. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
What made you choose the family that you chose to adopt your child?
To be honest, it was the first family I chose to meet with and I instantly fell in love with Kim. She was very kind to me from day one. The father was a minister (I was agnostic at the time, now atheist and anti-theist), but they were both reasonable with religion, and I could see in their faces that they would love my son unconditionally.
Did you have any specific requests for that family?
Not particularly. I knew I wanted some degree of open adoption but I didn’t know exactly what that would look like.
Do you still maintain a relationship with your child and the adoptive family?
Yes, for the first year or so I was still living in my hometown, and I would see them once every couple of months. As time went on, the time between visits grew, and I think both parties are happy with the contact we keep now. I always get a text on “Birthmother’s Day,” the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and they make sure I’m informed of any updated addresses or phone numbers.
What has your life been like since the birth and adoption? What are your hopes looking into the future?
Today I’m a Registered Nurse, I live in a great city and have an amazing husband, who I will one day start a family with. I felt relieved after the adoption process was complete. I can’t deny that it was hard to say goodbye to someone I spent 10 months growing, but I also couldn’t imagine sending my child to daycare or to some other stranger 12+ hours a day to work 2 minimum wage jobs, while resenting my life (and possibly my child) like so many people I see. I’m very grateful for my son’s parents. Without people like them, many other children could find themselves without patient, loving adults to care for them.
For some reason it seems like no one wants to hear me say, “I’d rather have had an abortion,” but this is the truth. It would have been easier in a lot of ways. Instead, I get to experience the societal shame surrounding birthmothers. People saying things like…
How could you give your child away?
What kind of mother gives her child to someone else?
What if you find out you’ll never be able to have children and you gave your only son away?!
It’s unfortunate that I still feel like I have to hold on to this secret I carry – that I can’t fully share my story. This very blog entry will be anonymous because my husband’s family is unaware of my previous pregnancy. It will be anonymous because the friends I’ve made in Chicago are mostly unaware of my pregnancy as well. I think society can do a much better job of encouraging access to affordable birth control and abortion options if that’s someone’s choice, access to affordable education, and better resources for single mothers. My hope for the future is that we have fewer women in the unfortunate situation of being a birthmother. Until that day, maybe sharing this story will allow birthmothers to feel less alone.