Thursday, October 21, 2010

Choosing to be Happy and finding a way to be OK :)

My story starts back in 2007. I was sixteen, and I got my first job at a local amusement park, where I met R. We began dating shortly after meeting, and by the end of the summer, I was pregnant. My cousin found out, and forced us to tell the entire family. We had to sit and make phone call after phone call to all of my aunts and uncles. Needless to say, none of them were very supportive. A lot of my relationships with family members became severely damaged during that time, and remained so for quite a while. It was a rough pregnancy. I was extremely stressed, and I had horrible morning sickness. I couldn’t keep anything down, and I lost a lot of weight. When I was about four months along, I had a miscarriage. My family chose to pretend the pregnancy and miscarriage had never happened.

After the miscarriage, my family forced R and I to break up. R moved to SC, and my family shipped me off to live with relatives in NC. Eventually, we both ended up back in GA, and started secretly hanging out. In fall of ’08, R called and asked me to go out to dinner as “friends”, and I agreed. One thing led to another that night, and a month later I realized I was pregnant again. I told R, but we both chose to ignore it for the most part. As R said, “What’s the point of making any plans? You’ll just have another miscarriage.” After the first pregnancy, I figured he was probably right; especially as I had been told I may not ever have children.

The months passed and I continued to keep it a secret, from everyone. I acted like nothing was happening; I continued hanging out with friends, even going on trips. Eventually I began to realize this pregnancy wasn’t going to end in miscarriage. I began to panic. By this point I was almost 6 months pregnant, with no job, and no plan. I began to talk to R about adoption. I searched on Google and found an agency located in California that did adoptions across the US. I contacted them and they sent me a packet of forms to fill out. I filled it out with R, but didn’t send it back. Something just didn’t feel right… So, I called them and told them we had found a couple on our own.

By this time, my mother had grown suspicious, and one day she finally came right out and asked me if I was pregnant. I said yes, and I told her we were looking at adoption. I explained that since I was 18, I was doing things on my own this time, and I did not want the rest of the family to know. I did not want to deal with everyone else’s thoughts and opinions on my situation. I needed only people who would be supportive. She agreed, and suggested I go to Care Net Pregnancy Resource center for a proof of pregnancy test and counseling.

While I was there we talked about adoption, and they had me watch a video of Mark Shultz’s song “Everything to me”. In the video, he talks about how he is adopted, and how he wrote this song for his birthmother. Songs and movies never make me cry, but this one had tears rolling down my cheeks. I had this overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be OK, and that adoption really was the choice I should make. My counselors came back in and prayed with me, and by the time I left everyone was in tears!

The ladies at Care Net told me there was an ultrasound training happening the next day, and they were doing free ultrasounds. I signed up immediately, and went the next day with my mother (R was out of town). I was SO relieved to find out that the baby was ok and healthy. The ultrasound technician asked me if I knew what I was having, and after telling her no, she moved the scanner over and asked if I could tell. It was obvious, I was having a boy! I started crying as soon as I found out, and I texted R immediately to tell him.

Care Net had given me a list of local adoption agencies, but a few of them had a star by them. I decided to check out the first one with a star, Catholic Charities, and dragged R along with me. We met with Sandy, and at this point I can’t even remember what all we talked about. I do remember that I left feeling at peace, and knowing that this was the agency we would use. We began counseling sessions with Lacell, and she really pushed us to exhaust all resources that could help us parent before we got serious about adoption. Her unbiased counseling is something I have really come to appreciate.

In April, when I was about eight months pregnant, we wrote down a wish list of sorts for what we wanted in our sons’ adoptive parents. The week after that Lacell gave us two profiles to start out with. We didn’t have much to say about the first profile, and before giving us the second Lacell explained they were an interracial couple like us (which is what we wanted), and they had been approved just the week before. As we started reading through the profile, we started grinning from ear to ear. They were everything we wanted. They were perfect. We set up a visit with them and their 3 yr old son J (who had also been adopted and was also a black/white baby) for the next week. The meeting went amazingly well, and as soon as it was over R and I agreed without a doubt that they were the ones.

A few weeks later on May 20th, I had a C-section. There were a few complications and I had to be sedated, so I don’t remember anything after feeling him being pulled out of me and hearing his cries. I had Robbie at 4:53 pm, but because of the complications, I didn’t actually see him until after 9 pm that night. They rolled him into my room and placed him in my arms. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. We spent the next three days in the hospital together; R and I kept him with us the entire time with the exception of when they took him to be circumcised or weighed and measured. We had M and S (the adoptive parents) come to visit only once, for a half hour or so. They gave R a watch, and me a necklace that I wear all the time. They each held Robbie, and S (the dad) fed him. The visit was short and sweet. I believe this is how it should be done, as your time in the hospital is YOUR time, not theirs. It is also the only time you will have to parent your child. Trust me, they have the rest of your child’s life to bond with him/her. You don’t.

The day I was discharged from the hospital, I spent the whole morning holding Robbie. I kept him on my bed with me, holding him close, trying to memorize everything about him. I used that time alone to let myself cry and tell him how much I love him, and that I was sorry. That afternoon I got him dressed in the go home outfit I’d bought him, and took pictures with my family. Once it was time to go, I carried him down to the nursery where the social worker was waiting. After kissing him goodbye and telling him I love him, I placed him in the bassinette and forced myself to walk away. As I started to walk away, he began screaming his head off. It was like he knew what was happening. Let me tell you, signing the papers was a walk in the park compared to walking away from my crying son.

The next few weeks were some of the hardest in my life. I spent most of my time crying in my room or in the shower, wondering if I had made the right decision. My every thought was about Robbie. Where was he? What was he doing? Was he ok? What did he look like now? Does he miss me? I felt so completely numb. My womb was empty, my arms literally ached to hold him, and my heart felt as though it had been ripped from my chest. To make things worse, I experienced “ghost kicks”, where you feel as though there is still a baby kicking you from inside. It was a very painful reminder of what I no longer had.

We received our first email from M just a few days after they had gotten Robbie. She told us all about his first doctors visit, how much he weighed, how long he slept at night, how much he was eating, what his name was, etc. It was so comforting to receive that email. It let me know that they really did want an open adoption. We emailed every week, with M sending us TWO sets of pictures in the first month. After a few weeks of emailing, I hesitantly brought up the possibility of setting up a visit. M agreed right away, and we set up a visit for the first week of July.

I was so nervous and anxious about the visit I didn’t sleep the night before, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat ANYTHING the whole day (this happened every time I had a visit, for about six months). The visit was a bit awkward at first, but M and S were so welcoming, that it wasn’t hard to just relax and have fun. R and I ended up spending the entire day with them, staying for lunch and dinner. We spent the day playing with J and Robbie, and just talking and getting to know each other better. I figured I would cry when I had to leave Robbie again, but I was able to leave that visit with a smile on my face and a full heart. Seeing how happy and loved Robbie was helped me to know I had made the right decision.

It’s been 17 months, and things have certainly gotten easier since that first visit. I no longer agonize over what to say in my emails/texts/facebook messages; I am now able to get a full night sleep before each visit, and when I’m hungry, I just open up their fridge and find something to eat! They have truly become extended family to me, and I can honestly say M is one of my dearest friends. We talk about everything under the sun, and some times we meet up and hang out, just the two of us. Our relationship started because of adoption, but it has evolved into so much more than that.

That doesn’t mean our situation is perfect. We’ve had our ups and downs, we’ve had disagreements (though they have been handled respectfully), and there were a few months our contact was limited. I’ve been diagnosed with major depression and slight post traumatic stress disorder. There have been months when I thought things would never get better, and days where I couldn’t get out of bed.

Adoption isn’t rainbows and butterflies. It’s hard, and complicated. You have to be willing to work through things. You have to take the good with the bad, just like with every relationship. You have to choose to be happy. Once you do that, you may just find a way to be OK with everything.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It made me cry! In a good way! Your son is just ridiculously adorable and obviously well loved. Bravo to you and Robbie.

  2. Great story. I love the perspective - yes, adoption isn't just rainbows and butterflies. It is painful and messy...but it can be beautiful and a good choice.

  3. You are a very wise, strong, brave woman. Love the pics, thanks so much for sharing. I love open adoption!

  4. Thanks ladies, you all are great! And thank you Karine, for letting me share my story :)

    A Life Being Lived- I happen to agree with you, I think Robbie is ridiculously adorable too! lol

  5. This story hit home for me.. VERY MUCH SO!!