I often find myself pondering the words by the American mythologist, Joseph Campbell: “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” They strike a chord with me, especially when I compare it to the adoption. I’m a birth mother, and the life I was living before I was pregnant wasn’t necessarily a terrible life, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I had plans: Ending up single and pregnant were not in them. My plans were changed instantly, I gave up on dreams, and I signed away a particular future, but the life that was waiting for me was one of beauty and fulfillment. The pain experienced in order to give my son the life he deserves is hopefully something I can channel to help comfort those in need of comfort.
My plans did not include a Hollywood version of Juno. They actually followed more closely to the Father of the Bride series. While I understand that everybody’s plans change, they should not change as drastically as mine did at 20. There I was, thinking I was living my life in a socially acceptable way, when one morning my entire future changed–as well as my identity. I was responsible with my son’s birth father, but I suppose my 8th grade health teacher was right was he told my class that abstinence is the only method of birth control that is 100% guaranteed. I planned on finishing college, starting a career, finding my handsome prince charming, and starting a family. I would have been OK with a few bumps in the road, but overall, that was supposed to be the synopsis for my life. Nothing exciting, nothing painful, nothing really special.
I ended up pregnant, and I became a statistic. And in a world where it is increasingly more acceptable to be a single parent, my plans for my child were outside of the norm. I took a semester off from college, which certainly paused my career plans. My prince was going to have to wait, and as far as starting a family goes, well, I wasn’t sure being a single mother was the way it was supposed to happen for me. I admire those people out there that can handle being a single parent. It must be a very trying experience for them. There are those who handle it with grace, but for me, single parenting was not something that I thought was appropriate for myself or for the child I was carrying. When I became pregnant and decided to place my son, I gave up the life I had planned.
Luckily, there was a life that was waiting for me. After placement, I had a new identity to assume. The baggage of my past was both a burden and blessing. Because of those who did not understand, I felt the weight of negative opinions dragging me into the floor. It took years, and sometimes I still need reminding, to see my decision in the proper light. While my plans did change in a very dramatic fashion, I was still able to graduate and find my prince charming. My “career” has been replaced by adoption advocacy. In my adoption, I’m able to actively participate in my son’s life. He’s able to participate in mine. He’s friends with the child my husband and I have, we go on “birth mother/son” dates with him when he’s in town. I go to birth mother panels, adoption conferences, high school health classes, and so on. The life that was waiting for me is a life full of beauty, full of gratification and has made me feel needed in this world.
I placed my son, I gave up the life I had planned, and I found the life that was waiting for me. While I had never planned on being single and pregnant, I had planned on being a mother. Without adoption, I would feel a hole in my heart that would be eternally empty and would never have known why I felt that way. Yes, there’s a hole in my heart where my son should be. While I know that I cannot fill that hole with all of the adoption panels in the world, I know I can find purpose in my pain. I can help another young girl help herself.
I urge you all to ponder the words by Joseph Campbell I have repeated so purposefully today, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” Ponder, rethink, and realize how important you are in this world. No one decision is insignificant, not even the one that leads you to being single and pregnant. That one decision can ultimately lead to improve the world around you, if you allow it.