Read the previous article in this series: Life After Placement Was Made Bearable by My Truest Friend
There are numerous reasons a woman considers placing a child for adoption. Whether she is single or married, a teenager or not, with a good support system or not so much, the ultimate decision to abort, keep, or place is one that will haunt her for the rest of her life. For me, I was 16 years old, with a loving, supportive family and an awesome boyfriend. I was simply too young. It was 1984 and choosing to place was a forever deal—closed and sealed with no choice about who the parents would be and with no option of ever seeing your baby again. This is my story about grief and healing but most of all, about love. I dedicate this series for all birth moms, whether their adoption was closed, partial, or open, for their sacrifice and grief and loss that is so profound and so deep and complex that even their closest loved ones don’t truly understand. May you find healing and peace.
The year and a half after I had my son before high school graduation had a semblance of teenaged normalcy. I went to school, had a part-time job, was a band geek and wrote for the school newspaper and yearbook, went to church youth things, went to movies and ice cream with friends, and went to junior prom (which was a disaster). I was more open and honest with people and felt confident in lots of ways, but even though I had begun to heal from much of who I had been prior to becoming a birth mom, becoming a birth mom had also created new baggage that I had to face.
My newfound confidence came from my faith in God and Jesus Christ, but I still struggled with faith in myself. I truly thought that no guy in my church would ever want me because I was “tainted,” and I had never thought that I was the kind of girl that most guys would like anyway—I was average-looking and smart and didn’t party. I was the kind of girl who guys called to ask about homework or if I would help them get together with one of my friends. I had a lot of guy friends that I never thought would never think of me as more than that. I tried to act like I didn’t care, but I really did. I knew what it was like to love and be loved romantically, and it was hard to see it all around me but not have it in my own life.
The summer after my son was born, there was a small party to which my friends and I were invited. I don’t remember the occasion, but it was at a friend’s house with parents and without alcohol. Things were a bit weird and superficial, like all high school shindigs are, but I was holding my own. It was my first real social event since I became a birth mom. I did great, until . . . Robert walked through the door. Robert. My son’s birth father. I had not seen him since about a month before our son was born. I didn’t know what to do. Part of me wanted to hide, part of me wanted to show my confidence and defiance, and part of me wanted to be nonchalant. I hoped that he wouldn’t stay and I wouldn’t have to deal with an awkward situation. Everyone there knew about us.
He didn’t see me at first and talked with several people. When he spotted me, his eyes went wide, and he was stunned for a minute. I smiled. We both talked with our friends for a bit, but feeling more than a little panicked, I went downstairs to collect myself. I was only there a couple of minutes before Robert followed me.
“Are you, ah . . . okay?” He was genuinely concerned and genuinely wanted to know. After a few minutes, the walls melted away and he asked about his son. We just talked. Before I knew it, my friend was looking for me because I was her ride. Robert and I had talked for a couple of hours without even knowing.
After dropping off my friend, I drove around for a while. I was conflicted. When Robert and I had broken up I still loved him. I did it to be able to put my life back together. I still loved him. I truly didn’t think that there would ever be a guy who would like me now. By the time I got home, I had decided that I would just drop it and hope he would never call and I would just keep doing what I had been doing—surviving and coping.
It wasn’t long before we were back together. The only real regret I have through this chapter in my life is getting back with him. We should have talked, had some closure, and moved on with our lives. Instead, we tried to resurrect what we had, but it wasn’t possible. We had both changed too much. Because of my fear that Robert was the only guy who would ever accept me, I hung on. For a little while, I forgot one of the lessons that I had learned—that as long as I had Jesus Christ by my side, I was enough by myself and was not truly alone. It was a lesson I had to relearn the hard way.
Read the next article in this series: A Year and a Half After Placement, I Was Able to Begin College