My name is Aleisa and I am 28 years old. I recently got married to a wonderful, sweet guy this past September. My life has come quite a long way since November 17, 1992, when I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant at 19 years old. Going through an adoption was probably the hardest thing I have ever encountered in all of my life, but I thank God that I am able to look back on all of it and smile. Of course there will always be that little ache in my heart, but it subsides in knowing that my child is enjoying a much better life than I could have offered her at that time in my life.
When I was in high school, it seemed like every other week there was a new rumor going around about someone else being pregnant. I was always under the false sense of security that that only happened to other people. Never in a million years would something like that happen to ME. I managed to graduate from high school sans child, and I even made it through a year of college! But then suddenly one day, my whole world came crashing down. One simple mistake, one tiny error, and my life was changed forever. I was angry. Not angry at the child for coming into existence, but at myself for being so irresponsible. I knew I had several options to choose from, but it has always been my opinion that everything happens for a reason. For some reason, unknown to me yet at that time, this child was supposed to be here in this world and I didn’t feel that it was my right to deny that child a life. It may have been more convenient to choose abortion. No one would have to know except me. But then I knew I would constantly wonder who that child might have become, and because of a decision I made, I would never know. I ruled out abortion. My next two choices were either to parent or to choose adoption.
When I thought about adoption, it didn’t really appeal to me. “Who in their right mind could bear to part with their own flesh and blood?” I thought to myself. It just didn’t seem possible. I had a few friends who were adopted, but they never talked about it. In grade school I remembered a girl up the street who got pregnant in high school and chose adoption for her baby. It was all very mysterious and then they moved away. That was the extent of my knowledge about adoption. No more, no less. Parenting my child seemed to be the best choice to me at that time. I thought for sure my parents would help me, and besides, I knew people MUCH younger than 19 who did it.
I told my parents that I was pregnant, and needless to say, they were not at all pleased. They told me they would support me emotionally, but not financially. If I decided to parent this child, it was going to be solely up to me. I would not be allowed to live under their roof. I should not expect them to babysit when I wanted to go out with my friends and party. They were not running a daycare at the house. I would also need to find arrangements for my child while I worked. My plans of finishing college would have to be put on hold for a day when my child had grown up and I had time, energy, and money. When they put it to me hard and cold like that I was crushed. I could not understand how they could be so cruel! It took quite awhile, but after I stood back up and REALLY looked at the situation, I could understand where they were coming from. My parents became my mom and dad at a very young age. They became mom and dad to three more children over the next 10 years, and everyone was almost grown up. They were finished changing dirty diapers and getting up at 3 in the morning for feedings. If they wanted more children, I’m sure they would have had more. Four was quite enough, and it was not at all fair for me to expect them to be secondary parents to my baby while I finished growing up and partied with my friends.
As much as I hated to admit it at first, adoption was probably the best decision for my child and myself, considering my circumstances. The birth father was young too and just as incapable at that time of supporting a family as I was. We both knew there was no possible way to make it work between us. Because of difficulties between ourselves and our families, we did not see much of each other throughout my pregnancy. Fortunately, those issues have since been resolved, but 8 years ago, they were a big deal. I was under the assumption that my child would have no father figure. That was one thing that really made me sad. I tried to imagine what my life would have been like without my DAD! My Dad was my buddy when I was a little girl (and still is). We’d go to the park and swing, take bus rides up the street, and take walks up to the corner drug store to get Chuckles gum drops. Without my Dad, those particular happy and fun memories wouldn’t be there. IF I chose adoption, I could be assured that my child would have both a mother and a father who were always there. And maybe brothers or sisters. If I ever had anymore children, it would be YEARS down the road. They would not at all be close in age. IF I chose adoption, my child would be guaranteed a good life. A life without poverty. IF I chose adoption, I could complete my college education and prepare myself for a successful future and become a productive member of society. I could concentrate on school and a part-time job and not have to attempt to fit parenting into that equation.
Adoption was of course the logical answer to all of my problems. The only problem was my aching heart. I wanted so badly to be a good mother to this unborn baby that was kicking around inside of me. I would love her beyond comprehension. I would do everything in my power to take care of her and to be a good mother to her. But the fact of the matter was, MY BEST WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Not at that point in my life. Since I loved this unborn baby already to the incredible great extent that I did, I wanted only the BEST for her. The BEST most beautiful baby nursery. The BEST foods. The BEST medical care. The BEST schools. The BEST neighborhood to live in. And I wanted the BEST parents for her. Sadly, I knew I was not that nor could I have provided her with all of that. My love would always be there, but love doesn’t put food on the table. Love doesn’t put clothes on her back. Love doesn’t pay tuition. Love doesn’t keep the house from getting broken into because you’re forced to live in a bad neighborhood. Love doesn’t buy toys, strollers, cribs, bottles, medicine, etc. It is NOT my family or friends’ responsibility to provide me with the cost of living. Nor is it the responsibility of the government and tax payers to take care of my situation because I chose to be irresponsible and bring a child into the world when I was not ready or capable of taking care of her on my own. Yes, I could have taken this baby home from the hospital with me and I could have made it work. I could have gotten by, but that’s all I’d be doing is JUST “getting by.” I am not the type of person who settles for second best. Just “getting by” isn’t good enough for me or a child of mine. My children deserve better. I deserve better.
When I found out that I was pregnant I started writing a journal to my unborn baby. I wrote this journal to tell her about me and WHY I chose adoption for her, IF I was actually going to go through with it. But I think I changed my mind every other day. One day adoption seemed like the best decision I could ever possibly make, and then the next day I was adamantly against it, trying to convince myself that I was going to be the perfect mother (amidst the unicorns and fairy godmothers running around in the front yard of our palace). Hopefully someday, my little girl will read my journal to her and understand all the reasons why I could not be a good mother to her at that time and why I chose the family that she is now a part of for her. It was in no way because I didn’t WANT her. I wanted that baby girl more than anything in the world, but first and foremost, I wanted what was best for her, and someday she will know that.
I met the adoptive family through word of mouth and established a great friendship with them throughout my pregnancy. They had a little boy they had adopted two years prior to my situation, and on one occasion I got to meet him. I never would have known he was adopted had I not been told he was. They were a completely normal, happy family. After that it wasn’t so hard to imagine my baby as a part of their family. They never pressured me into making this decision, and told me that if it wasn’t right for me, they understood. But if I did want to go through with making adoption plans, they promised me they would be good parents to my baby, and they would let her know from the very beginning that she was adopted. They would tell her how much I love her, and I made this decision BECAUSE of my great love for her. It would never be a secret. I was about 7 months along when it was set in my mind that I was definitely going to choose adoption. It was still hard to think about at times, but not completely unbearable. If I ever felt sad or down about it, I had so many loving friends and family and the adoptive couple that would lend a shoulder to cry on. So many people were there for me, including a professor at U.C. where I was attending college. She had made adoption plans for her child 13 years prior to my situation. In talking with her and spending time with her, I came to the realization that I COULD get through this. I wasn’t going to become severely depressed for the rest of my life, I wasn’t going to fall off the deep end, and I wasn’t going to lose my sanity. This woman set an example for me that life goes on. Yes, it’s very hard, and you will cry until it seems like you couldn’t possibly shed another tear. You will experience overwhelming heartache and you will miss that baby more than anything in the world, especially on her first birthday and all of the birthdays to follow. Mother’s Day is hard, and so are many of the holidays when all of the family is together. It always feels like someone is missing. You learn to deal with it though, and light a candle in your heart and mind for that precious child that you not only gave life to, but a wonderful life to live in. After her child was born, she continued her education, became a college professor, and married a wonderful husband. When I met her, she had just given birth to her second child. She was not depressed or crazy (in fact very far from it). I thank God that our paths crossed, because she really was a tremendous help to me. She was someone who had been in my shoes and knew exactly what I was going through.
On the very early morning hours of July 23rd, 1993 the most beautiful, tiny baby girl was born. After several hours of labor, I finally got to set my eyes on the little acrobat who used to somersault around in my belly while I was trying to sleep so many countless nights. I’ll never forget the sound of her very first cry. She was more perfect than I could have ever imagined. And so tiny. “Why did you have to make her soooo cute, God! Now it’s going to be even harder to part with her!!” When they placed her in my arms for the first time, I felt such a sea of emotions. Here she was! Finally! After all of this waiting! But then I’d suddenly become so sad as I remembered I wasn’t going to get to take her home with me. I forced myself to concentrate on the glowing smiles of her adoptive parents. They were so thrilled. So happy that they had not only a little boy, but now a little girl too. Because of a decision I was making, their dreams of a family were coming true. They cried when they held her for the first time, as did everyone there in the labor room.
While I was in the hospital, I thought it might make it even harder to part with my baby if I spent too much time with her. But the fact of the matter was, I had already grown attached to her throughout my pregnancy. I didn’t want to risk the regret of not having spent time with her, so I had the nurse bring her to me the next day. I was there all by myself with her for a few hours. The visitors hadn’t arrived yet. I stroked her soft black hair and touched her warm little cheeks. Every so often she would flash a beautiful little dream smile at me. She was an unexpected, but very loved and very wanted miracle. I whispered to her that she was the most beautiful baby girl and told her how much I loved her. Maybe her little subconscious mind will someday remember those words I whispered to her on that beautiful July morning.
The visitors soon arrived and I was surrounded by flowers, hugs, and words of kindness. I don’t think my parents were expecting the baby to be there in the room with me, but they instantly fell in love with her, holding her and kissing her tiny head. The elevator probably couldn’t get up to the maternity ward fast enough for the adoptive parents. Their excitement and happiness were so precious to me. I knew they were meant to be my baby’s parents. They “pretend” argued about who got to hold her first. I think she melted her daddy’s heart from the moment he saw her. I could tell she was going to be Daddy’s Little Girl.
Those two days that I got to spend with my baby were the best days of my entire life. I wanted those days to last forever, but sadly I knew they would come to an end, and all too soon. Upon my discharge from the hospital, I had two choices: I could either have the baby discharged with me and she would go home with the adoptive parents immediately, or the baby would stay in the hospital and go home with the adoptive parents after I signed the adoption papers, which would be in a couple of days (72 hours after the date of birth). I didn’t like the idea of just “leaving” her there in the hospital. I wanted to be the one to hand her over to her adoptive parents and to say my final goodbye to her. So I arranged to have her discharged with me. After we left the hospital, my parents, brother, sisters, grandparents, and friends met the adoptive parents in Eden Park in a little gazebo across from the Conservatory. My little girl’s birth father was also there with his two sisters, which really meant a lot to me. I didn’t know what was going to take place once we got there, I just had to play it all by ear. I let everyone have a final turn holding the baby before I handed her over to her parents. I congratulated them on their new baby and told them to let her know how much I will always love her. They both hugged me at the same time and assured me she would definitely know. They thanked me for this precious gift through their tears of happiness (and yes, some sorrow). While their happiness was contagious to me, some of my sorrow was contagious to them.
No one, unless they have ever actually done it, could EVER understand the strength that was involved to walk away from that gazebo that day. I just held my breath and held my head up high and prayed to God for strength. I managed to get through it, but I know it would have been twice as hard if I didn’t have so much support and love from my family and friends and especially God. They really carried me through it all. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my little girl in some way, shape, or form.
I’m extremely proud of my decision because it worked out so positively for everyone involved. My little girl won. She is part of a loving and stable family. She goes to good schools and gets to go on awesome vacations that I never could have taken her on (even still!). She has a brother and a sister, a mom and dad, and tons of extended family who all love her so much. The adoptive parents won. Their dreams of children became a reality. They are now the proud parents of three beautiful children, when they once thought it was an impossibility. I won. I got to continue with my college education, I found a great job, I traveled all over the world, and I finally met the man of my dreams who I just married on September 1st of this year. Had I not made adoption plans, I’m sure my life would have taken a completely different route, and I never would have met my wonderful husband. After all is said and done, I can proudly say that I have no regrets and I am very content with my decision.
My little girl is 8 years old now. I have a semi-open adoption where we exchange letters and pictures every year or so, but we don’t see each other. In open adoptions the rules are made up by the birth parents and the adoptive parents. You are able to establish as much or as little contact with each other– whatever both parties are comfortable with. Right now, the exchange of pictures and letters is what works for us, but I’m sure is open to change someday.
I have been doing volunteer public speaking for a non-profit organization called Adoption Option, Inc. for 8 years now (since my little girl was 3 months old). I read about them in the newspaper and started doing public speaking as a way to help heal my pain. I think it was very therapeutic to hear myself justify the reasons why I made my decision. I also felt that if I could change just ONE person’s life for the better through telling my story, then it was all worth it. I was never one for getting up in front of a crowd of people and speaking about ANYTHING. Public speaking was one of my worst fears. But suddenly, something came along in my life that was SO important and so meaningful that I had to put aside my fears and reservations and just get up there and DO IT. Giving my speech now is almost second nature and I can’t even get nervous about it anymore.
That is my story– which I hope I covered completely. If you have ANY questions or comments, what-so-ever, I would really love to hear from you. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.