Read the previous article in this series: I Knew That Healing Would Require a Painful Sacrifice
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.
Let go and let God. That is so much easier said than done. When I allowed myself to succumb to God’s will and to put my trust in Him, my newfound faith was tested. I had to break up with my baby’s father. It didn’t make sense. He was the reverse of the stereotypical teenaged father. He was supportive. He didn’t abandon me. He took responsibility. I was his world, and I knew that he would do anything for me. I had felt exactly the same for him, until I discovered someone who loved me even more—my Heavenly Father.
In order for me to do what I knew was right, I had to abstain from sex. That meant that I could no longer be with Robert. Once that bridge has been crossed with someone, especially when you still love each other, it is almost impossible not to cross it again. I tried my best to explain all this to Robert. I tried to help him understand. He begged me to stay. He couldn’t keep his own tears at bay, and I couldn’t keep mine. I did everything I knew to help him understand, but because he wasn’t of my faith, he simply didn’t. I know that I broke his heart.
Shortly after the school year was over, I went to an appointment with my social worker and was asked to bring my parents along. In this appointment, I was asked something that totally caught me off guard: Did I want to live at home for my pregnancy?
“What? What do you mean?”
My counselor explained, “Sometimes it is felt that if a girl is going to place her baby for adoption, it is best for everyone involved if she moves away from her hometown and lives in a foster family for the last few months, until the baby is born. It is thought that it is easier for the girl to ease back into her life if most people haven’t seen her enormously pregnant. She can just come home and when people see her like she was before, that the stigma of getting pregnant in high school won’t be so bad.”
“You mean that I would live with some strangers during the most difficult time of my life? That I wouldn’t be with my mom and dad? My friends?”
My dad spoke up, “LisaBug. This is so hard. Your mom and I have been talking to Mike (my counselor, not his real name), and we want you to have every chance to come back and start over. We want you to have every possibly opportunity for success. We don’t want you to go. It’s killing us just even thinking about it (my mom was crying by this time), and we don’t want you to think we are abandoning you. We aren’t. We love you more than anything. We just want to make your life as easy as possible when no matter what we do it’s going to be so hard. Please understand. We aren’t sending you away. It’s your decision. If you want to stay, you can. We will love you and help you while you are here.”
My counselor piped in, “Your parents and I have been talking, and they don’t want to send you to a stranger’s house, so I’ve talked with my wife and with my supervisor. I have been given permission for you to live with us.”
I liked Mike, very much. I thought he was a great guy.
“My wife is pregnant, too. She is due about a month before you. It might be good for you to have someone to share this time with who is going through the same thing. We also have a two-year-old daughter. You could see what it’s like being a parent to make sure you feel that adoption is right for you.”
Everyone looked expectantly at me.
“Can I think about it?”
“Sure. How about we meet again next week and decide then?”
All of us agreed.
The next week was filled with lots of tears and my parents begging me to understand that they weren’t sending me away because they were embarrassed or ashamed and I didn’t have to go. They simply felt that it was the right thing.
As I thought about it, I realized that my parents were only doing what they knew—it was what was done in their generation. Girls went away to have babies, even if they kept them. I spent a lot of time praying that week. I asked God to give me a sign so that I would know what to do. I would do anything that He wanted me to, but I had to know what He wanted.
I never received a bolt of lightening, or a song, or even a scripture that was my answer. I had no clue what to do. This is what I did know:
- My Heavenly Father loved me
- My parents loved me—very, VERY much
- I loved my parents and didn’t want to put them through any more sorrow or pain or worry than I already was.
- Jesus Christ would help me get through it, either way.
The night before our counseling appointment, my parents asked me what I had decided. I simply said, “I will do whatever you want me to do. I will not make this decision. You are still my parents, and I know that you will take care of me and do what is best for me. I will do what you want me to do.”
The next day, I sat in the office, silent and numb as my parents and Mike made the arrangements for me to move to Denver, Colorado in a couple of months. It was a somber meeting. No one in that room wanted to do it. I knew that for certain. I also knew that I was going into foster care, not because I was being abandoned, but just the opposite—because I was loved enough for them to let me go when they thought it was the best thing for me. In a sense, they were giving me up for adoption, too—at least for a short time, and for the same reasons I was placing my baby—because they loved me enough to let me go.
Read the next article in this series: “During My Unplanned Pregnancy, I Felt Very Alone. But I Wasn’t.”