Read the first article in this series: How I Knew That the Child I Was Carrying Was Not Mine.
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.
How do you, as a 16-year-old girl, tell your religious parents that you are pregnant? You know that it will break their hearts. You know that they will think that they have failed (when you know that it was your choice, and not their parenting, that resulted in these consequences). You know that it’s been long enough that you won’t be able to keep it hidden.
It was April 13th. I know the day because my dad is a Certified Public Accountant—a CPA, and in a CPA’s family, April 15th is a holiday because it means that dad will be home again. April 13th is probably the most difficult day for a CPA. They have to get all the returns or the extensions filed on the 14th. The 15th is just tidying up a few loose ends. Often, CPAs don’t even come home the evening of the 13th—they just work 48 hours straight. Dad was at the office. Mom had gone to a church women’s activity, and I have no idea where my sister was. I was alone for a few hours, thinking and knowing what I needed to do. I had decided to wait a couple of days, until tax season was over, but I was about to explode. Mom came home and came downstairs to let me know she had arrived, and I just blurted, “Mom, I’m pregnant.”
She sat down, stunned. “How do you know? Have you been to the doctor?”
I told her I hadn’t but that I didn’t need to because I had been sick and had all the symptoms, and I showed her the little round bump that was making it difficult for me to put on my jeans. Her eyes went wide, and she got up, went to the phone, and called my dad. “Jerry, you need to come home. Now.”
She got off the phone, and I called Robert. He wasn’t home, but I knew where he probably was–the roller skating rink (we were both regulars there, in fact, that is where we met, and he had a “sometimes” job there). I called the rink and was able to get hold of him. “Robert, I told my parents.”
“I’ll be right there.”
“It’s okay,” I said, “You don’t have to.”
“Lis, you didn’t get into this by yourself. I need to be there for you. I’ll be right there.”
He was there in 12 minutes when it should have taken him at least 20, and that didn’t count the time it took for him to get his skates off, tell his boss, and get to his car. I’m certain he broke every traffic law to get there, but he did, and I was grateful. We were able to tell my dad together.
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The first thing my dad wanted to know is what our plans were. He said that we should get married so that our child could have a proper family. It was then that we told my parents about our decision to place our child for adoption. I don’t know if that had crossed their minds before then, but they were surprised. We told them how and why we had come up with the decision, that we knew that this child wasn’t ours, and the process we went through to decide. My dad was a minister in our faith, and I asked him about the adoption services that I knew our church offered. I think that they were surprised that we had so much of it figured out and were so strong in our decision.
Placing a child for adoption is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do (or that I think I will ever have to do), but making the decision was easy because I knew what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I trusted Him. I was a scared, confused, messed up kid who was still uncomfortable calling my hair stylist for an appointment. The choice I had to make was life-altering, not only for me, but also for Robert, my parents, my sister, and my friends, but, most importantly, for my baby.
Even though Robert and I were doing this together, I knew that it came down to me. I was the one who couldn’t hide the pregnancy. I was the one who would have to deal with the doctors and going to school and all that came with it. The burden was mostly mine to bear, and Robert knew it, my parents knew it, and I knew it. I had to do it just right, and the only way I knew that I could trust 100% for it to be right for all of us was to do what God wanted. When both Robert and I had come to the pure knowledge of what was right, we were able to be strong and move forward. We did not falter until we had to sign away our parental rights, but even though we, very separately, almost changed our minds, we held to what we knew from God and the decisions we had made together.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not to thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5, King James Version).
Read the next article in this series: During My Unplanned Pregnancy, I Thought I Was Beyond God’s Forgiveness
If you are pregnant and considering adoption for your child, you may want to spend some time getting to know the families listed on Adoption.com Parent Profiles. You may just find the right family for your baby.