As a birth mother of three years now, the best piece of advice I can give you is to take it one day at a time. The choice you are making will impact every emotion you have ever had, including some you have never felt. It’s a tough decision. The road less traveled is always the road with more valleys and mountains to cross; not everyone is up for the task or completes the mission. I am Ilene and this is my story.
I know. Sometimes, it seems all wrong. By rights, we shouldn’t even have to make these decisions. But we do. And this is the hardest decision of our lives. It’s like in the great stories, the stories that really matter, full of sadness and pain and happiness and healing. It’s a bittersweet feeling that will never go away.
Sometimes you want to know how the story ends, but you can’t possibly peek into the future and see it. How could the end be happy with so much pain and loss? How could life go back to the way it was with so much heartache? Even the pain has to pass, right? Wrong. With every visit, it still pains me to say goodbye. And sometimes it feels like I’m in the hospital letting him go all over again.
I know in my heart I made the right decision for my Little Man. And I have to force myself to understand that a new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out brighter and bolder. My Little Man calls me his Ilene and he can feel how much I love him. He looks for me. He knows the sound of my voice and my laughter. He runs to my arms for a hug and kisses. And when he is older he will understand the pain and sacrifice I have made for him. Those are the moments that stay with you in time. The visits, the love, and the look on the parents’ faces when they see you two together.
As birth mothers (in some cases) we have lots of chances to turn back before the paperwork has been signed—only we don’t. We keep going. Because we are holding onto something—we are holding on to the fact that with our sacrifice we are giving this precious child a life that we couldn’t provide at the time of placement.
Then one day, like a bright light bulb opening up the dark, the answer came to me: adoption. If I couldn’t give him what he would need, maybe I could find a family that could.
My story is a little different than most. When my Little Man was born I had already raised two children. I had two grandchildren at the time. As a matter of fact, my birth son is only five months older than my grandson. My daughter and I were pregnant at the same time.
In March 2010, I was in a very difficult position and sitting at a crossroad in my life. I had been dating a man for several months when I found out I was pregnant. I called him to tell him, he said he was busy and would call me back later that day. I didn’t hear from him that day. I called him the next morning and his number was disconnected. Needless to say, I was very hurt. It tore my heart apart. I fell into a deep depression for months. I was on medication, and I was in denial about the pregnancy. I no longer cared about myself or anyone around me.
I ended up being homeless and living in my car with my then 16-year-old son. Everything I owned was in the back of my truck. I was donating blood 2-3 times a week just to make sure I could feed my older son. It was a very hard time. I started to pray, hoping for some kind of answer. It was July and I knew there was going to be another life added to my family soon. I had no idea the impact his life would make on my life.
Then one day, like a bright light bulb opening up the dark, the answer came to me: adoption. If I couldn’t give him what he would need, maybe I could find a family that could. So I called an agency. Actually, it was the first one that popped up when I searched online. It was a blessing in disguise. They put my older son and me in a one-bedroom apartment and helped me get back to where I needed to be. My older son was about to start his senior year in high school and I found out my daughter was pregnant as well. No one in my family other than my two children was aware of my pregnancy. I was 42. And to this day there are only a handful of people who are even aware I brought this precious boy into this world.
I can see the light from beyond the darkness. I am taking this one moment and one day at a time. It has helped the light shine through and the clouds disappear.
I sat down with my older two children to decide on a family. (My older two children have been my rock. I would have never made it through this without them.) We decided to read them all, then get back together afterward and see who we all picked. It was a unanimous decision. Out of five profiles, all three of us picked the same couple.
I talked to my counselor to let her know so she could let the prospective adoptive parents prepare. We had our first phone conversation about a week later. It was as if I were talking to my best friends. The adoptive mom went to the doctor’s visits with me and we grew very close. All I could think of during the last couple of months is what would be best for my son; my children have been my entire life for so many years and were put before me or anyone else. I raised them alone after their father decided he wanted a divorce. I don’t regret anything when it comes to my children. And I never will. The last few months of my pregnancy seemed to fly by. My heart raced every time I thought about letting him go. But I didn’t realize at the time what I would also be gaining.
After David was born in Oct 2010, I got to spend three days with him in the hospital—a blessing because usually there is only a 24-hour stay in a hospital after a baby is born if everyone was healthy. I got my tubes tied, so I got two extra days with my Little Man. I sang the same songs to him that I sang to my older two children, talked to him, and told him how much I loved him. I held him every second we were together. After those three days, I decided to do what was best for him. I placed him with this family I had grown to love and cherish.
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I sat on the edge of the hospital bed and held my son while I signed every parental right away that was given to me as a mother. In the beginning, I did not want an open adoption; it was his adoptive parents who changed my mind. Now I get to see him regularly; he knows who I am (as much as a three-year-old can). But we have a very strong bond. His adoptive parents are AMAZING people. Some days are harder than others, but my birth son is happy, healthy, and with a family that loves him as much as I do. I get to see him on my birthday and holidays. I have met his entire family unit. I write him a poem every year for his birthday. I also keep a journal for him that he will get as he gets older. He is my love, my life, and I love him as much as the two children I have raised.
Is this a difficult road? Yes. It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. But I have been blessed beyond measure to have him and his adoptive family in my life, and my children and grandchildren’s lives. There are so many rewards, along with so many heartbreaks. One of the hardest parts for me is missing all his firsts. Not that I don’t know about them, because I do. It’s that I was there for ALL my older children’s firsts and most of my grandbabies’ firsts.
But I can see the light from beyond the darkness. I am taking this one moment and one day at a time. It has helped the light shine through and the clouds disappear. I have been able to give something to a family that is priceless and I have been blessed because of it. I have a very loving family in them.
I believe I carried him to give them a child. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I might not always know the reason at the time, but it does eventually show itself to me.
Are you considering adoption and want to give your child the best life possible? Let us help you find an adoptive family that you love. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.