February 1, 2012 is a day that I will never forget. Life as I knew it was brought to a halt and would never be the same again. I was pregnant—pregnant, 21, and single.

I couldn’t breathe, I felt as though it was a dream. All I could do was cry.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Why me?

I was supposed to graduate from college, find an amazing man, get married, and start a family with him. And yet, there I was sitting in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test. I cried that entire night, hoping to wake up the next morning and realize it was just a dream. But it wasn’t. I was pregnant.

Remember to put the baby’s needs ahead of your own. Your sweet baby doesn’t have a voice, you are their voice and it is your responsibility to do what is going to be best for that baby.

I had so many questions, so many worries. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? What were people going to think of me? Who do I tell? How do I tell them?

My sweet mom scheduled an appointment for me to meet with a caseworker at an agency. As scared as I was to go in, I was also grateful—grateful that there were resources out there to help give me direction and help me to feel like I wasn’t alone in this.

They provided me with my options.

1 – Abortion. This was not an option for me. This is something I don’t believe in, so that was quickly ruled out.

2 – Marry the birth father. Ben and I had dated for nine months and I had broken up with him around Christmas of 2011. I had realized that he wasn’t what I wanted and that we were just too different. We had different values and beliefs and I knew that it wasn’t going to work between us, so I broke things off not knowing that I was pregnant. Regardless,I wasn’t going to marry someone just because there was a baby involved. I wasn’t happy with him before and I didn’t think a baby was going to change that. So that option was quickly ruled out also.

3 – Single parent. I was raised in a single parent home by my mother. Life was hard. My dad wasn’t around much. We only saw him every other weekend. My mom worked full-time and we struggled. Looking at my options, this was the best so far.

4 – Then my last option: Adoption. This was something that was so foreign to me. I had lots of questions. How did it work? Would I be able to choose the family? Would I know where my baby was living? So many questions! Luckily there are so many resources out there and my questions were quickly answered.

When I left the agency, I knew this decision was going to be the hardest one I’d ever make. I knew that I needed to turn to the Lord for help in making my decision. I wanted to do what was best for my baby. This little peanut inside of me deserved to have the best. So I prayed . . . a lot. I finally received my answer and knew that placing for adoption was the best option. Even though I knew that was what I was supposed to do, it was hard. It was hard to think that I wouldn’t be the one to raise my firstborn. I wasn’t going to be his or her mommy. My heart was broken, and yet I was at peace with it.

It was hard to think that I wouldn’t be the one to raise my firstborn. I wasn’t going to be his or her mommy. My heart was broken, and yet I was at peace with it.

As time passed, my belly started to grow and so did my love for my sweet baby. I found out that I was going to be having a sweet baby girl. I attended weekly support groups for birth moms. To be surrounded by girls who were in the same situation that I was and to know that I wasn’t alone in this was such a comforting feeling. To have a safe place to go and express my fears, worries, and heartache and know that I wasn’t being judged was so helpful throughout the entire process. This support group became my saving grace. I was able to have all my questions answered and it helped me to prepare the best I could for what was to come.

Looking for couples was a hard step for me to make, until one day I felt that it was time and I finally sat down and started going through profiles . . . hundreds of them. I was overwhelmed.

I started thinking of what I wanted for my own future family and set that as my criteria. As far as how open I wanted the adoption to be, I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I was going to be able to handle; I didn’t know if I was going to want to see the baby or get updates. It was all so overwhelming and stressful.

Again, I turned to the Lord. I asked for His help in finding the right family for my sweet baby girl. I asked for direction and peace. That’s when I found Lance and Lori—a couple from Utah. They had two daughters, she was a stay-at-home mom, they both had college degrees, and their story was perfect. I fell in love with them instantly. I stalked their blog and tried to learn as much as I could about them. After a few days of stalking, I decided to finally email them. So nervous and unsure of what to write and with tears in my eyes and a prayer in my heart, I started the email.

We emailed back and forth daily for a couple of weeks and then set up a time to meet. I was so nervous. I walked in the restaurant and there they were. The butterflies that I had in my stomach were instantly gone and I gave Lori a huge hug. At that instant I felt as though I had known them forever. We talked for hours and hours. After, as we were walking to the car, my mom asked me what I thought, I looked at her and said, “They are the ones!” She agreed.

The butterflies that I had in my stomach were instantly gone and I gave Lori a huge hug. At that instant I felt as though I had known them forever.

We continued to email, text, and spend time together over the next few weeks. I met their girls and their extended family. Every time we were together it was just reconfirmed to me that they were the ones! It was such a relief to finally have found a family. As time carried on, we continued to strengthen our relationship. Lori came to doctor appointments with me, we went baby shopping together, decided on a name, and grew closer and closer together. They were willing to work with me and do whatever I felt was best on how open we were going to be. We decided to just play it by ear and go with the flow as far as how often we would see each other.

As my due date approached, I became anxious of the unknown. I wanted to know what she was going to look like, how labor and the delivery was going to go, but most importantly I wanted to know what it was going to be like to place my baby with her new mommy and daddy. I just wanted that part to be over with. I didn’t want to go through the pain and the heartache, but it was inevitable. It was going to happen and all I could do was be as prepared as possible. I had to again rely on the Lord for strength to get through it all.

I was induced on September 13, 2012 and was in labor for a long and grueling 22 hours. On September 14, 2012, my sweet baby girl was born. At that instant my heart was filled with love–a love I never knew existed. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She looked right up at me and pinched my cheek. It was as if she was telling me that everything was going to be all right. Those next two days were the happiest and hardest days of my life. I enjoyed every second I had with my baby girl. This was our time. She was still mine, and I didn’t let one second go to waste.

The last night we had in the hospital together was the hardest night of my life. My heart hurt. I was in pain. I began to doubt my decision. I became angry with God. How could He put me through this? How was I supposed to give the one thing that I loved the most away? I became angry at Lance and Lori. How could they take my baby? I was angry at myself for being weak and for getting myself into this situation. I was scared of what was going to happen to me after all of this, scared of continuing life. I was scared of going back to the real world. I was full of so many emotions.

The last night we had in the hospital together was the hardest night of my life. My heart hurt. I was in pain. I began to doubt my decision. I became angry with God. How could He put me through this?

Then I remembered that I was prepared for this exact moment. I had written a letter to myself telling myself why I had made the decision to place Cortney. I read this letter over and over again. I looked at Cortney and knew I couldn’t give her what she deserved. I knew that I couldn’t give her a complete family. I couldn’t give her a forever family. This little angel deserved the world. She deserved to be happy. She deserved the best.

At that moment, my heart was softened. My fears disappeared. I wasn’t angry. I knew that what I was doing was right. That night I held her and told her how much I loved her. I told her why I was making the decision to place her for adoption. I told her that everything was going to be okay.

And then I prayed for the strength to get through it.

The next day was a quiet day. I had a photographer come and take pictures, and then it was time . . . time to sign the papers. My mom held Cortney as I signed. I was a mess. The pain was back. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I sobbed the entire time. My heart hurt. I was signing away my rights. I would no longer be her mom. My caseworker read the first line; I looked at Cortney, took a breath, closed my eyes, and signed my name. This continued on for what felt like forever. When we finally finished, I asked if I could have a couple minutes with Cortney before placement. I held my sweet daughter in my arms for the last time while she was still mine and I told her that I loved her so much. Those few minutes will be forever embedded in my heart.

I was finally ready for placement. My mom, sister, Lance, and Lori came into the room. I couldn’t even look at them. The anger was back. We sat in silence for a few minutes and then we talked for a minute. After that I kissed her and handed her to Lori. At that instant I was filled with feelings of peace. I was relieved.

I received texts and pictures from Lance and Lori every day for the next few weeks. Cortney was happy, loved, and very well taken care of. I cried every day for a while, but only because I missed her. I never once have doubted my decision.

Since placement, I have been able to see Cortney at least twice a month, sometimes more. They update their blog and send me emails almost weekly. I am blessed. Everything has worked out so well! We are a little over a year out and I am finally at a good place in my life. I’m going to school, working, and have recently started to date. Cortney is loved by so many and she is the happiest little girl I have ever seen. I am beyond grateful for adoption. Even though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Cortney is loved by so many and she is the happiest little girl I have ever seen. I am beyond grateful for adoption.

My advice to expectant parents would be to remember to put the baby’s needs ahead of your own. Your sweet baby doesn’t have a voice, you are their voice and it is your responsibility to do what is going to be best for that baby. I also advise them to seek help. There are so many resources out there, so that you don’t have to go through it alone. I am so grateful for all of the help and guidance that I received from my agency, my support groups, and my family.

Do you want to read more stories like this? This story is part of an eBook, Stories From Birth Mothers, that you can download for FREE by clicking HERE. The eBook contains 23 stories of women who chose to place a child for adoption. You will be uplifted and inspired as you read about their experiences.