Read the previous article in this series: The Moment I Became a Birth Mom
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.
Life After Adoption for Birth Moms. It should have its own acronym—LAABM. Maybe it should be LAD—Life After Death, because that it what it feels like to place a child for adoption—you are dead but are somehow living in this world. Maybe it should be BMZ—Birth Mom Zombie.
Those first few weeks are a blur. I’m grateful that the first few days were spent at Grandma’s for Thanksgiving (even though that had its share of adventures, see my Silenced By Society series for more on that). I didn’t have to face the real world for a few days. The doctor said that I should probably not start school again for a few weeks because of my fragile physical condition. I chose to disregard that advice. I was less afraid of my physical self than I was of my mental. Sitting around doing nothing was a sure way of swimming in my depths of depression. I needed to DO something. So, I went back to school. I was a junior in high school, and it was the first week of December. I had completed a quarter of school in Denver, so I really wasn’t behind. I just signed up for the same classes I had been taking in Denver, with the exception of choir. I took choir because they wouldn’t let me take marching band, being seven months pregnant. At Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming, my hometown, it was after marching band season, but I was able to get into advanced concert band.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, I polished off my clarinet, grabbed my bag full of notebooks and school supplies, tucked a pillow to sit on under my arm, and headed to school in my 1979 red Saab—my car that had become my best friend while living in Denver. I had my transcripts with me and did not want my parents to help me register. I had grown up a lot and could do it myself. After getting my schedule situated, I went into the school nurse and explained my situation and my stitches and that I wasn’t supposed to be at school yet, but that she couldn’t stop me, and I got a note from her to tell my teachers that I was allowed to have both a regular pillow and my inflatable donut pillow to sit on. I walked down the hall with an air of defiance and confidence—something that I had never really had with my classmates before.
School was weird. Don’t get me wrong—people were friendly. Some knew why I had been away and others did not. If they asked, I told them that I had a baby that I placed for adoption. I refused to hide and keep secrets. I did not care what they thought of me. My former boyfriend had dropped out of high school, so he wasn’t there. The weirdness came when everyone seemed so silly and immature when just a few months ago I had wanted to be like some of them. The stuck up, popular girls were no longer the group that I wanted to be part of—they were simply stuck up and very, very shallow. I found that I liked my old friends even more than I used to because they were real and more mature than those who were popular. I was glad that I had never been.
During that time, something else happened—something so sacred that I don’t talk about it much. Yet, this experience allowed me to move forward through the grief, the pain, and the hurt of trying to make my way in a world in which I was judged for choices I refused to hide. The confidence that I seemed to have was not because I had transformed into this example of high self-esteem. It began three weeks after my son was born and my dad I had to drive back to Denver to sign away my parental rights (more information on this part of my story is also found in my other series, Silenced By Society). I wanted to die—hoped for it, because the pain was unbearable.
When I walked out of the court proceedings eliminating my rights forevermore, I truly hoped to be swallowed up because I didn’t think I could live without my baby and, honestly, didn’t want to try. Then, a miracle happened. The Savior came, picked me up, and carried me. He did that for the next few months until I could walk on my own, but He never left my side. I don’t remember exactly when He walked away and when I was strong enough to put one step in front of the other on my own, but it was several months later. Those months are among my most precious. I communed daily with my Savior. He taught me about love, about the Atonement, about repentance, and I learned that I was strong, that I had worth, and that He loved me. He also helped me understand that my baby was in His hands, too.
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As time went on, I began to feel Him leave me for a little bit more and more until I was able to walk with my own courage, my own confidence, and my own self-worth firmly encapsulated within my soul. My healing came because of Him and through Him. My healing, however, wasn’t over.
Read the next article in the series: After I Placed My Son for Adoption, I Struggled to Have Faith in Myself
Adoption has changed so much since I placed! If you are pregnant and considering adoption, know that you can choose the family that you feel is perfect for your child. Consider getting to know some families on Adoption.com Parent Profiles while you make your decision.