First and foremost, this will be the hardest thing you will ever do. Do not let anyone tell you it will be easy, and do not let anyone dismiss or discredit your feelings! You can feel about every emotion possible. TRUST ME. It has been six years and I can still feel some of the same pain I felt when I went home empty-handed. The only thing that stuck with me from my caseworker, and I do mean the ONLY thing, is the importance of what this can do for your baby. You have to continually remind yourself, even when it hurts, that this is what’s best for your child.

I grew up as the baby of a loving family. I adored my family, and still do. We had strong parents and extended elders in the family in education and business. And so much fun and love between siblings and cousins. Most of the family had been brought up in some type of religion, which gave them a strong foundation. I had every reason to follow in good footsteps.

Of course it doesn’t always happen like that, and I fell off the path a time or two. One of which got me pregnant. I had no clue, headed to the OBGYN for “eating too late at night – morning after’ cramps.” (Are those even real?) BOOM! You’re pregnant. NOPE. CAN’T BE! Next test, please. WOAH. What the . . . If you haven’t gotten to this point yet, tell your parents!! It was so hard but definitely worth it. They are there for situations like this. If you’re one of the few who doesn’t have support at home, someone somewhere is willing to be there. ASK!!

I found out I was three months pregnant. I had to break it off with this baby’s father because of some things he decided to do, and I was sixteen. I had just started my senior year. BUMMER! Missing things like my seventeenth birthday, New Years, Spring Break, prom?! Lame. Those were fun mischievous teenage times! But, I liked babies and thought this would be fun. (Boy, was I wrong about what I thought “house” could be. Find a kid you can watch who is under age five for a few days, and see if this answer isn’t evident. I wish someone lent me their baby.)

Up until about seven or eight months, I thought I was keeping this baby. I entertained the idea of adoption with my family but wasn’t really committing. We had family who had ties to adoption, and I met with a caseworker in my church who I thought I liked. I began to feel a small connection and started looking at adoptive family profiles. I looked and I looked AND I LOOKED. That’s it, I’m done. (Insert the ONLY thing I ended up liking about my caseworker that stuck.) He asked me why I potentially would place my baby, and what would hold me back from placing. As we listed together why I wouldn’t, the answers focused on me and my needs/wants. I want to see him walk, talk, throw, etc. We then listed the reasons it would be good for me to place my baby. He needs financial stability, we both need a good education, and most importantly, he needs a mother AND a father.

These lists could go on forever but that was it. I knew at that moment, it was BEST FOR HIM. His needs over my wants. I could choose the amount of communication, and I could still see all these things. This was the first time I realized – I can have my cake and eat it too!! Back to the drawing board. Okay. ONE last look at the profiles. When I found my baby’s family, I knew he was for them. (Woah, just teared up and got chills.) They were perfect, and it felt amazingly right. During my teen years, I wasn’t really close with the Lord, at all. But in that moment, I felt something I have only known as the Spirit. It was right, it was warm, it was fuzzy, it was perfect! So, we met and of course they were AWESOME! Duh. (Brushing my shoulders off.)

Although I loved the family I had chosen, birth and placement will trick your mind. I named this baby for a few reasons. One was that it meant something to me and it would be something we could share, somehow. Another reason was because even though I knew what his name would be (I even got to help pick it out!), there might still be a small chance I was going to take him home. The want got way stronger after birth and placement. I knew I had to stick with the decision I made when I was thinking rationally. I didn’t want to deep down, but I knew I had to. I looked up to the elders around me and they were telling me this was right – so it had to be, right? Yes, but boy did/does it hurt. They are wise, listen.

Six years later, it still hurts. I think it will always hurt. But to be completely honest, I was tired of it hurting. I have been putting on a happy face, waiting for it to get better and for the pain to go away. I had been carrying this burden for six long, tear-filled, sad, lonely, and confused years. I tried everything I thought I could to get this burden lifted and nothing was working. Now I’m not going to preach, because I wasn’t ready until I was ready, but I truly believe my burden was lifted by our Father in Heaven. This is just the beginning of my “spiritual journey,” but like everything else, I wish I would have listened! This would not have been possible without my family. I owe it to them. They are amazing. Faith has been a part of my family in each individual’s own way. Knowing you can do it YOUR way, and for them loving/teaching me THEIR way, this has let me let go of so much unhappiness. YOU are also a key part in your true happiness because you have to open the doors and ask so you can receive. I felt the same feeling I felt when I found my baby’s family, our family. Powerful.

A few final words of advice:

Even if religion is the last route, explore every option.

Everyone is different. I remember people being okay with their decision days after placement, and I would think that they were NUTS.

It’s okay to cry. It’s healthy to cry. ASK! Ask questions, always. About anything! If you choose to place, ask about every thought and question you have. There are so many resources and people willing to share their experiences. There are retreats you can visit, meetings to go to, blogs, websites, and so many more ways to learn. Learn about how much or little contact you can have, meet with families who have had similar experiences or questions, ask about how it’s going to make you feel. ASK!

I don’t remember exactly where I heard this but – You are not giving your child up, you’re giving them MORE. Remember, either way you choose, you are an amazing parent. You have to be strong because you will be broken down if you choose to parent or not. And like others once said to me, it will get better. And six years later, it has. Hold on!

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