She looks me in the eye, across the coffee shop table and says, “I am sorry he does not want to meet you yet, but I had to meet you, to you thank you for giving me my best friend.” My mind goes back to the day just over 18 years before when the lady at Planned Parenthood said, “Please sit down in this office, a counselor will be right with you.” My whole life changed.

I can honestly say that the thought of abortion crossed my mind for about 3 maybe 4 seconds, and I knew I could not live with that decision. When I told the father, he said, “I can’t help you, but if it is twins we will keep them.” (I know! I did not understand that line of thinking either.) I knew I was on my own, this was my decision, and I now had a new little life depending on me. I dropped out of school on my 18th birthday—I was failing anyway, so why prolong the inevitable? I picked up a job at the airport and proceeded to go on with whatever happened.

The nice thing about the airport is that there are several spaces of quiet time in between departures. I had a lot of time, a lot of different people to chat with, different ideas, and also some very, very strong opinions (both pros and cons) about what they thought I should do. And there were several people at work and at church who knew this couple or friend of friend who would love to adopt. They sure gave me a lot to think about.

Then it came time to tell the one person in my life whose heart this news was going to break: my mom. She always thought I would have been better off if she had placed me for adoption. By then I knew what I was going to do. I knew that my mom could not help me raise a child, as she had had to raise my brother and me on church help while working three jobs. (Basically she worked and I raised my brother.) She would have done everything she could have, but I wanted more for the baby.

About six months into the pregnancy, I was the designated driver for a few friends at a party. One girl had found out that I was going to place the baby and she cornered me. In a very drunk, very loud way, she asked me how I could do that to a child. How could I put a child through the hell of being raised by strangers—through never knowing why they were not good enough, through the hell of siblings never accepting them into the family? Later found out she had been adopted by her mom’s cousins. Needless to say, it sent me into a mental tailspin.

For the next few weeks, I seriously did some soul-searching and finally came to the conclusion, that yes, I could put my child through the “hell” of a GOOD home, through the “hell” of having two parents, through the “hell” of not wondering where next month’s rent is coming from, or if we were going to eat this week. If that was “hell,” then yeah, I was willing to risk it. I knew the other side of that coin, and my child deserved all the treasures in life that I could conceivably give him, even if I was not the one physically meeting his needs.

tessie edgarIn the second week of August 1986, I found myself in labor. My mom ran me to the hospital at 3:00 in the morning and checked in on me in between the paper routes she had to deliver. She made it for the last few minutes of the delivery, but as with most of the pregnancy, I had done most of the hard stuff by myself. This was just another affirmation that I had made the right decision. By the time I had him, I knew he was not mine, he was not meant for me, and by my making a mistake I was helping someone else’s dreams come true. I was giving grandparents a grandchild they never would have had, cousins a cousin they never would have had, and, most importantly, I was giving him a life.

I did not pick the parents. I did not meet them. I had trusted that decision to the Lord and the doctor’s office. I do not regret it. I had the baby, I held him and fed him, had pictures taken with him, held him one last time, told him how much I loved him, and walked out of the hospital without him.

About nine months or so later, after all the legal stuff was over, I gave the parents two letters through the doctor’s office. One that was for him when the questions got too hard to answer, and the other was for them, letting them know that on his 18th birthday I would leave where I could be found at the information desk of the hospital where he was born. So if they choose and if he chose, they could find me without all the red tape. . . .

My mind returns to the coffee shop, and it registers that she said he did not want to meet
me. I looked at her, smiled, and said, “That is okay. I gave him up to give him those choices.” You see, before they coined the phrase on the TV commercials, I have always said that I do not regret my decision, and that I loved him enough to give up.

Even if I never meet him in person, I made the best choice for him that I could at the time, which allowed him to become the amazing person that this mother across from me just called her best friend. I swell up with pride, because he is secure enough with himself and with his parents that he does not need me to validate him—and that is even more of a compliment than I could have ever asked for.

It has now been over 10 years since that first meeting with his mom. And even though I still have not met him, she and I still keep in contact. I usually call or text her around his birthday and then again around Christmas, and she lets me know how things are going. I know that he has severe ADD and, due to that, he struggled through school. But with the help of a study buddy, he was able to graduate first from high school, and then from a trade tech. He now works full-time at a job that he loves. I get to be proud of who he has become through her and with her, and I am confident that one day, even if not in this lifetime, he will know who I am, and just how much I love him, and for now that is enough.

P.S. I am now a birth grandmother (from my stepdaughter) to an amazing little man, who is
part of a very open adoption. Full circle, yet brand new.

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