The first time I ever heard anything about adoption, I was probably 6 years old. I was driving in the car with my mom and she told me there are women who get pregnant out of wedlock and choose to place their babies with another family who can’t have children of their own. I remember thinking how cool these women were and the thought crossed my young mind, “Hey, I would like to give someone else a baby. That would be so nice!”

Fast forward 14 years, and now I am in college. I’m sitting on the floor in my roommate’s bedroom and she tells me when she was 16 years old, she had a baby boy and placed him for adoption. I remember listening to her story with tears in my eyes and thinking to myself, “I am so glad that I am not in high school anymore because I could NEVER give my baby away if that happened.” I even recall slightly judging her for being promiscuous. I am so grateful that she didn’t pass the same judgment to me when I found myself in her exact situation two months later.

I had been in college for almost three years and was dating a boy who lived a couple apartments down from mine. Right off the bat, I knew I didn’t want to marry this boy, but it was fun to have a boyfriend, so I kept dating him. After a while, I started getting a really bad feeling about him and knew it was time to end the relationship. But no matter how hard I tried, he coerced me into staying and so I did.

Inevitably, we started doing things that weren’t exactly in line with my moral standards, but I wasn’t strong enough to stop it. Then one night, it finally happened and I was no longer a virgin. It happened so fast that I wasn’t quite sure it had happened at all. Then I knew that this relationship needed to end once and for all.

And then I took a pregnancy test, and it was positive.

My first response to this unplanned pregnancy was initially denial, but then it quickly turned into depression. This wasn’t me. I was a good girl who would never participate in that kind of behavior. I had so many dreams for the future and with one reckless decision, I had ruined it all. Where was my warning or second chance? Why did everyone else make poor choices but didn’t have to suffer consequences for them? Why was I being punished like this? It was just one, tiny, bad mistake!

Then came the embarrassment. How do I tell my family? How do I tell my friends? What is everyone going to think of me? So many questions just tumbled around over and over in my head. Life as I knew it was over and I went into “survival mode.” What did I need to do to make sure that this baby got everything he needed? With my own childhood experience, I knew that I did not want to try and raise this baby as a single mom. That left only two options – marriage or adoption. Adoption for me was out of the question because there was no way I was giving my baby away. So I resigned myself to marrying this man who wasn’t exactly my “Prince Charming” but would suffice as a father for this baby and a husband for me.

But the father wasn’t so sure now. He didn’t know if I was exactly “marriage material” or if he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. So then began the next six months of intense coercion (on my part this time) to make him see how amazing I was and how good of a wife and mother I could be. I pleaded, begged, bribed, pressured, and every other measure of manipulation I could think of to make him want to marry me. But he always needed “more time” to make his decision.

We had agreed not to tell anyone about the baby until we had come to a decision by ourselves, which meant that for months and months most of our family and friends (with the exception of a few) had no idea about our situation. We didn’t want anyone else to force their decisions or opinions on us and wanted to be able to do what we, as the parents, felt was the best decision. Throughout this time we were also meeting with a social worker at a local adoption agency who was helping counsel us with our decision. She remained neutral throughout and knew I was pretty adamant about parenting.

About three months away from delivery I was getting very antsy. The father still hadn’t made a decision yet, which meant that most of my family was still in the dark about the baby. I was nesting and wanted to start preparing for this sweet baby’s arrival with baby clothes and other baby necessities. But, mostly I wanted to tell everyone the good news! I wanted to tell my dad he was going to be a grandpa and brothers they were going to be an uncle. I wanted to have baby showers and show everyone how cute the thumb-sucking ultrasound was!

Finally, the day after Valentine’s Day, the father (who I was still dating at the time) came over and sat on my bed. I still remember the exact words he said to me as my world fell apart. “I have an answer for you, but it’s not the one you wanted.” And then he handed me the spare key to my apartment and walked out. I remember physically feeling my heart break in half. Not only was I losing this boy I had grown to love, but I knew I was losing my son. I remember I started crying, but it wasn’t crying like I had ever done before – it was like long weeping sobs, and it didn’t stop for days.

Everything after that was a blur, but I remember my mom driving two hours to pick me up and take me home for the weekend. I remember crying at her house until I lost my voice and ran out of tears but still continued to cry a dry, raspy sob.

Then Monday came and my world changed. It was like I had finally made it to the other side of that dark, nasty tunnel that I had been travelling in for the last year. And the other side was bright and full of hope. I was still pregnant and single, but now it was time for me to stop wallowing in despair and finally start putting this baby first.

I called my social worker up and we met that day to start looking at profiles of infertile couples hoping to adopt. After a while of looking at couples that I was wholeheartedly not interested in, she finally handed me a profile and said, “When I first met you, even when you weren’t interested in adoption, I knew that you would like them.” As I looked down at the picture of this sweet family of three, a feeling of peace enveloped my whole body. I knew that they were my son’s parents.

The rest of the pregnancy seemed to fly by. I met the family I had chosen and they were every bit as perfect as I expected them to be. Life was still very tough, but I had this peace and hope now that was missing before. I knew without a doubt that no matter how hard this was going to be that it was the right thing to do. I was able to see things from a more eternal perspective I was missing before.

On May 14, 2012, a beautiful baby boy was placed in my arms and I was able to spend three amazing days with him before placing him in the arms of his eternal family. Words cannot describe the experience and emotions that we shared that day. Mostly, it was a sense of peace and perfectness.

Life wasn’t immediately smooth sailing after that. Both the birth father and I had to go through an intense grieving process and healing. There were many, many more nights of tears,  anger and pain, but never regret.

Even though I suffered an immense loss by placing my son for adoption, I gained some things in return. I was able to enroll back into college to graduate with my degree next year. I was also able to have a beautiful, white wedding with my true “Prince Charming” who is the sweetest, kindest, and most perfect man for me!

I wish I could put into words everything I have learned from this experience – but I have learned too much. I learned a lot about my self-worth and who I have become. I learned that I mattered and I was important no matter what mistakes I had made. I learned I shouldn’t have to convince anyone of my worth and I shouldn’t have to beg or plead with anyone to love me.

I learned that our Heavenly Father loves everyone. Even people like me, who make poor choices and don’t always listen to Him. And even the people, like the birth father, who hurt me and I needed to forgive.

My perspective of adoption and birth moms has sure changed since I was 6 years old, riding in the car with my mom. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to be blessed and honored with the title of “birth mom.” I would never be the person I am today, if I didn’t have these experiences that have shaped and molded me.

I am so grateful, even though I couldn’t see it then, that God knew that me, the father, and that sweet little boy weren’t supposed to be together. My son was able to find his perfect family, I was able to find my perfect husband, and the birth father was able to find a wife perfect for him. With adoption, God was able to take one broken family and turn it into three eternal families.

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