I never thought I could be pregnant. I had not started my period, yet strangely I did not feel incredibly worried. Perhaps these things just worked themselves out. It could not possibly happen to me. But just to be safe I asked my boyfriend of seven and a half months to pick me up during my lunch break and take me to a local pregnancy center so I could take a test. I was only a ninth grader and did not have a car of my own yet. I was terrified and went in by myself; within just a few moments, I felt my world crashing down around me. I sat in a tiny room, on an even tinier couch, feeling the room getting smaller and smaller as the nurse pumped me full of pamphlets titled, “Pregnant—what now” and “How to tell your parents.” It felt like an out-of-body experience. I took my pamphlets and positive test result and walked like a zombie outside to inform my boyfriend that I was 16 and pregnant.
That first night I spent my time crying and pouring over all the pamphlets, desperately looking for answers and someone or something to tell me what to do next. I took one of the pamphlets way too seriously, which said that the sooner you tell your parents that you’re pregnant the better and so the very next morning I told my mom. As you can imagine, I blurted it out with zero grace and poise and without sympathy for how this would shock my mom. There was no warmup; I just hit her with it and then both of us were shocked.
I was about to go on a pretty intense roller-coaster of emotions courtesy of my boyfriend. That first week of being pregnant he was very excited that we were pregnant, which allowed me to be excited. He told all our friends that we were pregnant and we picked out a name for our baby. We were young, naïve, with no plan. He said we were going to be a family—that is until he broke up with me and told me he had only been using me for sex. Ouch. He had officially checked out and was walking away, leaving me devastated.
In my teenage mind, I thought I knew what love was; I thought I loved him, and I was going to have his baby. Abortion had never been an option for me personally and so the only other option in my mind was to parent. Little did I know that my mom had already begun to make other plans for me; she was about to send me away from everything I knew and drop me off 700 miles away at the Gladney Center for Adoption to live at their dorm. I was under the age of 18 and legally she could make me go live there while I was pregnant even if I did not want to. My mom was much smarter than me and knew that I needed to get away from everything and everyone, and that adoption was the best option for my son. I had a very jaded and wrong opinion of adoption, though. I thought it was like old horror films where they take the baby from you right away and you would have no say about not getting to see your baby. I also didn’t want to give my son away. He was mine and I wanted him. I was very selfish and young with no plan or understanding of how the world worked or how to raise a child. Adoption is the exact opposite of selfishness; it is in fact selflessness and that was something I was about to learn in the coming months.
The Gladney Center Dorm
I was only a couple of months pregnant when my mom took me to live at the Gladney Center for Adoption’s dorms and I was scared to death. A dorm full of hormonal, pregnant women did not sound appealing at all. I did not want to be there, I begged my mom to take me back home with her, I tried every trick in the book but she stayed strong and I was stuck there. I was terrified and did not leave my room for at least two weeks. I lived off of the snacks my mom had left with me, refusing even to come out for the meals.
Eventually, reason set in, or maybe it was hunger, but I came out of my room and began to meet the other girls and the staff. Luckily, I was very pleasantly surprised. I actually really liked all of the other girls in the dorm and many of them were in the same situation I was in, so we were able to relate with each other. It really was a breath of fresh air. The staff at Gladney was also incredibly welcoming and understanding, no one was pushy or forced anything on me. They were there for me and understood that I was going through a great deal. I did not have a choice to live there but I did have a choice as to what I was going to do with my baby. I was very angry and hurt in that regard and I didn’t hold back in showing that to the staff at the Gladney Center. I did, however, agree to follow the rules and to even look at potential adoptive parent profiles and go through those while I was pregnant. Still, I maintained my stance that the baby was mine and no one else could have him. I went through probably 20 adoptive parent profiles and found one couple that really stood out to me. Oddly enough I found myself wanting to call them and then set up a meeting with them. They had all the things on my list of dream parents and something about their profile and pictures really spoke to me. Before I knew it, my caseworker had set up a time for us to meet in person.
I met this potential couple at a restaurant with my caseworker and we stayed and talked for several hours. I will never forget walking out of that restaurant knowing deep in my heart that I had just met my son’s parents. A complete turnaround for me! But truly, there was no doubt in my mind. I knew it was the right thing and that this was the selfless decision that I needed to make for my son. These were the amazing parents that would love him and could give him all the things in life that I could not give him at the moment. A loving and great home, every opportunity, great schools, a stay-at-home mom, and a whole stable life awaited him. I could offer him none of those things even though he deserved more than that. From that day forward, I never doubted adoption and my decision. I felt at peace with it. I spent the rest of my pregnancy preparing a post-adoption plan and spending time with his adoptive parents. His sweet adoptive mom would send me a note each week as a countdown to delivery and postcards when they would travel.
Despite the turmoil I was in, I was certain about my delivery and after-birth plan. I knew that I would call the adoptive parents as soon as I went into labor and they were more than welcome to come to the hospital. I was going to keep my son for a week after delivery so that we could spend time together. Adoption can be a beautiful dance of emotions on all sides, yet those in the adoption triad must try not to step on each other’s toes. Knowing the adoptive parents’ past struggles and history, I knew this might cause some concern because this week might cause me to change my mind. In order to not worry them, I assured them that this week was for memories only and that I would sign away my rights after 48 hours, which is the soonest you can in the state of Texas. This would allow them peace of mind during this week.
On August 4th, I went into labor. I do not remember much about labor or delivery. I was given a bit too many drugs in the process of delivering and that wiped my memory. The memories I have are from the week I spent with my son. Unfortunately, the Gladney Center for Adoption does not let you live in the dorms with a baby. Luckily, we arranged for my son to live with a transitional care family at night and then they would bring him to me in the morning in a special room in the Gladney Center and he would spend the entire day with me.
My mom and my dad flew in to visit us. It was a really special time and we took a million photos and videos. We fawned over every little cute sound my son made and talked gibberish to each other. I loved every minute of it. I kept keepsakes from that week, like his blanket, bottles he used, outfits I put him in, anything you can think of.
Before we knew it, placement day came and we had a full crew of supporters with us. My mom and dad were there, the birth father came with his dad, and of course, the adoptive parents, and both our caseworkers. Placement day was great and very laid back. We took a lot of pictures and my parents told a lot of embarrassing stories. Everyone asked questions and we shared a lot of laughs. After being there for several hours I could sense that it was time to go and that we had dragged this tough day on long enough. I told everyone to hold my son one last time. I had not cried at all that whole week because I had felt nothing but happiness because of my decision. Still, I eventually started sobbing and holding my son as close to my chest as I could, breathing in his sweet baby scent. Hugging him close one last time, I then handed him to his adoptive mother. After a few moments, I turned around and walked out of the room.
During placement, they had given me a note and a gift which I had waited to open when I left. I went back to the room where I had kept my son for the last week and I asked for privacy while I opened the gift. It was a beautiful note thanking me for the gift I had given them and how much they would love him. There was also a gorgeous necklace with my son’s birthstone, something I still wear to this day.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my personal adoption journey. You can also watch a more detailed portrayal of my adoption journey as I was recently asked to be a guest on a podcast called Birth Mother’s Amplified and you can watch that video here.