I am the first to admit that I am an extremely emotional creature. Add wild pregnancy hormones and an adoption plan on top of that, and you know it’s going to be a good time.
My caseworker and I often talked about being able to separate my logical thought processes from my emotions. The two conflicted so frequently that it became nearly impossible for me to make a decision that I felt was right in both my brain and my heart. I found that journal-keeping, especially writing to myself, helped me to sift through all of the thoughts and feelings. When I first heard about a friend who wrote a letter to herself to read in the hospital after giving birth to remind her of why she chose to place and the reasons she knew she couldn’t parent at the time, I knew that I had to do the same.
Giving birth and the two days following were like a roller coaster. I had never felt so much joy and love one moment, then so much devastation and desperation the next. I knew it would be hard to meet my son and spend time with him, but I also knew that I would absolutely regret if I didn’t have that time.
My second night in the hospital, with my son sleeping next to me in the bed and his birth father asleep on the couch, I called my mom and sobbed. I told her that I didn’t know if I could do it. I still knew it was what my son needed, because my life was a complete mess, but I truly didn’t think I had the strength. My wonderful mother reminded me to read my letters. I know it was breaking her heart to hear me sound so desperate and just begging for someone to save me. Still, she told me to read my letters and decide if everything in them was still true.
I still had a choice, and if I felt that things had changed and that I could feel right about parenting, then I had my answer. If, on the other hand, I realized that the birth of my son had created a kind of fantasy in my mind, then I would know that placing was still the best choice for my son and for me.
I brought three letters to the hospital with me: one for me, one for my son, and one for his parents-to-be. I read the letter to myself first. I had to written to tell myself of all the reasons that I wanted my son to have two parents, and why my then-boyfriend and I wouldn’t be able to make it work. I reminded myself why I had hated growing up in a split home, and my extremely important spiritual reasons for wanting a better life for my son. I talked about bettering my life, going back to school, and accomplishing my dreams. I wanted to make my son proud without making him pay for my mistakes.
My second letter, my letter to my son, made the storm in my mind settle and I brought me complete calm. I told him how much I loved him, how much he was wanted, and how he had changed me. I told him my hopes and dreams for his life. I told him things about me that I wanted him to know, and traits that I hoped he would get from either me or his birth father. I wanted to be sure he knew that I had always put him first, and that I wanted to make him proud of me. I promised him that his parents-to-be were meant to be his, and that they loved him so much. I loved them so much, too.
My final letter was to his parents to be. David and Amy had become two of the most important people in my life. They had supported me when I was struggling, and had been ready to support me in parenting. When my stepdad went into a coma ten days before I was due, they only worried about me and if I would be okay. They trusted me to make the best decision for our son, and I knew that they would stand by me if I parented. I told them why I chose them, and how grateful I was to have the chance at an open adoption. I also told them the dreams I had for our son’s life, and how they could fulfill those in ways I could not.
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When I finished reading my letters, my mind and my heart were together. I was both breaking and healing at the same time. I knew placement was still right, and I had full faith that the beauty that had been part of my story to this point would continue. I was turning my trust over to Dave and Amy, and I knew with no doubts that it was right.
It is over six years later, and I still read those letters from time to time. Instead of sobbing through them, I smile. I still shed tears, but they are of gratitude and joy. I don’t know where I would be if I had let the fear take over.
Even if you never send the letters you write, please write them. They may be your source of peace and closure in your decision.
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