It is hard to imagine a journey as beautiful as the one I'm going to tell you beginning in a stall in the ladies room at Target, but that is where I found out I was pregnant with my 4th child. There I sat, staring at two unmistakable blue lines. How could this be happening? I was "careful." I had already broken up with the baby's father, and since he was married (a little detail he had neglected to tell me), he would not be pleased to find this out. What on Earth was I going to do? I quickly threw the positive test in the small trash can next to the toilet where I was still sitting...stunned. I gathered up my bags and walked out into the store in a fog.
Later that day, I called my mom. She would understand, right? She was surprised, but not angry like I'd feared. She was actually very level-headed and supportive. She asked me what I was going to do. I told her I didn't see how I could raise a 4th child on my salary as a youth care worker in a juvenile corrections facility. She asked me if I was going to have the baby. It was a question I hadn't even considered. Of course I was going to have the baby, but then what? Go after her father for child support? Try to take care of another child on my own? My head was still spinning.
The next day, I made the phone call I had been dreading. I had to tell her father that I was pregnant with her. He was livid. Screaming at me about how I was "trapping" him. He demanded that I have an abortion. I hadn't expected any more. I hung up the phone and made an appointment at a women's clinic. (You know the one... planned something or other) to discuss my options.
Four days later, I went in for my appointment. I was expecting a physical exam and some pamphlets discussing my options. I was wrong. The woman at the desk told me that unless I wanted to terminate, there was little they would do for me. With my insurance, I could be "rid of my problem" for $8 by noon the next day. I told her I was not there for an abortion, just prenatal care. She told me prenatal care was not offered at the clinic; I would need to go to a regular clinic.
On my way out, I met a sidewalk counselor. She directed me to the Birthright center the next town over. She didn't talk about God or the Bible, just my baby: how she had a heartbeat and a brain. She showed me a picture of what my baby looked like. I knew right then: abortion was completely off the table.
The next day, I went to Birthright. I was given something no one else up to that point had given me: options. She put me in touch with agencies that could help with expenses, food, counseling, and resources, should I choose to parent my baby. It was at that point I asked her about the possibility of placing my baby for adoption.
She showed me several agency profiles and gave me a list of websites to check out at home. It was later that day that I found a profile for two of the most loving, wonderful people I had ever met. I found my baby's mom and dad.
Because I was so early in my pregnancy, I really had time to get to know them. As the months went on, we talked more and more. They got to know my entire family, my kids, my parents. I became very comfortable with the fact that they would be leaving the hospital with the baby I was carrying.
The birth father was glad to know that his secret was safe. He promptly signed all the papers and had nothing else to do with us.
Finally, the time had come for the adoptive parents to fly to Minnesota. (They were from New York.) I remember the first time I laid eyes on them: the people my baby would forever know as "mom and dad". She gave me a huge hug and we both started to cry. I was days away from helping her become a mom. It is was a very surreal feeling. We went out for dinner, discussed our birth plan, went shopping for some last-minute hospital items, and agreed to meet for dinner the next night.
I went to bed that night feeling wonderful. What had started as something terrifying had turned into something very beautiful. In a few days, I would give birth and go on with my life, while the two of them would become parents, because of me. I knew I was making the right decision.
Over the next week, we met almost daily. I really bonded with her adoptive mom. We went shopping, got our hair done, and ate...a lot. We decided that I would not hold the baby at the hospital, but would hold her for pictures before they flew home to New York. We also made arrangements for them to be in the room when the baby was born and made sure the hospital staff knew that she was the first one to hold the baby.
We also made decisions that would be put into the adoption contract as to the contact I would have with them and the baby as she grew up. We decided on yearly pictures, letters, and phone calls. I wanted to know how she was doing, without being too invasive in her life. It was an arrangement with which we were all comfortable.
The next week, the night we had been waiting for had come. I was in labor. I called them and off to the hospital we went. I was in labor for 13 difficult hours before it was decided that I was going to need a c-section. I was quickly wheeled to the operating room with my baby's mother by my side. She was not allowed in the room as I was going to be put completely to sleep. I remember the last thing I said to the nurse was, "You make sure she holds her baby first."
I woke up in some pretty insane pain, but was relieved to hear that all had gone well. The baby, named Kylie, was doing well and in the arms of her new parents. About an hour later her mom came in to see me with tears in her eyes. She thanked me over and over. We hugged and both cried.
Over the next few days, I became very sad that my time with Kylie was over, but I was very proud of myself for giving her life. Leaving the hospital without her was the hardest thing that I have ever done. It is a feeling of loss that no one but another birth mom can identify with. But over the next few weeks, that feeling of loss gradually lessened and the feeling of pride over what I had done grew.
I met with them before they went home. I held her and took a picture with her and her mom and dad. It is a photo I will always cherish. We said our good-byes and off they went to start a new life with the baby I had placed in their arms. It was a life-changing moment. I had a new respect for life. When you are given the choice to choose life or death for another human being, it changes you. At least it changed me.
[Read the 2nd half of EN's story here, in which she describes the years after the adoption.]