Chrissy's Story: My Dream Came True
First, a little background. I met Nate's birthfather in middle school. We have been together off and on ever since. We had a very unhealthy co-dependent relationship that caused both of us a lot of grief. I would not change it for the world though, because he has helped make me who I am, and still, I love him very much.
Well, I guess we begin at the beginning: Valentine's Day, 1996. Nate and I had been going through another rough time, and I was home alone. Much to my surprise he showed up with some roses and a teddy bear.
We ended up getting back together and then on March 10 when my period didn't start, I knew that I was in trouble. I ignored it, chalked it up to stress, miscalculating my period, whatever. After about three months, I began to accept that I was probably a few months pregnant, and I had better go to the doctor. So I went and she did her little exam and said I felt about 4-5 months pregnant.
I began crying and became a little hysterical. The "idea" of being a few months pregnant did not phase me much, but the reality of being almost five months pregnant was terrifying. Finally, with a book called "What to Expect While You're Expecting" (although it does not cover what to expect when you are 19, and how to tell your boyfriend) and a sense of dread, I went home and collapsed in bed. Nate began to notice something was wrong and finally asked me if I was pregnant, and I told him that I was.
He came over and tried to talk me into having an abortion, and we fought about that. His stepmother called me over to the house and gave me a list of adoption agencies in the area and pretty much told me that was my only option. I'm sure she gave me a speech about it, but I wasn't listening to it. I wanted my baby. I was scared and I didn't know how I would do it, but I wanted to raise my baby, and I was not open to the discussion of handing my own flesh and blood over to strangers.
After much pressure from Nate, I began calling some of the agencies listed, not because I had given in yet, but I figured I might as well get some information. The first couple of agencies that I talked to were rather rude, told me that they would get back to me - I never heard from them. Eventually I got mad and started looking in the Yellow Pages. I found an ad for the Independent Adoption Center, and I called them. They were super nice right off the bat. Usually this annoys me, but I found it a refreshing change from the other agencies. They immediately sent me a packet of info about OPEN adoption (an eye opener for me) and several "Dear Birthmother" letters.
I went through them in tears, wishing I had a baby for each one. I didn't even read the ones from people who already had children, although many of the birthmothers I have spoken to said the exact opposite. In my mind, the thought of wanting a child so badly and coming home to an empty house every day seemed much more sad. Then I looked at where people lived. It would be hard to arrange visits from opposite sides of the country. I finally found a couple who were everything I wanted: stable, financially secure, family oriented and not super religious. And they looked sweet and kind. I called them and left a message to page me, and Nate and I went out that night. They paged me that evening, but I was not feeling up to talking to them that night, I could not for the life of me stop asking myself, and Nate, "will they love this baby as much as I do?" I realize now that was a silly question, of course they would. After all, I was raised by a man that is not biologically my father, but I dare you to tell either one of us that he is not my dad. But, this is Anderson's story.
After an emotional phone conversation the next day that lasted about 2 or 3 hours, I decided that these people would definitely be my baby's parents. I loved them instantly and they were willing to give me all that I needed.
We arranged to meet, and I was so nervous. I kept thinking they wouldn't like me—what if I was too short (or whatever)? Pregnancy does strange things to your brain! We had a good first meeting and I was suddenly very sure it would be them. I liked them, they were nice and happy and they wanted the kind of relationship that I wanted. We agreed to talk on the phone and spend some time getting to know each other before the baby came. Looking back, I wish I had included my parents in that, but hindsight is 20/20.
Jean and I began to go to doctor's appointments and go shopping together and spent a lot of time getting to know each other, picking out baby clothes and wallpaper for the baby's room, etc. We found out a couple of weeks later that we were having a boy, and she and Alex began talking about a name. Soon, they had decided on Anderson, and time started going by really fast.
We talked about what would happen if I changed my mind, and how we would handle that. Jean told me that she would understand; it would hurt her, but she would not get mad at me. I told her that although I couldn't promise how I would feel once he was born, I would not wait until they had taken him home and then change my mind. I would do it in the delivery room, or not at all. Part of me already knew that changing my mind even before delivery would hurt them very much and I couldn't, wouldn't have that on my conscience if I could avoid it. They already loved this baby so much, and I began to think of him as their baby. I talked to Anderson about it, and late at night I would tell him how much I loved him and how important he was to me. I think I got a few kicks in the ribs as replies.
Nate and I began fighting a lot. I blamed him, told him I hated him, the usual. He liked to see my stomach, but wouldn't touch it, and he didn't really participate. But I knew he loved me and I knew he'd be there. I met Alex's family and their neighbors, and spent the weekend at their house. We talked a lot about Anderson's future. In my heart of hearts, I knew they would give him the life I wanted him to have. And I knew they wouldn't ever shut me out.
I had not told my parents I was pregnant for fear that they would be disappointed. Eventually through the doctor calling my mom's house, I had to tell her I was pregnant. She told me to come by the house so we could all talk about it. It was really tough for my dad, he cried and told me to come home, so I did and they also wanted to meet Jean and Alex. They met and clicked instantly and began regular visits so they could get to know each other. It was a lot of fun; we went to Lamaze classes, and down to Atlanta to see the IAC. We began to get ready for the birth of our baby.
Tuesday afternoon about 3 or 4 o'clock, Nate and I were shopping and I felt a small gush of water. Being 20 years old and this being my first child, it was a little scary. We went back to my house and I waited for my mom to get home and then we called the doctor. A few hours later, I was signed in and they were going to induce me (I was a few days past my due date). We called Jean and Alex, and they agreed to come up the next morning since nothing was going to happen until 8 am. I don't think they got much sleep that night; they were so excited, and I am sure a little nervous.
After several (15) hours, Anderson made his way into the world, weighing 8 lbs., 9 ozs., healthy and adorable. The doctor handed him to me and I just remember feeling so in awe. And I instantly changed my mind about the adoption. I am adding this part because I realize that adoptive parents and birthparents are reading this, and I want to make sure that both parties understand how normal it is for the prospective birthmother to change her mind at the moment of birth. NO ONE knows how they will feel until the baby is actually born.
I looked at Anderson, and I looked at Nate, and for several moments I knew that I couldn't let him go. To leave the hospital without him would be to leave a part of my soul behind. There were several moments that Nate and I both considered changing our minds, not because we didn't love Jean and Alex, or because we didn't realize how much better off he would be with them, but because we were overwhelmed by feelings that we had never experienced, and we were terrified of losing him. Neither one of us was prepared for the love that we felt. It was numbing. I believe that this happens to most all parents in the delivery room, and is why unless there is a really good relationship with the prospective adoptive parents, some potential birthparents should make sure they have that moment alone. The decision to place really is made anew on the birthing bed.
It was only once I let myself consider parenting again, after the birth, and really let myself evaluate my situation, that I was able to peacefully, and without reservation make the decision to place my son. If I had not seriously considered parenting again, and gone through all the options for me, I do not believe that I would be as happy and as peaceful as I am about placing my son. However, I knew once Jean and Alex came back in, and I placed Anderson in Jean's arms, and saw the look on her face, that to keep Anderson would be unfair to him, and would cause two people that I loved dearly a great deal of pain. No matter how much I loved my son, and God knows there is nothing stronger than a mother's love, I knew that to try to raise him myself, at 20 years old with NOTHING, would not be taking my role as a parent seriously. Being a parent means doing what is best for your child, all of the time, regardless of the sacrifice required. Nate and I knew that what was best for Anderson was to give him the life that he deserved, and that life was with Jean and Alex. Willingly giving up the only dream that I have ever had was the most horrible moment of my life, but the constant through all of my pain was the knowledge that I was doing the right thing, I was choosing to honor my son, and that is what got me through it then, and what gets me through it even today.
I had two days to play "mommy." Those two days were filled with the most intense joy and an almost unbearable sorrow. I remember staying awake at night and looking at him and trying to figure out how God fit all of my dreams into such a small package. I told him how much I loved him, and how part of me would always be with him, and how I couldn't imagine how I was going to feel when it was time to sign those papers. I stared at him knowing surely that I had just given birth to the most beautiful, most wonderful, most perfect human being ever created. I tried to tell him how I felt, how it was killing me to let him go, how I wanted him to stay with me forever, but that I just knew it wasn't fair. I could barely remember to feed my fish, and I was just learning how to take care of myself, and I really wanted him to have better than that.
I chose adoption not to give Anderson to Jean and Alex, but to give Jean and Alex to Anderson. And in the end, I gave Jean and Alex to me too. They are family, and I adore them. They are wonderful people and the absolute joy that they have in being parents is something that brings me a lot of peace. He is the light of their life, and his happiness, his energy, and his exuberance are all testaments to me that I chose the best people in the world to raise him. I can honestly say that I have seen very few children that are as happy and secure as he is. And his parents enjoy him in a way that few people enjoy their children.
We have visits, phone calls, e-mails, cards and all the normal family stuff. Anderson is now almost four, and so far, things are going better than I expected. It is something you have to work at. It is a relationship that is fragile. There is so much happiness that sometimes you forget, until it sneaks up on you, that it does still hurt a little. But with respect, love and consideration, we go on. Anderson is a joy. Jean is the protective big sister that I never had, and Alex is this teddy bear that is the best dad ever. I am very lucky. I found two people who have kept their promises to me, have included me in their life, and have allowed me the joy of watching Anderson grow up. Those are all selfish things on my part, I suppose, but the most important thing is that they are great parents, the best, and I love them for that. I do not regret my decision, even now. I think that it has helped me in many ways. And I wouldn't trade having them in my life for anything. Nate has not been so lucky, and still struggles with demons that he won't talk to me about. He has not seen Anderson since he was two months old, but has seen all the pictures and does love him very much. He will hopefully come around one day.
I could go on forever, but this is the basic story. Any questions, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com, and I will be happy to talk about it.