I am a Birth Mom
This is my story. This is my truth. This is my journey, and today I grieve. I do it every year, on January 8th, I allow myself to grieve. 18 years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. I had always wanted children, I was one of “those” people who just LOVED children, particularly babies! But I was in a very unhealthy relationship at the time. I was in college, working full-time living in San Diego, struggling to pay my way through life. Her father and I had dated for a year or so, lived together and had an explosive relationship. We were young. It was a typical abusive relationship and I couldn’t figure out how to break out of that cycle. It was physically abusive, emotionally unstable and after an incident happened when I was about 4 months pregnant that put him in jail for domestic violence, I had to do something to protect my baby. It was an incident that made me scared for my life and for my baby’s life – I was 19 years old then and had to make the most difficult decision possible. I decided to research the option of adoption. After extensive research, I found a lovely adoption agency and had the honor of picking out my daughter’s soon to be parents. I met them when I was about 8 months pregnant and they went to my last few doctor’s appointments with me. They were there when I went into labor, and they were there when I had to have an emergency cesarean. January 8th, 2001 was a beautiful day. It was an incredible celebration of love between our families and I reminisce often on what a special, unique experience that was.
As I got hold my sweet baby, my dad, sisters, close friend and Social Worker were there in the room with me. Her adoptive parents and their good friends were in the room too and we all celebrated our precious blessing and the love we all had for her. I was able to spend a few hours with her alone. It was the most wonderful and heartbreaking time in my life. Of course I didn’t want to place her for adoption! She was my child! But I needed to keep her safe, and not subject her to a life of potential violence and emotional turmoil with her biological father in the picture. I had even begged him to just sign over his parental rights for MONTHS prior to choosing adoption, trying to figure out how to keep my daughter and keep her safe. Of course he said no, it was his way to keep me close to him, to keep control of this situation. I couldn’t guarantee I could keep her safe, so I had to do what I felt was RIGHT for her – not for me, but for her. They took her home that day, and I cried for 12 hours straight. I hurt everywhere, but the pain I felt in my heart overtook everything else. I felt like I was going crazy, how could I have done this? What did I do? How can I live without my daughter? I had to actually tell myself “You made this decision of sound mind – you are not going crazy, you can’t change your mind, you made this decision for HER” (typical Lifetime movie stuff right there!) It was a mantra I had to keep repeating. The pain felt unbearable. To top it off, I had some health complications while in the hospital; a bad fever and some other stuff going on. After several tests (which I was wheeled around the hospital for and even “congratulated” on the birth of my baby!), the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I concluded, and told them, I have a broken heart.
I was in a very dark place thereafter. Due to a fight my Mom and I had while I was pregnant, she kicked me out of her house, but she did let me stay until I had given birth. So just a few weeks after coming home from the hospital, I had to scramble for housing. I moved out with a friend (who had a toddler at the time, can you imagine how difficult that was for me?). I got mixed up with things to help dull my pain – I felt lost. I felt weak. I felt complete heartbreak and turmoil. If you have any children, or have experienced loss, then you may be able to imagine the pain I was experiencing. Several people told me around that time how “strong” I was, although I felt so incredibly weak and depressed and hopeless, but I get it now…I got through it. This part of my life, this piece of my heart, has helped shape me with such a unique and deep understanding about adoption, compassion, love, sacrifice… being a Birth Mom.
After several months in the pits of despair, I had decided enough is enough. I can’t live like this, I didn’t want to live like this. I need to get on with my life, I need to take this opportunity to live life to it’s fullest, create happiness in my heart… and I began to work towards doing so. I compartmentalized the pain to cope throughout the days, but I told myself, on January 8th, I will allow myself to grieve. And I began to build my life. I took this opportunity, this “second chance”, to make the most of my life. I went back to college and I’m honored to say that I was the first person to graduate college with a bachelors degree from BOTH sides of my family – and I graduated with honors! I took life and ran with it, chose to dream big, reach for the stars and took advantage of all life has to offer.
In choosing open adoption, I have had the opportunity to watch my daughter grow up. I have a beautiful relationship with her Mother (she is one of the most incredible women I know), and I have a growing relationship with my daughter. She knows who I am, and I’ve visited her throughout the years. She even has met my husband and children once, let me tell you, it was incredibly surreal for me! Well a little over a year ago I spent the weekend with her and her Mom. We had a beautiful walk on the beach, enjoyed meals together, talked and even went to church. Since she’s getting older, she has been wanting to know more, with a deeper understanding of her adoption story and it’s been a privilege to be able to tell her. When I went out to visit her, I brought my baby book of her (with all my dr. appointment cards, the positive pregnancy test, and all the pictures I have with her through the years) and through my tears I was able to share it with her. Wow, a life highlight for me! I had to hold tight because I wanted to sob as we looked at my Precious Moments book with her, but I held strong with minimal tears… I will always cherish that time I was able to share that piece of my heart with her. It’s a new chapter and a new phase in our relationship.
So today I have grieving joy in my heart and on my mind as I celebrate the birth of my daughter 18 years ago. Every day, on her birthday, the memories flood back to that day so vividly… memories of the joy of meeting her, holding her and I celebrate the wonderful gift she is to the world, to her loved ones, and to me – as well as the amazing relationship I have with her Mom. There is also the devastating pain I endured during pregnancy, having to let her go on that day, and the pain and turmoil I experienced in the years that followed. Every other day I celebrate our story, but today I set aside to allow myself to grieve. Grieving Joy.