When I was 17, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He was perfect in every way, and I think about that sweet face often. I only saw him a few times in the two days I was in the hospital. As beautiful as he was, my heart hurt each time I looked at him. I was the one who gave birth to him, but I was not going to be his “mom.”
As a birth mom, there is so much that is hard to share. It’s difficult to talk about. There are even some things I still struggle to understand about adoption.
I write this anonymously, but not because I am ashamed or embarrassed by my teenage decisions. It is because it isn’t my story alone to share — those involved may not be comfortable sharing their piece of my story.
I was in an abusive relationship in my teenage years. We met when I was 16; he was 23. It started out fun and exciting — I felt like I was a real “grown up.” But there were controlling behaviors, and some red flags. He had three children already with three different women. He wasn’t kind to them and did not provide for them in any way. There was no relationship with two of the children.
When I became pregnant, control became physically and emotionally abusive. I had my first OBGYN appointment shortly after finding out I was pregnant. The doctor counseled me on options, which were quite limited. She mentioned she knew a couple that was on an adoption wait list for an infant.
I was shocked. I had no idea people were on wait lists to adopt babies. I had this image in my head of babies in orphanages, waiting years to be “chosen.”
I decided to choose adoption for my baby.
I had appointments with doctors, resources to pore over, as well as adoption agencies to look into. Reading adoption profiles of prospective parents was a surreal experience — I was being told I could choose who my child would call “mom and dad.”
I was still a child myself. I had not really even processed the fact that I was going to give birth — and now I would choose who would raise this baby? How could I even choose? What if they ended up being bad people? What if another couple would be a better fit? How could I know if their personalities would match this baby’s? Talk about extra weight on my shoulders.
It turned out that my doctor’s friends were still on that wait list, and because she was the most compassionate person I met during my journey, I trusted (or hoped) it would be the safest choice. One thing I knew — keeping the baby would not be a good choice for the child.
It may sound selfish, but I felt I couldn’t leave the relationship if I had his child. I couldn’t save this baby if I couldn’t even save myself. My boyfriend had a track record of leaving disasters in his wake, so I thought there was no way the baby could have a successful life with us as his parents.
So, I chose the family that would adopt him. And I gave birth. And the two days in the hospital were the most heartbreaking two days of my life. My mom came and supported me. I am not sure, to this day, how she handled it all. People were good to me, but I could see the side glances. I was asked if he should be circumcised, what his name would be, and whether I would like to nurse him. I was reminded that he was still my baby, as the adoption paperwork wouldn’t be finalized for a few days. This may have been in an effort to be supportive of me, but it added more and more weight and doubt.
But I kept remembering the life I assumed he would have with me. I felt he would be better with anyone else.
It was a closed adoption, which means we don’t have regular contact or visits, but I do receive pictures and a letter from his family each year around his birthday. He is doing well and continues to be amazing. He is old enough now to open the adoption files but has not. I take that as a good thing. He doesn’t feel the need to know about his birth because he has had a great life and loves his family.
But I still doubt my decision. Did I do it for him? Or for me? Or for my boyfriend? Was I selfish? Or selfless?
As much as those questions will likely never have definitive answers, I know how everything worked out. I did get away from the boyfriend. And he did end up in jail eventually. And I do feel that I can now stand up for myself and never allow someone to treat me, or my children, in such a negative way again.
I know my baby had a better chance at a great life with his adoptive parents. I feel confident in that every day, and it brings me some peace. But I will always have that scar on my soul, even if it is there for the right reasons.