At the age of 24, I left the health department and felt like a huge failure for the second time in my life because I was again single and pregnant. When I was 19 years old, I became pregnant and married my child’s father because I thought it would be the best thing for my child to have two parents living together. That child, Noah, was born in 1996 and within the first year of his life, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and then autism later on. His father and I had married for all the wrong reasons and the difficulty of parenting a child with special needs was more strain than our marriage could handle so we split up.
After sometime I began dating someone, but we realized we did not want the same things out of life and moved on. We had been intimate though and I thought I had nothing to worry about since I was on the Depo-Provera shot for birth control and it was practically fool Proof. Boy, was I surprised to discover I was pregnant! I immediately made an appointment with a gynecologist to find out how far along I was. I stared in disbelief at the screen as the ultrasound tech told me I was nearly five months pregnant. Because of all my complications with Noah’s pregnancy and birth I was automatically considered a high risk pregnancy.
I contacted my baby’s father and he was unsupportive. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was overwhelmed, afraid and even a little bit in denial. I knew I had to accept reality and begin making plans for my unborn child soon. Parenting just did not seem like the best option to me at that time as I was struggling so much financially and emotionally in trying to put my life back together since splitting up with Noah’s father.
Just a few days after the ultrasound appointment, I was at the restaurant where I was a waitress when one of my regular couples, S and A, whose names have been changed to protect their privacy, came in for lunch and for some reason I mentioned that I was pregnant. They congratulated me and I explained that it was unplanned and that I was thinking of adoption. They then told me that their daughter was adopted in an open adoption arrangement. A gave me her phone number in case I wanted to know more about open adoption, pressuring me in no way whatsoever and probably thinking I’d never call. However, I called her a few nights later.
A explained to me how their daughter has always known that she was adopted and that she grew in another lady’s tummy. She also explained open adoption, which at that point, was a foreign concept to me. The idea of being able to place my baby in a stable two-parent home, yet still maintain some form of contact, was appealing to me. I began to spend more time with them and I soon realized that this was what God intended for me to do. However, finding a good family and knowing that it was the answer for me didn’t make dealing with my choice any easier. Knowing that I would bring this baby into the world and then hand him over to another family was extremely hard to deal with. I was trying so hard to be strong and follow through with my adoption plan because deep down I knew it was for the best.
Our son Charlie entered the world four weeks early on Sept. 20, 2001 via an emergency c-section. He was healthy, yet small, and loved by both his birth family and adoptive family! I spent three days in the hospital with Charlie and then left the hospital empty handed and broken hearted. All throughout my pregnancy and as I left the hospital that day, I held onto the fact that Charlie would be doubly blessed. Not only would he have one family that loved him — he would have two!
Even though we had an open adoption, I still struggled emotionally after his birth. I was grieving for the child I willingly lost. I gave him something more and better than I could at that time in my life. I gave him two parents who were financially, physically and emotionally ready to parent a second child. Although I knew I made the right decision for Charlie, it was incredibly difficult those first few weeks alone. I felt as if no one else really understood the turmoil that was going on in my heart.
Sleepless one night, I turned on my computer and began typing different adoption related words into my search engine. I was desperately looking for someone to talk with who would understand my pain. I came across many websites for adoptive parents but few for birth parents. Finally, I stumbled across an “Is anyone out there post?” on an adoption forum written by another birth mother named Leilani. I replied and we began chatting via email. Leilani’s daughter was born and placed in an open adoption just four days before my Charlie, which just happened to be my birthday.
At first all we talked about was adoption — she understood what I was thinking before I could even get the words out of my mouth. Since our babies were the same age we were experiencing many of the same emotions and feelings at the same time. As time went on, our friendship strengthened and became about so much more than adoption; she is now truly my best friend. As we watched our birth children grow from a distance, our emotional pain began to lessen. We still had bad days and we had not forgotten our children, but were trying to move forward. We both knew we were making it through that grief because we had each other to lean on. We did not want others to have to go through all the searching that we did in order to find a friend who understood.
Based on that principle, together in February of 2003, Leilani and I started BirthMom Buds, a not for profit organization and website for birth mothers and pregnant women considering adoption. We wanted birth mothers to have a safe haven to go to so they could find other birth mothers and discuss their feelings. We never dreamed BirthMom Buds would become the successful National organization that it has today. Our organization provides birth mothers with an outlet, a way to meet other birth mothers, a means to begin healing, and much more. Our members range from teens to women in their sixties who placed during the baby scoop era.
Through BirthMom Buds, I have had the pleasure of meeting and befriending so many amazing birth mothers. I’ve also enjoyed becoming active in the adoption community and have shared my story with others publicly. I have mentored expectant mothers considering adoption. The opportunities have been endlessly amazing and I never would have had any of these opportunities had I not walked this path.
Charlie is now an independent teen. We have a relationship. He knows who I am, that I am his birth mother, and he is proud of the fact that he has two mothers.