More than 40 years ago, when I was a teenager, I placed my son for adoption. It took place in another time, in another era, when adoptions were secretive and relationships were closed
Even though we were separated, I never forgot about Stephen. The day I said goodbye to him, I had only one request. I told him “Find me.” And eventually he did.
Today, it’s been five years since our reunion. Stephen and I see each other regularly and our families continue to be close.
For years I kept my adoption story to myself. I didn’t even tell my children. But over time, I’ve healed.
Adoption is a blessing and a part of who I am. I love sharing my story whenever I can. Each time I do, it helps me heal in a new way.
My adoption story began was I was 15 years old. I was just a typical teenager–a high school sophomore and a member of the choir. I had a boyfriend named Mike who I had been dating for about a year.
One day I found out I was pregnant. I was in shock! How was I going to tell my parents, especially my mother?! I was also in denial. All I could think of is this just can’t be happening to me!
At the time, I knew nothing about adoption.
I was so confused and unable to process what I was going to do.
My parents took me to talk to our priest and he made it real for me and gave me the courage to accept that I was pregnant with a child.
Although abortion was legal at the time, it wasn’t something I considered as someone who grew up in an Italian Catholic family.
Through my priest, I met a social worker who explained adoption and what my options were.
Although Mike really wanted to get married and keep our child, I wasn’t ready for either. I wanted to go to college and become a nurse.
Adoption back then was a lot different than it is today. Today you can choose and meet your child’s adoptive parents before placement.
I was not allowed to get involved in the process. had no say in choosing parents for my child and no idea who they were.
The only thing Mike and I got to do was write a little short paragraph about what we looked like, and our nationality.
I did request that the adoptive parents raise our child Catholic, and put him in a Catholic school, which I later found out they did.
During my pregnancy, I was sent to a home called St. Vincent’s For Unwed Mothers, which was located about an hour from where I lived in Baton Rouge.
I was there for about seven weeks before I delivered my son. It actually happened on Mardi Gras Day, which was crazy!
As part of the adoption plan, I was told I could not see or hold my son — who I named Michael–or the placement would be voided.
Well, I had to hold him and so one day after he was born I did.
I talked to him and he looked back at me as if he understood everything I said. I emphasized to him that one day he had to find me.
Because I held him Michael and I had to go to the Catholic Life Center the following week. They put us in a room with our son for about an hour, and we had to decide if we were placing him for adoption or not. We decided to place him.
After the placement went through, I was incredibly sad.
It felt like my heart was missing a piece of something. But I had to keep it all inside.
At that time, there was still a lot of shame about having a child out of wedlock and you weren’t supposed to talk about it.
I slowly began to heal by becoming a teenager again. I started doing teenage things with friends.
I also had a friend who knew about my experience and who I could to talk whenever I was feeling down.
There were times in my life when I wanted to look for Stephen, but I never followed through because I was scared of what I might find.
I was afraid that he could have been dead or a drug addict or just hate me so much.
I also worried that he would end up with parents that wouldn’t love him enough or that he would feel unloved or abandoned when he found out that he was adopted.
I wanted his adoptive parents to love him and give him whatever he needed in life to make him feel like he belonged to them.
I often thought about them telling him about me and whether they would honor my wishes about raising him Catholic.
Of course, back then there was not much that they could tell him because I wasn’t allowed to tell them much about me since our adoption was closed.
When Stephen and I finally reunited it was amazing–like love at first sight!
We both held hands for the first hour while we sat in the social workers office, and I just released all the emotions and thoughts I had held in my heart for the past 35 years!
Today, our relationship grows stronger everyday. We talk once or twice a week and we see each other every two months.
Stephen talks to me about anything and everything. We are making up for lost time, and making memories to hold in our hearts.
In many ways, I’ve been able to be a mother to him in many ways.
And our families have come together as one as well. Before his adoptive father passed away a year ago we became very close.
I still keep in touch and spend time with his adoptive mother, stepmother and adoptive sister, who I am also very close to.
My husband, Mark, is close to Stephen as well. Stephen looks up to him, and really embraces Mark’s wisdom on many topics.
My three children have all welcomed Stephen into our family.
My two daughters are very happy to have Stephen in our lives while my son, Blake, is a bit more angry that I did not tell him about Stephen –and try to find him–a long time ago.
Stephen and Blake are about 15 years apart, and Blake really could have used a brother during his teenage years. I pray they will grow closer as they get older.
My advice for anyone considering adoption today is first of all love the child with all your heart. I also think it is very important for adoptive parents to nourish the child’s genetic make-up.
Although the nurture part of an adoptee will be a part of their identity, their natural genetic personality also needs to come out.
I also think that it is healthy for an adoptee to know about their birth parents, and why they chose adoption.
When the child comes to an age — I think around 21 is best –they should be encouraged and supported if they wish to find their birth parent or parents.
I also believe that adoptive parents should be open to and not be afraid of birth parents.
We all have our reasons for choosing adoption. Some good and some bad, but all and all we are entrusting our children to parents who will love and care for them unconditionally.
Always remember that birth parents love their children.
We love them enough to give them a chance at a life they deserve. We are not all bad people who don’t care about our children.
For whatever reason, we just cannot take care of them properly at that stage of our life.
Love your child with all your heart, and if they feel the need to talk about their birthparents or find their birthparents, you should support them.
It’s part of their journey. Adoptees need to fill in the holes to make them feel complete.
I have come across some adoptive parents that have been so close-minded to their children finding their birth parents. They don’t want that connection to ever happen.
What they don’t understand is that they are only hurting their child.
I would have found it very hard to have had an open adoption, but I think all adoptees need closure.
Adoption has worked for Stephen. It has made us who we are today and brought us closer to God. We are both very blessed!
Fran Hampton is a birthmother in Lafayette, Louisana who regularly shares her story with birthparents and adoptive parents.
Help us remove the stigma surrounding birthmothers. Like us on Facebook.