This guest post is by Hope O Baker, a birthmother.
At twenty-one years old, I placed my son for adoption. I opted for the open route, and I met (and even lived with) my son’s adoptive mother before he was born. I knew adoption was the right decision for my son’s life at the time, even if it didn’t feel best for mine. I did it for him.
As mothers, that’s what we do, right? We make the best decisions we can for our children, even if those decisions break us. And let me tell you, I was broken. It was the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make in my life, but ultimately, I did what I had to do.
Sometimes it’s not always easy to know what the best option is, though. Maybe it’s to be a birthmother, or maybe it’s to keep the baby and raise the child on your own. Maybe it’s to have an abortion.
A person’s choices are their own, and depending on the circumstances, they can all be valid. After working through my options, though, I knew that adoption was the right route for me, no matter how difficult. Here are some of the factors that helped me make that choice.
Feel Whatever You Feel
I was in college when I learned that I was pregnant. I had gone to two different clinics because I wasn’t feeling well. Something wasn’t right, and I’d been trying to figure it out for weeks, months maybe. Not once did I think about being pregnant.
Neither did the doctors, apparently. In fact, they gave me a CT scan in the beginning of my pregnancy, but ultimately they said I was probably paranoid given that my mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
They called it phantom pain. Eventually, they treated me for a severe urinary tract infection, mostly, but it wasn’t helping. I’d just returned from an x-ray, as the doctor was trying to determine the cause of my symptoms.
That was when the x-ray technician noticed that I was pregnant, and my whole world changed. At twenty-one years old, I didn’t think kids were ever part of my plan. It’s not even as if I were in a long-term relationship.
My son was conceived at a drunken Christmas party when I was twenty. A college, one-time thing. Both sides made mistakes, and I wasn’t sexually active after that. I had no clue what to do.
But I knew that I wasn’t ready to raise a child. I was a student, so I didn’t exactly have piles of money laying around. I felt that I just couldn’t do it. And that feeling was totally okay. There are no “right” or “wrong” emotions.
Whatever decision a person makes regarding an unexpected pregnancy will, undoubtedly, be one of the most difficult decisions they will ever face. Any and all emotions are viable—anger, confusion, sadness, despair, joy, excitement, anxiety, or some indescribable combination. Just let yourself feel it.
Research and Weigh the Options
The clinic that notified me of my pregnancy did not give me a good sense of my options. As soon as I found out, the nursing staff quickly sent me down for an ultrasound. Upon arrival, the technician spoke to me about God during the entire examination.
I was crying uncontrollably, unable to look at the screen, as she continued to explain that this situation was a gift. She told me stories about her son, who was once “living in sin” and had gotten his girlfriend pregnant.
She went on to tell me they’d gotten married, had the baby, and done “the right thing.” Throughout the examination, she’d stop every so often to cry and tell me point blank that this was one of God’s children, and this baby was God’s gift to me.
I didn’t know I needed to be saved. I did know I had just learned I was over twenty weeks pregnant.
The doctor then said I should be checked into the hospital immediately to be started on medicine and receive prenatal care. She added that a social worker would come talk to me about adoption—which I’d never once requested.
My mom saw the look of fear and hurt on my face. The Christian rhetoric, the over-the-top language, the refusal to answer my questions, the offer of adoption two hours after I found out I was carrying a baby—it was too much. I had to get out of there.
That night, my mom took care of me. Together, we researched the options they wouldn’t tell me about in the office. We made calls, even reaching out to organizations to help with costs associated with not only the abortion, but travel, etc.
We found so many resources and so much support. We learned there was a clinic in Kansas City that would perform abortions past twenty weeks, and we decided I would go there.
Don’t ever let someone else force you into a decision. It’s your choice, and you will be the one that lives with the consequences. Take your time, think it through, and explore your options.
Consider the Circumstances
It wasn’t the first time I had gone to an abortion clinic. I got pregnant once in high school, even though I was on the Depo shot. After we saw a positive result, we drove to Fargo, North Dakota, to get an abortion.
I remember protestors at the clinic. I remember having to stand before a judge and say why I wanted an abortion—a required act when both parents weren’t present to consent to the procedure for a minor, and my dad wasn’t there. I remember sitting in the little waiting room, reading letters other women who’d also gotten abortions had written.
I remember having a couple emotional breakdowns in the car on the way home. I remember being in pain. But it was the right choice at the time.
By the time I was twenty-one, my circumstances were a little different. Sure, I was still in school.
I was still immature. But looking back, I’d gotten pregnant at the perfect time for my life situation.
Before that, I was a typical college student—drinking, smoking, and partying, as people do.
Then, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a switch flipped. I started to mother my own mother.
I was in full-on caretaker mode, and I knew I wanted more time with her. More time to be close.
More time to have a mother. More time to be a daughter. I almost took an entire semester off school because I got so far behind during that time, and I was grateful that the professors really worked with me.
During that time, I also battled anxiety over my own health, working out and striving to eat healthy to avoid the risk of cancer in my own body. In reality, my own body was working on something of its own that whole time: growing a baby. My beautiful boy.
My sister and I went all the way to the abortion clinic. The doctor there was kind and supportive.
My memories here come in snippets. I can still hear the voices of the staff…
“You’re right on the line. It might be touchy.”
“This is your choice. Is anybody pressuring you to do this?”
“Whatever you decide, we’re here for you.”
At one point, I looked up at my sister. We locked watery eyes. I knew it, and she knew it: I couldn’t go through with it. I just couldn’t. She knew my face. She knew she needed to get me out of there.
When the doctor said it would be touchy, I felt relief. Maybe in my head, I was looking for a reason for it not to work out—but not because I thought I wanted to keep the baby. I didn’t.
I was so confused: I knew I couldn’t have the baby, but I didn’t want to abort the baby, either. To this day, my strongest memory of that clinic was telling my sister, “Get me out of here.”
I might have felt lonely at points, but I was never really alone. I called my girlfriend Jill, who’d just had a baby. I called my dad, who said I could move in with him and offered to turn one of his bedrooms into a nursery.
I called my sister, Abby, who was so excited that I’d be the first of my siblings to have a baby. I kept calling those close to me, trying to get feedback. Trying to make it more real the more I said it aloud.
When I got home, I was still unsure what I was going to do. I met up with Jill—who brought her baby along—and my best friend, Bethany. We went to get shakes, and I spilled the news.
Bethany’s reaction stuck with me: “You’re not keeping it, right?”
It was completely reactive. Bethany had known me for years. Ultimately, I knew she’d support me no matter what, and I don’t blame her for responding that way. I got similar reactions from others, too.
The most decisive was when my mom told me, “Hope, you can’t do this. You are not going to be a good mother.” It was harsh, and her approach wasn’t necessarily the best, but in the end she didn’t want me to get hurt.
And that honesty, between me and the people I loved, and honesty with myself, went a long way toward helping me decide that my baby would be better off with another mother. From that moment on, I never looked back. Adoption it was.
Find the Light
When it comes to pregnancy, there’s no right or wrong way to decide. You have to think about what’s right or wrong for you and what’s right or wrong for your child. No decision is going to be easy, and sometimes the deepest hell is the one that you had to consciously choose.
What matters is that people go through the pain, find the best option they can, and eventually, hopefully, at the end of all that pain, they can be confident that they did what they had to do. I’m here to tell you that there’s light through all that pain, even if it’s hard to see sometimes.
Hope O Baker is a birthmother. For more advice on placing a baby for open adoption, you can find Hope O Baker’s book, Finding Hope, on Amazon.
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