Rhianna, age 22, California
When I was 9 years old, my 13 month old baby sister was put up for adoption, and I only saw her once again. We were technically allowed visits, but no one ever called, no one ever visited, and eventually she just seemed to fall off the face of the earth… that’s an adoption, right?
When my fiancé and I first got pregnant, we were very happy. We only lived in a tent at that time, and traveled from place to place because that’s what we loved to do. We were so confident that we could give this baby a good home, because we loved him so much, and went to great lengths to get off the road and settle into family life.
Now, you can imagine how dismayed, angry, and disappointed we were with ourselves when we realized that we could not give this baby a home. It was a slow and ground shattering realization, and it only came after a lot of turmoil. I felt so irresponsible, like a child, even though I was 22 and about to be married. But we could not give this baby a home, we couldn’t get a job, couldn’t go to school; and if we did we would never even be there for him. Our lives as far as we could see it would steer toward a dead end. I kept thinking over and over again ‘how could I have gotten pregnant, I’m such an idiot!’
It was with that in mind that we started searching for an adoption lawyer. I wanted to give our boy the best, but I was afraid that we would have to give this baby to some DFS facility, and that another family would be years down the road for my boy. I called the first number I found for the west coast, and you could say my heart was much lighter after talking to Megan Cohen. I was still more miserable than I had been in a very long time, but when Megan told me a little about what her adoption was like, I began to see some hope for our child.
I was surprised at how many couples there are who can’t have children! When I saw the families Megan sent to me, I became so grateful because they had everything I wanted to give to my child. There was one couple in particular that jumped out to us, and like some unnatural force of will, we knew that they were right. I wondered if I should feel a little bad at how quickly we had decided, but after making some phone calls and actually meeting them, I was totally convinced.
After reading the family backgrounds that Megan had sent us and talking it over, we got to meet the family we chose. We talked about what we wanted this adoption to look like, all 4 of us, and through that we got to learn each other’s stories. I learned how long they had been searching for their child, and how much turmoil they had gone through in order to find him. I got to hear how they had finally accepted that their child was going to come to them through someone else, and how grateful they were that they would have so much more family because of it. We decided that we wanted our adoption to be open, and that the whole family could stay in contact. I wanted the adoption to look like more of a friendship than a contract, and only after expressing this did I find that they were completely open to that. They expressed to me their need for space, however, to become a family, and I was completely understanding to that as well.
The last bit of the pregnancy was painful and complicated, but the day finally came to meet this important little man. Rob and Jen stayed in the delivery room with my fiancé while I had him, and Jen was even able to cut the cord that tied me to my child. They were the first to hold him, first to see his face, and I watched quietly from the outside with all the love and pain that could be held in my heart. His parents even stayed there for 3 days so that I could breast feed him, and I fell absolutely in love, not only with my child, but with Rob and Jen as well. It was hard, but I was not afraid to fall in love with my child, because love does not mean possession. I think the more ways I learn that, the better of a chance my love will actually reach him.
They call them the ‘stages of grieving’, but they definitely don’t come in order. In the time afterwards, I went from extreme agony to unimaginable bliss, from deep compassion to unreasonable judgement, and everywhere in between. Nothing made sense, it was hard be normal, hard to even talk to people because they didn’t understand what I had just done. But I still stayed with good friends out in the woods, and they offered as much support as I would let them. Sometimes I feel like a bad mother, because I couldn’t take care of my child. But a good friend reminded me that I am a good mother, because I am willing to break my own heart for my son. But what got me through letting him go, and even labor, was knowing that all the pain I was going through was for his sake.
Now the next step is to move on, and I will tell you it’s hard to move on when you feel wrong for letting go. But I had to find strength in something, I felt like I would crack otherwise. I reminded myself that letting go comes from accepting, and not forgetting. It was during a lone walk in the woods that I realized; nobody can accept this but me, not even time can accept it for me. I had to embrace everything that was happening, and let it happen, and know that it would just be hard for a while. That’s when it became a decision to let go or not.
I put my energy into shaping the adoption the way we all imagined it. We are honest with each other and talk about anything that comes up, we call and text each other all the time. In all of the pictures they send us, we not only get to watch our son grow every step of the way, but we get to watch his parents grow as well. I’ve gotten to see Rob become so fulfilled, and to see Jen really become a mother, and know what a difference it is to them. Seeing their happiness reminds me of why we did it. We not only made a child, but we made an entire family. How beautiful of a gift! How many people get to give two people a family? I still love him with all of my heart, and that illuminates the path toward the best possible solution.