Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jessica's Story, from the Other Side of the Triad

As I said at the beginning of this month, I am an adoptive mama so I mostly speak to adoptive moms and families, but I never want it to appear as though I value the other parts of the adoption triad any less. All three parts are equally important. 

So when one of my readers, a birthmom, offered to share her story with you all I was thrilled!

Then she sent me her story.  And a video.  And then I just cried and cried.

Here is her story, in her words:

My name is Jessica, I am a birth mom. I placed my little girl a little over a year ago and this is our story.

February 1, 2012. A day I will never forget. Life as I knew it was brought to a halt and would never be the same again. I was pregnant. Pregnant, 21, and single. I couldn't breathe, I felt as though it was a dream. All I could do was cry. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. Why me? I was supposed to graduate from college, find an amazing man, get married, and start a family with him. And yet, there I was sitting in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test. I quickly ran straight up to my mom, handed her the test and just sobbed, we both sobbed. She hugged me and told me that she loved me and that we were going to get through this. I cried that entire night. Hoping to wake up the next morning and realizing it was just a dream, but it wasn't. I was pregnant and that was reconfirmed by my doctor the next day. It took awhile for it to sink in. In fact, I don't think it truly sank in until I felt the kicks and my belly started to grow.

I cried daily for the next few weeks. I had so many questions. So many worries. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? What were people going to think of me? Who do I tell? How do I tell them?

My sweet mom scheduled an appointment for me to meet with a caseworker through LDS Family Services. As scared as I was to go in, I was grateful. Grateful that there were resources out there to help give me direction and help me to feel like I wasn't alone in this. They provided me with my options.
Which were:
1. Abortion. This was not an option for me. This was something that I don't believe in so that was quickly ruled out.
2. Marry the birth father. Oh the birth father. Ben and I had dated for 9 months and I had broken up with him around Christmas of 2011. I had realized that he wasn't what I wanted and that we were just too different. We had different values and beliefs and I knew that it wasn't going to work between us, so I broke things off, not knowing that I was pregnant. I wasn't going to marry someone just because there was a baby involved. I wasn't happy with him before and I don't think a baby was going to change that. So that option was quickly ruled out also.
3. Single parent. My parents got divorced when I was 9, so I was raised in a single parent home, by my mother. Life was hard. My dad wasn't around much, we only saw him every other weekend. My mom worked full time and we struggled. It was hard. I wished my dad had been around more. Looking at my options, this was the best so far.
Then my last option:
4. Adoption. This was something that was so foreign to me. I had lots of question. How did it work? Would I be able to choose the family? Would I know where my baby lives? So many question, but luckily there are so many resources out there and my questions were quickly answered.

When I left the agency, I knew this decision was going to be the hardest one I'd ever have to make. I knew that I needed to turn to The Lord for help in making my decision. I wanted to do what was best for my baby. This little peanut inside of me deserved to have the best. So I prayed...a lot.

I finally received my answer and knew that placing for adoption was the best option. Even though I knew that was what I was supposed to do, it was hard. Hard to think that I wouldn't be the one to raise my first born. I wasn't going to be its mommy. I wasn't going to be there to comfort them when they were sick. My heart was broken and yet I was at peace with it.

As time passed my belly started to grow and so did my love for my sweet baby. I found out that I was going to be having a sweet baby girl. My life became consumed with doctors appointments, counseling appointments, work, and sleep (or lack thereof) and everything else had to be put on hold, i.e. school, dating, and basically my future. I attended weekly support groups for birth moms. To be surrounded by girls that were in the same situation that I was and to know that I wasn't alone in this was such a comforting feeling. To have a safe place to go and express my fears, worries, and heartache and know that I wasn't being judged was so helpful throughout the entire process. This support group became my saving grace. I was able to have all my questions answered and it helped me to prepare the best I could for what was to come.

Time seemed to go so slow and yet, so fast. I had finally told my family and friends that I was pregnant and that I was going to place for adoption. They all had their own opinions, some supported my decision, and others did not. That was hard. I wanted/needed the support of my family. I was hurt by the fact that those that loved me couldn't support my decision. However, as time passed, I realized that it didn't matter what other people thought, this was my decision, this was my baby, and in the end that was all that mattered. I knew what was going to be the best for my child and I knew that placing her was what I was supposed to do.

It took me a while to finally sit down and start looking for couples. It was a hard step for me to make. One day, I felt that it was time and I finally sat down and started going through profiles, hundreds of them. I had no idea that there were that many couples out there that were looking for their babies. I was overwhelmed. I decided that I needed to narrow my search down. I started thinking of what I wanted for my own future family and set that as my criteria. I looked at couples that both had college degrees, stay at home moms, couples with children, families that lived in Utah. As far as how open I wanted the adoption to be, I didn't know. I didn't know what I was going to be able to handle, I didn't know if I was going to want to see the baby or get updates. It was all so overwhelming and stressful. Again, I turned to The Lord. I asked for his help in finding the right family for my sweet baby girl. I asked for direction and peace. That's when I found Lance and Lori.

A couple from Utah, they had two daughters, she was a stay at home mom, they both had college degrees, and their story was perfect. I fell in love with them instantly. I stalked their blog and tried to learn as much as I could about them. After a few days of stalking, I decided to finally email them. So nervous and unsure of what to write. With tears in my eyes and a prayer in my heart, I started the email to which I didn't know at the time but the future family of my baby girl.

Dear Lance, Lori, Kelsey, and McKenna,

My name is Jessica and I am 24 weeks pregnant with a sweet baby girl.

I continued to tell them a bit about me and that I was highly considering their family.

And then I hit send.

This made everything so real.

We emailed back and forth daily for a couple of weeks and then set up a time to meet.

We met at a restaurant, Lance, Lori, my mom, my sister, and I. I was so nervous. I felt as though it was a first date. I remember being so worried about what to wear and how I looked. I walked in the restaurant and there they were. The butterflies that I had in my stomach were instantly gone and I gave Lori a huge hug. At that instant I felt as though I had known them forever. We talked for hours and hours. We found out that we had lots of connections, lived five minutes away from each other, and were even related, way down the line. After, as we were walking to the car, my mom asked me what I thought, I looked at her and said, “They are the ones!” She agreed.

We continued to email, text, and spend time together over the next few weeks. I met their girls and their extended family. Every time we spent time together it was just reconfirmed to me that they were the ones! It was such a relief to finally have found a family.

I decided to announce to them at the agency, that I had chosen them. I wrote a little note to the girls saying, “Congratulations you are soon going to be big sisters to a sweet baby girl!” Such a special moment for all of us.

As time carried on we continued to strengthen our relationship. Lori came to doctors appointments with me, we went baby shopping together, decided on a name, and grew closer and closer together. We were able to come to an agreement as to how open we wanted the adoption. They were willing to work with me and do whatever I felt was best for me. We decided to just play it by ear and go with the flow as far as how often we would see each other.

As my due date was approaching, I became anxious. Anxious of the unknown, I wanted to know what she was going to look like , how labor and the delivery was going to go, but most importantly I wanted to know what it was going to be like to place my baby with her new mommy and daddy. I just wanted that part to be over with. I didn't want to go through the pain and the heartache, but it was inevitable. It was going to happen and all I could do was be as prepared as possible and I had to again rely on The Lord for strength to get through it all.

I created a hospital plan that basically let everyone know exactly how I wanted everything to go while at the hospital. This was my time with my baby and I wanted it to go as smoothly and perfect as possible.

I was induced 4 days after my due date and was in labor for a long and grueling 22 hours. It was a painful delivery, but nothing compared to the pain that my heart was soon going to feel. The second my sweet baby girl was born, she was laid on my chest. At that instant my heart was filled with love. A love that I never knew existed. September 14, 2012, Cortney Jade was finally here! She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She looked right up at me and pinched my cheek. It was as if she was telling me that everything was going to be all right. The plan was to have Lori, my mom, and sister in the delivery room, but because you can't plan it perfectly, Lori missed the birth by a couple of minutes. Even though it didn't go as planned, it was perfect. I was able to have those first few moments with the baby and then let Lori take her and hold her. Lance brought the girls up and they were all able to spend an hour together with their new baby.

After that, my plan was to stay the full 48 hours in the hospital with the baby and then sign papers and do placement before discharging. Those next two days were the happiest and hardest days of my life. I enjoyed every second that I had with my baby girl. This was our time, she was still mine, and I didn't let one second go to waste. My mom and sister stayed in the hospital with me and we all took that time to bond with the baby. The day after she was born I had my entire family come up to the hospital to meet Cortney. It was a special time. I was happy! We laughed and cried and it was good. Then they all left and that's when it hit me. My time as Cortney's mom was quickly coming to an end. She wasn't going to be going home with me. This baby that I grew, this baby that has been with me constantly for the past 40 weeks wasn't going to be mine. I cried and cried and cried that entire night.

My heart hurt, I was in pain. I began to doubt my decision. I became angry with God. How could He put me through this? How was I supposed to give the one thing that I loved the most away? I became angry at Lance and Lori. How could they take my baby? I was angry at myself for being weak and for getting myself into this situation. I was scared. Scared of what was going to happen to me after all of this, scared of continuing life. Scared that Lance and Lori were going to change their minds and not allow me to still be involved in Cortney's life. I was scared of going back to the real world. I was full of so many emotions. Then I remembered that I was prepared for this exact moment. I had written a letter to myself telling myself why I had made the decision to place Cortney. I read this letter over and over again. I looked at Cortney and knew I couldn't give her what she deserved. I knew that I couldn't give her a complete family; I couldn't give her a forever family. This little angel deserved the world, she deserved to be happy, and she deserved the best. At that moment, my heart was softened. My fears disappeared. I wasn't angry. I knew what I was doing was right. That night I held her and told her how much I loved her. I told her why I was making the decision to place her for adoption. I told her that everything was going to be ok. And then I prayed for the strength to get through it.

The next day was a quiet day. My mom, sister, and I took the time to tell Cortney that we loved her, I had a photographer come and take pictures, and then it was time. Time to sign the papers.

My caseworker, grandparents, mom, sister, along with several other people were there. My mom held Cortney as I signed. I was a mess. The pain was back. I couldn't hold back the tears. I sobbed the entire time. My heart hurt. I was signing away my rights. I would no longer be her mom. My caseworker read the first line; I looked at Cortney, took a breath, closed my eyes, and signed my name. This continued on for what felt like forever. When we finally finished, I asked if I could have a couple minutes with Cortney before placement. Everyone left us alone. I held my sweet baby girl in my arms for the last time. Again, I told her I loved her so much. Those few minutes will be forever embedded in my heart.

I was finally ready for placement. My mom, sister, Lance, and Lori came into the room. I couldn't even look at them. The anger was back. We sat in silence for a few minutes and then I finally took a deep breath and stared telling them about Cortney. I had learned so much about her in just those two short days. She was such a good eater, she pooped a lot. She snored when she slept; she had the hiccups all the time. She was the sweetest little baby! She was perfect. After we talked for a bit, I felt that it was time. I kissed my baby for the last time and handed her to Lori. Instantly I was filled with feelings of peace. I was so confused I wasn't supposed to feel this way. I looked at my mom and asked her why I felt this way. She said that it was right, she was supposed to be with Lance and Lori and that I had made the right decision. I was relieved. We all walked out of the hospital together and away we went.

I received texts and pictures from Lance and Lori everyday for the next few weeks. Cortney was happy, loved, and very well taken care of. I cried everyday for a while, but only because I missed her. I never once have doubted my decision.
Since placement I have been able to see Cortney at least twice a month, sometimes more. They update their blog and send me emails almost weekly. I have even been able to babysit Cortney a couple of times. I am blessed. Everything has worked out so well! We are a little over a year out and I am finally at a good place in my life. I'm going to school, working, and have recently started to date. Cortney is loved by so many and she is the happiest little girl I have ever seen. I know that The Lord had his hand in everything and he comforted me through it all and that he continues to comfort me daily. I am beyond grateful for adoption. I have been able meet some amazing people because of it. Even though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, I wouldn't have changed a thing. It has made me who I am today and I’m so grateful for it. I am a better person because of it.

***

Here's Jessica's video.  Take the time to watch it, but be prepared for some serious tears.


Placement from Jessica Midgley on Vimeo.

7 comments:

  1. I think you have a typo in your first paragraph: "but I never want it to appear as though I value the other parts of the adoption triad that are equally important". I'm pretty sure you meant that you never want it to appear as though you DON'T value the other parts of the adoption triad...........

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  2. p.s. that capitalization was not meant in a scream-y tone, of course. Just wanted to emphasize you left out the word don't. ;)

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  3. p.p.s. This was a beautiful story. Thank you, Jessica, for sharing it.

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  4. Oh my gosh I can't even handle this. It's so great to hear a birthmom's side of the story... the joy, the pain, the happiness, the anger, the frustration, the questioning... it's so honest and pure. Thank you!!! - Kristina Abel

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  5. Jessica,
    I'm 7 years out of my placement of my beautiful baby girl. how I got pregnant is different than your story, but everything else was spot on.
    I am blessed to still be in my first daughter's life though we live far apart. she is super excited to be a big sister now to my 2nd daughter. this has been hardest part past the first year, to parent and know first hand what you missed out on. but it is so worth it. and as much as I miss her, I wouldn't change a thing. praying for you Jess for all that is yet to come!

    Blessings,
    Jessie

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  6. oh my goodness, this is beautiful! thank you for sharing. xo

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