I always wanted to be a mom. Despite having little financial resources, I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant by my long-term boyfriend. After two miscarriages, I became pregnant with ‘Baby A’.
However, I gave birth in the midst of a disaster. My boyfriend walked out on me and I was left bouncing from friend’s house to friend’s house with a travel bassinet. Child services got involved and my baby was placed in long-term relative care.
A few years later I became pregnant again. I was ashamed of the fact that I was unsure of paternity, but wanted to give the baby a chance at life. I was homeless at the time and reached out to every resource in my community, but to no avail. I finally turned to child services, but they said they couldn’t help me until the baby was born.
People have questioned me as to why I aborted halfway through the pregnancy. The answer is that it was the only option I had left. Due to medication I had been taking, the baby was at high risk of spina bifida. I wasn’t able to care for her and was unsure as to whether she could be adopted.
The abortion was provided free of charge and the staff at the clinic were compassionate and non-judgmental. But it was the post-abortion guilt that I couldn’t shake. Every time I look at the pictures of a developing fetus, my heart aches. I was unable to forgive myself.
I eventually married and became pregnant with ‘Baby B’. My husband and I initially raised him, but he was born during a recession and money was tight. After our 18 months of welfare ran out, we relocated in search of work. Before we got back on our feet, child services got involved and he was also placed in relative care.
After the experience with Baby B, I learned my lesson and went on birth control. But ten years later, I became pregnant again. Around that same time, Baby A had been removed from the relatives’ home and placed in foster care. That left me with a re-opened child services case and automatic grounds for them to take my unborn baby.
I grew up in relative care myself, and my brother had been adopted out. There had been two potential adoptive families interested in me, but my grandmother fought to keep me in the family. When I was 13, my grandmother was hospitalized and my aunt decided she couldn’t handle me. I became a ward of the state until I was 18.
I often wonder how my life may have been different had I been adopted. My brother is an Air Force veteran with a master’s degree, good paying job, beautiful home, and a wife and kids. On the other hand, I’ve struggled to make it on minimum wage and an SSI check and became homeless for ten years.
Even though I was aware of the benefits of adoption, I never thought I was strong enough to carry a baby for nine months only to give them away. That is, until I was left with no other choice. While pregnant, I made a promise to my unborn baby that if he just hung in there, he would have a great life – even if it wasn’t with me.
I first heard of my adoption attorney from a homeless couple I knew. They’d had a positive experience with two adoptions. When I was scheduled for an induction to begin labor, I contacted one of them to get the attorney’s name. It took a lot of strength to make that phone call, but I did it.
I went into labor that very night and gave birth to ‘Baby C’. I knew he wasn’t going home with me, but decided to stay strong for his sake. I left a message for my adoption lawyer as soon as I went into labor, and she responded in the morning.
Since child services planned to place Baby C in foster care, time was of the essence. My adoption lawyer immediately started reaching out to potential families. The following day, she had a prospective family for me to meet. I prayed that the family would be right for my baby and told God that I’d trust Him on it.
The couple who entered my hospital room was warm and friendly and even brought me flowers. They showed me their album and told me about themselves and their family. I let them hold and feed Baby C and was more than pleased with how they interacted with him. They were down to earth, had tons of family support, and were everything I wanted for my baby.
I was discharged from the hospital, but Baby C stayed while we waited for my husband’s signature on the adoption papers. When the papers were signed, I talked on the phone to the adoptive mom. I told her that I finally allowed myself to cry for the baby, but never regretted my decision. She thanked me, and I replied that I thanked her for saving my baby from foster care. We both cried and laughed together.
The adoption was semi-open, so I only know the adoptive parents’ first names and have no direct contact with them or Baby C. Instead, they occasionally send pictures and updates to the attorney’s office and she forwards them to me. Adoptions can be open, semi-open, or closed, but I prefer semi-open to give both me and the adoptive family a level of privacy. It allows my babies to look ahead to their future rather than focusing on where they came from. We are all able to move on, but the pictures and updates let me know that my babies are doing well.
I say babies because I became pregnant again three months later. My husband and I decided to do another adoption. At that point, I had dealt with so much child loss that I couldn’t even bond with my unborn baby or emotionally register the fact that I was pregnant. The same adoption attorney found a family for my baby. They lived in Europe and, due to the pandemic, I was never able to meet them. But I had gotten to know my adoption lawyer enough to trust her judgement.
Baby D was my only child who was born premature and positive for substances, but he was otherwise healthy. The adoptive mother and NICU nurses were all reportedly crying tears of joy the day he went home with his adoptive family. Most babies with drugs in their system leave with child services. Baby D didn’t because I chose adoption. He got a happy ending.
I never felt guilt or regret with adoption as I did when I had the abortion. But I did grieve. I never wanted my babies back. I just missed them and wished that I could’ve held them a little longer. At first, the tears would come often and sporadically, but as time passed, the grieving stopped. I still think of them occasionally and enjoy the pictures, but I’ve been able to let go.
That year, Baby A, who was now a teenager, asked me to give up my parental rights so she could be adopted. I knew at her age adoption was unlikely, but at least my signature could make it possible. I could’ve chosen adoption for her many years before, but selfishly, I held on hoping to be her mother.
My husband and I haven’t seen Baby B in over ten years due to grudges and bad blood in my family. We still have full parental rights to him, but don’t even receive pictures. All we get is a child support bill. Ironically, we know more about the babies we gave up for adoption than we know about him.
I don’t judge women who have abortions because I’ve been there. Plus, I’m a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. I can understand how it can be hard to carry a rapist’s baby to term and that many domestic abusers may refuse to sign adoption papers because the child gives them additional control. I acknowledge that there needs to be more resources available to pregnant women and a change in laws and social policies.
Abortion breaks my heart, especially since I’ve found an alternative: adoption.
Adoption isn’t an easy decision to make, but it’s well worth it. The pain of giving a baby up at birth wasn’t nearly as bad as having a two-year-old ripped from my arms. My youngest two children are with loving families and have a bright future ahead of them. I never thought I could choose adoption, but I’m glad I did.
I don’t judge women who have
abortions because I’ve been there.