“Our adoption became the very first open adoption in San Bernardino paving the way for all other open adoptions in the city.”
The day my mother died was one of the hardest days of my life. Her death left my 3 siblings and me in the care of our father, who was born and raised in Germany during WW2 and was a violent alcoholic. Despite the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, I reasoned that he was grieving the loss of his wife, our mother, and justified his behavior. However, as the situation continued to deteriorate at home, I came to realize that my father was consciously engaging in behaviors which were putting our family at risk.
One night, the police came by and placed us in foster care. At first, they tried to keep my siblings and I together under the care of a foster family, but when that first foster family didn’t work out, we were separated by the foster system into different homes.
By the time I was in high school, and with my 3rd foster family, my social worker had finally managed to find an environment that would feel more stable for me. I was taken in by a grandmother, a mother and her 3 daughters. They became my foster family throughout my high school years, and by then, I was just grateful to have a home that was relatively safe for the first time, in a very long time.
In high school, I began getting involved with drugs as a way for me to mask the pain I was feeling. As much as I knew it was the wrong way to handle my disappointment, it helped me numb my emotions enough to help me get through school.
During my junior year of High School, I met a senior who ended up becoming my boyfriend. He was 6’ 1”, with dark hair, and built like a football player. He gave me a sense of safety and security that I hadn’t felt since before my mom passed away. However, that honeymoon period did not last for long and our relationship became volatile and argumentative. One day after a face-to-face screaming match, he became physically violent with me. This brought me back to the abusive and hopeless situation I had experienced when living with my father. I broke up with him that day and cried myself to sleep. In the depths of my despair, and through the tears that streamed down my cheeks, I felt a voice deep in my heart assure me, “everything is going to be ok.”
At this point, I was free from my boyfriend but I was lonely, and while my foster home was stable, it wasn’t a loving household. Ultimately, I went back to what made me feel comfortable in the past, which was to visit my ex-boyfriend. I visited him several times, and one day after leaving his house, I had an overwhelming sense that I was pregnant
A couple of weeks later I visited a local clinic, which happened to be an abortion clinic, to get a pregnancy test. The test came back positive and I was told they would be happy to schedule an appointment to “take care of it.” Take care of it? Those words felt like a punch in the gut. I walked outside overcome with emotion, wondering what I was going to do.
I sat in class that Monday, with my head down on the desk, silently freaking out. I knew abortion wasn’t something I wanted, but I also didn’t know what to do. I decided the right thing was to tell my ex-boyfriend. After school, I stopped by his house and he was shocked at the news. “Let’s get married,” he improvised. I thought about it. “It would at least give me something to fall back on when I’m emancipated from foster care in the next few months,” I reasoned. I went home that night with competing thoughts in my head.
Before I laid down to sleep that night, I prayed about my situation, then drifted to sleep and had a dream. The dream ended up being a warning, discouraging me from marrying him. I also had a sense that adoption was the answer.
The idea of adoption scared me at first, but the more I set my mind to the idea, the more peace I began to have about it. At this time the Internet didn’t exist and there were not many places to research the process of adoption planning. I resorted to looking in the phonebook under adoption services.
When I found an adoption agency, I dialed the number and asked to speak with someone about adoption. As the social worker began answering my questions, I broke down in tears. Unable to speak, I quickly hung up. After collecting myself, I called back and she continued to answer all my questions, preparing me for what to expect.
At this time, I was still in the custody of my foster family living in San Bernardino county. Open adoptions did not exist at the time, however I was still confident in my decision. I met with my social worker who showed me an album with dozens of potential couples hoping to adopt. I struggled to find a couple I felt comfortable with that day, until one day, I finally found a family who gave me a sense of peace in my spirit. I knew they were going to be the couple who would raise my child. When I prayed about it that night, I felt a complete sense of peace wash over me.
The first time we met in person was at our social worker’s office. They had a genuine interest in my story and in who I was. Knowing this was a difficult thing to do, they tried every effort to make me feel comfortable. By the time they left, I was reassured that I had made the right choice choosing them.
I was three weeks past my due date when the doctors needed to induce labor. I had a son, named Josh. He was a large baby, born 9 lbs, 22 inches. He was so beautiful. I held him throughout my two-day stay at the hospital. Even though I knew I was making the right decision, it wasn’t easy. The couple remained outside in a waiting room until I was ready, making sure I was ok, and comfortable. Despite the fact that open adoptions didn’t exist, they promised to send pictures, letters, and frequent updates of Josh; which they did.
One year later, I received a note from my social worker, asking if I wanted to come see Josh. It made my heart full as we spent the day together at a park. Our visits continued as Josh grew up, and eventually he graduated high school. I was overjoyed when he invited me to his graduation ceremony. His family and I sat together, cheering him on, as he walked on stage to receive his diploma.
Our adoption became the very first open adoption in San Bernardino paving the way for all other open adoptions in the city.
Today, we remain in contact and have a good relationship. Everything about his adoption felt like it was blessed by God. I learned through the process that you always have to be willing to face the truth regardless of the circumstances. Life’s about Choice.
Life’s About Choice