Being a birth mom is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am asked, often, why I had an abortion since I knew adoption was an option and I later chose to parent. My answer is always the same: because placing my child for adoption is one of the most emotionally damaging things I have ever done, I couldn't go through that again. While that is true, I also feel that it was the most selfless thing I have ever done. Here is the story of my daughter:
I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl when I was 19 years old. She was born a little over a year after the passing of a dear friend of mine, so I named her after my friend. I remember nearly every moment of my pregnancy, from how hot it was to all the cheesy maternity clothes my mom bought me from Wal-Mart. I remember every detail of my labor and delivery. I remember the moment I first held that tiny, pink, crying baby. For some reason, I was shocked at her toothlessness. I knew that babies were born without teeth, but the way that her gums looked as I held her and she cried was startling to me.
I remember the first days and nights of her life. Her father showed up drunk to the hospital, he went out to see his friends shortly after she was born, and I remember being afraid to leave my mom's and return to my apartment because I wasn't sure what to do with her. All that her father and I ever did was fight and a lot of the time, our fights turned physical. He drank a lot and so did I. For some reason, as much as I loved her and as much as I wanted to, I didn't bond with her. I gave up on breastfeeding within a day or two because it hurt. I just wanted to sleep and all she did was cry. I had almost no one to help me.
The days and the months passed. Her father and I continued to fight. He cheated on me, he disappeared, he threatened my life when I didn't give him his way, I tried to get jobs and I always had to quit or call off because I never had reliable babysitters. I sometimes left my daughter with people I would never leave my sons with today, simply because I didn't feel like I had a choice. I was signed up for college classes, but I couldn't seem to juggle work and school and my child. My drinking and partying were getting more and more out of control. I didn't have another way to cope and it was a lot easier to find a sitter for a sleeping baby than to find a sitter for one who was wide awake.
I don't know what caused it, but one day I realized that she and I were going to be caught in a really sad cycle. We lived in subsidized housing, we were on every type of assistance imaginable, and most of all I was worried about what was going to become of my child if she remained exposed to her father for much longer. He was a really bad person. He was a criminal. I started looking into adoption and I even talked briefly with an agent from a private agency. I had pictures and profiles for couples who wanted to adopt my child, none of them appealed to me. I didn't tell anyone, not her father or my mother or my boyfriend until finally, one day, I had to.
I remember the day that I told my boyfriend (who l later married and who fathered my sons) and I remember his heartbreak but I also remember his support. Shortly after that, I told my mother and that was actually when the magic happened. My mother suggested that I ask my uncle if he wanted to adopt my daughter. He and I had always been close and he is one of the best people I have ever known. He and his wife had a son, but were unable to have more children. They have their lives together and they are genuinely good people. I couldn't work up the courage, so my mother asked them for me. My uncle said that it was huge and that they needed to think about it. Finally, they said yes.
The day came, shortly after my daughter had her first birthday. She left me on the birthday of the woman whose name she shared, since they are both gone now, that day is still very hard for me. My mom and I met in a public place and I hugged my daughter goodbye and I watched my mom drive off with her. They spent a week together at her new home. I spent a week drunk and sobbing. I spent years upon years lying about it to everyone.
Why would I lie? Because when I told people the truth, they said some horrible, hateful things to me. People, still to this day, say that I gave my child away. People say that it was wrong, selfish, and they act like I just handed her over to strangers because I didn't have the time or the will to raise her. "Gave her away" is one of the most hurtful statements in the world to me and I got tired of hearing about it, so I lied because I didn't want to talk about it anymore and I didn't want to deal with the judgment. One person even told me, "You wouldn't be defending this if you didn't know what you are doing is wrong," and I have never forgotten that.
I understand why pro-lifers think that adoption is a good solution to abortion, but the reality is not so simple. I never received any aftercare. There was no counseling, no treatment, nothing to make sure that I was emotionally stable. It took a year for the adoption to finalize and her father actually ran from a process server at one point. I endured, and still endure, cruelty from people who think they are better than me because they made difference choices than I did. My aunt and uncle paid a small fortune and I paid with part of myself that I will never get back.
I talk to my daughter. I receive pictures and updates and I know that she is love and well cared for. My daughter has a better life than I could have ever given her and she is happy. In fact, she is surely having a better childhood than I did and possibly a better one than my boys. But I know she is out there and when I think of her, my chest tightens. I feel like a failure and I feel like I missed my chance to raise a daughter. Adoption is not so simple. Being a birth mom is the hardest thing I have ever done.