I was a dancer, and I had just gotten a divorce. I met this guy through a friend of a friend at work. We hadn’t been dating a long time, and I got pregnant. I knew it wasn’t the right time for me to be a mom again – I already had a four-year-old daughter. I made a spur-of-the-moment decision, and I had an abortion. I was only thinking of myself and how I could get out of the situation. I just wanted to make it all go away as fast as possible. I never thought about how I was hurting the baby.
Two months later, I got pregnant again. Same guy, but this time, I felt differently about it. I never knew I could get pregnant again so fast. Right away, I knew that I wanted to have the baby and put it up for adoption. I was really lucky because I had the support of my family. They never told me that I was a bad person; they were always there for me. I know a lot of people in my position get disowned.
When I was about six months pregnant, I started seriously looking at agencies. I had seen ads from couples in the classifieds about private adoption, but I wanted to know the people’s backgrounds. I wasn’t sure that private adoption was the right thing. Then, my mom said that maybe I should look in the phone book. I called eight places, and AAI was the first one to call me back. Rory called me back in about an hour, even though it was after hours when I called. One of the other places called back 2 days later, and the other places STILL haven’t called back.
When Rory called, we stayed on the phone for about five hours. I was really concerned about financial security. I knew that I had to support my daughter and that I was going to need help while I was carrying the baby. Rory really got it through my head that everything was going to be okay. She let me know that I’d always have somewhere to turn whenever I had a question. After I got off the phone with her, it was like everything in my world was brighter. I wasn’t cold anymore – I felt warm inside. I knew I wasn’t going to be hungry, and that my daughter was going to be okay. It was like I felt full.
Rory came out to my house the next day. It was pouring rain, but she came out anyway and gave me a bunch of books about the adoption process. They were really helpful. At first, I had wanted a closed adoption. I didn’t even want to see the baby, I just wanted them to take it away. I didn’t know about birth parents rights then, that you could get pictures and letters and watch the baby grow up from a distance. After I found out all the facts, I really wanted an open adoption.
Picking out the adoptive parents was my favorite part of the whole thing. It was like I got to go shopping! I went to the agency, and they gave me four profiles. The first one I REALLY liked, and I put that one aside to read last. I felt like the second couple was too old; I wanted someone who could run around and play with the kids. The third couple had copied part of their worksheet straight off of this information page that AAI had given us, and I didn’t really like that. The fourth couple seemed perfect. So, I thought if I talked to the first couple and the fourth couple, I would know. I spoke to the first couple for five hours. Both of them were so involved in the conversation, and they seemed really excited to be parents. With the other couple, the husband didn’t seem as involved. He just agreed with everything the wife said, and I didn’t like that as much. So, I picked the first couple.
There were so many things in their profile that I liked. They were so in love. Once, I asked them if they wanted two more – me and my daughter, too! I only wish that I would have called the agency sooner, so that the adoptive parents could have been there longer. I had requested a couple from out of state, because I thought it would be easier for me, but that also meant that they couldn’t be there for a lot of stuff. We had so many sonograms, and they couldn’t be there for them. I always called and told them about my doctor visits, and we sent each other pictures.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I got sick, and the doctor changed my due date from September to August. When the baby finally came, it was all of a sudden, and there wasn’t a lot of time for the adoptive parents to get here. I thought they should be there for their daughter’s birth, but their flight was delayed. We couldn’t wait any longer, and I ended up having the baby before they got there.
The birth was just the way I wanted it. I didn’t want to see the baby right away, so the nurse took her out of the room right after she was born. I don’t think that’s how most people do it, but that was how I wanted it to be. I knew that that whole post-partum depression thing would be pretty strong, and I didn’t want to have that bond with her. I mean, I love the baby, and I miss her, but it feels like the baby was always Julie’s baby. I am comfortable with that, and I am happy with it.
When the parents got there, they saw her before they saw me. When they finally came up to my room, it was great to see them. Gloria from AAI asked if I wanted to relinquish in the hospital or once I got home, and I wasn’t sure. I finally decided to do it in the hospital. I had had pre-eclampsia, so I ended up staying in the hospital an extra day. I couldn’t go down to the nursery, so they brought the baby up to me.
When Rory and Jennifer came and brought the relinquishment papers, they each had a notebook and pen. They wrote down everything that I said I wanted to be in the agreement. I knew that they would take care of what I wanted. They cared about me, too, not just the adoptive parents. They told me that the adoptive parents were really nervous because they had been through this before, and the birthmother had changed her mind. It made me think so highly of them that they had never even mentioned that to me. I mean, when we had first talked on the phone, they never tried to tell me about that to make me feel sorry for them or sway my opinion of them.
I held the baby the whole time I signed the papers. She was looking up at me, and I felt like her eyes were asking me why I was giving her up. When I finished, I looked down at her and I told her, “Because I love you.” The adoption was the most fair thing for both of the babies – my four-year-old and this new baby.
The first week after I was home, everyone came over and sent flowers and cards. Between grieving and all those postpartum feelings, I was a big, crying lump of depression. All I could do was hug my four-year-old a million times. Seeing her around made it easier for me. My mom kept telling me, “This is your baby. The other one will always be taken care of.” After a week, I started getting up. My mom had been staying with me to help for the last two months of my pregnancy, and she finally went home. It was really good to sleep on my stomach again. I felt a lot better about everything.
I still keep in touch with the adoptive parents, and they send me letters and pictures. There is a minimum number that they’re supposed to send, but they always send more. They send me pictures of them and their family, too. They tell me that they feel like my daughter and I are more family to them. Once every two months or so, I’ll read a letter and cry. But it’s not sad crying, it’s happiness. It’s a good thing that I did, and I’m never sad about it. It was the most positive thing I could do.