As a 17-year-old high school senior I was given the biggest shock of my life one day when my ex-girlfriend told me that she was five months pregnant and I was the father. My first reaction was ‘how could this happen to me?’ Although it was fairly obvious how it happened, I thought I was one of those guys that thought something like this would never happen to me. My next thought was 'how could I support a kid while I am still in high school?' These things and many others raced through my mind in the seconds between her telling me she was pregnant and that I had no responsibility for anything because she had already taken care of everything. She told me that she was putting the child (Ryan) up for adoption and that she and her family had already found a couple for the baby and that all of the arrangements had already been made. All I had to do was sign a few pieces of paper. Being the guy that I was, a big sense of relief fell upon me at that time.
After I had time to think about what was going on I became pretty upset that I had no say in the decision that had already been made and there was really nothing I could do about it, since a father has no say in things like this. After I got through this phase I knew that the right decision had been made. Both of us were still in high school and already had plans to attend college. I definitely was not ready to be a father; I had no idea how to take care of a child. From what the mother had told me, the adoptive family was very nice and would take great care of Ryan. I trusted her judgment and thought that this would be the best thing for us to do at this point in our lives.
After hearing about how she chose the adoptive parents and all the things that they must go through in order to qualify to adopt a child, I knew that this couple would be able to give Ryan a life ten times better than we would have been able to. Now that I was confident in our decision and thought there would be no worries, I went on with my normal life and tried to spend as much time with the mother as possible. This led me to become pretty attached to Ryan I and began to rethink the decision that she had made, but I was always reminded of how much better off he would be with these other people.
When the time came when Ryan was born I saw the whole thing and was even able to hold him. I spent all of my time at the hospital with the mother and Ryan; I did not go home once while they were there so I could spend as much time as possible with the two of them. Then the time came when the adoptive parents showed up and were ready to take him home. This was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I still knew that we had done the right thing for us and for Ryan.
The thing that made it easier was that the adoptive parents agreed to send us pictures of Ryan every once in awhile and keep in touch with the mother to let her know how he was doing. Although I know this is not always how it is done, I was happy that we were able to set this up. To this day I love to open the mail and see those pictures and a letter telling us how everything is going. Even though Ryan is not in my life, I still consider him to be a big part of it.
I have a picture of Ryan on my wall to this day. Most of the time I do not think about him, but there are certain days when I do. When the month of February, the month he was born, comes around I think about Ryan and his birth mother. Ryan was baptized on Easter Sunday by his parents and every year when I go to church on that day and see all of those babies getting baptized I am reminded of him. This is the most difficult time of year for me when I think about what my life would be had we decided to raise him ourselves.
I am now married and have a daughter who was born May of 2002 and a son who was born December of 2004 and I love them more than anything. After raising these two up to now, I know that we made the right decision back when we were in high school. I look forward to the day when Ryan is old enough to come meet us if he decides to. I will probably be upset if he would decide that he did not want to meet us, but I would also understand.
As I look back on it now there are a few things that I wish could have been different, but overall I am happy with the way things turned out. I really wish that I could have been involved with the decision from day one when she found out she was pregnant instead of waiting awhile to tell me. I wish I had the chance to meet the parents earlier than when I had met them at the hospital. I also think of how much different my life would be if we had raised the child ourselves. I am sure that we made the right decision especially now that I know what it takes to raise a child. I also know the happiness that it brought to Ryan’s adoptive parents. I feel that one of the best parts of the whole experience is that a great family is raising Ryan and I still get to see pictures of him.