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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Lydia's Adoption Story

I like to think of my adoption story as more of a story of love and forgiveness. After much prayer I've decided that I have to tell the WHOLE story, not just the part about giving my child to the two most wonderful "strangers" I will ever meet.

My story began shortly after my husband returned from a deployment to Iraq. The year that we were separated by war was a year of constant worry and sleepless nights. Not only because we had just received our beautiful son into the world, but because I wondered if I might be left to care for him alone, permanently. It seemed that insecurity manifested itself as anger and resentment and those rare phone calls became opportunities to take my frustration and loneliness out on my husband. I was so focused on my own pain that I failed to see that he was also in pain. On several occasions he dodged death by only a few inches or seconds. He saw things so terrible that he still has trouble talking about them. When he returned from Iraq we had more than a little trouble reconnecting. We had grown so far apart that I had to work to show excitement of his return.

The fighting started almost immediately after he stepped through the door. I decided to start bartending as a break from my miserable life. I soon started serving drinks to myself. When I drank I felt a sense of security that I hadn't felt for the past year. When I drank my failing marriage and suffering family didn't seem like even a small issue. At night I held a bottle of tequila close instead of my husband and beautiful child. Instead of seeking professional help I blamed my depression on my husband. He was a mean dictator who was using me for cheap child care and laundry service. While he was excelling in his career I got to stay home and dream about having a career. I decided what needed to change was him. To be more specific, he needed to be replaced. I began an affair with my boss and asked my husband for a divorce. Not only did I leave my husband, but I left my son. I wanted my freedom. Family life was not longer going to hold me back and keep me from reaching MY potential.

I moved from state to state, even living in a hotel for a month. I had my freedom and all 24 hours of the day to do whatever my selfish heart desired. I didn't have anyone to answer to and no one to tell me no. However, it didn't take my very long to realize all that I had left behind. Yes, I no longer had a husband to answer to, but I no longer had my best friend there to make me laugh until I cried or my adorable son to hold. I had massive amounts of alcohol at my disposal and I usually disposed of it until I puked. Holding an empty glass bottle didn't make my heart feel the same as holding my chubby little boy. In face, my heart burned and required excessive amounts of Tums to put out the fire. The man whom I had been having an affair with, and whom I thought to be my soul mate and the answers to my problems, only seemed to be helping dig the large hole I was creating. The support I thought my husband never gave me I was getting in unhealthy doses from this man. He was supporting my every wish and desire….he was supporting me right off the cliff.

As the hole in my heart widened, and my efforts to fill it with alcohol and fantasies of starting a new life with my "soul mate" failed, I began missing even more the husband and child and all the responsibility I had left behind. I struggled to pull myself out of bed in the morning. I could not longer look at the pictures of my son. The pain was more than unbearable. On more than a few occasions I contemplated driving my car off the interstate into the biggest and nearest tree. On one especially lonely night I wrapped a belt around my neck, wrote my goodbye note, and went searching for a place to hang myself. If the shower curtain rod wouldn't have broken I wouldn't be writing this. After my failed attempt to end my life I begged my husband to let me come home. He said not a thousand times before he finally said yes. I could come home, not only to be with my son and only temporarily. I figured as long as I got my foot in the door, in time, I could convince my husband to open his heart to me again and prove to him that I was serious about changing and getting help. I was determined to fix the family that I had broken.

As I lay at night in a separate room from my husband I planned my mission to win him back. My mission seemed to be headed for success, we were even laughing together again. It seemed to be only a matter of time before we were lost in long and passionate embraces. Then, I found out I was pregnant with the child of the man whom I had left my husband for. All of the road blocks in my mission to win my family back seemed microscopic compared to this newly discovered mountain. I knew that the word had options for me; quick and supposedly painless ones. All that I needed was a few hundred dollars and a few free hours and my mountain could be sucked away. No one would even have to know…except me. If I was to ever put myself back together I would have to start now. No more being selfish. The life inside of me was completely innocent. I may have ruined my chances at having a good life, but I was going to do everything in my power to give this innocent child a chance. I knew that telling my husband probably meant that any hope of us reconciling would be gone as swiftly as the words "I am pregnant with another man's child" were gone from my mouth. As I told my husband I braced myself for a response more unpleasant than anything I had ever heard. I fully expected to be condemned straight to the homeless shelter, but the most amazing and miraculous thing began to happen…blessings.

After I told my husband, he could have put me on the street, but instead made an appointment for counseling. He said it was for divorce counseling so that we could acquire the necessary tools to make it the easiest possible experience on our son. At our first appointment the counselor was confused and asked us what exactly we were seeking counseling for so that she knew "what hat to put on". I looked at Chris, I knew what I wanted, but also knew that the ball was MORE than in his court to decide. When he said he would like the focus of our sessions to be on marriage counseling an entire box of tissues was required to absorb the tears of joy flowing from my eyes. Counseling went well, but didn't fix everything that was broken. The next 8 months were very difficult. As the bulge in my midsection expanded my husband struggled with the pain of my affair. He was reminded every day of my betrayal and had a hard time not giving that pain a voice. I struggled with patience as he was trying to find the will to move past his pain. I believe that he meant it with all his heart when he said he would support whatever I decided to do with the child growing inside me. It wasn't until I was 7 months pregnant that I realized that keeping my child would not be the best thing for my unborn child, but it wouldn't be the best thing for my two year old son or husband either. If my family was to fully heal from my affair I would have to end it completely. It would be very difficult to do that when I would forever be communicating with the man I had an affair with. I also thought back to my childhood. I had been through two divorces and knew the reality of being carted between two households. I wanted my child to have stability and consistency, not custody battles and long road trips every other weekend.

When I talked to the people I had chosen to take my child I began to realize that someone more powerful than I could even imagine was at work. I got the opportunity to meet the woman that would become Mom to my child. Any doubts I might have had lingering in my mind were smashed as I sat in church with her on Mothers Day. She told me that she used to skip the Mothers Day services because they were simply too painful. She and her husband had tried for many years to conceive a child and were not able to. She often asked God why? Why her? She wanted nothing more than to be a Mommy. She was a good person, she went to work as a 7th grade teacher and touched young lives every day. She was a Christian and didn't limit her worship to Sundays. In my hospital room, the day I was to say goodbye to my child, the answer came to me. I went to get into the shower and felt an amazing and invisible force push me to my knees. God spoke to me and said "Do you understand now" He said "I am here". As I lay naked on the hospital floor crying and asking for forgiveness he spoke again "Praise me". I lifted my arms and thanked God for everything I had been through. I thanked God for all those sleepless nights, for all of the bad times, I thanked God for showing me all I had been taking for granted and all of the blessings I had in my life. When I finally got into that shower my heart was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace I had never felt. Everything was going to be okay. The "strangers" from Florida who were to have my child were MEANT to have MY child. I was only a middle man. I was MEANT to have the LESSON the experience brought me.

Currently my husband is in Afghanistan. When he returns this September I will not be pretending I am excited to see him. I will only hug him a little tighter and hold my son a little closer. I may not have a fancy career or six diplomas hanging on my wall, but I have the most important thing in this lovely and terrible world….love and forgiveness. Every night I thank God for the precious little boy he gave me for nine months and for the perfect mommy and daddy he kept waiting for years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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