"I Have Been in Your Shoes" - From Birth Mother to Birth Parent Support
Michelle's Adoption Story
How To Contact Michelle
If you would like to talk to me please call
1-800-Adoption and ask for Michelle or e-mail me at email@example.com
"The Choices We Make"
First of all I want to say that I am a birth mom who has been working for American Adoptions since 2003. I am very confident in my decision to place my son with his adoptive family and have had an unbelievably positive experience. I really look forward to continuing to work with American Adoptions and all of the wonderful staff who are dedicated to making the lives of birth parents, adoptive families, and the child as successful and happy as possible. I am available to answer any questions that arise, particularly from birth moms, as I have been in your shoes and know how you are feeling. It was most helpful to me when I had someone to talk to who would just listen to me without making any judgements or conclusions about who I was as a person.
When a girl becomes pregnant she has four choices: 1.) To keep and raise her baby. 2.) To place her baby for adoption 3.) To have an abortion. 4.) To get married to the birth father. Many teenage girls choose to keep their babies and raise them whether they are capable and responsible to do so or not. I know what you are probably thinking, the same thing I thought when I was young, “This is just another speaker talking about sex and how abstinence is the best answer”. But let me tell you my story and you may think differently about the subject of sex and adoption as an option.
I met Shawn in sophomore year World Studies class. He would always sit right next to me. Of course I didn’t think anything of it because I used to talk to a lot of guys. All I noticed was that he played hockey and would occasionally have something to say about practice or his game. He was a nice guy, but I wasn’t really interested in him. Throughout the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school we never hung out or even talked on the phone, until about the last three weeks. He started hanging out with the group of friends that I had hung out with. Eventually it turned into an every day event. By November 18, 1996 Shawn and I were officially dating, or at the time we called it “going out." I was still getting over my ex-boyfriend so I did not know what to think about the whole situation. After about 3 months we became very close and I began liking him more and more every day.
We dated from November 18, 1996 to July 24, 1997. There were many times throughout our relationship when I really thought we were meant for each other and yet other times when I questioned why I was even with him. Of course at the time I was all caught up in being in a serious relationship and what I had thought was “real love." We began feeling really comfortable around each other and the physical aspect of our relationship was increasing as time went on. Every night during the school year we would find a way to be together, even if that meant I would lie to my parents about going to the store or a friend’s house. He bought me a ring for Christmas and I felt as if we would be together forever.
In the Spring Shawn played baseball and because I was such a big baseball fan, I went to all of his games and waited around after to talk to him. Things were working out perfectly and I was in a relationship that I thought would never end. However, things aren't always that easy. We began constantly fighting and our relationship was soon changing to a very unhealthy and unstable situation. Yet, because I loved him, I wanted it to work out and tried everything to make him love me back. There was a lot of painful times, but I kept thinking that if we made it through them then it would all be worth it. The future wasn’t looking too promising, but I wasn’t going to give up. I didn’t want to lose him.
After Prom 1997, we made the decision to start having sex. I reflect back on it now and realize that I was trying to hold on to someone who was not going to hold on to me. We had talked about it a little, but I never really thought the day would come when I would lose my virginity. It was a mature decision, or so we thought. As many teenagers and young people do, I had always pictured and dreamed of my wedding, honeymoon, and having my first child. I thought of how special everything would be. Well one of my dreams, which ended up not being so special, came to me early. Now, I was faced with the challenge of being in a sexual relationship with someone. Let me tell you, it is just that - a challenge. You don’t realize how attached you can become to someone from the one action, “sex." We thought we were ready for it, little did we know that what the future held was not what we had expected, or planned.
We continued dating throughout the summer, and after many rough nights of arguing and jealousy, Shawn decided he did not want to be together anymore. Because I was so emotionally attached to Shawn, including the sexual relationship, it was very difficult for me to move on and let go. After about two months I did move on, or so I thought.
On September 24, 1997 I went to a high school football game and then to Pizza Hut after the game. When I got home I realized something was seriously wrong. I walked up the stairs to go to my room and get ready for bed and noticed that I was short of breath and swollen underneath my ribs. When I showed my parents they immediately rushed me to the emergency room thinking that I had a tumor. The idea that I could be pregnant never crossed anyone’s mind. I was really scared at the hospital, especially when they started doing all these tests and taking my blood. The test results would soon come and I would find out the news that no teenage girl ever wants to hear. The doctor walked into the room, I can still remember I was shaking and my entire body went numb. As my mom stood beside me and my dad sat in the chair directly in front of the bed, I heard the doctor say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but we got the test results back and have come to find that Michelle is pregnant.” I was in shock. I have never cried so hard and felt so ashamed, embarrassed, and destroyed inside as I did the morning of September 25, 1997. I was quickly in denial telling the doctor that they had made a mistake, it couldn’t be. But in reality it was true.
My mom, dad, and I rode home that night in disbelief. My parents just kept telling me that everything would be all right. The next day I had a volleyball tournament and although it was ok for me to play, I was constantly thinking about being pregnant and what I was going to do. The next step was to go to the doctor’s office for a checkup to make sure the hospital was right and also to find out how far along I was. Due to the fact that I was so involved in sports in the summer, I usually don’t have my period regularly. The thought that I could have been pregnant never crossed my mind. Here it was almost 2 months since I had dated Shawn and I was finally moving on and now I had to bring him back into my life again.
The next few weeks were very difficult for my parents and I because we could only wait to get the results back from the doctor’s office confirming or denying that I was in fact pregnant. As I had suspected, since we had engaged in sex, the results came back positive once again. I was a 17-year-old Varsity volleyball and basketball player and three months pregnant. I thought to myself, “How could this be happening to me? I never do anything wrong and the one time I do I get caught. What will my friends think of me? Everyone will hate me. Why can’t I take something to make it all just go away?” Of course I also thought about Shawn. I felt like I couldn’t tell him because it would ruin his life. He had a new girlfriend and I didn’t want to hurt him. However, I knew that I had no choice. I guess I never thought that the decision to have sex could have such an impact on so many people around me.
I continued playing on the volleyball team throughout the rest of the season, keeping my little secret from everyone but my parents. The doctor said it was not dangerous for the baby if I continued to play volleyball and that the exercise is actually very good preparation for delivery. Many regular visits to the doctor’s office occurred over the next few weeks and the ultrasound confirmed that I was having a little baby boy. Every night I would just go home and cry wondering why I was so stupid. My new little baby boy, growing so strong inside me, was kept a secret for two very long months. It felt like forever. I had to go to the school principal to make sure he knew about my pregnancy, hoping that we could work something out so that I was able to finish out my senior year. The counselor also attended the meeting, along with my parents.
After talking for awhile we agreed that I was definitely going to continue my education and would have to attend a counseling service for the emotions that go along with being pregnant, it was required by the school board. Because of the difficulties I was having with the choices I was faced with, my family had already pursued a counseling service. After attending two sessions my self-esteem increased greatly and I could think clearly again and not be so frightened of my mistake. I knew I had to tell Shawn and now I had enough courage and confidence to do so. I believe the thing that made me change my mind was when the counselor said, “You’ve never let yourself make a mistake before have you?” Of course I had to say, “Yes, I have.” Then she said, “Then why don’t you forgive yourself for making this one?” That completely changed my perspective of myself. It was true, I would never let myself make mistakes and now I had no choice. I want to clarify that my little boy is not a mistake but the decision to have sex was a mistake. That was a turning point for me because my counselor had such an affect on me that I knew I wanted to counsel young teen moms and have that kind of influence on them.
I gathered my thoughts and knew what I had to do. Adoption was the only option for me. I love little kids, but I knew that I was not financially or mentally prepared to raise a child on my own. My mom had mentioned to me that she had a close friend that she had taught with who had adopted a little girl about a year prior to me finding out I was pregnant. She had called my mom the week before and said that if my mom knew of anyone who was pregnant and thinking about adoption to let her know because they were looking to adopt again. They didn’t want their little girl to be an only child. It was perfect timing and in my eyes it was a sign that adoption was right for me. I called up the family and immediately they were thrilled. I actually think the husband was crying. He had hoped for a little boy all his life, but at this point was just happy with a healthy baby. In his eyes I had made his dream come true. That was the best feeling. I couldn’t believe I was making a couple so happy, while at the same time my pregnancy seemed like such a wrong situation. The decision was made. The adoptive parents were chosen. I knew how they raised their child and how they would raise my little boy. Our families had similar lifestyles and I knew that he would have some of the same opportunities growing up that I had, and more than likely more than I had. They were Catholic just as I was and had similar beliefs and values. This was something else that was very important to me.
I met with the adoptive parents to discuss the situation and also to reassure them that my mind had been made up and I was going to go through with the adoption. It seemed perfect and it was time to tell Shawn. The adoptive family left that day and I went over to Shawn’s house. I sat him down in the backyard and said, “Now, don’t get mad, but I have to tell you something very important that might even upset you.” I started crying and told him the whole story. I was now pregnant. He too began to cry, not knowing what to say. I assured him everything would be fine and that I had made the decision to place the baby up for adoption. I had explained to him that I had made this decision on my own and wanted to know his opinion. Shawn agreed with me that it was the best thing to do. He was not ready to help me raise a child and therefore it just reinforced the fact that if I were to keep the baby than he would not have a father figure in his life. My parents volunteered to help me raise my child, but it was my fault that I was pregnant not theirs. I was willing to do what I had to in order to do what was right for my child, and make the best out of the situation I had placed myself in. The life and future of my child was important to me and he deserved the best. I couldn’t provide him with everything so I had found a family that could give him everything that I had only wished I could have. I told Shawn about the adoptive family that day and how they said they were willing to meet him if he wanted to meet them. I assured him that everything would be ok. He decided against meeting them, which to this day I think he regrets. He supported my decision and we stuck together on it. It wasn’t over though, there was still the fear of telling my family and friends. For the most part my friends knew by now because I was beginning to show a little at school and the teachers all knew. As people started finding out and the true rumor started going around, I became nervous being around everyone. My friends were very supportive as well as my relatives and family.
I began growing very quickly and in my fifth month had to begin wearing stretch pants to school. However, I was still tiny and had only gained about 8 pounds. My monthly check-ups continued to be positive and the doctor said, “Even though you haven’t gained that much weight the baby seemed very healthy.” Shawn did not attend any of the doctors visits with me but I continually updated him on the reports from the doctor. It was also in the fifth month when I began the meetings to get the papers arranged and the legalities figured out for the adoption. It was amazing to me how much paperwork goes along with the adoption process. However, I was prepared to follow through with my decision no matter how much it took.
My due date was March 18, 1998 and the closer the date came the more nervous I was. I have a journal that I wrote in throughout my pregnancy, from the first day that I learned my little boy was inside of me until the present time. This is something that I would definitely recommend to any birth mom to help with the healing process. It is something that I like to reflect on and add new entries and new things that are happening in my life. I want my little boy to know what I was doing when he was growing up. Another surprise came on the evening of February 23, 1998. As I sat in classes all day long these sharp pains filled my entire body. As the day went on they occurred more often, but obviously since I did not know what contractions felt like, I did not assume that I could be going into labor. After all, the baby was not due for another three weeks. When I arrived home I knew something was happening. I told my mom when she got home that I had been having pains all day and she said, “Well it might be time!” So we were on our way to the hospital, my mom, my dad, and me. I was definitely ready. However, I was also very nervous because I was suppose to have three weeks left. I knew he would be a premature baby and just wanted him to be healthy. I had only gained about 15 pounds during my pregnancy and was praying that everything would go well.
I paged Shawn when we arrived at the hospital and shortly after he arrived. They put me in a room where 8 hours later I would deliver my beautiful baby boy. Bradley Tyson was born February 24, 1998 at 2:50am. When they first handed Bradley to me all I could do was cry knowing that the next 48 hours would be the last that I would get to spend with him, before he would leave with his new family. The next two days our room was filled with friends and family and Shawn and I spent all the time that we could with Bradley. Within the next few hours the adoptive parents also arrived. They lived in another state so they had to drive some distance to meet us at the hospital and meet their adoptive son. They were so excited, yet tears just filled my eyes. Tears of joy and also for pain. I was upset because here I had this little child inside of me for 8 months, we had bonded and I had grown to love him more than I had loved anything in the entire world, and I knew that I was going to have to say goodbye. I had to face reality, it was a decision I made knowing that it would be the most difficult thing I was ever going to have to do, yet it was the best thing for Bradley. He would grow up having everything I only wish I could have given him. Although we could have given him love there would have been no stability. Shawn and I had no future together besides our love for Bradley and with the adoptive parents he would be able to grow up playing all the sports and doing everything that little boys love to do.
Finally the time had come and we had to leave the hospital. Shawn and I went to my house and spent the last hour with Bradley. Sometimes arrangements can be made for the birth parents to stay with the baby for a week or so, but in our situation it would have been too difficult. I was already attached to my little boy and did not want the process to be anymore difficult than it was already going to be. The attorney arrived shortly after and as soon as the legal papers were signed, stating that we relinquished our rights to the adoptive parents, than they were called and came over to pick up their new little baby boy. They chose to change his name to Ryan, which was ok with Shawn and me, after all it would be the name that he would have and they would call him by for the rest of his life. I was very confident with the adoptive parents that I had chosen for my son and therefore it was comforting to have the adoptive parents by my side. It was also difficult at the same time because I knew that my life would never be the same again. I couldn’t believe everything was over. I handed my 5 lb. 15 ounce little boy to the adoptive mom and we all cried and hugged. They thanked Shawn and me continuously and promised to always keep in touch and send pictures and letters as often as possible. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but at the same time I knew it was the right thing for me to do. In my heart he will always be my little boy and my son, even if someone else is raising him. I never knew it was possible to love someone so much. As they walked out the door I just stood motionless and watched as they drove out of sight. All I could do was whisper, “Good-bye, I will always love you."
The next few months and years have all gone by so fast and Bradley, now known as Ryan, is always with me in my heart. I have kept in touch with the family and they have kept their promise to send pictures and letters with updates of all the activities he is involved in. Over the years I have been able to see all the wonderful things has has been able to do. He plays basketball, baseball, soccer, and even has tried wrestling. He also had had the opportunity to go on a jet ski and go on the boat at his parent’s lake house. He has all these opportunities because of adoption. If I were to have made the decision to try and raise him he would not be able to have all these wonderful opportunities that he has been able to experience. It has been a very successful adoption and even though I do miss him a lot, I have all the support I could possibly ask for. Seeing his smiling face in the pictures makes all my fears and doubts go away. I want to encourage people to always do what is right for them and understand that adoption is a positive alternative. I was very fortunate to have my son’s adoption go through so smoothly, but I believe it was because of the people that I encountered along the way and all the support I received through my counselor, school, friends, and family. It is because of them that I am able to talk to others about adoption and share my story with so many wonderful people in the adoption community. I am confident that I will one day get to meet Ryan again. I continue to write in my journal so that when that day comes for us to meet again he will know that every moment we were apart I loved him and was waiting for the moment when we would be together again! The adoptive family and I have a wonderful relationship and I am grateful to them every day for giving their son and my little boy everything in life that I had always dreamed of giving to him.
I dedicate this story and the opportunity to share my story to my little boy Ryan. He has been such an inspiration to me and I would not be where I am today without him by my side. He motivates me to be a better person and always strive for more. Ryan, I will love you always and forever!
Michelle (Proud Birth Mom)
9/24/10 Update to my personal experience with adoption
Today Ryan is 12 years and 7 months old. Time has gone by so fast and so much has happened. In November of 2008 I got married and this past June my husband and I had our first child, Callie. When I first found out I was pregnant there were a lot of emotions that ran through my mind. I was nervous, excited, scared, and constantly wondered how this pregnancy would be similar or different to my pregnancy with Ryan. As it turns out both pregnancies were very different and this time we were having a girl. A lot of my emotions and feelings surrounded my adoption experience. A lot of thoughts and feelings resurfaced and I was unsure how things would be once I delivered our baby girl. Being a new mom and parenting this child has brought about a new perspective and appreciation for adoption. I used to tell other birthmothers that I could have raised Ryan and he would have been just fine. As much as I still believe he would have been fine if I had to parent him, I am now reassured more than ever that I made the right decision with choosing adoption for him. He would have had all the love in the world but I could not have done it on my own. I never realized that I still needed closure for my adoption decision until I had my daughter. Parenting her has been an absolute dream but also the hardest job I have ever had. I know at 17 years old I would not have been able to give Ryan the life he deserved. I would not have been able to provide for him financially, emotionally, and physically without another full time partner and also the help of my parents. Choosing adoption for Ryan was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life but now that I have my daughter I am even more positive than ever before that I made the best decision for him. I know that he has the family he was meant to be with and that everything truly did happen for a reason. I love both Ryan and Callie equally and Callie will grow up knowing about her half-brother Ryan. I hope that they will one day be able to meet, whenever Ryan is ready or wants to. My children mean the world to me and I never knew it could feel so good to have the experience of adoption and the experience of parenting. I have closure and I am at peace with the decision to place Ryan when I was 17 years old and now, as a 30 year old, be able to provide my second child with what she deserves.
If you would like to talk to me please call 1-800-Adoption and ask for Michelle or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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