It's been so long since I told my story in it's entirety, I've almost forgotten where to start ;)
I conceived my son in Aug 1997. It was an end-of-summer fling. My family was getting ready to move to a new (old) state, I was getting ready to start my Senior year. We moved, and I started school. By October I was dating a new great guy, but started thinking maybe my lack of period was something more than my typical irregularity. Sure enough, an HPT confirmed my fears, I was pregnant. (As an aside, it is so wild to me that as an adolescent I didn't think of pregnancy until I was almost 10 weeks pregnant; with my second son, I knew at 10 dpo.) My boyfriend and I cried a lot that day; I thought of terminating for a few days, but within a week knew that adoption was the right choice for us. My parents were initially outraged, but soon became supportive. I started going to the midwife, and started taking vitamins. I quit smoking, and started drinking more milk. I went to my appointments and ultrasounds alone, and it didn't occur to me that that was sad or lonely, until 9 years later when my husband accompanied me to prenatal appointments and ultrasounds. I loved my baby, but never wavered in my plan to place.
All the typical mile stones of 2nd trimester came and went. I felt movement, I started to show. My teachers turned out to be amazingly supportive, and my boyfriend and I had a really great relationship. Looking back, I can't remember how I thought I was going to find a family. I don't know if May just always seemed so far away so I thought I had tons of time? In any case, at my 24 week appt my midwife asked if I was planning to breastfeed. I told her no, I was planning to place. She directed me down the hallway to the social worker. I went to the office, and told her I wanted to make an adoption plan. I had seen an after school special with Mary Stewart Masterson in which a teen girl placed her baby, but still got to see him. I told her I wanted that. And then, for the first time, I heard the words "open adoption". She gave me a phone number to an agency based out of Vermont who facilitated open adoptions. I said thanks and left. The whole thing took 5 minutes. I went home and called. It all felt so calm, drama-free, almost nonchalant. It was like I was calling for a pizza... "hi, I'm pregnant and would like to place my baby in an open adoption." They responded like Papa John's does when you tell them you want a large pepperoni... "ok, let's get some more info." Days later 4 profiles arrived in the mail. I liked G&D the best right off the bat; their profile was bright and colorful. The agency arranged a phone call, and I spoke with G&D for the first time on 2.12.98. I had just turned 18, and was 26 weeks along. I asked them a few questions, that now seem trivial, but there is no template for this kind of conversation! We talked for 15 or 20 minutes, and the next day I told the agency they were It. For a while I felt kind of weird about choosing the only couple I spoke with; I felt like I should be able to tell my son that I had rigorously interviewed hundreds of couples so as to find just the right one. But, when you know, you know. I still found him just the right couple, it just happened to be the first one. We then spoke every Tuesday for the duration of the pregnancy. I enjoyed the phone calls, I liked chatting with D, but they were so much less monumental to me than to her. I suppose it's because I was really the only one who could know how committed I was to giving them my baby. All this time, the bdad did not know what was going on. I had a gut feeling that he wouldn't be on board, so I stuck my head in the sand. In April, it became clear that this wasn't going to go down without his consent. So, I brought him up to speed, and he was lukewarm at best. We all went along assuming he'd sign when the time came.
The (first) End
My water broke 5 days before my due date. I went to the hospital for augmentation and G&D hit the road. Thankfully my labor dragged on, as they hit the most horrendous traffic and what should have been a 3 hour drive turned into a 7 hour trip. I was in my hospital bed, in labor, and all I could think about was how agonizing in must be to be stuck in traffic when you are trying to get to your son's birth. They got to my room with plenty of time to spare, as it turned out, because I pushed for 4 solid hours. My mom and D held my hands, and my knees, and wiped my forehead. G was in the little baby alcove, I wasn't quite ready for him to see the gory stuff. I screamed through the delivery, and someone yelled "it's a boy!". They took the baby to the alcove, and G&D spent some time meeting their son. My mom and I hugged and cried. We took tons of pictures that I still love to pour over. I looked so young. After a few hours, I went to my post partum room, C went to the nursery, and everyone went home to get some sleep since it was about 4am. Later that morning, I rang the nursery and asked for my baby; I fully expected them to say "no". Obviously they did not, and I spent some time holding and caring for my son before G&D arrived back at the hospital. That day was fantastic; we all hung out, and it felt just right. Early in the evening, birthdad came to the hospital. I was totally unprepared to see him, but knew he had every right to see the baby. The next morning our worlds came crashing down.
The Real End of the Story
It was early on C's second day of life that my facilitator called my room to tell me birthdad said he was not signing TPR. He went back to his home state, he was not going to sign. 5 minutes later D called to tell me they were on their way back to the hospital, and I had to break it to her. It was the worst phone call I've ever experienced. They came to the hospital to say good bye. They brought me their car seat, diapers, clothes, all the supplies I didn't have because I wasn't supposed to be taking a baby home. It was awful. I took the baby home the next day completely unprepared in every way, to be a mom. I had been emotionally preparing for something entirely different. It was really, really hard. D told me later that that experience gave her great insight to what a birthmom feels: she felt like a mother with no baby. So, I parented C, and did a good job. G&D called weekly to see how we were; we had a friendship by now, and it was impossible to just sever all communication. Birthdad would call periodically, but really wasn't participating. When C was 6 weeks old, I called birthdad to say something, anything, that this wasn't how it was supposed to be. He asked if we could still place and I told him yes. C was laying on the bed next to me as I called D to tell her birthdad was ready, we were going to proceed. I looked down at my son, and thought about how this little tiny infant had no idea how his life had just changed in that moment. A week later we were in court terminating. The following week we spent transitioning C to his new caregivers. We all spent the first night together, I would start a feeding and D would finish it. We did our best to honor the fact that this was a huge transition for such a little baby. He did very well, and the new family went home when C was 8 weeks old.
Peoples' first question is always about how much harder it was to place after parenting for 7 weeks. The answer is yes, and no. Yes it was harder, for obvious reasons; my house screamed baby. My room smelled like a baby, pacifiers were laying around, it was eerily quiet. But, those 7 weeks gave me an honest look at single teen parenting. It made it impossible to romanticize parenting. I missed being a teenager. I knew more than ever, that placing was the right thing to do.
Birthdad still sees C, as well, and has proven to be a pretty great birthdad. He needed more time, and I admire him for resisting being rushed into such a huge decision.
That's the story, folks.