Tuesday, January 12, 2010

guest blogger: heather ~ I loved her first

i met heather at the birthmom retreat in WA this past sept, she was still pregnant and was committed to an adoption plan and had recently met the couple, we were all so excited to hear about it. she had a unique situation compared to the rest of us that were there, and even though she was struggling with her emotions about the decision, she knew what she felt was right for her and her baby. she said she worried about coming on the retreat- feeling awkward since she was still pregnant, but she said something at the end about how she was glad she came and glad to be apart of such a unique and powerful sisterhood of women. we all echoed the importance of the new friendships we had made and the strength gleaned from one another. every burden is easier to bear when shared with a friend. heather asked me if she could share her story as part of her healing process and im so glad she did, i think writing and sharing really does unspeakable amounts of solace for the heart.

heather also has shared a letter that she wrote to her daughter shortly after placement (below in a separate post) in hopes that it may help someone else be better prepared with those feelings of intense heartache. i remember heathers facebook status "they were right, you really do feel like youre going to die..." i can assure you that she did not die! and after 4 days was only crying every 10 minutes instead of every 5, yes heather, that is progress!

heather - my sincerest apologies that you felt like no one 'told you' how it might be when you came home from placement. its hard to talk about those first few days and i think too often 'we' just assume that someone else already told 'you' or shared or else 'we' assume 'youll' be scared and that that will become a self fulfilling prophecy and be detrimental to the beauty that is placement, its not on purpose, its not to lie or to deceive or to coerce you into your adoption plan, i hope you didnt feel like we betrayed you somehow, cuz we were all cheering our guts out for you and sending you our sisterluvs, i hope you felt us, i hope you still do.  im so glad you are willing to share your beautiful thoughts and powerful emotions of true mother love. i am honored to call you friend. many will benefit from your example and take strength from your tender experience. i love you! ~birthMOM (desha)

My story begins long before I got pregnant.  My parents got divorced when I was very young.  For most of my childhood my dad raised my sister and I as a single parent.  During most of my formative years, my mom had some problems with drugs and alcohol and wasn’t around very often.  I still remember the phone calls on Friday nights, hearing the messages on the answering machine saying that she wasn’t going to be able to pick us up for her visitation weekend; she’d see us next time.  More than anything, I remember how it made me feel.  Hurt and crying I could only thing I could think was that it must somehow be my fault.  This went on for awhile, and then it just stopped.  It went from sporadic visits and occasional phone calls to weeks, months and sometimes years without hearing anything.  There is a period of about 6 or 7 years where I didn’t even know where my mom lived most of the time.

Then when I was 11, my dad remarried.  His new wife had a daughter of her own, and there was always a division between her and the rest of the kids.  To everyone else, we were a blended family, a whole unit, but to everyone on the inside of the circle, there were my dad’s kids and her daughter.  There were a lot of times I thought how nice it would be to just go back to when it was the three of us, me my sister and my dad.  It wasn’t always easy, sure, but at least things were fair and equal.

When I was 21, I got married.  My husband and I had only known each other for 9 months when we got married.  Six months later, we got pregnant with our first son.  When he was two months old, we got pregnant with his brother. On our two year anniversary, we laughed about how I had spent the majority of our short marriage preggo.  We were so sure that we were happy with our two boys and done having kids that my husband had a vasectomy when our youngest son was just a couple of months old.
Then next few years passed by pretty uneventfully, but after about 5 and ½ years, our marriage got rocky.  We had gotten married so quickly and so young, there were a lot of kinks to work out.  Over time, we quit working on those kinks and suddenly, we were no longer priorities to each other.  We decided to separate.  I had made some friends and was spending more and more time going out and having fun, living the life I thought I had been missing out on. During that time, I met a guy who became my emotional support.  Whenever I was having a bad day, or if I had gotten into a fight with my husband, I leaned on the shoulder of my new friend. After a few weeks, feelings started to develop.  I ignored them at first; after all, I was still married.   Then one night, emotional support turned into well, more.  I quickly realized it was a huge mistake.  I cut ties with the guy and reconciled with my husband.  In our time apart, I had realized that I missed our family life together.  I missed the mornings when our sons would come into our room and the four of us would lie in bed together, tickling and laughing and playing.
We had only begun to reconcile our relationship and were trying to salvage our marriage when I found out I was pregnant.  I also found out about the same time that the guy I had been involved with was using drugs and had a lot of problems I didn’t know about.  I found out from his sister in law that he had stolen a bunch of stuff from my house and pawned it to pay off money he owed for drugs. When I told him I was pregnant, the first thing he said to me was that I should have an abortion.  I told him that wasn’t a possibility; there wasn’t a chance in hell of that happening.  After that, he didn’t acknowledge it at all.  It was months before he said anything to me about it again.  He never once asked me when I was due.

I told my husband about the pregnancy, and for a couple of weeks it really derailed the progress we were making in getting back together.  Ultimately, we decided that our marriage was still worth fixing. We talked about our options with the baby, and he thought adoption was the best way to go.  At first I agreed because I thought that was the only way he was going to stay with me.  In my mind I didn’t think I could go through with it.  I met with a caseworker and talked about it in April.  Then I stopped talking to her.  I ignored her calls and emails.  I just couldn’t see myself going through with adoption.  I couldn’t stand the thought of it.  How could I place this baby for adoption knowing how many wonderful things my two sons had brought into my life?  I felt like placing the baby for adoption was like giving away an unwanted piece of furniture.  I didn’t want the baby growing up thinking I loved her any less than her brothers, that I wanted them and not her.

For months, I kept telling my husband that I was still thinking about adoption, but in my mind I was telling myself I was going to keep her.  Then I started thinking about how I grew up feeling with my mom in and out of my life, disappearing and reappearing at her leisure.  How alone and abandoned I felt.  Then how isolated and separate I felt in my own house after my dad remarried.  It hurt me to think that my little girl might ever feel that way.  I saw so many things in the birthfather that I experienced with my own mother that I knew it would be the same way for my daughter.  This baby had no say in how she was conceived. She didn’t have control over the circumstances that brought her into this world.  I couldn’t let her grow up in a situation where she would know that kind of pain.  I also knew there would be people in my family and my husband’s family that would treat her differently than my sons just because of who her father was.  No child should grow up feeling any different than the other kids around them, let alone their own siblings.  How could I knowingly put her in the position where I KNEW that would happen?  I couldn’t. And I made up my mind that my daughter would never have to feel any of the pain I felt growing up.  I made up my mind that I would place her for adoption.

I called the caseworker and set up a meeting.  It was August and my due date in November was fast approaching.  I knew it was getting down to the wire, so I started looking at profiles of adoptive couples.  I could tell right away the couples who had adopted before-they read like they were trying to “sell” themselves to me.  You think you know just what I want to hear I would think to myself.  I spent hours crying in front of my computer screen.  With every profile I read I lost hope that I would find a couple who would love my little girl as much as I did.  Nobody seemed worthy of receiving the amazing gift that would be my daughter.  Then one day as I read one “sales pitch” after another, I was all but ready to give up.  I couldn’t handle the panicked feeling I got about actually going through with the adoption anymore.  The stress was getting to me and I felt like I wouldn’t ever find “the couple”.  Then I told myself to give it five more profiles, and then I could be done for the day.  I clicked on the next profile on the list and began reading.  “Dear Birthmother”, it started just like the rest.  But unlike all the profiles I had seen before, there was no emptiness in the pit of my stomach as I read.  I didn’t feel like vomiting all over my keyboard.  I stopped mid-letter and realized I felt what I had been missing through this entire process-peace.  I continued reading, not knowing how to react to this newfound calmness.  I sat back after I reviewed everything in their profile and breathed a sigh of relief.  After weeks of stress, tears and uncertainty, I knew I had found the couple that would be the parents to my baby girl.

After a few weeks of emailing back and forth, we set up a face to face meeting.  I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat all day.  I worried that I thought they were so great on paper, what if I didn’t like them in person? What if they didn’t agree with my definition of what would be an open adoption?  What if they didn’t like me? By the end of the meeting, I didn’t have anything to worry about.  Liz was so much like me, it was scary.  Brian actually reminded me a lot of my husband.  And after hearing their story about struggling to get pregnant for the entire 6 years of their marriage, I couldn’t have picked a better couple for my baby.

We continued to email back and forth throughout the remainder of my pregnancy.  We talked about what the baby would be named.  I cried when they asked if they could give the baby my middle name, and of course I agreed.  Liz emailed me pictures of the nursery.  I marveled at the fact that once I met them, I didn’t have a single reservation about the adoption.  I still cried about having to do it, but I knew in my heart it was right, I knew that God meant for this couple to have this baby, I just needed to be there to make it happen.

Haley Elaine was born on a Friday, 11 lbs 9 oz and a full 10 days early.  I dreaded Sunday morning when we would be released and the placement would happen.  Then the doctor told me that Haley would have to stay in the hospital an extra day.  She was a little jaundiced because she was so big, so they wanted to get that resolved before they let her go.  I think Heavenly Father just knew I wasn’t ready to let her go and gave me an extra day.  Either way I was grateful.  Monday morning came, Haley was released from the hospital, and my caseworker picked us up and took us to the office for the placement.

Haley is almost 2 months old now, and it still hurts, but I know I made the right decision.  Instead of the pain and abandonment she would have felt from her birthfather if I would have kept her, she will grow up with two parents who love her.  She will have a stable home life and never have to feel like she is unwanted or unloved.  I’ll still get to see her grow up through pictures and visits, and someday when she’s old enough, I’ll be able to tell her myself all the reasons why I chose to place her.  I’ll be able to tell her it wasn’t because I didn’t love her, it was because I loved her so much that I wanted to spare her the pain I knew I could prevent.   And I’ll be able to tell her that I loved her first, I held her first, and she will always have a place in my heart.


birthmomforever said...

thanks for sharing your story. I love the letter you wrote for your daughter so much emotion. I know she will know of your love and sacrifice to give her a better life.

Unknown said...

Heather! You are beautiful and amazing and look at Ms.Haley!! How cute is she?!? Now I'm balling, but wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you and I applaud you for sharing something so painful and fresh. I love you girl!!

CCmomma said...

amazing story! You are hitting a deep spot in my heart! Thanks for sharing such intimate details about your life and decision to place:)

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