Something real. That's what we want you to experience through this series of conversations with women who chose adoption, abortion, or parenting. Women like you who found themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. Women who weren't sure what to do when they saw those two pink lines. Women who wanted to make a good decision and went through difficult things to do what they felt was the best decision at the time.
These stories are real, raw, and honest. There was no persuasion or coercion, just questions and listening.
We hope these stories will help you see some of the realities as you make your decision.
The following conversation is with a woman who chose adoption.
How old were you when you found out you were pregnant?
I was 16. I had just started my sophomore year of high school.
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
I had just started working at DQ. Some of the "older" 20-somethings were talking about pregnancy tests, and I realized I hadn't had my period. One of the ladies got a test, and I took it. It was positive, and I freaked out. It was super traumatic.
I called my boyfriend, and he came over. We talked about what to do. He was panicking. We didn't plan to hide it from our parents, but we were in fear and utter shock, thinking, What are we going to do? Is this even real?
When did adoption come up?
My parents brought it up initially. Maybe a couple of weeks into finding out that I was pregnant. They called my aunt, who was a Counselor/Licensed Social Worker, to get resources and advice. They even talked about sending me away to go live with my aunt. Lots of options were put on the table.
Did you consider parenting or abortion at any point?
I remember bringing up abortion in the panic of finding out. My parents said that wasn't an option. I didn't push back because I knew adoption was the right thing to do.
I never wanted to parent. My boyfriend, at one point, did want to keep him, but I was like, "No way." I had to convince him that this was the right thing to do. I told him, "Look at what we can offer him, and look at what he has here with these people." I had big plans for college and going away, getting out of my small town. There were kids in my school who had babies and chose to parent. To me, it seemed like more of a punishment to have to parent a child in my parent's basement for a lifetime. I wanted to do it the right way.
Did you ever think, "I wish I was his mom"?
After he was born, it did come up when I was seeing him with his adoptive parents. Just seeing him, holding him. What I really wished was that I was his mom, but in their situation. They were adults with a big, nice house and a chocolate lab. But I didn't want to be his mom alone in my parents' basement.
Did you have any kind of support system around you?
I had support through counseling in the entire process. My counselors helped me figure out what I did and didn't want.
I felt like it put a wedge between my parents and me. I don't think we've had a good, healing conversation about it yet. I felt really alone in the process. Some months would go by, and my parents wouldn't speak to me.
I always felt alone, no matter how many people were around me.
What was the hardest thing about choosing adoption?
In the moment and during the pregnancy, just the visual reminder daily of being a 16-year-old pregnant girl in a small town. I had a friend who had an abortion, and she never looked pregnant or had the visual reminder everywhere she went.
I felt like everyone was looking at me and judging me and thinking whatever they wanted about me. I felt like I had to hide away wherever I went.
Immediately after his birth, the hardest thing was saying goodbye. I don't even want to say it like that because it was an open adoption. We could still call and visit and things, but there was an initial deep feeling of pain and loss when we said goodbye.
What helped you work through those hard times?
Knowing what he was getting helped me get through the loss and grief period. Having some closure that he was fine—not wanting or needing anything, and not abandoned somewhere. You have those thoughts: that you're abandoning your child. But you can fight back against them. I could see he was living a good life and in a good place. Those truths helped me fight thoughts of condemnation. I think that was the beauty of open adoption. Mentally the open adoption helped make it so much better because I could see the life he was getting until I was ready to move on with my life.
What would you tell a woman today who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy?
If you truly feel you're not ready to be a parent, the best choice you can make is adoption. I have no regrets about my decision. There's no question about where he would be, what he would have been like, or what he would have been. I know because I get Christmas cards and see how he is.
If I'd had an abortion, I think I would have always wondered what he would be like. Would he look like his dad or me? What job would he have? What life would he be living?
Because I chose adoption, I have answers to those things.
Don't hide away. Find some people you can talk to, people to support you, that you can share with and be honest with. Don't believe the lie that you're alone. If I knew that there were resources and help to support me, I would have reached out, and I think that would have helped me not feel alone. I just didn't know about places like Resource Health at the time. I was the only person I knew who chose adoption.
Everything selfish in your being comes out. I felt like even keeping him to parent would have been selfish. I saw what kind of life he could have with his adoptive parents. I also didn't want to marry my boyfriend. He was great, but I knew that if we chose to parent, we would be in this together for life. I didn't want that, and I didn't want that to be the reason anyone would want to date me or be in my life.
Adoption isn't the easy decision. It takes a strong person to endure a year and a half of hard times. Years later, though, I don't have mental anguish from my decision. By choosing adoption, I was able to take what felt like a really bad situation and turn it into something extraordinary.