“I never imagined myself as a 15-year-old pregnant woman. Teenage pregnancy was common where I grew up, but I refused to believe it could ever happen to me. Well, it happened: I became pregnant in April of 2003. I didn’t tell a single person about it. I continued to participate in high school athletics and live a regular life, hoping and longing that this ‘thing’ would disappear. Then something happened… For the first time, I felt the child inside of me kick. I was afraid to die. There were so many things racing through my mind that I had no idea what to do. All I wanted was for it to be over. I was utterly overtaken by depression and anxiety. Fear had rendered me immobile.
I’m still not sure how it all went down or who notified my parents, but I got home from school one chilly October day to find my parents waiting for me with a pregnancy test. My heart had been shattered. My pregnancy would suddenly be on public display for all to see. I could see my parents’ disappointment in their eyes. I took the test, and it came back pregnant in an instant. No one knew how far along I was at this point since I was still in denial and not ready to talk about it.
That night, I recall crying more than I had ever sobbed in my life. ‘Marlys, we will make sure this baby is healthy and do everything we can to guarantee this pregnancy goes well,’ my mother remarked as I came into the kitchen with my mother and father. She then continued to read me my horoscope, and while the disappointment in the air could be cut like a knife, I could also sense my parents’ great love for me as their daughter. That night, when I lay next to my mother, she placed her palm on my stomach. She could tell I was pregnant right away.
My mother booked an appointment with her OB/GYN, and I was there a few days later, getting ready for an ultrasound. I recall returning to the ultrasound with my mother at my side. The place was dimly lit and eerie. The machines were enormous and quite cold. What was the story of my life? I was supposed to be having the time of my life. It was the start of my junior year, but I was pregnant, forever changing my life. I lay down on the ultrasound table, and everyone knew I was pregnant within seconds. According to the baby growing inside me, I was seven months pregnant, and the baby was a girl. I don’t recall much of what was stated during the rest of the meeting. All I knew was that I was expecting a child, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to carry it to term.
My mother then drove me to the store to acquire some pregnancy clothes because my size two jeans would no longer fit. The strangest thing was that my belly swelled in size within a few days, and it was clear I was pregnant like a basketball belly on a petite adolescent girl whose body was not built to carry a child my age.
I wish I could tell you more about the days that followed, but going through the motions was one of the ways I dealt with my sadness and anxiety. I recall returning home from school one day to find an adoption counselor waiting to speak with me about adoption. My mother had planned it because everyone thought it was the finest option for me and this wonderful life. I recall the adoption counselor being courteous. Looking back, I recognize the empathy she possessed in sitting with me and observing me and my suffering. I knew open adoption was the greatest option for my baby girl when she left my house that day. I called her father and informed him of my plans, and invited him to accompany me on my journey.
My next meeting with my adoption counselor was set. She arrived with a large stack of what looked like scrapbooks. My daughter’s father and I went through the books together. The first book I bought had a rough cover and was a lovely pale green color. The front-page couple had something about them that drew me in. I read the letter they had written to the birth mother as I went through their book. They were always going to be one of my top picks. I’m not sure how many more books we went through that day, but my mind and heart kept returning to the first one I saw. I couldn’t picture my daughter being with anyone else, and I knew this pair would be the right match.
We set up a dinner meeting with them. I was only 16, and this was the most crucial interview of my life. When I was getting ready, I recall wanting to appear great. It was important to me that they be flawless. I desired perfection amid chaos. Our adoption counselor was waiting for her birth father and me when we arrived at Outback Steakhouse. We sat at the table for a few minutes before they emerged. My heart was hammering against the inside of my chest. The baby girl in my womb was doing cartwheels and appeared to be attempting to catch the butterflies flying in my stomach. I recall asking them questions about how they planned to raise her and what they were like. We exchanged warm embraces and a short, ‘We’ll talk to you soon,’ as we departed supper that night.
I climbed into the car’s passenger seat and promptly passed out. I knew it was the appropriate option to put my daughter in someone else’s arms. I realized she couldn’t possibly be mine since it would be egotistical. This child deserved so much more than I could ever give her. ‘Those are the people who will raise our newborn girl,’ I remarked to her birth father once my weeping had subsided. When I returned home, I walked through the door and informed my parents of my decision. We celebrated Thanksgiving with her future parents and their families over the next few days. As we eagerly awaited the entrance of this beautiful life, we exchanged phone calls and checked in.
As my due date approached, I walked in brokenness and fear. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my daughter in the hospital. Everyone was on board, so I started writing my birth plan. Instead of preparing for Winter Ball by choosing the right dress and shoes, I developed a birth plan and attended childbirth classes with my mother. This was not the life that any of us had imagined for me.
On January 10th, I awoke with the distinct impression that my water had just burst. I quietly approached my mother’s bedside and informed her that I believed I was in labor. She sprung from her bed and leaped into action. I was 16 at the time, and I wanted to look good in photos with my daughter. Since she wouldn’t be in my arms for long, these images of her in my arms at the hospital would be the only ones I had. I then proceeded to shower, apply make-up, and style my hair. It was time to get to the hospital, so I piled into the car with my mother at my side. I informed her adoptive mother that it was time. I requested them to stay at home until I was ready to hand her over to them. Everyone was on board because I needed time with her.
It was time to push around 2 hours after getting to the hospital. Oh, my gosh, I was not emotionally or physically prepared for this. This was the final straw. I knew my newborn girl would no longer be mine in a day or two. She showed up, and she was flawless. She had ten lovely little toes and ten perfect little fingers. Her lungs were incredibly powerful. That girl could weep, and she still uses her lungs to this day!
Everyone spent time with my precious Kya Monet in the hospital room with my family. We named her, knowing that they might change it, but it was vital to me that she had a name that was mine.
I hugged Kya and gave her my undivided attention. My time was running out, and my heart was aching. The nurses were incredibly kind to me and met me right where I was in those trying times. My final full day with her was January 11th. I recall sobbing on the hospital restroom floor while holding her. From the depths of my soul, guttural sobs. How could I abandon her when she was my baby? I couldn’t believe it had come to this. This would be the last time she would be solely mine.
I was undecided. I fought back. I sobbed. I shattered. But, I understood exactly what I had to do in the end. It wasn’t me being her mother; I knew what was best for her and her future.
I knew it was time to get her dressed in her going-home clothes to a house that I had hand-picked for her on January 12th. As I spoke to her about her future and how much she is loved, I clung to her tightly and let my tears fall on her. She’d be adopted openly, but she’d never been mine again. The nurse told us her new parents were ready for her, so I put her in the plastic bassinet. I pushed the bassinet along the frigid hospital corridor to a room where her new parents stood. I took her out of the bassinet for the last time, kissed her soft baby cheek, and placed her in her mama’s arms.
We’ve remained in touch over the years. It used to be in visits and updates from her adoptive parents when she was younger. There were a lot of visits some years, and others our visits seemed to be few and far between. But we never lost touch; I was constantly aware of my daughter’s whereabouts and activities. Her adoptive parents usually send Mother’s Day gifts, and I always text her mama to thank her for providing a future for our daughter. It was difficult at times, incredibly difficult at times. As her birth mother, there were times when hearing her call her adoptive mother’s mom’s for the first time shattered my heart. Even though I desperately wanted to be a source of comfort for her after she fell, her adoptive mother was there for her.
However, it has recently become delightfully difficult. My biological daughter is now 16 years old and a junior in high school. My baby girl and I are fortunate to see each other weekly. She calls me mama and reaches out when she wants advice or just a listening ear. My three children adore their older sister and rush to embrace her as soon as she walks through the door. For her, my house has become a haven. My heart is overflowing with joy, knowing that God has used and continues to utilize all the difficulties for His glory. We exchange Snapchat daily and are definitely on one other’s best buddy lists. I’ve even appeared on her TikTok account a couple of times.
I understand that not every adoption story is the same as ours, but looking back, I can see Jesus in every step of our journey. I see His grace and goodness in her adoptive parents’ lives, in my own life, and the lives of our amazing daughter. She has just verbally accepted to play soccer at a D1 institution and excels in AP classes at school. She is a very remarkable human being.
I am frequently asked if I regret placing my child for adoption, and I must say that I do not. It shattered me. It still tears my heart at times, but in the end, her life would not be the same if it weren’t for the beauty of adoption in our lives. I couldn’t have asked for better adoptive parents to help me nurture my daughter into the wonderful woman she is now. So, no, I wouldn’t make any changes.
‘I gave her life, she gave her a future, and we both gave her hope,’ is one of my favorite phrases. God’s love is so clear in my tale, and I would never have guessed this would be my life at 33 when I was 15 years old. I feel privileged to be a birth mother. In the midst of it all, I am delighted to walk alongside other birth mothers and assist them in choosing life. I am very grateful that we chose open adoption, and we are learning to appreciate all of the beauty and redemption in our story every day. God isn’t finished yet, and I’m so glad our narrative isn’t ended!”
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