From the moment I found out I was pregnant in 2003, I considered adoption. I didn't know what all that meant. What I did know is that I wasn't in a place emotionally, mentally, or financially to raise a child the way I felt the child deserved to be raised.
I met with some birthmother counselors from a couple of adoption agencies to talk about the very, very beginning of the adoption process. I walked into those appointments thinking "This is going to be hard to talk about." I walked out of those appointments thinking "This is going to be so much harder than I ever thought." The thought of going through a whole pregnancy, labor, and delivery and NOT keeping the "prize" (ie, the child) in the end seemed counterintuitive. The thought of being a single mom overwhelmed me, too. I didn't like my options, but I had to choose.
As the pregnancy progressed and I made some decisions (like moving home) to help ease the stress of my situation, I had more time and mental space (or "bandwidth", to use a corporate term) to consider my decision. I talked to single moms. I talked to birthmothers. I prayed. A lot.
Roughly eight weeks before Chloe was born, I made my decision final. I was placing this child for adoption to give her the best chance at life that I could give her. The agency I was working with (Bethany Christian Services) started pulling adoptive parent profiles for me to look through. I told them my criteria: out of state, ideally a biracial couple, or if it was a white couple I hoped that they already had another adopted biracial child in their home. I hoped to stay in touch through the agency, getting pictures and updates sent to me via BCS, but no direct contact between me and the parents. (semi-open adoption) I flipped through a few parent profiles, but had no idea how to make a decision for this child growing in me.
Meanwhile, several couples at my parents' church had approached my parents saying they would be interested in adopting my baby. I had ruled out all of those people because they were "too close to home". I thought it would be too hard to have her so close to me and my family. But then, my heart shifted. I kept coming back in my mind to this one couple my parents knew. The parents were biracial (Puerto Rican/Cuban/American) AND they had an adopted son who was biracial. I kept looking through parent profiles at the agency, but I realized I was measuring everyone against this couple from church.
The problem was I didn't know how to find out more about them without dragging them through a potential emotional roller coaster. They didn't have a parent profile book I could thumb through at the agency. They had a young son (14 months old). Were they even interested in adopting again so quickly after their first child? How would they feel about both of our families being in such proximity at the church? How could I get answers to these questions? What if I didn't want to choose them in the end? Would that be heart-breaking to them?
The solution? Pastor Lynton Turkington played middle man for me. He called Melissa and Alvin and asked them my first question, without revealing to them it was me asking: Are you interested in adopting again, soon? After they said yes, they were interested, he told them who I was and asked my second question: How do you feel about the proximity of both of our families in this church? Do you foresee that being a problem? Too close for comfort? To which they answered "No problem. We'll just figure it out as we go along." (They are very laid back, easy-going people...one of the many things I love about them.)
My heart had done such a 180 degree turn. I went from wanting her out of state, staying in touch through a third party (the agency), to wanting her as close as possible. If I was not in a place to raise her myself, I wanted to be able to see her and hold her and hear about her and watch her grow. I figured it might be painful, to see her and have her so close. But I chose that pain over the pain of never getting to see her or interact with her.
Melissa, Alvin, their son Shiloh and I met for the first time over dinner at an Olive Garden. I remember Alvin asking me about timing.
Alvin: "So, how long are we talking here, until she's born?"
Me: "Three to six weeks." (I was 34 weeks pregnant at the time.)
Can you imagine getting six weeks notice that you were going to have another baby?? Holy moly...
So that is how I chose open adoption. It just sort of evolved into that as I went through my decision making process.
And Melissa, Alvin, and I have done just as we said we would. We've figured things out as we've gone along. There are times when it's bittersweet to see Chloe. But I would rather experience that bittersweetness and get to see her than the alternative...
*I'm linking up with Open Adoption Bloggers for their roundtable discussion.
Other posts from me about adoption:
Grandparents and Adoption