When Hannah first told us that she was pregnant, we were devastated, to say the least. I don’t know that there’s even a good enough word for how we felt. A lot of crying, a lot of screaming, the first few days were not pretty. It was really, really, really difficult.
We had our family over and just sort of cried together and tried to process it. I think that’s the hardest part is that you hit this part where you realize as an adult that her entire life has changed. Every plan that we have made for her, it is different. Every hope, every dream that we had for her future. And you begin to look at those things.
The first few days you are grieving, the lens of grief. And it’s really hard to see the potential for what it is. And I think there’s also that part of me that realized, “wait a minute, I’m grieving when there’s life. Should I be grieving? Okay, I can’t stop.” And so, it’s emotional, I would say.
It took us about a week or two to function and be able to discuss it, even just amongst the two of us, my husband and I. It was hard, it was really difficult. We had a decision to make. We felt like, from day one, we felt like something…like a decision needed to be made. And so, I think everybody knows there are three decisions, basic decision for pregnancy. Fortunately for us, as believers, one of those options was just really easy, we were able to take abortion off the table. And that left us with two, which would be parenting and keeping her baby or putting this baby up for adoption.
The reality is those two options sound like polar opposites; and, there’s nothing but totally aligned. I think because we are a family of adoption, adoption was just sort of always something we knew was there. So the decision for us came down to really having to do a gut check. To one of those look yourself in the mirror and be honest about who you are, what you believe, and what you’re capable of, and more importantly, not capable of.
We started looking at Hannah, and at the time, she’s 15 years old. You begin to think about all the things you want for her: I want her to go to school, I want her to get asked to homecoming, I want her to go to her prom and I want her to go to the football games and pep rallies. I want her to do all that high school has to offer. I realized that with a child that doesn’t enjoy school very much and struggles, how much more is she going to struggle.
The school has a great job of sending a teacher to her plus sending someone with the pregnancy program to talk to her about where she’s at, what to expect with her body, and all of those things. That’s actually been a pretty decent experience for us.
I think one overarching thing that all teen mom would have to agree to is that they’re immature. And none of them are really ready for this. I’m not sure any of us, when we’re first time parents, are really ready for it. So it was a hard look at Hannah from that standpoint. Could she do this and how much would her life change if she did. And then, from there, thinking about the baby. What baby sits in heavy and says, “Hey God, send me to the teen mom, who’s clueless.”
No baby wants that. No baby says, “gosh, I hope I get a teen mom, who is growing up with me.” Right. Statistically, relationships in teens don’t typically work, they don’t last. So realizing that this baby could be raised not just by a teen mom, but by a single one. I can’t imagine that there’s a teen mom out there who parents by herself. It really relies on mom and dad to do the work, so I had to take a hard look at my husband and realizing we like where we are in life. We love that we have date night, that we don’t hire a babysitter anymore.
When him and I started off in our marriage, we had decided, if at all possible, we never wanted our kids to go to daycare. So him and I worked opposite of each other all their lives to make that happen. And now that they’re older, we finally work the same schedule and have time off together. A new baby ruins that. So everything changes.
So then you look at the baby’s perspective. What baby says to himself is not only do I want a teen mom, and potentially no dad, but I have old parents to raise me, grandparents to raise me.
I, myself, am adopted, my child is adopted, my child is not putting her child up for adoption. And I get that from so many perspectives. It’s that word wanted. When I was a child, all I wanted was to be wanted. And a couple wanted me. When I look at Hannah, I see a child I wanted. And that’s what I want for her baby. I want him to be wanted by two people who are thrilled with the opportunity to love him and parent him, that have a nursery set up, their excitement is just overflowing. I want that for him. I want him to have parents who are thrilled when he cries in the middle of the night because they just want to see him one more time. I want all of that for him.
So a couple of weeks ago, we had an opportunity to choose our family. I would have thought it would have been a daunting task, I was a little concerned, you have all these people that you know are great, how do you pick one? And the short answer is, you don’t, God does.
He knew exactly. Hannah and I were on the same page, we didn’t question anything, it was perfect. The last few weeks we’ve had an opportunity to get to know this family and talk to them and the think they say the most that warms my heart, well there are a couple, but they want to talk about the future. Not the future of when this baby’s born, they talk about years down the road. They talk about when the baby hits this milestone, this is where Hannah will be. These people expect to be in our lives forever. To do life with us as long as that’s what decide. So I go back to that first thought of, “are there really two choices?” Yes, there are. You have the choice of parenting or putting up for adoption, but they’re really more alike than you realize. They’re really just parenting differently. Somebody else gets up with them in the middle of the night, somebody else figures out what elementary school he’s going to go to, but we love him from afar. And we get to be a part of his life as much as we want.
The thing I prayed for most was that they would love my child. And they do. Every mom wants someone to love their child. These people love my child. They love my daughter. When they talk to her, they always ask her, “how are you and how can we pray for you?” Not the baby. They’re excited for the baby, but they care about her. They want to know that she’s going to be okay. And that just warms my Mama-heart.
So being out in public with a daughter who’s pregnant is hard for me. Some days, maybe not so much. But most days. There is embarrassment, there is shame. I think for a mom, and also for a dad as well, it’s, “how did I screw this up so bad?” “I must have messed up as a mom and dad, our parenting must really stink that this has happened to us.” So it’s that shame from that. Not because my child is pregnant and this happened, it’s more selfish. It’s more, “I must have done this wrong. I must not be a good enough mom that this happened.” So I think that’s where most of the shame comes from.
There have been times when we’re walking through the store that I ask her if she has a bigger sweatshirt or if she can pull her shirt down, just not wanting there to be all the looks. I wish I could say that it’s because I love my daughter so much and I just don’t want people staring at her, and while there’s an element to that, it’s more of a selfish element than it is anything.
I’ve always told my girls, “if you ever get pregnant, you will have to go to school and you will have to show everybody and you will have to put your baby up for adoption because I’m not raising anybody’s kid,” not knowing I’d be here one day. It does change things. So I think having adopted children, adoption was always talked about in our home. It’s something we’re very comfortable with. So I don’t know that it was necessarily an out-of-the-blue thought that someone had to bring to us. I think it was knowing our three options.
So our first step after I sort of came out of my turtle shell was remembering the sign for a pregnancy help for you. I didn’t know what that place was or what they did, but we showed up and they were able to do a pregnancy test and a sonogram, some counseling. They were probably one of the first ones that told us about Embrace Grace and led us there, which has been tremendous. Through that, we saw the Legacy sign for adoption, so we knew that was there.
I have tons of friends who have adopted and they all have used different agencies so I knew some of the bigger names, but when I met with Legacy, one of the things that struck me so different was how much you love our daughters and how they’re first. The first thing that you said to us was that if it was just about a baby, I could put a baby in a day, it’s about loving you. And that’s what I wanted. I wanted someone who put my daughter first. I want someone to love her, the way I love her. That was important to me.
Legacy led us to a wonderful OB-GYN who we love greatly and will continue to use for years to come. So there’s that. And then, just being there, through those times that I’ve gotten—I mean, I’ve called Marcie before in the middle of the evening and just cried because something crazy happened. She’s been there to talk me down and say it’s going to be okay. But she’s taken care of some of the physical needs of Hannah, but also some of the emotional needs of Hannah. Having someone that shows up once a week and just sits down and wants to know how she’s doing and how they can help her; I think that’s, more than anything, been important to us.
So has this been hard? There have been times that are hard and there are times that it’s not. Once the decision was made—I think that’s the hardest part is really looking at yourself and going through that. But after that God really just did the rest. He showed up and did the rest and has made this so seamless. So it’s not easy, in a sense, but it’s not hard, either. It’s really just become our life right now. I think it’s just where we are.
The most challenging part for me with Hannah being pregnant is the embarrassment, definitely the embarrassment. I think that’s it more than anything. It was extremely hard for me to share with my friends that she’s pregnant. And, if I’m honest, I really haven’t shared with many people that she is pregnant.
Dealing with the embarrassment is hard because it comes and goes at times that you don’t think it should. And about the time that you think you’re in a good place, you’re right back there again. In coping with the embarrassment, it’s just been having a good friend, having a good friend that I could call and say anything to, that knows me and loves me and knows where I’m coming from and isn’t going to give me the pat answers, but is just going to listen. That’s really all that you want sometimes, is just someone who’s going to sit on the other end of the phone or in front of you and just listen.
I think my biggest challenge with Hannah choosing adoption is the fear of her backing out. I think that’s probably my biggest fear as a mom who has adopted and gets that, get’s the gravity of that and the importance of that and how your heart becomes so in love with a baby you’ve never met. I can’t imagine the heartbreak that the mom would feel if she backed out. So I think my biggest thing would just be my fear of her backing out for her sake, because of everything she would lose out on and everything that would change her life completely and all the reasons that we chose adoption to begin with. Second to that, I think a lot about the depression when Hannah comes home from the hospital. One of my friends adopted and she held her baby after he was about three hours old after the mom had had her time. She said the hardest thing for her was the day that Mom left the hospital because she turned and walked out empty handed. She said, “I sat there holding her baby and I cried for her. And she left empty handed.” And I think that’s the first time I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m the one going home empty handed.” I’ve always been the one blessed. I’m going home with something precious and now I’m going home empty handed.
The one thing I think I would want a mom to know if her daughter came to her pregnant is that it’s not the end of the world. She didn’t do anything wrong, I’m sure. She’s going to grieve, she’s going to be happy, and she’s going to be sad. And all of those things are okay. I think the most important thing is to step back and really take a hard look at your own child and see what they’re capable of. And then the other thing I would want them to know is that there is a family out there, there is a couple out there, that has never had a child or can’t have a child or maybe does and can’t have more, different situations, either way, their heart is ready, they’re wanting a baby, they’re wanting this and they want to do life with you. They want this open adoption. This is not something scary, where you’re going to hand your baby off and you’re never going to see it again and you’re going to wonder. There have been background checks, there have been FBI checks, and there have been every kind of thing gone on to make sure this family is everything they say they are. You have to do none of the work except just trust.
It’s just an exciting time, it’s exciting because you can do life with another family that you would never have met before. It’s neat to watch new moms as they’re getting ready for a new baby. I think the biggest thing is I can just find joy in this again that I couldn’t find at the beginning. At the beginning I felt grief and I was sad and now I can be joyful. I find that now I can, as silly as it may sound now, Hannah, in the beginning, would want me to feel her baby kick, and I’d be like, okay, but now I’m excited to. Now it has a purpose, he has a name, he has a family that he’s going to. I feel like I can get excited about him. And that’s relieving.