There are times in life when we are forced to make a choice that will change the course of life not only for ourselves, but for others as well.
I was 18 when I had my turn to make a life altering choice such as this. It was mid-January of 1991, and I was late.
I didn’t understand; I couldn’t be pregnant, not me, not now or ever. My pseudo-boyfriend DJ had gone back to school and I was left to freak out on my own. What was I going to do?
I bought a home pregnancy test. Back in those days, they weren’t the convenient pee-on-a-stick variety. It was a complicated mess. I waited five minutes for my results, which felt like an eternity. I cried when I read my results—I was definitely pregnant.
I called DJ a few days later to break the news to him. He immediately told me I had to have it “taken care of.” It seemed to be the only viable solution at the time, especially seeing that I was still living at home. He said he had just started working a part time job and would send me some money once he got paid. I started making the calls, although I knew deep down inside this was the wrong decision.
The few friends I told about my “predicament” were very supportive in my time of need. I went to a clinic and had blood work done to confirm, and also found out I was between 9-11 weeks into my pregnancy. If I was going to do this, I had to do it soon.
My close friend who was pro-life took me, even though it was against what she believed. I think she took me because she knew (and so did I, deep down inside) that I wasn’t going to go through with it. When I told DJ I couldn’t do it, he seemed to be supportive and asked me to come and stay a weekend with him at college.
I was so overjoyed at this new development in our so-called “relationship.”
I took the Greyhound to Pittsburgh to visit DJ; he was distant and cold. I was very anxious, as this was going to be the first time I’d ever spent the night with a man.
After I unpacked, DJ walked me down the hall to the stairs that lead down to the girls showers. He grabbed my arm, as if to pull me close and kiss me seconds later I was tumbling down the stairs. I looked up at him standing at the top of the stairway, he smiled and walked away.
I composed myself and showered, crying hard as the water washed everything except the pain away. I had a massive headache and my left shoulder was throbbing.
I should have left immediately and went home on the bus, but I didn’t. I was in such a state of disbelief and denial. When I got back to his room, he kissed me gently and we went to bed. Maybe I had just imagined it all but I knew I didn’t. The headache and shoulder pain were a constant reminder all night long. I silently sobbed myself to sleep next to his cold, unfeeling body.
The next day, DJ got up and went to work and I proceeded to wander the streets of Pittsburgh, keeping myself occupied. After work, he took me to dinner in the cafeteria and asked me if I still had my “problem.” I started crying and he left the table, as if he were the one that should be disgusted.
A few minutes later, I headed back to the room. When the elevator opened, DJ was kissing another girl inside; I took the stairs. Back in his room, I gathered my belongings and the last few shreds of my dignity, and left for the bus station without a word. My bus wasn’t leaving for another 14 hours, but that time would be better spent at the station than with him.
After I returned from Pittsburgh and my horrible weekend, I went into two completely conflicting modes—denial and survival. I was in denial about how bad things really were with DJ, and I had to be in survival mode because I was still living at home with my parents. Believe it or not, the denial was harder than survival.
My parents thankfully didn’t pay much attention to me, and I was always out and about with friends. When I was at home and around my mother (or mom-ster as I like to call her), all I ever heard from her were insults. Hiding my pregnancy was easy, since I always wore baggy clothes to cover my so-called “ponderous bulk.” It’s funny actually, because with my pregnancy, I actually lost weight. Best diet I ever went on that worked. (I’m being sarcastic.)
I wasn’t only in denial about how bad things were with DJ, a part of me was in denial about being pregnant. I didn’t want to face it at all. Losing weight with the pregnancy almost helped me with that denial, until later on down the line when I first felt the baby kick.
That was reality check time. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I couldn’t raise a child on my own. I didn’t want to bring a child into my messed up and dysfunctional world, especially with my mom-ster. I certainly didn’t want to repeat the patterns she showed me as a parent.
Mom-ster had instilled in me that if I were to ever get myself into any “crap;” I had better figure it out on my own, because she was not going to bail my “fat ass” out of anything. I went to the only place I knew I could get straight forward answers; I went to my former art teacher in high school.
She knew something was wrong when I walked into her classroom. I started to tell her about my predicament, and she shared a story with me about her brother and how he and his wife were part of an open adoption. She gave me all the information—and hope—I needed at this trying time.
I immediately researched and got in touch with this agency she recommended to me, and days later I was meeting with a counselor. I told my parents I was going to go job hunting and had my dad drop me off at the local mall. As soon as he was out of view, I walked across the parking lot to meet the counselor at Pizza Hut.
I made my decision then and there at my first meeting that I was going to place my baby up for an open adoption. I was going to give a family of my choosing the best gift in the world.
DJ unexpectedly came home early from college and suggested we work things out. I was already an emotional wreck and felt so alone through all of this, so I agreed to try. In my messed up head it seemed like the logical thing for me to do, since it was his baby I was carrying.
As time pressed on, I started telling more and more friends about my situation. No one in my family knew yet. I kept that one a secret up until almost the very end.
My counselor from the adoption agency brought me autobiographies of adoptive families. My packet of the first three candidates gave me a rush of relief and excitement. I couldn’t wait to get somewhere safe and read them all. It might sound cliché, but I knew when I read the first one, that they would be the family my child would grow up with. To be fair I read all three autobiographies, but none grabbed me like the first one. I couldn’t wait to meet them.
I mentioned to DJ I was going to meet the future parents, and surprisingly enough he wanted to go with me. I will always remember meeting them for the first time. I knew it when I saw them—there was an instant connection. I felt so happy inside, and so did my baby, as I was kicked quite a few times while having lunch with them. DJ was impressed that they were driving a Lexus, so in his head they had to have money and power. He joked with me saying, “Ask them to adopt me!” I should have walked away once again, but I didn’t.
It was mid-June by this time, the weight loss had stopped and the belly started to grow. I found out at the doctors that my due date was August 5, 1991. Fortunately, as if by some strange working of fate, my parents had planned their yearly vacation for a whopping eight weeks this year, to commence at the beginning of July. Timing surely is everything.
As soon they left for vacation, I decided it was time to tell my siblings, who were both older than me, about what was going on. My brother and sister both had situations in their own lives they were dealing with, so I didn’t get to see either of them that often. They both reacted strongly, in their own unique ways, when I told them what was going on and my plan. I remained the calm, cool and collected one. I wasn’t worried in the least; I had the situation under control. I felt like this was all part of a master plan and everything was happening as it should.
I started to talk more with the adoptive parents, mostly the mother-to-be. As fate would have it, around the time I had gotten pregnant, they had applied with the agency for a child. She told me that her and her husband even said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if nine months from now we had a baby?” She even said she had dreams about me before we even met.
Fate. It’s strange how life unfolds and gives you that which you most desire, when your heart is in it. I knew deep down inside I had chosen these people because this was all meant to happen this way. This child was going to be so special and loved.
I had become a pro at hiding my pregnancy. My parents had been gone for about two weeks and like clockwork, I dropped. I finally looked pregnant.
Things with DJ took a horrible turn for the worse. He was visiting his father and I went over to see him. His dad told me he was across the street at his girlfriend’s house. My heart sunk. He had another girlfriend.
Here I was eight and a half months pregnant with his child, and he was with another girl. I knocked on her door and asked for him. He came to the door and pushed me away asking me what the hell I thought I was doing. I asked him the same thing. We were nineteen years old about to have a baby and this girl he was referring to as his girlfriend was fifteen.
The discussion quickly escalated moments later he punched me and knocked me down onto the sidewalk. I made my way back to my feet, crying, and admitting my defeat by walking away.
It was now the beginning of August and I was ready to pop. I was ready for this to be over; it was a really hot and humid summer. My due date came and went, but I wouldn’t deliver until a week later.
I woke at four in the morning, and my water had broken. I was calm, called my sister-in-law, and told her I’d be there in ten minutes. I drove to her place; she drove me to the hospital.
Once we arrived, I was immediately admitted. As soon as I hit the bed, the contractions started. I refused any kind of pain medicine; I wanted to remember this pain so that I would never do this again. Looking back now, it worked.
After six hours of contractions and thirty minutes of hard labor, my daughter was born. The first call I made was to the mother-to-be. My daughter’s new parents were at the hospital later that day to see us.
The hospital officials didn’t want to let me feed and hold my baby because I was choosing the adoption route. I assured them all that I was 150% sure of my decision and was fine enough to spend time with her. Once I make a decision, I stick with it. Nothing was going to change my mind about this adoption—not even when my brother and sister-in-law offered to take her and raise her until I was able to. I knew I was messed up in my head from mom-ster and that this child was meant for a better life than what I, or my family, could ever give her.
DJ and I met the adoptive parents at the hospital three days later, and we signed the final papers. I said my goodbyes to the baby. That was the easiest goodbye I’ve ever had, because I knew she was going to be loved and cared for in ways I could never comprehend. There was no turning back, not that I even considered it for one second.
My daughter is now 22 years old and heading back to college to pursue her Master’s in Education. I see the wonderful and beautiful life she has and I am very thankful I had the strength to give that to her. To this day, this was the best decision I ever made. She is all the wrongs of my life made right.
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Assistant Ed: Dana Gornall/Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo credit: Pixoto