Melanie’s Story

In the Fall of 2003, I found out, much to my surprise, that I was six weeks pregnant. For a number of reasons, I knew immediately that placing my child for adoption was the right choice for me. The birthfather and I were not together, and I was not in a position in the foreseeable future to give my child all of the advantages in life that she deserved. My closest confidant was my mother. We had a great relationship, but I worried about how she would react upon my discovery of the pregnancy and of my decision to relinquish my child. I knew she’d have concerns about how this decision would affect me during my pregnancy and beyond. Certainly, I would be profoundly affected. What she hadn’t considered, however, is that I might be affected in a positive way. Was my journey easy? Absolutely not. Was it the best thing that has ever happened to me? Without a doubt. A wise person once said, “The things that bring the most meaning in life are those that are hardest to accomplish.”

If I were to use one word to describe the early months of my pregnancy, it would be ”lonely.” No one went to doctors appointments with me. No one was there to console me during my consecutive, first trimester days of morning,noon, and night sickness. No one was with me for my ultrasounds, most notably the one where I learned that I was having a girl. I lived alone and worked full-time as a nanny, caring for two boys under the age of one. I was exhausted and, with time, pregnancy took a toll on me. By early February, I was out of work.

Although my decision to place my daughter for adoption was easy to make, I felt challenged by the reality of inexperience. What steps did I need to take and in what order? Who did I need to contact? What expectations should I have for the process? Without anyone to guide me, I began to search the internet for potential resources. I sifted through pages of results and found a local pregnancy care center. I called and asked if they had anyone on staff who had experience with adoption practices and procedures. They referred me to LG, with whom I met with immediately. She was amazing. Not only did she have specialized knowledge of adoption, but she also specialized in birthmother support. I had a hunch that LG would become a foundation of my support system, and as the months passed, she proved to be just that. I am extremely grateful for LG’s unconditional support. She was even at the hospital when my daughter was born. A true testament to her professionalism and caring, LG continues to be a support in my every day life, despite me having given birth to my daughter almost 6 years ago.

Thankful to have someone like LG guiding me through the process, my next step was to identify a suitable adoption agency. I was certain that I wanted an open adoption, since it was important to me that my child know who her birthmother is and that I remain a part of her life, albeit indirectly. I was discouraged to find that most agencies I contacted were neither supportive of open adoption nor birthmother friendly. This led me to attempt to find couples on my own through birthmother support forums. I corresponded with one prospective couple from NY for about three months. When things began to fizzle with them, I was alarmed to be starting my sixth month of pregnancy without a family selected for my daughter. There were also pragmatic constraints to consider, such as money. I was out of a job, did not have health insurance, and had exhausted my savings. Meanwhile, the cost of my prenatal care was mounting. I had another false start with a couple that was located inConnecticut. I felt especially hopeful that I had found the ideal match, as our initial conversations were promising. Within a few days, they booked a trip for me to fly out and meet them. To my dismay, the agency representing the couple felt that my financial needs made me not a good match for them. I felt crushed and afraid, but knew that I must stay the course for the sake of my daughter’s future.

Back at square one, I found an attorney inCaliforniawho specialized in open adoptions.  She had two couples that matched my selection criteria and my financial need. Was this the light at the end of the tunnel? I felt my desire to find the “perfect” parents for my child butting up against time, which was quickly running out. Wanting to increase the likelihood of finding an optimal match, I also contacted a local agency. Sure enough, they had a couple that met my criteria and who just happened to live a short distance from my home. I met with the agency right away and spoke with the potential adoptive mom, LA, for the first time. The next night, I met LA for dinner, followed by conversation over coffee. We completely clicked! After spending several hours with her, I knew that God had answered my prayer for the right match for my baby girl.

A few days after meeting LA, I met her and her husband, J, for lunch. This meeting confirmed my belief that they were the right couple to raise my daughter. For example, I learned that LA and J had a biological son (age 6) and a dog. These were two factors that were important to me when evaluating my child’s prospective family, for I interpreted them as symbols of a family unit that was loving, committed, and full of richness in experience.

The decision was made; LA and J would be the adoptive parents of my daughter. At my seven month mark, LA began going to my doctor appointments with me. The last few months of my pregnancy were difficult because I had very bad edema, which is swelling of the feet and hands. Only having gained 23 lbs in my first seven and a half months of pregnancy, I gained an additional 28 in my last six weeks… and it was all water

Finally, at 37 weeks, I gave birth to my daughter, Sarah Grace, via cesarean section on May 17th, 2004. She weighed 9 lbs, 3 ozs. The adoptive parents were in the delivery room, sharing the joyous moment with me. Although Sarah and I faced some medical struggles in the first 24 hours, we were fine after that. We had some time together in the hospital, which was wonderful.

As is the case with most open adoptions, the first year was a challenging one for both myself and Sarah Grace’s adoptive parents. We spent time adjusting to our new roles and new relationship, as well as building a foundation for the future. I am very grateful to LA and J for adopting Sarah. She has a stable, loving, and caring home. It is a joy to see her thrive in her surroundings. I know in my heart that Sarah has a wonderful life ahead, which is all a birthmother ever wants for her child.

Although it was scary at first, this pregnancy is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I knew from the first moment that adoption was the best course for me and my child. The experience has resulted not only in the life for my child that she so greatly deserves, but also in tremendous personal growth on my part. I see the world through a new lens, so much so that my identity as a birthmother greatly influences my life choices. For example, I have become a birthmother advocate, am about to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in Human Services, and am preparing to apply to graduate school. My long-term goal is to earn an MSW and to use my personal and professional expertise to help children in foster care find permanent placements with loving, capable families.

In reflecting upon my journey, I have a few recommendations for expectant mothers who are considering adoption. For one, educate, educate, educate. I cannot stress the importance of arming yourself with information about pregnancy, adoption options, available resources, etc.