Here is the first in our series of guest posts from readers sharing their stories. I’d like to thank them all for their bravery, honesty and openness in being willing to share with the world. I know your words will help somebody, somewhere, see their own path more clearly.Much love to you all.
I am now 53 years old and my story took place a long time ago 34 years ago this December to be exact.
I was 19 years old and had been going out with a friend of my eldest brother for a few months when I started to suspect that I might be pregnant.
For any of you out there who have experienced this, I do not need to describe to you that horrid feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise that you have done something which you think will really disappoint your parents.
I have wonderful, supportive parents and I felt as if I was smacking them in the face when it did come time to tell them.
I had first told my boyfriend and he insisted that we should tell his parents first and they in turn insisted that we should all go together to speak to my parents.
That was a huge mistake. My boyfriend was younger than me (18) and had just finished High School and I (19) was in my penultimate year of my hairdressing qualifications, his parents thought they had the right to lay down the law as to what was going to happen, namely that we would not be getting married and they wanted a DNA test before they would accept any responsibility or allow their son to accept any responsibility.
Basically in their eyes I had led their son astray and was a less than moral person who deserved all that came her way.
My parents asked them to leave our home and for them not to worry they would support me as much as they could.
My Mum was so shocked that she took to her bed for two days. I think for me that was the worst thing of all, to see my Mum who was always so capable and together just crumble at this news.
When she came out of her funk, she had got back her capable hat and gathered me up in her arms to comfort me and to let me know that she would do anything that I needed, I had only to ask.
This makes me cry even today, when I think of the conversations that we had on that day and many days after I realise now just how awesome my parents are.
My parents had just started a business and as you can well imagine, there was not much in the way of finance.
There was loads of love to go around but not much money.
My parents and I went through the pros and cons of all the scenarios that we could, abortion was the only one not discussed as I was too far along and it was not something that I could have done anyway.
I was given the choice to make for myself and my child, and I am sure that my parents would have loved to have “told” me what to do but they really did leave it up to me.
I decided to have my child adopted.
I have tried over the last 34 years to rationalise this, but the words “giving up” “giving away” etc still ring in my ears. The terms used for adoption are so negative sounding.
My reasons for my decision were simple enough, I knew that it was expensive for a child to be raised and that love could not put food into my childs tummy. I was, at that time, very determined that I should be doing this on my own and that my parents had already raised their children and should not have to pay for my “mistakes”.
Oh the folly of youth!!
When you are 19 you think you know it all, of course it is the journey of maturity that makes us realise that we don’t.
The time between making my decision and the birth of my son was reasonably calm and both my parents and my brothers supported me.
I did not ever see the boyfriend again.
At that time, adoptions were done “in the dark” that is, closed. So closed infact that you didn’t even have to have the consent of the father for adoption to take place.
I knew from the Social Workers that there were a great many couples out there who did not have the opportunity to have children in the usual way and therefore adoption for them is the only way that they are able to have a family.
I was made to feel very noble for “giving up” my child to these deserving people.
In the early hours of 16th December 1977, having the previous evening been out to celebrate my parents wedding anniversary, I was woken with the most incredible desire to walk. That is what I did, with my Dad by my side for the rest of the night. Mum took over at about 6am and by then I needed to rest frequently whilst going up and down the passage, I was quite obviously in labour.
I refused to go to the hospital because I told my Mum it was not time. I think if I had been given the choice I would have had my baby at home, I had already decided that I was having no pain relief and wanted to do it all as naturally as I could.
My Mum sat with me when I went back to bed at about 7am, she was reading The New Childbirth and preparing herself to deliver her grandchild I think.
I was in my own zone, and when the waters broke, at about 11.30am I told my Mum we could now go to the hospital.
My Dad raced us there and after a brief exam, the sister said “she’s fully dilated” there was a mad dash from the emergency department through to the Maternity section.
My son was born at around 12.15pm, I had no drugs of any description and not even gas and air! I was so proud of myself.
I did not see my child, I heard him cry and started to cry myself, but I knew that if I saw him or held him that it would be impossible to hand him to his “parents” and they already knew that his birth was imminent.
In my mind I have always called him Ethan, but I have no idea what is “real” name is. I don’t know anything about the people who adopted him except that they had a little girl of 2 or 3 also adopted.
I don’t know where he lives, if he is alive or any of the things that I now know go into being a Mum.
I have left my information for him to find me if he wishes but that has not yet happened, so either he just doesn’t want to know or maybe he is not alive anymore. Of course the other possibility is that he has never been told that he is adopted!
This is the pain that I have had to carry. When I am rational, most of the time, I know that I did the “right” thing for me and for Ethan. But there are times too when I sit and really think about things that I realise that I could have grandchildren, a daughter-in-law that I will never know.
Because regardless of what anyone tells you, whether the adoption is open or closed, whether you are allowed some contact or not the decision to have your child adopted removes your right to any participation in their lives and that is something that no one tells you bluntly enough for it to sink in.
I have a little girl now, have been married to her father and divorced when she was six. She has minimal contact with her Dad, his choice unfortunately, but she is a happy and well adjusted child who has filled up that hole in my heart somewhat.
Ethan’s place is still there and always will be. And if I had to make that choice today, knowing what I know now, I would not have “given” up my little boy! I would have managed somehow.
This choice is something that no one else can decide for you. You can listen to the advice and stories but at the end of the day only you can make that choice. Hopefully that choice can be made in a supported, rational fashion and not coerced or bullied into.
Whatever the decision you make, the life that you carry within you will change you forever.
That is what nobody tells you.