This Is Us, Too — blog series finale
When I first learned of my pregnancy, I got in my car and left the state, staying first with a friend and then with my father and stepmother. When my mother discovered I was pregnant, she urged me to do what was common back then: have the baby and give it to an aunt and uncle to raise. I was young and immature and conflicted about the right decision for my child. Thankfully, my father and stepmother suggested another option, which knowing what I know now, I believe was God’s plan for me and my child.
I never felt any shame from the close group of family members that knew about my pregnancy, but I felt a tremendous amount of shame and judgment from society. Typically, young women went away to have their babies, shrouding their pregnancy in secrecy. Some lived in group homes and some went to stay with other family members, like me.
Meanwhile, I felt so much love for the baby moving around inside of me. I knew I could keep my child, but I had no way to provide for us given my circumstance. Ultimately, I wanted him to have a family, and adoption was the door to that opportunity.
When the baby was delivered, I was able to see but not hold him. They told me his length, weight, that he was a healthy boy, and then they took him away. Heartbroken, I was discharged from the hospital while he remained behind.
“They told me his length, weight, that he was a healthy boy, and then they took him away.”
The adoption agency had a couple in mind, but they didn’t share any details with me. In 1968, Texas and many other states kept adoption records sealed, so I knew virtually nothing about his adoption. All I was told was that he had been placed with a family about a week after his birth. I had so many questions and no answers. I would see children who looked his age and couldn’t help but wonder could that be him?
My life went forward. I pursued my career, married, and had two more children. My other children didn’t know about their half brother for a number of reasons. In the mid-90’s, I got my first computer and began researching adoption. I quickly discovered I was entitled to non-identifying information about the family that adopted my son. I contacted the adoption agency with my request and swiftly received a copy of the caseworker’s report. With further investigation and help from a few women who dedicated their time toward reconnecting birth parents and their adopted children, I found out my son’s parents’ names, where they were from, and that they had tried unsuccessfully for years to conceive and were eager to love an adopted child as their own. I learned that my son’s father was since deceased, but that his mother was still living. Then, I visited the only high school in the town my son had grown up in and was able to look at his yearbooks. I recognized my son immediately. The resemblance was amazing.
A hole in my heart was healed right then, just by knowing “something” about him.
In 2001, I happened to catch an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. The subject was adoption, and one of the guests, an adoptee, noted that the worst thing about adoption was the “secrecy” surrounding it. At the conclusion of the show, I picked up the phone and called my son’s mother. When she answered, I quickly said, “Hello, I’m Terry, your son’s birth mother.” She began to cry and told me she had been praying for this for years. You can imagine how I felt hearing the confirmation in her words. She took down my phone number and within the hour he called me. I call that day, February 2nd, his “rebirth” day because that is exactly what it felt like.
We met within the week, just he and I. One of the first things that I finally got to ask him was “How was your childhood?” My heart felt whole when he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I had a wonderful childhood.”
“I worried he would think perhaps I had abandoned him.”
My son is a wonderful man, husband, father, and recent grandfather. He is a high school coach and teacher and is known to many as a man of character and a wonderful mentor. He was an only child whose mother and father did an amazing job raising him. His mother passed away recently, but every single year after meeting her I sent her a card on Mother’s Day expressing my eternal gratitude for raising such a wonderful son. She was so kind to share him with me — a credit to her integrity and security as his mom.
One of my biggest fears was that my son had grown up wondering about the circumstances of his adoption. I worried he would think perhaps I had abandoned him. He informed me, however, that his parents were very open about his adoption. They taught him the truth: that I loved him and that I wanted only the best for him. His mother told me he was the ultimate gift of love to them as parents.
“They taught him the truth: that I loved him and that I wanted only the best for him.”
My birth son and I have a healthy, respectful relationship. From the beginning, I let him set the parameters for himself and his family. When I see this man, his wife, their children and little grandchild, I feel so much confirmation about my decision all those years ago. I want to share my story as many times as I can, in hopes that even just one birth mother can be reassured about the peace and love that will come to them through this process.
This is the final post of our “This Is Us, Too” blog series. You can catch up on the entire series here: birthmom1, adoptive dad, adoption cycle, birthmom2, adoptive mom, and finally, foster-to-adopt. Thanks for reading!
The Year Was 1967 . . . I Was 18 and Pregnant was originally published in Clarity Minute on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.