A View of Openness: Erica’s Adoption Story

open adoption storyThe beauty of adoption is that it can come in many different forms, and blossom in many different ways. Every adoption story is unique.

This is one birth mother’s inspirational story. Erica came to Adoptions With Love six months into her pregnancy, unsure of her choice, but seeking more information about the adoption process. She soon discovered that an open adoption plan was the answer to her prayers.

Read Erica’s heartfelt story as she takes us on an emotional journey through her open adoption experience. Learn how she came to the courageous decision to place her baby for adoption, and how the most challenging event in her life turned into the greatest blessing of all: becoming Mère.

 

Becoming Mere.

Here I am fresh out of college, trying to balance a full-time job in corporate America with a social life.  Spending time after work with new and old friends; all the while, trying to find myself as a young, independent, single, twenty-something-year-old living in Boston.  It took only one moment for the rest of my life to be flipped upside down when I found myself in the hospital with a doctor telling me the intense pain in my lower back was not the kidney stones I had self-diagnosed.  After testing my urine and hormone levels, the doctor determined that I was 22 weeks pregnant—just about six months.

The doctor tells me that in the state of Massachusetts, I legally have one more week to decide if I want to terminate the pregnancy.  Right then and there I know nothing about my future and where my life will go.  The only thing I know and could not feel more strongly about is that I am about to give birth and be the vessel to the biggest miracle I will ever see, or know.  That gives me only three months to decide the fate of two lives and two futures; the future of my unborn child and myself.

I went back to my parents’ house that night from the hospital.  I went straight into my childhood room, crawled into bed and cried.  My Mom came in to check on me and shared my tears.  I looked her in the eyes and said, “How did I not know? How did I not feel the baby growing?”  It seemed as soon as the doctor told me I was pregnant I got a belly.  With our eyes full and my Mom and my hands on my belly, I asked her when I would feel the baby.  She said you should feel the baby now.  As soon as she finished her sentence we both felt a kick.  After that first kick and sign of existence, I felt my baby constantly.  It was almost as if he was jumping for joy that someone finally knew he was in there, and that he was going to receive the love a baby needs from their mother while he develops and grows.  I could not help but beat myself up for not knowing there was a baby growing in my belly for six months.  If I had known, I would have talked to my baby and ensured he felt the love I had for him from the beginning.

Every night, I held my hands on my belly and told my baby that I was going to do whatever I can to make sure he has the best life possible and will always be loved.  I had no idea about adoption or being a single mother.  All I knew was that as lost and confused as I was, I was having a baby that I had already fallen in love with and was determined to protect.

I don’t think I have ever cried so hard in my life as I did the first week that I found out I was pregnant. How would I make the best decision for my unborn child when I could not even decide what to make myself for dinner after work?  There was one night I sobbed endlessly for a solid three hours.  I was shaking like a leaf; somehow my eyes continued to form tears, and my shoulders continued to shake.  The whole three hours my Mom and Dad held me trying to calm me down.  They said, “Erica, we are going to get through this, you are not alone. We are all going to get through this.”  I rocked, and I cried and I could not imagine being strong enough to raise a baby at this stage in my life, but it did not make sense.  I was alone in this experience as the biological father made it clear he was going to stay out of any decision I would make.  Ever since I could remember, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mom.  Now, here I am pregnant—my dream realized, but it just did not feel right.  My parents continued, “Erica you need to stop crying. You need to give this baby joy. He needs to feel your love and happiness for the next three months of his development.”  Hearing these words from my parents sunk in and I promised myself that I would have the healthiest of pregnancies; giving my baby as much love as I could these next three months while he finished developing, and while I figured out both of our futures.

I prayed just as much as I panicked, hoping that God would give me the strength to do the best thing for my son and me.  I had to keep the faith that no matter what direction I chose, that God had His hand on my baby’s and my life and was already ten steps ahead of me.

When I did manage to fall asleep at night, I would dream and have signs that would leave me waking up contemplating adoption.  I met with an agency to educate myself on the process because adoption from a “birthmother’s” side was something I had never heard of before.  I wanted my baby to grow up in a household with a mother and a father who loved each other; to have a father in his life that he would look up to and respect, and that was something I knew I could not provide for my child at this point in my life and it broke my heart.  I knew no matter which decision I would make I needed to put my heart second so that my child’s heart would always be protected.

I worked with an agency that only dealt with open adoptions.  I told the agency the only way adoption would work was if I was present throughout my son’s life.  I told them that not only did I need to be present in his life, but my parents and two brothers needed to be as well.  I needed to find a family where I would not miss out, and instead be included, in my son’s milestones.  I needed to contribute to his identity and give him a name; whether it was his first or middle name, he would have a name from me.  The agency told me that it was not common for birthmother’s to be so present in their child’s life after they placed them with their adoptive parents.  The agency could only promise annual letters and pictures after the first year of my son’s life up until he was 18.  The amount of “openness” would have to be decided by the adoptive parents.

The agency showed me three families they thought would be a good fit for my son and me.  I did not even finish reading their stories before I knew that these were not his parents.  I became very specific in my wants and needs, and the agency came back with three more families.  Within the three families they came back with, I read about Mia and Nate.* Reading their story took my breath away.  Not only were their values, interests, morals and beliefs identical to mine, but they were also the only family that wished to have a relationship with their future child’s birthmother. They wanted their child to grow up knowing any future children that their birthmother had as siblings. That was it for me; God had finally given me the sign I had prayed for.

I read their story over and over to the point where I had it memorized.  I wrote a letter to Mia and Nate to share my story and to ask them to meet.  The agency told me they had one more family they wanted me to look at before I could meet Mia and Nate.  I told them that was unnecessary and to please give Mia and Nate my letter and to set aside a time where I could meet them if they were willing to meet me.

A few days later I met Mia and Nate with the agency.  I left our initial meeting feeling the first bit of comfort knowing that there were such loving people in the world who wanted to be a part of my son’s life so badly.  I wanted to meet them again without the agency and this time with my parents.  We met for dinner in the North End by my college apartment at an Italian restaurant. Dinner with my parents and Mia and Nate went so well.  It felt like we were catching up with family we had not seen in a while.  I left dinner feeling like I could not explain what was happening in my son’s and my life, but I could feel it, and it felt right.  I trusted that God was leading our lives in the right direction; this feeling was all I needed for me to keep moving forward.

We continued to meet each time with my parents and brothers.  Every time I left, I felt more connected with Mia and Nate and continued to build trust in them.  I eventually told them this was the decision I was making and felt like they would be amazing parents to my son; I wanted them to raise my baby.

They assured me that I would be a present person in my baby’s life as they had fallen in love with me and my family over these few months.  They could not imagine not sharing the gift of my family with my son as he grows up.  Mia and Nate also felt it was important for me to have a part in naming my son and loved the connection I chose for his middle name.  The next few weeks, before the birth of my son, Mia and Nate did everything in their power to make me feel as comfortable as possible.  Sending flowers, homemade treats, letters, and emails, Mia and Nate made sure that I felt just as loved by the two of them as did my baby that they were about to raise and call their own.

On July 2nd, 2015, my angel, Aiden Joel,* entered this world.  I had a C-section and had to stay in the hospital for five days.  My Mom spent every day and night in the hospital with me, and AJ, while my Dad and brothers came each day from morning to night.  I wanted Mia and Nate to feel just as proud and important as I did and had them come to the hospital every day for a few hours as well.

For the first five days of AJ’s life he did not leave anyone’s arms, nor did five minutes go by that he wasn’t not kissed a minimum of three times in a row.  If I was not holding or kissing him, my two brothers and parents were.  From the second AJ was born my brothers were already referring to themselves as Uncle Shane and Uncle Colin.  My Dad could not wait to be Pépère, and my Mom claimed the name, Grammy Pammy.

Mia and Nate are now Mom and Dad, but who am I?  Everyone has a title to Aiden, but I am just Erica?  I could not wrap my head around it.  Being called Erica did not fit my relationship with my son; it did not fit our story.

One night in the hospital after everyone left I started to cry looking at Aiden cuddled up on my chest.  “Who am I?  Am I just Aiden’s “birthmother?” I asked.  Am I only Erica to him?”  With tears in her eyes, my Mom told me I would never “just be” Aiden’s birth mother.  I would always be someone special to him, because of the relationship I have built with Mia and Nate and the connection I already have with Aiden.  I held Aiden while my Mom held me, and eventually through my tears, Aiden and I fell asleep in my mother’s arms.

The next day when Mia and Nate came to the hospital for their final visit before they would take AJ home, my Mom bumped into them in the hallway.  “How’s Erica doing?” they asked.  My Mom told them that the night before was very difficult, and I was struggling with who I would be to Aiden.  Their shoulders dropped and their eyes filled with tears as they listened to my mom.  They told her that this was something they never even thought through.

A few hours after Mia and Nate had left the hospital, my Mom’s cell phone buzzed with a text from Mia.  The message read, “We were talking about names for Erica, so she has a title to Aiden too.  We thought of “Mom” in a foreign language, like French, since it is part of their heritage. We thought he could say “Mère” or something similar.  It’s just an idea, and we are open to anything, but we wanted to make sure that there is a title special just for Erica”.

Mère. That was it.  As soon as I heard the title, I knew that was who I was.  With my eyes filled with tears and my heart full of love, I looked down at my son in my arms and gave him a kiss.  “I’m your Mère, Aiden. I will love you more than life itself, and I promise I will always be there for you no matter how we part after tomorrow.”

Fast forward to five months and here I am back to life.  I have seen my son at least once a month and have also met both sets of his grandparents.  We share a Shutterfly account where Mia and Nate upload new pictures of Aiden for my whole family to see almost every day.  We have met for Sunday dinners at both Mia and Nate’s house, my parents’ house, and my apartment in Boston.  We talk through FaceTime, email, text, and over the phone on a regular basis.  Mia and I have met for lunch on our work breaks in the city and have continued to build our relationship as friends.  I find myself just as excited to see AJ’s Mom and Dad, as I am to see him.

We are starting new traditions as a family.  Our first with three new seats added to my parents’ dining room table for Mia, Nate, and Aiden; for what has become the most meaningful holiday of my life, Thanksgiving.

To think that the scariest and most challenging event of my life has turned into my biggest blessing is a miracle; I could not imagine my life, or family, any other way.  There are many nights I lay in bed so thankful asking God what I did for him to bless me with such a special and unique start to my family with these three angels: Mia, Nate, and sweet Aiden Joel.

I cannot tell you what the role of Mère is completely like yet because I am still learning myself. What I can tell you is, what it feels like to be Mère, how it is more love and pride than I ever thought possible to possess all for my son and his parents.

I am back in the North End trying to balance my former full-time job in corporate America with a social life.  I am spending time after work with new and old friends, all the while trying to find myself as a young, independent, single, twenty-something-year-old living in Boston.  The only difference is now the biggest part of me is found; I am Mère.

 

“Becoming Mère” is a True Birthmother Account Written by Erica.


One Response to “A View of Openness: Erica’s Adoption Story”

  1. Catherine Patterson says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story of you and Aiden. Thank you for making two very mature decisions, first, to continue your pregnancy and second to place Aiden for adoption knowing what was best for you both. As an adoptive mother of two beautiful adult children we adopted at ages two and three weeks, we could never explain to their birth Moms what their decisions have meant to us. We are now enjoying our 4 grandchildren ages 1-17. Much Joy to all of you!


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