A View of Openness: Peggy’s Adoption Story
The beauty of adoption is that it can come in many different forms, and blossoms in many different ways. Every adoption story is unique. This is one birth mother’s story.
Peggy came to Adoptions With Love nearly thirty years ago, confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. She wanted to give her daughter a normal life and loving adoptive family, but could not find an adoption agency that fully supported her wishes.
When Peggy first came to us, she wanted a semi-open adoption plan. She knew that she wanted to choose the family for her baby, but she also desired a normal life for her daughter. She thought being a part of that life would only complicate things. Sixteen years later, that all changed. She realized that what her daughter truly needed the most was to meet her birth mother.
Read Peggy’s inspirational story as she takes us on an emotional journey through her open adoption experience. Learn how meeting Margot transformed her life forever.
It has been nearly 29 years since I was a freshman in college. Yet I remember it as though it was yesterday, lying on that hard, plastic, dorm room mattress and realizing that there was something between me and the bed.
What do you do when you are a freshman in college with your whole life ahead of you and a baby growing inside you? I did not know at the time. I did know, however, that abortion was not for me. I knew that the baby’s father should have some say in my decision. I knew that I had to tell my parents.
Chris, the father and my ex-boyfriend at the time, was out of the parenting equation. My parents were, too. “If you keep the baby,” they told me, “we will help you and support your decision, but you will be the parent.” They already had five children to raise. They could not parent another.
The responsibility, the decision, came down to just me. I considered single parenthood but remember asking, ‘What would my life be without my father?’ Growing up, I had the comfort of a mother, a father, and siblings. I wanted that for my child, as well. That is when I knew. I was determined to find a family for my baby.
I first went to my university health center for adoption support. They offered me abortion pamphlets and directed me to abortion clinics. When I asked specifically about adoption services, they told me to “look in the Yellow Pages under A.”
I then visited a local adoption agency hoping they could help, only to find that Open Adoption did not exist in Rhode Island. They told me that I would never meet the adoptive parents of my child. They told me that I could not talk to potential families or choose the parents for my baby.
I was disheartened at first. I wanted my child to have a sibling. I wanted my child to be raised Catholic. I wanted to find an agency that would help me find a couple who met those wishes. I wanted an adoption agency that would offer me the counseling I knew I would need, one that would guide me through the process without telling me what to do.
I started to extend my search for an adoption agency outside my home state. It was 1987 and I was seven months pregnant at the time. Adoption had only started to evolve. Open adoption was not the norm, and as a result, only two agencies offered me the option of meeting prospective adoptive parents. My mother and I visited both of these agencies. The first agency made my mom wait outside the door while I went inside to discuss an adoption plan. They asked personal details regarding the birth father and my medical history right from the get go, which was a bit unnerving. But I remember them showing me photos of a waiting family who had a son. I remember thinking, “This could be the family for my baby.” Still, we moved on.
The second agency we visited was Adoptions With Love. My mother and I felt welcomed, supported, understood from the minute we entered their doors— Everything about the agency felt right. After that initial visit, the director of Adoptions With Love drove hundreds of miles, twice a week, to meet with me and my family. She counseled me on my pregnancy options and prepared me for the entire adoption process—before, during, and after the birth of my baby.
I vividly remember looking at prospective families with Adoptions With Love. They told me I could request letters and photos from the adoptive parents regularly after the adoption placement, too, and respected me when I declined. Of course, I wanted to know that my baby was doing well, but I feared that sending the photos and letters would be too painful for the adoptive parents. I decided that what was most important was for my child and his/her family to be “normal”. Having to send photos to me could make the parents not feel that they were a “regular” family.
What was important to me was meeting the adoptive family. I picked a family that seemed to be the perfect fit, only to learn that they could not go ahead with adoption due to a death in their family. Adoptions With Love offered me two other couples, a Protestant couple with a child and a childless Catholic couple that planned to have more children. I knew I needed to stick to my guns and find the family that I believed was right for my daughter. I gave birth the day after I had made this decision. I was scared. I had a baby girl but no parents to entrust her to.
I spent three days in the hospital with my daughter. Those are three days I will never forget, even 29 years later. I remember them vividly, both crying when she was in the nursery and trying not to cry when she was in my arms. I remember the sound of her bassinet as it came rolling down the hospital halls. I remember the day my friend, a priest, came in to bless my daughter.
Two days after my daughter’s birth, the director at Adoptions With Love came to visit. With her she brought a folder that contained a photo of a waiting Massachusetts family. They had a son. I was overwhelmed with happiness, with surprise, with tears. It was the same family I had liked at the first agency. It was the same family I wanted for my baby.
My daughter soon became Margot, named, by the adoptive parents, after me (Margaret). I was ecstatic. At last, I felt like I had done my job. I found the right parents for my daughter.
I will not deny there were times of sadness. The day I was discharged from the hospital, the day I bottle fed Margo for the last time, the day I left the hospital with empty arms, was the day I cried the most. But I remember thinking that it was okay to cry. I had been strong when I needed to be strong.
When we first met, Margot’s adoptive parents suggested another meeting down the road. I thought this would only be confusing for Margot. So when I said goodbye to my baby, I truly thought I would never see her again. I prepared myself for this. I kept my contact information updated in my file with Adoptions With Love, so that Margot could contact me one day, if and when she was ready. I believed that if we were meant to see each other, we would.
I went back to school, finished my degree, and began my career as an oncology nurse. I eventually married my husband, Tom, and twelve years after Margot’s birth, we had our daughter Helena.
I have always valued sibling relationships. They were important for me to give to Margot, and important for me to give to Helena. Tom and I continued to try and get pregnant. I conceived seven times after Helena’s birth and had seven early miscarriages. On the eighth try, we conceived our second child, Allison.
Weeks into our pregnancy, Adoptions With Love called. The director explained that Margo, now 16, was doing well and wanted to meet her birth mother. She added that Margo’s family fully supported this meeting and that Margot had received counseling.
I received letters and phone calls from Margot up until our meeting. I remember them vividly: a tracing of Margot’s hand, to show me that one finger was bent. She asked if anyone in my family had a finger like hers. She asked where she got her interest in tennis.
We met for the first time on Valentine’s Day. I was already six months pregnant with Allison and never so nervous in my entire life. Margot quickly eased my nerves with her overwhelming joy.
Margot has always been my priority. I have always let her make the rules when it comes to our adoption plan. From the beginning, I told her adoptive parents that whatever Margot wanted was fine with me. When she wanted to continue these reunions, we did. She met my parents, my brothers and sisters, and eventually my aunts, uncles, and cousins as well. Our meetings became more regular. One weekend a month Margot would come and visit my family. She even got to meet Chris, her birth father, a visit which Adoptions With Love mediated nearly three decades later.
In the months following Margot’s birth, I told people that I did not have children. Now I tell everyone I have three beautiful daughters. My three daughters are sisters, through and through. I could not be more proud.