The beginning of the journey which changed my life forever was the summer before my senior year of high school. I thought I was in a relationship with the man I would someday marry, and through clouded judgement I made some bad decisions. I found myself 17 and pregnant with absolutely no idea what to do. I told my boyfriend at the time, who seemed to have little reaction to the news. I would later come to realize he would not be there for me through the difficult times I would face, but looking back, I realize he was never the man I needed.
When I found out I would be having a baby my world completely changed. My first reaction was complete and total shock and doubt. How could this be happening to me? I had a great family and support system, I got good grades and always did my best to be a good kid. My family was, of course, in complete shock and were very disappointed. They made it clear they would be my support, but the journey we would take would not be one of peace and joy. They immediately believed adoption was the right option for my baby. As a strong Catholic family we have always valued the importance of a mother and father in the home for a child. I was not so easily convinced this was what I was supposed to do. I had always been the little girl that played with dolls and wanted only to be a mother. It seemed like the life I had always wanted was being ripped out from under me. Hesitantly, I agreed that I would educate myself on both parenting, and adoption. I felt that I could make the right decision for me and my baby, and my parents agreed.
As I searched for the answer I found myself falling apart. I had absolutely no idea how I could parent this baby that I carried in the way I believed he deserved. I wanted him to have a father in his life, and it was clear that my boyfriend was not going to be the kind of father he deserved. I wanted him to have a mother who was able to stay at home with him, but how could I do that when I still had to finish high school and get a job? I was absolutely terrified when I looked at the kind of life he would have if I were to parent. I knew that he would have very little time with me as I attempted to work my way through school and pay all the bills that would come with jumping into adulthood. I also knew that if I decided this was the path I was going to take that I would give it all I had. I was built to be a mother, so I knew I could do it. The question was: Is this the best thing for your son? Despite my internal struggle I knew that it was not. My son deserved two parents who were prepared to bring a child into their lives and into their homes and provide all that he would ever need.
I began to search for the family who would take my son from my arms. I looked at more families than I can count, and none of them seemed to fit. My heart ached throughout this process and the world around me seemed to fall apart. I wanted nothing more than to parent my son, but there I was trying to find those people who I felt would replace me. How could I do this? I love everything about my home and my family and I felt like my son was losing out on all of that. I couldn't find another family that was all the things my family would be for him. It all broke my heart but I continued on searching until I found a family that seemed to fit.
Throughout all the emotions I faced on a daily basis I was still continuing my education in my senior year as a high school student. I attempted to enjoy the activities I was involved in and tried to act as normal as possible through the whole thing, while in reality I felt as far away from the norm as possible. I felt out of place and completely alone at times, except for the company I always shared with my angel baby. He became my everything. Through it all it was him and I. We were a team.
My health began to struggle early on in my pregnancy. Around 20 weeks I was diagnosed with early stages of preeclampsia and things began to get even more complicated. My doctor visits became weekly and the stress surrounding it all grew immensely. The doctors didn't know how long I would be able to carry the baby before my health became to risky to continue. Fortunately, I was able to get to 26 weeks before I was forced to start my month long stay at the hospital. I had to be monitored constantly, and remain in bed almost constantly during this time. As if this journey hadn't been hard enough I was now forced to give up any sense of normalcy that I had and focus entirely on this baby that I would soon be losing too. It was almost too difficult to handle at times. I had weekly sonograms to check the baby's progress and heard the heartbeat almost constantly. The bond I shared with this child only grew during this difficult time. My parents were my superhero's and the only real reason I came out of this all in once piece. My mom stayed with me 24/7 at the hospital and my dad made trips from home, work, and the hospital daily. My brothers and sisters were constant support and visited me often. They all did everything they could to help get me through. It was all such an emotional ride as we prayed that I would live through the birth, and then the pain I would endure following.
About two weeks before my son would be born, the adoptive family I had chosen fell through. We thankfully had a conversation that ended up revealing the adoption they envisioned would not be as open as I had hoped. Through many more tears and confusion I had to tell them it was not going to work. So there I was scared to death for my own health, and unsure how long I had before delivery, with absolutely no plan for my child. Thankfully, God was watching out for us and through a miracle brought my son's adoptive parents into our lives. They immediately drove down to meet me and it all fell into place. They fit in my lives just like another part of the family, and they felt the same. We laughed and cried and made an adoption plan together. Little did we know that the following week my body would reach it's limit and I would have to be induced at 36 weeks.
My labor was very difficult. It lasted 30 hours and involved a great deal of sickness. I had to have magnesium in an I.V. to reduce the risk of seizures associated with preeclampsia. The magnesium itself is like a poison. It burns going in and brings nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. I struggled through labor thinking only of bringing my son safely into the world. I cried and laughed through the times I could remember and at 1:03 pm my beautiful baby boy was born. I will never forget the moment the doctor placed him in my arms. He looked up at me with the most beautiful dark eyes I have ever seen. He had a peace and love in his eyes as he looked into mine for the first time. All those moments we had shared while he was inside all came together in that one moment. I knew then that our love would never end. We would always be connected. This little man that I brought into the world was my everything, he had my heart, always.
The days following were very difficult. My health declined rapidly the evening following his birth, but through some miracle I was able to recover. I spent every moment I could with my son, Aidan. Our bond continued to grow. It broke my heart to see him leave the hospital with someone else, but it was the plan I had made for my child. He would never struggle because of my decision and I knew that he would be well cared for. The most important thing was that I would be blessed with an open involvement in his life. The adoptive family stayed in town with him the week following our leave from the hospital. I was blessed to see him every day, and they even gave me the opportunity to keep him overnight at my house one night.
Aidan is now five years old. There are so many things that have changed, but one thing has always remained. He is the love of my life. We are so very connected and I have been beyond blessed by his birth and his adoption. I was able to graduate high school on time despite me missing the majority of my senior year. I went on to college and successfully completed my bachelor's degree. I am now married and have two other children. Ava and Olivia. We are all actively involved in Aidan's life. We have a regular visitation schedule and exchange texts, phone calls, and pictures on a regular basis. Our open adoption is very unique in the level of openness. This brings so many blessings, but also has its challenges..... All of this to come later!
The journey I began with Aidan is one that has shaped my life and I know will continue to throughout the rest of my years. I have felt a kind of pain and sadness I never knew possible, but through it all I also felt a love I never imagined. I have felt what it means to sacrifice myself for another. I gave my heart when I chose another family for my son. I feel it constantly and the pain has not gone away. I know it never will. However, the pain is only one piece of the puzzle. My son brings light and joy to the world, and to my life. I am beyond blessed by the gift of Aidan.