I was asked a question the other day that even though I have been asked it before, I never really thought much of it until now. I was asked, since I was a teenage mom, and now I am hoping to adopt, why didn't I place my daughter for adoption. Before now it was a question I just brushed off. But now, I feel it's important to answer. And the answer is, it's the choice I felt was best for my daughter and I.
Let me back up, when I was 16 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Tamara (or Tammy as we call her) has been my life and my light ever since. At the time I was inactive in church. I didn't know anything about adoption other then what you saw in the movies where a mother would place her baby and then she would never see her baby again. I had no clue that open adoption even existed. I just knew I didn't want to place my baby girl for adoption and then never have any contact with her. So I chose to keep her. It is a decision I have never regretted. Could I have placed her for adoption? That is also question I get asked often. Quite honestly, it's not a question I feel I can answer in a yes or no kind of way. Looking back on it, I'm not sure I was strong enough. Looking back on it, I can't imagine my life without her. Having her, keeping her, raising her, shaped my life in a way I could never have imagined. Tammy's dad Nick left when I was 2 and a half months pregnant. I went through my pregnancy feeling very much alone. I had a few friends who stuck by me, but most of them beleived my ex when he said that the baby wasn't his. There were a few friends who knew she was, because they knew me, and knew I was telling the truth. It was a hard time. And that's putting it mildly. I did have 1 sweet, wonderful friend who helped me. She in fact is Nick's sister-in-law. Married to Nick's oldest brother. Caroline helped me, supported me, and was just there for me. She even missed almost an entire season of ER just so she could take me to Lamaze classes. Caroline also was a teen mom, having given birth to her daughter at 16. So I had support of someone else who had lived what I was I was about to be living.
I didn't think I would ever be a mom so young. I'm not sure anyone does. But I was. Now, 14 years later, I have never once regretted my decision to raise Tammy. Nick entered Tammy's life when she was 2. It was really hard to see him when I would take Tammy for visits. It wasn't until just a couple of years ago that we got passed the hurt and started to be friends. We tollerated each other before that, but never really were friends. But we are now and parenting Tammy is so much easier that way. Was it easy being a teenmom? Not on your life. It was exceptionally hard. It was hard for me, it was hard for my family to see me struggle financially, emotionally, physically. I had to quit school (although I did go back a few years later) in order to pay the bills that I now found myself face with. I would often times go weeks with almost no sleep, just trying to do this on my own. Would I go back and change it? No, I'm glad I struggled the way I did, it made me stronger.
However, that being said, as hard as it was for me, I know it was so much harder on my girl. She was shuffled back and forth between her dad and I. Even though we tried to get along, it was rough on her. She often cried wondering why she didn't have my last name, why she couldn't live with both her dad and I. Wondering why we didn't have the money to buy her new toys. It broke my heart. I wanted more for her. It broke my heart I couldn't give her what she deserved. Now, 14 years later, I look back on it, and I do wonder if I made the right decision, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine life being any other way. As a teen mom though, I understand some of the feelings our birthmom may be having, though definately not all, no where near all the feelings she is having. But I do know what it's like to wonder, Wondering if she can provide for her little one. Wondering if she can give him or her everything they need and want. I've been there. I've wondered, I've prayed that it would all be good enough.
So could I have placed Tammy for adoption? Again, not a question I can answer. Because I have spent the last 14 years with her, I can say, no, I wouldn't have. If there was open adoption at the time could I have place her? I can't answer that either. However, I beleive it's because I have this history of being a teenage mom that open adoption is so important to me know. I just know that if I had made the decision to place Tammy for adoption I wouldn't have wanted to do so unless I knew she would be o.k. I can't even imagine the sacrifice that our future birth mom will make when she places her sweet baby in our arms to love and care for. How much strength it will take on her part, to trust us to love and care for her little one. I want her to know that we will love her baby so very much. We will love him or her, just the same as if he or she had been born from us. And I want her to know that her baby is being taken care of and loved. I want to be able to know who our baby's birth families are. For them to know who we are. Letters and pictures and contact in general will be so vital to all of us, not just us all as adoptive parents and birth parents, but to our baby as well. It will be important for him or her to know that it is because of love that such a sacrifice was made.
If you have any other questions that you don't feel I have answered, our would like more of an answer to, please, just ask. I'll be happy to answer any and all questions you may have.