I’m still kind of “in the closet” about being a birthmother.
People look at me and they assume I’ve always been as carefree as I am now, but in reality I’m branded by years of grief that used to threaten my identity before the Lord gave me a new one. I’m not a mother, but I am. I don’t have kids, but I’ve experienced childbirth. I’m young, but I’m so old.
I was born into a Christian home, and for years I believed I was a Christian although I was not. When I was 16 years old, in the middle of my sin and my junior year, I found out I was pregnant. I had just gotten out of a manipulative relationship, I was finally feeling free again, feeling like myself… but my body felt different. For several months, I had stalled the inevitable. I denied my pregnancy and prayed it would disappear from November to March.
He wasn’t happy that I left him in December. “I wish I had gotten you pregnant, so then you couldn’t leave me.” His words echoed and they terrified me. After school, he was waiting for me in my car. In the middle of the night, he was calling me. His friends were constantly harassing me. Everywhere I went I required an escort, but he still managed to find me in the moments I was alone.
After two months of this, I worked up the courage to admit to my parents that I wasn’t a virgin. I would explain to them the danger I felt I was in so I would have their support in obtaining a restraining order. I didn’t know I was pregnant, not for sure. After confessing to my parents, we saw a doctor. “Yeah, you’re four months pregnant…” It was shocking, scathing news, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t that surprised. I’d been trying to convince myself that I wasn’t pregnant for so long. Hindsight, I may have read the pregnancy tests wrong. I had taken three tests, all which had “negative” results, but I knew something was off. After a season of feeling distant from my parents, at this news, our lives slammed together again and they protected and defended me endlessly.
I was leveled to nothing, and I knew my life would soon be filled with abundant “come to Jesus” opportunities that I would not heed.
At my mother’s suggestion, I began the process of open adoption with my child, and Jesus taught me more about adoption than I ever cared to know.
I didn’t want my life to change, but I knew it had to. I knew that despite any selfishness that I was struggling with, and the previous desire I had had for my pregnancy to simply vanish, I had to do right by this child inside me. It felt at times like self-preservation, but I wanted to care for her as her mother, and I wanted her to be able to look back some day and know that I made this choice out of love.
Instead of a restraining order against him, I just disappeared. I didn’t say a word, I just transferred out of my high school. I changed my number. I moved to Texas, where I finished my junior year of high school and lived in an apartment with a few older birthmothers.
I was being taught the beauty of adoption in Christ, but I had not laid my sin before him. Vanity and selfishness raged within me. I wanted independence and freedom; I wanted to rely on only myself. I carried the weight of all my burdens, all my anger, resentment, and pain from my past. The following months of my pregnancy were filled by agonizing over my situation, hating myself and my life, and occasionally met with glimpses of light when I met my adoptive parents and when my family visited me from out of town.
I’m not going to tell you this is easy, but I can tell you without hesitation that the choice to place my daughter for adoption is one that I have never once regretted.
I was more nervous than I had ever been before meeting my adoptive parents for the first time, but we clicked immediately. I trusted them, and I felt loved and cherished by them. They wanted an open adoption with me in just the same ways I wanted it with them. The longer I know them, the more I rejoice in the relationship I have with them, as my adoptive family and now as my brother and sister in Christ.
Melody Claire was born in the August of 2012. Her parents took her home one week later, and two weeks after that, I returned home as well- back to my town with my family to finish school.
I didn’t feel like a high school student, or a seventeen year old. I didn’t feel like a mother, or a daughter, or a sister. I felt irreparable, out of place, and so, so alone. I didn’t feel like my body was beautiful any more. I didn’t feel as though any good man would ever love me. I felt like a disappointment to my family and an embarrassment to my friends. Looking back, I wish I had known the love of Christ at this point- what a comfort it would have been to know that I wasn’t supposed to be perfect, that I wouldn’t find any ultimate satisfaction in the approval of others!
This time in my life felt heavy, and not necessarily because I missed my daughter- I knew that she was happy and loved by her two, hand-picked parents. Post-placement, I didn’t have any friends, and I began to romanticize the old friendships I once had. I missed the person that I used to be, or that I could have been. I tortured myself by thinking of all the things I could have done differently.
If I hadn’t introduced myself to this person on this particular day…
If I hadn’t joined this group of friends…
If I’d had more confidence…
“If I had a time machine” became my mantra for the months following the placement.
It was so unhealthy, but I lived with it for quite a while. I graduated in December of 2012 and I spent January to July 50% working and 50% reading every book I could find. That summer I decided to move back to Texas, to the agency where I completed the adoption process. The college I wanted to go to is there, my adoptive family was there, but most importantly, I was offered a position as a mentor to the younger birthmothers in the program. You may be thinking at this point that I was not qualified at all to do this job. I was depressed on the inside, but on the outside I was a perfect example of a young birthmother “getting her life back” and experiencing normalcy post-placement.
That August of 2013, one year after completing the adoption process, I attended a Christian college in West Texas and I spent my weekends and some evenings with my adoption agency. I made some amazing friends, but I still carried so much anger from my past. I spent so many evenings writing in a journal and praying, creating my own “self-help” program and trying to force myself to forgive the people who had hurt me. Finally, the second semester, God caused me to realize that I could not carry these burdens on my own. Only God is big enough to bear the weight of my sin, so I surrendered my pain to Him, who met me with grace and love I didn’t deserve. It was then the Lord saved me. In prayer, I followed His call to a bible college in Alaska, where I would meet my husband the next year.
I now knew to cast my burdens on the Lord, but things were not suddenly perfect. In Alaska, I continued to struggle secretly with depression. For a time in the seasonal darkness, I hit what felt like a new low, but the Lord gave me an interest in The Word and I was anxious to read more. I didn't know then what it looked like to be a Christian, but in this season the Lord began working on my heart. It was nothing like the pain I felt immediately following the adoption, because this time I had hope that the Lord would see me through.
Later on, the Lord used my husband Adam to challenge my faith and my identity as a Christian, forcing me to confront what I had all my life been taking too lightly. God blessed me with a husband who cares for me spiritually and who bears with me in my seasons of heartache. He gave me a leader. Adam loaded me with books to read that would help develop me as a new Christian. I learned more about Christ's mercies for me, His love, and the legal implications of his work on the cross. Jesus did for me what I can never do for myself, and without him I am terribly lost.
It has been six years since I placed.
I see my adoptive family regularly, although we got together more often when I was local. Now we make time at least once a year to gather and have a meal, but we stay in contact year-round. I love seeing them all together. I love watching the way they interact, the things they’ve taught her, the way they love the Lord and cherish their family. I am so blessed to be a part of this. My family (parents and siblings) are in close contact with my adoptive family, and my husband comes with me, when he can, to see them.
Who am I, really?
Am I a birthmother who has a challenging battle with depression, with a dark past that I rarely disclose? Am I a young Christian who grew despite my mistakes, who radiates positivity and joy in the face of tragedy? I am all of these things, but more importantly, I have a new identity in Christ, and by his blood I am washed clean!
Mattie is our Motha in Kentucky! To read more about here, click here.