This is Erica Smith’s story about placing her daughter for adoption.
Well, I guess my adoption story starts with the fact that I was already a single mother. Her father had left the entire responsibility on my shoulders. I lived with my parents at the time and while they would babysit for me to work, I was not given a lot of free time to hang out with friends or go out or anything. I probably went out kid-free 5 times that first year and a half. To tell the truth, I resented it. I love my daughter but I was not a person anymore. I was someone’s mother and my identity had been tossed aside. The summer of 2008 I finally put my daughter in a different daycare so my parents didn’t have to watch her as much (thus were more willing to watch her on the weekends) and found another single mother who was willing to trade babysitting so we could take turns going out. I went a little crazy, it all happened so fast that looking back it feels like a lifetime but in all was only a couple months. I was going out every weekend and once or twice during the week. I met a guy through a mutual friend and we started partying and having sex. I found out he had a serious girlfriend and told him I wanted no part of that so the next day he left her and moved in with our friend. I ended up staying there with him almost every day. For awhile I would go to work (which was right by my friend’s house), go pick up my daughter and bring her the half hour to my friend’s house and then in the morning taking her to daycare by my parents house. I was funding all our partying and the guy was stealing money from me so before too long I was broke. I was broker than broke; my bank account was overdrawn by about $700 after all the overdraft charges.. My parents kicked me out and I had no choice but to stay with my friend to be close to work and because I had no money for gas or food I had to leave my daughter with my parents for 3 weeks while I waited on another paycheck. THAT is what I regret the most.
Later I found out the guy was dealing drugs using my car. He was very controlling, would try to tell me what to wear and order me around like a dog to wait on him hand and foot. I didn’t just take it, we would get into horrible fights about it. He would hide my birth control pills or switch them with baby aspirin and sugar pills which looked the same as my pills. When I insisted on using condoms he would intentionally tear them. Over time I found out he had 5 other kids, he told me about them one here and one there until I finally figured it all out. We fought all the time and I was scared of him because of the look he would get in his eye and the way he would block me into a corner so I couldn’t get away from him. I knew I was pregnant when I started getting really tired all the time. I quit drinking but I couldn’t bring myself to take a test. I left the next time I got paid and went back to my parents’ house.
I took a pregnancy test the next day, it was positive. I told my friend right away and she told the guy. He acted like everything would be cool but he’d already moved back in with his ex (who I’m pretty sure he was still seeing the whole time). He wanted me to have an abortion. He actually said, “Well we know that we can have kids together so let’s just get an abortion this time and work on us and then we can have another baby later.” I hated him for that but I made the appointment. A couple days later he called me late at night with his girlfriend on speaker and told me that this involved the 3 of us and that she was going to help us make a decision on whether to keep the baby or not and they would be raising it the majority of the time. I told them both in not so nice terms to stay away from me and cancelled the appointment for the abortion.
Then, I told my parents. They also wanted me to have an abortion and kicked me out when I refused. By that point I was more pushing back against everybody pushing me so I moved to my sister’s house 3 hours away. Long story short I didn’t get along with her boyfriend because I saw he was a loser and using her and she took his side, so I went and got my own place. Finally I felt secure and thought everything would be fine.
A month later my hours got cut in half at work. I could no longer afford my own place and I had nowhere else to go so I had to move back to my parents’ house. Adoption never crossed my mind until I was 7 months pregnant. I just woke up one day and realized I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t take care of another baby on my own and I had no support. Nobody was ever happy during either pregnancy, I didn’t have somebody to go to doctor’s appointments with me or to throw me a baby shower or ooh and aah over cute baby stuff. I was completely alone. I think if I’d had ONE person to say, “Hey you got this, it’s gonna be okay,” then I wouldn’t have made the same decisions. I’d fought to get my other daughter everything she needed for her entire life and I didn’t think I had the fight left in me to start the whole process over with another. I’d stopped talking to most of my friends because of the drama with the guy trying to get dirt on me through them. I trusted no one. The couple friends I casually mentioned adoption to were jerks about it and tried to talk me out of it or make me feel guilty. There was one friend who was awesome about it and I’ll forever be grateful to her.
Once I got adoption into my head, I looked up profiles online. It was a little like shopping for a person on eBay like you would a sweater. M & K’s profile was one of the first ones I saw and I kept going back and comparing everyone to them. I called the agency they were listed with and the next day I got the paperwork in the mail and filled it all out. I lied about the birth father being a one night stand the entire time so his rights were terminated by placing an ad in the newspaper. I knew he’d never sign the papers and I have never regretted that decision. About 6 months after Maddie was born I heard that he had beaten the snot out of his girlfriend and her kids and was using meth. He also attacked me later but that’s a different story. I told M & K the truth about him as soon as the adoption was final but I still refuse to give anyone his real name. She can have it when she turns 18; I’ve already written that letter to her explaining everything. They in turn contacted their lawyer and the courts. That was scary because I had committed perjury and could have faced jail time for it but they were told since I refused his name it was okay because his rights were still terminated legally.
Anyway, I met with the adoption agent once and they set it up to allow me and M & K to email. The first email they sent was asking how my pregnancy was going and thanking me for considering adoption. I emailed back and was talking about “the baby” this and “the baby” so much that I got sick of it and told them for simplicity sake I was just going to call the baby Madelyn because that’s the name I had picked out. They emailed me back immediately and said they had chosen that same name 6 years ago when they started trying to have a baby. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. God knew I needed one hell of a sign to know this was the right thing to do.
I got my first phone call with them on the day of a doctor’s appointment. I was supposed to go to the doctor in the morning and talk to them in the afternoon but my appointment got moved and ended up being at the same time. I talked to them while I was in the appointment (which didn’t make my doctor happy but oh well!) and they were able to hear the heartbeat on speaker phone.
The rest of the process went pretty smoothly. I was induced so they were able to be at the hospital with me while we waited for things to happen. My parents did not want to go to the hospital with me, they wanted me to go alone, have the baby and sign over rights and then come back like nothing ever happened. I guilt tripped my mom into coming with me but my dad was mad at her for it. I did not allow the adoptive parents into the room for the actual birth that was a little weird for me so that part was just me and my mom. I got the epidural maybe 30 minutes before she was born and had a very easy delivery (I think I pushed twice, she was tiny 6 lbs). They put her on my stomach right after she was born and then after they cleaned her up I held her for about 20 minutes and then let M & K come back in. It was really great to watch them hold her for the first time. They stayed at the hospital with me until around 9 and then left for the night. I let them give her the first bottle and change the first diaper. The next day they came back in the morning and my mom brought my other daughter in. It hurt so much to see them together but I hoped by choosing an open adoption that they would be able to have a relationship.
The hospital was awful. Maybe it was because I was induced on a holiday weekend but nobody had a clue how to act around us. One of the nurses took Maddie for vitals during the night and when she brought her back she didn’t get the door closed all the way and I heard her say to someone in the hallway “That baby is so cute, I don’t know how anybody could give her away.” Like cute-ness is the only reason to ever give a baby up for adoption. Those words still haunt me to this day. I cried all night both nights I was there and prayed. I even called my mom and asked her to bring me my car seat because I couldn’t do it but she told me my dad wouldn’t let me come home with the baby and gave me a guilt trip about my promises to M & K.
During the hospital stay I got to know M & K a lot better. We discovered more similarities that made me feel like they were the right choice. Such as;
My hands were shaking and I was crying so hard I could hardly hold the pen but I signed and afterwards K and I hugged with Maddie in between us and cried. M cried and hugged me to and then I walked out of the hotel without my baby. They had to stay in town for 3 weeks after she was born so I was able to see her one last time before they went home. I made her a scrapbook and put all my information in it, including where I was born and the hospital and where I went to high school. I put a family tree and pictures of me growing up as well as all her hospital bracelets and ultrasounds and on every other page I wrote her a letter explaining my decision, how I chose her parents, etc. I gave that to them to give her when she’s older so that hopefully no matter what happens she will always be able to find me and understand why I did what I did.
Our adoption has been pretty good so far, there have been a few small problems but mostly they have kept up with their promises. The updates are unpredictable and don’t always come as often as they promised and it’s an emotional roller coaster for me that sometimes I want to get off but they are great parents and our little girl has everything I ever wanted for her. I send her presents for Christmas and her birthday and get to see her once a year. Everything is harder without her. I go through each milestone and sometimes it hits me harder than ever. Sometimes I cry for no reason at all and nobody really knows how to handle that pain. I often stop what I’m doing with my other daughter and think of Maddie and wonder what she’s doing at that exact moment. Things will never be the same for me. I look at men, sex, relationships, trust, parenting, everything differently. I have lost faith that people will stick around when the times get tough. I’m getting through the worst of it and have way more good days than bad but not a day goes by that I don’t miss her and think of her.