If I only knew
Editor’s Note: The following is the story of a young woman who found herself facing an unintended pregnancy. This is her story, in her own words, and should not be construed as political commentary. One of our goals at NCFA is to ensure women who are making very difficult decisions related to their unintended pregnancy are fully informed about the option of adoption, as a fully informed decision – whatever it may be – reduces regrets. The iChooseAdoption campaign provides young women facing unintended pregnancy with timely, accurate information about the positive option of adoption. Find out more about iChooseAdoption by clicking here.
I can remember hearing the doctor say, “The test came back positive…you’re pregnant.” I was in shock, in awe, and in denial. I wasn’t raised to have a child outside of marriage, I wasn’t raised to be so unprepared when this moment came, and I definitely wasn’t raised to be disappointed when I heard those precious words. Yet I found myself heartbroken by the news. I had no money – as in, I could barely pay my bills no money, the relationship I was in didn’t seem promising, I had little healthcare coverage, and my family wasn’t nearby to help me. I got paid twice a month and the first check did not cover all of my rent. I was living paycheck to paycheck and adding another expense seemed completely out of the question. No one explained the option of making an adoption plan for my baby, so I thought I had two options – parent or terminate. Parenting seemed impossible at the time, so I chose the latter.
The fact is I knew more people who had an abortion than I knew who made an adoption plan. Let me rephrase that. I didn’t know a single person who placed their child for adoption and I was surrounded by people more comfortable with the idea of termination. The common denominator of all the people I knew who chose to terminate their pregnancy is simply that they didn’t know anything about adoption.
Months after I terminated my pregnancy I came across the National Council For Adoption’s Infant Adoption Training Initiative program. The sole purpose of this training was to teach professionals how to share the option of adoption with young women with unintended pregnancy. I can remember sitting in the workshop feeling embarrassed and thinking, “I wish I knew this before.”
For me having an abortion wasn’t a proud moment and to this day I still have not told my family. Although choosing termination was the fastest way to “solve my problem” it was one that left me feeling ashamed, guilty, and as if I were a cruel and insensitive person undeserving of a child.
Adoption has evolved over the years and in general, I believe society views it as a positive option for many people, but there are still many people – young girls in particular – and certain cultures that are simply unaware that adoption could be a positive option. Growing up I would hear people say things like, “Adoption means giving up your baby,” or, “If you’re going to have the baby you need to be responsible enough to take care of it,” or, “We take care of our responsibilities, you’re not going to have someone else take care of your child.” There seemed to be a common belief that choosing adoption meant being irresponsible. But I know now that this belief couldn’t be farther from the truth. I believe that birthmothers who place their child for adoption in order to give their child a better life than they could provide at that time are some of the most courageous and selfless people. Sometimes we make sacrifices in the name of love, and I believe these mothers made the ultimate sacrifice for their child. The more I learned about “making an adoption plan” the more I realized that this choice was a very responsible one that required maturity throughout the process.
The truth is when you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy there is no easy way out. Termination might seem like a quick fix, but there are consequences to whichever decision you make – whether you choose to have an abortion, parent, or make an adoption plan. For me, I struggle with constant guilt about the decision I chose. Almost a year after I had my procedure, I still would breakdown. One particular breakdown was two days shy of the one year anniversary I found out I was pregnant. I spent the entire day crying. I was at work hoping no one would come in my office because I could not control my tears. I kept thinking about the pain – physical and emotional – that my choice had left me with. In spite of my choice I do want to be a mother someday, but the grief from my decision left me feeling as if I did not deserve the privilege of having another child.
Since attending NCFA’s training I have encouraged those around me to have a more open mind to adoption. I signed up to receive updates from NCFA and decided that I would advocate for adoption within my community. A few months ago I saw the announcement for NCFA’s Hope Challenge and again felt like they were providing valuable information that could change lives and how society, and young people in particular, think about adoption. I was a young woman with a false knowledge of what adoption was. I chose to have an abortion because I knew more about the abortion process. But if you want more young women to choose adoption, you have to ensure that they receive accurate information. My hope is that young women who find themselves in the situation I was in will consider all of the options available to them and choose the one that is right for them.
I can’t turn back the hands of time or change the past, and I often think that if I had chosen adoption that I would feel more proud and confident about the decision I made. To this day I can’t speak publicly about my abortion and am left to write this post anonymously. I promised myself that I would not sit back and allow others to feel what I felt simply because they didn’t know about adoption. I hope that when you read this you won’t focus on your opinion on the choice I made, but on the lack of knowledge that influenced my choice. Knowledge is everything, and I believe it is important that everyone, especially young people, are equipped with information about adoption. This is why iChooseAdoption is so important. One day I hope to share my story with my family, young girls in my same position, and others who might be contemplating what to do to encourage someone to choose a better route for themselves, but for now I’ll share this with you in hopes that it will encourage you to join me in a cause that will make information about adoption more accessible to thousands of young people in our country.
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