[Note: some names have been changed for this story]
I was 20 years old, living on the couch at my parent’s house, in debt, and making just $9 an hour at a grocery store. I had no boyfriend, was about to be 21, and I was feeling young and stupid. Then I found out I was pregnant. My very first thought was adoption. I knew I was in no place to bring a child into the world without giving that child a good mother and father.
If I’m making it sound simple, it wasn’t. I just knew I couldn’t give my baby the life she deserved. The reality was that we would have to live under my parent’s roof and I’d be depending on them more than ever. I want nothing more than to be a mother. And one day I’ll be ready—when I’m married, have a college education, my own home, and have enough to provide a stable and less complicated life for a child.
One big reason adoption was such a clear choice for me is that I am adopted myself. My mother and father had fertility issues for years before they adopted me in 1991 from Marywood Children and Family Services. Since then, my parents actually had two surprise pregnancies and now I’m the oldest of three. I always was happy with my life and how good I had it—I knew my birthmother made the right choice.
I was due March 2013 and though I always knew adoption was right, the more my baby grew, the more difficult it was. I would always try and figure out ways to make it work but at the end of each day I knew that if I wanted what was best for my baby girl, I had to stay strong with my plan for adoption. So after months of internal conflict, my mother and I started by calling Marywood, because that’s where I was adopted, and the due date was getting closer. It turned out they were closing December 2012! Now what was I going to do?!
Someone from Catholic Charities recommended we call Lutheran Social Services so that’s what we did. I met with Tanya Graham, LSS Director of Domestic Adoption, for a “consultation,” which turned into hours of talking. At the end of that meeting I asked Tanya how they set up profiles to look through to choose adoptive parents. She told me they did books and she actually had two examples if I wanted to look at them. I said I wanted to, so she gave my mother a book and then one to me. I looked down and there they were. Phil and Katherine were their names. They were so beautiful. As I looked through their book I found they were educated, had awesome jobs, they were outdoorsy, and loved dogs. Everything about them was so perfect. For months leading up to this moment I thought finding the perfect parent would be too difficult and yet here they were, the first book I saw. I did not need to look at more.
When it came time to meet them, I was so nervous. The good kind of nervous. I was about to meet the parents of my child! Their child. I told them she was a girl and asked what name they had in mind. Amelia. How perfect. We spoke for hours, even past LSS business hours, and had to be let out the back way since the doors were locked for the night. I loved them so much at that moment I had no doubts, no thought of regret. I knew I was doing the right thing.
The most difficult part was yet to come—giving birth. It was complicated and nothing was going according to plan. It hit hard how in the last days I had no control. But I stayed strong and with Tanya, Phil, Katherine and family I knew it would all be all right. Amelia was born March 11th and she was so beautiful. I was so happy, and to see her with Phil and Katherine only made me happier. All the problems I had in the hospital faded away.
The day came to sign the paperwork. I now had a boyfriend—we had been together since I was three months along—and I wanted him there to be a witness. His name is Michael and he helped me so much in this journey. So there we were signing the papers and I was so happy. I knew everything was right, and that I was right in what I was doing. Phil and Katherine came to my hospital room after I was done and we had a group hug filled with tears of joy. ”Thank you,” they said. “No, thank you,” I replied.
The adoption consummation was held at LSS headquarters in Austin, the day Amelia was released from the hospital. So many people came to watch, including mine and Katherine’s families. It was so beautiful and I was at such peace when I placed Amelia in Katherine’s arms.
I’ve learned so much from my journey with Amelia and Lutheran Social Services. I’ve grown so much and I would really love to be a spokeswoman for adoption, and go into social work to speak to other women and promote making the adoption choice.
One day when the time is right, I’ll be a strong mother from my experience. I know my birthmother was strong and I’d love to thank her for what she did. Maybe Amelia will thank me one day too. I got to pick her life, her future, and I know it will be a good one.
[NOTE: Laura was interviewed by Austin TV station KXAN: