This writing is from 11 years ago. I wrote it and posted it on my old Myspace blog at the time as we approached the holidays. On this, the 31st birthday of the subject, I thought I’d pull it out and share it.
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My story begins 20 years ago in the summer. I found out at 16yo that I was pregnant and had to make some big decisions at a very young age. Ultimately the decision was to go live in a maternity home, give birth, and place the baby for adoption. Little did I know just how much those events would change my life forever.
I lived in the maternity home for 4 months, September through December. My family came to visit each week, even aunts, uncles and my grandparents.
Life there wasn’t horrible. No one there could look down their nose at anyone else, we were all pregnant and unmarried. But that common bond brought forth friendships and we all supported each other regardless of our backgrounds.
There were some heart wrenching moments like missing the big Christmas Eve family gathering on my mother’s side of the family. I had thought I was due in November but as it turned out the baby wasn’t due till the week before Christmas. Here it was Christmas Eve and the baby was late. It was hard sitting in the home while my family was there. I was lonely and depressed and went to bed in tears that night.
Early Christmas morning I sat alone in the dinning room wondering how I was ever going to fit my whole family in one of the tiny visiting rooms along with all the gifts. The rooms were very small and drab, nothing cheery there. A woman named Barb worked at the home, I think she was in her early 20’s. She joined me for a donut and asked about my plans for the day. I shared with her that my parents and siblings were coming up with all the gifts that should have been under the tree at home and how I was worried about us fitting in one of those tiny rooms.
That day Barb performed a “random act of kindness” that I can never repay. She told me to follow her and we went to the main lobby of the facility. (This facility housed unmarried, pregnant women and special needs children that are severely physically and mentally retarded) There was a beautiful Christmas tree there, all lit up in the dark. She unplugged it and dragged it to a very large lounge that could have been anyone’s warm and cozy living room. Then she got a cart full of donuts, juice, coffee and milk and put them in the room. When my family came up we had a tree and a room that was more like being at home. For a short time we could forget where we were, the awful situation I was faced with, and just enjoy the holiday. I don’t know what became of Barb, but I pray the Lord blesses her many times over for the wonderful blessing she gave to us that day.
My family stayed most all day and into the evening. My boyfriend was there too, as he had been through the whole long ordeal, doing what he could do in the limited means of a 17yo to be supportive and not run out on me. I crawled into bed tired but feeling so much better that night, praying the baby would come soon.
During the night I had a hard time sleeping, my back was in spasms and I just felt strange. Early in the morning hours I realized that I was in labor and left my room to find Sister Cynthia to check to be sure it was indeed the real thing. Upon confirmation I called mom. Later that morning I was transported to the hospital where mom coached me through labor, and at 3pm on December 26th, 1979, I gave birth to a beautiful 8 pound, 4 ounce baby girl.
For two days I sat in the hospital and held this little girl. Her daddy and I named her Julie and sat in wonder at the little baby so perfectly formed, and in grief that we had such few hours to know her. We knew down deep that giving her up was the best thing we could do for her, but I tried over and over to think of a way that I could keep her and give her a happy life. In the end my heart knew that what was best for Julie was to be given to a family that could love her and provide for her every need.
Two days after she was born I stood in the hall waiting for one of the nuns from the home to come and get me. I stood at the nursery window looking down at Julie crying my heart out as I explained through the glass that I loved her dearly, too much to try to raise her alone. I explained I was only a child myself and could never be the kind of mom she needed. I told her how I wanted her to have a mom and dad, and siblings, a normal family with a chance to be something special in life. I think it was probably the hardest moment of my life when I tore my eyes off of her and walked away. Within days I signed the papers that would put her in the arms of a waiting family.
For 19.5 years I agonized through the holidays. See, Christmas is my very favorite time of year. I love the decorations, smells, snow and especially the knowledge that the Creator of all things came to earth as a baby to redeem those that are His from sin and give them eternal life in Christ. I love the songs and stories and hate when it’s time to put it all away for another year. But always in the background was the knowledge that somewhere out there was a girl growing up that I held in my heart but not in my arms. I wondered if she was okay, was she loved and cared for, did she have all she needed.
I’ve prayed continuously for her over the years, and for her adoptive family and their needs that I didn’t know about. Over time the pain decreased. Time really does heal, but it cannot erase the scar left behind by the deep wounds to the heart.
Always in my heart was a special place that was reserved just for her. On her birthday it was especially hard and I dreaded the day. I didn’t want to have her back, she wasn’t and never will be mine, but not knowing was so very hard. I never regretted the decision or lost sleep over it, but I never thought that the pain would go away. Even 19 years later, on 12/26 I wished her a happy birthday and wondered what she was like and if my prayers and desires for her were answered.
This story does have a happy ending!!! Over the summer with the foot work of my husband, Pete, we located her. She and her family moved away many years ago. Her family named her Emily, a name I dearly love. She’s beautiful, talented and has had everything in life that I could have wanted for her. I met her and had the chance to share pictures from our lives and talk for a full afternoon. I’ll treasure that day for the rest of my life. See, that day the pain was taken away, the wound is closed and the scar…well, you’d be hard pressed to find it now.
I got to hear the story of a man and woman that wanted children very much but could not have their own. They had adopted a little boy 8 years before, and had already been waiting for some time for a daughter. That little boy was the one to name his little sister that he too had waited so long for. I was one of 6 birth mothers and the last to deliver. They waited ever Thursday for years to find out if their prayers would be answered, their dreams would come true. Finally they were told that a baby would be theirs soon. I was originally thought to be due in November, but there was no baby there for them for Christmas. They waited and waited. The other 5 girls had all delivered boys, so they held out great hope that this would be a girl. I now know that had I changed my mind, and kept my baby, I would have hurt so many others with hopes so high.
While we have gone back to our lives at her request, I am not sorry at all. Her picture hangs above my desk at the office and at home on the refrigerator along with photos of people that are special. It serves to remind me to pray for her each day and her family. What was kept a secret for so many years was finally shoved to the open about 10 years ago when I wrote a letter to the editor in the on going battle against abortion. Now it is not only in the open…but my story has a terrific ending and proof that there is always someone that wants the unborn children. Often it is someone who has waited a very long time for them.
This year on 12/26/99, Emily turns 20 years old. For the first time the holidays are upon me and I’m feeling freedom from the pain that is now gone. Free to be happy for her and family that they have each other. And while we are strangers to each other, there will always be a special place in my heart for her.