I got pregnant with Noah eleven months after Jaren was born. And like Jaren, this pregnancy was unexpected, certainly not planned and once again unintended. However, this time, I was not as confident as I was when I became pregnant with Jaren. Rather, I was somewhat fearful, uncertain and wary about my future and our future as a single parent family with the two kids.
After nine months of turmoil as whether or not to have an abortion (something that my children’s father and members of my family wanted), or adoption, or parenting, I was finally ready to give birth to Noah.
A few months earlier, I had talked with my mom and sister about coming to Texas so one of them could take care of Jaren while I was in the hospital giving birth. Neither one of them was that thrilled about the idea. It wasn’t so much about taking care of Jaren. That was the least of their concerns. Knowing the task at hand and the choice that was laying heavily on me at the time, they both pointed to the other as to say, ‘I think you should go’ or ‘you would be better at this than me’. The question arose between my mother and sister, “what if she doesn’t want to go through with it?” My mother was convinced that they would have to find a way to talk me into proceeding with the adoption plan. This is the moment where coercion subliminally exposes itself. After they deliberated awhile, my sister made some comment about not being sure she was comfortable with that and finally said, “She’s your daughter; you should be the one to be there.”
After having Jaren, I had lost some family members because of their view of what a family should look like. Now that I was about to give birth to Jaren’s younger brother, other family members were giving me new ultimatums. They warned, keeping my new baby may result in losing the rest of my family. One family member even threatened that if I chose to parent my second child, that I would no longer be welcome in his home. No mother should have to choose between her child and her family.
I’ve speculated over the years why my family was so headstrong about me not keeping Noah. Some of my friends jokingly said they had one black child in the family, they didn’t want any more. But seriously though! I had been providing a good home to Jaren. I lived more than a thousand miles away from them. They weren’t babysitting for me. I wasn’t asking them for anything. Nothing! So why were they so concerned about me parenting my second son about to be born? It’s mind boggling. Here I was pregnant and giving birth for the second time and my family was unwilling again to support me, accept me or my family, or my kids. What should have been a beautiful time for me and my family turned into a dreadful, self-seeking motive for them.
For those who wonder about my adoption intention, this was something I did consider seriously. However, I knew there was no way that I was going to make that decision while I was still pregnant. Lots of things can change in nine months. I understood that all too well. The following was my statement five months before I gave birth to Noah:
“I understand the above (legal document) and will enter into this agreement only if I am absolutely sure that this is the best decision.”
After I gave birth, I had decided that I couldn’t leave my newborn in the hospital. It just felt wrong to leave behind my baby boy in the hospital alone. Apparently, unbeknownst to me at the time, my friends and my mother were at odds. Mom adamantly believed and voiced her opinion that I needed to “give up” this baby. My friend Sheila (a birthmother), said that was not her place to make those demands. So when Sheila and mom came to pick me up from the hospital and saw that I had my baby in my arms and I was bringing him home too, mom was very upset. In fact, I hadn’t seen my mother that upset since her father died. I could tell she had been crying. Her face was red and her eyes were swollen. She wouldn’t look at me. I had made a choice that she didn’t agree with. She was sad and mad. She managed to put on a straight face for the hospital but once we got in the car, her eyes were heavily fighting back tears. It was a gloomy ride home and I was torn. I mean, who wants to see their mother crying? And knowing that you and your choice is the reason she is sad and crying. It’s a heavy burden to carry.
So I did proceed with relinquishing my parental rights to my new baby boy Noah when he was three days old on Christmas Eve. On one of the most meaningful holidays of the year, while Christians and non-Christians alike around the world are gathering, eating, opening presents, singing, praying, celebrating with their loved ones, I was getting ready for a goodbye. But God had different plans.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. Genesis 50:20
I’ve had many doubts about my choice to relinquish my parental rights, both before I signed the papers and after. And the biggest factor that I had the hardest time reconciling was separating my two sons. If you asked me if I would have gone through with the adoption had my family or mother been less enthusiastic about the adoption of Noah or more supportive of my right to choose without any pressure, I don’t know. I wish I could have discovered that path on my own instead of feeling like I was given a detour or road block with no choice. However, the one thing I never had any doubts about was the family I had chosen to parent Noah in the chance that I could not. I felt something special about them. And they would hold true to that inner quality that I connected with on a piece of paper several months before I gave birth. For one, we had a verbal open adoption agreement which included sending pictures for 18 years. However, Noah’s family invited Jaren and me out to lunch less than two weeks after they picked up Noah. With my family long gone, without a worry or concern how I may be emotional healing or recovering, Noah’s family thought of me. They could have left that day and could have honored or broke their verbal agreement and no one would have thought anything of it. I had no legal rights. My deed was done. But they didn’t. They didn’t!
Something in the universe was drawling us together by an action that is normally intended to tear a family apart.
I’ve pondered many times over the years, what if Noah was somewhere out there in the world and I had no idea where he was? I couldn’t imagine. And while I have experienced one of the greatest pains a mother can endure, I believe the “not knowing” would have greatly impacted my overall healing and emotional state.
I’ve wondered why Noah’s family decided to keep, increase and cultivate our open adoption agreement. Despite my children’s father, his family and my family’s initial questionable intentions, Noah’s family has become part of our family. We’ve made some great memories over the years. I couldn’t imagine my life without my son Noah or his family in it. I think for whatever reason, Jaren and I were meant to be a part of Noah’s life in some way. Whether I was intended to be his parenting mother or not, only God knows. It’s like the story of Moses. His mother made a choice in despair. Once Moses had been found by the pharaoh’s daughter, Moses’ [birth] sister petitions to have Moses’ [birth] mom be his nanny. Now, was all that a part of the divine plan of God? I’m sure Moses’ mother must have wondered about her choice to place her son in the river at some point in her life.
In the end, having this unique experience to grow has added another layer to my life’s lessons and has provided spiritual enlightenment. God gave me two beautiful boys. I am so proud to have been chosen by God to be their mother, whether I am the parenting mother or the birth mother.