My teen years were a blur of running. No, not that good for you running but the lost, thinking I’ve got it all figured out, can’t tell me anything, wearing a cape of invincibility running. I had no idea what life was truly about (not sure I honestly do now), what I wanted, no future plans, stubborn beyond reason, misunderstood beliefs about myself, and an extremely low self esteem. On top of this, I have bipolar and wasn’t diagnosed, yet. I’m not sure that a diagnosis with the appropriate medication(s) would have changed anything. I do not believe I would have stayed on medcation.
Around 11 years old, when all those glorious hormones of adolescence kicked in, I found something I was attracted to: partying. Sure, it was here and there back then, but I had found a portion of life where I didn’t feel so anxious and inadequate around other people. It was exciting to me. None of the people I was partying with ever told me to act my age, that I could do so much better, never showed disappointment. I fit in, or at least I thought I did.
By the time I was 16, I was no longer living at home. I dropped out of school after I turned 16, much to my parents’ disappointment. Two months after I turned 17, I had my first child. Thankfully, before the end of the pregancy, I had come to the realization that I had no business trying to raise a kid. I couldn’t rely on myself and couldn’t do that to a child.
My dad had set me up with an adoption agecy early on in my pregnancy. About a month and a half before I gave birth, I recontacted the agency. The agency had placed each couple that wanted to adopt in their own photo album, complete with autobiographies of each adoption parent and a letter from each to the birth mother (me). There were around 13-15 albums for me to choose from. I looked at them all.
I remember thinking ‘How am I supposed to pick out parents for my baby?” as I flipped through the picture section of each album. Sure, the pictures could give you some insight to the couple, but this would only be the best of the best shown. And then I found them.
I was about to give up. I had just finished an album (I’d gone through a few) and was staring at the stack of albums I hadn’t looked at. I didn’t want to look any more. It was hopeless, I felt. There hadn’t been a single couple/family I had looked at that I liked even a little bit. I started to cry.
The adoption counselor came in and, thankfully, didn’t try to pep talk me. She let me talk/ramble through my tears, then she suggested I pick two more families to look at. If I didn’t like either family, I could look at the rest in the next day or two.
I picked two of the remaining albums, completely randomly. The first couple had adopted before and obviously loved their child. They ended up in the ‘no’ pile because I could have picked the child out of a crowd but could have stood face to face with the couple with no idea who they were. I didn’t like that.
Picking up the second album, I remember giving a sigh of frustration touched with disappointment. I was certain it was a waste of time, but opened the album. As I flipped through the photos, it felt so pointless. I was about to put the album down when a single photo stopped me. The picture was of the husband pushing the wife in a wheelbarrow. I heard myself say, “those two are best friends.”
I found out after the adoption that the photo was one they almost didn’t put in because it looked too aloof. I also found out that they had been approved by the adoption agency for only a few months (around 2-1/2 months). To be chosen that quickly is almost unheard of.
I met with the couple a few times before the baby was born. I liked them right from the start. I asked them if they would like to be in with me when their child was born and they replied excitedly with a yes.
The day the baby was born, I had 5 people in labor and delivery with me: my dad, my step-mom, the adoption couple, and the adoption counselor (she was required to be there since the adoption couple was there). Everything went great and the couple got to watch their baby come into the world, something they may never have gotten to experience otherwise.
Its almost 26 years later and I can honestly say there are no regets. They are truly amazing people. I have gotten to watch them raise their child and they have done an incredible job. I am eternally grateful for them, and for the photo they almost didn’t include.