I remember the feeling of sheer panic that engulfed me back in 1966 when I found out I was pregnant at the age of 20 and a sophomore in college.
Each day I would wake up and think, “There has to be a way out. This is too much.” There were options available. I could have pushed the father into a hurried, unhappy marriage, but I knew that was not right for him, the baby, or me. I could have kept the child and raised it alone, but everything I knew about children and a good environment told me that that would not be best for the child either. There were women who offered to help arrange an illegal abortion. For a while, that option looked like the best way out. I won’t have to face my parents, or put my college education on hold. The “mistake” could be erased.
But then I remembered that this was a life, not a “mistake,” I was carrying.
So I opted to face my parents, have my baby, and provide her with a loving family through adoption. Lutheran Family Service provided a caring “home”, expert medical care and counseling during the final months of my pregnancy. I did what was best for my daughter and myself. The ache I was to know for 19 years had already begun when I signed adoption papers when she was 2 days old; committing her to the care of parents I did not know and the God I knew very well.
During this experience, I learned about the unconditional love and forgiveness of my family, and the steadfastness of God. I would cling to Psalm 139:13 –15, “You created every part of me; You put me together in my mother’s womb. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, You knew that I was there—You saw me before I was born.” to validate the decision to carry my baby as God pleasing. When the loneliness of not knowing my daughter would overwhelm me, God would reassure me that, through prayer, I could be part of her life. When the sadness over the pain I had caused others seemed to drown me, God would wrap His arms of forgiveness around me.
With the aid of a counselor at Lutheran Family Service, my daughter and I met when she was 19 years old. This meeting was by mutual consent. Her adoptive parents agreed to our meeting and were there for it, along with my husband. I can’t describe the feelings that overwhelmed me when I saw my daughter for the first time after 19 years. Her parents had brought her school pictures so I could see her grow up. My daughter and I have remained in contact over the years and our relationship has deepened. I attended her college graduation, her wedding, and her adoptive parents and I celebrated together when she received her Master’s Degree. I consider the fact that we have a caring positive relationship as a miracle from God.
People ask me if I made the right decision all those years ago. I answer “Yes”. She was loved and raised in better circumstances than I could have given her. Doing the right thing is not easy. Doing the best thing does not eliminate heartache. My daughter may never call me “mother”. She reserves that title for the woman who loved and raised her. I am the mother who loved her first and did the best thing for her.
I gave her into God’s tender care and other loving arms.