Birth Mom, part II
(But first...Oh JOY!)
Last week was a very joyful week for our family! In addition to my father’s birthday, the date of February 10 now marks another momentous occasion. Our eldest son, Jacob, proposed to his lovely girlfriend Hailey and she gleefully accepted! Scott and I are thrilled for them!
They have been dating since their freshman year at Hope College and are now months away from graduation. It has been a beautiful courtship and delightful to watch these two learn more about one another as they’ve grown in love.
Since our children were little, we have prayed for each to be blessed with a heart of obedience, desiring the Lord’s ways. Every Sabbath when we bless them, we include a prayer for his or her future mate. Hailey is the answer to this prayer for Jacob. Praise God!
What an exciting time, to embark on this journey of life with your fiancé by your side, knowing that you will struggle, discover and celebrate together all that lies ahead, soon to be husband and wife. Congratulations Jacob Edward and Hailey Kate!
And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" ~ Yeshua/Jesus in Matthew 19:1-12
A couple weeks ago, I shared the story of Patricia in Birth Mom, part I. This week, I have another beautiful story to share. Meet Courtney, birth mom extraordinaire. She has graciously shared with me, all about getting pregnant before she was ready to parent and then again, a few years later when she was prepared.
Like Patricia, Courtney was 18 when she learned she was pregnant. “I was terrified. I was in complete denial.” It was the summer of 2013.
After ten pregnancy tests—eight store-bought and two at the doctor’s office—Courtney confirmed that she was about three to four weeks pregnant. “I went from being terrified, to relieved, to confused and back to terrified all within a matter of a few hours. To top it all off I was scheduled for my first shift at my new job later that evening. I was a young, emotional wreck.”
“I was terrified. I was in complete denial.”
Though it seemed like abortion might be a quick and discreet solution, Courtney quickly determined that she would have this baby. She knew she was not ready to be a parent. Her own childhood weighed heavily into her decision:
“Long before becoming pregnant I knew that I never wanted to be a single parent. I was seven years old before my dad married—before that it was just the two of us. Even at such a young age, the hardship my dad faced raising me alone was so easily understood. When faced with this unplanned pregnancy, I knew I could not commit to being a mother and I surely was not capable of providing the life my dad still somehow provided for me. My dad marrying Barb was the best thing he’s ever done for me. Barb bravely filled the shoes that my birth mother could not and became the mom my dad knew that I needed. I knew my child needed that mom too.”
Though she had never met an adoptee, Courtney did have a good friend who had placed her child for adoption a few years earlier. She confided in one of her aunts and learned that her aunt was good friends with a couple considering adopting. Within days of discovering her pregnancy, Courtney had decided to place her child for adoption, and she knew she wanted this couple to raise her child!
"I knew my child needed that mom too.”
Though she could have legally aborted this baby without the father’s consent, she had to have his consent in order to move forward with adoption. Had he not signed paperwork to terminate his parental rights, says Courtney, she would not have been able to proceed.
She had a wonderful support system and a very healthy pregnancy. She let the adoptive family decide whether or not to learn the gender of the baby—so around 18 weeks gestation, they all discovered together at the ultrasound appointment that he was a he.
Her due date came and went. She allowed her obstetrician to induce her. “Saying that it was horrible would be an understatement,” says Courtney. “It was insanely painful. I’m convinced the Pitocin drug (synthetic oxytocin) was brewed in the pits of hell. And when the hospital asks if the interns can partake in assisting with your labor, don’t say, ‘Yeah, they’ve gotta learn sometime,’ Just say ‘NO!’”
In addition to all the doctors-in-training, she was surrounded by her mom, aunt, and the adoptive mother and her mom. Courtney muses, “I chose the best people to support me during the scariest moment of my life. During the incredibly painful induction process, they all took turns massaging my lower back while I took turns yelling at them all individually.”
When her son was born, Courtney allowed the adoptive parents to hold him first. “I felt that it was extremely important for them to be the first to hold him. It was so obvious to me when I saw his adoptive mom first hold him, that it was the moment she had been waiting for her entire life. Every ounce of pain and anticipated grief disappeared and was replaced by an overwhelming feeling of comfort and acceptance.”
Wow. Let that soak in.
"It was so obvious to me when I saw his adoptive mom first hold him, that it was the moment she had been waiting for her entire life."
She continues, “Once the excitement settled, I spent a few minutes alone with him. Those minutes, I know were terrifying for the adoptive parents. Minutes when birth mothers begin to process regret and begin to think of the ‘what-if’s?’ and ‘what-could-be’s’. It was a very metamorphic few minutes, not only for me but for my son and his new family too. They were about to bring home the baby they had waited their whole lives for, and I was about to let them. I assured my son that one day he will understand and be grateful for my decision, I then called the family back into my room and carefully handed him over to them.”
"It was a very metamorphic few minutes, not only for me but for my son and his new family too...I assured my son that one day he will understand and be grateful for my decision..."
In addition, Courtney has a great sense of humor: “Legally, I had to name him for his birth records, which are permanently sealed. Due to my odd sense of humor and love for Johnny Cash, I thought it would be comical to name him ‘Sue’ since the records were going to be sealed almost immediately. After some reconsideration, I decided to give him the name his new mom and dad had already chosen for him.”
The adoption wasn’t final until about six months after the birth. “I knew I wanted an open adoption,” says Courtney, “but I was willing to respect whatever their decision because I knew my child would have the life I was not capable of giving him.”
They have a very good relationship, making it a priority to see each other every few months as their busy schedules allow. The adoptive family frequently sends pictures as well as stories to keep Courtney updated on his latest milestones. “He refers to me as ‘tummy mummy’ which is a term used in a children’s book about adoption.
"I knew my child would have the life I was not capable of giving him.”
“The adoptive mom is single-handedly one of the best people I have ever met. To sum up our relationship, she was actually in the room when I gave birth to Andi.”
Andi. Courtney gave birth to her second child—a daughter—on May 23, 2019, almost exactly five years after her son was born. Much had changed in her life in those five years. No longer a teenager, she was in a committed relationship with the baby’s father. She is happily married and says, “I can’t imagine a better person to be her dad.” So when she learned of this pregnancy, she was thrilled.
Again, she was induced and says it was as equally horrible as the first time, though the labor was a little shorter. What happened in the days following Andi’s birth caught Courtney off guard. “It was extremely hard for me to bond with my daughter after her birth, which could have been a mix of postpartum depression and the emotional trauma of having placed my son for adoption. The first few weeks of her life I felt like I was caring for someone else’s baby, the feeling that every mother talks about the first time she holds her child was not there after her birth. I really struggled.”
"The first few weeks of her life I felt like I was caring for someone else’s baby . . . "
It was necessary for her to seek professional counseling. “I learned so much about myself that I needed to change, and those changes took time,” says Courtney. “Parenting has changed my life in more ways than I can count and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
She is blessed to have a close connection with her son thanks to his adoptive parents. “They are extremely open and encourage our relationship and for that I am so thankful. When he learned that he would be a big brother, he was over-the-moon happy. We all agreed that we wanted him and his sister to have a relationship as they grow up.”
Concerning being a birth mother, Courtney says, “When someone new learns I have placed my child for adoption, there is always a moment of silence followed by numerous questions.”
“Parenting has changed my life in more ways than I can count and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
She thinks there is a stigma associated, that someone healthy would not choose to place a child for adoption. “I should be suffering from a drug addiction or be under the age of sixteen, but instead, I am a somewhat responsible, normal adult so curiosity is anticipated. So, I guess being an exception to the stigma feels a bit alienating as well.”
Just as I shared a few weeks ago about Patricia’s selfless choice and journey as a birth mom, Courtney’s story radiates the same raw and awesome beauty. Decades apart, both of these women chose life for their child in the midst of difficult circumstances. Both gave birth to sons whom they lovingly allowed another family to raise. Both are real-life heroes—strong, brave and kind.
As an adoptee, I am overwhelmed by these love stories and like to think that my birth mom is--ALL birth moms are--cut from the same cloth. Thank you so much Courtney for sharing your wonderful story with us!
"At BraveLove, we believe it’s vital that a birth mother not walk alone because the journey of adoption does not end at placement." ~ visit BraveLove HERE
"Many women facing an unexpected pregnancy move immediately to the two most common options: parenting and abortion. But the third option, adoption, is often overlooked." ~ visit OptionLine HERE
"If you’ve sinned by participating in an abortion-related decision, the solution to your guilt is not denial. It’s forgiveness." ~ visit After the Abortion HERE