We have had so much fun sharing these beautiful adoption stories for National Adoption Month. Today, we're sharing Emily's story. I had the honor of interviewing Emily as she shared the perspective on adoption that we don't usually hear--what it's like to be a birth mother.
Emily found out she was pregnant at age 18, and chose to make an adoption plan for her son with Choice Adoptions. Just three years later, Emily has built a beautiful life. She's a huge part of her son's life, and is parenting her adorable daughter. Emily's strength and her love for both of her children inspired me, and I am ecstatic to share this interview with you!
Trigger Warning: This story contains themes of domestic violence, substance use, and suicide.
Hannah: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your story?
Emily: I am 21. I was adopted myself. I was taken by the state at 11 months old. My grandma adopted me when I was 4. I had a pretty rough childhood. When I was 18 I decided to just go bonkers.I moved to Seattle, WA with my boyfriend, and got into alcohol, partying, and a lot of hard drugs. I was abused by him for five months until he kicked me out. I went and lived with my drug dealer and did drug drops for her not knowing that I was pregnant yet. Three days before I found out I was pregnant, I tried to commit suicide.
Hannah: What was it like finding out that you were pregnant?
Emily: Three days later in a Sonic bathroom I found out that I was pregnant. That day, I cold-turkeyed everything that I was on. I did it all by myself and came home. I was totally going to keep the baby and was so excited. Three months before he was born I was in the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning and just broke down and was like, “I can’t do it. It’s just not right. It’s not fair to him or me. He deserves so much more than what I can provide for him right now.” My mom (my grandma who adopted me) heard me, and we just bawled in the bathroom together. The next day we looked up adoption agencies.
Hannah: How did you choose your son’s adoptive family?
Emily: When I was looking at the profiles for adoptive families. I had gone through 20 families already, they were one of the last families I looked at. When I saw their profile, I looked at my mom, and I said, “It’s them. I just know. I just have a feeling. Something is just telling me that they’re the ones that need to be his family.” So I told Taryn, and we got in touch with them, had our first visit, and they’re amazing. They’re super sweet people. The first time I ever met them was at an iHop. It was really cool. They were a Godsend. They really support me and my family. We go and visit them all the time. Last month we went to the pumpkin patch.
His family met me at the hospital, his adoptive mom held my leg while I was giving birth. After I gave birth, I got an hour with him, then I let them do skin to skin with him and give him his first bottle. Then the next day, we did the paperwork and he went home and I went home. And it was hard.
Hannah: You said you had a gut feeling about the adoptive parents. Was there anything that particularly drew you to them?
Emily: It was definitely an answer to prayer. We had been praying about it a lot. They were Christian, had a very good lifestyle, were successful. Both of them are mostly stay-at-home parents. And they live by the beach, so I knew that he’d be happy. They could provide for him, not only financially, but also mentally and emotionally. I don’t necessarily know what it was about them. It felt like I’d known them forever.
Hannah: What was most helpful to you during your adoption journey?
Emily: Having the support of my mom and Taryn. I leaned a lot on Taryn. She’s amazing. I love her. She has met my daughter. We’re still in contact. That’s one thing that I think is amazing about your agency is that once the adoption’s over it’s not like, “Okay, see you later!” We’re still allowed to be in each other’s lives. I think that is absolutely beautiful. I also couldn’t have done anything without God and my mom. She’s my safety and my best friend.
Hannah: Can you share a few things that were unhelpful?
Emily: I think the hardest thing for me was the judgment from a lot of people. Everybody’s hateful words. When I first came home. It was, “You’re pregnant? Who’s the dad? Oh, he’s not in the picture? Hmm. Do you even know who the dad is?” Once I told them I was doing the adoption, it was, “Oh, you just don’t want the responsibility. You’re trying to get out of it, you need to take responsibility for your actions.” At that point I was like, “No, that’s what I’m doing.” My own self-doubt was also hard...wondering if I should have kept him and wondering what would have happened. Then I have to tell myself, “We’re not going there.” I made the decision, and I stuck with the decision. I’m glad that I did.
Hannah: You're now parenting your daughter and you have an open adoption with your son. What was it like to experience pregnancy and parenting your second child? What was different in your life this time around that allowed you to choose parenting?
Emily: It’s hard. It’s been so difficult, and it still is, and I think it forever will be. I lost a little bit of myself when I did the adoption. Nobody said that it was going to be pretty. Nobody said that it was just happy-go-lucky-lollipops. It hurts. And you struggle through it, but in the end I did what’s best for my child, and that’s all that matters. I think the biggest thing for me was that after having my son, my postpartum depression was so bad. It was so hard. And I disassociated and got so depressed and wouldn’t eat. I just slept all day. That’s been the hardest thing for me this time: my body is used to disassociating. Now I actually have a baby at home, and I have to do this. It’s been hard to be in the moment. I had my son at 19. I was barely not even a year recovered. Now I’m 3 years. I’m out of that lifestyle. I can be okay now. I did it all by myself.
Hannah: I’m so moved that realizing you were pregnant with your son started that journey of recovery for you. That’s not always the way that story goes.
Emily: It’s all a brain game. If you take the time to create those new pathways, you can do it. My kids saved my life. I would probably be dead if I hadn't gotten pregnant with him. I also now understand more of what God went through when He sent Jesus down. It’s been a love-hate thing with adoption. I’ve grown closer in my faith, but at the same time, it will always be hard.
Hannah: Whenever I speak on adoption, especially at churches, I point out the birth parents in the Bible. They changed an entire generation and started the flow of redemption in the next section of history because they made the sacrificial decision.
Emily: I believe that it takes me to change the next generation, but the way my son would have grown up if I’d kept him wouldn’t change the next generation. It would have kept it going downhill. Both of these kids are super smart, and I fully believe that God has an amazing plan for both of them.
Hannah: What would you say to someone in a similar situation, who found out they’re pregnant, and is considering adoption?
Emily: It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not have the ability to properly take care of your child in this moment. It’s okay. Not everybody is in the position all the time to do that. But there are people that are, and they would be absolutely overwhelmingly excited to have that baby. And you still get to be in their life!
Huge thank you to Emily for sharing her story with us and with all of you! We are so grateful for opportunities like National Adoption Month, when we can highlight the voices and stories of adoption. If you want to support the birth mothers and babies of the Pacific Northwest, you can partner with us November 28th for Giving Tuesday!