Giving up my baby for adoption 29 years ago was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It started in 1969, when I was raped and became pregnant. I was 18 years old.
Abortion was not an issue discussed in the 1960s. My choice was adoption or keeping the baby. Not having finished my high school, I knew right away that the right thing to do would be to give my baby a chance to have the life that I couldn't give her - for starters, a mother and a father. There were so many people who wanted children and couldn't have them. This was my opportunity to answer a childless couple's prayers. Without a high-school education, I knew that my road certainly would be a rough one. It wasn't the baby's burden to bear; she deserved more.
Loving her wasn't a problem, because my love saw further than a tiny, precious baby.
During the first three months of my pregnancy, I lost 27 pounds, caused in part by the morning, noon and night sickness that was probably brought on by the guilt of rape. My parents took turns, staying awake at night with me, telling me that it would get better. I believed everything that they told me.
My mom and dad took good care of me, and, because of them, I did get better. At four months of pregnancy, I finally stopped throwing up. My mother told me that if I was happy and dealt with what was happening, I would bring a happy, healthy baby into this world. The baby would experience every emotion and physical sensation that I did.
I sang to my growing stomach. I rubbed it while I watched television. While I was bathing, I watched the baby inside me make ripples in the bathtub when she would move around. This was real. Focusing on the future, I changed my whole attitude about the bad that had occurred.
When my baby was born, I chose not to see her. I feared that if I did see her, my decision to give her up for adoption would be that much more difficult. Indeed, that time had arrived, and I had to be strong. The nurses would come into my room at night, telling me how beautiful the baby was, so you can imagine how torn I felt. I was sad. One minute she was inside me, moving, and the next minute she was gone.
Even though I missed her, I had to go on. I went back to school and got on with my life. But there was not a day that I did not think of her. Was she happy with her new family?
I hoped so. I prayed so.
As years went by, I would look at children her age and wonder what she looked like. One day, while shopping at K-mart, I actually thought that the toddler in the buggy in front of my mother and me looked like I imagined she would at that age. We followed the baby buggy around the store for a short time, but I did not say a word. I thought that, when she was about 10 years old, if only God and I knew where she was, I would ride by her home; I just wanted to see if she was a happy, little girl. However, I never shared these thoughts with anyone.