If only… what if… Everyone has a story that often comes with regrets. But in this story there is no regret, only courage and love. This is the story of how and why I bravely placed my first-born daughter up for adoption 16 years ago. It’s an open letter to her detailing why I made this life-altering decision. Her name is Chelsey, and yes, we have the same name. I was blessed with an adoptive couple that wanted to take my first name as hers.
Over the years, Chelsey has never asked me, “why did you place me for adoption?” However, this question has haunted me for over a decade. I knew one day she would ask, and I would need to give an answer. So, here is my attempt at answering this question and continuing to heal a long-time wound.
You are 16 Years Old
As I write this it’s 5:30am and I’m listening to classical piano music as I reach for the right words (and chords) to bring peace to my heart—and hopefully yours, too. You’ve never asked about this story, but I know in my heart one day you will want to know I made the decision I did. Now that you’re sixteen, it’s time for you to hear this story. Your half-sister, Clara (who is four) will also one day know it.
I wasn’t there (or invited to) your sweet sixteenth birthday party this year, but I expected that. I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since that day in the hospital when you were miraculously born and went home with your new adoptive mom and dad. I’ve been thinking a lot about you over this past year. I know we’ve grown apart, but it’s been a particularly challenging year for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and grown as a woman, which you will understand someday.
Yes, life lessons continue on even into adulthood. Someday you’ll think you know it all, and then the world breaks your heart and shatters your rose-colored glasses. Slowly the pieces will come back together and your view of the world may look slightly different, and that’s okay.
Meeting Your Birth-Dad
Your birth-dad and I met in high school. I was drawn to him because of his fun-loving personality and how much he attracted the attention of others. I was the classic introvert, nerdy type (in my eyes) and I avoided being the center of attention.
He was on the basketball team and, boy, did I appreciate how athletic he was! He was tall and lean and so sure of himself. In high school, I was a cheerleader because I wanted to fit in, which is not the best of reasons to join anything.
We started dating and had a lot of fun. I remember laughing a lot. He could also disappoint me though, and that’s okay looking back. This taught me a lot about patience and how to accept others for who they are without the need or desire to change them.
The only person you have control over is yourself—your actions and attitude, essentially your effort on anything in life. Just remember to follow your own unique path in life and you will grow into the loving, brave and resilient young woman you were called to be.
You Were Conceived
After dating for awhile we became closer and eventually we were sexually active (which my parents did not know about at the time). I wish my parents had talked more openly with me about sex and how it could effect my life and my relationships. I encourage you to talk to your mom and dad, or ask me!
A few months later, I became pregnant with you. There was a time when I thought I would have an abortion. I went to Planned Parenthood and explored my options. I remember being really scared and alone. I made the mistake of not bringing anyone with me.
As you are probably now realizing at 16, emotions are sometimes hard to control—especially when life doesn’t go your way. To say I was distraught during that time would be the understatement of the century. I had a vision of my future and children were not in my plan for many years to come. I was just two years older than you are now, 18 years old.
My Decision to Place You for Adoption
After some time and talking to close friends, I decided against an abortion. After making this decision, I learned about open and closed adoptions and started to pursue the process. Once my decision was made, I was lucky that your birth-dad wanted to stay very involved. Not many men (or boys, at this age), would have had this amount of courage.
We both wanted the best life for you, no matter what. We learned about New Life Adoptions (your adoption agency) through a friend. We also heard about a couple that had lost several pregnancies, including twins. This same friend spoke with the couple and encouraged them to go to New Life Adoptions. This was your mom and dad, of course.
Throughout the adoption process, we read several lovingly-written letters from various families and couples that were looking to adopt a child. They were all heartbreaking. There were so many families that seemed perfect for you! Your mom and dad wrote one of those letters. For some reason, their letter tugged at my heart and soul. What a decision to put on a teenager! Yep, I pretty much had to grow up fast.
In reading the letter, I valued that your mom was athletic (being a gym teacher) and that they both loved the outdoors and dogs. Once I met them, I even remember them mentioning their love for Duluth, and of course that’s where I live now! But most importantly, I saw a couple that deserved to have children. I knew in my heart that you would forever be loved and supported by this couple, no matter what.
The Rest is History
Yes, there are times that I have thought about the what ifs. What if we had chosen to instead be your parents? Yes, we are still your birth-mom and dad, but you know what I mean. Some days are hard in knowing that I missed the day you took your first steps, your first words, and so many of your other milestones. And that you will never call me “Mom.” This one hurts beyond belief, even to this day. However, your birth-dad and myself made that decision long ago, and signed on the dotted line.
The rest is history as they say… your history, in fact, the life you now live with your adoptive mom and dad. However, know that we will always be here for you. And remember…
You are loved, no matter what.
You are supported, no matter what.
You matter, no matter what.
I hope with all my heart you will understand why we placed you for adoption. I believe that honesty and authenticity can heal any wound. I love you and know that we will become best friends as you grow older!