Adoption: A Birth Mother’s Story
Dear Adopt a Love Story community,
Today we are incredibly grateful to start a new blog series with Ashley Mitchell, writer, speaker, and adoption advocate. With her compassionate and articulate voice, Ashley starts powerfully honest conversations from her perspective as a birth mom. Today, Ashley is sharing the beginning of her story.
This story is my own.
I remember conversations with my girl friends in high school.
“What would you do if you got pregnant?”
It was such a hypothetical because none of us were having sex at the time but it was something that we would talk about. We would never consider abortion, and parenting seemed like the best option….but maybe adoption? What was adoption? We didn’t really know, we just felt like it was a better option than abortion.
It is amazing what you are willing to consider, compromise or sacrifice when you are going for broke, when you have truly felt like you were at the end of yourself, when the other option seemed a fate worse than death.
When I was 25 years old I found myself in an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy.
I grew up in Orem, Utah, a quiet and conservative town that was very traditional in family values and a strong religious culture. The belief was that if you did all that you were taught in Sunday School and followed the “check list” that everything would work out.
The consequences of not following those steps were rarely talked about and carried a heavy shame and judgment if you were found “falling away.”
With the great fear of rejection from my peers and community and the very real heartbreak of disappointing my family, I only had one reality that I could cling to:
I was pregnant and I needed to not be pregnant.
I could not see past that one reality. I could not see the bigger picture and I could not comprehend what the long term ramifications of a pregnancy would mean.
I was pregnant and I needed to not be pregnant and the only way that I knew to make that happen was to have an abortion.
I remember my experience in that abortion clinic like it was just hours ago.
There are moments in this journey where I really felt like God stepped in and threw His cards on the table. I had my agency, but in a few choice moments He needed to show His hand because I was about to really screw things up for myself.
Those few hours in the abortion clinic, the results of that appointment, and the words that were shared with me changed the course of my life forever… and God was in the details.
I walked into the abortion clinic for my first appointment over 11 years ago. I can still smell the waiting room, I can still see the bars on the windows and I can still read the words on the signs of those standing out on the side walk.
I sat in my first of two appointments. This was the education portion of the process.
I sat in a very small room with chairs in a horseshoe shape all facing an old TV on a black rolling cart that contained a VHS player. There were no paintings on the wall and no magazines on the end tables. There was a small book case littered with pamphlets. None of them were about adoption.
I remember being shocked at the attitudes of those that sat in the room with me. Some with companions, some with parents, and some alone.
Laughing, joking, keeping it light.
I wanted to curl up and die. Every inch of my soul was screaming! Get up and walk out! My body was glued to the seat. Regardless of how I felt morally about this decision there was one reality that I still couldn’t get past.
I was pregnant and I needed to not be pregnant.
A nurse came in and dumped a tape into the VHS player and on a black screen the white block letters are burned into my memory…
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ABORTION.
When I returned for my second appointment which would have been the procedure appointment, I felt very much the same way as I had just a week or so before.
Dying a little inside the longer I sat there. Silently sobbing, wanting so desperately to have the strength to get up and walk out…frozen in this hell, trying to justify what was about to happen. Feeling one validation creep over me:
I would rather face God at judgement day than face society in an unplanned pregnancy.
I want that statement to sink in.
This was my reality.
This was the fear I was facing. This was the judgement that was waiting for me. This was the shame that would be placed upon me. This was the ignorance that I would be facing.
So I sat there … and I waited.
I was called back into a “community room” with only a curtain to separate me and the other women in the room … there were no secrets. We all knew what we were doing there.
I waited in my gown for an ultrasound. The nurse was all business, no talking, no eye contact and now showing me a baby on a screen, no excitement or celebration of life. Just a verification that I was indeed pregnant.
She finished, wiped my stomach and gave me a look I will never forget.
She asked me to get dressed left me to change my clothes.
I sat on the edge of the bed, nervous, anxious, pleading to have this over with quickly. I just wanted to go home and hide in my bed forever!
She walked back through my curtain and she said 4 words that would forever change my life.
“We can’t help you.”
I was too far along in the state of Utah to have an abortion. By a matter of weeks I was too far along.
At that very moment I was relieved. I was free from this hell. I would walk out of that barred building feeling free of suffering.
But now what?
Adoption now became my option…and now my real story begins!