A Birth Mother’s Story: I Pick You
Today we are incredibly grateful to share part two of our 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. Read part one of Ashley’s story here
After I walked out of that abortion clinic I knew that adoption had become my option. But now what?
I was walking into an entirely different reality that I knew nothing about. The agency, picking a family, the hospital, and a lifetime post-placement.
This was a totally different reality from, “I am pregnant and I need to not be pregnant.” This was now a new reality of, “now I have to be pregnant and face it.”
It was so strange to look back because even though I was free from the torture that came with the almost abortion, and I knew that I wasn’t going to parent, I went about life as “normal.” Still trying to hide, still trying to pretend that this wasn’t happening.
Do you want to know a secret?
At some point that baby is going to come.
At some point, you must face it.
I was about 7 months when I finally told my parents and siblings. I was 7 months when I went to my first doctor appointment and I was 7 months when I met with my case worker to pick a family to adopt my son.
I was having a boy. After months of secrecy and pain and shame and terror I made one of my first real emotional connections with that baby. I was having a boy.
Those last 3 months were a blur of appointments and therapy and checks and schedules.
I was about to face my biggest trial since the abortion clinic.
I had to pick a family.
I received a stack of 50 profile pages, basically a stack of old scrapbook pages with pictures and stickers and typed paragraphs.
This was impossible. I experienced two very harsh realities.
The first was that I was to pick a stranger to raise my son as her own. From a picture and a few scripted paragraphs I had to pick a mother for my child.
This is the most ridiculous and unnatural thing for a mother to do.
The second was that I couldn’t pick one and put the rest back. Who was I to deem one family worthy of a child and another not? My heart broke for the dozens of women that shared their heartbreak of loss and their dreams for family. They were all deserving.
But I could only pick one.
I sobbed over the decision. As I narrowed the stack one by one I finally had found myself staring at two different options, both completely different in look, lifestyle and environment but the same in their deep desire for children.
I prayed and cried for clarity. How do I choose? How do I know they will be the right home? How do I know that this is right?
That is adoption. Jumping into the unknown and praying for clarity.
I woke up in the morning cursing the light. Terrified to roll over and look at the faces on the night stand. Today I had to choose. And when I saw them I knew … and the other family went back in the pile.
I had picked a family.
To the woman that I didn’t pick:
11 years later I want you to know that I think about you often. I want you to know that I loved your family. I want you to know that I poured over your profile. In a stack of dozens of families you stood out, for whatever reason, my heart skipped a beat when I looked at your profile and I knew that you were in the running.
You and your husband were newlyweds, married just 2 years. You were so young and beautiful. Your husband was serving our country and you were a school teacher. You lived a happy life in Idaho. You loved each other, you believed in God and you wanted a baby.
You shared your amazing story with me. Your deepest sadness and yearning for a child. You shared your heartbreaking story of all of the children that you lost to miscarriage. You shared the tears and pain of infertility. You opened up about the guilt and shame and anger that you felt about not being able to have a child biologically. You shared your heart and the heart of your husband. The tears that you shed together.
And then you shared your story of hope, the hope that a woman like me would pick a woman like you. That I would find you and be drawn to you, that I would want to meet you and that I would bond with you and love you immediately. That I would fulfill your dreams of becoming a mother. You promised me an open adoption, you promised to love my son like he was your own flesh and blood, that he would be raised to love God and that he would know me and always know my love for him.
I want you to know that you stood out. I want you to know that I wanted to pick you. I want you to know that I prayed over you and your husband. I want you to know that I still do.
I know you were informed that I was looking at your profile. I know that you had to live through the rejection. I want you to know how sorry I am and that you did nothing wrong.
I picked her. I picked them. They are amazing people. They are an amazing family and have been the perfect family for me and for that beautiful boy.
I didn’t pick you. You are amazing people. You would have been an amazing family and could have been the perfect family for me and that beautiful boy.
I hope and pray often that you have been picked. That you found a woman that was like me all those years ago. That she poured over your profile and cried as I did. That she was inspired by you as I was, that they called you and met you and that you have been able to fulfill all those same promises that you made to me. That she was able to help you become a mother… the mother that you have always dreamed of being.
I didn’t pick you. I loved you and you touched my heart and inspired me.
I am not sorry for the family I picked, but I am sorry that the decision I made meant that you didn’t get picked. I never wanted that kind of power. I never wanted to deem one family worthy of a child and another not.
I want you to know that after hours of combing through so many families … so many families with the same desires and hopes and heartbreaks I picked you, I picked you and I picked her. I had an impossible decision to make. I was so exhausted, I was so tired, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to make that choice. I hated everything about this process.
I prayed all night, prayed for comfort, for clarity, for understanding, for peace, for direction. I stared at your faces in the dark. Finally a restless sleep came over me. When I felt myself wake in the morning I wished that I could sleep forever. I knew that I had to face the decision. I knew that I had to be accountable for my actions. I knew that the consequences were coming to collect.
I sat up and I looked down at your face, and at her face. And I knew. My prayers had been answered. I knew who I was going to pick to be the mother of my son. And I put your profile back in the pile.
I want you to know that I loved you and I think about you often. I am sorry that I couldn’t pick you. But even more than that…I hope someone else did.
When it came time to meet the family that I did pick I was surprisingly calm.
And I had questions. I had lots of questions.
When the mother walked in I stood to greet her, she cried and told me how beautiful I was and then she hugged me.
That hug, that connection, that bond.
It was like an invisible string was now attached to us.
I still feel that pull.
I knew that we would be family. Good or bad, ugly, broken, healed. We were forever a family.
I felt peace for the first time in months.
That peace would not last long as I prepared for my delivery.