“Here, take these,” she says to me, handing me two boxes. “I can’t do it.”
I take the two boxes out of her hands.
She won’t give me eye contact.
“Everything is in there – my journal, the ultrasound pictures, the adoption letters, pictures,” and her voice trails off. I don’t know what to say.
“What you’re doing is really important,” she says, encouraging me to continue in my research. What she doesn’t realize is collecting stories of unplanned pregnancy has opened my heart up in a way I never expected. Yes, I feel pain, their pain, but I also feel their strength, even when they think they are weak. Those who are members of the “unplanned pregnancy” club are my new heroes. They are the strongest women I know.
“My kids don’t know they have a 14 year-old brother. I’ve kept this quiet for so long.”
She turns back to her car and opens the door.
“Thank you,” I say, but what I really want to say is “I’m in awe you have trusted me with your heart and soul. I will reverently look through these boxes with love and respect. I will do my best to tell your story, to tell your son’s story.”
Once inside my home, I open the lid of the first box and see several ultrasound pictures. Underneath that is a newborn photo of a beautiful Asian baby, with spiked black hair. His little hands are beautiful and I can almost feel how soft his skin is. Newborn babies smell like the blossoms of a bloomed apricot tree and my senses pick up on the sweetness of him.
How did she do it? She placed him for adoption that very day, most likely just after this newborn photo was taken. I peer into the box and I see it underneath some lose papers – a photo of her holding her newborn son. She’s wearing a hospital gown and lying in bed, holding her baby just as tight as she’s holding back her tears. The pain in her face is unmistakable, like a scar that might never go away. Who took the photo? Perhaps her mother, a friend? They say a picture says a thousand words, for it would be impossible to write how she felt at this moment, knowing her son was soon to be placed with another.
I pick up the loose papers of her journal. She starts by writing how she used to be a good girl, but once she befriended the wrong crowd she started making choices that took her on a different path. Her self-esteemed suffered, as did her relationship with her parents. She started college, but moved back home within a year. Because of her lifestyle she couldn’t keep up with work and school. Eventually she moved in with her boyfriend, whom she’d known since elementary school. They were together for three years when she became pregnant. She thought he’d marry her, but instead he said, “I don’t think I really love you.”
She writes - I’m 22 and pregnant. To most people, this would be a very exciting time in their life. For me it has to be one of the hardest and saddest because I’m placing my baby for adoption.
She turned back to her faith, back to her parents and back to what she knew to be true. When she first met with the social worker, she knew adoption was the right answer for her. A feeling as true as a flame burned through her when she saw a photo of the family that would soon adopt her son. What a gift to know with such certainty that these were the right people.
I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to be immoral. It started way back in 10th grade when I tried my first cigarette. After that, one thing led to another and I ended up hanging out with the wrong crowd. Growing up, I didn’t see my life this way and looking back, I can’t believe I let it happen. I always wanted freedom, but I guess I allowed myself too much freedom.
She is married now and a mother of four more beautiful children. I see her in the carpool line at school. Her family is exceptional, her children are darling and she smiles as she takes them into her arms. She is an athlete who works each day to be strong. I used to think strength came easy to her, but now I see how she’s had to work for it. She doesn’t know me very well, but she trusts me with this experience. She has given me two boxes full of memories of the child she had 14 years ago. He is being raised by beautiful people, his hair is still spiked and he smiles just like his mom.
WHAT HAS YOUR SISTER DONE - Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy is in its final stages of edits. If you have a story, there is still time to submit it by March 31, 2017. If you'd like me to help you write your story, please message me on facebook at My Dear Trash or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It takes about an hour and I can interview you over the phone or in person. If your unfamiliar as to why my blog is called My Dear Trash, please read here. I will spend a lifetime searching for, collecting, listening to and validating these incredible experiences of unplanned pregnancy.
To read about my personal experience with overcoming sexual abuse and how a pregnancy scare changed my life, my memoir Starving Girl is available on Amazon. Click here to read more.
To watch my podcast of Starving Girl on youtube, click here.