A few months ago, I started seeing these post on Facebook. They were adopted children using social media to search out their birth parents. I am so inspired by their journey that I approached a friend of mine to share her story. Parts of her story might be controversial for many; she is open and honest about her feelings, her choices, and her decisions. I ask that you read with an open mind. My guest writer today is Sharon. I met Sharon many years ago and have felt blessed every day to know her. She has an amazing story to share and she has agreed to share it here. With you!
Sharon is the author is the book, I Choose This Day: Mournings and Miracles of Adoption
In 1969, I found myself in a situation where I had to make a life-changing decision: I was not married, and I learned I was pregnant. Being raised in a Christian-faith tradition, I felt my choices were parenting or making a plan of adoption; abortion was not legal. That same situation today is still a life-changing decision regardless of having three choices: parenting, making a plan of adoption or choosing an abortion. I am so thankful that abortion was not legal then because I feel most certain that I would have chosen abortion. I would not have been able to think beyond the “No one will ever know,” and I would not have been aware of the emotional consequences at that time. I was not aware of any pregnancy care centers like we have today to talk to someone. I had great role models in my mom and my three sisters, but I didn't think I was strong enough to live a life focusing on the stereotype of a single mother with a baby. I didn’t think it wasn’t fair to me or my child. For that matter, neither was it fair to my mom who already had parented 11 children. If I chose to parent, I would have to move back home, and my child would be more like my sibling instead of my child. I alone chose adoption since my boyfriend told me he didn’t care what I did, it was my problem; I haven’t seen him since. I thought that all babies deserve both a loving mother and a loving father, and I wanted that for my baby.
My parents and my older siblings knew about my pregnancy and they helped me make a plan. I quit my job in the big city and left without telling anyone there that I was pregnant. I did not think anyone could understand? I moved across the state and lived with my brother and his family in a new city until after my baby’s birth. Shortly after her birth, I hemorrhaged and almost died. I did not see her after she was born. That was the way the hospital staff suggested it be done at that time. The only advice I was given at the hospital by the social worker was to go on with my life like this didn’t happen. I tried to do just that; I was strong, no one else needed to know. What possible benefit would I gain from opening up to someone who wouldn’t understand? Who could understand? I stayed out of church during that time because I felt so unworthy. I told one girlfriend about my daughter, but we didn’t discuss her again. My family felt it made me too sad to talk about it and I didn’t want to talk about it, so we never mentioned it. If “going on with my life like this didn’t happen” was the proper way to do it, I would do as the social worker said.
I got a job back in my home town as a legal secretary. The years following the adoption, my self-esteem was low, as I tried to go on with my life. I had problems with relationships, as I just wanted to be loved and made several poor choices. (Those same poor choices helped me later on to be understanding and not judgmental when working as a mentor at the Pregnancy Care Center.) Although I dated some throughout the years, I didn’t date often; I vowed never to get hurt again. I eventually started working at the Police Department. I had many close friends and I was close to my family. I was there for them, and I could not have made it without them; however, we never discussed my daughter.
In the beginning and throughout the next 25 years, I felt like two persons: One side was my professional side or exterior side where I thought I was strong and loved my job and being around my family. I put my “all” into being the best employee I could be. I was always told I had a nice smile so I tried to smile often. My solace was in spending time with my family and close friends and being the best friend, daughter, sister and aunt that I knew how to be. Fortunately, for me, I didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol although I did occasionally have a social drink with friends. I went to evening college while working at the SPD and earned a BS degree in Criminal Justice, Psychology and Sociology.
On the interior side when I was alone, I felt like such a failure. I felt disconnected from God and stayed out of Church all of those years because I felt so unworthy. I felt I had failed God, my parents, my only chance to be a mother, my only chance to be a wife. I felt I only had one chance at happiness, and I had blown it. Thus, began my long road of self-condemnation, enveloping myself into that shell of protection like a turtle, trying to be free from criticism and pain, the side I thought I had to keep hidden from others.
After about 22 – 23 years, I began to want something more; my solace of spending time with my family and friends wasn’t enough. I felt a strong conviction to return to that Christian faith tradition I had known as a child. I started going to church again; but more importantly, I accepted God’s grace, love, forgiveness and my need of a Savior called Jesus Christ. I was beginning to open up and share a little, but I still couldn’t open up about my daughter. On Mother’s Day when the pastor asked the mothers to stand and be recognized, I just sat in my seat and hung my head and told myself I was a mother but I couldn’t stand because no one knew about my daughter so they wouldn’t understand.
About that same time, I watched a movie about an adult adoptee needing a bone-marrow transplant and searching for her birth mom to get her medical history. Up to that time, I had always felt my daughter had a great life and I didn’t deserve to find her. That movie gave me a different perspective: She might need me. I learned after ordering the book that was advertised at the end of the movie that the state I placed my baby girl up for adoption was an open-records state and my daughter could obtain my name and information when and if she wanted. Thus, I didn’t do anything more about trying to find her. If she did decide to find me, what would my reaction be? Since my close friends did not know about her, would their opinion about me change?
Sharon will continue her story later on Thursday. Please join us. Or you can read her book, I Choose This Day – Mournings and Miracles of Adoption by Sharon Fieker with contributions by Lori Smith.