Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Birth Grandmother...Looking Back 16 Years...

I can hardly imagine how hard it must have been for my 16-year-old daughter to carry the secret of her pregnancy for weeks before she told me and her Dad. Probably almost as hard as it was to finally tell us. I still feel sad when I think about the emotional battles she went through alone.

In fact, sadness overwhelmed me as I absorbed the news. Sadness for her and grief about the loss of the dreams I had for her. Mostly sadness about the loss of her innocence that could never be recovered.

What I wasn't sad about was that her personal battles had brought her to the conclusion that she couldn't abort her baby. She had also realized that she wasn't ready to parent and wanted to place her child for adoption. For me to absorb all that information in a span of a minute or two was terrifying and reassuring at the same time. Granted, she had made some lousy decisions that got her into this situation, but now she was seriously considering what would be best for her unborn child. She'd done a lot of growing up in the weeks after she took the pregnancy test that revealed that her life was about to undergo a massive change.

Being in her first trimester, there was still a lot of time for Janelle to consider all the options. I am so grateful that she had the guidance and support of counselors and social workers who had an abundance of expertise and experience in the area of crisis pregnancy. They helped her make an extremely important decision--one that would affect the rest of her life, the life of her unborn child, and the lives of those of us close to her. I realized there was no perfect solution available, but she was resolved to make the best decision among those available to her.

Although Janelle gave careful consideration to the possibility of parenting, her experiences with adoptive families we knew kept bringing her back to the same conclusion—that she wanted her child to be raised with the security, stability, values, and love she could get in a family with both a mother and father. It encouraged me to hear Janelle saying she wanted her child to have the kind of family in which she'd been raised. (I was going through my own struggles, because being a mother had been the most important thing in my life, and it was hard to comprehend how we got where we were.)

While I was still reeling, Janelle was making her decision. And I emphasize—it was her decision. We knew she was the one who would have to live with that decision every day of her life, so we tried not to pressure her either way. Fortunately, we all shared beliefs about the sanctity of life and the value of family, as well as a positive concept of adoption, and the decision she was making was consistent with those beliefs, so it was not a hard one for us to support.

Sure, she wavered from time to time, and so did we. There were hard times during the pregnancy, but the hardest grieving came after the "K's" birth and during the time until the adoption was finalized. Those weeks were agony for me and for Janelle. There were plenty of times when the emotional pain was overwhelming, and both of us were ready to reverse the plan. But at those times, Janelle would remind herself of the reasons why this was the best choice for her and for K, and I'd remember what a wonderful gift Janelle was giving to the family she'd chosen for K, and we'd cry our way through it.

I thought my heart couldn't hurt any more than it did because of being separated from Janelle during her pregnancy (she chose to move into a maternity home), but the placement day was absolutely heart-breaking, as this separation from K seemed so final. The adoption was closed, so we couldn't be there to share the celebration of K joining her new family, nor did we expect to see her again for at least 18 years—if ever.

What we were rejoicing about was the family Janelle had chosen for K—a solid Christian family whose values and lifestyle matched Janelle's preferences and hopes. Janelle was entrusting K, our first grandchild, to people we had grown to love, although we'd never met them.

Sixteen years have passed since that day. Yes, K is now 16 herself, and so much has changed. The laws have been revised, and we had the privilege of being reunited with K years ago. So now, not only am I able to pray for K and her family every day, just as I pray for my daughters and their husbands and offspring, but we communicate with her and her family and see them a couple times a year. Our relationship with her is not as close or as familiar as our relationships with our other grandchildren, but we cherish her. It's a blessing to know that we can be in touch with her, and to know that the choice that Janelle made was the right choice.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3/18/2010

    Thank you for sharing this. It is helpful for me as a waiting adoptive mom to understand the perspective of birth mothers and their families.



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