For many women, confirmation of a pregnancy and the start of a new life inspires joy and elation, but when the mother-to-be is an unwed teenager or college co-ed, an unplanned pregnancy can be a traumatic, disruptive and terrifying proposition.
These girls (and boys) face difficult decisions as they contemplate their abilities to parent as well as their educational prospects, financial situations and personal aspirations. Often, adoption is a logical, albeit heartbreaking, solution. These women share why the difficult choice was right for them.
FACING SINGLE MOTHERHOOD
In a less-than-spotless Wal-Mart public bathroom on the other side of town, then 18-year-old Abby Bashor of Frisco got the confirmation she was dreading.
The guy she’d recently dated announced he “wasn’t ready for a relationship,” but the stick in her hand showed they’d already had one.
In the days and weeks that followed, Abby and her former beau had several conversations about the pregnancy — and the adoption option. He was adamantly opposed to her suggestion about adoption, but in her view, he was “a deadbeat, doing drugs in the backyard and seeing other girls.”
She recalls one argument: He cried and asked her to parent the child with him.
“He screamed at me about placing the baby for adoption for someone else to raise, but he didn’t show any potential to be a responsible person. I knew that parenting with him couldn’t be a good thing. … About a month later, he moved across the country, so that was that.”
Raised by a single mom herself, Abby believed she could parent a child without a partner, but she also felt that it was wrong for her to choose something for her child that he wouldn’t have chosen for himself.
“It would have hurt me every single day to do this to my child, to know that he had an absent father because of me.”
By the time she neared the end of her first trimester, Abby was leaning hard toward adoption. Even so, doubts cropped up as her body changed.
“Reality hits as you feel the baby growing inside of you, and that gets a lot harder to think about,” she says. “So as I [became] more pregnant, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to [place him for adoption]. I have a super strong relationship with the Lord and I thought, ‘I could be a mom. I could raise this child.’ … I talked about it with my mom and she was really supportive too. We knew we could make it work, but I also knew it wouldn’t be the best for the child. We felt it wouldn’t be what God planned for him.”
So on the recommendation of a family friend, Abby met with a counselor at a small, local adoption agency, where she felt “nurtured” and comforted that they specialized in open adoptions, an agreement between adoptive parents and birth parents to share the child’s history with him — and oftentimes more.
Abby knew going in that she wanted a college-educated, childless couple to raise her child. “I thought that if they didn’t have other children, my precious child would really bless them.”
And so the search through potential parent profiles began. But for Abby, the process didn’t take long; it was love at first look book.
“I really can’t explain it. I just looked at [the couple’s] pictures and read what their friends had written about them, and I just knew. It just felt right.”
So the five-months-pregnant Abby — and her mom — made plans to meet the couple she selected. “[We] really clicked,” she says. Plus, there were so many “little, sweet coincidences” that made Abby feel instantly connected to them. She shares a birthday with their wedding anniversary, for instance. And, at the time, she was hoping to attend Stephen F. Austin State University, their alma mater. (She’s currently an education major at the University of North Texas.)
“My mother and I just felt really close to them,” she says. “They texted me on Mother’s Day. Things like that. It was very special.”
July arrived and with it, Abby’s due date. Labor and delivery came with a complication. The baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.
“He wasn’t crying when he was born, so I knew something was wrong,” Abby remembers. “They whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).”
Abby didn’t actually get emotional until she witnessed the reaction her son’s adoptive mother (she asked the adoptive parents to be part of the delivery experience) had upon seeing the newborn for the first time.
“She walks in and sees him and just starts crying so hard,” Abby recalls. “To see her raw emotions in that instant was really emotional for me too. With him in NICU, we all [stayed] there together. It was an amazing bonding experience.”
Forty-eight hours later, Abby signed the papers relinquishing her parental rights.
Even having hand-picked her son’s parents and believing that it was the best thing for him — and her — it was a heartbreak she’ll never forget.
“I genuinely feel like I was not in my body,” Abby says now. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I’d really been aware because I was signing away my rights to the most precious human I’d ever laid eyes on.”
That first week without him was rough to say the least.
“I experienced such intense [emotional] pain,” she admits. “I was 19 years old, but I crawled into my mom’s lap and cried, saying, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever feel normal again.’”
But she did start to feel normal again. Gradually. Time passing has helped (it’s been two years; she’s 21 now). And Abby’s become actively involved with Embrace Grace, a pro-life church ministry, at Gateway Church in Frisco. Recounting her story and struggles has proved to be incredibly therapeutic.
Plus, she takes great comfort in knowing that the child she gave birth to has wonderful, loving parents. She sees it often since she too has developed a relationship with them — and with her son.
“Initially, I thought an open adoption would mean contact about three times a year, like Christmas, Easter and birthdays,” she says. “But our adoptive parents made it very clear right away that they were very open to letting us be more involved in the child’s life.”
Abby and her mom see the family about once a month and baby-sit for the little boy often.
“I’m always going to be his mother, but [his adoptive mom] is his mom,” Abby explains. “She’s Mommy. He’s never going to be confused. I’m family by blood, but they loved him enough to adopt him.”
JUGGLING COLLEGE AND THE FUTURE
Trinity Malone is a vibrant 23-year-old pre-med student living in Denton and attending UNT.
Nearly four years ago, however, her life looked alarmingly different. She watched, shocked, as a pregnancy test turned positive in less than three minutes. She had been careful, always used contraception, but had had several partners — none of whom she would qualify as a boyfriend or consider a co-parenting partner.
“I come from a good family and I know right from wrong, so I’m not proud of this at all,” Trinity says. “But, when I went to college, I had my crazy moments.”
Upfront with her parents from the start, Trinity discussed with her family the practicalities of her raising the baby as a single mom, depending on her parents for financial and emotional support. After all, she wanted to continue with college.
However, after four months of weighing the pros and cons of all her options, Trinity started thinking seriously about adoption.
“At first, I think I was just young and dumb, so I wasn’t that worried [about the idea of becoming a mom],” she says. “But gradually, it starts to sink in, and you start thinking about all the hardships you might be putting your child through and all the things you won’t be able to provide. Life stops being about you quickly.”
It was also about this time — the four-month mark — that Trinity’s mom discovered that the granddaughter of her business partner in Tennessee had been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for years and was currently looking into adopting a baby.
Call it fate. Call it a happy coincidence. Trinity considered it “sort of a family connection.”
So she and her mother spoke to the prospective parents on the phone and exchanged emails with them, and Trinity felt increasingly comfortable with a personal matchup versus the overwhelming and impersonal job of scrolling through hundreds of parent profiles online.
“You see all the profiles of people who are telling you about themselves: ‘These are our hobbies and this is what we’re looking for,’” she explains. “But you don’t know them.” Trinity found it difficult to envision entrusting her child to one of these strangers on the internet.
“Even though I was 19 and thought, ‘I’m not old enough to be a mother yet,’ I still had to make motherly decisions for my child for those nine months I was pregnant,” she says. “I had to think about the child’s future. There are a lot of worries: What kind of life will she have?”
Trinity settled on the acquaintances in Tennessee, found a small adoption agency to work with and started the uncomfortable task of reaching out to all the men she slept with during a certain period and asking them to sign papers relinquishing their parental rights.
“Of course, none of the boys believed that they could be the father,” she says. “It was really awkward.”
After that, Trinity tried to detach herself from the entire experience.
She delivered a healthy baby girl via C-section but opted not to hold or breast-feed the little girl.
“That was my decision,” she explains. “[But] I spent two days at the hospital with [the adoptive parents], and they were holding her and bottle-feeding her, and I wasn’t. It was very hard.”
The forms she signed next didn’t make it any easier. “You have to say that you are incapable of raising a child,” she laments. “The wording is awful. It makes you feel like a terrible human being instead of someone who is trying to give your child a better life. And you have to read the paperwork out loud in a room with your advocate, attorney and two witnesses — people you don’t know. You’re not allowed to have any family with you for that.”
As time marches on though, Trinity says she’s come to realize that bittersweet emotions are simply part of the deal. She retains a very close relationship with her daughter’s adoptive parents and believes that she gave her daughter “the family she was intended to have,” she says. “But it does get a little harder as I watch [my daughter] grow and see what a smart and wonderful little girl she is and envision how much she is going to contribute to the world and impact everyone she touches. It’s hard not to be more a part of that on a daily basis.”
AN UNEXPECTED TEEN PREGNANCY
As an adoption specialist with Little Flower Adoptions in Dallas, Maggie Lindstrom, whose name has been changed for privacy, spends her days guiding and advocating for young girls in the midst of dealing with unplanned pregnancies, a job that hits very close to home.
Maggie was just 15 when she became pregnant by a boy she’d been dating for two years. Parenthood, however, was not part of the young couple’s plan.
“I was really scared,” she says. “I told myself, ‘You’re not pregnant.’”
Not only was the young teen pregnant, she was carrying twins.
Her family, especially her mom was supportive through the entire ordeal. It was Maggie’s mom, however, who held her hand through her teenage pregnancy and the difficult decisions that came with it. Decisions like who is best suited to raise her babies.
“Sometimes being the best parent means putting your own needs and wants aside to better your child’s future,” she says.
Which is what Maggie decided during her sixth month of pregnancy. She selected the adoptive parents with relative ease. “I was continuously drawn to this one couple,” she says. “I would look at others, but I kept coming back to these people. And when we finally met, we got along beautifully. It just felt right.”
After the birth of her boys, Maggie and the couple exchanged information, but after some time, the adoptive parents reached out to Maggie and her parents asking for more.
“Pretty soon, we were meeting at Chuck E. Cheese’s, at a park, and then they invited me to their house,” she says. It was a gradual relationship built on trust and respecting boundaries that developed over many years.
“That wasn’t my expectation going into it,” she adds. “Now, they’re like extended family.”
Indeed they are. The boys Maggie gave birth to will be 20 next month, are now in college and are part of her continued milestones.
“They attended my wedding [earlier] this year, which made it that much more special for me,” she says.