Last winter I was a pregnant teenager, but I am not a single mother. My boyfriend and I decided to be unselfish and give our child the chance at the best life he could have: He was given a family by adoption.
Our home pregnancy test came back positive. Panic-stricken, we rushed to Planned Parenthood, hoping against hope that this test would come back negative. We were not so lucky. Speaking through tears, we asked the nurse what to do. Instead of being given options, we were given one option - abortion. This, according to the Planned Parenthood nurse, would let us get on with our lives without anyone having known that I was pregnant. We told her that I was an Orthodox Christian and did not believe in abortion. That was the end of her help for us. Instead of advice, we got a terse "good luck" as we walked out the door.
At first we thought of ourselves: how this baby was ruining our future dreams for college - and my boyfriend Bryan's dreams for a career as an ice-hockey referee. But we finally realized that the solution couldn't be about us. This was our mistake, and it was our responsibility to make sure our child didn't have to bear the consequences. We knew that our decision had to be in the best interest of the baby despite our own pain. The best thing for our baby was to be raised by two mature and loving adults - in other words, adoption. Our parents supported our decision and offered us their support.
Friends and acquaintances wondered why we did not choose to keep the child for ourselves. We thought about it often, knowing how many young mothers do, but in our hearts we knew this wouldn't be fair to the baby. At 20 and 18, respectively, my boyfriend and I did not have the maturity or education to give this baby what he deserved. We faced years of menial jobs while trying to earn a college degree. Living together unmarried was not an option, and we knew the statistics of how many young marriages fail. Keeping the baby would be putting his future at too great a risk.
We went to Wide Horizons adoption agency in West Hartford, and with their help and that of an Orthodox Christian organization called Zoe for Life, we started searching for our child's family. We found them in Canada, a couple just like us but older. They even had an adopted daughter with my sister's name and same white hair. As soon as we met them, we knew we had found our son's mom and dad.
Together the four of us decided upon a name - Nicholas Paul. My boyfriend and I discussed with the new parents seeing our son when he was older, and we asked if he would ever know about his biological parents. They told us that Nicholas would know everything we wanted him to know about us, and would have our picture by his bedside. He would know we acted out of love.
Now we waited for the months to pass. I took care of myself and finished my senior year of high school. I worked as long as I could to earn money for college in the fall. We tried not to think about how hard it was going to be delivering a baby but not bringing him home. We were lucky to have the support of family, friends, neighbors and my church throughout those months when I was so scared.
And then he was there. Our perfect baby boy was born March 13. At 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 21½ inches, he looked just like us. He had his father's cheekbones and ears, while sharing my long legs, hair color, nose and lips. We spent our time together in the hospital memorizing his features and the smell of his skin. He did not cry, only whimpered occasionally, which stopped when he gripped our fingers.
It was agony leaving without him; our hearts broke. But when pain threatened to overwhelm us, we remembered why we were doing this: We were being the best parents we could by giving our child the gift of a family through adoption.
Do we miss him? Yes. Do we cry? Yes. Do we regret our decision? No.
Someday we will be ready to be parents, but keeping Nicholas would have been selfish and he deserved better - we all deserved better.
Kelly Ranstead graduated from Granby Memorial High School in June. She will attend Neumann College in Aston, Pa, in the fall.
posted on 07/22/2003 10:08:49 AM PDT
Thanks for reformatting this piece. I am especially glad to see how much emphasis was placed here on the openness of the adoption process. Today many women who choose abortion say they could never bear giving up their unwanted child to strangers and then not knowing what happened to the baby. In fact, that is a rare, rare scenario (and the birth-mother's choice if it does occur), at least here in the U.S.
posted on 07/22/2003 10:13:13 AM PDT
Thanks for the re-format. I'm usually better than that. And I even know how to spell courageous, too, sometimes.
Thanks for formatting this article for BillyBonebrake!
Off topic, but inquiring minds need to know-
How did you come up with your screen name? ;-)
posted on 07/22/2003 10:19:31 AM PDT
(God made us Freepers, Prozac made us friends.)
But we finally realized that the solution couldn't be about us.
That is about the size of it.
Everybody makes mistakes. Some people own up to them and do their best to make amends. Some people compound their mistakes by lying, even killing.
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