The day that I found out that I was pregnant with my first child was not one of those picture perfect moments that you see on television, where the husband and wife wait anxiously to find out if they are going to be parents.
Instead, I was 16 years old and taking a pregnancy test in the high school bathroom with the support of a couple of my friends.
There was no excitement or cheering when my test came back positive. Instead I was instantly filled with sheer terror. I could barely take care of myself so how was I going to care for a newborn baby? Then there was the small factor that I had to tell my parents the news, knowing that they would be devastated.
We lived in a tiny farm town. My dad was the history teacher at my school. It was a place where everyone knew everyone. I knew that he would be embarrassed, as there had only been two other pregnancies at our school in the past few years.
To say that my parents took the news badly is an understatement. They screamed for a long period which was followed by many tears shed and then a span of time when I wasn’t even spoken to. The two of them then went on to decide that I needed to give my child up for adoption as it would be the best option for the baby and my future. I remember that they even set up an appointment with a couple that desperately wanted their own child but were unable to conceive.
I met with the couple, because I didn’t have a choice in the matter, knowing the entire time that I was keeping my baby. By this time, several months had gone by and my belly was growing and I found out that I was having a girl.
This was one of the hardest times of my life because I was scared to death and excited at the same time. The baby’s father wanted nothing to do with me, as he already had a new girlfriend, and I had no support at home. I felt alone. I began to secretly look forward to having this baby. I wasn’t sure where we would live and how I would support her, because I was an unemployed high school student, but I felt that after her birth I would have one thing that I could fully connect with.
Although I informed my parents that I was not interested in adoption, I think that they still held out hope that I would change my mind. That was until my daughter entered this world.
I went into labor right in the middle of class at school but the principal thought I was making it up and made me sit in the office for the remainder of the school day. As the final bell rang, my friends drove me to the hospital where I was informed that I was indeed in labor and they were going to admit me.
It was at this point that I called home to let my parents know where I was. Within a short amount of time my mother arrived at the hospital and didn’t leave my side, helping throughout the whole delivery. As soon as I heard my daughter cry for the first time and saw my mom’s tears, I knew that she was pulled in and connected to this new baby just as much as I was. The minute that I looked into my daughter’s blue eyes, I knew there was no way she belonged in any family but mine.
The next few years were not easy. My parents let me stay at their house and fully supported me financially and helped out watching Tess, my daughter. They ended up being more supportive than I ever expected and were head over heels for their granddaughter.
I eventually got married, moved out and had two other beautiful daughters. My bond with Tess remained strong due to the two of us basically growing up together. I taught her letters, numbers and other basic skills, while she ended up actually teaching me so many things. I grew up quickly but never thought of her birth as making me miss out on anything. Even through the difficult times I always considered Tess as a blessing.
Making the decision to raise a child at a young age, or give them up for adoption, is never an easy choice. But for me, there was only one option. The very thought of my baby growing up and making memories with another family tore me up inside. Even though I felt alone during the first few months of pregnancy, my family surrounded me with love and were more supportive than I could imagine.
Because of these people, today my daughter is a beautiful, intelligent and independent woman that I couldn’t be more proud of. She possesses many characteristics that I wish I had and goes through life full of pose and confidence. She continues to impress me daily and has been a true blessing in my world and something that I can’t imagine my life without.
If you have a family member facing this decision, take my advice and just be there for them. Urging them to do what you may think is right, may not be the best decision for them. This choice must be given time and respect, as it is life altering.
Although I did the opposite of what I was asked, I chose to do what was right for me and my daughter and never looked back.
Author: Jill Carr
Image: Author’s own;Andrés Nieto Porras/Flickr
Editor: Katarina Tavčar