“I met you on March 23, 1996.” I dropped the card and began to cry. I knew immediately it was from my daughter, April, who I had placed for adoption immediately after she miraculously entered the world.
The decisions that led up to placing my daughter for adoption were very difficult. At that point in my life, I had lost my job, my apartment and my boyfriend of four years. I was emotionally distraught. Feeling lost, I started to drink and party. It was a dark time for me. It was November of 1995 and I was pregnant. I did not know who the father was and needed to figure out what to do. Abortion? Maybe…I am pro-choice and feel that every woman has the right to choose.
I went to the clinic and started filling out the paperwork, but I could not go through with it. Not knowing what to do, I packed my bags and moved 1,000 miles away, in the hopes that my family would not find out about the pregnancy. I knew I could take care of myself financially, but not emotionally. I realised I was not ready to raise a child. The only option left was adoption.
Not knowing what to do or where to turn, I started looking in the yellow pages for adoption attorneys. I picked the one with a big, bright ad. Scared and embarrassed, I walked into her office and sat down. I went through the questionnaire the attorney gave me and went to the OBGYN for the tests. Then, I sat down to choose the family who would raise my daughter. I had only two requirements: I wanted them to be well-established and Jewish.
I chose a couple who seemed secure, loving and responsible. We met only a few times and the decision was made. On March 22, 1996 around 8 p.m., I went into labor, alone and scared. I entered the hospital with the attorney’s social worker. My family still didn’t know. Seven hours later, my baby girl was born (six weeks early). She was tiny, only a little over four pounds, but otherwise perfectly healthy. As I held her in my arms, I talked to her and tried to explain why I was letting her go. I handed her over to the nurse and off to the NICU she went. I never saw her again at the hospital.
For many years, I didn’t talk about this experience. The conversation around abortion and adoption is so frequently weighed down by judgments, opinions, and agendas. With great sadness, I have found this to be the case within my own Jewish community and within my own family.
The decision I made to place my daughter for adoption not only affected my life but my family’s as well. My mother (Of Blessed Memory) said that she never forgave me for placing her grandchild up for adoption. That conversation sticks with me; it still stings. Thank G-d, today I am in a good place with my family.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” This is my motto. Making the decision to place my child for adoption was my first stop of faith. It forced me to reconnect with my roots, my core reason for being.
After many years of struggling with G-d, I walked into Shabbat Services and started to pray. Amazingly, as I was praying, I began to feel grounded. I felt prepared to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and piece them back together. Today, I am married to the love of my life. I have started two successful businesses, gave birth to another daughter who I have been privileged to raise and have reconnected with my family.
And today, I have a close relationship with April, the daughter I was not ready to raise when she first entered the world. April’s courage allowed a beautiful new beginning to emerge. She, my daughter, reached out to me. She asked hard questions. I was as honest as I could be. I told her why I chose to place her for adoption. I tried to explain that I was not emotionally prepared to be a parent. I told her life does not always play out the way you envision it. Circumstances change. Seasons change. People change.
Today, I try to live each day as fully as possible. I tell the people in my life — and especially the women I am privileged to meet — that they are not alone. You are not alone. Try and make the best decision possible at any given moment. Be honest with yourself, and with others. Love deeply, love bravely. Do not let the fear of losing those closest to you keep you from loving. Though the road of life may twist and turn, there will always be a chance to start anew, and begin living again.