Friday, July 27, 2012

Endless Support

I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am to the Lord that I had and STILL have so much positive support! Like I had said before, I was going to be open with my experience and the added luxury of support made it all possible.

I can count on 1 hand the the amount of rude comments I received(well that I ever heard of- if there were more I never knew) and for someone who is LDS and unmarried, I think that is a miracle.

When the news I was pregnant and chose adoption was known to the public, I had a few ladies come to me that had been in my same shoes! I had known these ladies for a while and I NEVER knew! One lady had placed 30 years ago, another 14, and another 4 years ago. All of whom were around my age and are now married in the temple and have kids of their own. It was so helpful to meet with a few of them and hear their stories and how they overcame their trials and made the best of their lives. It was amazing to me that they were able to totally turn their lives around and become such great women. I mean, I NEVER would have guessed they were in such a dark place like I had been! I wasn't really going back to church yet, or considering staying with the LDS church after this whole situation was over, but when I heard their stories, I started to change my mind.

I decided to start going back to church. I told myself if I could toughen up and go to singles ward by myself while pregnant, I could do just about anything. I was pretty dang nervous that Sunday. I wasn't showing yet, but I had no idea who knew I was pregnant or not. I was scared because I thought for sure I was going to be judged and frowned upon by my whole ward! I mean, let's face it. Throw a 19 year old SINGLE girl who's PREGNANT into a ward of college aged people. I have heard stories about girls who have had horrible experiences in my situation and I didn't want to have that stress-especially at church of all places.

I went and my bishop came and gave me a big hug. He asked me how things were going and if I needed anything(well that went well). I had a great experience going to church my whole pregnancy. I always made up come backs in my head if anyone ever judged me- like 'well at least I'm here going to church'. I never had to use these comebacks! Even when I was very much showing and there was NO confusing weather I had a baby bump or just a food baby. I was ACTUALLY making a few friends too! Girls would ask me when I was due, what I was having(boy or girl), about my adoption plan, etc. I LOVED talking about things like that(and still do). I know people were a little unsure on what to ask because some girls are a little touchy on that subject- but they were quick to realize I was definitely OPEN about everything! Talking about my baby girl made me SO happy(and still does)! I wanted people to know what I was doing with my situation(a lot to do with the fact that if everyone knew, nothing could be made up about me or something). To this day, I have lots of support from my ward family.

My mom's friends have been so supportive also! I loved going to my mom's relief society activities cuz I could talk for HOURS with the ladies there! I could relate because they have all been pregnant too and it was cool to talk about this special time in my life! A lot of the ladies were surprised I was so open about it, but why be closed off when this amazing baby was growing in me?! To this day my mom's friends are supportive and I've made friendships with them that I never would have other wise!

I can't forget to add in my family's support. Every time I went to my grandparent's house and saw my cousins and aunts and uncles, they were so loving and I could relate to my aunts with pregnancy and stuff. It was crazy how much just relating to people can bring you closer. My family has never been judgmental(well, not that I know of) and had only motivated me and given me words of encouragement!

My counselor, Chelsea, has been a great support! I could come to her feeling like crap or frustrated and I could leave feeling like a million dollars. She was always concerned about me and made sure I was doing well. She STILL checks up on me and we meet now after the fact, which is amazing. Me and Chelsea actually go to singles ward together so it was great knowing that she was also a ward family supporter. If I didn't have Chelsea as a motivator, I don't think
I would be so positive right now. Chelsea saw me at my worst times during pregnancy and also was present during the actual placement at the hospital. Me and her share a bond that not a lot of people have. Chelsea is my hero and I hope to be a positive influence to someone-like she was for me- one day.

The adoptive couple have been a supporter in my pregnancy. I always had an email from Nicole at least once a week. She has always been so nice to me! We could relate from being pregnant and also she is young and so cute- we can relate to 'young people' stuff! Toby and Nicole always kept me involved with things. They sent me a list of names they were thinking of naming the baby and I was able to tell them my favorite ones-so I was able to help pick her name- which is Kinley! They also named her middle name after mine(Lyn). I cried when I heard that news! Kinley Lyn! What a cute name! Still to this day, Toby and Nicole keep me involved as much as they can! They are family to me! Nicole is just like a sister! I love her and Toby so much and of course little Taylee! I couldn't have picked a better family for Kinley!

The BIGGEST support during my experience has been my mom. I always knew she was awesome, but I have discovered she is the most amazing lady I know. From the day she found out I was pregnant, she has never held it against me, thrown it in my face, made me feel like crap, or anything like that! If I wasn't at school or work, me and my mom hung out! We have become so close! We can talk about anything, joke about things, and I could actually RELATE to her. I could ask her any question concerning pregnancy(trust me-I had a lot). She went with me to my birthing classes and she was by my side my whole labor/delivery experience. She even cut the umbilical cord! All I can say is my mom is the most amazing and Christ-like person I know and I can't be anymore thankful for her support.



My mom and me- I sure do love her
Support was the biggest thing that has helped me! From the big impacts to the small words of encouragement I have received along the way. A lot of these people could have just said nothing but they chose to encourage me. I had a hard time for a while and if these people never shared, I probably would still be having a hard time. I have learned that no matter what the situation someone is in, positive support is important. I try to give people some positive support, even if their choices are not necessarily what I would do. You don't have to agree 100% with someone to show support- just support the part you DO agree with. Support and encouragement help SO much!

Choosing the Adoptive Couple

After a few weeks of meeting with Chelsea, we talked about adoptive couples. I always knew I would have to look for some, (obviously, because that's what adoption is all about) but I never wanted to think about it! She explained to me the process of browsing and choosing to me. LDFS has an online site (itsaboutlove.org) where birth moms can look at couples' blog-like profiles. They post things about them and pictures. She told me I could look on the website at anytime and contact any of the ones that I seemed interested in.

It took me a good month before I even looked. It just scared me to find people who were, in my mind, taking this baby from me. I attempted about 3 times to search, but once I got to the home page, I'd start crying and close the computer. I felt like such a baby. How was I going to go through with adoption if I couldn't even pick a family?

I finally got the strength to look for families. I went to the site and managed to NOT chicken out (good job Laura). You can either search families at random or fill out a criteria page. I had some requirements in my mind, so I chose to fill out the criteria. I picked that the couple was between the ages 25-30(old people weren't parenting my baby), the father had at least a Masters degree(masters degree=good job=financially stable), the mother would be stay at home(no thank you to daycare), and the MOST important to me was that the adoption would be open!

I searched in Colorado first and I got 2 families. Uhhh ok? Out of ALLL the families in Colorado, only 2 matched my criteria? (I later realized that not many people ages 25-30 have their masters...OH WELL!). None of the 2 families looked like 'the one'. I think I may have read the first paragraph of their blogs and already knew they weren't the ones. I could just tell from their pictures. I was imagining a cute couple who dressed all cute and had cute hair and just looked PERFECT! (the Colorado people didn't make the cut) It sounds horrible that I was judging these people by their looks, but there was NOWAY my baby was going to a non-cute family.

After the total fail of Colorado's search, I decided to look in Utah! With my criteria, I again only matched MAYBE 10 families! (out of all them Mormons in Utah, 10 came up) the first family looked perfect! I read their blog and thought for sure they were 'the ones'. I emailed them through the link and waited! I waited for TWO weeks! I didn't get a reply! I was SO frustrated! Here I was, willing to give my baby to this couple and they weren't even emailing me back! What was I even doing?! Was adoption really the best, or was Heavenly Father trying to tell me that I should just parent? I met with Chelsea and I told her the situation and she was very surprised that an adoptive couple would just not reply to a birth mother's email. She did some calling around and it turned out that couple had adopted a few months back and their profile was just never taken off the website(very unusual). I was again frustrated because I had to start this WHOLE process over again! I JUST got the strength to search for couples and now I had to do it all over.

I searched in Utah again, and again- I got just a handful of hits. I scrolled through and found a super cute couple! Their names were Nicole and Toby! They had a biological daughter named Taylee! They were SOOO cute! Her hair was perfect, they had nice clothes, he was well groomed, and Taylee had a bow in her hair! This probably sounds so weird, but those were ACTUALLY the first thoughts that came to my head. I read their profile and they seemed great to me! I don't even think I looked at their pictures- I was just determined they were 'the ones'. I emailed the link and didn't think anything of it because I didn't even know if I would even get a reply(let's face it- last time I didn't)!

Toby, Nicole, and Taylee- arent they super cute?


About 2 days later I had an email from an unknown email address. I read it and about fainted! Nicole had ACTUALLY emailed me back! I was so excited! I don't really know why, but I was! She asked me how I was, asked what I was like, what I liked to do, etc. we emailed back and forth all day and she seemed so sweet!

We emailed back and forth for about a month before I told them I was officially picking them to be my adoptive couple! I had never met them in my life, other than emailing and I made up my mind! I just knew! I let them know I chose them by mailing them an 'It's a girl' card with a letter inside explaining my reasons of choosing them(and other mushy sensitive stuff).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Uncharted Territory

When all of my family had heard the big news, it was time for my extended family to hear it! My parents sent out a mass email and called their brothers, sisters, and parents. I was worried they would be disappointed or have judgmental feelings towards me. But to my surprise- only support and words of comfort! I will never forget what my grandma Bott said- 'I wish I lived closer so I can give Laura a big hug'. How small and simple those words are, but they were so comforting! (I've learned through this journey that silent hugs are the best things ever)

I made myself a promise that I wanted to be open about my pregnancy no matter if I went through with adoption or decided to parent. I wanted to show people that we can make something great out of a not so great situation. I really think being open and positive helped me the most! I went public on Facebook and to other people when I was about 14 weeks along. I didn't really know what would happen but I posted my 12 week ultra sound and waited to see the reaction.

My 14 week belly-cute huh?



I was of course nervous. I didn't know what people would say or think (I really didn't care. Only what my family thought). People were shocked, surprised, supportive, excited,confused,etc. every emotion in the book really. I had floods of comments, people texting me. Half of them thought it was a joke! Ummm why would I joke about being pregnant?! I'm not THAT desperate for attention!

The next week or so I think I could count about 30 new friend requests-which I declined more than half of them! (nothing annoys me more than nosey people). I didn't decline because I was ashamed or anything of that nature- I just didn't like that people all of a sudden cared about me when something big was happening. I'm also very picky with my Facebook! I only friend people I ACTUALLY talk to- not random people I went to high school with or have never met in my life! Basically what I'm trying to say is I was looking for support at the time, not people trying to butt in.

I had been researching adoption agencies in the Grand Junction area to find out which one I wanted to use and also to see what adoption was all about! This was all new to me! There are only about 3, at the most, agencies in this town. Two of which were through the health department (NO THANK YOU!!!) and one was a Christian based agency. That was the one I was going to pursue. If I could have my way, I wanted to go through LDS family services (LDS is my religion), but there wasn't an office here(dang it).

Luckily, my mom knew a friend who knew a friend(this is the way us Mormons work) who knew the number to the Denver office for LDS family service. I called the guy and left a message with the receptionist and waited. I waited and waited, thinking that my hopes of using this agency was going down the pooper. About a week later I FINALLY got a call from a really nice sounding lady named Chelsea. She said she was a case worker/counselor for the Grand Junction branch of LDS Family Services! What?! The agency is here in town?! YESS!! We scheduled a meeting at the Institute building that week. There isn't an official building for the agency and Chelsea is the only caseworker in Grand Junction so it was kind of neat to see how they just adjust to the surroundings and make the best of limited resources.

Chelsea made me feel so comfortable. She made sure no one was in the building when we met, reassured to me that everything we talked about was kept confidential, and that no one would know I was pregnant. I reassured her that I didn't care if people knew and I would still come to meet her even if there were 500 people in the building. I never felt ashamed or embarrassed that I was pregnant..EVER! In my mind I was pregnant, yes, but I was doing what I needed to do so if other people didn't approve- who cares? It's my situation and I don't need them anyways.

I had my mom come with me to my first appointment with Chelsea. We signed papers stating that everything was kept confidential and blah blah blah! (I don't think I have signed so many papers in my life compared to the past 9 months) I introduced myself and told her the background and all that. I told her I had chosen adoption at the time but I was more concerned about exploring my options. She explained that that was totally ok! Her purpose as my counselor was to help me make the best decision, weather it be adoption OR parenting. I think that is why I liked LDS family services, (I'm going to call it LDSFS because it's a pain to write it all out every time) they were open to helping me figure what was best and didn't ram adoption down my throat.

I had never been to counseling before so I had no idea what it would be like. I loved it from that day on. She asked me questions that helped me vent my feelings. She asked me how I felt and , to me, that was like the best thing anyone could ask! I could talk about ME and explain how I felt! I didn't have these crazy emotions or anything to get off my chest, but it was a great feeling to just tell her what was on my mind! I think after that appointment, that was the time that zombie-like feeling went away for good.

I want to add in that my counseling was 100% free! LDSFS provides free counseling to birth moms even if I decided against adoption. This is another amazing thing LDSFS does, I think!

I have said before that I am a planner. Things have to go a certain way and no surprises. I named this post Uncharted Territory because from the day I found out I was pregnant, everything was unfamiliar and new! It took a LOOOONG time to be ok with this.

My body was doing different things(annoying), I was going to counseling(weird), and I had NOO idea what to expect with adoption! I had a hard time getting used to the fact that I was no longer in control and I was now entering uncharted territory!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Darkest Hours (1st trimester)

I titled this post 'The Darkest Hours' because when I think of the 1st trimester- well I think of probably the darkest time in my life!

I had just found out I was pregnant. I was stressing about what I was going to do with my life at this point. I should add in this side note- I am a planner! I have to have things (especially big events like a baby) planned out, figured out, and plan B's and C's all lined up in advanced. I guess you could say I'm a bit type A in the planning area. And as you can tell- an unexpected pregnancy was definitely NOT in the plan (hence UNEXPECTED)

I was hounding the birth father about getting a new job- our minimum waged jobs would definitely not fit my plan for this baby. I was looking for jobs that I could get being pregnant that paid better than my current 2 jobs. We looked for apartments (I was NOT living with roommates), we were looking for a car for me, also we were scoping out how much baby furniture would be! Oh yeah- we also hurried to the health department to apply for financial aide! (medical bills didn't fit in my plan either)

It seemed like things were going good for a while! To my knowledge the birth dad was pursuing his job hunt- unfortunately he wasn't at all. His excuse was 'we have 9 months- don't worry' WHAT?! Don't worry?! Your talking to Miss. Get everything done and ready NOW!

All in a nut shell- I gave him the choice to get a move on for finding a job or he could kiss me goodbye. Do you blame me? I was starting to have doubts. Our relationship was going so well, but it seemed like it was crumbling after a while. We always talked about getting married and having our own little family. Any girl would just melt to hear her man say that. For whatever reason, I just couldn't see us being a family. It was starting to make me have cold feet about everything (not the baby). To make a long story short- we ended up breaking up.

While all the relationship stress was happening, I had the stress of telling my family! It was so hard to keep this big news a secret. I told my sister, Charnae the news and she just stared at me like I was a ghost. Umm hellooo I'm telling you this news and all you can do is stare at me?! She just said 'ok' (very calmly) I thought she was going to yell at me or tell me something mean! But to my surprise- she gave me a hug and asked me what my plan was.

I told her I was planning on parenting. Applying for whatever financial assistance I could. My plan all made sense in my head. Me and Charnae agreed she would let me and the baby live with her and my brother-in-law, Dayle (once my parents found out- I was going to be thrown out for SURE). Everything sounded good at the time!


I was able to get an early ultra sound at 7 weeks! The birth dad and Charnae came with me


 
I still had this part of me that was sad and gloomy. It wasn't the fact that me and this baby's dad broke up- it was just this numb monotone feeling! Like I felt like a zombie. I was skipping classes because I was behind on homework-which led to skipping MORE classes which ended up to getting MORE behind on homework! Quick reminder- this was all happening around November/December time- so final exams were right around the corner. I just didn't care that I was waisting away thousands of dollars worth of classes. I just felt like a ZOMBIE! I ended up passing 2 of the 4 classes I was taking which consequently put me on academic probation with the University. I would spend my time at the mall and spent probably around $400 on CRAP! I can't even remember what I bought because it was total worthless stuff! Like I said- I was just a zombie- not caring really. You would think I would be saving my money for this baby as part of my plan- but nope, I was spending uncontrollably in hopes of these material things making me happy! (I'd like to say, this method does NOT work)

In this dark hour of spending, being lifeless, sick, and not having talked to the birth father in weeks- I chose adoption. I wasn't praying for help or researching options. It just flashed through my mind. I remember it exactly. I was sitting on my closet (where I find myself doing a lot of thinking) and the thought raced trough my head. I didn't even stop to think about it- I just knew it was what I needed to do. I didn't have an angelic epiphany or anything- I just knew. I had never considered adoption before or even really knew how it all worked but in that split second- that became my plan.

I couldn't just decide on adoption- being a planner and all so I wrote out all the pro's and con's of keeping and placing my baby. When I finished the list, it was almost more selfish of me to keep the baby. We would be poor, it would not have a mom and dad together, etc. I texted Charnae and a few friends my plan and they were on board (as much as they could be).

My whole plan was to tell my parents and the rest of the family around the 12 week mark- which was about January. As time went on- I couldn't keep it a secret! It was killing me (and my bank account) to be so unhappy! Christmas day came around and I was thinking about telling my parents but I didn't want to ruin their Christmas or be thrown out on Christmas of all days! We went to church and the spirit was SO strong that day. The choir sang and I just cried. Not knowing really why (we'll blame the hormones). My dad was surprised I was crying (remember I'm not a cryer). At that moment I knew I HAD to tell them. It was killing me to know I was living in the same house as them and I was keeping this rather LARGE news from them.

I called them into their room to talk. I made Dayle and Charnae come with me because I thought for sure they were going to yell and scream at me! This was probably the scariest time in my life. No girl wants to tell their parents she is pregnant. I stared at them for a while and then started to ball. I confessed to them I was 9 weeks pregnant. There was a long pause. It felt like HOURS! I was cringing- knowing they were going to fume and tear my head off!

They said nothing. They were calm. The look in their eyes weren't angry at all. They were disappointed- yes but not angry! I think I had a heart attack just at the fact that they weren't throwing me out! They asked me what my plan was, details about the pregnancy, etc. I told them at that point I was thinking of adoption. By the end of the conversation, my dad gave me a big hug! A hug?! Not the boot?! That experience was the most surprising but comforting time! I always knew they couldn't hate me or disown me- but it was still reassuring they were so supportive especially at the scariest time in my life when I felt so alone.

For my birthday(in January), Charnae and I flew to Vegas to visit our oldest sister, Jaala. We constituted this trip, not only for my birthday, but to spill the beans to Jaala and my brother-in-law, Harrison. We landed, got home, and got settled into our room and we called Jaala in and told her. Me and Charnae started laughing. Don't ask me why- this wasn't really a laughing time- but that was the only emotion we had I guess. Jaala was shocked (can't blame her). She, like my parents and Charnae, didn't yell or get angry. She asked me what my plan was and once we told her, she seemed reassured it would be ok! The rest of the trip was a blast.
Me and my sisters had so much fun together for my 19th birthday!

The revealing to my other siblings were all about the same. Nothing but support and hugs. I knew that if my family (brothers, sisters, and parents) were supportive, then I could handle this pregnancy. I didn't care what other people thought, only that my family was supportive.

I guess the reason that 3 months felt so dark (other than the fact that winter is literally darker) was because I was so stressed about how my plan would work out. I was a basket case when I had to keep this huge secret from my family, I didn't have their support (yet), and I felt so alone!

My mom and Charnae came with me to my 12 week ultrasound

From the 12 week mark on- I feel like burdens were lifted and things got a lot brighter as far as my new plan went.

The BIG news!

Me and my boyfriend (now ex) had been dating for about 4 months when we found out the BIG news! November 17th to be exact. I remember that day like it was yesterday! I found out something that would change my life forever.

Don't ask me why the thought of me being pregnant crossed through my mind. I had only missed my monthly cycle by ONE day! I just had a gut feeling that something was up. My boyfriend (we'll call him birth dad) told me I was crazy and I was just being paranoid. I was so worried-like crying and scared. You should note I'm NOT a big cryer or someone who freaks about things unless it's really serious. I skipped school (I was going to Colorado Mesa University) because I was so worried.

When the birth dad finally had a free minute (it felt like FOREVER) we went to the grocery store and bought some at-home pregnancy tests. I couldn't believe I was buying these things! Like only the girls that no one really knew bought these! Not me! I'm just the girl going to college and who goes to church every Sunday and never has bad things happen to her!

We bought this-what I thought to be- unholy and trashy thing and got the heck out of the store because a part of me felt ashamed. We got back to the birth dad's house and I peed in a cup. Still feeling so weird that I was actually doing this! Only girls from 16 and pregnant do this! I did my business and stuck all 3 tests in at once and waited. I only had to wait about 10 seconds because 'lucky' me- all 3 turned positive! There was no doubt they were positive.

I just stared at them. I looked in the box (as if Ashton Kutcher was gonna pop out and say 'YOU'VE BEEN PUNK'D!!'). I read and re-read the box to make sure the '+' sign really meant positive! The birth dad was waiting outside the bathroom wondering what I was doing. I took a deep breath (holding back tears) and left the bathroom. I just dropped the positive tests in his arms and sat on the couch. We were both silent. I was shaking and my heart was racing!

I couldn't be pregnant! I'm not 'one of THOSE girls'! My parents were going to KILL me! I was going to be thrown out for sure. I was going to be a poor mom taking care of a baby barely making ends meet! I was only working at a restaurant as a hostess and a clothing store. PLUS I wouldn't be able to go to school AND take care of a baby! (there goes my hopes of becoming a psychologist). These thoughts were racing through my head within about 1 minute.

After I kind of got my self together, I called the doctor's office. They didn't see new patients until they were 12 weeks along (and with rough guesses, I was about 4 weeks). That was SO far away but I could wait!

Me and the birth dad just looked at each other and cried. I didn't cry because I was ashamed- because I was scared! I'm was only 18 and graduated high school 6 months ago for crying out loud! I had never lived on my own, I didn't even own my own car, I was not independent enough financially in ANY way! Financial issues were the biggest things that were flowing through my head! But I still told myself that people do it all the time. How hard could it really be? Raising a cute baby could be a great experience, college could wait, lots of girls I know are doing it. These thoughts were running through my head now.

I wiped my tears, stood up strait, and looked the birth dad in the face and said 'I will NEVER be ashamed of this baby, I will NOT try to hide it, I WILL be proud, and WILL own up to it and all the decisions/ consequences that come along.' I never wanted my baby to feel unwanted or a burden.

I had only known for a short time I was pregnant, but I had this over whelming love for it already!

Where To Start?

Alright- Well I've never blogged before in my life (can you beleive it?) so bare with me, seeing as this is my first ever blog post! I guess I should introduce myself and give you the low-down of why the heck I'm even writing a blog.

My name is Laura. I'm 19 years old and I live in Grand Junction, CO. 2 1/2 weeks ago I did something that a small percentage of girls do (20% to be exact). I placed my baby girl for adoption. It was the hardest thing I have done in my entire life.

So thats why I've created this blog. I want to be able to share my whole experience and not have to annoy my Facebook friends with lots of posts and such- I think they have been getting annoyed lately with all the updates (sorry). I also want to be able to shed some light on an unknown experience. It would be so awesome to inspire another girl who may become in my same shoes. I don't think adoption is for everyone- nor do i want to come across as saying everyone should choose it- but I want others to know that it is still an option and that itsnot such a frowned upon thing like a lot of people think.