Below is Dawn’s story posted originally on March 1, 2010.
I am a birth mother who placed my daughter up for adoption 15 years ago. I was in high school (the summer of 12th grade year 1993) when I started dating the birth father. I actually grew up with him and to be honest he was my very first real relationship. I was a cheerleader and track star and her dad was a wonderful basketball and football player. I was 17 when I became pregnant and the birth father was 16 years old. I was raised by my grandmother (paternal side) in Maryland, she has a very strong personality, so when I found out I was pregnant I was extremely afraid! I hid the pregnancy for 6 months. Only the father knew…I had graduated from high school and entered into a community college in our area. I knew I had to tell her so I finally went to my grandmother with the help/support of my twin sister and told her I was pregnant. She was angry and very quiet. I knew what she was thinking: we were raised in the church so embarrassment was written all over her face. The next day she told me I was going to have an abortion. She didn’t talk to me except to tell me the steps of this process. She made the appointment, and the doctor examined me and told me that I was too far along. My grandmother called me a liar, then told me that I would have to go and live with my father in California and have my baby there and completely shut down after that. We got home I called my daddy and it took my grandmother less than a week for me to be on a plane headed to California. I had to drop out of college, say goodbye to my sister (not just my sister, but my TWIN), my boyfriend, and lie to my friends and family as to why I was leaving so quickly…I told them that I was going to bring my aunt back home to Maryland. My Aunt had recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. No one took me to the airport I had to take a taxi alone. I left October 6, 1994. My father welcomed me with loving arms and when I saw him I broke down. Looking back on it I know my grandmother was only doing what she thought was right. She was trying to protect me from the judgement of others.
When I finally got settled, my dad called my grandmother and I was told to place my child up for adoption. My dad spoke to a close friend at work and she recommended a wonderful adoption agency out of Los Angeles. With my initial meeting with my social worker Mrs. Bowman she was sweet, gentle, she listened to me intently and was very honest with me. A few days later my dad surprised me with the news that my sister was coming to California to share in our birthday (November). That was the happiest day I felt in my life. My goodness I missed her so much! In the first week of December I had a meeting with the potential adoptive parent’s attorney. He was also very honest, and I believed he cared. We had two potential families. They were high profile families so I immediately understood that this would be a closed adoption. I was given non-identifying information on the parents and had to make a decision. Even though I wasn’t given identifying information I knew exactly who the couple was that I choose to place my child with. After the meeting I came home and got in the shower and cried like baby…I went into labor December 20th, but didn’t give birth to my baby girl until the next morning. I had a c-section so I was able to stay in the hospital for three days. After giving birth she was placed in an incubator, she was stressed because they broke my water and the doctor waited too long to decide to give me a c-section. I was bombarded with so much pain while I sat there in that hospital bed. My social worker came to see me and go over my next steps. My daughter was able to leave on day 2 and I asked her to ask the family if she could stay one more day with me. They complied and my daddy even called my grandmother and asked “mom are you sure we’re doing the right thing?”, she told him that I could stay there and raise her . On the last day my dad and I went down to the nursery and held her for as long as I could before I was discharged. I had some request before I left that hospital. I needed a picture of her (my social worker had taken a Polaroid picture of her since the photographer was out sick-of course!), her hospital band, her vital stats after birth, her little foot prints on a birth certification card from the hospital, and the tag that was on her bassinet.
I did not want her to go into foster care, even though it would have only been for the weekend, I just really wanted the family to share Christmas Day. I left the hospital December 23rd and went directly to the agency to sign the papers. After we got home I held the items that I got from the hospital and laid down and cried for hours. I tried to make myself believe that I was doing the right thing, or saying this is what is best for her, but I was just angry. I had my final appointment to remove the stitches ( I know it is weird but I kept those as well) and got the okay to go back home.
The lie that I told about why I was coming to California ended up not being a lie at all. In addition to dealing with my adoption, I was preparing for my aunt to actually come back home with me and she did. 3 1/2 months later my aunt and I were on a plane headed back to Maryland, but life had changed drastically! The relationship with my grandmother was quiet and no one talked about anything. I was so excited to be home, I put on a front during the day and cried myself to sleep at night. In June I received a professional picture of my daughter (4 months old) and with that a letter from the my social worker saying that she couldn’t handle the business any longer after my case and decided to leave the company, she too was pregnant during the same time.
I tried going back to college but I couldn’t focus on school or anything else for that matter. I got a job and tried to move on with my life. My relationship with her father was up and down for the next few years. We celebrated her birthdays together and he wasn’t the stay in a relationship type of guy, but I tried to make it work. We had another child a son four years later and 4 months after giving birth to him I moved back with my grandmother and never looked back (in that relationship).
I am thankful for my relationship with Christ. He keeps me at peace and those days that I am feeling low he picks me up and tells me how much he loves me. I know for a fact that if it had not been for him I would not be where I am today. He created a wonderful man of God I married who supports me and is a great father to my son. My grandmother and I reconciled and she is still a big part of my life.
7 Years ago Dawn and I met through Facebook. I was just starting my blog and I wanted to hear from a birth/first mother about what her experience was like with adoption. 7 years ago, I was trying to find my birth mother and Dawn was still grieving the loss of her daughter. She wrote this blog and we stayed in touch and we shared with each other from our experiences as an adoptee and birth/first mother. She helped me to understand what my mother went through and I tried to help her see what life as an adoptee is like and what her daughter may be feeling.
3 years after Dawn and I met the daughter that she gave up turned 18 and reentered Dawn’s life. When I first met Dawn she was hyper-vigilant about protecting the privacy of the adoptive parents and it wasn’t my place to ask. What wasn’t shared in the story above was that Dawn choose to place her daughter Elisa with Magic and Cookie Johnson. What wasn’t shared was that Dawn watched her daughter grow up through the internet and ached to be a part of her life. When Elisa turned 18 the call that Dawn waited for for 18 years finally came and she got to hug her baby girl again.
Last year, Elisa and Magic & Cookie’s son,EJ stared in the reality show, EJNYC. A pseudo-reunion was created for the show and in the 3 minute video it is easy to see the love that never went away(see the link below). As an adoptee who never met their birth/first mother that reunion caught on tape has given me some peace knowing that giving up a child to adopti0n isn’t as easy as I thought…and it shouldn’t be.
GOT QUESTIONS: Here’s an interview I did with Dawn which answers some questions: DAWN”S INTERVIEW
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