Adoption: A Birth Mother's Experience

My Love Saw Further Than A Precious, Tiny Baby

by Linda A. Martin

Giving up my baby for adoption 29 years ago was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It started in 1969, when I was raped and became pregnant. I was 18 years old.

Abortion was not an issue discussed in the 1960s. My choice was adoption or keeping the baby. Not having finished my high school, I knew right away that the right thing to do would be to give my baby a chance to have the life that I couldn't give her - for starters, a mother and a father. There were so many people who wanted children and couldn't have them. This was my opportunity to answer a childless couple's prayers. Without a high-school education, I knew that my road certainly would be a rough one. It wasn't the baby's burden to bear; she deserved more.

Loving her wasn't a problem, because my love saw further than a tiny, precious baby.

During the first three months of my pregnancy, I lost 27 pounds, caused in part by the morning, noon and night sickness that was probably brought on by the guilt of rape. My parents took turns, staying awake at night with me, telling me that it would get better. I believed everything that they told me.

My mom and dad took good care of me, and, because of them, I did get better. At four months of pregnancy, I finally stopped throwing up. My mother told me that if I was happy and dealt with what was happening, I would bring a happy, healthy baby into this world. The baby would experience every emotion and physical sensation that I did.

I sang to my growing stomach. I rubbed it while I watched television. While I was bathing, I watched the baby inside me make ripples in the bathtub when she would move around. This was real. Focusing on the future, I changed my whole attitude about the bad that had occurred.

When my baby was born, I chose not to see her. I feared that if I did see her, my decision to give her up for adoption would be that much more difficult. Indeed, that time had arrived, and I had to be strong. The nurses would come into my room at night, telling me how beautiful the baby was, so you can imagine how torn I felt. I was sad. One minute she was inside me, moving, and the next minute she was gone.

Even though I missed her, I had to go on. I went back to school and got on with my life. But there was not a day that I did not think of her. Was she happy with her new family?

I hoped so. I prayed so.

As years went by, I would look at children her age and wonder what she looked like. One day, while shopping at K-mart, I actually thought that the toddler in the buggy in front of my mother and me looked like I imagined she would at that age. We followed the baby buggy around the store for a short time, but I did not say a word. I thought that, when she was about 10 years old, if only God and I knew where she was, I would ride by her home; I just wanted to see if she was a happy, little girl. However, I never shared these thoughts with anyone.

Again, when she would have been about 20 years old, I thought that I had found her. I worked in a medical clinic and had a patient who looked very much like me when I was 20. Ironically, her birthday was on March 12, 1970, the day after my daughter's. What a coincidence!

Every year on my daughter's birthday, I would think of her. My mother and I would have a private moment to say, ``Happy birthday, my baby, wherever you are! We hope you're happy and healthy.''

I married but never had any other children. I thought that I was being punished, but there was something ahead for me. You see, I believe that there is a reason behind everything that happens. Then, I received a phone call at work on Dec. 10, 1996. The adoption home called me to say that my ``daughter'' was looking for me. I had kept my personal information with Children's Home Society available if my daughter ever wanted to find me and contact me. I had no rights to her, but, after she turned 21, she had the right to find me, regardless of the reason.

Before I could talk to my daughter, the Children's Home Society required that both of us sign paperwork. It would allow the agency to release personal information about both of us to each other.

We spoke on the phone for the very first time on Dec. 17, 1996.

``Hello, this is Linda,'' I said.

The first thing she said to me was, ``I just want you to know that I have never felt abandoned.''

I reassured her that she wasn't abandoned and that I never stopped loving her.

She responded that she always had felt my love for her.

It was a beautiful conversation, but it was much too short to make up for the past 26 years.

We then planned our first visit here in Florida. She lives in Charlotte, N.C., and is married. She has a wonderful life. I can only say ``thank you'' to her adoptive parents. They were an answer to my prayer on March 11, 1970.

My daughter and I have a special relationship, but it is not really one of a mother and daughter. I could never take her adoptive mother's place. I'm happy that she wants me in her life. I am here for a reason. I never want Kristen to feel as if she has an obligation to have a relationship with me. Yet I'll always be there for her. Thank you, Kristen, for allowing me back into your life.

We have had a total of four visits to date. Within that time I have gained a beautiful granddaughter named Alexandria, born on Oct. 31, 1998.

Life is wonderful.