One Woman’s Choice
For three years I tried to raise my daughter myself. Her father left two weeks after he found out I was pregnant. My parents live in another state. My mother is remarried and my stepfather didn’t like me. So we didn’t see each other very much. So it had been Amber and me from the start.
I tried to take care of her the best I could at nineteen. She had been raised by a lot of daycare people. Something I didn’t want. But welfare wasn’t enough and I had to go back to work when she was six weeks old. I only saw her in the evenings when I picked her up from the sitter after ten hours of being apart.
Sometimes she came to me but sometimes she’d look up and didn’t want to leave. That broke my heart to see her reject me and hug the sitter. I worked long shifts and came home smelling like fried chicken and grease. I was dead tired and all I had at home was bills and more bills. I couldn’t seem to get ahead. I made just enough to get by. I was able to buy her a toy now and then, pay the sitter, and was forever putting money in the dang thing called a car.
I came home one Friday to an eviction notice. I don’t where we were going to go since my credit was shot. I wouldn’t be able to get into a decent apartment. The only apartments were located on a trashy side of town and Amber’s sitter was on the opposite side where my job was. I could have gotten another job but then she would be at the sitter for over fourteen hours per day and Saturdays.
I looked into her sad eyes and saw that I wasn’t doing parenting very well either. She wasn’t happy and she always knew when I was upset and acted out. I decided she needed more than I could offer. I rethought the choice I had considered when I was pregnant with her. That was adoption.
That was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. But I loved her enough to follow through with my decision. I chose an adoptive family that had one child that was seven so she would have a big sister to play with. Something I couldn’t give her. She would also have a mom that was at home and a dad. Another thing I couldn’t give her.
It is still hard, but I couldn’t have kept on living the life we were. Moving and dragging her at all hours of the day in her pj’s to babysitters, so I could come home dog-tired and just sleep while she waited for me to wake up to play with her. Sometimes I was so tired that all I wanted to do was push her away and she couldn’t understand why I was rejecting her. I felt like we would both have a better chance at a new start.
Some of the people at work thought I was being selfish. I think I had been selfish for keeping her in this lifestyle for so long. I thought of adoption when her dad left. My family pressured me to parent, saying that they would help. Yeah, for a whole three weeks, and then they were gone and I was alone again.
Amber has been with her new family for six weeks. It was hard for me the first few weeks. I went to see a counselor that helped. That day I got in my mail, more bills but also a card from the adoptive family. I could tell by the way the envelope felt that there were photos inside.
My heart started pounding and when I got into my apartment, I just placed the envelope up against the lamp on the kitchen table. I looked at it while going through the other mail and bills. I couldn’t open it. It took me until the middle of the night when I woke and went to the kitchen; there it was still sitting waiting for me to open it. How would I feel when I saw the photos? What if I cry? What if she looks sad?
Finally, I carefully opened the envelope, on the back there was a pretty pink heart sticker that was over the flap. When I looked inside I found a card with a teddy bear on the front, a verse that said “To a Special Person.” I guess that’s me. Inside the card were four photos. The first one was Amber sitting on the lap of her new sister. Their arms were wrapped around each other; big smiles covered both their faces. I couldn’t remember Amber ever having a smile like that before.
The second one was a photo of Amber with Becky, her adoptive mom. They were outside at a park. Becky looked so relaxed, so natural. Amber had her arms wrapped around Becky’s neck; squeezing it so tight it distorted Becky’s neck.
The third one was just of Amber alone. Olin Mills Studio was stamped on the lower left side of the photo. Her hair was up in a little pony on the side of her head. I never thought of putting her hair up that way, but it was really cute on her. She had on an old-fashioned ivory dress with little buttons on it. It looked really expensive. Her eyes were shining. I realized she looked like me when I was her age. She looked so happy, it made me cry.
The last photo was a special one. It was one of the four of them. She was being held by her new dad, Doug, a dad she never had before. He held her with such love and confidence. I could tell Amber was happy. Seeing her with them as a family made me realize I had done what was right for her, very right. I cried, but my tears were from knowing she was safe, happy, and relieved that I had made the right choice, even when others said it wasn’t. Other people weren’t there. They couldn’t see what I could see or feel what I could feel or know what Amber needed. She needed this family and this family needed Amber.
I finally just went back to bed. Sleep came easier. When I woke up the next morning I felt a weight had been lifted. The final act of a play had been played out and now it was my turn to start over.
One thing I will always remember is I chose from Amber’s standpoint. Through her eyes, she told me what she needed and I’m glad I looked into her eyes and realized it before it was too late and I would no longer be able to tell. Her eyes spoke to me again when I saw the photos of her with her new family. They were saying thank you for giving me a chance. I know she loves me and she will always know I loved her enough to want the best for her life.
I wrote her a long letter and put together a small photo album of her life with me and sent it with her the day she went to be with Becky and Doug.
Amber is always in my prayers and will always be in my heart. It is hard sometimes, but these days are becoming fewer. What keeps me going is knowing that she is living a wonderful life with everything I ever wanted for her. A second chance for both of us.
I love you, Amber,
Your birth mother