I usually try not to play the what if game. Because really, what exactly is the point? It won't change anything and you could what if any situation for a 100 years and not really ever know how life would have been if you chose the other road.
Sometimes though I can't help it. There is one event in my life that I regret. Yes just one, everything else, whether it was good or bad, I learned something, I became stronger, I survived. I try and look at the positive side of pretty much everything, usually I succeed, for the most part. People always say I did something totally selfless etc etc. I just smile, nod and say yep you are right, while inside I disagree completely.
Now that October 15th looms closer with each passing day, I cannot help but play the what if game.
June 1993, I had just turned 18 and graduated from high school. I was also 6 months pregnant. There were family things going on that weren't pleasant and I felt kinda like it was me against the world at that time. My aunt was wonderful and so were my grandparents. But I still felt alone.
I moved into my own apartment shortly after graduation and prepared to have and keep my baby. Not exactly sure how I was going to do that, but I have always been resourceful. None of my family knew about the pregnancy, I intentionally hid it from just about everyone except a couple of close friends.
When I was about 8 months pregnant a friend suggested I look into adoption, this was not something I seriously considered. It was my baby and I wanted to keep him but I told her I would call around and just get info. I called one agency that wanted to fly me to some office in New England. I was like umm yeah no that's okay. The next office I called was located in San Antonio, the town I lived in. They sent a taxi to pick me up and bring me to their office. I stressed that I just wanted info on how adoption worked. They were very friendly and said of course.
When I got there, they stuck me in a tiny room, and put some papers in front of me and told me to fill them out. I said again, I just want some info on how adoption works. The lady said oh we understand but go ahead and fill that stuff out just in case and then left the room. Well I arrived in a taxi cab that worked for their company so I felt trapped, if I refused to sign I figured they would refuse to get me back to my apartment. So I filled out several papers on my health history and family history etc.
When that was done they brought me into one of the case workers offices and handed me a big book. It was filled with pictures of couples looking to adopt along with letters the couples had written to prospective biological moms. They were filled with tales that made you want to cry. While they talked to me about adoption they had me look through this book. They said things like if you back out of an adoption you are responsible for paying back any and all legal fees, medical fees, fees incurred by the adoptive family etc etc.
I was 18, naive, scared, and alone. I thought omg I don't have that kind of money and I filled all the paperwork out earlier, are lawyers going over it now? How much will that cost me? Do I have to pay for an office visit here? Taxi ride? Probably not all logical, but I was overwhelmed. Then having to read all the stories about the people looking to adopt because they couldn't have kids of their own.
They had me pick three couples from the book, who they would have call me so I could ask questions and the people would be come real living breathing people, not just pics on a page. So I reluctantly picked 3 couples and then asked to go home.
Over the course of 3 days I talked to the different couples. I didn't want to give my baby away, but I felt like I didn't have a choice any longer. I couldn't afford to pay anyone anything. I kept thinking lawyer fees?? OMG those guys charge you out the wazoo. I can only imagine how much I am going to have to pay. The adoption agency called me after I had talked to each of the couples and wanted to know what I thought. They were all very nice people, I didn't want to hurt any of them, but I didn't want to give my baby away. I was told to really think about what a baby would mean to them.
Yes sitting back now thinking about 18 yr old me, I can see how I was so, umm not really stupid, uninformed? naive? innocent? inexperienced maybe, yeah. But I felt alone, I didn't feel I could go to anyone and say hey, help me, what do I do here? Maybe I was too shamed? scared or too proud to admit I needed help? I think most of it was just fear, fear that the rest of my family would completely turn their backs on me.
So I picked out one of the couples from the 3 I talked to. They only wanted the baby if it was a boy. If it was a girl they would back out. One sonogram later, where I was desperately hoping it was a girl (but I had known in my heart the whole pregnancy that it was a boy) I saw my baby boy for the first time and I sobbed on the table as I watched him on the screen.
The adoptive parents were there for the birth of my baby on Oct 15th and right away started making demands, shortly after which they were told not to return to the hospital by the Dr's and adoption agency. I had developed high blood pressure while I was pregnant and it would spike after the baby was born. Usually the spikes occurred while the adoptive mother was in the room. So for my health and theirs they were made to stay away.
I had my baby all to myself and I wanted to keep him desperately. A nurse tried to talk to me and tell me that I shouldn't give my baby to those people and that I could raise him on my own. I thought wow, I totally could. I picked up the phone and started to call my aunt. I got the first 3 numbers dialed and hung up. This happened a couple of times before I started thinking about lawyers, fees, taxi cab rides and how hurt these hopeful adoptive parents would be if I backed out.
On October 18th, I went to the adoption agency with my son, who I named Christopher, and sat in a tiny office with papers I was suppose to sign. They left me alone in the room with the baby and my boyfriend. I wanted to call my Aunt and say help. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I signed the papers and then went into the room where the adoptive parents were waiting.
I had to hand the baby to my boyfriend because I couldn't physically hand Christopher to these people. I don't remember much except crying, I couldn't breathe, and my heart broke irreparably. There are no words I can use to describe the pain. I wanted to snatch him back and say I change my mind.
I spend the next several years just living. I smiled, I laughed, I lived, but I never really felt happiness deep inside. I just went through the motions and tried to put on a brave face, while inside I was empty. I still feel that emptiness to this day, maybe I always will?
But this is where the "what if?" game comes into play. What if I had not given my baby up? What would my life have been like? I would have had to tell my family and I would have found that some of them would have been supportive and helped me. I more than likely wouldn't have married who I married. Maybe I would have met a really nice man. Maybe I would have met another loser. I think I would have been a good mother, I think he would have been my joy.
My Grandma would have met and had a relationship with him. He would have loved her and she him. Same goes for my Grandpa. My Dad would have been a wonderful Grandpa. My aunt would have had fun too. I think I have a lot of guilt there as well, not only did I deny myself the chance to raise Christopher, I took him away from my family too. They never had a chance to see him once when he was born. He may come looking for me when he comes of age. But my Grandma will never get to meet him and he will never get to meet her.
In my what if game, it always comes out happy. There are tough times but we are all happy together. Maybe that would be true. But I have to keep reminding myself that unless I invent a time machine, it doesn't really matter how I think it would have been. We have to deal with reality, there is no other choice. Christopher will be 17 next month and only one more year until he comes of age and the adoption file is opened to him. Then, if he wants, he can come find me. That both excites and frightens me.
This is truly, my only regret in life.