In the spring of 1987 I discovered I was pregnant. I was 29 and already a single mom of three active boys, living off public assistance in low income housing, with plans to attend college full-time to major in Social Work.
I have always been a firm believer in the Pro-Life Movement and of life beginning at conception; however, once I discovered I was pregnant I did not want to carry my baby full-term. The relationship with the baby’s father was rocky from the beginning. I was and still am a God-fearing Christian and felt horrible for even allowing myself to sleep with this man. But at that time I was emotionally needy and looking for love with anyone who would love me back. I knew the relationship was destructive, and once I discovered I was pregnant I felt as if I was being punished for my poor choices. I realize now this isn’t true; I was simply experiencing the consequence of my bad choices.
I had to decide what I would do. Abortion was a quick and desperate way to end the pregnancy. No one would have to know about it, but I would, and I could not go against what I believed to be morally wrong. Once I decided to proceed with carrying my baby full-term, the situation with my baby’s father escalated. We got married thinking this might help, but it only made it worse. He eventually left me alone, stranded to deal with my pregnancy and the future of my baby. My children were young, but old enough to understand there was a baby inside me.
A dear friend of mine told me about a couple in Colorado who wanted to adopt. She sent me their profile, and as I read it, I saw a picture of an attractive couple and how happy they appeared together. My heart went out to them. As a Christian I prayed about what to do and asked God to speak through my pastor. He knew I was moving forward with college while struggling with the three children I was raising alone, and he thought it was a great idea!
I felt I could raise another child, but my biggest concern was the negative emotional feelings I had toward the baby’s father. What kind of a mother would I be? Would I be as loving and attentive towards him as I have always been towards my other three boys? Would I love him unconditionally? Everyone has their breaking point, their limit as to how much they can withstand in life. I didn’t want to find out how I’d be able to handle having a fourth child along with so many conflicting feelings. I didn’t want to take that chance. I wanted to give my child more than what I thought I could give. I wanted to give my other boys a better life than what they had at that time. I didn’t think it was fair them to live in “what if’s.” I wanted more for all of them. I loved my baby enough to give him a good life; a life I knew I couldn’t give at that time.
I ended up meeting the lovely couple. We had lunch along with a social worker from a local agency who handled all the legal documents. I was determined throughout the process to get to know the couple, and to share my pregnancy with them since they had never had this experience. I called the adoptive mom quite frequently especially after my ultrasound and doctor appointments. She would tell me about how excited they were and how the baby’s bedroom was being decorated to prepare for their baby boy. I was so excited for them!
When the day came and I went to the hospital, I had a friend be my coach. Shawn Michael was born two weeks ahead of his due date and weighed 11 lbs. 12.5 oz. The hospital staff called him “Big Foot”. He was a beautiful baby and reminded me a lot of my youngest son. My mother was at the hospital with me and joined me a private room to have some time with Shawn after he was cleaned up. She watched from a distance as I kissed Shawn and cuddled him. I knew this would be the last time I’d see him as mine.
The adoptive couple had flown in from Colorado, but didn’t want to see their baby until after relinquishment papers were signed. In 1988, papers could still be signed immediately after the birth. The problem we had was the baby’s father. He made it clear he didn’t want to sign papers and came to the hospital to see his son. We were concerned he might try to kidnap the baby, so the hospital security following him to the nursery. The adoptive couple was there and witnessed all the commotion. They decided to leave to get some lunch and take a breather from it all.
During this time it was quiet and I was left alone. I spent some time reading my bible and praying. Suddenly, my social worker called to say that the baby’s father had called and was going to the office to meet with her. I immediately became excited, but she warned me that he hadn’t signed papers yet. Still, I felt in my heart that everything was going to be alright. It was quiet for about another hour and then the social worker called back to tell me he had indeed signed the papers. There was a party in my room!
My Social Worker showed up with two witnesses so I could also sign the papers. This was truly THE hardest thing I’d ever done, but I was ready for it. I had prepared myself mentally and spiritually for the past six months. I knew I was doing the right thing. Once papers were signed and it was quiet again I waited for the adoptive couple to come, along with my friend/coach, my pastor and his wife so we could all rejoice in this amazing event. We jumped up and down and praised God for how awesome and gracious He was!
Finally, the adoptive couple was ready to see their baby. The nurses gave them a private room and I left them alone. Sometime later I went to their room and they welcomed me in. I observed them as a family together, cuddling, feeding, and loving on him. At that moment, I told them I did not feel that he was mine, but definitely their baby.
Do I have regrets over my decision? Absolutely not! My son is now 28 years old and has connected with his three brothers over the years, which I am thrilled for. In fact, my middle son sees Shawn quite often as he lives near him in Colorado. Shawn is not yet ready to meet me and I’m fine with that, although one day I hope to meet him. I’ve seen pictures and have heard so much about him, thank God for social media.
Although the adoption started off as open it later became closed. I sabotaged it, unknowingly, by taking the baby’s father back into my life and making the mistake of telling the adoptive couple about it. What was I thinking? From that point on they kept their distance and didn’t want to hear from me unless I went through their attorney. Yes, it hurt, but I feel I deserved it. They were fearful of what could possibly happen with this man back in my life. No one trusted him. I completely understood! I did receive pics and a letter from Shawn up until his second birthday. I’ve sent a birthday card with pictures every year and when he was eight, I had completed a Birthmother’s Memory Book, and sent it to him.
I can only assume he received all the things I sent him over the next 18 years. I always stayed in touch with the agency in Colorado, and even became close to the social worker there. Once he turned 18 it was up to Shawn if he wanted to meet me, but it hasn’t happened yet. He may never want to and I have to accept that. To be continued…
Gerrianne Waring resides in Georgetown, Texas, and is wife to Jim of 23 years and mother to Michael, age 38, Jason, 33, and Tim, 31. She is also a birth mom to Shawn Michael whom she placed for adoption 28 years ago, and a grandmother to 13 beautiful and amazing grandchildren. Gerrianne is a Retired Social Worker (3 years) having worked 24 years in Adoption/Foster Care. She currently is a Chaplain (serving Jail Ministry, Hospitals, or one-on-one), as well as Speaker / Writer, Walker and Cyclist, and Pro-Adoption Advocate / Facilitator with a Birth Mother Support Group she started.
The group was initially created out of her own need to meet with other Birth Mothers. Over the years it has evolved into an educational and informational resource for the adoption triad. In addition, on Thursdays at 12 Noon CST, Gerrianne has a Live Feed called Adoption Awareness LIVE, where she covers various topics pertaining to adoption. Please check out her book about her journey to choosing adoption and discovering God’s Grace through the process, which is available on Lulu, as well as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.