In keeping with the theme of Adoption and Motherhood – our daughter’s sweet, amazing, incredible birth Mom, Roxy, has agreed to share her side of our story. Below is her version, in her own words. Thank you Roxy! We love you beyond measure!!!
“At nineteen years old my life had become a tornado of poor decisions, confusion, and naiveté as well as a substantial dose of bad luck. However, in the eye of that storm there was quiet. There was peace. In the eye of that storm I found a love that was unmatched in ferocity. It was short lived but it was the best twenty-four hours of my life, to that point. I met my first born child, an angel whose heart beats forever in perfect harmony with my own. This is a day that I will never regret. I will always live in the confidence of the knowledge that I brought one amazing person into this world that day. I will never grieve, be ashamed of, or mourn the moment I held a piece of my heart in my arms. The years prior to and afterward were incredibly painful, but that moment was worth it.
I remember exactly what I was doing when I felt her first kick. I was driving down the highway on my way to class. I was passing a car and there was a semi headed toward me in my lane. All of a sudden I felt little flutters in my stomach. It took me a moment to realize it was my baby! It was like she was saying “I’m in here. Keep me safe.” so I did. I took my vitamins. I went to my appointments. I avoided all the risky things. I sang to her and discussed (obviously one sided) my thoughts on mundane things. I knew when she was the size of a jelly bean, an orange, a cantaloupe. I bought a single onesie and bib before I was even far enough along to know the gender. I loved my unborn child unequivocally and immeasurably from the moment I knew she existed, which made it incredibly easy to convince myself that love was enough. It was not difficult, at a naïve nineteen years old, to satisfy fleeting first time motherhood anxieties with visions of being a single mom superhero that somehow fills every material and emotional need for my unborn child with zero assets, while going to college, and working full time.
I distinctly remember the day that I fully realized my inadequacy. I remember sitting at the river watching a little girl feed the ducks with her mom and dad. Within moments of observing them, I knew. I knew I had been deceiving myself. I knew I would never be able to give my little girl all that she deserved. She deserved to have a mom and DAD that would be there for her EVERY day. As bad as I yearned to be able to be everything for her right that moment and forever after, I knew the reality. I knew that she would spend most of her childhood at a daycare being raised by someone else. I knew money would be so incredibly tight that I would make decisions based on cost rather than practicality every time she needed something. Most importantly I knew that I could never fill the role of a father. No matter how badly I wanted it to be true, I couldn’t do that. It was completely impossible.
Of course, there was a birth father. While we shared a brief glimpse into one another’s lives, he was someone who was as foreign to me as any other stranger I passed on the street. He called occasionally. These moments entailed conversations that mostly lacked any substance or emotional connection whatsoever. They also lacked any desire on his part to make a co-parenting situation a reality. If there was an aspiration for a parenting collaboration on his part, I completely missed it. I won’t discount that as a possibility. It’s possible I dismissed the idea based solely on my existing negative impressions of the man. It’s possible I didn’t give him a chance to be anything different than what I knew him to be at that point. I believe that’s called being a realist. That’s human. That’s what we do.
There was no disillusionment for me here. I had no hope for a fairytale ending. I wasn’t one to think too much about such things anyways. In fact I had the opposite. I had an unbridled love for the little person growing in my womb and an ever-growing abhorrence for the person that helped me get into that particular situation. My idea that it was solely on my shoulders to make the right decisions was further reinforced with the knowledge that in the past his go-to solution to these kinds of discrepancies was to terminate the pregnancies, one solution that was NEVER on the table for me. Through the grace of God,I have since grown, forgiven, and come to terms with the details of this situation. If our character was forever judged based on the lowest points in our lives, we would be eternally without hope. However, I do feel like this is an important part of the story solely to reflect light on how I came to my decisions. At that time I felt as if his idea of what was happening and my idea of what was happening were so dramatically different. There was no chance of the two of us coming together to do the already daunting task of raising a happy, healthy, and confident child. Could we have done it? Probably. Could we have done it well? Most likely, no.
So I began to reluctantly entertain the idea of adoption. It began as an information gathering mission. I researched LDS Family Services. I visited and conversed with Rex, the social worker there. He explained that it would be a closed adoption but I would still get to correspond with the family through letters and picture exchanges. Each time I went to an appointment, filled out paperwork, and discussed my baby girl with him, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the back of my mind. I continued to hope throughout the entire process, that I would figure out a way to keep my baby. I fought a constant internal battle between my heart and my mind, between love and reason. At times it felt as if once I boarded that adoption train I couldn’t make it stop and I couldn’t get off. However, one day Rex presented me with the profiles of four adoptive couples. As I read through them I immediately fell in love with one family, clear front runners, that brought a small sense of peace into my heart. Peace was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. I went home and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Each time I prayed about that couple, the sense of peace grew stronger. I knew. The perfect family for my baby was clear. I returned to Family Services with my decision. During that meeting I was given more information and paperwork to fill out. At one point Rex, stepped out of the room as I continued to read through the papers, and a pivotal moment occurred. The final paper in the stack he handed me had the couples last name listed, Kenneth and Andrea Walker, plain as day. I immediately began to panic. A cold fear rushed through my body as I knew this mistake had the potential to completely destroy this entire situation. I sat the papers down and contemplated whether or not I should reveal his discrepancy. I chose not to. The stakes were too high and I couldn’t risk letting this opportunity for my baby girl slip away. I remained silent and pressed forward scheduling a meeting with Ken and Andrea.
The day I met them was wonderful. I loved everything about them. They were so obviously in love and had been praying and planning for the arrival of their first baby for years. They were stable and prepared in every way for a child to join their family. They were so kind and considerate. Even now I cry thinking about how they made me feel that day. They immediately became a part of my heart and I finally could rest in the knowledge that things might be ok. I could ensure that my baby has an amazing life. All I had to do was figure out how to muster up the courage and the unselfishness necessary to give a piece of my heart to someone else forever.
I began having contractions at about midnight on August 28th, 2001 and had no idea what was going on. I called my best friend and for hours she sat on the phone with me while I timed each contraction. I was scared. I was a somewhat worried about the physical pain but terrified over the emotional pain I knew I was about to experience. Again, that train wasn’t about to stop and let me off so I went to the hospital. Labor was hard. It hurt. It was scary and strange and awkward and definitely not how I’d envisioned having my first baby. However, after it was all said and done she was here and she was amazing! For the first time in my young life I knew what it was like to love someone so much I would do anything to make them happy, even with the knowledge that I may never be truly happy or whole again. I was afraid to hold her because I knew once she was in my arms, I wouldn’t want to let her go. I did it though. I held her so tight. I sang to her. I whispered stories to her and told her how much I loved her over, and over, and over again. I explained why I was letting her go, hoping that maybe somehow her subconscious would cling to some of my words.
As we left the hospital, my dad pushed me through the halls in a wheelchair and he said something I’ll never forget. He said “we could just take her and go right now.” I considered fleeing, running through the halls with her in my arms and never looking back, escaping the promise I had made. My heart ached terribly knowing within moments I would be saying goodbye to my baby girl. It hurt. Those words don’t even begin to describe how it felt to hand my baby over to someone else. I don’t think there are sufficient words really. I was so happy for her and for them. Ken and Andrea were so respectful, so quietly joyful and also hurting for me. It was evident that they felt my pain intermingled with their joy and it was bittersweet. Part of me was celebrating with them and part of me wanted to curl up in a ball and die. There were definitely fleeting bits of happiness and harmony throughout that placement experience and I knew I was doing the right thing, the best thing. I clung to a mental image I had of my beautiful baby girl laughing, playing, and thriving with a mom and a DAD.
The only way I can describe the days following the placement is excruciatingly painful. My body wanted to nurse, nurture, and rock a baby. My arms ached to hold her close. Sometimes I thought I could still feel her moving around in my belly, still a part of me. I wondered if it that was how an amputee feels. I’d heard when a limb is removed the patient often still feels it there. I still felt like my baby was there at times and it was crushing when I pulled myself back to reality. The world went on without me. I didn’t have any idea how heartbreak could produce such physical pain. It’s a ton of bricks on your chest. It’s feeling like you’re drowning in mud. It’s mostly indescribable. Being in that type of pain is lonely. This wasn’t a pain that anyone or anything could remedy.
I did have some family and friends for support but I’m not really the type to openly share my emotions. I do remember a significant moment the day after the placement when I felt like I might just die. The idea of dying from a broken heart felt so real and so possible that day. I called my best friend. I desperately needed help. She wasn’t home and I recall her mother asking me how I was doing. I broke down and said “not good” and I’ll never forget her reply. She said “oh, so you do actually have a heart in there somewhere.” I never opened up to anyone again. Most of the world treated me with the attitude that “you did it to yourself”. Most people didn’t come out and say those words but I’ve always had an uncanny ability to feel the emotions of others. At that point in my life it was a curse, a compounding factor to my existing state of grief that nearly crushed me. I knew why I did it. I knew who I did it for. I tried not to care what anyone else thought.
I worked in a large call center where many people had seen my pregnancy, but didn’t know me personally. I took a week off to recover. Returning to work was difficult. There were countless awkward conversations to navigate. Numerous people congratulated me on my baby. It hurt every time. I tried to side-step the details, but often failed. Word got around after a few days and pretty soon no one said anything to me again. Ever. Except for a handful of friends, people I knew avoided me for the most part. I’m not sure if it was because it was awkward for them or they truly didn’t like me anymore. I quit my job within a few months. I needed a fresh start. I couldn’t be “that girl that gave her baby away” anymore. I really wish from here I could say I turned to God for solace and peace, but I did not. Not yet.
Years of mistakes, struggles, and poor choices I made in an effort to fill my empty heart came first. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I realize I should have sought counseling. I should have figured out how to mend my heart and heal in a healthy way. I should have done things differently. There was a better way. Fortunately, I eventually did find God. He’d been with me all along. I just couldn’t see through the self-inflicted fog of sorrow and agony. I knew putting my experience on paper would hurt.
Almost fourteen years of life experience and perspective has helped soften the pain but it’s a wound that will never fully heal. However, I do feel strongly now that Rex’s mistake fourteen years ago was my saving grace. Just knowing that someday I might be able to find my other family again and reconnect with them has given me a glimmer of hope to cling to all this time.
A little less than a year ago I did contact Ken, Andrea, and our daughter and have found so much healing through being able to connect with them. They have so graciously accepted my presence back in their lives and we are going to meet again for the first time. I have always viewed The Walkers as the hero and heroine in this story and have never once believed them to be liable for my pain but rather solely responsible for giving my baby girl a wonderful childhood. They are truly a blessing to me. I don’t pretend to know what to expect , how to navigate this upcoming meeting or what the future holds but regardless, I will forever know that at one point in my life I was able to give a gift of immeasurable value to Ken and Andrea and to my beautiful daughter, and my namesake, Lou Lou”