[If you like this IHTM contest entry, comment to that effect below and that will help the writer win the big money. Feel free to critique below too, so we can weigh that in our decision. ]
It Happened to Me Contest Entry: I Am a Birthmother Who Reunited With Her Daughter
By Michelle Renee Krehl
I always knew I would find her. I am not sure how I knew this, but I did.
I was 21, in a serious relationship, and I found myself pregnant. I could say all those things like I was too young, or didn’t have anyone to help me, but that wasn’t true. I just wasn’t ready. I had been on my own for a few years by this point, but I was barely scraping by, living in a house full of roommates, and not what I suppose one might deem “mother material” at first glance.
I knew abortion was not the answer for me. A strong Christian background combined with the fact that I thought, “Here I am, almost 4 months pregnant, in the general scheme of things, 5 more months of my life seems very short,” so I definitely knew immediately that I would continue the pregnancy.
Then there was the matter of my parents. I knew they would be disappointed, but I wasn’t really scared to tell them or anything, after all, I was an adult on my own. But I needed to have a plan in place and be armed with all the strength and information I needed when I told my mom these words, “I am giving my baby up for adoption.”
Yes, she was upset, and yes, we both cried, but she didn’t try to talk me out of it, even though I knew it was breaking her heart.
I selected the parents through a private adoption agency and met them a couple times while I was pregnant. I chose them because they seemed like amazing, down to earth people with a heritage and background similar to mine, as well as also being the same religion. They had had several miscarriages and finally a hysterectomy, so children were out of the question for them.
I know my looks were probably a source of concern for them at the time, with half of my black hair shaved, pale white skin, deep red lips and raccoon lined eyes. My boyfriend met them as well, with his bleach blond long hair and Bowie-esque looks (he was a musician and a singer.) I am sure they thought we looked like a freak show. But a pretty decent looking and healthy freakshow, so they happily looked forward to the birth of our baby.
I had an easy pregnancy. So easy in fact, not many people knew I was pregnant at all. I was so tiny and didn’t show at all until about my 8th month, and even then, I just looked like I had maybe eaten a few huge meals that week. I gained a total of 15 pounds during my pregnancy and I weighed a whopping 117 on the day I delivered, and at 5’9”, I was still very thin.
My baby had neither turned or dropped, so I carried her high under my ribs, and she was still in a breech position when I went into labor, exactly on my due date.
My delivery was just as easy as my pregnancy, a short four hour labor, 2 pushes and she came out bottom first, tiny and beautiful. I had my daughter at a Catholic hospital and the nuns came to see me and were so kind.
I had decided before she was born that I would not see her or hold her. But after she arrived I felt differently and asked for her to be brought to my room. What an amazing and beautiful moment. I was forever changed. I called her Rose Renee, as her lips had the same perfect red rosebud bow that mine did.
I teetered back and forth on changing my mind, and the nuns told me that it was my right to. My mom came to see us in the hospital. I knew she could not resist. I spent many hours alone in my room with my baby girl, but in my heart of hearts, I knew she was not mine. I had promised her to the couple I had chosen, and seen their tears and felt their pleading eyes saying, “please choose us,” and I knew I would leave the hospital without her.
But I also knew that someday I would find her. There was never a doubt.
I had hard days and months to follow. Sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes just confused. I went through a grieving process and the loss tore me up inside at times, but I still knew my decision was the right one. My boyfriend and I moved from Milwaukee to Los Angeles just four months later. I needed to start over, and I never looked back, and am still in Los Angeles 23 years later. I married my boyfriend, and we had a son just a little less than two years later.
There were times I requested photos, and times I sent health updates about myself for them to pass on to the adoptive parents, but they did not feel comfortable sharing the photos with me. I understood, but I was hurt. The social worker through the adoption agency sent me a photo of her taken when she was three, although she was about 10 at the time. I looked at the back and saw an erased name, and I could still make it out. Nicole. Age 3.
Fast forward to when she was 16. MySpace was the social media site of the time, and I thought maybe she had one. I began one evening to look for all the 16-year-old Nicoles in a 50 mile radius of where I was from. It took me about 15 minutes and I saw her. All blond hair and legs in a blue bikini.
I saw the photo and there was not a doubt. I looked at her profile and her date of birth along with the fact that she was adopted was in her “about me” section. Yes it was her. I was elated, but also felt a little intrusive. I could see photos about her life and read about her friends, family and accomplishments and she had no idea I was doing this. I knew she was too young for me to contact and nothing on her profile said she was looking for me.
My mom said it was selfish of me to contact her. I was doing it to meet my needs, and to calm my tortured soul and heal the hole in my heart, but not thinking what this could do to her. I waited until just before her 19th birthday and wrote her an email. I hit “send.”
Now I couldn’t take it back. Maybe she would never answer. Maybe she would not even see it or read it, but it was done. I waited. A week went by. Two. And then it came. With just a smiley face in the subject line and I screamed. I had no idea what it would say, but I was exploding with emotion.
She was happy and excited to hear from me. She confirmed with her dad that it was me, and that I was not some nutjob on the Internet posing as her birthmother. She shared that her mom was having a hard time knowing I had contacted her, which did not surprise me. I understood. I would feel the same and I knew that.
But that first email was the beginning of many and we began to correspond. She was beautiful, talented, funny, sensitive and poised. She began and finished college. She got married. And she moved to California.
We had talked about meeting before, and even had plans to. But her mom still was uncomfortable with this and I knew Nicole did not want to hurt or upset her. But now she was a married adult and living only 2 hours from me. Anytime she would have called and said “come down,” I would have hopped in the car and went, no matter the time or day. But I was patient and knew it would happen when she was really ready.
In September 2012, I finally once again hugged my baby girl. It was everything I had hoped for and more than I ever could have dreamed of. Today we still have a relationship, and though I would love to see her more often, I do realize this is not all about me.
Adoption involves so many people. I am currently hoping to meet with Nicole’s mom in the very near future. I want her to see that the crazy looking punk rock girl with the skinny legs and red lips grew up. She became a mom again. She succeeded and excelled in her career choices and she learned to make better decisions. And we both share the same wish: that Nicole is happy and healthy and loved. Finally I am whole.