I moved to Georgia from Indiana by myself in December 2001. By February 2002, I started dating Peter. I felt so alone in a new place and Peter gave me all the attention in the world. It felt like a wonderful adventure in a new phase of my life. I felt free.
In week three of our relationship, he moved into my one bedroom apartment, he begged me to quit my job and he wouldn't allow me to call my friends or family. But Peter continued to show me the attention that no one else was showing me, so I obliged. At least I wasn't alone, I convinced myself.
By the end of the month, my bank account was empty because Peter always knew which horse to pick at the track and God forbid he used his own money. My rent was late, neither of us had a job, and I was getting yelled at, at minimum, twice a day. I felt so trapped, like I had nowhere to run. But I wasn’t alone. So I stayed.On my 21st birthday, 5 weeks into our relationship, Peter barely acknowledged that I was alive. I had to do his laundry in the sink because I wasn’t allowed to leave the house. When I cried, no matter how silently, he threw something at me so I would stop. For dinner, we went to the track where he spent all of my birthday and rent money on bets. I wasn’t allowed to eat in public but was made to watch him sloppily devour his salmon and wild rice.
Three days later, after losing more of my money at the track and just before finishing a bottle of whiskey, Peter, unprovoked, put a gun to my head and said words that, to this day, I still have nightmares about: “If I ever find out you’re pregnant with my child, I will kill you dead right after I kill the bastard child inside you.” Then he swiftly backhanded me.It was then that the grave reality of my situation finally hit me. Quite literally.
I threw whatever I could reach in Peter’s direction. I grabbed his keys to take back my house and car keys. I took his wallet to take back my ATM card and the little money he had left. Then I told him to get out of my house and never come back. He was so startled that I stood up to him that he just left; no questions asked. But I knew I wouldn't be safe for long.
I packed up my apartment in less than two hours. I gave my landlord all the money I could spare and promised him that more would be sent in a few days (and it was). Without looking back, I got in my car and drove from Georgia to Indiana in less than two days. I was so afraid I was being followed that I only stopped to use the restroom and get gas.I moved home in late March 2002. I tried to get back in the swing of things but it was close to impossible. Peter found me and he called all the time but would only breathe on the other end. He never said a word. I didn’t feel safe in my own house and it wasn’t fair to involve my Dad in a mess I allowed to happen. I had to leave.
In June 2002, I moved to the East Coast to live with my grandmother, I changed my phone number, closed my bank account, cancelled my credit cards and started over. I got a job, registered for school and eventually made some friends. Everything was fine. I was healthy and I was starting to feel human again. Peter had no idea where I was now. I was safe. Or so I thought.In July 2002, I woke up doubled over in pain. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, and I could barely breathe. I went to my doctor and she immediately did an ultrasound on my kidneys and liver. She was certain I had a kidney infection. Four days later, the doctor called and said, “Congratulations! You’re twenty-two weeks pregnant. Please come in for a consult as soon as possible. Goodbye.”
Pregnant. With Peter's child. The one he threatened to kill before I ran away.I have never been more terrified. I didn’t know who to call, what to say when I did call someone, or how to feel. My thoughts were racing at unimaginable speeds:
I'll have to run again because, surely, Peter will find out.
No, I can't run. I have nowhere to run TO.
I need to tell someone.
No, I can't tell anyone. What if they tell someone?
Abortion. That's it. I'll go immediately.
No, I can't do that. I could never live with myself.
Dad. I need to call my Dad.
No, I can't call him. He'll be so disappointed.
Benny! My good friend, Benny. That's it. I'll call him.
So I did.
I used to babysit for Benny's children before I moved to Georgia. He was also a close friend of my Dad after working together for years. I knew I could trust him. He let me cry, even when he couldn't understand me, and he listened to me for what felt like hours. He convinced me to sit tight, take a deep breath and call my Dad.My Dad has always been my biggest supporter in everything I have ever done. I have never disappointed him. Until the day I told him I was pregnant. Albeit disappointed, he promised to support me however he could.
I found a doctor who was able to see me right away. We learned that although I had been unaware of the pregnancy for the first five months, the little person growing inside of me was healthy. As I watched the heartbeat flutter on the screen next to my head, the vicious and cold-hearted threat from Peter rang in my ear. I knew I had to find a way to hide this baby, to protect it, in any way possible.After considering moving away to hide, I ultimately decided to pursue adoption. Benny, and his wife Katie, called to check on me a week after my desperate cry for help. When I told them I was going to check into adoption agencies, I could almost see their eyes light up through the phone. They explained that they were considering adoption for some time and would love to talk more about it with me. In an instant, with one sentence, I could feel the weight of the world lifted right off my shoulders. It was almost as if adoption was choosing me; not the other way around.
Over the next few months, we found out the baby was a boy. Katie and I talked a couple times a week. Benny would check in now and then. My Dad and Grandmother helped take care of me. Lawyers were talked to. Plans were made. It was all happening around me and I never shed a tear. Nothing was sinking in. All I knew was that I agreed to give away my first born because of an evil man that scared me.For the last few weeks of the pregnancy, I moved back to Indiana where Benny and Katie lived. I went to meetings with lawyers, I saw a new doctor, and I got to know Katie much better. We went to lunch, we went shopping, we talked and, ultimately, we became friends.
On November 5, 2002, with Katie by my side, the doctor decided it would be best to schedule an induction. We chose November 7th and then it happened: Reality. Two days. I had two days to prepare to make the biggest and most final decision of my life. Of his life. Of their lives. It was all on me. Granted, I was confident in my decision and I knew it was the best choice; not for me, necessarily, but for my son. Yet, I was still very unsure. What if I could do this? He hasn't contacted me in months!The morning of November 7th, Katie drove me to the hospital. After twelve hours of very comfortable labor, the doctor told me I wasn’t progressing as fast as he would like and we should consider a cesarean section. We were sure everything would turn out as planned so we decided to wait. I should have known that nothing happens as it’s planned.
Around 11:00pm on the evening of November 7th, the doctor came in to see how I was. Within two minutes of his exam, I was prepped for a C-section. The baby’s heart beat was irregular because his head was stuck on top of my pelvic bone. I was given enough time to say goodbye to my Dad and Benny before Katie and I were off to the operating room. By 11:55pm, my beautiful baby boy was born. My perfect, healthy, blue-eyed baby boy was here. They swept him away to clean him up and check his vitals and at 12:15am, I held him for the very first time. What an indescribable feeling that moment was.The next four days in the hospital were a blur. I was so heavily medicated that I can barely remember leaving the operating room. All I remember is holding my baby as much as I possibly could. MY baby. He was still mine.
Katie stayed with us and bonded with him in the most perfect and instantaneous way. That’s when I saw it. That’s when I knew. He wasn’t mine anymore. He was ours. We discussed names for our boy but I loved the name she chose the second I heard it: Jared Scott.On November 11, Jared and I were discharged from the hospital together. It wasn’t until that evening, when I said goodbye to him, that the reality and weight of the situation became apparent to me. He wasn't mine anymore. He wasn’t ours anymore. He was their baby. My boy was her boy.
The next morning, Katie and Benny picked me up for our appointment at the courthouse. The more I tried to prepare myself, the harder it became. So I decided to shut everything off and speak when spoken to and sign where I was told to sign. And that's just what I did. For nine days, I tuned out the world around me. The sweet boy that was going home with his new family every night never took my last name and he could never be traced back to me. Eventually the birth certificate with me on it would be replaced. It was as though it never even happened.He was free.
Today, that sweet baby boy is a handsome young man. He’s athletic and smart. He’s friendly and caring. He’s funny and charming. Above all else, he’s safe, happy and loved so deeply by his family. I have never once, nor will I ever, regret the decision I made to protect my son; even now, as I raise two children of my own. I may still remain with a broken heart and empty arms, but I know he was never mine; he was meant to be theirs.Happy 12th Birthday, sweet boy, from your Birthmother.
*All names and locations have been changed to respect the privacy of the parties involved.
*I am sharing my story in honor of National Adoption Month.
*If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence, there are resources to help. It's never too late: http://www.thehotline.org/