Authored by Megan Bryant
Ah, that old saying, “if you love someone, let them go…” speaks volumes in just a smattering of words. In some ways it feels counterintuitive to let someone go if you love them so much. You would do anything and everything to keep them, no matter what, wouldn’t you?!
One of the most frustrating and insulting things I still hear people imply regarding adoption is that placing a child is selfish, and that if a mother TRULY loved her child, she simply could not “give them away.” Or, suggesting that it was the easy way out of a challenging situation.
I could argue until I’m blue in the face that this is NOT the case, however, closed minds aren’t ready or willing to allow alternative perspectives and that would be a waste of my words. For those who are empowered by the journeys of other people and find delight in expanding their own understanding, this is a tale for you.
Party Like it’s 1999
In 1999 I was a spunky, blonde, very animated high school senior. Not too far into the year my attention was snagged by a super cute, plaid-button-up-wearing boy who played the drums for the choir’s “combo” and who smelled as fresh as warm laundry from the dryer. This was us during the school’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Things progressed quickly, and our attraction was intense so, yeah, short story short, I got pregnant.
MUCH LONGER story short, I hid that entire pregnancy for a myriad of reasons all the way up until I went into labor on 9/29/99 and finally had to spill the beans when my cervix was ready to spill the amniotic fluid. You can read all about that story in my book, Not My Plan, available on Amazon and many other online retailers.
In a whirlwind, I found myself cradling a sweet baby girl in my arms as a young unwed mother who wasn’t ready to tie the knot and raise a child. I knew, deep in my very core, that this child wasn’t mine in the traditional sense of the word.
Within one week’s time, my secret was exposed, my daughter was born, and her family had been identified through one of the most spiritual experiences of my entire life. She was placed for adoption at 5 days old, and the fear of possibly never seeing her again sunk all the way into my bones.
My boyfriend and I broke up abruptly, a decision I made with some guidance from well-intended influences in my life, and I hurriedly moved on with my life. I was married to another fella by May 2001 and kept my adoption story tucked away quietly from the world.
Over the years there was regulated contact through our semi-open adoption. An exchange once per year of letters and photos was my window into the life of my firstborn. It was a common scene for me to sit in my car outside the office of the LDS Family Services each year, reading the notes and weeping as I thumbed through the pictures. I’d thought of my daughter, Hannah, every day, and pondered on the milestones and moments I was absent for. Yet, I always felt a calming blanket of peace knowing she was with a family who cherished her. My heartache was always matched with a swell of love and connection.
Some-Teen Years Later
As Hannah entered the second half of her teen years, the reality of someday seeing her again in person was a more frequent consideration. I was nervous and uncertain how it might fit into my life as it was at the time. I was married and had children of my own. I had “moved on” in many ways. Admittedly I was unsure at times as to whether I was emotionally willing to open the box that had been sealed so many years prior.
In August of 2017, just before Hannah was to begin her senior year of high school, with her 18th birthday impending, we made plans to meet again face to face. Arrangements were made for my kiddos to be with family elsewhere, so we could have dedicated time with just me, Hannah, and her family.
I stood in the office of my home and stared out the window to the cul-de-sac, where I could see all the way down the street. They text me when they were on their way. I saw the spec of a maroon mini-van turn the corner and slowly roll towards me. My heart was racing, and tears were already welling in my eyes. I’d attempted to record video on my phone, but my hands were trembling so intensely that I couldn’t hold it steady.
They walked up the path to my home, and even as the front door opened wide, so did my entire soul as we swooped into each other’s arms. We are intertwined spiritually as sisters of a God who very clearly loves and cherishes us both, and equipped us with a very special bond.
I’ll never understand how time works, because it was FOREVER and a BLINK all at once. My mind swirled at the thought of holding her tiny, seven-pound newborn body all those years ago, while it felt so fresh in my memory. Then, so suddenly she was a grown woman, taller than me by an inch!
Soon after she met me and my family, she was able to meet her biological father and his family, who, conveniently, all still live in the same community that I do. Go figure!
The year+ that has followed this reunion has been met with its own series of challenges and growth as we’ve learned to navigate healthy, open communication on all sides while collaborating in ways to share our story of love with the world.
Sharing is Caring!
Keeping this story private sounded so much more appealing that putting ourselves out there for scrutiny on what is an often HIGHLY controversial topic. Unplanned pregnancies are a life-altering experience, no matter the option (parenting, adoption, or abortion) that is chosen. It regularly becomes one of the most heated and emotionally charged discussion points in modern society.
There is no denying that me stumbling into the option of adoption at the last possible moment has richly blessed our lives. We are all sensitive to the agony felt by women in their time of crisis, and, to the male contributors to those situations.
In the end, we determined that we simply had to band together and share our journey as a resource to others. I believe our openness with the world has also given me a greater appreciation for my own life and to recognize that I can do difficult things and find absolute joy in the process. Hannah’s efforts in adoption advocacy brought us all together for a conference in her home town of Walla Walla Washington, which she organized as her senior project. We continue to look for opportunities to spur candid dialog for all sides of the adoption triad.
Trials Become Our Greatest Joys
At the onset of sharing our story, and when I wrote my book, I didn’t yet grasp the fact that this occurrence of placing this baby for adoption nearly two decades prior would circle back into my life as a bright light during another painful and dark personal experience.
I’d reunited with Hannah on a Friday, and the Monday that kicked off that week was the day I filed for divorce after a 16-year marriage. It was a conclusion I’d desperately wanted to avoid. Soon, I’d be a single mother of four children, whose ages at the time were 10, 4, 2, and 10 months.
To say the past couple years have been a cake walk is like saying giving birth to one of my babies who was almost ELEVEN POUNDS, a week late, and turned the wrong way was a breeze. What I’ve found, thankfully, is that by embracing my story and owning up to all my own mistakes and challenges, is that happiness and even BLISS is possible right alongside the pain. It’s glorious! It truly IS possible to be joyful even when things are super difficult.
Hannah and her family are MY family. And having more family to love is always a good thing in my opinion. It still takes lots of raw and candid conversations to overcome misunderstandings and create harmony like any relationship worth fighting for does. We celebrate each other as we are, and most importantly we respect each other as individuals.
My adoption story is one that allows me a peek into what I imagine heaven to be. It gives me profound understanding of the BIGGEST picture of all. When we serve others completely, and love relentlessly and without any agenda, we can expand family and narrow gaps within humanity. It reminds me, daily, to review my connection to everyone in this world that we are ALL part of a grand spiritual family. And it fills my heart with love. And it gives me renewed hope.
Listen to Megan’s radio interview on Catholic Radio – Morning Light