Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shannon's story

I am honored to be a part of this blog. I never planned on being a part of adoption, but does anyone? It doesn't creep into one's life; it it there by divine design. My name is Shannon and I am a birth mother. A little background before I begin to tell my adoption story.

In September of 2006, I gave birth to a baby boy, Jayden Lucas.
His father and I never married, but we have continued to maintain a good relationship. I was a single mother working a full-time job and taking care of this cute little ray of sunshine.  Two years later, I met John. We didn't date long before we knew we wanted to get married. He was amazing and made me feel beautiful. He was a little insecure and needed a lot of reassurance. I didn't like it, but also didn't expect perfection, because I wasn't perfect. Many of my family members saw what a strain this relationship had on me and wondered if it was right. They questioned the relationship several times and each time I chalked it up to them being over protective.

On September 27, 2008 we tied the knot and moved into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment in Sunset, Utah. Within 2 weeks he lost his job and I became the sole provider for our home. A few weeks later we found out we were pregnant! This definitely changed many things in the home. I became ill and tired all the time, especially working at a very demanding job then coming home to cook, clean, do laundry, and take care of my husband and 2 year-old.  John's demeanor changed drastically. I understand the idea of being a newlywed and wanting to be intimate with your spouse often because its new and legal, hehehe. But when I was sick and exhausted, sex was the furthest thing from my mind. Sometimes I would go to sleep or pretend to be asleep so John would leave me alone. But John needed it more often and we would stay up and argue for two to three hours a night until he got what he wanted, whether I wanted it or not. This happened on an average of three times a week.

My walls were closing in and I was losing my mind. Trying to defend my love for him became an everyday battle. His insecurities were increasing. He needed constant attention and validation. I felt like I was doing everything I could to be the 'good wife'. But my efforts were never good enough.  Our arguments increased and intensified. During a few heated discussions he took my head and hit it against the wall. He didn't want me talking to my friends or family, unless he was there. I couldn't go by myself anywhere. I was accused daily of cheating on him. At the end of a night after dinner, John would put Jayden in his room with the gate up and make me sit on the couch with him and watch TV. Jayden was two and cute as a bug. John said that I was babying him too much. I was paying too much attention to Jayden and not my husband.  A few more weeks went by and his brother and his brother's wife moved into our living room. They were being kicked out of her father's home and desperately needed a place to stay. So, in our two bedroom apartment lived four adults, two dogs and a 2 year-old. I was the only one working a full-time job and felt like I was being taken advantage of.  I knew that I couldn't stay in this situation, but I didn't know how I was going to leave. I prayed and prayed about it, silently, of course, hoping that Heavenly Father would hear me and create a way for me and Jayden to be safe.

The day after Thanksgiving, only two months later, things drastically changed. I came home from work and we started to argue about an ongoing issue. I had put my foot down about it and he didn't like it. Long story short...it took me an hour to get out of the apartment with my son in hand. I drove to a friends house nearby, called police and charges were filed. The next day my family came over to pack me up and move me out. I stayed with my parents for the time being.  I was able to successfully file a protective order against him in December. He violated this order several times, never caught and never arrested. Through hiring a lawyer, I found out that he was married twice before, one annulled and one divorce. Plus, there were three other protective orders placed against him at the time. I was angry that he was dishonest with me and kept some very valuable truths from me.  He continued to harass me for three months. By March 2009 time I was 6 months pregnant and scared for my life, my son's life, and my unborn child's life. I had done nothing to instigate any action from him, but he sure made every effort to ruin my life. I prayed to Heavenly Father night after night asking, “Why?”  I cried all the time. I couldn't focus at work. I couldn't walk to my car by myself. I had to rely on family to help take care of Jayden. I was simply lost. I was relying on everyone else to protect me. But the only one who could protect me was Heavenly Father. He knew my heart. He knew the truth, even though John told so many lies to so many people. The charges against John had been dropped and I couldn't have been more upset.

By this time, I was at a point I didn't know what to do. I searched for answers. A few weeks later, I reached out to a trusted friend and I ended up at LDS Family Services at a birth mother group. I was immediately paired up with a case worker.  I didn't want to rush into the idea of placing my child for adoption. I was scared for my life, but more importantly, I was nervous about how this whole nightmare would affect Jayden and my unborn son. Jayden was having separation anxiety and never wanted to leave my side. The thought of me having to share my unborn son with someone who was trying to destroy me disturbed me very much. I cried and prayed continuously.  One scripture that gave me hope was Jacob 3:1, “ But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.” Such power behind these words!  Since I was married, a whole new set of concerns spun out on the adoption option. John HAD to relinquish his rights. If he didn't, then I had no choice but to keep my son and share him. This was not an option I wanted to think about.
In March of 2009, I had filed for divorce, but heard nothing back from John. I was almost in a panic mode. Being seven months pregnant time was not on my side. I had to do something and I needed to do it fast. But there wasn't much I could do. I knew in my heart I couldn't keep this child. I went to Heavenly Father in constant fervent prayer. If He wanted me to keep this child, He would provide a way to protect us. If this child wasn't meant to be mine, He would also provide a way to make the adoption possible.

Over the next few weeks I continued to attend the birth mother group which only increased the conviction to place my son. I met with my caseworker who talked me through a lot of concerns. Having an open adoption was my highest priority. Being a single mother I knew what I was losing.  Into the month of April I had received my answer that adoption was the only option for us. I didn't know how it was going to happen, but I knew without a doubt that Heavenly Father was going to provide a way for my son to be placed.  I started to look through profile books which were put together by my caseworker. I went through two books and found two families that I felt 'in tune' with. I prayed about them and reread their profiles several times a day. The next week we had set up a face-to-face meeting with each family.  The first family was awesome and I knew that they were more than capable of taking care of my child, however, I didn't feel connected to them. The second family....whoa! BAM! From the moment they walked into the room, you could feel it. The mom started to cry and I consoled her right away. We talked about how we each came to our adoption situation. The spirit in this room was amazing! I felt no judgement from this wonderful couple, only love.  I really didn't have to pray about it, but I did anyway. The next few days were filled with excitement and pain at the same time; giving my child to someone so deserving felt like my heart was being ripped apart but sewn back together with love at the same time. I knew God was pleased with what I was doing.

One factor that had not worked itself out was my husband. It took quite a while for him to agree to relinquish his rights. He had verbally agreed, but had yet to sign the papers. This was brought to the attention of all involved, especially the adoptive family. I had to let them know what was going on and what would happen if John had failed to do his part. They were quite positive because they had received their own confirmation that this child was meant to be a part of their family.  My due date was June 10th and we only had six weeks for everyone to get ready for the coming of this special child. One of the things my caseworker suggested I do to get ready was write a letter to myself to keep focus of what I was doing and why. HERE is what I wrote (the names have been changed to protect those involved).  I read and reread this letter until I could no longer cry.

By June 1st I was getting anxious to deliver the baby. As any expectant mother can attest to, there comes a point in the pregnancy where you just want to be done. I definitely had mixed emotions about being done. I wanted my body back, but I knew that my child would be gone.  My caseworker called me Monday morning and gave me the best news ever! John had signed the papers! Heavenly Father heard and answered many prayers said on behalf of me, this child, and the adoptive couple. I was at work when I received the call and I became so emotional I had to leave. I felt a release of so much anxiety and uncertainty that I was physically exhausted. I definitely spent the next few days resting, praying, and giving thanks!

On Saturday June 7th I was having contractions and went to the hospital. But within a few hours I was released. False alarm! I knew the hour was nigh, but didn't know when. I didn't enjoy the waiting game, but wanted to savor every moment I could with this baby in my ever growing tummy.  Early Monday morning I went into active labor. I checked into the hospital at 7:00 am. This time I hoped I wasn't going home. I waited till I was getting the epidural to call my caseworker. The labor was going really fast. I was excited that the couple made it for the birth of their son. I also had close friends and family there to support me.  Mr. and Mrs. X, were at my bedside listening to me cry. This was not how I thought the delivery would be when I first found out about the pregnancy. I thought I would have a husband by my side and it would be a joyous occasion. They consoled me, but it was also evident that they were very anxious for their own reasons.

At 10:39 am, Karson was born!
Oh I sobbed. The room was filled with such love and I could not have been more grateful. Mrs. X was able to observe the delivery and cut the cord. There were tears of joy and sounds of excitement throughout the room.  An angel was brought into my arms and the next few days went by way too fast. I had some great quiet times with Karson. I quietly told him about our story in a fairy-tale kind of way. I sang him songs and rocked him to sleep. I laid him close to my heart and felt him breathe. These are the moments I wanted to cherish. This is what I was going to miss the most.  

Jayden came up to see Karson a few times. He held the baby and kissed his forehead. During the pregnancy I explained to him that baby Karson was going to go live with Mr. and Mrs. X because that's where Heavenly Father wanted him to be. To a two and a half year-old that was all the explanation that was needed at the time.

Two days later, I woke up early, for I knew it was going to be a BIG day.....placement day. I called the nursery and had Karson brough to me so that I could spend more time with him. I took a big breath and said a little prayer to get me through this day. People started arriving early and I knew it would be over soon. A blessing was performed, gifts were exchanged, a story was read, tears were shed, love had grown, a baby was placed from my arms into the arms of Mr. and Mrs. X, and more tears were shed. (I read the amazing story of The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn.)

As soon as it started it ended. I left the hospital with gifts, no baby, and a feeling of comfort. The spirit surrounded me for the next few days as I let everything soak in and tried to comprehend the greatness of adoption. Tears flowed for a few days and when I thought I was done crying a fresh batch appeared.

In preparation for adoption I also wanted to write a letter to Karson, but it didn't come until after placement.

15 June 2009

To My Son, Karson,

It has been just over a week since I gave birth to you and I miss you more than words could ever say. I am your birth mother and I want to tell you a little about our story and how you were placed into the arms of your parents.

A year ago this week your birth father, John, and I met and fell in love. We shared many long conversations over the phone, and then had our first official date on June 20th. He proposed on August 8th and we were married on September 27th. For several reasons, our marriage did not last and we were unable to reconcile our differences. Those reasons will come at another time. This letter is about me and you.

From the time I found out I was pregnant I was ecstatic to bring a child into the world, especially directly from the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. You are my second child. You have a half-brother named, Jayden Lucas. I felt incredible joy at the reality of extending my very own family.  Due to the circumstances and events that occurred between your birth father and I, we separated two months after we exchanged vows. Many hopes and dreams were shattered and I realized that we had a tough road ahead of us. There were times that I didn't know if I could get through another day. But you and your brother Jayden got me through. The Lord was also there guiding me, comforting me and giving me strength. I am so grateful to our Heavenly Father for being there. Many family members and friends were also there showing unconditional love and support. I will always be thankful for them.

The pregnancy went very well and there were no complications as you grew inside the womb. Some of my favorite moments were of you moving and watching my stomach change shape. From seven months on you were positioned head down and your feet were up by my ribs. At nights, usually around ten or eleven o’clock you would wake up and roll from side to side. I could see your butt move and feel your hands and feet flutter on either side. If you didn’t like the side I was sleeping on your hands and feet would move indicating that you needed more room or for me to roll to the other side. I thought it was way cute to be taking orders from you just by a little kick or nudge. You were very active in the womb and I sometimes wondered if you would ever slow down. I also wondered if you were the one who was moving around, why I was the one who was so tired all the time.

There is a song I sang to you while you were in my tummy. It’s a primary song. I changed the words just a little bit to fit you and what I wanted you to know…

“You are like a star shining brightly
Shining for the whole world to see
You can do and say
Happy things each day
For I know Heavenly Father loves you!”

My hope is that when you hear or sing this song you will think of me. When I hear or sing it, I will not only think of you…I will send love out from my heart to yours. My hope is that you will feel it, accept it and share this love with others.

The decision to place you into an adoptive family did not come without struggles. My initial thoughts and feeling were to keep you, but at the same time I didn’t want your birth father to be able to subject you to anything like what he put Jayden and I through. I prayed and prayed to know what God’s will was concerning you. The more I thought about adoption and the more my faith in the Lord increased, the Spirit confirmed to me that placing you was indeed a part of Heavenly Father’s plan.

Once I knew adoption was the path chosen for us I started on my search for your parents. I prayed as I read through several profiles. A meeting was set up for me to meet Mr. and Mrs. X. As soon as they walked in I gave your mom a great big hug and I knew that this was where you were meant to be. We talked and discussed our situations and how each of us was brought to the choice of adoption. Instantly a bond was created and has continued to grow stronger every day since.

Karson, I have a firm belief that we all met and knew each other in the preexistence. We all accepted certain trials in our lives and this is the miracle that brought us all together. I accepted the privilege to be your birth mother and Mr. and Mrs. X accepted the gift to be your earthly parents.  The Lord’s plan of happiness is wonderful and He knows you, Karson; you have a marvelous place in His plan. You are very special to Him. You are special to me, as well.

Karson, you have a special purpose and mission to complete here on earth and only you can do it. God has sent you here with many strengths and talents to fulfill it. Please stay close to the Lord, learn about Him and choose the right. Your parents will teach your about your brother, Jesus Christ and explain the importance of Him in your life. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know what those reasons are until much later, but that is also the beauty of personal revelation through the Spirit.

I hope you become a strong, but gentle, man who strives to do the right. I hope that love, honor and respect become a part of who you are. Accept responsibility for the choices you make; learn from them, grow from them.  This will end my first letter to you with many more to come. Please remember I love you very much and that I send my love out to you everyday.

Your Birth Mother

Many people knew what I was going through, although they could not comprehend the grief and loss I had just experienced. They tried their best to console me and it worked temporarily. I often hugged Jayden tightly and he rubbed my tears away. He knew I was hurting and wanted to make me happy. His beautiful smile and big brown eyes couldn't keep me sad for long. He is an amazing spirit and I am grateful to be his earthly mother.  

The day after placement I received some pictures of Karson at his new home with his new family. 
I received updates about his doctors appointments indicating that he was a very healthy baby. Seeing the joy on the faces of each family member only reiterated that what I had done was right. I never again questioned if I should have placed Karson for adoption. But the question I will never have answered is, “Would he have been as happy with me as he is with them?”

I fear that every birth mother asks herself that question often. We will never know the answer, and its OK. Let me say that again, “It's OK!” Heavenly Father guided us to make the right choice to get these special children to where they needed to be. I shouldn't be selfish wanting to know something that was never going to be anyways.  Over the next few months the sadness took over and consumed me. I felt lost. Satan was getting to me and kicking me while I was down. I was also coming down from a very spiritual high. I went back to work, I continued to be a single mother, and I marched forward into my journey to find the joy in life (which is the title of my own blog, The Journey Continues ) Some days were definitely harder than others, but each day life was getting easier.  One of the hardest aspects of this adoption was me being a parent to Jayden first and then placing my second child. I knew that I was going to miss a lot of the first things that happen in a baby's life, such as, his first gassy smile, his first roll over, his first giggles, his first chubby leg crawl, his first steps, etc.

After the first year the openness of the adoption was winding down and I wasn't receiving as many emails as I had hoped to. I had to learn not to anticipate so much from them. I thought I had done something wrong in order for them to want to slow down almost to a crawl. It almost felt like we had such an awesome relationship from the time I chose them as the family until the temple sealing. I believe that's the point the communications were starting to drop off.  I was confused and lost, again. I felt like I had lost some great friends. They are the type of people you would do anything for and vise versa. I wanted to be like them. I wanted a great marriage and family like they had. Maybe I wanted too much from them. Maybe asking for more consistent communication with them was selfish.

It took me a while to realize that I may have been a constant reminder of what they couldn't have by themselves....children. I also understood that they needed time to bond as a family without me. Some days I think it's because of something I did. I may have showed a little too much grief or opened up a little too much. I still don't know the exact answer, nor do I think I ever will. Maybe I just over analyze things too much. LOL.  But one thing is for sure, Karson is safe and always will be. He is surrounded by unconditional love. I think about him everyday and I constantly pray that he will one day understand my sacrifice for him.

Almost two and a half years later I am happily married to an awesome man who loves and adores me. We are busy with our two boys, Jayden and Tyson. Jayden is now 5 and, Tyson, my step-son, is 3.
 Marriage itself brings a whole new set of challenges, but I can definitely say that it's a dream compared to the first go-round.  At my ripe old age of 32, lol, we're still considering, and praying about, having more children. Health issues have been a factor in our decision, and the Lord will be present in our discussions. For the moment, Tony and I are setting our sights on being sealed in the temple to each other and to our boys.

I am proud to be a birth mother, always will. It is forever a part of my heart and a part of who I am. Adoption is part of me by divine design, not chance.

I can't thank Shannon enough for sharing her adoption story with me.  I met Shannon at the birth mother support group we were both attending and knew she was a special woman.  Can you tell!  Not every birth mother made poor choices and got pregnant out of wedlock.  Not every birth mother is a lost teen trying to find her way.  Birth mothers come in different packages from different backgrounds and different situations.  There is no mold when it comes to adoption.  Never has been, never will be!


Kati said...

fantastic story. I love learning about all the different ways adoption comes into play for people. I have had nothing to do with adoption, but I heart adoption!

Katelyn Krum Shaw said...

You're great Kati! Thanks for always reading my posts!

Adrienne said...

What a great post. My husband and I are just starting down the path of adoption and we feel so blessed to have a peak in the lives of so many touched by adoption-especially birth moms.
"There is no mold when it comes to adoption." I agree- this is the biggest lesson we've learned so far. Thanks for blogging!

Katelyn Krum Shaw said...

It truly is a joy to share adoption! I never thought I would be as open as I am about it. I just love it! Welcome to adoption my friend. I'm sorry for the struggles that lay ahead. However, the blessing far out way the pain!

k said...

Love it Katelyn! Shannon is an AMAZING woman :) I'm so glad I was able to be there through her journey and her weekly conversations at group. I'm so grateful I'm part of this amazing community called adoption! :)

Sarah said...

Oh Shannon. I am so glad I ran into you today (12/1/12). It was so good to see you. I was very touched by your story and know that you did the best thing for your son. BTW - My 3rd daughter's middle name is Karson. Small world. Love you lots and hope to see you again soon.

Sarah Orme