In the early years of college my voice was stolen from me in a way I didn’t fully realize until later. Unable and unwilling to process the trauma in a healthy manner, I dove into my studies. As a musician, I hid in the practice room, practicing for multiple ensembles and voice lessons, and I did my best to keep appearances. I was able to graduate with two degrees, cum laude in four years. Next up: grad school. With the interruption of the routine of practicing and studying that I’d become so accustomed to in undergrad, the trauma of my past caught up to me. I started to experience flashbacks that affected my relationships and kept me up at night.
I realized I needed to talk to someone. Through counseling, the stark realization of what happened to me was brought to light. This was a hard reality for me. In my mind if I continued to live under the labels of ‘good student’, ‘good singer’, and ‘good girlfriend’, I could keep everyone happy with me and no one would pry!
However, by 2015, those labels started to fall away, one by one. My graduate academic advisor’s and my goals for my career did not line up, and by February, the tension was unbearable. After one semester and a Jan term of grad school, I decided to drop out. As a side effect of the tense experience of the Masters of Music program I was pursuing, I could no longer find the joy in singing and so I stopped singing. And then by Memorial Day, I had jumped into another relationship within a day of breaking up with my former boyfriend.
4 weeks later I had a new label “Pregnant.”
Within an hour of finding out, my ‘church mom’ from college helped me make sense of my new reality. We both knew someone close to the family who had been struggling for years with infertility. I remember her saying, “Laura, you have two options. Knowing you, you could make a great mom. You’d figure out a way to give your child the best life possible and you’d sacrifice your own life if it came down to it. Or, you could turn your burden (of this unplanned pregnancy) into a blessing for a family desperately wanting to have a child.”
That phrase ‘burden to blessing’ really stuck with me.
Fast forward a few months later, in late November, after wavering between raising Henry and placing him for adoption, I finally made my decision. When I thought about raising my sweet boy, my anxiety would shoot through the roof and I would start slipping into what I now know as situational depression. However, when I thought about adoption, this peace would wash over me.
When I was truly honest with myself, I realized I was still struggling with those events from college that had stolen my voice. I wear my emotions on my face and kids, especially first-borns, tend to place a lot of responsibility on their shoulders that was never even intended for them. So, I knew that if I kept this little boy, as we would grow together, I would have moments when I would process a difficult memory and wear the pain on my face. I hated the thought of thinking Henry might take the blame for this. I couldn’t stand it.
You see, guilt is thinking ‘I made a mistake’. Shame is thinking ‘I am a mistake’.
Whereas I can deal with the guilt of my past from college, Henry has absolutely NO reason to take even an ounce of that shame on himself! Finally, when I realized I could place him into the arms of a couple eagerly wanting to start a family, who were far more financially and emotionally prepared to do so, adoption was the only option left on the table.
By far, the most surprising part of this adoption journey has been how empowering it is to be a birth mom!
Throughout the process, my birth mom counselor and I would text back and forth and if I said something in a text that was important, she would immediately call me and get my verbal confirmation and then follow it up with an email! Why? Because my voice was the most important one in the process and she could not assume anything. In addition to that, seeing Henry’s family become complete by my decision – that is empowering.
Through the process of adoption, I gained my voice back!
And now, I am a part of this beautiful sisterhood of birth moms where we celebrate, support, and grieve simultaneously with one another.
Ok, enough about me: Henry is a healthy, happy, thriving 2.5 year old who is abounding with endless energy! Our hair has the exact same texture, which I freak out about every time I play with it. Plus, Henry loves music just like me! His mom sent a video of Henry cheering while watching Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma! We enjoy a very open adoption where I get to see him and his parents about every other month and have a group text which keeps us all in close contact. It was made very clear before Henry was even born that the couple whom I chose to be Henry’s parents were supposed to be his parents long before I even got pregnant! Henry’s parents have become some of my dearest friends and I look forward to continuing to join alongside them as we watch Henry grow!
Do I miss him? Yes. Every day.
Am I confident I made the right decision? Yes. Every day.
From ‘burden to blessing’, what was taken away from me years ago was given back to me in a way I never could have imagined. I have regained my voice.
To watch Brave Loves film of Laura’s Story, click here!