When I first learned of my pregnancy in September 2014, I had been on a wild ride for five months. The previous spring brought more than just tulips and budding trees for me; I skyrocketed into my first manic episode. Being previously diagnosed with Bipolar II, I had only experienced severe lows and very minor highs. I, along with my friends, my family, and my under-qualified doctor, did not know how to recognize this new mood state. Quickly, my mania became out of control.
I left my husband for another man. This man — I call him Mr. Trouble — and I canvassed the West Coast. He was bad news and I followed him into some dangerous, unstable situations. He teetered on violence, and was abusive in more ways than one. Somehow I could not leave him.
Eventually, my crisis landed me at my parents’ home on the East Coast. I paid for a bus ticket so Mr. Trouble could join me there. That’s when I got pregnant.
Reality set in. With great effort, I ditched Mr. Trouble and started trying to re-orient myself. I reconnected with my (real) friends and worked on mending fences with my husband, Neil. He agreed to reconcile and I returned to our California home in January 2015; I was about five months pregnant.
My husband played no small role in my adoption planning. He was supportive of whatever decision I made: whether to give the baby boy for adoption, or to keep him. I know he meant this because he was hesitant to give input at first, fearing he would unduly influence me. But I valued his opinion, and it helped lead us to Robby and Marie.*
Our adoption agency sent us a stack of photo book profiles of waiting adoptive couples. When we first reviewed Robby and Marie’s profile, we each said, “I think we could be friends with these people!” They had photos of many activities we enjoy: dirtbiking, camping, hanging out at the beach. Meeting them for the first time sealed the deal in our minds: these would be my baby’s parents.
Dominic was born May 2015.
The joy I felt and the connection Neil and I forged in the hospital will never be duplicated or forgotten. My marriage has changed forever, and for the better. And my heart has grown bigger as I learned in those first few seconds of Dominic’s life to love him for him and be grateful he is alive.
Exactly one month after initially meeting Robby and Marie, I watched the happy new parents drive away from the hospital with my newborn baby. Neil and I held each other and cried. The memory of that sight draws tears from me still.
My heart aches for Dominic as I spend each day with empty arms. I miss him terribly, but I believe I have done what is best for him, and probably for me, too.
The experience of my mania and its consequences have been nothing short of painful. But I have seen God working in my life and I could not be happier for what He has given me, because it has led to a closer marriage and my precious baby boy.
The journey is never over, as I soon learned. Establishing a relationship with Robby, Marie and Dominic is a process that is taking both time and courage. Robby and Marie are wonderful; the four of us adults have become friends, and I share a very special bond with Marie. The mechanics of our family are complicated — but we ARE family.
I’m confident that as Dominic grows up, I will show him the love that led me to give him for adoption. For now I know he is thriving in a good home with good people.
Every day I look forward to the next time I will see my son and our family again. No bond can compare to the one forged in the fiery pain of adoption, and nothing is so sweet as the comfort that comes from finding peace and love through the pain.
If pain has brought you to read my words, please know that there are others with similar pains. I hope my story brings you comfort and that you find connection, community and peace in your adoption journey.
*For privacy, the names of the adoptive parents have been changed.