Adoption: A Different Kind of Love Story
A hidden pregnancy, a grand reunion
Cutline for Megan & Hannah at Adoption Conference: Because of their shared experiences, birth mother Megan Bryant, left, and her daughter, Hannah, right, are committed to helping others understand the beauty of adoption. They are shown here attending an adoption conference. (Courtesy photo)
By Megan Bryant
I had a religious upbringing. Not a picture-perfect family, but what family truly is? My father left when I was only a few years old. Three days after my 17th birthday, my mother re-married and I became the youngest of the six kids that marriage blended together. As the youngest, I maintained the stereotype of being outspoken and attention hungry. I was a people pleaser. I never wanted to cause contention in the home. I was, and still am, a very hardworking young woman who pulls more than her own weight and rarely complains.
I was, as far as everyone else knew, a really GOOD girl. Looking back now, I know I WAS a good girl, I just lost hold of good judgment from time to time.
I remember feeling an enormous amount of guilt. After all, I had been taught that I shouldn’t have premarital sex. Yet, it had happened.
I told a couple of my closest friends in a car ride after school and one of my friends snapped and chastised me, asking me how I could be so stupid and careless. How could I have done that?!
I felt ashamed and empty inside. I was disappointed in myself and did not want to let anyone else down. So, after another month passed, lapsing what should have been my “time of the month,” I went into absolute denial that I was pregnant. I literally sucked in my stomach from the moment I woke up until my head hit the pillow each night. I stopped eating regularly.
Every ounce of effort I could muster went into hiding my shame and my growing bump. I felt hopeless. Completely worthless. I was overwhelmed with depression and painfully alone. Only my boyfriend, the baby’s father, knew I was pregnant. I cut myself off from the world and for someone with my personality style and love of attention and friends and chatter, it was awful.
My mindset was one of the darkest places I’d ever been. The very thought of telling anyone put an un-swallowable lump in my throat. I would never have believed that anyone would support me and love me through the process. Why would they? I didn’t even love myself.
Time Trudges On
Often, I was so mentally checked-out that I felt like I was standing outside of myself looking in. I didn’t like what I saw. I was certain that if I opened up to anyone, I would be judged and ridiculed. In my mind I had failed my family, friends, and church leaders because I wasn’t the perfect picture of righteousness they all thought I was.
I graduated high school five months pregnant. I kept myself very busy, working two full-time jobs. I dressed my expanding body in the frumpy work uniforms and baggy, late 90’s fashion. I enrolled in college. I tried to pretend everything was normal.
Somehow, miraculously, I kept everything under wraps. Just as a few friends were starting to question my weight gain, it happened — I went into labor.
In the wee morning hours of September 29, 1999, I began having contractions. I’d been sharing a bedroom in my parents’ house with my older sister, sleeping on the top bunk for the duration of the pregnancy. I carefully, quietly climbed down and curled up on the bathroom floor and waited for what I was certain would be my own grisly death. Even while I was in labor I spent a good couple of hours convincing myself this was all a terrible dream.
At long last I finally gave in. I was in so much pain. I’d moved myself to the hallway floor and readied myself for the world to end. I called out for my sister. She came out of our room and stood over me in a panic and yelled, “What’s wrong?!” I told her I needed her to take me to the hospital. I was having a baby.
A Child is Born!
At 8:58 a.m., a 7 lb 2 oz baby girl emerged into this world. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. She was strong, and healthy, and heavenly. I felt a rush of emotions. I looked at her and was consumed with love. I stared at her intently. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
When the nurses were talking to me about the baby, it finally came up that I wasn’t planning on keeping her. I felt in my heart that she wasn’t mine. They assumed an adoption was already arranged and complimented my decision to choose adoption. When I told them I didn’t have a family picked out, the wheels started turning immediately.
The adoption agency was quick to respond to the call, and I had a delivery of family profiles in my lap within a couple of hours.
Carefully, I read through them and looked at the photo collages. I had no idea how to pick a family from this mountain of strangers. When I finally came upon the profile of my baby’s family, everything changed. I felt a surge of emotion, and a very distinct calmness washed over me. I knew they were the right family!
Everything moved so fast. She was born September 29 and placed in the arms of her parents on October 3. The intimate details of those few days are very precious to me. I can still feel the warmth of her tiny body as I held her late at night in the hospital. I can picture her big dark eyes looking right into mine. We have a very special connection.
After my daughter was placed for adoption, I quickly went through the motions of “moving on.” I tried diligently to go on with my life and swept the experience into a quiet corner. I never wanted to bother other people by bringing it up, even though I thought of my baby daily and wanted to talk about her often. I journaled a lot. And cried. And broke up with my boyfriend.
I hate that it is referred to as “giving up” your baby for adoption. That sounds so negative. It sounds like defeat. Unless we can give it the modern “Pinterest” style angle of up-cycling an item and repurposing it for future use. That is a definition I can get behind. My choice to “give up” my baby was truly giving her an upward opportunity for life that I couldn’t give her myself. It was the life she was meant to have. And she completed her adoptive family.
A Grand Reunion
Eighteen years passed. I was able to have a glimpse into her life with an annual exchange of letters and photos through a semi-open adoption. I am grateful that I was able to bring this wonderful, talented, gorgeous young woman into the world, and more importantly, to be the vessel to bring her to her parents.
Just before her 18th birthday, we arranged to meet face to face. What a whirlwind experience to wrap my arms around her once again. Our family unit continues to thrive as we work together to create a healthy relationship filled with patience and lots of communication for all sides of the adoption triad.
This is a little piece of the puzzle in my life. My mission in sharing this story has become clear, although I don’t have all the answers, yet. I only hope that it can spur more conversation about adoption. I hope it can open eyes and hearts to the beautiful gift that adoption can bring into the families who cannot have children themselves.
We live in a time where a lot of conversations are happening about accepting ourselves and loving our individuality. I think about this experience I’ve had, putting my love for that tiny perfect little human above my own needs and wants, and I feel an ultimate sense of self-worth.
Now, as a mother of four young children of my own, the journey continues, and the attitude around “family first” has never been more clear to me. Both my birth daughter, Hannah, and I are very active advocates for adoption.
Get more of the story in my autobiography, “Not My Plan,” available in digital and paperback on Amazon.com and with most online retailers.