Note: This is the first in a two-part story.
What if you did something you couldn’t live with? How would you try to make it right again?
When I was little, I daydreamed about the man I would marry, the man who would be the father of my children. I wasn’t too picky about his looks, but I wanted someone intelligent, who had a sense of humor and a love for me that would be beyond reality. I wanted a soul mate.
Well, I’m now 45 years old, never married and still waiting.
But the wait hasn’t been uneventful.
When I was 20, my sister gave me quite a shock when she asked me to become a surrogate mother and to carry a child for her and her husband. She didn’t ask me to do this for free. She planned to compensate me in the amount of $12,000—in addition to paying my salary for the last 3 months of my pregnancy so I could leave my job. At the time, what she offered seemed like a million dollars and, at first, I focused on what I could buy—a car, college. But those thoughts were quickly pushed aside by other thoughts. Could I do this? This would be my first child! Could I really give that up? Could I carry a baby for 9 months, hold it in my arms after giving it life, and then hand it over to my sister?
For 3 months, I went back and forth before deciding I couldn’t bear the thought of the child being taken away from me. My sister was distraught, but she also understood my decision and respected it. I thanked her for understanding, and at the same time apologized to her. I felt horrible, but in my heart I believed it was the right decision.
Years passed, and as my relationship with my sister continued to grow, she asked if I ever regretted not carrying her child. “Of course,” I replied. “I wanted to make you happy because you couldn’t have children.” She smiled and said, “That’s okay, I love you.”
I turned down that first pregnancy because I wanted perfection. I wanted everything about my first child to be idyllic. I had a dream of what I wanted from my first pregnancy, and in trying to preserve that dream, I turned down my sister’s offer, only for my dream not to be after all.
When I was 27, a mere 7 years after declining surrogacy, I became unexpectedly pregnant with my boyfriend’s child.
I loved him, but I wasn’t sure our love was the kind on which you could or should build a family. I didn’t have the type of money to support a child. I didn’t have the life the child deserved.
After weeks of agonizing, I considered the advice of my boyfriend, friends and family and chose an abortion.
I prayed that God would forgive me, that I could forgive myself, and lastly, that this child would forgive me. I already felt a connection to this baby. I felt that she was a girl, and I named her Brianna. I loved her. Do not doubt that.
In August 1998, the night before I was scheduled to have the procedure done, I wrote a poem to my unborn child, Brianna, explaining why and how sorry I was for doing what I needed to do, telling her words I hoped she’d hear in her heart.
I whispered the words to her, reading my thoughts:
Do you know what your
Mother is feeling
As you lay inside me
Knowing that your heart is beating
And longing for your breath
As I take mine?
You are an innocent child
That longs for something
Much more than I can give
You want life.
I need my life.
Will you ever forgive me
For what I will do to you?
I feel as if you don’t understand
Mistakes that were made.
But should you be the
Example of my selfishness?
Of my carelessness?
You will always be a part of my life
And I will always carry you with me
In my heart.
I’ll never forget,
Knowing that you would have been
I’m truly sorry
For what I must do.
I love you.
I felt I had no option. Truly, I believed it to my core. So, the next day, my boyfriend and I went to the clinic.
Words can’t express the guilt and shame I had walking in there to end my child’s life, and after the procedure was done, I came home and slept for 3 days. I couldn’t eat. I was wracked with shame. I had the support of my boyfriend, my friends, my family—but it wasn’t enough for me. I felt that I needed to be cleansed of my all my wrongdoing.
I reached out to my sister. I felt I had to confess. I called her and told her about the abortion. I fully expected her to say, “You could have given the child to me.” Instead, she said, “This isn’t the right time in your life.” She looked beyond her own needs to see mine.
Not even two years later, the day before her 34th birthday, she died. She was killed in a car accident.
I asked God why he let this happen. I asked him if he took her away from me because I didn’t deserve her. I wondered if she’d still be here if I had been a surrogate mother or if I had given her the child I aborted.
Maybe she would still be here if I had given her the purpose in her life she had asked me for.
And then, as I was reading the newspaper, I saw an ad: “Anonymous Egg Donors Needed” . . .
. . . To be continued in the next issue of Live Into Beauty.
Adrienne May is a department coordinator for a major national non-profit organization. She’s also a single mom of a special needs child who is the purpose of her being. She lives in Chicago.