I am a birthmother not because it was my only option, but because it was the best option for my son.
I am a birthmother not because I am heartless, but because I care very much for my son.
I am a birthmother not because I couldn't be a good mommy, but because I couldn't protect my son.
I am a birthmother by choice and I am sharing my story in honor of National Adoption Month.
I moved to Georgia from Indiana by myself in December 2001. By February 2002, I started dating Peter*. I felt so alone in a new place and Peter gave me all the attention in the world. It felt like a wonderful adventure in a new phase of my life. I felt free.
In week three of our relationship, he moved into my one bedroom apartment, begged me to quit my job and wouldn't allow me to call my friends or family. But Peter continued to show me the attention that no one else was showing me, so I obliged. At least I wasn't alone, I convinced myself.
By the end of the month, my bank account was empty because Peter always knew which horse to pick at the track and God forbid he used his own money. My rent was late, neither of us had a job, and I was getting yelled at, at minimum, twice a day. I felt so trapped, like I had nowhere to run. But I wasn't alone. So I stayed.
On my 21st birthday, five weeks into our relationship, Peter barely acknowledged that I was alive. I had to do his laundry in the sink because I wasn't allowed to leave the house. When I cried, no matter how silently, he threw something at me so I would stop. For dinner, we went to the track where he spent all of my birthday and rent money on bets. I wasn't allowed to eat in public but was made to watch him sloppily devour his salmon and wild rice.
Three days later, after losing more of my money at the track and just before finishing a bottle of whiskey, Peter, unprovoked, put a gun to my head and said words that, to this day, I still have nightmares about: "If I ever find out you're pregnant with my child, I will kill you dead right after I kill the bastard child inside you." Then he swiftly backhanded me.
It was then that the grave reality of my situation finally hit me. Quite literally.
I threw whatever I could reach in Peter's direction. I grabbed his keys to take back my house and car keys. I took his wallet to take back my ATM card and the little money he had left. Then I told him to get out of my house and never come back. He was so startled that I stood up to him that he just left; no questions asked. But I knew I wouldn't be safe for long.
I packed up my apartment in less than two hours. I gave my landlord all the money I could spare and promised him that more would be sent in a few days (and it was). Without looking back, I got in my car and drove from Georgia to Indiana in less than two days. I was so afraid I was being followed that I only stopped to use the restroom and get gas.
I moved home in late March 2002. I tried to get back in the swing of things but it was close to impossible. Peter found me and he called all the time but would only breathe on the other end. He never said a word. I didn't feel safe in my own house and it wasn't fair to involve my dad in a mess I allowed to happen. I had to leave.
In June 2002, I moved to the East Coast to live with my grandmother, I changed my phone number, closed my bank account, cancelled my credit cards and started over. I got a job, registered for school and eventually made some friends. Everything was fine. I was healthy and I was starting to feel human again. Peter had no idea where I was now. I was safe. Or so I thought.
In July 2002, I woke up doubled over in pain. I couldn't eat, I couldn't drink, and I could barely breathe. I went to my doctor and she immediately did an ultrasound on my kidneys and liver. She was certain I had a kidney infection. Four days later, the doctor called and said, "Congratulations! You're 22 weeks pregnant. Please come in for a consult as soon as possible. Goodbye."
Pregnant. With Peter's child. The one he threatened to kill before I ran away.
I have never been more terrified. I didn't know who to call, what to say when I did call someone, or how to feel. My thoughts were racing at unimaginable speeds:
I'll have to run again because, surely, Peter will find out.
No, I can't run. I have nowhere to run TO.
I need to tell someone.
No, I can't tell anyone. What if they tell someone?
Abortion. That's it. I'll go immediately.
No, I can't do that. I could never live with myself.
Dad. I need to call my Dad.
No, I can't call him. He'll be so disappointed.
Benny! My good friend, Benny. That's it. I'll call him.
So I did.
*All names and locations have been changed to respect the privacy of the parties involved.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.