Today is Aden’s 13th birthday. And of course, I am so very, very thankful for him. Without going into a lot of personal details, suffice it to say that Aden’s arrival into this world in 1998 was nothing short of a miracle.
I found out I was pregnant the day before my senior year of high school. After a few weeks of trying to make it through school, I just didn’t have the energy or stamina and often would go home sick. Eventually, my parents found out. We worked through it together (understatement of the decade!) and I decided to stop attending high school during the day for many reasons. I was tired all the time and it was very difficult for me to attend school with so many personal things getting in the way. I ended up going to night school and working for my good friend’s father during the day. But even with those changes, things eventually got too overwhelming for me and I decided it would be best for me to go away and figure out what I wanted to do with my baby once he arrived.
I found a place called Liberty Godparent Home in Lynchburg, VA. It was founded by Jerry Fallwell’s church, Thomas Road Baptist (don’t get me started on him OR the church) and would allow me to live, finish school and make my decision about whether I was going to parent or place my child for adoption. After just a few days there I wanted to leave. The girls there were absolutely horrible to me. Rather than supporting one another during this obviously difficult time, they targeted me as an outsider and did everything they could to make sure I did not feel welcome. I arrived there just before Thanksgiving and left soon after my 18th birthday (Jan 11). Going there was one of the most lonely periods in my life, but it did give me perspective on what I wanted and I had a plan when I arrived back home.
While I was there, I’d come across a book called, The Story of David by Dion Howells. It told, in detail, the story of their open adoption and the relationship they have with their son’s birthmother. I knew instantly that was exactly what I wanted. Now I just needed to find a family who would adopt my son, as well be willing to navigate through an “open adoption” with our family. When I got pregnant, it changed my life so dramatically, I couldn’t fathom not ever seeing my son again or being there to watch him grow up. Though I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wasn’t ready to be a mom, I never wanted him to question my love for him or wonder why I gave him to his family. As you may have read back on March 17th, I told the story of meeting Aden’s parents and sister. The day we met changed both of our families’ lives forever.
Soon after officially asking them to adopt my baby, Kathy and I developed a close bond. We talked often and she and Addison (then 2 years old) would come visit, I’d go shopping with them, it felt like we were sisters. I joke that once I met Tom & Kathy, Aden must have had enough of being with me and was ready to meet his family because just a few weeks later I started going into pre-term labor. My original due date was May 5th. Obviously, he had other plans.
I was in and out of the hospital for weeks with Braxton Hicks contractions and finally on April 8th, my water broke. But not the dramatic water-breaking you see in the movies. I actually had to go to the doctor to confirm that it had broken! We came home, called the necessary people, packed my bag and headed to Fairfax Hospital. I hadn’t even made it past one Lamaze class! I ended up being in labor for awhile. It wasn’t tough, just uncomfortable. They did give me drugs though… I was a scared 18 year old. Finally, after almost 24 hours of being in the hospital, it was time to push. Thankfully, it only took me two pushes to deliver Aden Thomas Christian O’Donoghue, our 7 lb 9 oz healthy baby boy at 1:58pm on April 9, 1998. Kathy was right next to me in the delivery room, holding one of my legs no less! (She had been a labor and delivery nurse prior to adopting Addison.)
Since he was a month early, Aden had to spend a few days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I think that time was a blessing in disguise because it gave me adequate time to say “goodbye”. The day he left the hospital, I remember kissing him in his car seat and feeling really peaceful as they drove away. The next few months were really rough. With all the hormones and craziness going on in my body, plus the emotional toll of the pregnancy and the adoption, I was definitely a mess.
But I remember going over to the O’Donoghue’s to see Aden for the first time and I feeling so many different emotions. I was delighted I had been smart enough to give him to the family who could provide for his needs better than I could. I was also at ease knowing that I could see him whenever I needed or wanted to. Kathy has always been so good about keeping in touch, especially in the early years when I was away at college. She never made me feel weird or awkward about calling her just to say hi. That first day I was also overwhelmingly relieved to be able to go home to my “normal” life without an infant who needed constant supervision. I recognized those feelings as normal and a good sign that I had definitely made the right decision.
And so here we are, 13 years later. Aden has known since he was old enough to comprehend that he was adopted and I am his birthmom. I don’t know if that will become confusing or frustrating for him in the future, but if so, I’ll be here to talk with him about it. I made myself a promise that no matter what question he asks, I will give him an honest answer. He deserves that from me.
I am blessed to have seen every single stage of his life thus far and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has never, ever caused me pain to see him flourish in his family. I am just so eternally grateful to be in his life as more than just his “birthmom”… I’m Missy.
Happy 13th Birthday, sweet Aden. Watching you grow from an infant to a teenager has been so exciting and life-changing. I look forward to being here as you grow from a teenager into an adult. I love you so dearly and I hope and pray that one day you will be able to grasp the depth of my love for you.