- Posted January 13, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Pro-Life or Pro-Choice
The question for many of whether or not they are Pro-life or Pro-Choice cannot always be clearly answered. The issue of abortion has always been a very fiery subject. The moment at which a fertilized egg becomes a human being, for many is still unclear. I guess for many the determining scientific factor is at what point can the developing baby live on it own outside of the womb? That point is getting earlier and earlier in the gestational period. For me, I believe life begins the moment the one in a million winner of the race crashes into it's intended target. Beginning the long arduous journey of becoming a human being.
My story begins like many, from life experience. I was working as a Family Advocate for the Head Start program. Head start is a government funded program for low-income or at risk pre-school aged children. The criteria to which a child is accepted into the program is based on a point system. The more points a child has the higher the chance they will get into the program. The points are acquired through family assessments. At the time, I was also working as a classroom helper, and a lunchroom monitor for the breakfast crowd. Most of the families that I had contact with were very poor, single mothers with too many mouths to feed and way too young to be having babies. The subject in today's story will be called Lisa. Lisa was 18 years old. She had a beautiful little boy, he will be called Sam, he had huge brown eyes, I am a sucker for brown eyes. Lisa was barely 15 when she had Sam. His father had nothing to do with him. When she told him she was pregnant, he called her a slut and said she was never to contact him again or he would have them both eliminated. Nice guy, wish I had one like him. The interview process is pretty in depth, including several visits to their home. I was very impressed when I arrived at Lisa and Sam's home. It was a very small apartment, but it was perfect, neat as a pin. Sam had a sufficient amount of toys for a little boy his age, he had books galore and the fridge was decorated with his artwork, most consisted of he and his Mom. I was thrilled to see this young woman taking responsibility for her situation and making the best of it for her young child. I wasn't there for 5 minutes when a knock came at the door. Lisa opened it and a very handsome man appeared in the doorway, he was the spitting image of Sam, I was confused, I thought the father was not in the picture. Sam came bouncing from another room, "Grandpa, Grandpa, where are we going today? I wanna go to the zoo." I was taken aback. The man was Lisa's father. Looked to me that her parents were young parents as well. This made me even happier for Sam. He had what looked to be a very stable male figure in his life. But with each passing moment I felt concerned that Sam would not qualify for the program, it seemed that he had too many good things going for him. After the guys left Lisa offered me a glass of Coke and we sat down to visit. Normally the child is present during this interview but I was ok with the fact that he was off to have far more fun than I could offer him today. We settled in for our chat and suddenly things began to get dark. Lisa's face grew sad, she started out our conversation with "Please don't think I am a bad person." Damn, the hammer fell, I thought, here we go, how bad is it, how bad can it get. I had been in so many really bad homes where I just wanted to grab the kids and run. This one wasn't like that, yet. Her next sentence still rings in my ears and to this day, I wish God would have given me the strength to grab that boy and run for the border, I would of stopped and picked up my own kids before hitting the border. Her eyes filled with tears and she looked straight at me and said, "I don't want him." I just sort of stared at her, I was wondering if we were talking about Sam. I asked her. She said 'Yes'
I was beginning to fear the rest of her story. I took a look around the apartment thinking, this doesn't look like a home of someone who doesn't want her child. I asked her gently to please explain what she meant. She told me that when she got pregnant she first told the boyfriend, we all know what his response was. She then went to a local clinic to seek counseling on whether or not she needed parental consent to terminate the pregnancy. She did. She waited a few days and practiced over and over how she was going to tell her parents. Her parents are very devout Christians and she knew it would be a hard sell, she even thought of telling them she was raped. She thankfully rethought that one. The day Lisa went to her parents to tell them of her pregnancy was a day she will always remember. She told them she wanted to terminate the pregnancy because it was a mistake, the boy was gone and she was too young. Her parents said she was absolutely not going to have an abortion and she would be the sole caretaker of the baby, and she was never to ask for their help with raising the child. It was her mistake and now she had to deal with it. She turned and walked away. She continued on telling me that she never had a bond with the baby, from the very start she didn't want him. She gave birth to him and didn't want to hold him, nurses told her it was normal and it would pass. She knew it wouldn't, she didn't want him. She said when she looked at him she felt nothing. Now, as a mother I know that the moment that baby is put into your arms it is sudden and intense love. I began feeling sick, I felt so sorry for that sweet little boy, and I was beginning to feel sorry for Lisa. She went on to say she knew as his mother she needed to care for him and provide the necessities a tiny human needs. I again looked around the apartment and knew she had done just that. Several times during her interview my mind went back to other times that Lisa and Sam had come to my office at school. It became alarmingly clear that she truly did not love or want this child. He would walk behind her, she barely spoke to him and he didn't do things like little kids do, even the lowest of the lowest income kids I have seen, always run to their Mommy's with something, or cling to her. He did none of it. Her story continued. She told me when Sam was a baby she wouldn't hold him to feed him, my heart sank to my toes. I know the incredible importance that being held while feeding is to a babies overall sense of well-being. Babies who are not held during feeding times or any other time for that matter, develop <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_disorder" target="_blank">attachment disorders(click to find out more)</a> She didn't cuddle him or comfort him in any way. I immediately thought of Grandpa appearing at the door, and was saying a quick prayer that he and Grandma were cuddlers. I asked Lisa how much time he spent with his Grandparents. She replied with, 'very little' I questioned Sam's intense excitement when her father arrived earlier. She said her father had only seen him for the first time 7 months before that day, and her mother hadn't. My blood began to boil. I am a Christian woman, I under no circumstances want my 17 year old daughter to become a mother any time soon. But, if it happens you can damn well be sure that as the fires of hell burn I will be there to support my child. These people aren't Christians, they are bible banging hypocrites. I could not stop thinking of Sam and his soul piercing eyes, I suddenly began to understand the strange feeling I got when he looked at me. Those beautiful eyes were a gateway to an empty soul. I knew I had to council Lisa on her situation. She told me she wanted to give him up for adoption before it was too late. I asked her what she meant by 'too late'. She responded with "before I mess him up for life". I felt like throwing up, for I knew deep inside of my very being that it may be too late. I knew my next set of question would be difficult but I had to ask them. Had she ever or does she ever want to harm the boy? She spit a resounding "NO!" back at me, and I believed her. I told her I needed to contact some people about her situation. She agreed with me. She hugged me and thanked me for listening to her and trying to help her. I wasn't sure if I should leave knowing Sam would be back soon and feeling as though I was dropping him into a combat zone with no ammo. I couldn't get back to the office fast enough. I immediately got on the horn with Social Services aarrgghhhh... they told me he would be immediately removed from the home and put into foster care. I freaked on them, I told them absolutely not, he was in no danger there. I slammed the phone down and called Lisa, I told her to find a friend to take Sam, go back home and wait by the phone. I explained to her that I had a call in to my very dear friend, she runs an international adoption agency. She has many, many parents waiting for a child. I heard silence on the other end, then a shaky, squeaky voice asked, "will they love him?" I couldn't hold it in anymore, I started to bawl my eyes out, I said "more than anything in this world" She agreed to speak with Catherine. The days that followed went by very quickly. Catherine has a team of counselors and other professionals all in the line of adoption. She hooked Lisa and Sam up with a wonderful woman who took them through step by step what would happen for Sam when he was placed in his new home. The call came within a few weeks of a family that had been waiting for a Sam to enter their world. My heart was doing a happy dance. I met alone with Lisa and her dad, still no mom. He was completely on board with the whole idea. Lisa was given the option of the adoption being open, meaning she would have contact with Sam's new parents. She said no. I wasn't surprised. The day finally came for Sam to meet his new family, they lived about 75 miles from our town, which I thought was a good thing. What most might see as stoic, I saw as a warning sign. He was 3 1/2 years old and he acted as if he were 30. He barely showed emotion when he was told about his new living arrangements. On his move in day Sam, Lisa, Catherine, and myself arrived at Sam's new home. Sam's new room was bigger than my entire house and it was equipped with more toys than Toys R Us, I was sort of hoping they would adopt me. Sam immediately began investigating his new digs, again with very little emotion. The time came for us to leave. I was expecting a huge emotional scene with kicking and screaming. It became very evident within minutes that scenario would never unfold. The goodbye's were said like 2 people that had met for the first time that morning. She hugged him and kissed him and told him to be a good boy and have a good life. I was choking back my tears, I couldn't wait to hit my car to unload. I didn't get that far, and neither did Catherine. Sam didn't bat an eye when his mother turned and walked away. His new mommy went to give him a hug and he shrugged her off. I said another silent prayer, Please God give these people strength to heal this broken little boy. Two years later I was no longer working in Head Start, I was however still working in a 3rd grade classroom and in the lunchroom for the breakfast rush, plus wherever else they needed me. It was the first day of school, all the kids were shiny in their new clothes and their backpacks loaded down with school supplies. The first couple days are always hectic. After breakfast the kids were shuffled off to their new classrooms. I then helped out with the kindergartner's finding their way. I was just shuffling the last group to their rooms when I felt a tug on my shirt, I knew it was a tiny human looking for their way. I looked down to see the big brown eyes of a little boy I thought I would never see again. It was Sam. I said "Well hello Sam", he looked at me, probably wondering how I knew his name, and said "I am lost" that was it. He didn't remember me, I thought he might after I knew his name instantly, but nope. I found his room and got him settled in, I wondered where his parents were. I bolted to the office to find out why he was here, I panicked thinking they may have given him back to Lisa. Not the case, his parents were originally from our town and after adopting Sam, his dad was transferred back to our town. I was relieved. I saw Sam every morning in the breakfast room, he seemed lost, he had no friends and he was always alone. I kept an eye out for his Mom or Dad. The day finally came when they attended a family fun night. I approached them cautiously, I didn't know how they would react to seeing me and wondering how much others knew of their adoption situation. Mom was happy to see me, she actually cried. Dad was indifferent. Mom asked if we could speak privately another time, I had a bad feeling, but I said yes. A few days later Sam's Mom called me. We went to lunch. She told me of how Sam seems to not have any emotions, he doesn't react to things like kids do. He never wants to be held or hugged and becomes rigid if they try. I told her she needed to get him some help. She said her husband was totally against it and they could deal with it on their own. I strongly disagreed, I told her to explain to him that Sam has deep seeded issues with attachments and he needs to see a professional. I thought of Lisa. I thought of her parents. I didn't blame Lisa, I blamed her parents. Lisa didn't want this baby, if she was unable to terminate, then she should of given him up at birth, he may of had a fighting chance. Now the situation looked grave. I worked at the school for 8 more years, my job there were only available to those with kids enrolled at the school. I watched Sam from a distance, he didn't improve, he had no friends, he didn't sing in programs and he always had a blank empty stare. He was a great student. I kept track of Sam from a distance, he went to a different Middle school than my kids but I had friends with kids at his school. I made every effort to go to their events to try and get a glimpse of Sam. With the closing of a High School in our town Sam ended up at the same High School as my son. I would see him occasionally and I was astounded at how much he looked like his Grandfather. His picture and a brief article about him was in the School District Newsletter when he was a Junior, he received the highest scores for the SAT and ACT exams in our school district. I was ecstatic, I had hope for this young man. I looked again at the photo and realized his eyes hadn't changed and again said another small prayer for this boy. Senior year rolled around and it was a time of excitement for the graduating seniors. My son was a junior but his girlfriend was a senior. One evening the kids were all gathered around my kitchen counter sharing a pizza and the latest gossip. One of the kids asked the group if anybody knew that weirdo kid Sam. My head spun around 4 or 5 times and I suddenly became all ears. One of the girls said, "You mean the one with the creepy eyes?" My knees went weak, I literally thought I was going to hit the tile, I grabbed the sink and intently listened for more of what they had to say. The first kid said he heard that Sam's girlfriend was pregnant. The "NOOOOOOOOOO" inside my head was so loud I feared they would all hear it. The conversation turned to who would ever go out with that devil boy? Devil Boy? What? They called him Devil Boy? Why? He was such a handsome young man, gorgeous actually, GQ could sell a billion copies with him on the cover. I had to ask. Who are you guys talking about, I have never hear you mention a Sam before? They explained him to a tee. I flashed back to the very first time I saw that sweet little face with those huge brown eyes. I wished I would of swooped him up that day, but could I have helped him, I don't know. They all disbanded from my kitchen. I spoke to my son privately about Sam. I had never asked about him before, again, I didn't want questions about his adoption coming up and I didn't want my son to know anything about Sam's previous life. I did not let my son know that I had known Sam before. He went on to tell me how Sam was a recluse, people started making up stories about him, saying he was a devil worshiper because he was always reading books on witchcraft and stuff. I just felt sick. I wanted to jump back in time and save this little boy from his life. Prom was a few weeks away, it was easy for me, rent the tux, order a flower, pay for dinner. No drama with a boy. Prom at my son's school was a huge deal, almost as big as graduation. They have a parade early in the day and a Grand March with all kids dressed up so pretty, they hold the Grand March in the schools auditorium with family and friends in attendance. I was hoping Sam would be there. When his name and that of his date were announced I felt a little tickle in my tummy, I had only seen his picture in recent years and hadn't seen him physically for several. When they walked on stage you could hear the entire audience say "Ahhh", I lost my breath, they were absolutely beautiful. They looked like a prince and princess from a fairytale story. He was all of 6'4" and she was around 5'5" or so. He looked at her as if she were the only person in the room, he smiled at her, I had never seen him smile. I bowed my head and prayed, I thanked my Lord for healing this young man. Prom went off without a hitch, or anyone at my house doing jail time. Commencement was coming up and I had a niece graduating so I was looking forward to seeing Sam again. The school newsletter came out and the class list was in it. At the top of the list and class Valedictorian was Sam. I cried, I am crying right now. He was graduating with a 4.0+ GPA, he was going to an Ivy League school. I then suddenly remembered the kids talking about his girlfriend being pregnant. I was hoping with all the hope in me that he wasn't ditching her as his own father did. I didn't want to ask my son, I was afraid he would grow suspicious of me asking about this kid again. I left it alone. Commencement night had arrived, I was excited and a little sad, I knew my days of keeping tabs on Sam were over. As the kids filed in you could feel the energy, the promise of tomorrow and the beginning of the rest of their lives. After way too many school officials spoke and the audience was hoping for an intermission, it was time for the Valedictorians speech. I sat up tall in my seat so as to hear every single word. Sam approached the microphone like a professional. He smiled. I felt the tears well up. His started out thanking his Parents for giving him everything in life a kid could need. He thanked teachers and a couple of friends. He gave advice to younger students and some other stuff I don't remember. When I thought he was nearing the end, he said he needed to thank one more very special person. He said, "We haven't spoken since I was 5, but I knew you where there. I know you watched me from afar, you made sure I was taken care of, you made sure no harm came to me. You guided me on a path that led me here today, it was a silent path. You don't even know that you are the reason I am here today. Because of you I feel wanted. I am going to become a father in a couple of months, it was not planned, we both have big plans for our future. But know that you are the reason our baby is wanted. You are the reason that we have decided that our baby will be in better hands with a family other than us. We are too young to be parents and we never want our baby to feel unwanted the way I felt until the day I met you." I was looking around for someone to storm the stage and tackle him with hugs and kisses. Instead Sam walked off the stage into the crowd. He walked straight to me. He took my hand and led me back to the stage. I was basically in shock, almost mortified to be put up on that stage. He went on with his speech. "The first day I met you at the Head Start office I knew you were someone that I could trust, but I couldn't let my guard down. I remember every meeting we had and I hoped every time we met that you would take me home with you and be my Mom" At that moment I felt as though I betrayed him for not taking him and running for the border. He went on, "Then, you introduced me to the best parents in the entire world, and I was glad you didn't take me home with you. I was hard on them, I know I was not the loving child they had hoped for, but they love me anyway and I can feel that. You were the one that saved me. You made sure I was ok. I knew you on my first day of Kindergarten, I was terrified of leaving my secure home and going to school, then I saw you and I knew it would all be ok. I pretended like I didn't know you, and I am sorry if that hurt you. If anyone asks you if you have ever saved a life, tell them yes, because you saved me and I will always love you for that." He leaned down and hugged me, we both cried, he whispered in my ear that he always remember what I did for him and thanked me again. I would never in my life believe that I could have helped this child. I truly thought all hope was lost on him. However he sees it differently.
Sam and his girlfriend had their baby just before they both headed to the same college. They opted out of an open adoption. After graduation Sam married his high school sweetheart. Yes I was invited. Sam is now a Child Psychologist, and his wife is an RN, but for now she is a stay at home Mom, I think a daycare bill for 5 kids would be pretty steep even for a Doctor and an RN. Sam has never had any contact with Lisa nor does he wish to. I would like to tell him of how she tried her hardest to be his Mom but she just couldn't. I guess somehow he already knows.