In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the fifth annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days.  Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences. 

By Lindsey Choules

My goal was to work full-time and gain residency in the state of Utah to start my college experience. In early March of 2012, my church group planned an activity to go ice skating in a nearby town. My friend Becca got the nerve to ask a friend from her work to come skating with us. Somehow I got roped into driving, so Becca and her friend piled into my car. Her friend introduced himself as Alex. We made small talk on the way to the ice skating rink. During the activity, Alex skated around with me. I had a hard time telling if he was flirting or just being nice. After skating, we went over to the ski lodge to enjoy some hot cocoa and treats. Alex and I sat and talked for what seemed like forever. At the end of the night he asked for my phone number; hesitantly, I agreed.

Almost a month after my first encounter with Alex, I got a call from him. He asked to take me out on a date. I said I was more comfortable going on a group date. He spent the next week trying to convince some of his friends to come on this date. Once they agreed, Alex called to let me know the date and what time he would come pick me up. Our first date was not anything spectacular. I was really nervous, and Alex tried to calm those nerves. Alex talked with his friends and tried to include me in conversations as much as possible. This allowed me to open up a little and not be so shy. At the end of the night, he hugged me and walked with me to my doorstep. But I didn’t hear from Alex after that.

I had been working a full time job for almost five months when I was ready to move out of my grandparents’ house and find college housing. A friend of mine recommended a complex. I scheduled a walk-through and fell in love with the community and the location. Shortly after moving into my complex, I bumped into Alex at the complex’s lodge. This truly startled me. A few awkward moments later, he invited me over to his apartment for movie night with his roommates. As the days went on, Alex and I began hanging out more often. Within a few months, we fell in love and were inseparable.

Picking up a pregnancy test at Wal-Mart was the worst experience I have ever had in my short life. I tried to hide what I was buying. I saw an open self-checkout lane and dashed to the register. I rang up the other items first, and as I scanned the test, the register started having problems. I screamed inside. I motioned for support, and a cashier assistant came to override the warning message. He looked me with such a negative demeanor. I followed his eyes as he glanced to see if a ring was on my left hand. I left Walmart with such a pit in my stomach. The next morning, I took the test. With relief, it showed a single blue line. I sat on the bathroom floor and reassured myself that I was never going to let things get out of control again.

Through the next two weeks at my job, I had a hard time lifting boxes and doing my daily tasks in the warehouse. Alex advised me to go see a doctor. Dr. Carn explained to me that the store pregnancy tests can be wrong sometimes. As we sat there talking about the source of my exhaustion, he told me that I needed to take a blood test to rule out pregnancy. On my lunch break exactly one week to the date, I called my doctor’s office. Sadly, I heard that the blood test had not been processed yet. I had called every few days wanting to find out the results of my test. One day in the beginning of September, I took my lunch break. I saw a new voicemail on my phone. It was the medical center.  The nurse left me a voicemail saying the test came back and I expecting a child and that was most likely the source of my constant exhaustion.

I sat in my car and cried the whole lunch hour. I became flooded with complete guilt and some many uncontrollable emotions. I wasn’t sure how to tell Alex, my parents, or others about my pregnancy. I was nineteen. Within the next few weeks, Alex and I were supposed to take a trip to New Mexico to meet my parents. This was not how I wanted to introduce my parents to Alex.

The next night, I asked Alex if we could take a drive and just talk. As we drove through the mountains Alex noticed something was odd by the way I was fidgeting. Alex pulled to the side of the road, and turned off the car.

The words just rolled off my tongue “Alex, I am pregnant!” I took a deep breath and tried to tell him those things close to my heart. After talking for several hours about what to do, I told Alex, “I need the strength of my Heavenly Father to bring this spirit into the world and you have to be committed 100 percent to me or leave tonight and never talk to me again!”

Those words hit him hard. We drove back to the city in complete silence. As we drove up to my apartment complex he pulled into a parking stall. I started to open my door and he took my hand, pulling me back into the car. He looked my in the eyes and told me he wasn’t sure how to support me through the pregnancy but he wouldn’t be leaving my side anytime soon.

I knew the next person I had to tell was my mother. I took a drive after work and found myself at Dry Canyon Park. I called her and she didn’t pick up. On the third try she answered the phone. We talked about the work, the activities I was involved in and so on. As we were wrapping up the phone call, I said that I was so sorry that I had disappointed her. She asked me why I was saying that, and I told her I was expecting. Hearing my mom tell me, “I am disappointed and saddened by your situation” felt like daggers through my heart. I asked her to tell Dad, but she said that I needed to be an adult and prepare myself for the consequences of my actions. I knew I didn’t have much time, because in two weeks, Alex and I would be taking a road trip to New Mexico to spend time with my family.

My father and I didn’t really have the best bond. At times, he could have a temper and it scared me. I hated having to call my dad on the phone and tell him I was having an unplanned pregnancy. I coordinated with my mom when my dad would be on the road for his job. I wanted him to have time to process the information before coming back home. I called him as he drove back from his job site. When I told him about my pregnancy, he immediately said that Alex was not allowed to come to New Mexico next week. The line went quiet. I looked at my phone and the line was disconnected. I sat and cried and then went home.

The next week, I made the twelve-hour drive to New Mexico by myself. My mom asked if she could call my aunt who lived closer to me, to see if she could help. My aunt Lori had started working at an adoption agency a few months ago. Lori said I could reach out to her and further explore my options. I returned home to Utah after visiting my parents in New Mexico. Alex met me at my apartment with a beautiful sunflower and rose bouquet. He wasn’t sure how to use words to express his feelings, so he had hoped the flowers could help serve as an apology.

My constant morning sickness was horrible over the next few weeks. Alex helped me as best as he could. He invited me over to his apartment for dinners and made trip after trip to the grocery store for anything that would subdue my morning sickness. We talked about the baby. We sat down and tried to figure costs for parenting our child. We were two college students with full time jobs, and we focused on the type of life we wanted for our child.

Alex and I spoke with my aunt. We felt such a strong bond together, and we knew adoption was the best thing for our baby. Just after Christmas, I quit my job at the warehouse. I moved to a new town, and we started making the preparations necessary for adoption. Alex continued to work full time but was privileged to be able to take time off for every doctor’s appointment and the emergencies that came up. I felt truly wonderful knowing that he was by my side every step of the way.

We had very strict requirements for the parents for our son, and after looking at five profiles, I was not sure any of the families could be his family. My aunt came and knocked on my door one evening in late January 2013. She felt that I needed to look at another profile. As I read this family’s story, I felt a connection with them. I was hesitant to say yes right away. Alex and I agreed to Skype the family before making a final decision. We talked about our hopes for the baby and what type of adoption we would want.  Instantly, I knew Sally and Brigham were meant to have our son as an addition in their lives. Alex took a few days to think about the initial meeting, and together, we came to a decision.

Right before Valentine’s day, my caseworker let Sally and Brigham know that they were now expecting a sweet baby boy in May of 2013. As time went on, Sally wanted to know how I felt about baby names. For years, she loved the name Isaac. In the Bible, Isaac’s mother Sarah waited for over fifty years for a child of her own. Sally felt a connection to Sarah as they moved into the fourth year of trying to expand their family through adoption. Brigham thought Isaac’s middle name should be chosen from family names on Alex’s side. As Brigham and Sally discussed they found it only fitting for Isaac to be named after his father. They planned a Skype session to ask Alex what his feelings were on the name Alexander. Alex smiled a bit and agreed. Our child had a name chosen with love and adoration, Isaac Alexander.

On Thursday May 23, 2013, I completed my forty-week doctor’s appointment. On Friday, my mother and sister arrived to help me pack up my humble apartment and prepare for life after placement. Saturday came, and we did not have a baby yet. On Sunday, my mother, sister, and I choose to hike to a beautiful waterfall to see if that would help encourage my sweet baby boy to enter this world.

Sure enough, my water broke, and on Monday May 27, 2013, we were headed to the hospital at 4:30 in the morning. My mother and sister drove with me as we checked into the hospital. About 7:30 am, Alex arrived. I let my mom know I wanted this to be an intimate experience for Alex and me. I did, however, request that my mom sister be there as a secondary support team.

My mom taught Alex to read the machines and talk me through each contraction. Around 11:00 am, I was given an epidural to help with the pain. I took a nap to prepare for the day ahead of me. Around 3:00 pm, I was awake and surrounded by my support teams. At 5:29 pm, Isaac Alexander entered the world. This was such a wonderful moment. In the process of his birth, one of the nurses forgot to watch the clock, so there was a little discrepancy as to what time Isaac was born. I kept insisting he was born at 5:30 pm, but Alex wanted it to be 5:29 pm, allowing Isaac to start his life in a very unique way. We were moved into a recovery room around 7:30 pm. I had requested an in-room nursery for Isaac. Alex and I spent the night with enjoying every moment with our sweet Isaac.

The next morning, May 28, 2013, I woke up in the hospital next to my sweet baby boy.  I was surprised at what an easy baby he was. He didn’t cry when he was born, and he only whimpered through his shots. Isaac was perfect. Alex came back to the hospital, and we spent every second taking in each noise, coo, and expression Isaac made. While Isaac slept, we played board games and tried not to think about the pain that was coming.

By 5:00 pm, my social worker arrived with the stack of papers. I invited my mom and aunt to be present. I went to the restroom to try and find strength before this process. I looked at myself in the mirror, thinking how the moments of being Isaac’s mother were coming to an end. I walked out of the restroom with red puffy eyes. Alex sat on the bed and held my hand as the terms for relinquishment were read aloud.

The words truly pierced my heart; this was the reality of each sacrifice I would make for my son’s happiness. I agreed to each one as I wrote my initials by the black number. Upon providing my signature on the final page, my social worker left to give me a few minutes alone. My mom was holding Isaac, and she moved closer to us so Alex and I could give him one more sweet kiss and hug before Isaac went to the nursery to meet his forever family.

As my mom was pushing the bassinet though the hospital hall, her emotions overwhelmed her. The moment became too much for her to handle. She stopped at the nurses’ station, and as she paused there, she saw a nurse that looked familiar. An old high school acquaintance of my mom’s was the head nurse in the hospital. My mom explained the situation to the head nurse, and she helped hold my mom as they made the final steps toward presenting Isaac to his new family.

Alex and I helped each other as we grieved the loss of our son. We tried to go back to a normal life. We found so much comfort in being together. Alex was someone who empathized with the heartache and the pains of placement. I could share pictures letters and everything about Isaac with him. Through our grieving and healing, Alex and I began to fall in love once again.

Two months after placement, Alex invited me on a family vacation up to a lake house. During our time there, I started to feel like we were a family. The awkwardness of Isaac’s adoption lingered, but I truly felt like family. Alex prepared a special birthday picnic for us. He packed it into the car as I gathered my stuff from the lakes shore. Drove up to a beautiful lighthouse and stopped. Alex wanted me to scope out a spot to lay a blanket. As I turned to tell him it was rocky and not a good picnic spot, he knelt down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I happily agreed. Six months later, we were married.

Today, we enjoy a very open adoption with our son Isaac and his family. Although we live five hundred miles apart, Isaac’s family is in our daily lives. Due to distance, we try to make arrangements to see each other twice a year. Alex and I love receiving videos and pictures from Sally. Isaac is just over two years old, and he is such a fun child.

As I look back at the experiences we have been through, it’s truly incredible that Alex and I grew so much together during one of the hardest experiences life could offer. I thank God every day for the miracle of open adoption and the role that it plays in our lives. I asked Alex recently about why he stayed in it for so long, and he said “Through your pregnancy, I saw you grow from a childish girl into a beautiful woman. It showed me strength and love at the finest it could be.”

Lindsey Choules is number two of five kids in her family. She was born in Odgden, Utah and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lindsey has a personality to fill up a room and a smile that easily rubs off on others. Currently a Business Management student at Utah Valley University she finds time to still enjoy quilting, cake decorating, and the outdoors. Lindsey believes open adoption is true love at its prime.  

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