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Healing takes time after adoption

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At 15, Peggy refused to accept that she could be pregnant. She was a regular at youth group and the responsible daughter of a loving family. How could this happen to her? It seemed unfair that among all her friends on the same path, only she got pregnant. One by one, even her best friends drifted away, skirting discomfort with silence. Fearing the other kids’ whispers, Peggy couldn’t return to her youth group.

“I felt like I had a big red X painted on my back,” she said.

As supportive as her family was, they were unable to help her raise the baby. A friend introduced them to Bethany, where Peggy met a supportive pregnancy specialist who helped her think through her options. Peggy’s faith prompted her to choose adoption, and she chose Craig and Joanne to be her son’s adoptive family.

Peggy gave birth to Zach one December morning. As labor began, she had two thoughts: Will this hurt? and Will he hate me? After a quick and gentle delivery, she cradled him. She poured all the love she could, for as long as she could, into her newborn son.

She had already written him a stack of love letters and poems, waiting for the day he could read them. Craig, Joanne, and Peggy chose to exchange letters regularly so Zach could grow up knowing his birthmother.

Leaving the hospital with empty arms wrecked Peggy. Yet she was confident in her decision and that she’d chosen a loving family for Zach.

“To this day, that was the hardest thing I’ve done,” she said. “A part of me died.”

Over the next 17 years, her grief would take on different hues, looking sometimes like longing, sometimes like guilt, always like loss. There were years she could hardly talk about her experience, when she felt like a broken teen instead of a mother.

About a year ago, Peggy and Zach met in person for the first time. She felt overwhelmed, excited, and nervous. After years of imagining each other from letters and photos, Peggy and Zach are now finding their way into a real-time, “warts-and-all” relationship.

Though she’s comfortable talking about her adoption plan with strangers, Peggy is still getting used to introducing Zach with new friends. Peggy knows her story is still being written and that full healing takes time.

Contact Bethany’s Post-Adoption Contact Center to connect with local and online birth parent support groups. Visit or call 1.866.309.7328.

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