Thursday, March 26, 2009
So I checked my Facebook messages a few days ago, and I came across one that immediately grabbed my attention. It was from someone I had never met before...someone named Alyson. I clicked on the message, and I couldn't believe what I was reading. Apparently, a couple in California had read our open adoption article online (from The Technician), and they were so inspired by our story that they wanted to find some way to contact me. Wow. We communicated back and forth a few times, and it was nothing short of touching. It turns out they are looking to adopt, and wanted me to pass their profile along to any women that I might know who are considering adoption. I always knew that I could make an impact by openly sharing my experience, but I never really realized how big of an impact I could have until now. Their choosing to contact me from across the country made me realize how much potential my story has to inspire and motivate others to consider open adoption. I immediately called De and told her. De suggested that I give Alyson her contact information so they could talk about the entire open adoption process and what to expect. De copied me on an email that she sent to Alyson, and I sat in amazement as I read what she wrote. De told Alyson, "During the pregnancy, I would always tell Amy, "No matter what decision you make, whether you keep the baby or choose Don and I to be her Dad and Mom, don't EVER let anyone tell you it was a mistake." I can't believe I forgot about that! Don and De always told Robbie and I that it was our decision until the day we signed the adoption papers and left the hospital. They never made us feel pressured, and they told us that they would understand if we changed our minds at the very last minute and decided to parent Deanna ourselves. That just blew me away. These people were willing to go through the entire adoption process, knowing that it might not work out. It proved to me that they cared more about Robbie and Amy than about themselves, and in turn, I realized how much these selfless people could offer Deanna. Just knowing that I helped to connect Alyson and De has been another small part of the continuous healing process for me. I know that De will be such an incredible resource for this couple as they continue their search for a healthy baby to love and care for. If you know of anyone who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, please pass their information along. Alyson, 27, is an attorney and Jason, 32, is a cardiologist in Huntington Beach, California. They have been happily married for 5 years, and they hope to have a great relationship with their future child's birth mother. I've truly enjoyed speaking with Alyson & Jason, and I'm looking forward to setting an example and guiding them through the open adoption process. Who knows, maybe someone will see this and immediately think of someone they know dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Food for thought! Contact: email@example.com or 1-800-638-9693. I can only hope and pray that their adoption story will turn out as happily as ours has. :)
Monday, March 23, 2009
This past weekend, my best friend Angela, my younger sister Laura, and I took a trip to Myrtle Beach to visit Deanna. We spent the day playing on her new swing set/tree house, riding the bikes and golf cart around the neighborhood, climbing trees, playing tag in a field of dandelions, and running rambunctiously through waves and sand on the beach. As Deanna led us into the garage to show us all of the bikes, she excitedly babbled on and on about how many bikes they have. "We have two mommies bikes," she said matter of factly. "No pun intended," laughed De as we walked into the garage. I always find it humorous when the dual mommy things come up. Deanna knows I am her tummy mommy, but I often wonder if she really knows who I am. After all, we did share 9 months worth of watermelon. De asked her who I was once, and she replied, "a girl." Haha, yes I am a girl. De laughed and said, "No, who is Amy Hutton?" (while patting her stomach.) Deanna immediately got a smile on her face and replied, "my tummy mommy!" Yes, she's got it. I've done a lot of thinking lately about why our open adoption has been so successful. I can't stand reading those horrible stories on the internet about "open adoptions gone bad." Sure, I understand that things don't always work out perfectly, but I am a testament that open adoption can work, and it can have a happy ending. If we never hear the "good stories," then we'll never consider open adoption a choice, and I can't stand to see that happen. When I called De the next day to thank her for having us, we got to talking about it. "I think people are more open to open adoption the more confident they are with themselves," she said, "because it's not about you anymore, it's about somebody else." I thought about it. It made a lot of sense. If your ultimate goal is for this child to be happy, then everything else should fall into place. It takes a huge amount of trust on the part of both the birth parents and the adoptive parents. I remember when Robbie and I first sat down and met with Don and De. They explained that they wanted us to be as much a part of the baby's life as they were. "What do you mean I can visit her whenever I want to?" I thought skeptically. What kind of people would really allow us to maintain a relationship with the child they are raising? As time went by, and we got to know each other better, we began to develop a strong relationship built on trust and mutual respect for each other. De came with me to my doctor appointments, we had a baby shower together, and we even took the hospital tour together. The more we got to know about them, the more we realized that this was the right thing to do. When I go to visit Deanna, De lets us have time together. She understands how important it is for us to have that relationship, and she is confident in herself as a mother. She doesn't "stand guard" and watch our every move. She gets things done around the house, shares funny stories, and asks questions to see if I did a certain thing when I was Deanna's age. We trust each other, and we make the situation work because it's not just about us. It's about somebody more important. While De and I have ALOT of little things in common, more importantly, we both share an incredible love for a beautiful 3-and-a-half-year-old blonde girl... and for two mommies, that's something that will never change.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
How do you tell your parents that you are pregnant when you've just turned 18 years old? "These things are never accurate," said my best friend Jena, matter-of-factly, after positive test number 5. I wanted so badly to believe her. "Maybe you just have highly acidic urine?" That's it! Bingo. I just have highly acidic urine. Problem solved. I guess it was after positive test number 7 that I finally started facing reality. I had to tell Maureen and Keith the news. But what in the world was I going to say? My parents are very strict people. Though not huge on positive reinforcement, they're pretty big on negative reinforcement. Considering the last time I got grounded was four years prior, after an 8th grade dance when I was waiting for my parents to pick me up at Wendy's instead of Pizza Hut, I knew this wasn't going to be pretty. I started walking down the hall to my parents' room. Whew. Deep breath. Count to three, and exhale. Got it. No, I don't got it! Retreat, retreat! Back to home base! This series of events happened a few times, until I finally figured it was now or never. I was going to try the "immaculate conception" excuse, but that only worked for Mary. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, right? I walked into my mom's room with a guilty look plastered on my face. "What's wrong?" she asked casually as she folded the last of the laundry. I tried to answer back in the same casual tone. "Oh, nothing. Well, actually, um....well, you see....I..." Not working."Something kind of bad happened, and I don't want you to be mad at me." Mom: "Don't tell me you are pregnant..." Silence.... There's quite nothing like an awkward silence. And the look on her face when I said, "kind of?" You would have thought I just told her that I killed a man, robbed a bank, and had the get-away car waiting for us outside. She was mad. Really mad. Super mad. Incredibly (okay, you get it). But the worst part wasn't the mad part. I could deal with that. It was the part about letting my parents down and the disappointment I saw on their faces. And on top of that, my hopes of earning a swimming scholarship at a Division I school were ruined. Everything I had worked for, all of my athletic achievements, down the drain in one foul swoop. Good job, Amy Hutton. Good job. My mom made me go to the doctor to confirm the previous 7 tests (I hope that made you laugh). My primary care physician wasn't exactly chipper either. "And how old are you?" she asked in a scolding tone. "18" I answered sheepishly. She treated me like I was inferior. Gosh, I know that I was only 18 years old, but I didn't kill anyone and I wasn't going to jail. Why was everyone acting like this? I was going to have a baby! Of course I didn't do it on purpose, but I saw first-hand the negative stigma that teenage pregnancy carries. Isn't having a baby supposed to be the happiest time of a person's life? At that moment, while sitting alone in the doctor's office, it was the worst. Someone recently told me that my blog was "too sad." I'm not putting myself out there and sharing my story because I want people to feel bad for me. On the contrary. I just want to be honest. I also want people to realize the reality of teenage pregnancy and the how negatively it is perceived by our culture. It's no wonder that young women think they have to run off and get an abortion when they experience an unplanned pregnancy. Instead of shunning young mothers for being with-child, we should embrace it, celebrate it, and help these women cope with it by promoting viable resources like adoption. Most people don't even know that open adoption is an option. I am happy to share my successful open adoption story with others, and I can only hope that it changes at least one woman's mind who is considering abortion.
Monday, March 16, 2009
During a recent meeting, we started talking about personality types. I vaguely remembered taking the Myers-Briggs personality test last spring, so I went home and found my old report. As I began reading the 2 page summary of my "type," I was astounded that I never really paid much attention to it until this point. I remember receiving it last year, glancing over it briefly, and then placing it in a binder to collect dust. But this time was different. I was searching for answers. How could four letters, ESFJ, categorize me into such a perfect nutshell. Could four letters really describe Amy Marie Hutton? I began reading. "ESFJ's are sociable," yes, true. "They have good communication skills and are usually quite tactful," good so far, but knew that already. Suddenly, I did a double-take when I got to the middle of the report. "ESFJ's strive to develop harmony in their relationships, and it is essential to their well-being. ESFJ's want harmony in their relationships, but they also want above all else to do the right thing, two goals which are not always compatible. ESFJ's can have too many "shoulds," which may lead to excessive amounts of guilt..." Well slap my knee and call me Charlie! I couldn't have said it better myself. The first thing I thought about was my struggle with deciding whether or not to place Deanna with her adoptive family. Maybe this is why I had such a hard time with my decision? Since I could not satisfy the desires of my family (who wanted me to keep Deanna), my well-being was diminished. Robbie's family, who already established a relationship with Deanna's prospective adopters, thought it would be best to allow them to raise Deanna, since Robbie and I were so young and unprepared for parenthood. I was stuck in the middle of two families, both who wanted the best for Deanna and myself, but by taking two completely different courses of action. i.e."two goals which are not always compatible." I really wanted to be that young mom who took my daughter everywhere, dressed her in adorable clothes, and proved everyone wrong who doubted my ability to raise this little girl. I know that I could have done it. But I also knew (deep down inside, and my stubbornness did not allow me admit this until now) that Deanna deserved a real family--a loving couple who were married, had great jobs, a home, a big yard, a dog, and a perfect life. A family who had everything they could have ever wanted--except a child. I almost felt selfish for wanting to keep Deanna. Here I was, a scared 18-year-old who had absolutely no intention of getting pregnant, knowing that this family had tried so long to have children and had prayed for nothing more than a healthy baby. It just didn't make sense. I'm not sure why people often say to me, "I never could have done what you did!" Is that a compliment? I'm not really sure. I understand now, more than ever, why people say parents will do anything for their children. I don't think you can really judge somebody else's decisions until you are in their shoes. I just hope Deanna looks back and realizes that I gave her more on the day she was born than I could have ever given her today. As Deanna gets older, I can't help but wonder if our personality types will be similar. I know that she is already showing signs of having the Type-A, go-get-em personality (compliments of Amy Hutton, yes?) and that she is just as mischievous as I was as a three and a half year old (example: the day she bit Hank's tail and blatantly denied it while spitting out a mouth full of fur). Only time will tell, but no matter what her "four letters" will be someday, if she turns out to be anything like the people I chose to raise her, I think she'll be in very good shape...
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
What do these three things have in common: Clean & Clear Morning Burst Face Wash, the television show The View, and Del Monte canned mixed vegetables? Reminders. It's hard to explain...you know how a certain scent, food, or even season can take you back to a specific time in your life? During the first few months of my pregnancy when I left high school to become home-bound tutored (yes, Mr. Miller, my awkward math teacher, came to my house every Wednesday afternoon and asked what was cooking for dinner every single time.) Since I wasn't attending classes at good old Moon Area High School anymore due to severe hyperemesis gravidarum (the joys of morning sickness, ladies and gentlemen) I had a lot of free time on my hands. I would wake up in my house (alone, since my parents were at work and my sisters were at school) feel sad, wash my face every morning with Clean & Clear Morning Burst Face Wash, feel sad, watch The View, feel sad, talk to Robbie on the phone, feel sad, and eat an absurd amount of Del Monte canned mixed vegetables to ensure that the babe was the healthiest babe ever. I settled into a routine. So when I came home to Pittsburgh for Spring Break this past week, I had the strangest feeling in my stomach when I used the Morning Burst for the first time since I was pregnant four years ago. And when I went downstairs and watched The View on the exact same couch as before, I experienced it again--the feeling of being sick to my stomach, sad, and depressed--simultaneously. All from washing my face and watching a television show? Yes! How strange it was, but it was a reminder of the intense emotions that I had felt. And we all know how emotional pregnant women can be. I genuinely believed that those women on The View were my friends.
Pittsburgh is a great city, and it will always be home to me. But when I left for North Carolina, I never wanted to look back. I literally wanted to "blow the top off that joint." Such a change in attitude my community had when they found out that I was pregnant. The same community who had praised me for winning the WPIAL gold medal in the 50 freestyle and put my face on the front page of the Moon Record after being crowned homecoming queen were so quick to judge. "Did she do it on purpose?" "Are Amy and Robbie going to get married?" "Why is she giving it up for adoption?" In fact, I distinctly recall an incident when a former swim team member's parents (who used to tell their daughter to be more like me, a role model) would not allow their daughter to speak to me again. "That blasphemous Amy Hutton!" Moon Township.It was the saddest day of my life, the day that Robbie and I signed the adoption papers in the hospital, and I was at a breaking point. My family wanted me to keep Deanna. So many others wanted to see De and Don become parents for the first time. I literally felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I didn't know right from wrong. At the end of my rope, I decided to make a deal with God. I said to Him, "If I do what you are asking me to do and allow these people to raise my daughter, the only thing I ask is that I will never regret this decision." ...and he never broke our promise. I am so thankful for the wonderful life I have been given, and I absolutely love De, Don, Deanna, and Hank...but I will never ever ever use Morning Burst facial cleanser again...and that's a promise that I will never break!