Danielle - Houston Regional Coordinators
I was adopted into a beautiful family that loved the Lord. I was very fortunate to grow up with two parents who loved each other very much. I was raised in the church, and I even accepted Christ into my heart and got baptized at the very early age of five. Looking back, I realized that I understood the importance of accepting Christ into my heart , but what I didn’t understand is that after I asked Christ into my heart, there was a relationship which I had to maintain and that I needed to allow the Holy Spirit to make the changes in me, in order to live for the Lord.
Beginning in elementary school, I struggled to fit in. I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of four and also was on the autism spectrum. These diagnoses made a great struggle for me to begin and maintain friendships, and I often went to great lengths to try to make myself more appealing. I gained friends quickly and, just as quickly, I lost them.
At the age of fourteen, I lost my virginity to a guy I barely knew. I was a freshman and he a junior. He had been dating one of my friends. I believed the lie that many young women believe: If I have sex with him, he will stay with me. I guess the small print that I and other young women miss is this: HE will NOT stay with you. In fact, he will act as if he never liked you and that “that night” never happened. Oh, and brace yourself for the girls who you think are your friends. They will place all the blame, hate, and shame on you. And did I mention that this is the beginning of a chain of deceitfulness, self-mutilation, self-hatred, and many more evil things?
Of course, I missed the way the devil so easily crafted his way into the situation at hand. How beautiful he made that sin look. How delightful. No worries in the world. If Satan presented himself to us as what he truly is, no one would go near him or his temptations. He is the great deceiver.
Needless to say, after the incidents that occurred following “that night,” I switched schools due to being bullied and receiving death threats via Myspace.
After I switched schools, I did still possess many favorable traits and qualities. However, I sacrificed what favorable traits I still possessed in order for me to be able to fit in with the group of friends I wanted. I eventually began drinking and smoking marijuana. The girls I hung out with were not the best friends to have, however it was better to be their friend than someone they disliked. I began to mold myself into that “mean girl” that had bullied me at the school prior.
When I graduated from high school, you would think I was bound and determined to date every loser I could find. I dated guys who I thought I deserved. I didn’t see myself dating a “decent” man, nor did I have the patience to wait for someone I truly deserved. I gave myself to anyone that would have me. It got to a certain point where it wasn’t even the sex I enjoyed anymore--I was addicted to the feeling of being wanted, even if it meant for just one night. I no longer saw myself as a person with any worth. I thought that there was nothing left for me to give, and I did not see that I had any purpose. With each guy I dated, each one was worse than the last. From drug dealers to narcissistic addicts, I settled for the lowest of the low. I even went back to guys who cheated on and manipulated me because I thought I deserved them. My self-esteem sunk lower with each guy I dated.
At one point, I had been dating this one guy for three months when he proposed to me. Out of sheer desperation and the longing to feel wanted, I accepted the proposal with an instantaneous yes! He ended up breaking off the engagement, and I sunk into a deep depression. The place I thought I belonged, the place I thought I was wanted, never even truly existed there.
I began contacting a guy whom I had met back in high school. He was in the Army and, to a young, single female, a man in uniform was rather appealing. I drove a good four to five hours for just a one night stand. It was about one month later I was with my friend Isabella at a few friends’ practice rodeo in Alvin, Texas. I drank two 12 ounce cans of Bud Light and instantly felt nauseous and began vomiting. I knew something was not right with my body. It rejected two beers. About a week later when Isabella and I were on our way to Austin for a weekend of fun and excitement, we stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and, since my period was late, Isabella suggested I take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, I was pregnant. Nine months later, I gave birth to healthy baby girl. I named her Scarlett Michele.
The father and I willingly relinquished conservatorship of her to my parents. Soon after, I no longer saw myself as her parent or caretaker. About a month after Scarlett was born, I checked myself into a hospital because I did not feel myself. I felt very off. At the hospital, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression. Soon after I was discharged to go back home, I chose bar hopping over Scarlett. I chose multiple guys and “having fun” over my Scarlett. I made many decisions that I would one day regret.
By the time Scarlett was about ten months old, I fell pregnant with a boyfriend I had been dating for a little over a month. At first he was happy about it, then his mother and sister decided to put their two cents in and tell him that there was no way the baby could be his because I wouldn’t know I was pregnant until about eight weeks into it. The sister claimed to have been going to nursing school, yet, as my friend and mom said, clearly missed that particular class.
Even though I was pregnant, my parents would not allow me to live with them through another pregnancy. I temporarily lived with a friend of mine and her daughter, but eventually went to a maternity home in Angleton, Texas. It was about an hour away from my parents’ house, so I knew I would get to see them and Scarlett quite frequently.
This home was not only a blessing in the form of a home, but it was also a place for me to reflect on my life and find my way back to the Lord. From the beginning, the staff at the Pregnancy Help Center was very welcoming and supportive. The house parents made me aware from the beginning that the maternity home was not licensed for children, so if I chose to parent this baby, I would need to plan and arrange a place for the baby and me to live after the birth. I knew deep in my heart that adoption was going to be the best route, and I voiced that to the house parents at my initial intake interview. I met with the adoption counselor from an agency in North Houston once or twice before May, when I finalized my decision for adoption. Once I had finalized that decision, I let the adoption counselor know, and she told me that she would bring three profiles the following week. She asked that I read each profile at least once, and not to feel discouraged if I do not feel an instant connection to a family. She told me that when I was reading the right profile, I would just know. She proceeded to tell me that she had sent an email with the information about me and the birthfather to a few different couples. The email was just to verify that they did indeed want to adopt my child. She said the day after she sent the emails, she got a call from one of the prospective mothers. The woman had told her that she was doing her daily quiet time that morning, and she heard a voice whisper the name Danielle. She wasn’t sure what it meant, but thinking maybe it was a name for the baby, she quickly jotted “Danielle” into her notebook and prayed about it. She said that she checked the emails and saw the one about me from Cindy. She knew she had to tell Cindy. Cindy told me that, even though they didn’t know me, they were already praying for me and my baby. She said she thought that knowing that would give me comfort during this process.
Some may call it coincidence, but I call it a wonder of God. The couple I picked to meet was, of course, the couple that Cindy told me about. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I think I remember doing both at the same time. I knew at that moment that my choice was the right one.
Now, I am not saying that knowing that made it an easy decision to keep. Adoption is a choice that is never easy to come to. And you know why it’s not an easy decision? It isn’t an easy decision is because it is not about you. Not at all. Making the choice to place my sweet Gwendolyn for adoption was never easy, especially once she was born.
During the last couple weeks that I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational cholestasis, which is a disorder where your liver produces too much bile. Effects on the mother are not nearly as urgent as the effects on the growing baby. There is a higher risk of preterm birth, fetal distress, and even a higher risk of still birth. Gwen was monitored using a fetal non stress test once a week after the diagnosis.
The night of August 6, 2013, I was especially emotional and found myself looking through the scrapbook that I had made to give to Gwen’s adoptive parents at the hospital when Gwen was born. I woke up around my usual time (2 am) to go the bathroom. I rolled out of bed and went into the bathroom. I went to go to the bathroom, and I had a constant trickle that wouldn’t stop. Since I was still half asleep, it didn’t immediately occur to me that my water had broken. I got up off the toilet and as I was walking back to my bedroom, the trickle began again. It was then that I started to connect the dots. I woke up Jackie, and told her what was going on. I called the hospital and they told me to come in and they would check to see if my water had indeed broken. We got to the hospital, waited about twenty minutes, and was taken back to Labor and Delivery Triage. Sure enough, it was my water that had broken. I was fairly calm during labor and eventually asked for my epidural.
Labor is usually a time of pain yet joyful anticipation because you are waiting to hold your child for the first time. For me, it was physical and emotional pain. Yes, I was excited to hold Gwendolyn, yet I never wanted the labor to end because I knew when it did Gwen would only be with me for two days. Two days.
My daddy came to the hospital and I remember him rubbing my back to help ease the labor pains. I am still grateful for him during that time.
On August 7, 2013, my sweet Gwendolyn was born. She had passed a thin layer of meconium so I didn’t get to hold her right away. She even had a bath before I was able to hold her. As I held her for the first time, a rush of emotions clouded my mind. Joy, sadness, emptiness, relief, hatred, loathing, fear. The joy came with Gwen being healthy. Knowing she would only be with me for two days brought the sadness. Emptiness – I bore her, yet she was never meant to be mine. Relief that this was almost over. Hatred for adoptive parents – they were going to leave the hospital in joy with MY baby while I went home empty handed and in the front seat of the car instead of next to my baby’s seat while my baby slept on the way home. I loathed them because they were the ones who were able to raise Gwendolyn. I wished so badly that I was in the same position as they were. I had fear for my emotional well-being. I didn’t know how I would be after all of this.
That first day was a blur. My mom and Scarlett flew in from Missouri. They had to change their flight because I delivered early and my mom wanted to be there for me. My brother picked them up from the airport and I remember hearing him and my mom get into it over the phone because he was getting lost or taking the wrong exit or something like that. Gwen’s adoptive parents came to meet Gwendolyn. Cindy came up to the hospital as well. That day went by too fast but in other ways too slow. I wanted Gwen’s adoptive mom to stay with me that night and was so grateful that she did. I cannot imagine how overwhelmed she must have been though, knowing I was right there and I was letting her tend to Gwendolyn. I fed Gwen and changed her diapers during that first day, but when nighttime came, depression got the best of me and I needed to sleep. That second night, my mom stayed with me and she tended to Gwen because I found myself getting too attached and knew I couldn’t feed, diaper, or comfort her anymore because I would change my mind.
However, late that night I was brainstorming ideas in my head and out loud to my mom as to ways I would be able to keep Gwen. I was sobbing and tired and, while in a panic, I called my adoption counselor back to back to back. Eventually, she returned my call, and we talked and she prayed with me. I was able to sleep for the remainder of the night after that.
August 9, 2013 was one of the most difficult moments of my life. I never had so much hate for someone as I did for Gwendolyn’s birthfather in that moment. He signed the parental relinquishment papers a month prior to his birth which was a big relief for me but at the same time I couldn’t understand how easily that could be done.
After I placed Gwen for adoption, I began to backslide very quickly. I ended up at an ex-boyfriend’s house. Two weeks later I found myself pregnant with his baby. Dan wanted to keep the baby, take me to pick out an engagement ring the next day, and get married when he got back from deployment. Out of my own selfish pride, I didn’t even consider what Dan wanted. I convinced him to pay for an abortion. October 16, 2013 was the day I chose to take the life of my baby. When we got to the clinic, I didn’t even bat an eye when I was filling out paperwork. I knew what I was doing, yet I chose to not let my emotions “get in the way” of what I “needed” to do. The room was cold but felt muggy at the same time. I knew I wasn’t alone in the room, but I had never felt so alone as I did while I lay on the table, groggy and listening to the muffled voices of the doctor and nurses. While I was recovering, I felt physically empty, and I knew why. I had betrayed the little being that was growing inside of me, who had been depending on me to nurture him from the outside. I had chosen my life over his.
We both left the clinic in tears. That was the first time I saw Dan cry. I remember how harsh my words were to him on the way back to his apartment. It was at the time so much easier to blame Dan for these feelings of emptiness since he was the one that put forth the money for the procedure. I didn’t want to look at myself as what I was – the person who wanted the abortion. For about a month and a half I had very vivid nightmares – pure evil made itself known at night. The only way I found that let me sleep peacefully throughout the night was alcohol. My “friends” never called me out on my actions. They helped me justify my action by telling me that I made the right decision because it was my decision and that it will get better and I will get over it. I will never “get over” that baby.
Fast forward about one month after I had the abortion. I began to date Nathan. As you can probably guess, I once again put myself in an emotionally unstable relationship. I was lied to. I was manipulated. I was taken advantage of. At this point in my life, I was living in my car and did so while I dated Nathan. My parents were fed up with my lifestyle and knew that me living with them was not a good option for any of us.
I landed pregnant, yet again, but not with Nathan. One night I was in my car and I broke down and began crying because I hadn’t eaten all day. I knew I had to do something or this baby would not make it. I went back to Planned Parenthood and had my initial ultrasound appointment. I scheduled my procedure appointment two days later.
Something inside of me told me there were other options and that I needed to lose my pride and ask for help. I began to search online for long-term maternity homes. After a couple days of searching, I found Lifehouse Maternity Home. The staff was very warm and welcoming, and they even did my intake interview over the phone. We finally settled on an intake date. My scheduled intake date was the day BEFORE my scheduled abortion. When I got to Lifehouse, I was nervous and excited. I also held onto much anger and resentment towards the baby’s father, as well as at myself for the abortion.
May 24, 2014, I rededicated my life to Christ. I made Him my Lord. I gave that anger to Him. I felt free. I WAS free. I was a new creation in Him.
When I was searching for a name, I had my list narrowed down. The narrowed down list had four names: Jude, Eli, Liam, and Noah. I chose Liam because it derives from an Irish name which means “resolution”. I was at the resolution point in my life.
I was finally able to forgive myself for the abortion and attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.
I currently live in Brazoria, Texas with my son Liam. I am blessed to be able to be a stay at home mother and, although it is difficult at times, it is very rewarding. I see my beautiful daughter Scarlett at least once a week.