• Leah Outten

Adoption Memory: The Night of Two Lines

October 14, 2013   The Night of Two Lines

Dearest Anna,

It is hard to believe is has been 10 years since I first saw those 2 pink lines on my pregnancy test. It was right about this time, mid-October of 2003. I was a junior in high school and my sweet 16 birthday had been merrily weeks before. Though, my 16th year started out as anything from sweet. It was full of hurts, shame, and hard choices. But, it also brought me you and it brought me to a deep relationship with God, and that was definitely sweet! I suppose I had a bitter-sweet 16, then?

I remember sitting in one of my usual spots, with a rolling black desk chair pushed up against my double bed to use as a table. My room was a bright and cheerful lime green and I had pictures of friends plastered on my wall cork boards, along with magazine cuttings and silly inside jokes. I was talking on my plum purple cordless phone to one of my best friends as I ate cucumber slices dipped in ranch. I had been craving it, but I didn't think that was odd until I realized I had eaten the entire cucumber in one sitting! As a teenager who typically dined on pizza, candy, or salt and vinegar chips, that was a little strange. It was in that moment I suspected that maybe I was pregnant.

2 weeks went by and I still didn't have my monthly cycle, so my friend Jessie and I devised a plan to get a pregnancy test without my Mom knowing. I often spent my weekends with Jessie even though she had moved to a different town and went to a different school. We were both small, under 5 foot, and bonded instantly in 7th grade. Though I was short and usually quiet, she was short and feisty, not afraid to speak her mind. We were opposites in many ways, yet we meshed well most of the time. She had big blue eyes and bobbed blond hair, while my eyes were green and my hair a chestnut brown finally down just below my shoulders. I was growing it back out after chopping it to my chin in 9th grade.

We arranged for us to stay the night at her Paw-Paw's friend's house. Sounds weird, I know, but her Paw-Paw's friend, Melissa, was a good mom to her grown children and we enjoyed hanging out with her when we could. She was a kind hearted big sister type that gave good advice, and she was one of the first to know my news that I was pregnant. Anyway, on the way to her house, we stopped by Walmart with some excuse to run inside for something. Probably snacks, since that's what American teenagers often do:  eat junk food and watch movies.

In Walmart my heart pounded as I approached the aisle that would hold the key to my question: "Am I pregnant?" The white and blue linoleum floors squeaked under my Addias tennis shoes that I always wore with aqua strips. Thoughts flying through my mind like, "What if someone sees me? How could I let this happen? What will my parents think?" And suddenly it was there, sitting on the metal shelf with a $3.88 tag under it. I probably looked around, checking to make sure no one I knew was around before timidly picking up the white rectangular box. We made our way to the register, snacks and pregnancy test in hand, and I prayed that the older lady scanning our things wouldn't look at me with judgment in her eyes. Though I was 16, I always looked younger than I was. I still do. I probably looked 12 at the time! I imagined the thoughts going through her head and felt shame wash over me yet again. So, I avoided her eyes all together and let Jessie do the talking. Like I said, she was always more bold than me in many ways. What was even more embarrassing is that Jessie had to pay for my pregnancy test. I had no job, no car, not even a drivers license. It wasn't a good way to be bringing a child into the world, that's for sure. I was painfully aware of my short comings in being able to provide for you even then, but I knew that if I was pregnant I would make it work somehow. A job, car, and license are attainable things, right?

It was dark by the time we slipped into the backseat of the car and made our way to Melissa's house. It was this same leather backseat where weeks before we had been carefree, singing at the top of our lungs and trying to harmonize together. This trip was different though, it was filled with uncertainty and shame that I was hiding this test in our Walmart bag amongst Skittles and chips. As we made our way on the windy country roads, my stomach turned with nausea, just like it did on the tilt-a-whirl ride I rode at a carnival on my 12th birthday. I cried and begged to get off and they had to stop it just for me. My world felt blurry and out of control once again...only this time I couldn't ask to get off.

I remember feeling safe enough wrapped in the dark, concealing our purchases, to even open the box in the backseat to read the instructions in the pale light of the backseat car light. I'm the kind of girl who likes to read and reread to know I'm doing something the right way. "Use morning urine for best results," it said. I hated the thought of waiting until morning to know my answer! It also said it could take up to 5 minutes for the test results to appear. That sounded like an eternity to stare at a test for 5 minutes wondering what is going on in my little body.

Jessie and I spent our night as we usually did, playing the card game Rummy and watching Serendipity yet again. We ate beef stroganoff for dinner and had our junk food snacks for dessert. We chatted on AOL instant messenger (AIM) with friends and boys. Finally, at midnight I could not stand waiting any longer. I wanted, needed, to know right now. So, we both tiptoed our way across the blackened living room into the bathroom, I needed Jessie for moral support. She turned her back to me so that I could do my business in private, I gave my sample to the white plastic stick, trying to not drop it in the toilet with my shaking hands filled with nerves. I prepared myself to wait the full 5 minutes, rationalizing that 5 minutes would be nothing compared to the wait I've had for the last 2 weeks. But before I even laid the stick of answers down on the ivory laminate counter, before my pants were even buttoned, there it was as if a magician had waved a wand and said, "abracadabra." Two pink lines.

"Oh my gosh," Jessie said. "You're pregnant!" In that instant I felt the transformation start, the one where the truth of your existence began and my heart rooted down to love you. I was shocked even though I had known deep down that it would be positive, and I was strangely happy. I had always wanted to be a Mom, my own Mom has a picture of me at my 9th birthday party with a balloon up my shirt pretending to be pregnant! I always knew one day I would be a Mom, though obviously this was a bit earlier than what was deemed as "okay" by society. My first thoughts weren't about my guilt and shame of my choices and confessing them to my family. It was about you and how much I already loved you, even in the short minute of knowing you were growing inside me. I went in that bathroom as a normal teenager and came out as a Mom in heart, with a new perspective and focus in life already changing my view.

The stress and worrying about how to tell my parents and all that I would need to do, and be, everything for you would come. But that night, I basked in the blessing that I had a baby in my belly. We went back to the computer and found babycenter.com to figure out my due date. June 11th, 2004 seemed like forever away! I was 6 weeks along and the website said you would be the size of a little lentil bean. Amazing how such a tiny bean could change a life so quickly. We looked up baby names for boys and girls. We gushed over how cute baby clothes are and I imagined what you might look like in them. Would you have your dad's blond hair? My green eyes? Would you be tall like him, or short like me?

Maybe to some I was irrational and immature, not seeing the reality yet of my choices and sins. But I needed that time to enjoy you without the stress of major decisions and disappointed family pressures. I knew tomorrow that I would face reality, but that night I wanted to just imagine life as it could be for us and to be excited about your arrival. Surrounded by the darkness of the early morning hours, not being able to push away my exhaustion any longer, I laid in the bed on my side left side (I read that was the best way on Baby Center, of course) and placed my hand on my belly to fall asleep. Hoping that the warmth and love of my hand would pass through to you, my little growing bean.

Love always, Your Birth Momma

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I'm an open book when it comes to my adoption and most of my life, for the simple fact that I want to be real and honest in hopes that it helps encourage others to know they aren't alone, or dare I sa