50 Stories of Hope #13: Mary’s Story

STORY 13/50: My adoption story begins in 1999. I was 19, reckless and carefree, a recent high school graduate, and living on my own for the first time. One day, staring down at a POSITIVE pregnancy test, I was hit with the reality of my choices. My life changed forever.

I was hit with excitement, fear, confusion, love. What would my parents and friends say? How could I raise a child when I could barely raise myself? I called my mom, and I clearly remember what she said: “We will get through this one day at a time.” I spent weeks questioning my ability to raise a child while maintaining my current lifestyle, which, selfishly, I wasn’t ready to give up.

When I was 5 months pregnant, I made the selfless decision to place my sweet baby for adoption. Scared and feeling alone, I made an appointment at New Life Family Services. My social worker welcomed me with open arms and a kind heart and walked me through my dreams for my baby. After weeks of tears and soul-searching, I knew adoption would be best. I began looking for a family, and little did I know, this would be the “easy part!” I shared the profiles with my mom and sister, and without discussion, we all knew Dave and Susan were “the ones!”

That spring, the most beautiful human I had ever seen entered this world. I spent three days in the hospital holding her and processing the great loss I would soon feel. On the third day, I hugged my baby girl and left the hospital empty-handed. At that moment, Sarah began her life with her family!

Opening the mailbox every month to an envelope of pictures sent through New Life allowed me to watch Sarah grow up from afar. But the years following her birth were filled with more poor decisions, moving 953 miles away, and trying to “find” myself. My relationship with her parents was strained. I wondered if I should back away, if my involvement in her life would complicate things, if I was a good enough role model. I knew I needed to make some serious changes in my life in order to gain Dave and Susan’s trust, so I set goals for myself and began working full-time.

Our openness grew naturally, and our time together went from 1–3 visits a year to 5–8+ visits! The last 22 years have been filled with soccer games, confirmation, prom, graduation, family holidays, and even Sarah standing next to me on my wedding day! These memories are worth all the pain and tears.

Sarah is a wonderful big sister to my son, Henry. They have a bond that I hope grows over the years. Most importantly, Sarah has a place in our family. My husband Eric and I have shared many special moments with Sarah and her parents. He has always accepted Sarah and is a big supporter of our story, as though he has always been part of it.

Placing Sarah for adoption was the hardest decision I have ever made. It was not made in haste, nor out of selfishness. I made that decision for Sarah. And every time I see her, that decision is solidified in our love and respect for each other.


(Sarah, Mary, Eric (Mary’s husband), and Henry (son)

Sarah, Mary, and Henry
Sarah, Henry, Mary, and Eric
Henry and Sarah