I met Shawn my sophomore year. He sat right next to me in World Studies class.  All I noticed was that he played hockey and occasionally talked about practice or his game. He was a nice guy, but I wasn’t really interested in him. The following summer, we started hanging out with friends. By fall, Shawn and I were officially dating. Every night, we would find a way to be together, even if that meant I would lie to my parents about where I was going. I felt as if we would be together forever.

After Prom, we made the decision to start having sex. I now realize that I was trying to hold on to someone who was not going to hold on to me. We thought we were ready for it. Little did we know that what the future held was not what we had expected, or planned. We continued dating throughout the summer, and after many rough nights of arguing and jealousy, Shawn decided he did not want to be together anymore.

One September night, I went to a high school football game. When I got home I noticed that I was short of breath and swollen underneath my ribs. When I showed my parents, they immediately rushed me to the emergency room. After many tests, the doctor walked into the room with the results. As my mom stood beside me and my dad sat in the chair directly in front of the bed, I heard the doctor say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but we got the test results back and have come to find that Michelle is pregnant.”  I was in shock.  I have never cried so hard and felt so ashamed, embarrassed, and destroyed inside as I did the morning of September 25, 1997.  I was quickly in denial telling the doctor that they had made a mistake – it couldn’t be. But in reality it was true.

I gathered my thoughts and knew what I had to do. Adoption was the only option for me. I love little kids, but I knew that I was not financially or mentally prepared to raise a child on my own.  My mom had mentioned to me that she had a close friend who had adopted a little girl a year before. She had called my mom the week before and asked if my mom knew of anyone who was pregnant and thinking about adoption because they were looking to adopt again. It was perfect timing, and in my eyes, it was a sign that adoption was right for me. I called up the family immediately, and they were thrilled. The decision was made. The adoptive parents were chosen. I knew how they raised their child and how they would raise my little boy. Our families had similar lifestyles, and I knew that he would have some of the same opportunities growing up that I had – and maybe even more.

Then I knew I had to tell Shawn. I went to his house and sat him down in the backyard. I started crying and told him the whole story. He too began to cry, not knowing what to say. I assured him everything would be fine and that I had made the decision to place the baby for adoption. Shawn agreed with me that it was the best thing to do. He said he was not ready to help me raise a child, which just reinforced the fact that if I were to keep the baby, he would not have a father figure in his life – at least not a stable father figure.

Bradley Tyson was born February 24, 1998 at 2:50 a.m. The next two days, our room was filled with friends and family, and Shawn and I spent all the time that we could with Bradley. Finally the time had come and we had to leave the hospital. Shawn and I went to my house and spent the last hour with Bradley. The attorney arrived shortly after, and as soon as the legal papers stating that we relinquished our rights to the adoptive parents were signed, they were called and came over to pick up their new little baby boy. With the help of my mom, I handed my 5-pound, 15-ounce little boy to his adoptive mom, and we all cried and hugged. They thanked Shawn and me and promised to always keep in touch and send pictures and letters as often as possible.  It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but at the same time, I knew it was the right thing for me to do. As they walked out the door, I stood motionless and watched as they drove out of sight. All I could do was whisper, “Goodbye, I will always love you.”

The next few months and years have all gone by so fast and Bradley, now known as Ryan, is always with me in my heart. I have kept in touch with the family, and they have kept their promise to send pictures and letters with updates of all the activities he is involved in. Over the years, I have been able to see all the wonderful things he has been able to do. He has all these opportunities because of adoption. Seeing his smiling face in pictures makes all my fears and doubts go away.

I want to encourage people to always do what is right for them and understand that adoption is a positive alternative. I am confident that I will one day get to meet Ryan again. Since I first found out I was pregnant, I began keeping a journal in which I write letters to my son. I continue to write in my journal so that when that day comes for us to meet again, he will know that every moment we were apart I loved him and was waiting for the moment when we would be together again! The adoptive family and I have a wonderful relationship, and I am grateful to them every day for giving their son and my little boy everything in life that I had always dreamed of giving to him.

Today Ryan is 15 years old. Time has gone by so fast, and so much has happened. In 2008, I got married and since then, my husband and I have had our first child, Callie. When I first found out I was pregnant, there were a lot of emotions that ran through my mind. I was nervous, excited, scared, and constantly wondered how this pregnancy would be similar or different to my pregnancy with Ryan. As it turns out, both pregnancies were very different and this time we were having a girl.

A lot of my emotions and feelings surrounded my adoption experience. Thoughts and feelings resurfaced, and I was unsure how things would be once I delivered our baby girl. Being a new mom and parenting this child has brought about a new perspective and appreciation for adoption. I used to tell other birth mothers that I could have raised Ryan, and he would have been just fine. As much as I still believe he would have been fine if I had parented him, I am now reassured more than ever that I made the right decision in choosing adoption. He would have had all the love in the world, but I could not have done it on my own.

I never realized that I still needed adoption closure until I had my daughter. Parenting her has been an absolute dream but also the hardest job I have ever had. I know at 17 years old, I would not have been able to give Ryan the life he deserved. I would not have been able to provide for him financially, emotionally, and physically without another full-time partner. Choosing adoption for Ryan was the most difficult decision I have ever made, but now that I have my daughter, I am even more sure that I made the best decision for him. I know that he has the family he was meant to be with and that everything truly did happen for a reason.

I love both Ryan and Callie equally, and Callie will grow up knowing about her half-brother. I hope that they will one day be able to meet, whenever Ryan is ready or wants to. My children mean the world to me, and I never knew it could feel so good to have the experience of adoption AND the experience of parenting. I have closure, and I am at peace with the decision to place Ryan when I was 17 years old. Now, as a 30-something, I am able to provide my second child with what she deserves.