Meet Colette and Maddie

"I imagined a life greater than my own for the child I had created. I decided that nothing would stop that from happening for my baby."

November 1, 2015.

I know to most of you today is just another day, Sunday, the day after Halloween, All Souls Day, or to some Dia De los Muertos. To me today is so much more than that. Today is the day my whole life changed 6 years ago.

Six years ago today I was 17 years old. A junior in high school. A girl who had been dating her first boyfriend since age 15 and for a total of three and half years. When you’re that young you don’t think the things that you see in movies could happen to you. Truth is, they can, and they will. I grew up fast. I had to because I had a life growing inside of me. 5 months pregnant and I didn’t even know. How did I not know for all of those months? The signs were there but I didn’t want to believe it.

I had 4 months to figure out what the rest of my life would look like. At 17 that’s a hard thing to think about. Telling my friends was terrifying but at the time they all supported me. I was able to hide my little belly at school every day and although there were whispers no one ever confronted me, no one knew for sure. When I came to terms with how my life was looking I started to get excited. I would feel little kicks early in the morning sitting at my desk. I couldn’t wait to hold that baby. My family and I would talk about everything. The good and the bad. My family is what held me together along with my dear counselor from The Children’s Home. Each night I would get home and email her right away, telling her about my day and asking questions, telling her my problems, fears, excitements. Eventually adoption was brought up. I knew what it was, but I never had thought about what that all meant…until it was given to me as an option. I talked about it with my parents, boyfriend, and counselor but didn’t give it too much thought. I would get angry whenever it was brought up. Why was this being thrown at me? Profiles of parents hoping to adopt in PA were sent to me. I’d look at a few and toss them aside. Eventually I made a few piles….definitely not, probably not, and possibly. There were 2 profiles in the possibly pile but still I wasn’t that serious about it.

The one couple who stood out the most had a 4 year old daughter and had a lot in common with my family. My mom had a dream one night that the father was coming to South Bend for a Notre Dame game. She emailed my counselor and said she probably sounds crazy but asked if she could find out if they were coming into town. My counselor said she could try to find out but no promises. Turns out he and his dad were coming for the football game that weekend. Weird, right? So we set up a date and went out to meet them for dinner. What’s the worst that could happen? All we were doing is seeing what this guy was like. This was about a week before Halloween at this point. My parents, boyfriend, the father looking to adopt, his dad, and I all met at the restaurant. I sat there and just listened most of the night. Watching my parents interact with him and his father. My boyfriend and I sitting there looking at each other. I had made a little photo album of me and my boyfriend to give to him so he could know a little more about us and take it home for his wife to see. Not once did he ask about the baby. It was just a normal night. He was one of the sweetest, kindest men I’d ever met and seemed to have such great morals.

I got home that night and went to bed just like any other day, although that night I felt different. I put my head on my pillow and began to cry. I’d been doing a lot of that but that night was a different cry. It was a cry of knowing that this child was not meant to be mine. I believed that God created this child for someone else. Thoughts went through my mind such as how was I supposed to support a child when I didn’t have a job and neither did my boyfriend? I didn’t want this child to live in a house with just one parent or to be moved back and forth from mom to dad. I loved this guy but who knew if I’d be with him forever. How could I let a child not grow up without their father? There were so many things I wanted to give this baby that I just didn’t have. That’s what broke my heart. I imagined a life greater than my own for the child I had created. I decided that nothing would stop that from happening for my baby.

A week later Halloween came and my dad and I went apple picking. I remember climbing up the ladders to pick the apples with my little belly. I still had so much energy and felt great. At night I got all dressed up like a butterfly, I wasn’t going out because I didn’t want to be seen but it was still fun dressing up. That night I woke up around 2am and told my mom something wasn’t normal. We called the midwives and then ended up going to the hospital.  Turns out I was in labor and at 6:43am on November 1st of 2009 that beautiful little 7lb 10oz girl was born. That was the first time I knew what real love was. Tears filled my eyes as I looked down into hers. I knew these would be our first and last moments together. These moments would be the absolute very best and worst of my life.

The three days I got to spend with her in the hospital are three days I will never forget. The hardest three days of my entire life. When this day comes each year I remember it all so vividly I could write an entire book on it. The depression and tears that come along with it each year isn’t easy but I would go through it all over again if it meant my daughter would have the best life imaginable. I’ve been called names, been attacked by cruel words, and put down by some people I thought would stand by my side forever. Times like these are the ones that show you who your true friends are and if it weren’t for that little girl I would not be as strong as I am today.

Madeleine Genevieve is now 6 years old living with her older adopted sister, mom, dad, and doggy in Pittsburgh. Our relationship is 100% open and seeing that little smile is what I live for. Every single thing I do is for that little girl. She will grow up to be proud of the woman I’ve become because of her. She is what makes me strive to do my very best. I cried tears of happiness on college graduation night, as she was able to watch my ceremony live online.

Even if we only are together for a few days out of the year, those days are what keep me going! It blows my mind to learn more about her. Her love for horses continues to grow. We just skyped with each other the Friday before her birthday and I got to watch her open her birthday gifts. Her eyes lit up when she saw the Breyer horse I got her, which is something I get for her each year.  While we skyped, she was telling me about her day in school and how excited she is to trick-or-treat with her cousins in Virginia. Her mom was telling me how she loves Halloween weekend because she gets to dress up, get candy, open gifts, and eat cake. Of course I said what else do you need?  When it was time to go she hugged the ipad and gave me a kiss.

In having such an open adoption, each year new things happen and each year I feel as if we grow closer. The way she looks up to me is beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined 6 years ago. Our last visit toward the end of summer she looked at me and said, “You’re my birthmom!” I smiled so big I didn’t know what to do. Maddie knows exactly who I am and she adores me. My heart is full.