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“I didn’t know a lot about adoption. It seemed to me something where, after you have your baby, you send it off into the abyss, and then you never know what happens to it,” she says. “But when I found out I can be a part of my baby’s life, that I can see pictures of him or talk to him on the phone, it became one of those things where I can have my cake and eat it too.”

She started with a hundred or so online profiles of families looking to adopt. She did a quick narrowing process, picking 30 favorites based solely on the aesthetic of the profiles’ webpages. Those she read carefully.

“Apparently, everybody loves to bake chocolate-chip cookies. Everybody loves their famous chocolate-chip cookies,” she says. “But rarely did they have pictures of them baking chocolate-chip cookies. It seemed like they were following some formulaic American dream, like they were trying too hard.”

But then Tai found the Quinns, a San Diego family whose profile included photos of the family traveling around the world and, yes, baking chocolate-chip cookies.

“They also had a picture where they were doing a christening for one of the other babies in the family, and they said that he was wearing a christening gown that was, like, 20 generations old. It was familial, and that was important,” she says. “I felt like the life my son was going to have would be similar to the one I had growing up.”

For the first meeting, the Quinns drove up to Valencia, in Los Angeles County, where Tai lived with her family. They talked and got to know each other, skirting the issue of adoption.

“Toward the end of the evening, we began to talk about the logistics of adoption and all these really random things, like, if it was a boy, would I want him circumcised, and who would name the baby,” Tai says. “It was really nerve-racking, but when they left it was exciting to know we had made this next step and that everything was going the way we had hoped it would go.”

Up until that point — three or four months into her pregnancy — although Tai had warmed to the idea of adoption, she still secretly reserved the right to change her mind. Meeting the Quinns solidified her commitment. During their visit, she learned that they had been matched with several other birth mothers, but each time someone had pulled out at the last minute. If this attempt didn’t work out, they planned to discontinue their search for a baby.

“I knew I couldn’t change my mind anymore,” Tai says. “This wasn’t just going to affect me and my baby. It was going to affect this whole family’s lives if I changed my mind.”

Tai continued to go to high school through her pregnancy. But it became apparent to her that the pregnancy and adoption were causing her to mature faster than her peers. Even the baby’s father got on her nerves. On a trip to the hospital for a tour, she asked him to hold her purse, and when she asked for it back, he said no and ran down the hall.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I cannot be with this guy any longer,’” she says.

Soon after, they broke up, though they would remain friends for a year or two after the baby’s birth.

Knowing she would give her baby to another family to raise did not keep Tai from bonding with him during her pregnancy. When he began to kick, she felt a connection to him, and she played with his limbs inside her belly.

“I think I always knew that he’s not my baby but he’s still my family,” she recalls.

Tai went to her doctor when the baby was overdue. The doctor examined her, and when he found that her cervix hadn’t ripened, he suggested a C-section birth. But Tai knew that mothers recovered from C-sections in the postoperative ward, and she was uncomfortable with that.

“When you have a C-section, you recover in a different area from the baby,” she says, “and I wanted to spend that time with him. I wanted to be near him.”

Fortunately for Tai, both her mother and grandmother were labor and delivery nurses. Her mother suggested Cervidil to ripen her cervix and Pitocin to get the contractions moving along. The doctor agreed, gave her the drugs, and then broke her water the next morning.

“Everything moved smoothly from there. I think I was only in active labor for two to four hours,” Tai recalls. “People don’t appreciate me saying this, but I found the whole thing to be relatively easy.”

Tai’s parents and grandparents and the baby’s father were present. The Quinns were at the hospital but not in the room while she gave birth.

“There were a lot of people looking at my ‘down there’ around that time,” Tai says. “But Ted Quinn is a man who is not a doctor, and I would have been uncomfortable with him in the room. So I asked if they would wait outside.”

Tai’s mother was the first to hold the baby. When she handed him to Tai, who tried to feed him, he would not eat. The frustration she felt at his refusal to eat confirmed the decision she’d made to place him for adoption.

“I kept thinking, ‘I was going to take this baby home and try to get him to eat and wake up in the middle of the night and not do any fun teenager things,’” Tai tells me. “I thought, ‘I’m so glad I’m not doing this. I’m not strong enough for this right now. Thank God I can leave this hospital and be a teenager again.’”

Her sense of relief did not diminish her pain. On the day after John Quinn was born, Tai requested one day alone with him. She told her mother to let the Quinns know that she wasn’t changing her mind, but since they would get John to themselves for the rest of his life, she wanted him to herself for this one day.

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Comments

jmcgrory Jan. 26, 2011 @ 8:40 p.m.

Thank you. Your story highlights the trials, fears, loss, and grieving that must occur with adoption with astounding equanimity for someone who was parented through a closed-adoption. It is a beautiful story that is neither pollyannish nor fear mongering--just truthful. It shows that knowledge and education provide freedom and the ability to live fully, but that the emotional impact will be heavy.

Jim McGrory Executive Director Rising Wings-A National Adoption Campaign risingwings.org

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mrsasoro Jan. 27, 2011 @ 7:27 a.m.

What a well written article! I want to thank you for sharing your experience with us, it was truly a pleasure to read.

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AdoptionAdvocated Jan. 27, 2011 @ 9:25 a.m.

Thank you for sharing your story. It is one that many are dealing with and we at American Adoption Congress are working for reform. Please check us out at www.americanadoptioncogress.org

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WendyBarkett Jan. 27, 2011 @ 1:57 p.m.

I saw a link to your story on facebook. Some days I read the stories, other days I pass over them. I'm not sure what made me decide to click it and read it, but I am glad that I did and I thank you for sharing it. Wanting to hear your birth story. I began to cry with such force when I read that. I thought I was looking in my own search for a photo, for medical history. When I found my first mother at a grave is when I started to know, to feel, that I was looking for so much more, something I too may never get. I've made a video on my search. I will post my link in hopes that you check your comments......it's just my way of sharing my story with those who a part of the triad as well as those who are not, as well as a hope that I may hear from someone who knew Dottye who can tell me a part of my own birth story. Sending hugs of support your way~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNiG76...

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davidduffy Jan. 29, 2011 @ 6:08 p.m.

I read your story straight through and marveled at how similar reunion stories are. I applaud you for writing about an emotional topic with such clarity. For several years, I was involved with an organization called P.A.C.E.R., the Post-Adoption Center for Education and Research. First simply as a support group member, then leader, then board member. I met and worked with hundreds of members of the adoption triad and eventually did my doctoral dissertation on the subject.

It still astonishes me when friends say...."But I thought adoption was such a happy thing!" Thank you for telling your story and presenting a very accurate picture of an open adoption that is working well. Dr. David Duffy, La Mesa

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tbrown808 Feb. 1, 2011 @ 8:52 p.m.

Wow, I just did not think a harden ol’man who is 55 could drop a tear in public, but reading this over dinner tonight at a small out of the way dinner made me do just that. At first when I picked it up I ran all the scenarios around in my head of what this article could conjure up. I never saw the “story” of my birth as really deep down the thing I sought as an adopted child. I’ve done the search thing back when I was in my “wondering” 40’s, I used the excuse that I needed my medical history to hire a private investigator to search for my birth parents, really my mother. After a grueling year of nothing, I resigned just to never have the ability to meet her and if it was meant to be she would find me, after all she had a lot more information about me that I her. Women are the hardest to find, uall change ur names, marry, disappear into society so well. Yes I want my birth story, even now after 55 years, I had to come back to my office to write this, the tears flow like water I want and need to to fill the whole… Thanks…POWERFULL Maybe someday I will write you and be able to tell you my birth story…any suggestions on where to start this process again...

tbrown808

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