Kara stood in the doorway of her apartment watching several little children dash back and forth in the hallway. She gazed upon them kindly, mentally sharing in their fun. But as the noises the children made became louder and louder, her kindness evaporated. She became agitated. The children weren't misbehaving. They were just having a good time. Yet, as their shrieks escalated, Kara felt the urge to scream well inside her. She wanted to shriek louder than all their noises combined until the commotion stopped.
Kara has a chemical imbalance and suffers from severe bouts of depression. She is fine as long as she maintains her daily schedule: waking up at the same time each morning, taking her prescribed medication, and going to work. Every night, on her way home from work, she visits the smoky, dingy bar located next to her apartment building. It's the highlight of her day. She and Pat, the bartender, have become great friends. Pat helps her. Pat listens to her. Pat sometimes gives her free drinks. One night, a stranger asked if he could buy Kara a beer. Kara smiled and readily accepted the offer. Many beers later, that stranger was helping Kara stumble up to her apartment.
Seven weeks later, Kara realized something unusual was happening to her. She dismissed the notion that she might be pregnant and continued her daily routine. The unusual feelings didn't go away, and two weeks later she couldn't ignore the possibility that she might be pregnant. Fear washed over her like a wave. Kara scrambled to scrape together as much change as she could find in her drab two-room apartment. She hurried to the corner drugstore for a pregnancy test kit. On her way home she felt as if she was being strangled. She imagined that the people she passed could hear her heart thumping in her chest. It was the beginning of one of her dreaded panic attacks.
Kara tested positive. "What now?" she thought. Kara knew she couldn't be a mother. She couldn't handle it. Her depressions were deep, dark valleys with cold stone walls. Sometimes it took her days to walk through them. Sometimes they ended near the brink of suicide. Now was one of those times. Ending it all would solve both problems at once -- no more depression, no more pregnancy. But from somewhere deep within her confused mind came a voice that said, "You can kill yourself, Kara, but what about the baby? Doesn't the baby deserve a chance to live?"
"A baby. A helpless little baby," she thought. Kara realized she couldn't bring herself to do anything to harm this new person inside her. She determined to keep the baby. It was her baby. Kara had been alone for several years, but no more. This was a reason to live, a reason to go on. From that instant, Kara decided to work every waking moment. She took on a second job. She stopped visiting the bar. It was often closed by the time she came home from her second job anyway. But, no matter how many hours Kara worked, the money was not adding up. Kara wondered how she could care for this baby and still work the hours she needed to. Her anxiety brought back the panic attacks. She had one attack during her second shift job. She was fired. On her way home, with tears streaming down her face, Kara realized she could never take care of this baby.
Flipping through the yellow pages, Kara saw a listing for pregnancy services. Hoping someone had the answer she needed, she dialed the number. The lady who answered the phone at the center had a reassuring voice. She spoke as if she wanted to be Kara's friend. With a shaky voice Kara explained what was happening to her. The kind lady asked Kara if she could visit their office. Kara quickly agreed and set up a time.
When Kara arrived at the center, she was warmly greeted and shown to a room with a pretty couch and pictures of babies on all the walls. A lady with glasses and graying hair entered the room and sat down next to her. Within five minutes Kara was crying into her shoulder, telling her the whole story.
The counselor listed the options available to Kara. She listened in amazement. There was hope. This lady was telling her there are people out there who are looking for a baby just like hers. The best part was that Kara could pick who would get to have her baby. This was better than Kara could have ever imagined. She asked the lady how soon she could find these people who would adopt her baby. The counselor stood up and said she'd be back in a minute. When the counselor returned, her arms were loaded with photo albums. Kara was confused, but she waited quietly. The counselor neatly arranged the albums on the table in front of Kara. She explained that Kara was to take as much time as she needed to look through each photo album. Each album contained information and photos of a prospective adoption family. Kara could decide all by herself who would be the parents of her baby. Her baby could have all the benefits that a loving home and material goods could provide.
At the beginning of each album was a letter from the prospective parents to Kara. The letter told about the family and why they wanted to take care of Kara's baby. With tears rolling down her cheeks, Kara read and looked through each photo book. All the families were good choices. Then she picked up one of the last albums. She opened the cover slowly and saw the most beautiful picture of a lady and man with their arms wrapped around each other. The lady had dark hair and blue eyes. The man was handsome with sandy brown hair and dark, kind eyes. They both seemed to be looking at Kara, pleading with her to pick them to parent her baby. Kara knew instantly that they were the ones.
Kara emerged from the counseling room with a radiant smile. The gray-haired lady knew that Kara had found her baby's family. As Kara headed home that evening, the sunset seemed to promise better days ahead. Everything was arranged. Kara could now bring her baby into a world of peace that she had never known.
This story is fiction based on fact. For more information about open adoption from a center that has been offering this service for years, contact: Brenda Newport, Executive Director, Women's Care Center of Erie County, 2503 West 15th Street, Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505, (814) 836-7505
Marjori Masitto Krause, B.S., is an Account Executive for Marketing Partners, Inc. She can be reached at 1-800-588-7744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.