Chapter One: Teen Pregnancy

When I was 13 years old… the summer of ‘04 I was reading a book that featured teen pregnancy.

That same summer, several shows and movies also featured teen pregnancy.

Mean while, I was busy laying out on our back deck, doused in tanning oil, and blaring Bob Marley through our living room sound system and leaving the doors open. (It was probably 100 degrees every day that summer so our electric bill was probably insane!) I remember standing in our living room as I walked out on the back deck and thinking, “I wonder if this is a sign.” Literally.

In September of ‘04 I met someone. You know when you meet a person, and within seconds you’re like ok, I don’t know what’s going to happen here but something is and I NEED. TO. KNOW. YOU. Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me a few times. This was one of those times. He walked in a restaurant that I was eating at with my friends, (let’s call him JW because I don’t really think it’s safe or right for me to share about this person openly on the internet.) and I just instantly knew something. But also nothing at all because let’s be clear, I’m 13 here, so like every 13 year old in the world, I literally know nothingggggggg.

I don’t recall the rest of what happened that evening, or even the next week. I do remember that David Grey, Jason Mraz and John Mayer were all on repeat on my playlists.

We must have spent some more time together. We had mutual friends. Actually we had a best friend in common, let’s call him C. C had also been adopted and that’s how he and JW knew each other. Their parents had gone through some kind of adoptive parents group together before the boys had been born. Noticing a theme here?

If I remember correctly JW was back in town from somewhere. Maybe LA? Am I remembering that right? Look at me asking you like you were there too haha. Now that I think about it.. maybe he was back from rehab? Ugh it’s been too long, I can’t remember but it was one of the two. He had attended a local private school and had been the best wrestler in the state at the time, or set some records I think. He was the oldest of 4 boys. I think it’s worth noting that he had been adopted. His brothers, however, were related by blood to each other and their parents. JW clearly felt some kind of way about this, but would refuse to talk much about it. Another detail, is my mom had taught his brothers in Sunday school once upon a time because we went to church together but I did not know any of them then. The universe has a funny way of making sure things happen, I think.

Ok, so I met this person, we obviously spent time together. We got in a car wreck. It was a Monday in September and raining and I think that was my worst wreck to date, knock on wood, but we were both fine.

He became my boyfriend. I legit thought I was in love. Can I just remind you, I was so young and literally knew nothing. Nothing. But I thought that’s what I was feeling.

We’re not dummies here. We know what happens next.

We broke up, duh, because we’re so young. It’s winter by now. Apparently he had enlisted in the Marines and hadn’t told me. About two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Oh did I mention JW was 19 and I was 14 through all of this? Minor detail here. haha. Minor.

It’s funny to think about this on this particular day because it would have been about this time in 2005 that I found out I was pregnant and told my mom.

Ok, so I was pregnant, I knew because I was getting so light headed which was very unusual and then I remembered all those “signs” from the previous summer. I went to a Walgreens to buy a pregnancy test and took the test in the bathroom of a grocery store. I could not take that thing inside my house. My mom would just know about it. Sense it.

Before I saw what was on the test, you know just like any teen would… my friend and I talked about abortion. We talked about raising a baby. How cute would it be to dress the baby like me? We could be like Lorelai and Rory on Gilmore Girls. I could do it, right? Or maybe I couldn’t. Maybe I should have an abortion and not tell anyone. That seemed reasonable. I was 14, knew someone with a car, I could probably pull that off. I imagine we talked about adoption too but I more so remember the rest.

My mom was adopted, so I knew about it. I understood how much her parents loved her. They always framed it like they got to choose her so she was so special. And as you’ll remember, JW was adopted. It was in both of our vocabulary.

As soon as I saw that test I fell to the floor, and I knew. ADOPTION. And that’s all there was. Adoption was the only options.

LOVE,

MEL BELL SHEFF