Editor: Darrick Rizzo tells more of his story below. You can find more about Rizzo and his forthcoming book at his website, theopenadoption.com.
Some experiences can change a person’s life forever. My life changed at the young age of 18-years-old, when I had just entered college and my girlfriend informed me that she was pregnant. It was not a planned pregnancy, but something in me did not want to give my child up. More than being shocked, I found myself deeply involved and wanting to bring my child into this world. For the first five months we kept the pregnancy a secret from our family and friends as we did not want anyone to tell us that we were not ready to have this baby. During this time, we did not speak about adoption.
But something as big as pregnancy can never be hidden for long; eventually her family found out and thereafter persuaded us to place our baby for adoption. At first, I was strictly against it. The very thought of losing my child to another and to never see my baby again was just unacceptable. For me, a child should be raised by his birth parents. Additionally, although I had yet to inform my parents of my girlfriend’s pregnancy, let alone tell them about the adoption, I knew that my mother would have forbidden the adoption and would have wanted to help us raise our child.
After immense persuasion from my girlfriend, I reluctantly found myself browsing for information about open adoption. The more I read about it, the more I found myself questioning my initial reaction and trying to figure out fatherhood through open adoption. When I realized that open adoption allowed me to be a part of my baby’s life from the very beginning, I felt that open adoption might be the right way to go for my child and also myself as a father. So I gave in, and agreed to the concept of open adoption. Through this experience I found myself wholly involved in each and every step of the adoption process.
Through the process we learned about couples interested in adopting as well as the two kinds of open adoption. One kind of open adoption was totally open while the other was semi-open—where letters and pictures would be facilitated between the birth parents, adoption agency and the adoptive parents. At first I was quite apprehensive of the couples who were interested. I had no clue of how I would be able to know that they would care for my child like their own. And unlike other adoption processes, I was without any professional that provided counseling through the entire adoption procedure. Through the process, my girlfriend and I got to sit with five potential adoptive parents, interview them, and then decide on who would be perfect for our child. Out of the five couples, we found the perfect parents, who were in a biracial relationship just like my girlfriend and I.
The decision-making process was complicated, emotional, and overshadowed other activities in my life. The pregnancy and adoption were happening while I was in school and I could hardly concentrate because this was about more than just books and making it big in life. This was my child we were talking about. I wasn’t willing to “give up” my child; I felt responsible for his well-being. Thank God for open adoption. Through it I knew that my child would know his birth father from the start and I would not have to miss out on the important days of my child’s life.
My girlfriend gave birth to our son on the 18th of June. I had only three days before I could say goodbye.