At the age of 16, Maya M. Thomas did something that would face the harsh judgment of her close-knit churchgoing community, not to mention her own family. Not only had she broken her promise to God to remain chaste — a vow she had taken in front of the entire congregation — but she had become pregnant, keeping it a secret until it was too late for any choice other than to have the baby.
“As scared as I was, there was a part of me that would not allow me to let abortion be an option,” she explains in her memoir, Coping With Adoption. But having the baby would come at a steep cost. Her father insisted that she give the child up; should she refuse, she would no longer be welcome to live in her family’s house or be supported financially in any way.
And so begins what Maya calls the “war with myself” — a war that would wage long after childbirth, long after reluctantly signing the adoption papers, and long after being blessed with two other children. It’s a war whose battlefields are in the mind and the heart and the soul. Its weapons are thoughts and echoes of shame, regret, guilt, fury, fear. At 16, how could Maya know how much her decisions would not only affect her life, but the life of her son?
Her journey would take her into the pit of grief and despair. Eventually, she asks the adoptive mother if she can see and meet with her son, a request that’s granted several times — only to be taken away because the adoptive father disagrees with the arrangement. And that’s not even the most heartbreaking part, as secrets are revealed and Maya is left standing on the sidelines watching her son’s life situation change, and his sunny disposition along with it.
SHARING LIFE’S LESSONS WITH THOSE IN NEED OF SUPPORT
While the big publishing houses struggle with #OwnVoices, the indie press has been there all along, a platform for people to tell their stories, regardless of where they come from, how they self-identify, and whether or not they have connections or literary creds or even society’s “permission.”
And thank goodness for that. This is a raw, unvarnished work that tells it like it is in an emotional maelstrom of anger, hurt and sorrow — but also insight and self-reflection. It is clear that the shame and fear of people wielding authority over Maya are what drive their harsh demands and refusals. Her reluctance to trust her own judgment or even stand up for herself will make you want to run to her side with a sword and shield at the ready.
Yet in the end, she transforms these experiences into valuable lessons — ones to pass to other women who may be finding themselves young, unsupported, pregnant … and unsure of what to do next.
“Whatever your decision is,” says Maya, “let it be yours and yours alone. Remember that it takes a strong woman to step up and be a mother that provides for and raises a child. It also takes a strong woman to let go and give a child to someone who can and will give them a better life. Do not allow anyone to diminish your light and make you feel unworthy.”
Coping With Adoption is available to purchase on Amazon.