I want to share with you this story of real life written by a fire wife in our community.  Have your tissues handy because it’s a heart wrencher with the happiest of endings.  Thank you Jenni!  -Lori, caretaker of FirefighterWife.com

Like a lot girls in high school, my choices in guys were not always ideal. I dismissed the nice ones and was flattered when the good looking bad boys paid attention to me. I dated the same guy for a long time during my sophomore year. Eventually I found out that he had cheated on me several times, so I ended things with him even though I still cared for him. It was tough and things were about to get much tougher.

I was “16 and Pregnant” long before MTV had ever considered any reality TV shows. MTV likes to make the girls into celebrities and my experience was the complete opposite. I tried to keep it to myself for a long time. My ex was completely surprised when I eventually called him. He was supportive of whatever I wanted to do, but did not want anyone else to find out including his father. Since my family could barely support my younger sister and me; I really did not have many options. I made the choice to pick a family to give up my baby to adoption to provide a better home. I had to read through written descriptions of families that I would never meet face to face. I eventually picked a religious family that had also adopted a son in the past. I always thought that if I had an older brother looking out for me, things may have been different.

I missed the first few months of my junior year and had tutors come to the house in order to maintain my education. Only a few friends actually knew what was going on. Others thought that I was helping my aunt who had surgery and a little girl. That was true, but I left out what was going on with me. I was pretty much secluded from the rest of the world and as an extrovert that was tough. I often wondered why this happened to me because most everyone I knew was having sex at our age. I was living a lie and was not sure what was going to happen when I went back to school.

I had my baby girl on October 30, 1990 and left the hospital before she did. I thought it was best for the adoptive family to name her. The day that I had to go down to the courthouse was one of the worst days of my life. I went to the hospital and held her in a rocking chair for what seemed to be hours, but eventually I had to go sign the papers with her dad. I took a letter and a necklace with a locket that had a picture of her dad and me. I remember crying outside the courthouse that I had to sign away my baby girl. Her dad tried to console me and was very positive that she would find us some day. I still tear up every time I think about that day.

I eventually went back to school and tried to maintain the lie. It took me a long time to start dating again. Of course when I did, I still chose the wrong ones. When I was nineteen, I met a guy who was 6 years older than me. We fought off and on and I kept thinking it would get better if he still wanted to be with me. It was emotionally and physically abusive. He convinced me to quit school since I was paying for it on my own. I should have known at the time to get out, but I also did not have any friends or family around that knew what was going on. School was put on hold and then I maintained another lie that I was in a healthy relationship.

We eventually got married and I thought that things would change. He wanted someone to cater to him like his mother did. We had two kids and things did not get better after that. I had a good friend at work that recognized what was going on and tried to warn me. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he started arguing in front of the kids. I did not want them growing up in that kind of house. My kids were one and three years old and I moved out with only one paycheck to my name. I had to charge groceries, furniture, and gas on to a credit card that I knew I was not going to be able to pay off each month. It was tough, but life was so much better not being with him on a daily basis. That is the choice that I made to give my children a better life. Since then, I have always told people to not get married with the expectations of change; people do not change unless they want to.

At twenty-seven years old, I was finally learning what I wanted out of life and tried to make up for a lot of missed years. I was finally focusing on me for a change. The thought of my little girl was always in the back of my head. I wondered if I did right by her. I did see her dad once at that time and he remained positive that someday we would meet her. I could have pursued another relationship with him again, but he really had not changed his partying ways and my two young children were my top priority.

I met my current husband 6 months after my divorce and life is good with the exception of my ex still trying to control my life ten years later. That is a whole other story! Of course every relationship is going to have its ups and downs, but it is how you get through them that matters. The good needs to outweigh the bad if it is going to work out. Communication is the key to any relationship.

On the day of October 30, 2007, I took a risk. I posted on the adoption forum page of MySpace. I said “Happy Birthday to my little girl. It happened 17 years ago today at St. Ann’s hospital in Westerville, Ohio. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you.” To my surprise, I received a message a few hours later from someone that claimed to be a search angel. She told me that my daughter was in Memphis, Tennessee and included a link to a MySpace page. I could not believe what I was reading. I was leery at first thinking it was a scam until I clicked on the link and saw a beautiful brunette with blue-gray eyes, a big smile, and a birthday crown. I knew it was her. I found her 17 years later and her name is Carol!

I did not know what to do with this information since I did not think I should contact her directly, so I contacted someone who said they were friends with her. He said that he knew she was adopted. I asked if he knew anything about a necklace. He said, “Yes, I have seen the locket”. I could not believe it. He said that her parents were discussing the issue with their church and that I would hear back eventually. A long four days went by and I finally got a message directly from her that said, “Hey it’s been awhile”. We messaged back and forth online for the next couple of months. I quickly learned that we had a lot in common. Taking the risk to contact her friend was the best decision I made in a long time.

We finally met on my birthday that year when she came to town to visit. It was kind of tough explaining to my younger kids that they have an older sister, but they accepted it and were happy about it. Obviously I have not told them the whole story, but I had no problems telling Carol that the condom broke after the high school Sweetheart Dance. She likes to tell her friends that you cannot always rely on condoms because she is living proof. Since meeting four years ago, she is a big part of our family. We try to visit as much as possible, but it is not easy being nine hours away. Text messaging and Facebook help a lot to keep in touch. We can joke about how she was conceived, but the fact remains that she was meant to be.

Finding my daughter and meeting my current husband have allowed me to be the person that I am today. At thirty-eight years old, I am still trying to finish my degree and hope to be done within this decade. Working full time, family commitments, and school is not always an easy balance; but I take it day by day. I know that I have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes, but I try to not have regrets and consider it lessons learned. I can honestly say that even though I have not achieved all of my goals yet, I am finally a whole person.

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.