i tried to give away my own child
Christina Fisher, 38, made the hardest decision of her life. then her baby was born...and everything changed
My life was tough. I couldn’t bring another child into it
Asurreal sense of disbelief enveloped me as the sonographer smeared icy gel onto my belly.
I shouldn’t be here, I thought. This shouldn’t be happening.
But here I was, aged 35, having a 12-week scan for a baby I’d never planned.
‘Excited?’ the sonographer said, as the monitor flickered to life.
I was about to nod, make all the expected noises. But as a fuzzy little shape appeared on the screen, I felt a jolt of shock.
There was my baby.
As if to say ‘Hello, Mummy!’
My baby, who I was planning to give away.
It was July 2015, and since discovering I was pregnant weeks earlier, my head had been in a whirl.
The baby’s dad, a casual fling, had made it clear he didn’t want to be involved.
And though I was already a single mum to my daughter Debra, 17, I was in no position to raise another child.
Despite working 60-hour weeks as a fast-food restaurant manager, I constantly struggled to make ends meet.
We didn’t even have a permanent home, lived in a caravan park. I knew I couldn’t terminate this pregnancy, but my life was tough. I couldn’t bring another child into it.
‘It wouldn’t be fair on the poor little mite,’ I told Debra, tearfully, as we looked at the scan pictures together back home.
I’d already told her I planned to put my baby up for adoption. She looked so upset.
‘I’ve waited years for you to give me a sibling,’ she sighed.
Guilt throbbed. But she understood my reasons, said she’d support me.
All the same, doubts gnawed at me those next few weeks.
Could I really give up my own flesh and blood?
When I felt tiny flutters in my belly at 16 weeks, I felt torn. His or her first kicks, I thought, smiling despite myself.
Deep down, I knew I was already bonding with this baby, but I pushed the feelings away.
I have to do the right thing,
I told myself.
At my 20-week scan, in September 2015, there was more news.
I was having another little girl. My imagination whirred into action, firing girls’ names and faces into my mind.
No, I told myself. I have to stay detached.
At six months pregnant, I picked up the phone and made the hardest call.
‘I need your help,’ I told the lady at the adoption agency.
Going in to sign the papers, I felt numb.
‘I want a family who’ll love my girl as their own,’ I told them.
Back home, Debra and I pored over a wad of documents. Each one showed a different couple – all desperate to adopt a newborn.
Eventually, we picked a young couple who lived a fivehour drive from our home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
We spoke on the phone weekly.
‘We’re thrilled you’ve chosen us,’ they kept saying.
I had monthly scans and would send them the pictures.
‘Everything’s going fine,’ I reassured them.
They were so excited and offered to send me photos and letters as years passed and my baby grew up.
No, not my baby, their baby... As painful as it was, I convinced myself that was enough.
With my due date approaching, when most pregnant women were waiting to meet their little one, I prepared to say goodbye.
Only on 11 January 2016, I developed the high bloodpressure condition preeclampsia and had to be rushed to hospital for an emergency Caesarean.
The adoptive parents waited with Debra outside the delivery room as my baby arrived, weighing 5lb 9oz.
I barely got a glimpse as she was whisked way to the
As my little girl was placed into my arms, I drank in every detail
Special Care Baby Unit.
‘She’s having breathing problems,’ the nurse explained.
Knocked sideways by the anaesthetic, I felt my heart thud with fear.
‘Please let her be OK,’ I said. As I came to in the recovery room, Debra was standing over me, tears streaming.
‘What’s wrong?’ I panicked, feeling dazed.
‘The adoptive mum just ran out of the Special Care Baby Unit,’ she sobbed.
‘Why?’ I stammered. ‘She said the baby’s horribly deformed,’ she explained. ‘Mum, they’ve disappeared. I don’t think they want her.’ I couldn’t take it in. Deformed?
‘Nurse, I need to know what’s going on,’ I croaked.
A doctor appeared.
He said they’d been doing tests.
‘We’re so sorry but she has Treacher Collins syndrome,’ he said gently.
I reeled as he explained it is a genetic disease affecting facial bones and tissues and causes deformities.
‘Why wasn’t this picked up on the scans?’ I gasped.
All the doctor could say was the baby appeared to have a mild case, so it’d simply been missed. None of that mattered.
I just wanted to see her. ‘We’ll take you there as soon as you’re well enough,’ the nurse soothed.
Still suffering with high blood pressure, I needed medication and bed rest.
Meanwhile, as hours passed, Debra kept a vigil beside her little sister’s cot.
‘I’ve been giving her cuddles, Mum,’ she told me, when she popped down to see me.
I was desperate to hold her, too. And, after three days, I got my wish.
A nurse helped me into a wheelchair and pushed me to the Special Care Baby Unit.
As the baby girl was placed into my arms, I drank in every tiny detail of her face. Then I let out a sigh of relief.
She didn’t look like other babies. But to me she was perfect.
In that moment, I fell utterly in love.
The adoptive parents had vanished, but despite all my worries and fears about starting over again as a single mum, I knew I had to follow my heart.
Life with a disabled child would be tough – emotionally and financially.
But this beautiful baby, my baby, needed her mummy. And I needed her, too. So when the lady from the adoption agency arrived, days later, to offer to find another couple, I sent her away.
‘I’m keeping her,’ I announced.
Debra was thrilled. ‘Let’s call her Abigail,’ she smiled.
After a week, I was well enough to leave hospital, but Abigail remained in the Special Care Baby Unit. She’d been fitted with a feeding tube as she couldn’t latch onto a bottle. I visited every day – couldn’t bear to be apart. Gradually, she gained weight and, at 5-weeks-old, she was discharged. Bringing her home was wonderful but terrifying. As her condition caused breathing difficulties, I’d stay awake all night, watching her chest rise and fall. Despite her condition, she thrived. She said her first word ‘mama’ at 12 months, and took her first steps two months later. I was so proud.
In September 2017, she had jaw surgery to aid breathing. A year later, in September this year, she was back in hospital, having her palette repaired. The operations have worked wonders and she can speak more clearly now. As she can also eat solid food, she’ll soon have her feeding tube removed.
Now, Abigail is almost 3 – and such a bright, adventurous little girl with an infectious laugh, she makes friends wherever she goes.
If strangers ask why she looks different, I’m upfront. But people don’t often notice. Although Debra has since got married and moved out, she dotes on Abigail.
I would never have wished this condition on my little girl, of course, but I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.
I shudder to think that I nearly missed out on raising this wonderful little girl.
That I almost handed my little miracle over to the couple who took one look at her and ran away. I love Abigail dearly and am so proud to be her mum.
And to think I nearly missed out on this...
Special Care for my special girl
Today: Abigail is gorgeous inside and out
Cuddles from big sis Debra