Heartbreak, hope and healing: A Young Mother's Adoption Story

<p><span>Every now and then, you hear a story that's equal parts pain and joy, weakness and strength, fear and bravery, despair and hope.</span><br /><br /><span>The birth and adoption of Leo Doud, which came to light last week in a poignantly candid account written by Leo's birth mom, is one such story.</span><br /><br /><span>A 25-year-old photojournalism student at the University of Iowa, Callie Mitchell chronicled her unplanned pregnancy, delivery and decision to give her baby up for adoption in heartbreaking detail and with gorgeous, moving photographs in the college newspaper. The story gives articulate voice to someone we don't often hear from in the adoption process: the birth mother.</span><br /><br /><span>Her saga began last spring when she discovered she was pregnant, then saw her relationship with her boyfriend, the biological father, crumble.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span>Alone and expecting, Mitchell was faced with the daunting decision of whether or not to keep the baby. To sort through things, she began writing a journal and capturing the private moments of her anguish via a self-timed camera on a tripod.</span><br /><br /><span>By the time she was six months pregnant, Mitchell decided to document her journey as part of a photography project at the newspaper. She says she wanted to be "as honest and open as possible" and put a real story of adoption "out there for the world to see." She admits the project at times -- if only briefly -- took her mind off her troubles.</span><br /><br /><span>Over the course of time, and while she was still pregnant, with the help of the adoption agency Callie picked Brian and Kirsten Doud to be the adoptive parents of her child to come.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span>Finally, on Dec. 6th, Callie's baby - Leo - was born. Callie had decided with Leo's adoptive parents, months before the delivery, that they should be the ones to hold him first -- so they did. Callie only held him after.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span>Making the decision to give a baby up for adoption has to be one of the world's hardest choices, as it's impossible not to fall a little in love with the human you've grown inside of you. Even if you know you can't possibly provide your child with the best possible life -- and someone else can -- deciding to give him or her up has to be nothing short of gut-wrenching, and an emotional nightmare.</span><br /><br /><span>But it's also incredibly brave and mature. In some ways, realizing your baby is better off with someone else is the ultimate act of selflessness and love. You're doing what's best for your son or daughter.</span></p>