Ethical Adoption: “It was all about my daughter, it wasn’t about me at all.”
“When I first heard the word ‘adoption’ I got angry,” Jessica said.
She was driving around town with her mom to talk about her unplanned pregnancy. They chose to take a drive so they could discuss the details openly, away from her dad — who at this point still didn’t know she was pregnant.
At the time, Jessica was a self-described “typical college kid.” As a sophomore, she felt like she had freedom for the first time in her life, and dove headfirst into the party scene.
“I don’t know what it was, but something in me started thinking I might be pregnant. I took a pregnancy test and found out I was about four months pregnant at the time,” she said.
Her initial reaction: “I have to have an abortion.”
Afraid to tell her parents and ashamed of what people might think about her, Jessica called a nearby abortion clinic. They told her she needed an ultrasound before she could schedule an appointment.
“I still have the ultrasound picture. I would have taken that photo to the abortion clinic if I had gotten an abortion,” she said. “But when I heard the heartbeat, I knew in my heart of hearts I couldn’t go through with an abortion.”
But what to do instead?
Jessica wanted her daughter to grow up in a two-parent home, so she considered making it work with the father.
She told her mom about this plan in the car, and that’s when her mom asked her the anger-inducing question about adoption.
“It made me mad to go against my mothering instincts to place my child with someone and not be that child’s mother,” Jessica said.
It seemed like a foreign concept to her.
But at the time, she admits, “I didn’t know much about adoption. I didn’t know what the process was. I soon learned there is a big misconception about what adoption is or isn’t. What you see on the news or in movies– that’s not necessarily what adoption is.”
In the days after their car conversation, Jessica kept coming back to her mom’s words. It nagged at her as she went throughout her day.
“Could this be a real option?” she thought.
Then one morning she woke up and knew that it was.
Suddenly I realized, it was all about my daughter. It was not about me at all.
It was such a revelatory thought, but it resonated with her deeply. At the heart of it, all she wanted was the best for her child. It was suddenly so clear.
So clear that as soon as she made up her mind, she contacted an adoption agency.
She also finally told her dad about the pregnancy and the adoption plan. And his reaction was the complete opposite of what she was expecting.
“I’m so surprised you have the strength to do that. We fully support you,” he told her.
“We live in a society where it’s all about ‘me, me, me, how is this going to affect me? It’s rarely about what’s best for your child,’” Jessica said. “I think he saw I was willing to go through heartache and shame so that my child could be in a home with both parents.”
Profiles in parenting: Finding the right fit in the adoption process
The agency gave her a book of profiles of adoptive parents. It didn’t take long until she came across Brian and Natalie’s profile.
“I felt very strongly about them,” she said. “I took their profile home and had my parents read through it and they really liked them too.”
For her, it felt like a divine confirmation that Brian and Natalie were the parents she needed to choose.
A confirmation that was further solidified when they all met for the first time. Jessica says it was like they had reconnected as long lost friends. They spent four hours together talking about life and their adoption journey.
It turns out Brian and Natalie started their adoption process in September, which was when Jessica got pregnant.
“We were going through the whole process together, but didn’t know it,” Jessica said.
New Birth & Beginnings
Jessica met Brian and Natalie in May and a month later went into labor.
Her daughter Kaylee was born on June 7th.
Jessica chose to have two days with Kaylee alone in the hospital. It was important for her to have those 48 short hours with her.
“I knew I would never have this opportunity with her ever again,” she said.
Afterward, the families arranged a commissioning at the hospital. Jessica’s pastor came to facilitate a ceremony where Jessica was able to celebrate being Kaylee’s mother and Brian and Natalie becoming Kaylee’s parents.
Still, Jessica says, it was gut-wrenching.
“Every time I tell my story I still get choked up. Even 13 years later. Not because I doubt the decision. I’m just so overwhelmed by God’s goodness,” she said. “I see how adoption is such a blessing and not just for the adoptive family, but for the birth mother too. It’s such a blessing. God was in it, he thought of every little thing.”
Even to the point that Natalie is a math tutor.
“I’m horrible at math,” she said with a smile. “So if Kaylee has my math skills, she’s covered.”
I don’t think it’s uncanny that I chose them.
The day after coming home from the hospital Jessica was looking at a wheel of emotions handout her adoption counselor had given her.
“I remember thinking, ‘What emotions am I going to experience today? Anger, sadness, remorse?’ But I just felt this overwhelming sense of peace. I was flipping through the wheel and thinking I don’t see any of these emotions on here– happiness, peace.”
She went downstairs and remembers asking her mom why she was feeling this way.
“My mom said it must be the peace that surpasses all understanding,” Jessica said. “God gave me this overwhelming sense of peace to reassure me. That the choice I made– even though it was heart-wrenching– was the right choice. I gave life to Kaylee, but through that experience, she gave life to me.”
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