When a woman finds herself in an unexpected pregnancy, the emotions can be overwhelming. Many women feel that they aren’t in a position to parent a child, but they don’t want to have an abortion. The other option they often hear about is adoption: allowing another family to provide a home for their child.
About 15 years ago, Jessica found herself in an unexpected pregnancy and chose adoption for her daughter. Although it was difficult emotionally, Jessica loved her experience and is a strong proponent of how beautiful adoption for a birth mom can be. This is her adoption story. If you are expecting, we hope that the following interview will help you get a feel for the adoption process.
What was your first step in the adoption process?
When I found out I was pregnant, I just knew I couldn’t go through with an abortion. I thought adoption would be the best option for my baby. I was already three months along, so I started researching adoption agencies in my area. The first agency I found only did indirect placement, which meant my baby would have had to go into foster care until everything was legally settled. But I wanted her to be with her family immediately, so I found another agency that did direct placement.
How did the process go once you reached out to the agency?
I met with an adoption counselor and she gave me lots of information. She asked me what type of adoption I wanted (closed, semi-open, or open). Closed adoptions are private and there’s no contact between the birth mother and the adoptive family. Semi-open means that there may be some contact, but it’s limited. I opted for open adoption. I wanted my baby to know who I was. I wanted to know the adoptive family and to be able to see Kaylee grow up. Those are different options of adoption for a birth mom. One counselor was my primary contact throughout the process. But the agency had a whole team of counselors for me if I needed them. There was always someone to help.
How did you choose the couple who eventually adopted your baby?
I had a few preferences, and that’s not unusual. Some birth mothers are very specific about what they want. It’s nice that agencies really listen to the birth mother and try to help her find just the right adoptive family.
I wanted them to be married, Christians, and to be a certain age. Once we established that, my counselor gave me a few black-and-white profiles that met my criteria. There weren’t any pictures. Just words on a page. I took them home to look through them. The profiles included letters from the couples telling their stories and why they wanted to adopt. They also included a questionnaire that had some fun questions (like ‘What is your favorite cookie?’) and some more serious (like, ‘How do you plan to discipline the child?’)
One black-and-white profile really connected with me, so my counselor gave me their profile book. It was kind of like a scrapbook. It included pictures of the couple and their home and family and what sort of life they would be giving my baby. I was really secure in my decision about them. They seemed wonderful.
Did you meet the couple before the birth?
Yes, I wanted to. Not all birth mothers do, but it was important to me to get to know them a little bit. Some people prefer a neutral space for a meeting like that, but I wanted to invite them to my parent’s home, where I was living at the time. They were totally up for it. My adoption counselor came too, I guess in case things got awkward. But she really didn’t need to be there. As soon as they walked through the door, it was like meeting long-lost friends that you hadn’t seen in a while. We had the most beautiful time. That was about two months before Kaylee was born. If you’re considering adoption, this initial meeting can make the process of adoption for a birth mom more relieving; it gives you a chance to really get to know who the parents will be.
Did you get to choose your baby’s name?
The adoptive couple and I decided that they would choose her first name, but I got to choose her middle name. I chose “Ann” because that was my middle name and my mother’s. I wanted her to have something that was part of our family.
Naming really depends on the couple and the birth mother. That’s another reason I wanted an open adoption: you get to have those conversations. Open communication makes the process really sweet.
Was there a lot of paperwork?
Not a huge amount. After giving birth at the hospital, I signed the adoption consent paperwork. This was the first step toward giving up my parental rights. My court date was a few days later. I met with a lawyer there at the court and we went over the legal documents. That paperwork really made things official. Once I signed those, my maternal rights were removed and Kaylee was officially adopted.
Something to note is that, depending on what state the birth family is living in, there is a grace period during which the birth mother can still change her mind. Even if she has signed the consent paperwork at the hospital, she still has until she goes to court to sign the final papers. Adoption for a birth mom isn’t a definite choice, and this gives a little bit of a time buffer for her to be sure she wants to move ahead.
Did the adoptive couple come to the hospital?
No, I chose not to have them there. Again, it depends on what the birth mother wants. They could have been there if I’d chosen it, but I really wanted that time just with me and Kaylee. I’m so glad I had those couple of days.
What did the official adoption process look like?
On the day of the adoption, we had a ceremony in the chapel of the hospital. Not all birth mothers would want something like that, but I did. I wanted it to be like a child’s dedication, and to be natural and smooth. My pastor came and we had a celebration that Kaylee was born and that she was going to a loving home. There were a lot of emotions and my heart hurt. But there was still joy in the midst of it. And there was a lot of peace. That is all I hope adoption for a birth mom would be like: peaceful and joyful.
How did you feel afterward?
My adoption counselor had prepared me; there would be a lot of conflicting emotions. And it was hard, especially the night before she was to go to her new home. But when I got home from the hospital, I woke up the next morning actually happy. I had joy and still that same sense of peace. I think that women with unplanned pregnancies may feel like God is going to judge them for getting into a situation like that. But I experienced so much of his faithfulness. He gave me the strength I needed.
Adoption is so strange. In the same breath, you’re losing a life, but you’re also giving a life. Not having your child goes counter to all your mothering instincts. But you’re giving them life! I’ve never once regretted my decision.
What advice would you give to a woman considering adoption?
My advice is to not make a decision until you are truly ready. You must know deep in your heart that it is the right thing. It’s not an easy decision, so take your time. Really think about your options and your “why” for choosing adoption.
When I was ready to choose adoption, I had peace and wasn’t going to let anything get in the way. I knew it was best for my child. Yes, it was heartbreaking and I still get emotional talking about it. I knew this would be the hardest thing I would ever go through. But I also had an unrelenting sense of peace because I was making the decision out of love. Once I decided, that was that. Nothing and no one was going to change my mind.
If you choose adoption, my hope is that you find that same relentless peace. Choosing life and choosing adoption can make an amazing impact on future generations. You are not alone and there are people who are willing to walk alongside you during this journey. If you feel like you lack support and if no one else understands…know that I do. I’ve been there. I’ve been in your shoes. It takes courage and strength to choose adoption. But you’ve got this!
Find more inspiring adoption stories here.