Guest Series. Birth mom.
This is part of a previous interview with a birth mom. One thing the social workers are often asked by prospective couples is how the expectant parents choose the family, or what things stand out to them when looking at a profile book or reading letters. It's different for every expectant parent, but here is what one birth mom said when reflecting on her experience....
What drew me to them... I wanted *Ethan to grow up in a similar way as our other kids. Seeing their pictures and reading their story probably 100 times just to make sure there wasn’t something I missed or that stuck out that didn’t feel right. Every time I read it I got a little more reassurance and felt some kind of connection to them. I had shared with Mike the link to take his time to see if any of the couples stood out to him. I had picked my top ones and he had then picked his 3. We had not shared with each other who we liked until one day at the same time we shared with each other and Jason, Alexa, and Carson (their son) were at the top of both our lists! I liked that Carson was the same age as my other son. The things they initially shared in their story about Carson spending time with dad learning things, as well as time with mom cooking, etc were similar to how I wanted him to be: well rounded in that way like my other kids. Upon meeting them for the first time, they were easy to talk to. Alexa reminded me of Mike, being more outspoken, and Jason reminded me more of myself, being maybe more shy/conservative in a way. We also found we have a lot of similar interests! There was some connection I felt with them right away. I also really liked how they had been through [an adoption] before and the openness they had with not just Carson’s parents but that his grandparents were in contact as well. Not one day has gone by that I have regretted picking them!
PS When we FaceTime or get together Carson and my son are like 2 peas in a pod and kind of like long lost friends in some weird way. They talk to each other right away and had done that from the first time they talked/met. It’s like another way God is reassuring me that this was how it was meant to be.
*Names changed for confidentiality
Guest Series. From a Birth Mom.
God has a weird way of doing things in our lives.
I had for a long time wanted to be a surrogate. I had spend some time looking into it prior to my relationship with Mike*. Once we started a relationship I knew I needed to hold off on that at that time in my life but it was always in my mind. When we were together, and with living in separate homes and towns for that matter, we both had said we were good and we’re not wanting to have anymore children. Who knew I would find out in the same week just a few days apart the I was pregnant and 6 months along and finding out it was a boy all at the same time?! Life got crazy fast!
I was already a single mom of 3 and did not want to start over with that adventure in life with my youngest being 6. I couldn’t put anything together in my mind on how we could possibly make it work with out completely uprooting 5 kids between the two of us to be in once city and under one roof. I started searching online for options for adoption and reading about the different agencies and plans how each place went about it.
I started inquiring late one night via text to this agency as I had liked the things I had read. We then had had a few meetings with the agency making sure this was the direction we were going and started looking online at parents and took home a few books. It didn’t take us long to decide who we wanted. When I called to share who we had picked I was told Jason and Alexa were already being looked at by another mom. My heart sank and I then second guessed our decision, as at that point we were not both on the same page about the other prospective parents we liked, but with Jason and Alexa it was not a question! A few days after I had gotten a call that the mom had changed her mind. I felt a lot of relief when I heard that! Our match meeting was then set. We got to ask questions of them and answer questions they had, as well as got to know some likes and dislikes of each other which we found out we have a lot of similar interests!
We are 2 years out now from our match meeting. I was so nervous going into it but leaving that day I was so sure it was all supposed to be this way! I felt as if this was God's weird way of fulfilling my desire to want to be a surrogate. They were able to come up for an appointment before he was born which I wish I had known sooner as I wanted to give Alexa as much of the other side of the experience as I could since she was not able to carry. The doctor did an ultrasound that day so they could actually see him.
We kept in touch by e-mail and text over the next few short months til he was born. The night he was born we shared pictures with them as soon as we were able and they arrived at the hospital on the 2nd day. We spend quite a bit of time that evening together all in one room and that night they were able to keep him in their room with them.
The hardest part of the journey was leaving the hospital with out him, but I knew he was in good hands and it was the right decision. They sent a few pictures over the next few days and I was able to go meet up with them a few days later! We keep in close contact and I would get updates on appointments and how he was growing and some milestones he was reaching. We get pictures, videos and FaceTime each other which has been nice. We have also gotten together a few times. We continue to build that relationship with each other and couldn’t have asked for it to have turned out any other way! 💕
*Names changed for confidentiality
Guest Series. From An Adoptee.
"Things not helpful to ask an adoptee"
1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
I wanted to start out with this verse as a beautiful reminder to be faithful stewards of God’s grace to everyone in any situation. There have been times in my life that things have been asked or said about adoption to me that have caused some pain or hurt feelings. But I constantly remind myself that almost always, people are not intentionally causing hurt with the questions they ask, but genuinely want to know about the life of an adoptee. This is where grace comes in. I find it beautiful when people ask me about being adopted because it shows that they really truly want to know my story and reminds me of how God handcrafted my unique life.
For those of you who are not adopted—keep asking questions about adoption stories. You will see the power of love, courage, strength, hope, and many other qualities in adoption journeys—you may even shed a few tears. Included below I have a few helpful tips on how to ask questions with adoption friendly language and a few examples of questions that have not been the most helpful.
Have you ever met your “real” mom?
This question is completely valid and one that I get asked quite often. To reword this question, I would say, Have you ever met your birth mom? Both my birth mother and my mother play a role in my life in helping me shape the woman that I am today. Using the word “real” takes away this importance role that my mother plays. Both these women play real roles in my life and both deserve the respect of the part that they have played in my life. I always distinguish the woman that gave birth to me as my birth mom, and the woman who adopted me as mom. One word of encouragement is to always ask the adoptee how they would like you to refer to the individuals in their adoption story—this always means the world to me when people ask this simple question!
Is that your “adoptive” family?
This question once again is a valid but adding the word “adoptive” makes it seem as though my family is different than others. I don’t view my family as my “adoptive” family—they are my family despite that our DNA and genetics are different. Love is what creates our family and I have never felt different or out of place in my family. I have the same relationships with my parents and sisters like any other typical family that had their kids biologically. To distinct the two, I call the family that adopted me simply as my family or the family that adopted me and my biological family as my birth family. The simple switch of words from “adoptive” family to family that adopted me really makes a difference.
Why did your birthparents “give” you up?
I believe that my birthparents didn’t “give” me up. I believe my birthparents instead gave me the gift of love and life. They put my needs above their own wants and desires, which gives me the upmost respect for them. After meeting with my birthfather for the first time, he made certain that I knew how hard of a decision it was for them to place me up for adoption. By saying that they simply “gave” me up, makes it seem as if they didn’t want to keep me as their own—which was one of the hardest choices in their life. They wanted me to have the best future possible; which they knew wouldn’t happen at this time in their life. I have nothing but love and respect for the birth family that loved me. Removing the words that my birthparents “gave” me up, validates the tough choice that they had to make. Instead this question could be asked, Why were you placed for adoption?
I know that every adoptee may feel different emotions when questions are asked about their adoption story. In the moments when questions are asked that may cause pain or hurt; I encourage the adoptee to respond first with grace and help explain to the one asking questions what examples of positive adoption language. By implementing adoption friendly language, all people involved in the adoption journey will feel valued, important, and loved for their role in the journey. The adoptee, birth family, and adoptive family equally play an important part in the adoption story—the story simply wouldn’t exist without each of them.
Your story matters,
1 John 3: 1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God…”
Open Adoption for Birth Moms
I recently listened to this episode from a few months back. I love when I get to hear how the adoption journey has been from those who are many years into it. In this instance, the host April Fallon got to speak with both the birth mom in this first episode and then the daughter as well in the second episode.
As CAS launches the fall Birth Mom small group, the quote above is what really stood out to me in this episode. Even in a healthy, open adoption, it is so important for birth moms to have others to relate to and share with. Facing our feelings, especially grief or sadness, isn't necessarily something many of us are eager to do. However, when we share, it is a blessing to have others help carry the burden and lighten our load.
We recommend the Adoption Now podcast to everyone! These two episodes are a great place to start.
S3E16 "A Birth Mother's Journey Through Open Adoption"
S3E17 "Open Adoption from the Adoptees Perspective"
From the CAS archives, this was originally published for Adoption Awareness Month, November 2016.
An open letter to my brother I’ve never met,
Hi, I’m your biological sister. I am 21 years old. We have the same birth father. I have known about you for over half my life. I have often thought about you and how you have grown up. Were you involved in sports? Do you like to travel? What are some of your hobbies? What are your parents like? Do you have other siblings?
Over the years, I have tried to understand why our father created an adoption plan for you. I know that he was 15-16 years old when he found out you were on the way. He, along with his girlfriend were very excited to become parents but they were on a tough road. Both your mom and your dad were still in high school. They decided adoption because they wanted to help others who could not have babies on their own. It’s been over 20 years since the adoption and a lot has happened since then. We have a sister. She is 23. She also has been curious about you and what you have been up to. I am currently a senior in college going into the field of social work. I am getting married next summer. Our sister is going to start Grad School next fall in the field of criminal justice. Did you go to college? Are you married? Do you have kids?
We have missed out on so much of each other’s lives and my goal in life is to know who you are. I understand the difficulty in making this step and if you are even interested in meeting your biological family. I understand if you have no interest in knowing where you came from. I am prepared to handle that when and if that time comes. I just want you to know that you are loved!
I have started the outreach process in hopes to someday meet you. I have so many questions and so much to tell you!
-Your biological sister
Our agency has facilitated searches for birth parents, children, and siblings. For more information about re-connecting, visit the Adoption Search page.
Building our Faith
When Ryan and I first started in the adoption process, we heard it could be a difficult journey. I thought, "What could be so hard? I know there's a lot of paperwork, but adoption ends in a baby! What better motivation is there to keep going?" It was only after we had begun receiving "Not yet" responses again and again that I wondered, "What if we never end up with a baby after all?" I even started asking God, "I know you called us to this, but why aren't you using us? Is this still your call for us?"
Just when I wasn’t sure if I could continue to say yes and receive a no, we got a call from Susan. We had matched! We were ecstatic! Over the next two months, we announced, we prepared, we traveled. We wanted to be at the hospital when baby was born even if we never got to meet baby’s birth mother since it was a closed adoption, so we went to Arizona and we waited. Several days went by, and on baby’s due date, we got a devastating call. Baby had been born, and his mother decided to parent. We were in shock. We cried, we packed, and we traveled home with an empty car seat. The day after we got home, I prayed. I asked God, “What do we do now?” I wrote down two things I felt God telling me: 1) Don’t get rid of those clothes, and 2) Don’t worry so much about the money.
Throughout the week following our disruption, Ryan and I prayed about how to move forward. We considered accepting another match opportunity with the same agency, but after visiting with Susan, I simply told them the same words that Susan emailed to us: "What we are really praying for is a really quick match or a stork drop.” After such a recent disruption, we were still grieving, and we honestly did not have high hopes. Unbeknownst to us, at the same time I was sending that email, an expectant mother came for an intake at the same agency. Because she was at the very end of her pregnancy, she asked to see family profile books right away which was different than the agency's usual protocol. I will never forget the call I got that same morning. “Kacie, there is a situation I want to tell you about. I don’t have a lot of information, but we still have one of your profile books, and I need to know within the hour if you want it shown.” We said yes. So did she. We got the call we had matched again. We were hopeful, but so nervous because of having our recent heartache.
This time, the adoption was to be open. We were fortunate enough to FaceTime the expectant mother shortly after matching, and 12 days from when we got the call, we were on a flight to meet her prior to her induction. When we met her, one of the things she said was, “I asked my mom to research adoption agencies my whole pregnancy. She never did until two weeks ago. I am so glad she waited, or I might never have gotten to choose you.” The match with this amazing woman led us to our son, and we are fortunate enough to now be parents to a beautiful baby boy! We praise God for giving her the strength to grow our family with part of hers, and for letting us be there when he took his first breath. God truly writes THE BEST AND MOST AMAZING of stories.
As I reflect on our adoption journey, I know that God gave us the pain of a disrupted adoption to build our faith in Him. That shock and heartache reminded us to better cherish the blessings we already had, and most of all, to remind us how it feels to TRULY let go of our plan and submit to His. My hopes for a baby had turned in to expectations, and my expectations needed to be shattered to see His perfect plan.
The practical advice I have for anyone struggling with the matching process or with a failed match are these:
1. Take special care to nourish and enjoy relationships with your current family members, whether it is your spouse, child, or pet. When God does give you your baby, you'll be grateful for the memories you made during the wait.
2. Try not to worry so much about the money. I know it's hard, because adoption is expensive, but if you are $800 more in debt, for example, when your adoption is done because you had weekly date nights, went to that concert together, or took a weekend getaway during the most difficult part of the journey, wasn't it a good investment?
3. Continue to make commitments unrelated to adoption. During part of our wait, I mistakenly said to myself, "I can't commit to that. We might have a baby." It is hard not to get depressed if you clear your calendar and have nothing else to do than think about adoption 24/7. This goes back to giving it up to God. God doesn't make mistakes. Sometimes His plan takes longer than we want or looks different than we thought it would, but in the end we understand why.
Previously published on Christian Adoption Consultants. Used with family's permission.
Some couples are working with not just a local agency for their home assessment, but a national adoption consultant. We see pros and cons to this option, and this article shares some of the things we see in those cases. Each couple's journey is different, but if you are considering adopting out of state, you will still need a local agency to conduct the home study and post-placement services for you.
He is Risen!
We are sitting this holiday weekend in the blessing of the free gift God gave us all, forgiveness of sins and adoption into His family. Our spring newsletter went out this week, and it gave just a peak into the important season in one birth father's life. Here's a snippet of his story:
Soon, the Case Manager lost contact with Matthew. She learned that he had been arrested and was in jail. Matthew could have used this as an excuse to become uninvolved, but instead he turned it into a motivator. Matthew used his time in jail to focus on what was best for his child and what God wanted for him.
Even though it wasn’t easy for Matthew, he continued to be involved in the process.
Meeting with the Case Manager while in jail, he concluded adoption was best for his child. Matthew was able to select a family alongside the birth mother, and the adoptive family
even honored his request to visit him while incarcerated.
Because Matthew was given a voice, he became an advocate for his daughter and formed a relationship with the adoptive family...
(Read the full newsletter)
Please join us in prayer for Matthew and other birth parents who are struggling to make good choices and be obedient to Christ. We all are in need of God's redeeming love, and your prayer for birth parents and families as they navigate their relationships is so appreciated.
*Name changed for confidentiality
When the Journey Isn't Easy
son’s birth mom who was going into labor and considering placing the baby with their family so the siblings would be together. Everything happened quickly and communication was flying back and forth between the Rinns, our agency, and the birth family as mom was making last minute decisions rather than connecting earlier with our agency. As the hours and days went by and the fog of unanswered questions thinned in the light of day, light of day, mom solidified her decision to parent and the Rinns were left with a sense of loss over a child that was never theirs. They were understandably frustrated as emotions had gone from high to low and our agency was in a bind when the birth mom did not connect with us regarding her wishes. What felt like an unnecessary trial turned into a refining fire clarifying their desire to grow their family through adoption yet again. These few days were a catalyst bringing the idea of infant adoption back into focus.
When Josh & Amy stepped through the doors of Christian Adoption Services in late winter, they had hope for the spring and the new life that would come into their family. They were joyful about their future family of four and knew it was time to pursue that dream. The loss during the previous summer shifted the Rinn’s vision of their family composition and their son was eager to become a big brother. The conversation with our staff was highly anticipated as they had only spoken with these workers during their frustrating possible match with their son’s birth mom. With a huge life decision involving the deepest emotions of parents and significant financial investment, trust had to be built for social workers who would lead them in navigating the blurry yet exhilarating path toward their unborn child. Leaving the CAS office, Josh & Amy were taking their first step into home study approval and the waiting period until expectant parents would choose them to raise their child.
The Rinn’s journey started to weave together with the birth parents six months later. Their lives would become intertwined in a beautiful image of love for the son they all cared for deeply even before his life began. It was autumn when CAS received a text from an expectant woman, *Julia, who was 20 weeks pregnant. She and her long-term boyfriend, *Tony, were in their 30s and 40s, lived in separate towns, and already had children from previous relationships. The thought of starting over with a new baby was not something either felt prepared for – emotionally or financially.
After much counseling and tears, Julia & Tony concluded choosing an adoptive family was what their child needed the most. This decision never comes easy to birth parents. Adopted children are wanted and loved by their birth parents, and allowing someone else to be mom and dad is a sacrificial decision!
While looking through profiles books, Julia & Tony felt a sense of peace and connection when picturing the Rinns as parents to this baby. The next months were an emotional flurry as Julia & Tony and Josh & Amy planned to meet each other and carefully consider the future of the precious unborn baby boy. In December, CAS held a “Match” meeting for the families. During this meeting, Josh & Amy saw the vision of becoming a family of four a little clearer.
A short month and a half later, Josh & Amy brought their beautiful baby boy home! Today the Rinns remain in contact with Julia & Tony. They share emails, pictures, and visits. Even though individuals walking through the adoption process experience loss and grief, all parties can celebrate the new life that comes forth by providing a child with a forever family.
*Names changed for confidentiality
Guest Series. Q & A with a birth dad.
As Case Manager, I had the opportunity of being part of a birth father reconnecting with his daughter after 18 years. He shared parts of his story below. Unfortunately, I do not get the chance to work with birth fathers as much as I would like to. Sometimes they are unknown or they are scared to be part of the process.
- Destrie Overmoe, LSW
Q. What was your role as a Birth Father at that time?
My role was not nearly as difficult or mentally taxing as [the birth mom’s]. And I carried a lot of guilt, shame and downright worthlessness about not being a man. I could not speak of it to anyone because I thought I was not being a man.
This isn’t an uncommon feeling for birth parents. The thought of not being ready or able to raise a child is sometimes mistaken for weakness. We encourage birth parents to know that adoption is a responsible and brave choice.
Q. Did you participate in counseling?
One time for me.
One meeting is sometimes all we have with birth fathers. As an agency, we strive to be inclusive of birth fathers.
Q. What did the weeks following the adoption look like for you?
I never grieved. With death there is a degree of closure. With this there never was closure. I just kept moving along because it [helped] me cope. But there were a lot of times throughout the years where something or a word stops you in your tracks…
Q. How have you come to find joy in your decision?
The day I saw [my daughter] walking towards me with a huge smile. I was prepared to bawl like a little child. Instead we hugged and 18 years of the worst feelings I have been carrying about me disappeared. Neither of us shed a tear. Hearing her say she never even had one thought of hate or anything negative towards me, only one word comes to mind. Forgiveness!
...we hugged and 18 years of the worst feelings I have been carrying about me disappeared.
Openness is something that wasn’t as prevalent 18 years ago, as it is today. We see a lot of healing happen when birth families, adoptive families, and the adoptee can maintain a relationship.
Q. Talk about communication and openness you have with the adoptive family.
[My daughter’s] parents are absolutely the kindest, nicest people I have met. Her mom and I have gotten to know each other and trust each other. I just really respect them both!
Q. How did the adoptive family support and help you?
Her mother has given me countless pictures and stories of [my daughter] growing up and has made me feel like I’m a part of her. I cannot thank them enough for how they have welcomes me into their lives.
Q. What advice would you give birth fathers going through this process?
Be honest with yourself. I never spoke to anyone how I was feeling. Do anything and everything you can do so one day that child will know you have always cared.
-CAS Birth Father (placement about 18 years ago)
For more insight into the role of birth father's, see the links below:
-Newsletter Focused on Birth Father
-Birth Father Video
Guest Series. Q&A with a Birth mom.
Q: What led to your adoption decision?
I was at a point in my life where I was separated from my then husband, basically a single mother with no job, no work experience, living at home with my parents, and no clue what I was going to do with my life. I wasn't prepared to bring another kid into this world when my life was such a mess. I had briefly looked into getting an abortion, but couldn’t afford one without asking for money. Being a mom already I decided I couldn't go through with killing a baby just because I was pregnant at an inconvenient point in my life. I had talked to my mom about it and she said to contact the Pregnancy Center in [my home town].
Q: Did you feel prepared to walk through that decision?
I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t know much about the adoption process other than what I watched in the movie Juno (haha!). I just went into it with an open mind. I had already made up my mind about it so whether or not I was prepared I was going through with it.
Q: What did your Case Worker do to prepare you?
[My Case Worker] was awesome. She was so nice and understanding. I could tell she had been doing this a long time because she was so caring, supportive, and knew exactly what to do and say when things got difficult. She gave me so much information about adoption and the process, and was so easy to work with. She was really my rock when we met the adoptive parents for the first time.
and they were all very supportive too. I kind of announced it on Facebook the Easter before I had her (like 4-6 weeks before my due date), and had an amazing outpouring of love and support with my decision. There were a few people who weren’t very nice about it though.
Q: How did you choose a family?
I got profile booklets to look through. I looked for a Catholic family, since I was Catholic, so I got only catholic family profiles. Their profile caught my eye because so many of their pictures were family orientated, they were candid [and] really showed their love for life. And they traveled, everywhere. I've always wanted to travel and see the ocean and I wanted this baby to be able to see everything I've ever wanted to see. Meeting them really cemented my decision. They were open and honest, and loved me.
Q: Describe your relationship with your child & her adoptive parents?
Almost fairy-tale like. I never expected to gain a whole new side to my family like I did with them. Their families were so open and accepting of me and my family. We talk on a regular basis and they send me pictures all the time. I get to talk to my daughter on the phone. It’s just amazing. I couldn't ask for a better relationship.
Q: What did the adoptive family do to support you & make you feel loved?
They came to all my appointments after we first met, met my family and endured an interrogation from my little brothers. They were able to stay in a room next to mine in the hospital and gave me all the time I wanted with her, then called a day or so after I was discharged from the hospital to see how I was doing, if I needed anything, and to thank me for giving them such a blessing. They've been so supportive though all my schooling, and just keep my family and I involved in what's going on in their lives.
Q: What is one thing adoption has taught you?
How misunderstood adoption is. So many people assume that the reason for adoption is a negative one...that the baby isn’t wanted or loved, that the mother is addicted to drugs, or a teenager, or that the decision was forced. It may be the case in some cases, but no one realizes the thought process behind the decision, the emotions that the birth mother goes through, or the amount of ridicule they go through from some of society for giving their baby away because other people "could never just give their baby away to strangers". They don't realize how intensely LOVED that little baby is to have that mother make the incredibly self-less decision to give that child a chance at a better life. A life they couldn’t give that child themselves. They have no clue about the struggle that mom had to go through to make that decision. For me, it was an easy decision, but I know that's not the case for other birth moms. I feel like I got very lucky with my adoption experience, and I wish there was more support for the birth mothers who struggled, and still struggle with their decision.
-CAS Birth Mother (placement about 8 years ago)
TONIGHT! 11/20 Birth Mom small group, 5:30-6:30pm at FM Area Foundation. Next year's dates:
Working with expectant parents who want to make a life-affirming decision. Preparing couples to grow their family through domestic infant adoption.