Archive for the ‘Birth Parents’ Category

My Adoption Journey Does Not Define Me; It Inspires Me [Erica’s Story]

post-adoption birthmother storyUnplanned pregnancy can be one of the most momentous experiences of a young woman’s life.  It is an emotional, often overwhelming event for all those who are touched by it.  In the same token, the choice to place your baby for adoption is a life-altering one.  Adoption is the beginning of a lifelong journey, full of both love and loss, and can change a young woman’s life forever.  But this does not mean she has to be defined by it.  Adoption and unplanned pregnancy do not have to define a person, but they can inspire a person.  Here is one birth mother’s story about finding herself – and positively defining herself – after her son’s adoption.

A few months prior to getting pregnant, I was in a toxic relationship with a different man… someone I should have never even gotten involved with in the first place.  He was older, more experienced, had a past with addiction, did not value life the same way I did, lacked motivation and self-confidence, and held onto previous relationships (literally bringing them into the next one with him).  He addressed to me from the start that he was not looking for anything serious and felt he was not a good guy for me.  I swept all the red flags under the rug, and was blinded by his sense of humor and our effortless friendship that I let myself fall… and I let myself fall hard.  All the red flags aside, we had a special connection and chemistry that I never had with someone before which is why I continued to spend every waking minute with him.

Long story short, I found out that he was still seeing the woman from his past relationship.  I could not believe it.  I ended all things right there on the spot and we never spoke again.  My heart ached and I could not understand how someone I had fallen in love with did not reciprocate the same feelings for me; not only that, how could someone I loved have no problem disrespecting and hurting me so much.

A few months went by and I was still heart broken.  A night out lead to me running into an ex-boyfriend from college and I am sure you know the rest.  Fast forward to 6 months after my run-in, and I was in the hospital with a nurse telling me the pain in my back was due to the fact that I was 6 months pregnant.

Talk about shock. I was devastated and confused.  Here I was pregnant with my college ex boyfriend’s child, while still in love with a man who never even gave me his heart.

I shared the news of my pregnancy immediately after I found out with my college ex-boyfriend. Our relationship back in the day ended on a rough patch, too (shocking, I know… *eye roll*).  He was NOT the guy I pictured in my dreams of raising a family and not the guy in my dreams being a role model for my children as a father, but also a loving husband.  All that aside, I still felt he had every right to know about and be involved in my pregnancy as I did.  This was his child, too.

He told me he wanted no role in this pregnancy or raising a baby, and took it even further to say that this baby was not his.  If he wanted to play that game I had no problem looking him in the eye and saying “BYE” forever.

I was not going to let his words beat me down further or be any sort of distraction, because I had a baby I needed to look out for.  He proved to me, again, that he is not the man I thought he was.  His foolish comments and cowardice actually made it easier for me to drop him behind and continue on this journey alone– figuring out how I would give my son the best life possible.

I think one of the hardest parts of my pregnancy was feeling so alone.  Knowing I was pregnant by a man I had no feelings for, while the guy I actually loved and cared about had no idea what I was going through and was about to go through.  It drove me insane.  THEN on top of that WHY was I still having feelings for such a low life loser when my life was in complete shambles?!

It took me to such a low place of insecurity and self-hate.  I hated the way I looked, hated the way I felt, and felt like such a terrible person that I was pregnant even in the first place.  I spent the remainder of my pregnancy beating myself up and believing that I was not worthy of any type of love.  I even avoided seeing my friends and family because I was so disgusted with myself and did not want any kind of attention.

I would wake up (if I even slept through the night) throw on a frumpy dress, go to work and sit at my desk while my mind wandered all day into outer space.  I pretended to work while texting with my mom all day to keep my sanity.  I could not even fathom the possibility I could potentially have an even bigger broken heart after my son would be born.  Through my self-hate and insecurities, the only thing I felt so strongly about was the love I already had for my son and the life I wanted to give him.  I fell in love with the couple who were going to be his parents, and I trusted the relationship and the open adoption plan we agreed on.  I felt so content with my son’s plan and that God was leading this relationship in the right direction.

I’m embarrassed to admit the majority of my fears were internal… fears for myself and not my son; that I would never be loved, and that I would never find someone who would respect and love me back.

After my son was born I felt the most love I had ever felt in my life. The second I held him up to my chest I could feel this was the biggest gift of love God has ever given me.  I was still going to go through with my adoption plan, because although I could not explain it, it felt right. I felt like all those who had come into my life through my pregnancy (new friends, old friends, close family, distant family, my son’s adoptive parents, doctors, nurses, and social workers) God was telling me Erica, this is the kind of love you deserve, and this is the kind of love I want to be in your life.

By no means was I down a dark path before getting pregnant, but I accepted being treated a certain way, and I accepted just existing rather than fully living to my greatest potential.

I did not demand the best things possible in my life.  I was okay with going to work every day doing something I did not love and keeping a job that did not bring out the best qualities in me.  I was okay with living in a part of the city that did not fit my needs.  I accepted relationships that did not demand communication, loyalty, respect, and love.

When my son was born my life completely changed (as you can imagine).  I got a taste of the sweet life and the life I wanted for my future.  I was able to take a step back and look at my life in a way I would never have been able to if I had not gone through this experience.  It took me living through a full year of my son’s life, where I still only existed and did not fully live up to my potential, to make a change.  I knew deep down what I deserved but was fighting with myself on when it would be appropriate to start demanding it.

The month my son turned one I finally felt ready.  I woke up one morning and decided I had made it through the first year of his life which meant I could do anything!  It was MY time to make changes.  I realized I was never truly living; I was not even living before my pregnancy, and it took this experience to wake me up and show me the kind of life I need and want to live.

I could not keep going to my God-awful desk job to sit and be miserable, when I could go into a career where I would instead make a difference in the world.  I had just gone through the most challenging experience of my life and believed I went through all of it to come to a realization as to what my purpose in life is.

I believe I am meant to be a part of adoption in some capacity.  I cannot say enough about the nurses I dealt with through my pregnancy and the imprint they left on my heart.  My adoption journey opened my eyes in more ways than one.  It made me want to be to someone else who the nurses and hospital staff were to me during the most vulnerable time of my life.

I built up the courage to quit my full time job and take every prerequisite needed to apply to nursing school.  I had only three months to take 6 classes, two labs, and apply to the program, in order to start the following spring.  I started nannying, bar tending, blogging, dog walking, dog sitting; doing ANY job I could get my hands on to still pay my bills while I worked towards this new life; a life after adoption.

A few weeks ago all my hard work paid off when I got an email from admissions.  I was only able to read the first word in the first sentence, “Congratulations”, before I fell to my knees in thanks.

During these past two years I have learned so much about myself.  I know the kind of life I want to live and the legacy I want to leave behind as an example for my son and future children.  It is an amazing feeling to see things fall in place all because I decided to follow my heart, stop just existing and start demanding greatness in all aspects of my life.

Through the amazing open relationship I have with my son and his parents, my post-adoption support network, all the positive, likeminded people I have surrounded myself with, and the goals I have for my future, I am able to overcome my self-doubt and finally start living.

I am not defined by getting pregnant, I am not defined by my adoption story, I am not defined by my past relationships, and I am not defined by my post-baby body.  I am defined by my heart and the ability I have to love, and let me tell you, that is my greatest and strongest quality.

 

This is a True Birthmother Account Written by Erica.


Navigating Social Media Post-Adoption: Tips for Birth Parents

Social has had a profound and powerful impact on adoption relationships over the years.  Today, social media offers birth parents and adoptive families an easily accessible avenue for sharing information. Today, you can receive real-time updates from your child’s adoptive family, view pictures of your child as he or she grows, and chat with your child at the click of a button. You can stay connected even when far away.

This type of accessibility and contact was not available to birth parents years ago. In the past, adoptions were primarily closed. Birth parents could not keep in touch with their child’s adoptive family over the years. They did not receive letters or photos to give them some peace of mind. They did not even have the option to choose an adoptive family or meet them in person.

Today, over 95 percent of adoptions are open plans, meaning that contact between the adoption triad exists in some shape or form. Birth parents can now keep contact with their child’s adoptive family through letters and pictures, phone conversations and texting, email and Skype, Facebook and other social media platforms.

As an open adoption agency, Adoptions With Love has helped birth parents all over the country maintain connections with their child and their child’s adoptive family over the years. We can also help you to create and navigate an open adoption plan.

Whether you are in the midst of making an adoption plan or have already placed your baby with an adoptive family, it is never too early or too late to start thinking about social media: What role will it play in your adoption plan? Will you be in contact with your child’s family online? If not, how will you react if your biological child contacts you on Facebook?

If you are still considering open adoption or are ready to make an adoption plan, it is first important to contact your adoption counselor. Together, create a pre- and post-adoption plan for social media use and decide how you would like to be contacted by your child’s adoptive family, and how you would like to be able to contact your child. Do you see Facebook in that plan, or would you prefer that it be left out? Having a plan and specific boundaries regarding social media will be an important part of your open adoption agreement. You may consider making this adoption plan with your child’s adoptive parents, too.

Be sure to share this plan with your child’s birth father, as well as other friends and family members who have been touched by your adoption in some way. Make them aware of the boundaries you have established as well as how you prefer them to act on social media when it comes to adoption. For example, do you want your parents adding your child’s adoptive family on Facebook? Do you want friends commenting about your adoption journey? Think about what you are comfortable with being shared on social media by others.

If you have already placed your child for adoption, here are eight tips on how to use social media appropriately in an open or semi-open adoption.

Friending the Adoptive Family:

  • As part of your post-adoption arrangement, set clear boundaries about who you will and will not accept requests from on Facebook and other social media platforms. If an extended adoptive family member tries to contact you (such as your child’s grandmother), have a plan for how you will react.
  • If you receive a friend request from your child, contact your adoption counselor before responding. If you desire contact with your child, you will want to first ensure that the adoptive parents are comfortable with this change. An adoption counselor can help you get in touch with your child’s adoptive family, as well as help you explore more traditional formats of open communication, such as private emails.

Open Adoption Communication on Social Media:

  • No matter your privacy settings, just about everything on the web is public. If you have an open adoption plan and are consistently sharing information and photos of your child, you may consider bringing it to a different platform. Create a separate, private email account designed just for adoption communication. Consider setting up a private Facebook group or password-protected website to share pictures, updates, and milestones between yours and the adoptive family. By doing so, you will be able to share sensitive, special adoption information with a specific group of trusted people.

Posting on Social Media:

  • Remember that anything you share on social media will live on in the Internet. Assume that everything you post is public. If your child has not already, there is always the possibility that he or she will stumble upon your social profile and photos. He or she may read statuses you posted while pregnant or sensitive information you once shared about your adoption plans. Scan your profile to ensure that everything you want to be seen is seen, and everything you want private is hidden or removed.
  • Consider your current privacy settings on each social media platform. Who can view your photos? Who can read what you post? Who has access to your profile, and can they access to information about your adoption, too? Adjust your privacy settings to ensure that everything meant to be private is kept as so.
  • As you receive pictures or get to know your child as he or she grows, you may feel tempted to share these updates on your Facebook wall or tag family and friends. Before doing so, remember that anything you post on Facebook is not only viewable, but also shareable by friends. If you share an update of your child, others could end up sharing it too. Keep your child’s best interests at heart and post only what you think your child and his or her adoptive family would be comfortable sharing. Do not share any identifying information (such as photos) about your child or the adoptive family.
  • Your friends are constantly posting, posting, posting on social media. If you have shared any information about your child or adoption plan with friends, even in person, there is always the chance it will come back to your social page. They may contact you via Facebook with questions and publicly reveal any identifying information you have shared. Monitor what your friends post if it pertains to your adoption.
  • Adoption relationships are sensitive, so it is important not criticize your child’s adoptive family on social media. Be respectful of their profiles, their posts, and their parenting decisions. Do not channel your frustrations through Facebook posts if it at all relates to your child and his or her adoption.

If you are unsure how to move forward with online communication or have questions about social media and open adoption, please call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072. For more advice about using social media pre and post adoption, please download our free eBook below.

adoption and social media


State-by-State: How to Place Your Baby for Adoption in Georgia

Are you considering adoption for your baby?  Adoption is one of the most loving decisions you can make for your child.  It is also one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make.  At Adoptions With Love, we want you to know that you do not have to make this decision alone.  You do not have to walk this journey alone.  We are here to answer your questions, to educate you on adoption in Georgia, and to help you make the most positive, informed choice for you and your baby.  Whether you are facing an unplanned pregnancy or have already given birth to your baby, we extend our support to you.

Adoptions With Love is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency helping expectant/birth parents nationwide find the best possible homes for their children.  For over 30 years, we have been building life-long relationships with young women like you.  For the last three decades, Adoptions With Love has also been building relationships with expert adoption counselors licensed in your state.  If you need help placing your baby for adoption in Georgia, know that you can always contact us.  Our trusted Georgia adoption agency partner and attorney can help you explore your options, understand the adoption laws in your area, and design an adoption plan that is tailored to your needs.

To get you started, here are four steps you will need to take to place your baby for adoption in Georgia.

1. Choose and meet with an adoption agency that you trust.

Choosing the right agency support is crucial to your adoption journey.  There are so many adoption professionals out there today that it can be hard to know if you are making the right choice.  We recommend, above all, that you find an adoption agency you can trust.  Choose an adoption agency that will discuss all your options with you, listen to your needs, and respect any decision you make.

Your adoption agency should be available every hour of the day and every step of the way, offering the support you deserve.  Choose an adoption agency with expert, compassionate counselors who can meet with you regularly (at your convenience) to guide you through this unexpected journey.

2. Understand the adoption laws in Georgia.

Adoption laws vary state to state.  In Georgia, no mother can sign legal adoption documents until at least 24 hours after the baby is born.  This gives birth mothers a chance to meet their baby and additional time to think about their choice.  A birth father is allowed to sign legal papers prior to the baby’s birth.  At Adoptions With Love, we encourage you to take time to consider all of your options.  Adoption is a lifelong decision, and we want you to be comfortable and confident that the decision you make is the best one for your child.

If you choose to make an adoption plan, it is important that you also take time to understand the adoption process in your area.  An experienced agency can help with this.  If you choose to work with Adoptions With Love, you can meet with knowledgeable adoption attorneys who are specifically trained in Georgia adoptions.  They can meet with you – wherever you are – to help walk you through the legal process.

Rest assured that our legal services are always free of charge.  In fact, there is never any cost for expectant or birth parent services at our agency.  Georgia law allows licensed adoption agencies to provide financial assistance for any pregnancy-related expenses needed before, during, and after your baby’s adoption, such as:

  • Complete counseling
  • Help designing your adoption plan
  • Assistance finding quality medical care
  • Housing assistance 
  • Financial assistance
  • Legal assistance
  • Ongoing Contact

3. Select a loving adoptive family.

As an expectant/birth parent in Georgia, you will be given the option to choose a family for your baby.  This choice is yours to make.  Adoptions With Love will listen to your wants and needs to understand what qualities you are looking for in an adoptive family.  We will then show you several waiting families who may be a match for your child.

All of the families at Adoptions With Love have written letters and put together photo albums so that you can get to know them.  You can take as much time as you need in looking through these albums to find the perfect adoptive family.  If you would like, you can also meet them in person.

In Georgia, it is required that all potential adoptive families are thoroughly screened and evaluated by a licensed adoption agency.  At Adoptions With Love, we especially want to ensure your baby is placed in a loving family and stable home.  All our families, therefore, have gone through an extensive home study process and completed a series of background checks to ensure they are ready to raise a child.

4. Create a post-adoption plan.

Adoption is a lifelong experience.  It does not end after your child has been placed, and it surely does not have to end your relationship with your child.  If you choose to make an adoption plan with Adoptions With Love, you will have the option to design an open adoption plan.  This means that you can keep in touch with your child’s adoptive family and your child as the years go on.  We will establish this plan for contact in a post-adoption agreement and can facilitate any communication with your child and his or her family down the road.  If you are not comfortable with openness, you can always choose a semi-open or closed adoption plan.  Our trained counselors will help you as you explore all the potential options for post-adoption contact.

Because adoption is lifelong decision, we want you to know that we will also always be here for you – to help you navigate emotions or if you simply want to talk.  We encourage you to pursue our ongoing counseling and support services after your baby is placed.  These services are 100% confidential and available at no cost to you.

Whether you just discovered you are pregnant, are in your final trimester, or have already given birth, know that it is never too late to make an adoption plan.  Contact us today at 1-800-722-7731 for more information on adoption in Georgia.

This is our State by State Adoption blog series.  To learn about the different areas we service, or to find the specific steps of adoption in your state, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/areas-we-service.


Talking the Truth: Erica on Talking to Her Child About His Adoption Story

adoption story

 

In light of National Adoption Month, one birth mother contemplates the day her son will come to her and ask about his adoption story.  She wonders how she will stir up the strength to explain to him her choice.  What will she say?  She trusts that the truth will guide her.  She trusts that honesty will be the key to giving her son what he needs.  This is what Erica believes.

I often think of the day Aiden* comes to me and wants to hear his story…  When he wants to know exactly why I made the decision to choose adoption for him, and not raise him myself.  When he wants to know who his birthfather is and what our story together was.  Why things ended they way they did, and why his birthfather chose not to be involved in any of our lives.

I have had thousands of conversations with my mom asking for advice to prepare for this day, and she always says the same thing.

“You will tell him the truth. Trust yourself that will know the right thing to say.”

The difference from me and probably a lot of other people is that I want/need to know

E V E R Y T H I N G.  I always need all the details to feel like I have a solid understanding of my surroundings in life.  Part of my adjustment after this adoption is that for one of the first times in my life I actually do not know everything.  It has been a process for me; the biggest lesson I have been learning throughout this journey is how to accept the unknown and trust more in God’s plan than in my own.

A perfect example of my ‘sometimes’ unnecessary need to know everything is when my little brother comes back up north for the holidays, or visits for a long weekend and I bombard him with questions.

“How’s work?”

“Have you made any good friends at work?”

“Cool… What are their names?”

“You guys ever hang on the weekends?”

“Are you eating enough?”

“Okay good, but what do you make for dinner?”

“I don’t know- Erica!  Things are good. I’m good, and I’m eating. Why do you ask so many questions?”

That is a conversation I have had a million times with both my brothers.  Well, the truth is, I ask so many questions because I care.  I care so much and need to know that all the people I love are okay and doing well; I need to know that everyone is happy and if they are not then I am going to do whatever little, or big thing I can to change that.

With even an open adoption it is tough… there is SO much unknown.  Aside from the little things like,

“What are Aiden’s favorite foods?”

“What was his face like when he tried a lemon?”

“Does he like to sleep more on his back, or his belly?”

“Who are Aiden’s friends at daycare?”

“Is he towering over all the other little kids his age?”

…(clearly I can go on and on)

However, the biggest unknowns are in my future.  When my day ends and I am alone in my own thoughts and when all starts to settle down around me– this is when the unknowns of the future start to flood my head.

The biggest strength in myself I have come to find on my journey of this adoption has been my ability to take a step back and trust; to be honest and trust myself that maybe I do not always know all the little details, but I do know the bigger picture.  To trust that just like with my little brother, God is working his plan on all our lives and keeping Aiden happy, healthy, and in a good place– exactly where I always have known he is and exactly where I always know he will be.

I have nothing but the purest form of love for Aiden.  I know in our future there will be some difficult conversations and there will be some difficult questions he will ask me.

I want Aiden to always be happy.  I never want him to hurt and I, ESPECIALLY, do not want to be the reason he ever hurts.

When the day comes and Aiden wants to hear his story.  When he wants to know exactly why I made the decision to make an adoption plan for him, and not raise him myself.  When he wants to know who his birthfather is and what our story together was.  When he wants to know why things ended they way they did, and why his birthfather chose not to be involved in any of our lives.  If he wants/needs to know E V E R Y T H I N G.  If he needs all the details in order to feel like he has a solid understanding of all his surroundings in life…  I trust myself that I will know exactly what to say, and that I will tell him the truth.


This National Adoption Month, We’re Celebrating You

November is often thought of as a time of thanks. It is a time in which many of us take a step back and consider all that we are grateful for in life – friendships, family, the warmth of a loving home. In all our gratitude, in all our indulgences, we become aware of the things in life that matter most to us.

Just this year, Adoptions With Love celebrated our 30th anniversary as a licensed, Massachusetts adoption agency. This November, we are celebrating another big thirty: 30 days of love, gratitude, and adoption awareness. For those who do not know, November is also National Adoption Awareness Month.

The history of National Adoption Month started over two decades ago and continues to evolve each year. This year, National Adoption Month is all about family, permanency, and lifelong relationships. In fact, the Children’s Bureau named this year’s theme, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” Throughout the month of November, communities, organizations, and individuals around the country will be celebrating adoption as a positive way to build permanent families for children. They will be focusing on the value of lifelong homes for children and youth nationwide – especially those in foster care who are still waiting for a forever family. Making a private adoption plan is one way to prevent children from entering foster care.

On the first day of November, we at Adoptions With Love have some particular thoughts resonating in our minds and hearts. We are thinking of all the courageous young women and men who have come to us over the last three decades to make an adoption plan for their child. We are thinking of all the incredible families built through adoption. We are also thinking of all the fervent adopted children who were placed through our agency, from thirty years ago to yesterday. Because November is a time of gratitude, we want to take a moment to thank all of you – all who have come to Adoptions With Love – for choosing adoption as a positive option for your family.

If you are a birth parent, we thank you for being brave. We thank you for being selfless and for finding the power to make such a loving and thoughtful choice. We acknowledge that your decision was made with overwhelming love, that you gave your child a life beyond what you felt you could provide. Making an adoption plan for your child is not easy. It is a deep sacrifice that very few can understand. There are so many fears and emotions that can arise during the adoption process. We know that it takes great strength for a loving parent like you to overcome them. This strength is truly incomparable, and it amazes us every single day. We thank you for putting your trust in us. We are honored to be a part of your adoption journey. We thank you for choosing Adoptions With Love.

If you are an adoptive parent, we thank you for being open-minded and open-hearted. There is no doubt that adoption is a challenging process, and we thank you for being such a devoted and compassionate support. We thank you for providing such a loving, stable and secure life for your child. We celebrate you for taking pride in your child’s adoption story and for empathizing with the selfless decision your child’s birth parents made. We thank you for choosing Adoptions With Love.

If you are an adoptee, we especially celebrate you. We thank you for filling our hearts and the hearts of your family members. We thank you for sharing your stories with us over the years and for spreading awareness on adoption. We know that adoption has impacted your life and identity in many ways. We want you to know that you can always reach out to us, whether to chat or to learn about our search and reunion program.

If you are considering adoption for your baby, we thank you for exploring your options and for thinking of your child’s best interest. Whether you just discovered you are pregnant, are in your final trimester, or have already given birth, we extend our support to you. It is never too late to make an adoption plan.

If you are a waiting family hoping to grow your family through adoption, we thank you for your perseverance. Your determination and devotion are truly admirable as you wait for your time to enjoy all that goes with being a parent. We are excited to see what is in store for your family and are always here to help you through the adoption process.

Let us celebrate these 30 days of love together.

This November, we invite you to celebrate adoption and all those who have been touched by adoption in some way. We ask you to celebrate the families who were created through this choice as well as honor the women who found the courage to make this inspirational choice. We ask you to embrace the love inherent in each aspect of adoption. We invite you to celebrate all the lifelong connections that have been made through open adoption.

National Adoption Awareness Month is a time to celebrate adoption as well as educate others on the adoption journey. It is about increasing awareness on the positive aspects of adoption. This month, we ask you to join us by sharing your own experience. We invite you to share your thoughts and stories in efforts to help others see the benefits of the adoption.

If you would like more information on National Adoption Awareness Month or how you can get involved, contact us directly at 1-800-722-7731, text us at 617-777-0072, or email our team at info@awlonline.org.

adoption awareness month 2016


Carlie’s Teen Pregnancy Story

It was fall of 2015 when Carlie, a sophomore in high school at the time, realized something was off. She had been feeling sick, gaining weight, and was unsure of the cause. She thought, maybe it is her birth control. Maybe it will go away. Months later, at fifteen-years-old, Carlie learned that she was pregnant.

Now seventeen and a senior in high school, Carlie is blessed with a beautiful daughter named Kayla, who has a loving and devoted adoptive family in Massachusetts. All the while, baby Kayla is growing and blessed by both the love from her forever family as well as the endless love from Carlie, her forever birth mom.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Carlie about her experience: from pregnancy to adoption to where she is today. This is Carlie’s story.

teen mom adoption

It has been a couple of years now since you discovered you were pregnant with Kayla. Thinking back, do you remember what your reaction was when you first found out? What did you do in that very moment?

I think I was just really shocked. See, I was on birth control at the time and I even had used a condom. Never did I expect to get pregnant. Over the months, there were times I thought, “Could I be?” but that thought was always immediately shut down with a “No way.” It didn’t feel possible.

It happened in September 2015 and as the months passed, I started getting really sick. That’s when my mom said, “Let’s go to the doctor; it could be your birth control.” I didn’t really say anything to her about the possibility of pregnancy at the time, because I really and truly did not think it could be that.

We went to the doctors. They told us it couldn’t be the birth control, did a blood test, and said they would call me with my results.

What did you do next? Did you confide in anyone about it?

I went over to talk to my aunt about it. She immediately said, “I think you are pregnant.” I was like, “No I am not.” She said again, “I think you are. Carlie, you even look like you got a little bit of weight, too.” And still I said, “I know I’m not pregnant.”

She called my mom; she picked up pregnancy tests; I tried them. The first test wasn’t showing any results. So I used the second one –

Pregnant. I thought, This can’t be true. I’m just a fifteen-year-old in high school. This can’t be true.

That was in March of 2015.

So that really confirmed it for you.

Well my mom went out that night to pick up some more tests. She said she wanted to confirm the results. She got a package with two tests in it, but I was sleeping by the time she came home.

I woke up in the middle of the night and decided, I might as well just use them now. I went to bathroom and they both came out the same – positive. I thought,

“This can’t be happening. This CAN’T be happening.”

I tried to go back to sleep and when the next morning came, my mom said, “Carlie, you have to go to school.” I was like, “I don’t want to go.” I just gazed at her and she knew. She said I could stay home.

How did you tell Kayla’s biological father?

I told him instantly. I said right out, “I’m pregnant.” He automatically knew it was his baby. His dad tried to have him to deny it completely, but he knew.

Was he supportive? Was he involved at all in your pregnancy or your decision?

No, he wasn’t supportive. As soon as I told him, he was like, “I’m out. No. No way.”

He was 19 at the time, and it was kind of my fault too, but it was more under peer pressure that this all came about. I really just wanted to hang out with him as friends. He would come pick me up from my house to go to his and hang out, and was my only ride to and from. One night he asked, and, under pressure, I just said, “Okay, I guess.”

I say I was under peer pressure because I thought it would be awkward if he just took me home after him asking and me refusing. I didn’t know what the outcome would be.

Did the pregnancy impact your social life at all?

No – I mean, everyone was shocked. They were surprised that it was me of all people that this would happen to. Because, I’m usually the quiet type at school. I always kept to myself, which is why everyone was just so shocked by it. No one treated me wrong, everyone was just genuinely worried about me.

How did your pregnancy affect being in high school at the time?

Well, it wasn’t noticeable at first that I was pregnant, because it was right before spring break that I found out. I told my counselors, superintendent, and principal first. Then I let the staff members know.

It wasn’t like I could hide it from anybody, though I only told my friends at first.

The way that everyone found out was in school, I was talking to my health teacher about it one day before class and she just kept talking about it as everyone started to come into the classroom. That’s when everyone was like, “What? What’s going on?” And then as soon as the class found out, it traveled through the whole school. But again, it wasn’t like anyone talked bad about me. They were just genuinely shocked.

When did you start thinking about adoption?

Instantly. My mom said from the beginning, you have three options. She said, you can keep the baby – I said, “There’s no way I can do that while I’m still in high school. I don’t have a job; there is barely any room in this house. We can hardly even feed ourselves. There’s just no possible way.”

She then gave me my other two options. She said, “Okay, well you can either get an abortion or you can go through adoption.” And in my mind I was just like, I can’t see myself giving this child away, but I can’t see myself keeping a baby, either. So I thought abortion could bring the best outcome, I guess.

I was going to get an abortion, but as soon as we pulled up to the building, I broke down crying. I thought, I can’t do this, there is no way I can do this. I couldn’t go through with it so I thought I might as well go with adoption. My mom started looking through adoption agencies and that’s how she found Adoptions With Love – because they work nationwide.

Did you feel like you were making the right choice, making an adoption plan?

Yes, I mean, if I was to keep the baby, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I wouldn’t be miserable, but I knew that we wouldn’t have had enough money. We would have been so behind. I was not ready for that.

My mom kept saying, “Carlie, we can keep the baby. I can take days off and watch her and if you want to do stuff on the weekends, I’ll take weekends off too so that you can still be a teenager.” That’s when I had to say,

“Mom, if I keep her and bring her home, there is no being a teenager anymore.”

Do you feel like you had a lot of say in making your adoption plan? Do you feel like your wishes were heard and met, and that you could provide the life you wanted to for Kayla?

Yeah. Adoptions With Love asked me what kind of family I wanted for my daughter and I wasn’t sure at first. They said it wasn’t a problem and sent me books of families to look at. They sent me people who were adopting, couples who weren’t able to have kids, families who already had kids. I really felt most comfortable choosing a family who couldn’t have children. It made me feel good to be able to give someone something that they weren’t able to do or couldn’t have on their own.

Do you feel like adoption has also allowed you to pursue the life you want for yourself?

That’s my thing, I didn’t want to be a single mom struggling for money. I didn’t want to be trying to pursue my own goals while caring for a child at the same time. It would have been hard and I didn’t want her to go through that with me – to have a struggling mom who didn’t have money.

Because I know what that’s like. I know exactly what that is like. I’ve experienced that my whole life and that’s why I said I didn’t want her to go through what I had to go through.

I wanted her to have parents who she could be proud of and I wanted to grow up so that she could also be proud of me.

Did you end up choosing an adoptive family for Kayla?

Yes – I picked Paul and Gretchen after coming across their book. Just reading it felt right. It felt like we had a lot in common and like they were already a part of the family. I can’t really put it into words but when I read their profile it just felt right.

Did you meet them in person, before the adoption?

Yeah, Adoptions With Love told them I was considering them as a potential family and asked me if I would be comfortable having a phone conversation. So we talked on the phone at first. And then when I met them, it just automatically felt right.

Where did you end up meeting them?

They came here. I showed them around my town and my home. My mom and I met with them in the morning at a local café, and we had breakfast there. After that, I just spent some time alone with them. We went to the Abe Lincoln Museum because they told me how much they like history. We walked around and saw our old Capitol Building had some sort of Civil War reenactment going on. Then we went out for lunch. When they left I remember saying, “This is them. This is them.”

Were they in the hospital with you the day your daughter was born?

Yes, they were in the hospital and the birthing room that day. I would spend time with Kayla and them in the mornings. There were also times where I would spend time by myself or I would let them spend time with Kayla alone. At night, I wanted her to go to their room to sleep.

You are in an open adoption plan right now, yes? What’s that look like for you?

Yes. I actually just went and visited Kayla and her adoptive family last March for my spring break. I was sixteen and a junior at the time.

And you all still keep in touch?

Yes, they send me pictures; I FaceTime them; I text them. It’s a very open plan.

Are you happy with how things are going?

Oh yes. I feel like the best thing I could’ve done was to have an open adoption. If I had kept my adoption closed, I would have been miserable not knowing what was going on with Kayla.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

I feel like this was the best route I could go. I’m still happy with it and I’m not ashamed of it. Everyone I talk to about it, they always say, “This was the right decision and I’m proud of you.” But I know that.

I know this was the right decision for me and for my daughter.

Is there any advice you’d give to other young women facing an unplanned pregnancy?

I would just say that adoption is often the best way to go. If you’re not comfortable keeping it open or uncomfortable seeing your baby, even if you’re scared to be a part of her life, that’s ok. You can have a closed adoption plan. But I feel like having an open adoption was the best decision.

What if you could go back to the fall of 2015 and give your younger self some advice?

I would say that it gets better and you’ll be happy with what you did.

It was definitely hard at first. My mom said it was going to be hard at first no matter what. You’re not going to go through this and be like, “Everything is fine.” No, it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have a hard time and you’re going to be upset about it some days.

My mom thought I was going to need counseling. The adoption worker had given me information on counseling and I kept it, but I don’t think I’ll need it – I know what’s going to happen and I’m not going to get super depressed about it.

The reason my mom was worried about it was because, when I was junior high, I was severely bullied. I went through a lot and it gave me depression. So she thought it might happen again.

But I knew this wasn’t the last time I was going to see my daughter. I would tell myself, I know it’s going to be hard, I know I’m going to be sad, but it’s going to be fine. I know I’m going to get to see her, I know I’m going to talk to her adoptive family, I know I’m going to get pictures – So there’s no reason to beat myself up about it.

Do you keep in touch with Adoptions With Love still?

Sometimes – But they did tell me, if you need anything, contact us. If you need counseling, contact us. Or even if you just need to talk. But like I said, I was prepared for what could happen after the adoption and I wasn’t going to be too worried about it. I knew I could always keep in touch.

If you or someone you love is facing a teen pregnancy, know that adoption can be a very positive option for those not ready to raise a child. If you would like to hear more teen pregnancy stories or get unplanned pregnancy support, you may call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here. If you would like to learn more about your teen pregnancy options, please download our free Guide to Teen Pregnancy

teen pregnancy help


How to Tell Your Parents You Are Pregnant

Discovering you are pregnant at a young age can be overwhelming.  You want all of the help and support you can get, but may not know where to start or who to talk to first.  You may feel like you want to tell your mom or dad about this pregnancy, but are afraid of their reaction.  On the other hand, you may not want to tell your parents you are pregnant, but know that you will probably have to at one point or another.

No matter how close you are with your parents, the pregnancy conversation can be intimidating.  You do not know how they will react, if they will be supportive of your pregnancy, or what they will advise you to do next.  Even though it feels scary right now, talking to your parents can actually be very helpful.  Chances are, they love you and want to help.  By knowing about your pregnancy, your parents can:

  • Talk to you more about your options and offer guidance
  • Ensure you get the health and prenatal care you need
  • Help you sort through any feelings, decisions, or challenges that arise during your pregnancy
  • Help you talk to others (teachers, friends, family members) about your pregnancy
  • Give you the unconditional love and support you deserve

If you feel safe telling your parents you are pregnant, we encourage you to do so.  At Adoptions With Love, we understand that this conversation is not always easy.  It can be hard to find the words to say and the best time to say them.  While there is no right or wrong way of telling your parents you are pregnant, there are steps you can take to make a productive, open, and honest conversation.  We are here to help you through it.

  1. Prepare for any reaction

Every situation is different, and there are many factors that can play into your parents’ reaction.  If your parents did not know you were having sex, for example, they may be particularly shocked by the news.  If your parents do not allow you to date or hold certain beliefs about sex, they may be disappointed.  Their feelings about your partner (the father of your baby) and your age may also have an impact on their reaction to your pregnancy.

The best thing you can do now is to prepare for any and every possible reaction.  While many parents are understanding, there is always the possibility yours will react poorly, yell, or cry.  Try not to take any hurtful words personally.  Your parents have not had time to process the news, and may not know how to feel in the moment.

  1. Do your research and think about your options beforehand

Before approaching the conversation, try to gather as much information about unplanned pregnancy as you can: learn about your many unplanned pregnancy options, the effects of each, and what next steps you should take. Doing so will show your parents that you are handling this like an adult, and they will feel more inclined to treat you as such.  This can help encourage a productive conversation and help you avoid a negative response.

You may also want to have a purpose or goal in mind for this conversation.  Do you think you want to continue your pregnancy?  Are you going to your parents for help with how to do so?  Or, do you need their help making a decision?  Knowing what you need from your parents can help you steer the conversation.

  1. Talk with an experienced professional

After discovering you are pregnant, you will need to visit your doctor or a health clinic as soon as possible.  In doing this, you should also consider talking to someone who is an expert in an unplanned pregnancy (a counselor, doctor, nurse, or adoption agency).  Any of these professionals can help you understand your options and offer more information regarding an unplanned pregnancy.  They can also help you think through how to reveal the news.  An Adoptions With Love social worker can even be in the room with you while you tell your parents, if you wish.

  1. Choose the right time and place

It is important to find a good day, time, and place to deliver this news.  Pick somewhere that is free of distractions, at a time when your parents are not stressed or rushing out the door.  Your parents will need plenty of time to process their feelings and the news, and you should devote enough time to this conversation.

It may help to ask your parents, “When is a good time to talk?”  But make sure you consider your own feelings, too.  Choose a time that you are not overly exhausted from school, stressed about an upcoming exam, or rushing off to be somewhere yourself.

  1. Find the words and keep calm

Throughout the conversation, try to be as open and honest as possible with your parents.  Calmly remind them that you trust them and that you truly need their help.  If you can, tell them how far along you think you are, who you think the father may be, and who you have told so far.  In doing this, you will establish trust and a calm, open environment.  Your parents may respond without getting mad.  If your parents do get upset, they may just need a bit of time to calm down.

Frame your words so that your parents have some time to absorb the news.  Try to be direct and stay strong in how you tell them.  You may start by saying, “I have something difficult to tell you. I just found out I am pregnant,” then wait calmly for their reaction and be prepared for it.  Sometimes, it helps to think ahead about what they might do or say so that you can act appropriately.

  1. Tell them how you are feeling

Telling your parents your feelings can help them better understand the situation.  If you know they are disappointed, tell them: “I am really sorry, I know I disappointed you.” If you are scared and unsure what to do next, do not hesitate to say that out loud, too.  Putting your feelings into words is not an easy thing to do.  They may not come out perfectly or as you had planned, but they will be honest and true.  Your parents will see that, and will likely empathize with you.

  1. Listen to their opinions and advice, but remember, this is your choice

Your parents will likely have many complicated feelings and opinions about your pregnancy.  At first, they may only focus on the negative ones.  This does not mean they do not love you, it just means that they need to let this information settle in.  Try to put yourself in their shoes and listen closely to what they have to say.  Answer their questions the best that you can.  If they are quiet, ask them how they feel.

There is a chance your parents may try to pressure you into something you do not want to do; they may want to discuss abortion with you.  They might feel that raising your baby is the only choice. They may not know very much about adoption. In the end, remember that it is your body and your choice.  As an expectant mother, only you know what is right for you and your baby.

Though you may not believe it right now, difficult situations often bring people closer together. At Adoptions With Love, we have seen unexpected pregnancies strengthen bonds and love between families. We know you can do this.  If you need any more help or advice on how to tell your parents you are pregnant, please call us today at 1-800-722-7731 or download our free Guide to Teen Pregnancy below.

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Pregnant? Must-Know Teen Pregnancy Facts

teen pregnancy statistics

You recently discovered you are pregnant.  As a teenager, you likely have a thousand questions running through your head:  Am I ready for this responsibility?  Do I want to be a mother right now? How will I tell my parents?  How will the father of my baby react?  Do I have the emotional or financial support I need?  What about school, my friends, my life?

Take a deep breath.  You are not alone in this.  There are hundreds of thousands of teen pregnancies each year, most of which are unplanned.  Whether you are 15-years-old or going off to college this year, know that there are resources and knowledgeable professionals to help you along the way.

Right now, you may be unsure if you are ready to parent a child.  You may not know how having a baby can or will affect your life.  You may not know about your other options as a teenager.  50 percent of teens today do not think about pregnancy or parenthood at all.

At Adoptions With Love, we believe that being informed is the best thing you can do for both you and your child.  We have created this infographic to show you the teen pregnancy facts and outcomes you should consider before making a decision regarding your child. We can also help you talk to your family.

One of the first things to consider after discovering an unplanned pregnancy is how a baby will affect your life.  Ask yourself if parenting is realistic at your age.  Ask yourself if you have the finances and support you need to raise a child.  Ask the father if he wants to be involved.  Today, most teen fathers do not end up marrying the mother of their child.  They also typically pay less than $800 a year in child support.

Next, take time to explore your options.  Despite being young, you still have the right to parent your child or make an adoption plan.  If you are unsure or simply not ready for the responsibilities that come with parenthood, know that adoption is a positive option for you and your baby.

When you work with Adoptions With Love, you can make an informed decision free of pressure.  Know that we are here for you and will respect any decision you make.  Only you know what is right for you and your baby.  We are simply here to help guide, educate, and make you feel comfortable at every step of the way.  Please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072 for more information on our free services or your adoption options as a teen. To learn more about teenage pregnancy, download our free guide below.

 

teen pregnancy help


State by State: How to Place Your Baby for Adoption in Florida

Are you considering adoption for your baby, but do not know where to start?  You have come to the right place.  Adoptions With Love is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency helping expectant/birth parents nationwide find the best possible homes for their children.

If you are currently living in Florida, there are specific steps you will need to take to place your baby for adoption.  You do not have to go through this process alone.  Our trusted adoption agency serving Florida is here to help.  It is our aim to help you understand the adoption process and ensure that you are comfortable with each decision made along the way.

For over 30 years, Adoptions With Love has made good relationships with expert adoption attorneys and counselors licensed in the state of Florida.  If you need help placing your baby for adoption, they can meet you wherever is convenient for you to guide you through the process.

Whether you just discovered your pregnancy or have already given birth to your baby, know that it is never “too late” to make an adoption plan in Florida.  This short guide will show you how to begin the process should you choose adoption for your baby.

1.) Choose an Adoption Agency

Your first step in making an adoption plan will be choosing the right adoption agency to guide you.  Your adoption agency will be by your side for advice, support, financial assistance, and counseling throughout the entirety of this journey— as you prepare for the adoption, after placement, and throughout your life.  For this reason, it is important to choose an adoption agency that listens to your wishes, respects your choices, and uses those to help you design the perfect adoption plan.

2.) Understand Florida Adoption Laws

Adoption laws and regulations vary state to state.  It is crucial to find an experienced agency who works with knowledgeable attorneys trained in the adoption laws of Florida.

In Florida, no parent can sign legal adoption documents until 48 hours after the baby’s birth or at the time of discharge from the hospital, whichever comes first.  This ensures that birth parents are one hundred percent confident in their decision.  Once the legal documents are signed in Florida, birth parents cannot change their minds.  For this reason, we recommend you take time to consider all of your options.  Be completely certain that your decision is the most positive one for your child.

If you choose to work with Adoptions With Love, our adoption attorneys in Florida can help guide you through the legal process.  There is never any charge for our attorneys, counselors, or any other expectant/birth mother services at our agency.  In fact, we can help you with your expenses!

Florida law allows assistance with pregnancy-related expenses to birth mothers before, during, and after the child’s adoption.  For example, the right agency can help you pay for:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Utility bills
  • Maternity clothing
  • General living expenses

3.) Choose an Adoptive Family

In Florida, every expectant/birth mother has the right to choose an adoptive family to raise her child.  If you would like to select an adoptive family for your baby, your adoption agency can show you the many waiting families who may be a match for your child.  You can take as much time as you need in choosing the right adoptive family for your baby.  You can also meet them in person.

Rest assured that no matter which adoptive family you choose for your child, your child will be safe and secure.  All potential adoptive families must be thoroughly screened and evaluated by a licensed adoption agency.  This includes an extensive home study process as well as a series of background checks to ensure that waiting families are fit to raise a child.  Adoption agencies such as Adoptions With Love are here to make sure your baby is placed in a loving, safe, and stable home.

4.) Discuss an Adoption Plan

If you choose to work with an open adoption agency serving Florida, you will have the option to personally design the type of adoption plan you want: an open adoption, semi-open adoption, or a closed adoption plan.  Your adoption counselor will explain all of these options to you and, if you would like, will help you create a plan that meets all of your individual hopes and needs.

5.) Pursue Adoption Support

After your baby’s adoption, it is important to seek ongoing support.  Through a reputable adoption agency serving Florida, you can participate in adoption support groups, speak with other birth mothers who have placed, and meet one-on-one with licensed counselors.

Adoptions With Love is a full-service adoption agency that aims to protect the health and well-being of expectant/birth parents and their children.  For this reason, we offer the following free services to expectant/birth mothers considering adoption:

  • Complete counseling
  • Help designing your adoption plan
  • Assistance finding quality medical care
  • Housing assistance 
  • Financial assistance
  • Legal assistance
  • Ongoing Contact

This is our State by State Adoption blog series.  To learn about the different areas we service, or to find the specific steps of adoption in your state, please visit adoptionswithlove.org/areas-we-service.


What Expectant/Birth Parents Should Know About Adoption Search & Reunion

Whether you are a birth parent or are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, you are likely thinking of your future – Will you have a relationship with your child?  Will your child try to contact you down the road?  Will you want to meet your child once he or she is grown?

Perhaps you are here because you have already started your search, or your child has already tried to get in contact with you.  Search and reunion is an exciting, yet often complicated journey.  For the searcher, this journey takes time, patience, and understanding.  If you are hoping to get in contact with your child, it is important to check the adoption laws in your state.  Talk to experienced professionals at a reputable, open adoption agency that can help you navigate this journey.

For the one who is being searched for, search and reunion most often comes as a surprise.  If you have recently been found by your child, try to keep an open mind throughout this process.  Consider both your child’s feelings and your own readiness.  If and when you are ready, your adoption agency counselors can help prepare you for your adoption reunion.

Even if you are pregnant and anticipating a search in the future, it can help to know what to expect and how to handle search and reunion should it arise. Here are a few things you should know:

Why do Adopted Children Search for their Birth Parents?

As an expectant/birth parent, you may be wondering about the most common reasons a child may search for his or her biological family.  In the majority of cases, it is not because a child is unhappy in an adoptive family.  Rather, it is out of curiosity, belonging, and an inherent need to know more about their identity.  Below are some of the reasons your child may search for you as he or she grows up:

  • Family information – Many children want to know the names of their biological relatives, where they live, what they are like, and if they have birth siblings.
  • Family traits – Many adoptees want to know what their birth parents look and act like, and see if they share any similar physical or personality traits.
  • Medical history – As adoptees grow and have their own children, it becomes crucial for them to know about any genetic diseases or conditions that may run in their family. In the past, adoption records did not always provide this detailed information.
  • Reasons for adoption –Many adoptees search out their birth families to get a better sense of why they were placed for adoption and how the decision was made.
  • Need for a connection – Once adopted children are old enough to maintain a relationship on their own, they may feel the need to reach out to their birth parents. Many feel that meeting their birth parents will help them gain a better sense of self.

Adoption reunions not only help a child find peace of mind, but also help birth parents see and know that their child is doing well.  No matter where you are in the process, it is important to know that adoption reunions are also very emotional experiences.  You may feel overjoyed, relieved, nervous, confused, or all of the above.  Before you reunite with your child, take time to consider your thoughts and feelings.  Sit down with your social worker and decide what this experience will mean to you.  Below is adoption reunion advice from our expert adoption social workers that may help you during this journey:

If you are “found”:

  • Before you connect with your child, prepare mentally and emotionally for what may and may not happen. Talk with others or join a support group of other birth mothers who have gone through this experience.  Know both what to expect and how to set minimal expectations.
  • Do not rush the relationship with your child. While this is a very exciting time for you and your child, try to pace communication.  Research has found that the most successful birthparent-child relationships gave plenty of time between initial contact and the actual adoption reunion, involving only letters and phone calls in the interim.

If you are searching:

  • Use social media cautiously. Social networks such as Facebook have made it much easier for adoption search and reunion to take place.  While searching through these platforms may be tempting, it is not recommended.  Contacting a birth relative for the first-time via social media is most often unsuccessful and can stir many negative emotions for everyone involved.
  • Make sure your child’s adoptive family supports your reunion. Acceptance by his or her family members will be most beneficial to your relationship.
  • Be respectful. Always be mindful of your child, his or her family, and of your own feelings.

As adoption has grown and changed over the years, so have the children who were placed years ago.  Adoptions With Love—a private, open adoption agency— has experienced this growth first-hand.  We have had adoptees that were placed with us years ago come to us at 29 or 30 years old in search of their birth family.  We have seen adoption plans move from closed to open.  Over the last three decades, we have assisted many adoption reunions and fostered many relationships between adoptive parents, adopted children, and birth parents. We are respectful of all parties involved.

At Adoptions With Love, you have the option of establishing contact with your child and his or her adoptive family from the very beginning.  Through open adoption, you can have greater control over when your child will contact you or how often that communication will occur.  You will also have the comfort of knowing your child is healthy and happy.  All the while, your child will have the opportunity to learn about his or her personal history and build a stronger identity because of it.

Adoptions With Love has a special Search and Reunion group to guide children, families, and birth parents like you through this journey.  To find about our counseling and search services, call us toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 1-617-777-0072.