Hello, my name is Karen, and I am a birthmother. It was a year and a half ago when I received the news that I was pregnant. The father was a guy I had dated in college. But one year out of college and at the end of a relationship that neither of us could fully release, we found out this news. We considered marriage, raising the child together, but through the support and counsel of family and friends, came to the conclusion we should not get married just because I had gotten pregnant. Such a sacred, covenantal relationship should be Plan A, not Plan B.
With marriage out of the picture, my boyfriend and I really had to search our hearts for what we thought was going to be best for our son. I wanted to raise my son. Of course, I wanted to raise my son. To see him take his first steps, learn his first words, watch him grow into the man the Lord created him to be. I didn’t really care about the personal sacrifice it would take to be a single mom. I was willing to make it- a hundred times over. But the truth is that I also wanted something else.
My boyfriend and I had both grown up in broken homes. Neither of knew what it was to have a stable home, to have a present mother and father and to have consistency in our life. Though we lacked these things personally, we knew we wanted these things for our son. And we knew that even in our efforts together, unmarried, we would not be able to give our son these things. So we began the road to adoption.
I began calling and then meeting with several different agencies around the country. If I was going to do adoption, I wanted to do it right. So I went to the big names, the big adoption agencies. And as I began meeting with these different counselors and social workers from these different agencies, I learned I did not fit the stereotype of “birthmother.” I was 23 when I found out I was pregnant. This is 5 years older than the average age of a birthmother which is estimated to be around 18 years of age. I was well educated, and with the help of family money, was well supported financially. I guess in many ways I was the exception to these agencies. I had the money. I had good education. And truth be told, I wanted to raise my son. But I wanted to give my son something more than money and me. I wanted to give him a family. A stable, consistent and loving environment.
In the conversations I had with many of these agencies, I found myself justifying my reasons for adoption. I felt like I was convincing these Christian agencies that adoption was more than just a Plan B to abortion or not having the financial means to raise your child. The situation often felt totally backwards- I was telling them these agencies their work.
As for the counselors who did not question my pursuit of adoption, I felt I was jumped on like fresh meat – handed 15 family profiles in my first meeting with one woman from an agency. While I could forgive this excitement, I became discouraged as I met a lot of passive aggressive resistance to the type of family I was looking for. I wanted a family that already had children. Even more, I wanted a family that had biological children and were still looking to adopt. Neither of these two desires were met with applause. “Why not consider a couple who can’t have children?” I was often asked. “Because I want my son to have siblings,” I would tell them. Even so I met a lot of resistance in the specific things I was wanting in a family. The counselors’ questions throughout our meetings often made me feel misunderstood and judged. Further, I often felt unvalued as a person and that my only significance came from the fact I was carrying a child that could be given to another family.
I was so hurt by the interactions I had with these different adoption agencies that I began pursuing Plan B- private adoption. I got an adoption lawyer and spread the word to family and friends I was looking for a family. Not long after, a close friend heard of a family who was looking to adopt that met all of my criteria. After meeting with them one weekend, I realized they were the family I wanted to raise my son. But I rolled my eyes when they asked if it was alright if the counselor from the agency they were working with could call me. I agreed begrudgingly praying that this couple I had come to love had picked an agency that valued birthmothers and appreciated the greater story of adoption I felt like I was learning. I was guarded in my first conversation with Deanna Rasnic, counselor and one of the founders of Chosen Child. But soon enough, my guard dropped as I learned this was a woman full of love and wisdom, who valued birthmothers, and understood the greater story of healing and redemption that could be found by birthmothers and adoptive families through adoption.
The adoption ended up being orchestrated between the adoption lawyer I had found in Georgia and Chosen Child here in Texas. And though I had entered through the back door in my dealings with an agency, I had seemed to find something new and good. An agency that was young and had not yet become institutionalized enough to forget the meaning and purpose of their work with birthmothers and adoptive families.
In preparing for this talk, I was researching online for “What to Look for in Adoption Agencies.” One of the first hits was an article that told me to “Beware of ‘Glowing Testimonials’” The article said to BEWARE of adoption agencies with only positive and glowing “testimonials” of young birth mothers who relate how well adoption has worked for them. The article suggested that it would be better to ask women who have been birthmothers for many years and therefore have a more accurate view of long term affects.
Well I am a young birthmother. The one year anniversary of my son’s adoption is just a month away. So I’m not even a year in. And you could categorize my testimony as “glowing.” But if there’s a skeptic inside you that heeds this article’s warnings, let me speak to him.
My story is this- I found myself in an unplanned pregnancy. I spoke with many different agencies before I ended up coming in through the back door of Chosen Child. But in my interactions with Chosen Child over the past year, I have been blown away by the integrity and grace with which they run every side of this agency. These people are kingdom workers. Deanna Rasnic and Glennis Woodall (the woman who runs Hannah House Maternity Home) are angels in disguise.
More than just Chosen Child, I have come to see adoption as a very beautiful picture of the kingdom. In my heart of hearts, I believe my son was meant to be with the family I placed him with. How this works with predestination, sin and grace, brokenness, God’s sovereignty, pregnancy out of wedlock, maybe one day the Lord will explain to me when I get to heaven. But until then, please take my word. Adoption is a wonderful gift to give a child and a birthmother. The Lord doesn’t forget anyone in His plan. Scripture speaks of the Lords great love for the fatherless child and the orphan. But I will tell you that He also sees and loves the birthmother, who for a hundred different reasons in a hundred different stories ended up in an unplanned pregnancy.
The adoptive family and myself are currently working out the logistics of a beautiful open adoption arrangement. It’s not perfect – we’re still learning each other. But the story is so much better than I thought it could ever be.
Chosen Child embraces the beauty and complexity of stories like mine. And better then the multiple other agencies I spoke with, they know how to come alongside the birthmother, counsel her, encourage her and lovingly help her place her child in the right home. This is what I experienced and what I believe is the strength and difference of Chosen Child from other agencies.