Air Date: 5.31.16
You can read the transcript below, or listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Jennifer Jaworski: Hi and welcome to adoption focus my name is Jennifer Jaworski and I’m a social worker with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates Premier Talk Radio Blog show. Adoption Associates and its staff are trusted leaders in adoption and we have placed over 5,000 children into loving homes. Since 1990 we have advocated supported and nurtured both birth families and adoptive families. Our offices are located in Jennison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw, and our pregnancy and adoption services are available throughout all of Michigan. One of Adoption Associates commitment is to this weekly radio show so thank you for listening in today. We hope that you find this forum to be inspirational, educational, and thought-provoking. If you’d like to call in during the show with questions or comments we would love to hear from you and the number to call in is 347-850-1100 again 347-850-1100. And we’re going to get started today I’m really excited that we’re talking to Shonda, are you with us, Shonda?
Shonda: Yes, I am.
Jennifer Jaworski: Good morning.
Shonda: Good morning.
Jennifer Jaworski: Thanks for being with us and I know today we’re excited to be talking about and our audience has tuned in to hear a little bit about your story and the resolve and commitment that you had to your son and to adoption despite many obstacles that kind of lay in your path. So I am excited to hear from you and if you wouldn’t mind kind of set the stage for us a little bit and help us understand a little bit about your circumstances. I know that you had told me that you thought about adoption during your pregnancy, but didn’t make a plan until sometime thereafter. So tell us a little bit more about that.
Shonda: Okay, when I first found out I was pregnant, I was pretty scared, I was young, no school so no nothing and adoption had always been in the mind but of course you hear negative things, you don’t know much about it. And it was a really scary decision I made a hard decision to even consider going through with it. But the process ended up being like really worth it in the end for me.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, okay, so you mentioned that it was hard so it was an emotionally difficult decision, what was the timeframe for you before you kind of came to that decision?
Shonda: I would say the day I was in the hospital I started thinking about it more and I did start calling and I found this agency and I talked to them a little bit, but it wasn’t till about my son was about two months old when I finally decided to go through with it.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, and what were those first couple of months like after you left the hospital when you were contemplating adoption?
Shonda: It was a very challenging time. TV glorifies having a child and they kind of blur out a lot of the hard points and once I got the kid at the hospital and he was put in my arm, I never thought I could do it and decided to try to give it a shot. It looked easy on TV that 16 and Pregnant show and all this other stuff you see, and it was nights of just no sleep, weeks maybe running off of five hours, six hours of sleep. One time I actually slept through him crying in the same bedroom as me like three feet away for two hours until my uncle came in and woke me up. I was that exhausted. I couldn’t even consider going to work or finishing my education high school because I was so tired I could barely even function to take care of my son, it was just way more than I expected and bargained for. I could feel myself falling apart crying all of the time, emotionally detached to my son and after about two months I just I realized I couldn’t handle the stress and I was not emotionally ready at all.
Jennifer Jaworski: And so that touches a little bit on the circumstances that led you to choose adoption for him. Were there any other circumstances or situations in your life that contributed to this decision?
Shonda: Well for one I went in on this alone. My significant other left me the day I found out I was pregnant, which made the journey even more scary had no real help or support. I mean some family was trying to help me but it just didn’t seem like enough. I was not in a stable living environment at any point I could have been homeless again jumping from house to house, or I didn’t have a GED or a diploma. I wasn’t working I mean I was so young I didn’t even think about getting the job yet and I just I couldn’t afford to do anything on my own and I was becoming a burden on everybody around me that was the main choices.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, okay, thanks for sharing that, what did about adoption prior to making this plan or what experiences had you had?
Shonda: I had no idea anything about adoption. I had a rough idea that adoption was very closed that you handed your kid off and then never seen or heard from that child or whoever got the family he was a big mystery. I really didn’t know anything about adoption to be honest.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, and what was the process like once you made this decision?
Shonda: Well the process was hard just because I didn’t have any family so I didn’t even know where to look, so I went around and I called a bunch of different agencies and I came across Adoption Associates, and they actually were the first agency I talked to that wasn’t like, okay when you want to start like when do you want to hand your kid over, let’s get this paperwork done. I mean they wanted to make sure I was very certain on my decision and that it was the best one for me. And we went from there I met with my caseworker and she soon became like my biggest support. I mean she went out to eat with me and even if she had a busy day she would sit with me and make sure I was okay when I left. And then it was emotional but exciting at some points like I remember getting the profiles of people that were looking for children and it was so hard and I had my caseworker to sit down and help me narrow out through 50 or more profiles like what was the best fit for me. And it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be once I hit every milestone during the process.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, and when you say milestones are you referring to looking at the profiles and then meeting the same one you’ve selected and then actually placing your child is that what you’re talking about?
Shonda: Yeah, every little bump I mean the first unless you’re nervous about picking the family, then you pick them and it’s a relief, then you’re nervous to meet them and then every time I went through it I just realized like it’s not so hard.
Jennifer Jaworski: You just sort of baby stepped your way through it and then it seemed doable that’s maybe something that seemed overwhelming initially.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, so what was going on during that time as your meeting with the caseworker and picking a family and putting a plan together, what was going on for you personally or with the other people in your life?
Shonda: A lot of my family I guess at some point in time the era they grew up in adoption was something shameful that many people didn’t quite understand and didn’t realize how it’s evolved over time. So I got a lot of criticisms on my family and they constantly wanted me to change my mind and go back on what I was going to do and it is hard, especially when you’re used to being able to go to that family member for anything and nobody seems to understand you. They’re a little upset with you they’re mad I mean I was threatened to be disowned. I was kicked out of my grandparents house when they finally found out that they came across the profiles, and then that’s when I had to move out and I was sure that this is the right decision. But it was hard because you don’t have anybody you can call to just be like, “Oh I understand” so that was the hardest part for me.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, and yeah I can definitely see that it would be, and for some women who are faced in with that circumstance of not only lack of support but maybe anger from the people that they’re closest to, sometimes it makes them question the choice that they’re making and in some cases even then change their mind completely and not move forward with an adoption plan. How is that different for you and how did the pressure you receive from your family not then impact the ultimate decision that you made?
Shonda: Well when I first started doing adoption I kept it pretty hush until … I was going to wait until I figured out a plan and of course they found the paperwork and stuff, and so a lot of my family was angry. But at that point I had already met my adoptive family, I met them and just seeing their faces and the excitement they had and how much love they had to give not only my son and myself, I couldn’t go back on my word to them. And you find out so much about these people too, their profile and what they’ve been through and some of them have gone through this adoption and then the girl changes their mind at the very end which they’re entitled to do so but it breaks their heart, and I vowed that I wasn’t going to be that person so that helped me a lot. If I hadn’t met them I really don’t know how it would have ended up, but it is really important to meet the family for sure for me at least it was.
Jennifer Jaworski: So it’s really that connection and knowing who they were that made the difference for you?
Shonda: Oh yeah.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay and it’s not uncommon for women in your position to have a lot of fears coming into an adoption especially as you’ve stated really not having an experience with adoption or not an understanding knowledge, can you maybe talk about that a little bit discuss your the fears that you had coming into the process?
Shonda: Well of course my number one fear was pretty tied with was did I pick the right family, how open would it be, would I ever hear from these people. If my family would ever come around to accept my decision, not just my family I was afraid of what my friends would think. I was afraid that my son would hate me, he wouldn’t understand why I would just give him up or he would think I just threw him away because I didn’t want him. I think the biggest fear definitely at that time was the family and just making sure that like once you choose a family and was done I was scared that I’d regret it but that was pretty much my biggest list of fears that I had.
Jennifer Jaworski: How did you work through those?
Shonda: It was hard and I kind of had to just continue. I mean my fears never went away until after the adoption was completed, I guess it just takes for you to go to the next step to see if that fear was realistic or not and going through mine I would say that what these fears seem silly to me now but they were very real to me then. I mean 99% if not 100% of them were just unnecessary fears that going into something new.
Jennifer Jaworski: So it wasn’t your experiences as you went through the process then actually placed your son with the family, it was getting past that and then looking back that you recognized that most of your fears weren’t reality?
Shonda: Some fears like my family and that stuff they started slowly coming around as the court date came up to sign the paperwork to make my adoptive family his parents, but a lot of them like with my son and everything and choosing the right family, the fears didn’t go away until after and then I started seeing results in … it just made a lot of the fears I had were pretty much after adoption fears.
Jennifer Jaworski: Okay, and so how long has it been now since you made your adoption plan?
Shonda: It’s been almost six years, it’s pushing close to six years and I think it was around September, October, so it’s been about six years.
Jennifer Jaworski: What is life like for you now, do you worry about your son, do you have regrets about the choice?
Shonda: I’m emotional about it sometimes, but time has definitely helped a lot. I got my GED I went to college I got my bachelor’s I’m an RN. I got a good job, I’m married, I’m expecting another child, thank you. And none of these things would have happened, I don’t think it would have came as soon if it ever did, and that has put a lot of like I don’t know emotions to bed like that whole fear about my child hating me. I can show him where I was when I was pregnant with him to where I am now and that’s something I probably wouldn’t have been able to do. It’s difficult sometimes every picture you get is emotional, but I don’t ever regret it I mean I probably did maybe for the first month until I realized. But now I have no regret, I don’t worry about him anymore. I see how healthy he is, how well dressed he is, and that stuff I could have never gave him so I don’t really worry about him too much.
Jennifer Jaworski: You mentioned pictures so you’re receiving packets of pictures from the adoptive family?
Shonda: Oh, yeah, they very open, their whole family is very in tuned to adoption or have experience it in a … I get pictures at least every three months. I also have … they gave me their cell phone number so if at any time I’m feeling down or they have a cool picture that they took and they don’t want to wait three months to send it to me, they’ll text me pictures and they’ll give me updates. My visits since moving out of state have been fewer, but generally we tried to meet up every six months unless I was really down I could request to see him sooner, so that actually was my biggest shocker going into this is just how open these people are willing to be. And if you don’t want to be as open like my family will give me a break when I’m feeling a little down, but it’s great. I mean I don’t miss pictures I see him grow up which is really cool.
Jennifer Jaworski: And you even said sometimes you get texts?
Shonda: Oh yeah I get texted, they send me videos sometimes or he’ll be talking about me or telling his other adoptive sister about his Tummy mummy and stuff like that and it was just really nice to have that and again I mean I couldn’t … that fear of me picking the wrong family I couldn’t have been more wrong. I mean it was it was great and I mean I just heard from them yesterday when they sent me pictures.
Jennifer Jaworski: And so I imagine that made a world of difference I can’t imagine how powerful that is for you to get a video to hear your son talking about you and I think if I caught you correctly you said Tummy Mommy, is that what he refers to you as?
Shonda: Yes, and they’ve always read him books and I remember meeting up with him sometimes when he was younger he was always confused so they came up with a way so he could call me mom without calling me mom, so it was really cool.
Jennifer Jaworski: Great, it is very cool, so I’m wondering your message or your thoughts words of wisdom, what would you say to someone else who maybe is where you were six or seven years ago who isn’t sure if adoption is right for them or they’re considering it. You’ve walked a path now and you face the fears and I’m interested in your thoughts about words of wisdom for someone else?
Shonda: My biggest message I’d like to get across is if you don’t have a future, what can you provide for that child and you really have to put your child’s best interests at heart. You have to make the hard decision to give that child a better life, if you can’t provide for that child it makes it harder for not just you it makes that kid’s life a lot more challenging. Don’t listen in to [crosstalk 00:19:49], yeah?
Jennifer Jaworski: You go right ahead, absolutely continue.
Shonda: Don’t listen to people that want you to change your mind, ultimately you have to think and sit down are these people going to want to financially support this child when I can’t and you have to just push forward and go with what feels right to you. My biggest thing to help people get through this would be to make a plan and slowly work on it, make a promise to your child. I mean all these things when you write it down on paper helped me and I’m hoping it can help someone else.
Jennifer Jaworski: And so much of the time when you said this earlier when we were talking about adoption and maybe the views that some have about adoption who don’t have experience in it versus the reality and what we know adoption to be is a selfless sacrifice. It’s not getting rid of a child and women who make this choice do so out of love. And so there’s so much focus as you talked about the fears and about your own loss, but I know in talking with you when we weren’t on air you shared with me what you gained through this process which was surprising I guess is the best word to say because so much is about the loss in adoption. But if you can talk a little bit about how you feel you received through this process as well.
Shonda: Like how I got helped out and stuff like that?
Jennifer Jaworski: Sure, what you feel this gave back to you I think you were talking to me about the drive and the purpose, and some of those other things that kind of became clear to you through the process of placing your son?
Shonda: When I gave my son up I wrote a letter, we received this little book that you can write down information about yourself and a little note to the child and I made a plan and I told him why I gave him up and I told him that I promised I wouldn’t have another child until so many of my goals were met. It gave me a drive to actually go to college whereas before I’d never even thought about it. It was really important to me to meet those before I had a child like my husband wanted one when we got married, but I hadn’t landed that job yet, and it was important to me even if he doesn’t understand right now or you can put anything on paper. But it was important for me to know that I didn’t lie to him and that was something I set up just because of that one fear of him hating me. I didn’t want to have another kid and be in the same position I was but just older. So that gave me a drive to really make him proud and understand more and realize that I wasn’t lying to him and that I did love him. And I mean I probably would have never done half the things I did if I didn’t have that drive in place in the beginning.
Jennifer Jaworski: Well congrats on that so you set those goals and you did the hard work to achieve them so not only is he I’m sure proud of you but hopefully you’re proud of your own accomplishments as well.
Shonda: Oh yes, it makes it a lot easier.
Jennifer Jaworski: That’s awesome so I think you mentioned you’re married now and you’re expecting so and you’re working now, right?
Jennifer Jaworski: Awesome, are there any of the goals left on the list that you are still working towards or are you at a good place now?
Shonda: It’s pretty much met the only thing that wasn’t exactly dead on as I did [inaudible 00:23:46] to get my diploma, but I ended up getting a GED but I’m pretty set. I mean I still have goals for myself but as far as the list to him I’ve met everything on it.
Jennifer Jaworski: That’s wonderful, that’s wonderful ,well I really appreciate you sharing your story, very courageous of you not only to make the plan kind of against all odds if you will but then to come on and share that with our audience. So we really thank you for that, for our listeners who are looking to connect with Adoption Associates, you may call us at 800-677-2367 or on the web at adoptionassociates.net. We thank you again Shonda for today.
Shonda: No problem, I hope I can help someone out there.
Jennifer Jaworski: I’m sure you have and everyone join us next week when we’ll be speaking with an adoption professional who will share with us the adoption family perspective and process and their viewpoint so we’re looking forward to that. For now this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus and I hope you have a great day, bye-bye.