Blogtalk Radio Transcript: Amber’s Adoption Plan, Air Date: 11.21.2017 (You may listen to the podcast by clicking on the audio link, or read the transcript of the podcast below.)
Amber, a 34-year-old mother of 3 had plans to finish her college degree when she learned she was pregnant. The birth father was not in the picture and Amber was struggling financially. She simply was not ready to parent another child. After Amber contacted Adoption Associates for help, she was given profiles of couples hoping to grow their family by adoption. She chose a family who seemed to be a great fit, but she worried about how awkward it was going to be when they met. She worried about being judged. That first meeting left her content with her decision. It was not awkward at all. They were so kind, and non-judgmental. What Amber thought was going to be a “one time” meeting turned into a beautiful friendship.
Jennifer J.: Hi and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworski with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates’ premier talk radio blog show. Adoption Associates and its staff are trusted leaders in adoption. We’ve placed over 5200 children into loving homes.
Since 1990, we have advocated, supported and nurtured both birth families and adoptive families, and helping families and birth parents grow through the adoption process is important to us.
We have offices located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills and Saginaw, and our private adoption services are available throughout all of Michigan.
One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is to this podcast, so we appreciate you listening in today. We hope that you find this forum to be inspirational, educational and thought provoking.
This is the month of November, and as is customary in adoption, we celebrate National Adoption Awareness this month. With the Adoption Focus Podcast, we are focusing this month on the selfless brave women who we call birth mothers.
Amber, I believe you are on the line.
Amber: Yes, I am.
Jennifer J.: Good morning. Thank you very much for taking time to be with us.
Amber: Thank you.
Jennifer J.: I mentioned that we are talking about topics of interest to women such as yourself and discussing specifics of adoption and how you came to make that decision. Today’s show is entitled, Is Adoption an Option For Me? I know Amber, that’s a question that you really never imagined you’d be facing.
Jennifer J.: Could you get us started today by sharing a little bit about yourself and the situation and circumstances that you were facing earlier this year?
Amber: Sure. I got pregnant last October. I have three children. At that time they were 3, 8 and 10. I was planning on going back to college to finish my degree when my youngest would be entering preschool the following Fall. I was very excited about that.
When I got pregnant it was unplanned. I was not with the birth father, and I was struggling financially. When I got pregnant I just had this feeling like I can’t do this. My other three pregnancies weren’t planned either. I always started each pregnancy with that feeling like I can’t do this.
That progressed to, okay, I can do this. It’s going to be hard, but I can do it. And with this fourth one, I kept waiting for the feeling that I could do it, but it never came. I think when I called Adoption Associates I was probably about 28 weeks.
Jennifer J.: What did you know about adoption at the time that you decided to make that phone call?
Amber: Other than what little bit I had Googled, nothing. I had never known anybody who had been through the process to make an adoption plan. However, I did know a couple of people who are adopted, but other than that, I thought you just gave your child away and that was it. I didn’t know anything about the types of open adoption or anything about the process.
Jennifer J.: How were you feeling when you first reached out to the agency?
Amber: Desperate, I guess you would say. I was pretty depressed and sad that it had come to that – that this is what I had to do. But I knew it was best for all of us because we lived in this little two bedroom apartment and their literally would be no room for a baby.
Jennifer J.: Right.
Amber: There is hardly any room myself and my other three children. Yeah, so I was pretty sad.
Jennifer J.: It was a tough time. I was fortunate enough to be the agency caseworker that helped you through your decision to plan adoption. I met with you for the very first time back earlier this year. Can we talk a little bit about what it was like meeting with someone from an adoption agency for the first time and what sort of questions you had?
Amber: Yeah. I was pretty nervous. I wanted to know how it worked. You informed me that there are three kinds of adoptions. One of them being open where you can get pictures and letters, and you can actually make contact with your child a couple of times a year. You told me about the process of picking the family. I would get to choose where my child would be going. And after I met with you that first time, a lot of my anxiety went away. You answered a lot of questions, so I felt a little better after meeting with you the first time.
Jennifer J.: This concept of choosing the family and having direct contact with an adoptive family, is that what you expected or was that surprising?
Amber: That was surprising. In the beginning, I thought it would be awkward to have contact with the family beforehand. I guess I couldn’t see how we would have anything in common with me being in my situation and them being in their situation. It might be an awkward relationship. I thought maybe I’d meet them once, and that would be that, and we’d go on with our lives. I didn’t really think it was possible to have any kind of close relationship with them.
Jennifer J.: It’s wonderful that your relationship with the family wasn’t at all awkward, but I want to just table that for a minute and come back to it.
First I wanted to continue to build the timeline of your adoption plan. As you move forward beyond that initial meeting with myself as the agency case worker. And, you began putting an adoption plan in place, then you got to the point of selecting an adoptive family. Tell us a little bit about that. What was it that you were looking for, and what was that process like for you?
Amber: Well, I think when you and I met, I had gone through the profiles that I had found on your website.
Jennifer J.: On the agency’s website.
Amber: Yeah. Basically, I was looking for people like me that were my age, and had the same interests; liked to be outside, were educated, middle of the road, middle income, etc. I was just looking for people like me, so she would be raised how I would raise her.
Jennifer J.: Yes. Someone who shared similar values and that you could visualize being her parents.
Jennifer J.: Someone you could relate too.
Amber: Right, right, yeah.
Jennifer J.: What about the issue or the fear of judgment? Was that something that you worried about with the adoptive parents, them judging you?
Amber: Oh yeah, for sure. Well, being a poor single mom, you do get judged a lot all the time, so that was definitely a fear. It was one of the reasons why I didn’t think it was possible to build a relationship with them. It’s hard for people who haven’t been in my position to see where I’m coming from, so yeah, I definitely was afraid of the judgment.
Jennifer J.: Okay. You then made that decision. You start to make an adoption plan. Then you look through profiles, and you took some time to do that, and picked who you decided would be the parents to your child. You then met them. I was there with you. Obviously, meeting the adoptive parents is both exciting and nerve wracking and a whole lot of other emotions all rolled into one. Tell us about that, Amber.
Amber: Okay, well we met at the Olive Garden, which is one of my favorite places to eat. I brought my four-year-old daughter, Olivia. She’s a wild and happy child, so she diffused the situation. Something else to pay attention to when it got awkward and yeah, I was nervous. I could tell they were very nervous. But when I met them, I just knew. I knew that they were the ones. And I could tell that they weren’t judging me. I picked them, so I thought they would be nice people, but it blew my mind how great they really were. After that initial meeting, that’s when the big weight lifted off my shoulders.
Jennifer J.: Okay.
Amber: I knew it would be okay.
Jennifer J.: How did you feel about the ability to trust them, and how did you feel about those issues of judgment that we were talking about a little bit ago?
Amber: Well, like I said, I could tell right away that they just weren’t judgmental. They were beyond grateful that I picked them. I got the feeling that, not only were they not judging me, they thought I was a really good person. So it went against everything that I had thought, which made it a lot easier to trust them. They wanted this child so bad. They wanted her as much as I did.
Jennifer J.: Right, and that was important to you.
Amber: Right. Yeah, it was at that point that I knew that they would treat her like she was theirs.
Jennifer J.: Did you feel, Amber that the adoptive parents that you had selected were as interested in you as they were in your child?
Amber: Yes, definitely. As time went on, we continued to meet and they were definitely interested in me and my three children. My children eventually met them and they loved them too. I think at one point, we’d be joking that they wanted to go live with the adoptive parents too. They were right onboard with the adoption plan. And, they had the same feelings about the adoptive family that I did. They trusted them, and it eased their fears too after meeting them.
Jennifer J.: Awesome. You went on to establish an open relationship with these adoptive parents, Justin and Sarah. What has it been like for you to have this type of open relationship with a couple who are now raising your daughter?
Amber: Well, it’s been great. I knew they lived in Michigan, but I didn’t know where. It just so happened that they live only a couple of miles from me, so that made it really easy too. We started meeting once a month and our relationship grew from there. Now it just feels like they’re my family too.
Jennifer J.: Absolutely.
Amber: The kids love them as well, so it’s great.
Jennifer J.: You really have embraced what open adoption is all about. You attended your daughter’s baptism at the church of the adoptive parents, and your mother and grandmother have met them as well.
Jennifer J.: So this is truly a family affair. What does that mean to you, Amber? What would you say openness in general has meant to you coming from a place where you didn’t really know what that word even meant?
Amber: Right. Well, I think it’s helped me make this the whole adoption plan and everything after that a lot easier than what I thought it would. I talk to them almost daily. They send me pictures of her, and even sent a video of her rolling over the first time. It’s way more than what I thought. We talk to each other because we want to. I met their family at the baptism. Now, I can text them and say, “Hey, I missed you guys. When are we going to meet?” And they can do the same thing. It’s made everything a lot easier than what I had ever envisioned.
Jennifer J.: Sure. Openness is a very relationship-driven thing.
Jennifer J.: When someone considers adoption as an option at the beginning of the pregnancy, and we sit and talk about openness, that’s really something that’s hard. You maybe can speak to this better than I can. Having a conversation about something that really is based on trust and relationship can be a challenge.
Amber: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, even in my pregnancy, we met at different places at least once a month. And, at least once a week in the end. They went to doctor appointments with me. When my water finally broke, they were the first people I called. I think they beat me to the hospital by a few minutes.
Jennifer J.: Oh, wow!
Amber: They were both actually in the room when she was born, so they’ve seen me at my worst and they still love me.
Jennifer J.: Aw.
Amber: It was just a really, really good experience. I hope that everybody’s adoption plan goes like that. I don’t know if I’ve just been extremely blessed or what.
Jennifer J.: Well, there is no doubt that you have been blessed beyond measure. And you have provided this family with a child so they have been blessed beyond measure too. When we talk about openness and women considering adoption as an option, these wonderful experiences are available. There are many families who, just like Justin and Sarah, want to develop a relationship with the birth mother. They want to have ongoing contact because that is what’s believed to be in the best interest of the child.
Jennifer J.: Does that mean that every adoption is fully open? It certainly doesn’t. Birth mothers come from different places and have different needs and wishes in regards to that. Even in the beginning, Amber, I think you were saying that you weren’t sure.
Jennifer J.: Maybe just a picture and a letter will be enough. Well, you weren’t even sure where you fell with that concept of openness. It’s okay for you and other women not to know in the beginning.
Jennifer J.: It’s common for birth mothers to not know how they feel about this or what this is going to look like.
Amber: Right, right. It’s really hard to picture this type of relationship growing into that. When you’re making an adoption plan in the beginning, you don’t even know these people, so it’s really hard to imagine that you’re going to have this great relationship. But I think that if that’s what you really want, it’s definitely possible to have that.
Jennifer J.: Thank you for that. We are approaching the end of the show soon, but I wanted to say that there is a great deal of discussion that takes place about the impact of adoption on birth parents, and I’m wondering if you can personalize that a bit for us? How has placing your daughter for adoption impacted you, Amber?
Amber: Well like I said, in the beginning, it was a hard decision. It was depressing. But as time went on, and my relationship with Sarah and Justin grew, my trust grew. I was prepared for the grief I thought I would experience after I had her. I thought I would feel like I had just lost something. But I guess that feeling never really came for me.
The first day in the hospital was a little hard. But once I got back home with my kids, that helped because they keep me busy. I definitely don’t feel like I lost something. I feel like I gained Sarah and Justin. Claire is their child. This is definitely what was meant to be. Maybe it’s not like that for everybody, but that’s how I felt. I didn’t lose, I gained.
It’s just a really good feeling to be able to do that for somebody. They wanted a child so badly, and I could give that to them. I mean, that’s a really, really good feeling. They are so grateful. They love my kids and my family. I gained a lot more.
Jennifer J.: Sure, sure.
Amber: Claire is there with them. She didn’t go anywhere. I can see her whenever I want. She’s still there.
Jennifer J.: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a really important point. You have this unplanned situation that in the beginning felt very desperate, and very sad. You were unsure and you took what was a tough situation and turned it into something that is very positive by making an adoption plan.
Jennifer J.: I appreciate you opening up about this today, Amber. I know that these are pretty personal questions too.
Amber: Yeah, you’re welcome.
Jennifer J.: Again, Amber, thank you very much for sharing your heart and your adoption experience with us today.
Amber: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you.
Jennifer J.: For those of you that are listening and interested in connecting with Adoption Associates, we would love to hear from you at (800) 677-2367. You can also reach us on the web at www.AdoptionAssociates.net. We hope that you continue to listen to Adoption Focus Podcast for adoption related topics. Thank you for your ongoing support of our program, and we hope to be in touch with you again soon. For now, this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus Podcast. Have a great day, everyone. Bye bye.