Jennifer was 16 when she found out she was pregnant. She felt terrified at the thought of telling her parents about her pregnancy. With a break-up from her teenage boyfriend shortly after she found out, she was unsure just how her parents would react to the news. When she finally told them, she says that “they were able to react to me with love and without anger.” This was the first successful step of her journey as she began figuring out where her life would go from there.
Jennifer knew as soon as she found out she was pregnant that she wanted to pursue adoption. She was connected with Christa Thomas (Birth Parent coordinator to Spirit of Faith Adoptions), who met with her and discussed the options with Jennifer. Christa was able to show Jennifer 8 adoptive family profiles (photo books), so that Jennifer could have a choice of parents for her baby. One family stood out to Jennifer, and so decided to meet with them. They also had one adopted child already, so Jennifer felt more comfortable placing another baby with this family. Not only could she provide parents, but she could provide a sibling for her baby. Jennifer felt like this family made her feel like a person, and not just a birth mother. She loved their opening line in their profile that said, “God Bless you for considering what has to be the hardest most unselfish thing that you could do for your child.” She knew this was the right family for her baby. Since the birth father was not involved after he found out she was pregnant, she made these big decisions on her own with support from her parents and Christa.
Jennifer compares making an adoption decision much like how an artist paints a picture. She said there is no one standing over an artist saying, “put a red line here,” or “draw a green line there.” The artist creates what he or she wants as an expression of who they are. She says that this had to be her own painting, her own decision, in order for it all to go well for her. She says, “this is your life and this is the child’s life. You and that child will be the most effected by whatever you choose. You need to worry about that child and yourself. Make the best decision for you and your child, not the best decision for you and your child and your parents or your friends.”
Once Jennifer decided on adoption and on the parents for her child, she started making plans for the future. She decided that she would like to invite the adoptive mom into the delivery room and that she’d like to do a semi-open adoption for the first two years. This meant that she would receive pictures and letter updates about her daughter. She decided on her own to stop the updates after the two year period. Although everyone is different and structures their adoption differently, Jennifer says, “I am completely healed, I am not grieving anymore, I still pray for Nadia, but had I stayed in contact with her I believe I would still be grieving.”
After she gave birth, had her daughter dedicated to God in the hospital, and went home, she felt depressed about where her life choices had taken her. Through professional counseling and her relationship with God, Jennifer explains her adoption experience this way:
“I was a very narcissistic person. I know God had me go through adoption, placing my daughter’s needs over my own, because I was living for myself. Adoption helped me put someone else before myself. Adoption is my journey, but it’s God’s story. Adoption isn’t man made. It’s a divine concept that God loved us so much that he sent his son down so that if we accept him and ask for forgiveness that we are adopted into the body of Christ.”
Jennifer is now married and has another daughter. She says that, “I don’t feel I am missing a child, I feel healed and I am a mom now.” When asked what advice she might give other birth moms, she said, “ to still go (to counseling) despite feeling a little better is very important. I knew I had someone to talk to, I knew I wouldn’t relapse back in to depression, and in that room I was cared for and I was loved and I felt safe.”
Jennifer has a blog that she writes regarding her experience that is easy to read and relate to. To learn more about Jennifer and her adoption journey, visit: http://jenncothern.wordpress.com