One year ago Ashleigh delivered a beautiful baby boy and placed him into the loving arms of a couple that she carefully selected to be his parents. In this podcast Ashleigh reflects upon her decision to place her son for adoption, and she reveals the top 5 things she wishes every adoptive parent knew. Ashleigh also has a message for other women considering making a voluntary adoption plan for their child. Read or click here to listen in to this special podcast!
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 was founded in 1990 and we specialize in both domestic and international adoption. We provide private adoption services throughout all of Michigan with offices located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills and Saginaw, anywhere in Michigan you can find the connection to Adoption Associates. Adoption Associates brings knowledge, support and understanding in adoption. Adoption is not only our specialty but it is our passion. One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is to do this weekly radio show to help educate and support adoptive families, birth families, and the adoption community. So, we are really glad that you are listening in today. And today, we are talking with a fantastic young woman who previously made an adoption plan through Adoption Associates, and she has so graciously agreed to come on to our podcast today to talk about her thoughts and reflect back on what she has learned through this process. So, I am happy to welcome today to Adoption Focus, Ashley. Ashley, are you with us?
Yes, Ma’am! Hello!
Hi, good morning. Thank you for taking the time to be with us today.
And share a little bit about your story. So, one year ago, you made an adoption plan for your son. Can we talk about that for a minute?
Oh, sure. I was 22 years old when I found out that I was pregnant; I was 8 weeks. I kind of–got pregnant very much an accident, was not all planned and I actually almost did not go through with being pregnant and I decided to change my mind but when I did that, I called you guys.
Okay. So, did you know right away that you weren’t in a position to parent? What sort of decisions were you faced with early on?
Yeah. It was kind of obvious to me that I wasn’t ready to be a single mom. The birth dad or other half of the equation was not going to be involved and I was not in a position to become a single mom and raise my family that I wanted to. So, I decided that adoption would be the best way to go because he can be a gift to another family and still be alive.
Uh-hmm. Ashley what did you know about adoption when you first got started and you first began considering this?
I actually didn’t know very much at all. Nobody that I knew had been adopted and I really only knew whatever I had seen on TV or heard to the grapevine so I actually didn’t know probably anything when I first met you guys.
And that’s, you know, that’s pretty standard actually for women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy and find themselves considering adoption. This is for many people of first time in looking into the world of adoption. So, for the purpose of those that are listening today, I wanna say that I was fortunate to be able to be your case worker and it was such a pleasure for me to get to know you and help you as you were making your adoption plan. I am curious though, what were your initial thoughts about adoption after our first meeting?
Well, I remembered being super nervous to meet you and then we were sitting in the booth at the restaurant, and you talked to me like a real person and wasn’t like I was–I had no reason to be ashamed when I was talking to you and you reinforced that throughout every conversation that we had that I was making a good decision and that I had nothing to be ashamed of. You were very helpful in educating me and that there are different types of adoption. And there are so many different families out there. And you were wonderful in helping me make decisions that we’re gonna be six months from now and telling me it’s okay to change my mind. And it was just nice to know that I had somebody in my corner.
Aw, thank you for saying that Ashley. What did you learn in those first few meetings that surprised you the most? What’d you say?
Uhm, well, I learned that it’s okay to be picky when going through my profile families. There are a lot of families out there and it’s okay to take your time and not just jump to a decision. And I learned about the different kinds of adoption being the open, semi-open and fully close, I didn’t even know if that was an option when I started this whole thing and that it’s okay you know to take the time to think about what I want and what’s okay for me because ultimately, I have to be okay with the choice that I make.
Absolutely, and you did just that. You did take your time and you began moving forward. And what was the process like as you began moving forward with your plan?
I remember, I think it was our second meeting that I got the tablet with all the profile families on it. And you know you were like you can feel free to go ahead and look through them and take your time and I was all excited to look through there and then I started looking. And that’s a very overwhelming decision to make and I am glad that I took the time to actually look through, and make a decision. I didn’t just jump at, you know, “Oh, this one looks good” or “Oh, this one looks good” I took the time and not made pros and cons, and I like this one and I like this one, and I don’t like this. And it was–it’s overwhelming. So, I’m glad that I took the time and took your advice and didn’t just jump into making a decision.
And so, as you move forward some of the other things that we did was that we met to discuss the hospital plan and to prepare also for what you may experience emotionally prior to delivery, and then afterwards. What was that process like for you as you continued to learn more about adoption, about grief, about the choices that you need to make at the hospital?
It’s definitely an interesting process to go through. I know that I had originally made my hospital plan with you and I had it set probably about two months before I delivered, and then, I had some complications with my delivery and my son came early so that kind of changed all of my plans for everything and it was okay for me to still change my plan as it was going because my pregnancy changed. Well, it was the–
It’s interesting and you know, nothing is set in stone because, you know, they decide when they wanna come when they wanna come. So…
It’s nice to have a plan but it’s also good to keep in mind that you have to be flexible because things happen and stuff change.
Absolutely. I appreciate you saying that too. As we said earlier, it was one year ago, this month, that your son was born and you placed him with the couple that you selected and you’ve had a lot of time now, a year to think about all of this and process the adoption and I know there are some things that you feel strongly about that I wanted us to take some time to discuss today as well. There are, I believe, correct me if I’m wrong Ashley, four or five things that you wish adoptive parents knew. What are those? Can we talk about that?
Yeah. So, I still am in contact with my son’s parents. We did this on my open adoption and through that, I contact them every once in a while just to know what’s going on and every time they always tell me that he’s such a gift to them and that they are so thankful for me, you know, choosing them in that process, but one thing that I always remind them is they are a gift to me. I took the time to go through and I chose them; that’s a gift to me. I didn’t give them but they have my son and they’re raising my son and that’s a huge thing for me to be at peace with the decision that I made the right decision. Because I see whenever I hear from them or talk to them that they love my son unconditionally and give him everything he wants and they are a family. And that’s what I wanted; that was the biggest thing that I wanted when I did this was to be okay with my decisions and I know that I made the right choice. But they are a gift to me as much as my son is a gift to them. And–
That’s such an interesting concept, Ashley. I like the way that you said that. Because so many adopted families do, you know, view this as a gift, the birth mother making an adoption decision and placing her child with them as a gift to them but to hear you kind of flip that around and say “This is a gift to me, it provided me a sense of peace and security that my son is well and loved and cared for” that’s awesome. So, I won’t stop you. I know you have more. Go ahead. What are some other things? Yeah, it’s a big one I know.
When we were going through this entire process after I chose my family, I wanted to get to know them. That was one of the ways that was–made it easier for but to understand to that we’re going through this together, it’s not just me and it’s not just them. We are doing this together. I mean, he may be coming out of me but he is your son, well, their, their son, and so, it’s just to remember that, you know, it’s okay to ask question, it’s okay to tell me how your feeling or what you’re thinking, or if you wanna know what I’m thinking, you know, unless–and specifically does–why don’t ask. It’s okay to ask. Like we want you to be involved in this, it’s not just often you, it’s a together thing.
And the process is different for the birth mother and the adoptive parents but nonetheless, as you said, it’s a process for both of you, and in many occasions, it’s a first time process too. So, I think that’s important that you are right. You’re going through this together even though maybe from two different points of view.
And it’s also important to remember that, I am probably gonna change my mind a couple of times about am I making the right decision, you know, and if I’ve chosen my family and I did this with my family, I, you know, was excited and then I’m hormonal being pregnant and I went through a period where I was like, “Well, I don’t know if I really wanna do this” and well, you as an adoptive parent have to understand that that’s normal. I’m gonna change my mind. I’m gonna have those doubts but in the end, I know that I made the right decision. But I, I am gonna change my mind and I am gonna think about it because that’s a big decision that I am making.
Alright. And, you know, I think Ashley for you and for a lot of women in your circumstances, reevaluating your choice and questioning yourself, it’s not only part of the process but it helps you in the end when you do make this choice to know that you’ve made a very thorough well-thought decision that this is not a giving away, a giving up of a child for adoption, and so reevaluating that, you know, throughout the planning, at delivery, afterwards, prior to court, it’s a very normal thing to do, and it’s healthy and good for you to do that. So, that’s an excellent point that you bring up here. Adoptive families can feel a little nervous obviously during that timeframe, but that’s an important part for birth parents.
Yeah. And it’s also okay like to talk to your birth parents and your birth mom about, you know, I’m having doubts not that I don’t think that you guys will make amazing parents but, you know, I’m having those doubts. And to have that conversation with them because then that also includes them in the process of understanding what’s going on, at least from my point of view.
Well and when you give openness and honesty, then you’ll receive that back from the family as well so excellent point. What else? Were there any other things that you really wish adoptive parents knew?
I don’t necessarily know. So many things but it’s hard to pinpoint one.
(Laughs) I think we may have lost connection with you there for just a second. I apologize for that there was a bit of a delay. So, we’ve talked about a couple of different things here. Are you ready to move on to our next discussion?
Okay. So, you know you and I were talking about this prior to today obviously and we all have so many titles and roles that we fill in and out of every day, if you will, daughter, sister, friend, student, employee, you know, you are many of those things, but you now Ashley have a new position that you really maybe never imagined or dreamed that you would and that’s a birth mother. You are someone’s birth mother now and it’s not something that you’ve ever been ashamed of, I know that from being your case worker, and I know that you have some thoughts that you’d like to share on this topic as well. What is it you would like other women who maybe pregnant right now and considering adoption to know?
My biggest thing is you are not a bad person or a bad mother for even considering and then if you make a decision going through with an adoption, you are not a bad person and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I didn’t give my son up for adoption because I don’t love him and I don’t want him. I did it because I love him. And I hope that one day, I can convey that to him and he understands that, but I have, as you said, I have not been ashamed because I know that I am making a choice for him and for me that are for the better. And it’s you know, people make comments when you’re pregnant and if you decide to tell them, you know, like I’m putting my child up for adoption, they’ll make comments because they don’t understand. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not–you are not wrong. People say, you know, “I could never put my child up for adoption.” Well, they are not in your situation and they don’t understand so, you know, be polite about it but at the same time, you’ve done nothing wrong and I want every birth mom out there to ever hear that. You are not doing anything wrong.
Uh-hmm. You absolutely–I’m 100% agree with you on that Ashley and I think that sometimes, when we hear what you just described someone saying that I could never do that often times, that’s a lack of information that they have or that they’ve been given, inaccurate information about adoption. As you mentioned earlier, you knew essentially nothing except for what you may have heard through the grapevine or saw on TV which is not most of the time accurate. You didn’t know much about adoption when you entered into this and you heard a lot through the process and so I think that oftentimes, that’s what we do here unfortunately is that women just don’t understand the choices that are available to them and that this decision is a decision that women make out of love. So, I am so grateful for you for this and I know that we have more here. What are some other things that are important for you that you want other women who maybe in the position that you are in to know or understand?
That it is very much okay to ask for help. I am a person who does not ask for help very often and I learned through this process that it’s okay to either ask you, or ask family, or my pastor, or anybody just friends, it’s okay to say you know I’m having a hard time with this and I need to talk about it. It’s okay to talk about being pregnant and what’s going through your head and the emotions that you’re having, and you know, if you don’t have anybody like that, it’s okay to go talk to a counselor. I thought about doing that for a while and I ended up having other people that I could talk to. But it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to hide what you’re feeling and what you’re doing because there is a social stigma that being pregnant unplanned and going through the adoption process is, you know, a bad thing and you should hide that. That is very much incorrect and wrong. And after going through this, just please, please, please if you have any thoughts aren’t pleasant, ask for help.
Right. And that’s what we are here for, not only adoption agencies such as ours, Ashley, but women such as yourself who have been through this. I know at one point early on you connected with a former client, a birth mother, who had made an adoption plan and you were able to talk to her or hear from her. So, you know, we want women to be open and to talk and to seek that assistance and know that they’re not alone. And I know that, you know, I think you’ve mentioned this at one point too Ashley, it can feel like a pretty lonely place in the beginning that, you know, no one really understands where you’re coming from or what you’re facing, but you’re definitely not alone. There are people available here all of the time to assist.
Yes. And the woman that you mentioned, my first mom [inaudible 19:17], she was a great help and we still talk to this day and it’s a wonderful community of people who they get it, they understand where you’re coming from and what you’re thinking off and they do help you realize that you’re not alone which is a big thing when you are going through this process, to realize that you’re not alone.
Uh-hmm. Absolutely. And that community of people is strong as ever and they are a brave, powerful group of young ladies who we adore, and so, if there is anyone that is listening, certainly know that we would be happy to put you in connection with Ashley or other birth mothers who are wanting to kind of give back so to speak and to share their stories too as you are today, Ashley. What other things? Was there anything else, Ashley?
I guess the last thing is it’s okay to change your mind. This is a very fluid process that you are going through and it’s okay to have those doubts and actually think about, well, is this something that I actually want to do and understand that even if you’ve chosen a family and have started that process and then all of a sudden decide to change your mind, that’s okay because it’s a decision that you have to make and that you have to live with and I understand that adoption is the end goal for most people but it’s okay to do some soul searching and determine if that’s really what you want to do because again, it doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a real person that you take the time to think about it and make sure that you’re okay with what you’re doing.
Yeah. Absolutely. I couldn’t have said that better. I think that you know today what you’ve done is you’ve provided some excellent food for thoughts for a lot of women and I do hope and expect that this will speak to a lot of people who are searching for information, who are searching for options, who just don’t understand that, you know, will I be able to see my baby in the hospital if I plan adoption and what are my rights, and what will my child be told or know about me if I choose adoption. There are just so many factors to consider and so many things that we want to help women explore and learn about as they begin considering adoption as an option, and hopefully today is a starting place for that, Ashley, and you have done fantastic job of laying out some issues today and in getting the conversation started so, a great big thank you to you, Ashley, for your time today.
Not a problem and thank you, and one last little thing to any potential birth mom or soon to be birth mom out there, you are not alone and please, if you want to talk, get a hold on Jennifer, get a hold of somebody, and there were always be somebody there to listen.
Thank you, Ashley. And to reach Adoption Associates or myself, Jennifer, you may contact us at 800 677 2367. Again, the number is 800 677 2367. Adoption Associates can also be located on the web at adoptionassociates.net. There are many ways to connect with Adoption Associates including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. So, reach out for more information. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation about adoption live every Tuesday at 11 here on Adoption Focus. And we do hope that you tune in again next week as we will be talking about the agencies upcoming fundraising gala in the Green Rapids area so please stay tuned for that. Again, much great appreciation today to Ashley, and for now this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus. I hope you all have a wonderful day. Buh-bye.