Air Date: 9.25.2015
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Connie Going: Hi. This is Connie [Going 00:00:36]. Welcome to Adoption Focus. This is a radio blog talk show that is sponsored by Adoption Associates. They are an amazing adoption agency in Michigan and they have offices in Jenison, Farmington Hill, Lansing, and northeastern Michigan. They have been in service since 1990 and they specialize in domestic adoptions and international adoptions. To this date, they have done well over 5,000 adopted placements.
Adoption Associates is committed to each and every child and parent. They care and walk them through the adoption journey. They are a Christian organization, but their services are open to clients of all faith. For more information, you can reach them at 1-800-677-2367. We are excited to have with us a wonderful young woman and her name is Brooke. Brooke, are you on the line?
Brooke: I am.
Connie Going: Thank you for calling in. You live in Michigan, correct?
Brooke: Actually, we’re in Illinois now.
Connie Going: Okay. It’s a little bit colder in Illinois right now.
Brooke: It is, yep. It’s sweater and jeans days. That’s good.
Connie Going: That’s exciting because it’s 81 here in Florida.
Brooke: Oh, I don’t know. I’d much rather be there then.
Connie Going: I miss the fall. I definitely miss the fall. I want to thank you so much for giving your time today to be on our show.
Connie Going: Let’s tell everyone a little bit about your story. You are a birth mother.
Brooke: I am.
Connie Going: You placed your daughter over 13 years ago, is that correct?
Brooke: That’s correct. She just turned 14 in August.
Connie Going: Oh, wow. Tell us how your journey started.
Brooke: Well, I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and when I was 17 I had just changed schools. We switched over to a small town and I was trying to fit in, I was trying to be with everyone, and just kind of made a wrong turn. When I found myself pregnant, I didn’t have a relationship with the birth father. We had broken up a couple months prior and when I told him I was pregnant, he was excited, wanted to parent, and get married, and all that. I’m thinking, “I’m 17. My life is over.” I was devastated.
I grew up in a Christian reformed home, and my parents were very strict, and told me, “If you even think you’re pregnant, keep walking. Don’t come home. That’s just not what we do.” It was a really scary time in my life telling my parents. They came around to being supportive after, I think, the shock wore off. I found myself pregnant and my mom … I came from a broken home. My mom had actually placed my younger sister for adoption when I was three.
I knew of adoption to be “open” but we had no contact with my sister that my mom had released. I felt like totally negative about adoption. When my mom brought it up, I said, “Absolutely not. I will not have a relationship the way that you have with Karen/Rebecca,” was her birth name. I was planning on parenting and I planned on parenting for quite a while. I was about six months pregnant when my Youth Pastor said, “We have a family in our small group, and they have an adopted daughter, and they’re planning on adopting again. They’re looking for biracial adoption,” which Mia wasn’t going to be.
He said, “It’s no pressure. Why don’t you let them come over and tell them what an adopted family is like.” I begrudgingly agreed. I sat on my couch with my arms crossed, six and a half months pregnant, as they spoke to me. I was kind to them, but I was very firm with them. It was like, I just want to know what you have to say and that’s about it. They brought Isabelle, their adopted daughter, and she was biracial. She’s the cutest little thing.
They’re talking about Edina, Isabelle’s birth mom, in front of her. They were saying how much they loved her and I was shocked. I was in complete utter shock that this little girl … They said, “Who’s Edina?” She goes, “I was in her tummy.” They said the sweetest things. I’m thinking, “This is so different.” In my head, but in my heart, I’m thinking, “This is great for someone, but I loved this child inside of me so much already.” I’m like, “There’s no way.”
They left and it was great. It was a great meeting, but they left and it wasn’t until May 25th, I know the date, that I watched her birth father, it was his birthday, and I watched him. He had a rough path and I watched him being taken out of his home. He lived by us. Taken out of his home in handcuffs and go back to jail where he had been before. At that moment, I fell apart in my car as I watched that. I realized that I would need his help financially. I was working at KFC at the time. 17-year-old, I was going to school, working at KFC-
Connie Going: And still in school.
Brooke: Yeah. I was like, “Let’s see, I’d need two full-time KFC jobs just to pay for daycare.” I started really thinking and I realized that not only would I need financial support from him, but he would also get visitations with her. At that moment, I just realized that it was my mistake that put me in that place and put her in that place. I never wanted to get a call in the middle of the night saying, “He made some bad choices, and your daughter was with her, and you have to come pick her up.” It just scared me to death. I sat down that night and I wrote out a letter. I wrote down all the things I couldn’t provide for her and it was heartbreaking.
Connie Going: [inaudible 00:07:32].
Brooke: Coming to that realization that it just wasn’t going to be. Then I prayed about it, and prayed about it, and then the next day, I called John and Victoria, the ones that came over to my house, and I just said, “I know this is out of the blue, but I’ve decided to release her for adoption. God has pointed you guys in my direction and she won’t be biracial, but I was wondering if you’d still think about taking her.” She said that they would pray about it and get back to me. The next day, they called me back and they said that we would get together and meet. That’s where the adoption started.
From that moment, as soon as I made that decision, I knew I couldn’t go back on it. My mission then was to get as close as I could to them so my heart was connected with theirs and I wouldn’t change my mind. We went the next couple months and then [Mya 00:08:35] was born. I named her Jade Alexis and they kind of gave me three names that they liked. They said, “Maya, Scarlet, or Marigold.” I was like, “Maya. Let’s do that one.” Her name is Maya May.
Connie Going: That’s beautiful.
Brooke: Thank you. She was gorgeous. She was the most beautiful baby. I stayed in the hospital for three days with her and had her in my room the whole time. I actually nursed her and then pumped for a month. We would drop it off at my Youth Pastor’s house and then they would come pick it up. I kind of struggled-
Connie Going: That’s incredible. Brooke, how did you come up with that decision?
Brooke: It was just in my heart. It was just always in my heart that I never wanted her to feel abandoned, I never wanted her to feel unloved, or unwanted. I wanted the stories to be able to tell her, I wanted my life and my choices to be able to tell her, how much I loved her, and how much I cared for her, and I wanted the very, very best for her. I just said, “I would like to give you as much milk as I can produce until it doesn’t happen.” Then they supplemented with milk. I know when I said that to John and Victoria, that meant a lot to them, so I knew it wasn’t a burden to them. It was good.
Connie Going: That’s great.
Brooke: Pretty much right afterwards, I immersed myself in a full-time job and full-time college. I started college a week after she was born.
Connie Going: Oh my gosh.
Brooke: I tried really hard to just make myself busy so I could cover up some pain that I just didn’t want to deal with. I made some really bad choices right afterwards too. Nothing that affected anyone around me, but just internally I was angry, and I was frustrated, and I was sad. There was all this pain. The agency, Adoption Associates, that we released through, they were in our town. They were in the town that I was living in, so that’s why we chose them to do the adoption, because it was a designated adoption, is what they call that, when we found each other outside of the agency.
Connie Going: Right.
Brooke: Adoption Associates, after having that relationship with me, they asked me … They are wonderful about getting the word out about adoption and trying to change the story or change the vision of people of adoption. They would go to high schools and they would speak at high schools. My social worker at Adoption Associates asked me to speak at the high schools with her sometimes. I really enjoyed doing that. It was a way that I could talk about it and be out there.
It was about six months after Maya was born and two of my other friends had gotten pregnant. They had decided to parent and I was going through a really rough time of watching my friends, who were the same age as me, parenting. I saw their struggles, and I saw what they were going through, but there was still a part of me that was jealous. That they were getting to hold their babies, they were getting to have their babies call them mamma and all those kind of things.
At my work one day, I went into the back room, I was a Manager of a shoe store, and I went to the back room, and I literally just fell to my knees. My relationship with God was very strained until this point. I was just not making choices based on what maybe His will was for me. I was definitely following my own path. I fell on my knees in that store and I just said, “God, I need you. I know I’m distant from you. I know it’s me who’s walked away from you, but I’m asking you, I’m begging you, to please use me, because I feel worthless. I feel there’s so much pain inside of me, I don’t even know what to do.”
The very next day Adoption Associates called and said, “We’ve been talking about you and would you come in for an interview here? We thought maybe we would develop a position for you here at Adoption Associates.” I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I literally just got off the phone and just said, “God, thank you. Even if this doesn’t work out, thank you for making me feel special.”
Connie Going: That was your affirmation.
Brooke: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes we pray, and pray, and don’t hear anything for a while, and it’s in His time, but He immediately gave me that affirmation. I went in the next day for an interview and they offered me a position. I was so blessed to be the liaison between adoptive families and birth moms. It was just really cool to hold the hands of these birth moms, be in delivery rooms with birth moms, and be able to hold their hand. When it was time for them to hand their most prized possession over to someone that was going to love that child as their most prized possession, it was incredibly moving, I learned so much, and I got to heal.
I was able to talk about Maya, I went into different high schools and spoke about Maya on my own, and it was amazing to see the impact of the kids that I spoke. That they were like, “Oh, this isn’t the way it used to be. It’s different. It’s changed.” It was incredible. It was just an incredible time. I got to grieve. I would leave the hospital after seeing those birth moms hand their children over and they walked out sobbing.
We gave each other a hug, and get in the car with their parents or whoever would take them home, and I would get in my car. I would have to stop on the side of the highway and I just was uncontrollably moved by emotion, but it brought me back to that place, which I think is good. It was grieving and it was healing for me to be able to do that.
Connie Going: God really used you. He used you to touch people’s lives at a point that to think that you’re in the delivery room. Not only am I an adoptive mother, I have been a birth mother social worker, and so having had the honor of being there with a birth mom through that process, and holding her hand, and crying with her, and helping her through that process, I think that was God given, to share a moment like that with someone, especially because of your own loss and your journey as a birth mother. That you were there to help them; that, to me, is really what is incredible.
Brooke: Yeah. God really knew what he was doing in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I feel like I was blessed way more than I was a blessing. God uses all of us an incredible way if we’re willing to let Him. It was just really cool and the adoption choice that John, and Victoria, and I made when I was going to release Maya was that we would see each other for the first three years around her birthday and then we would wait until she was a little bit older to understand, so she could grow up without too many questions and that type of thing.
Still did pictures and letters. We had an incredible time seeing each other and God allowed a timeframe to work out perfectly, I think. I met my husband, we’ve been married 12 years now, and I met my husband through one of the birth moms that I helped through the adoption process. She actually had the Mackenzie Grace on Adoption Stories with TLC, I think?
Connie Going: Right.
Brooke: Yeah, TLC. Yeah. They came in and she was one of the birth moms that I spoke at a school, she heard, and came to Adoption Associates, that type of thing. She was just a great gal and I was there when she had her daughter. Not in the room, but I was at the hospital. Then I was there when she handed Mackenzie Grace over to her adopted family. It was just an amazing time, but my husband was a family friend of theirs. When Jessica went back home, and had all the pictures of her daughter, she was showing him the pictures of Mackenzie, and he’s looking through the pictures, and he said, “Who is this lady right here?”
She said, “Oh, that’s Brooke. She’s a birth mom. She works at the agency, dah, dah, dah. She’s a great gal,” or whatever. Jessica and I had a special relationship and we were kind of friends as well. She was just two years younger than I was, so we had this great relationship. He looked at the picture, he put it down, and he said, “I’m going to marry that lady some day.”
Connie Going: [crosstalk 00:18:34].
Brooke: Isn’t that incredible?
Connie Going: That is incredible.
Brooke: He wiggled his way into meeting me and the rest is kind of history. We talk about how he stalked me a little bit. Just sat outside my work watching me walk back and for to the car, but for some reason or another he was struck. We got married on Jessica’s birthday the following year.
Connie Going: Wow.
Brooke: I’m sorry, the same year. We got married on Jessica’s 18th birthday and she was in our wedding. Then we got pregnant shortly after that, so Jessica actually transitioned into my position, as I transitioned out to be a full-time mom. Really, the whole bit of it when people ask, I get the question a lot when I talk about Maya, she’s on my Facebook, we get to see each other, we have a great relationship now. Since she’s been 11 we’ve had contact. When we go home to Michigan I call them and say, “Hey, can we get together?”
“Yeah, come pick her up,” and I’ll take her for the day, or whatever, and we’ll do something fun. Through that, telling people about her, they ask me, “Do you ever regret?” I think that there’s always pain there for a birth mom because God did not set us up to hand our children over to other people. That’s the broken world. My heart always aches and there’s always a part of me missing. Whenever my husband and our … We have two kids, Jersey is 11 and Jobe is 9. Whenever we’re doing something, I always feel like there’s a piece missing, there’s a child that’s missing in doing those things.
There has never been regret, because if I wouldn’t have released Maya, I wouldn’t have worked at the agency, I wouldn’t have helped Jessica, I wouldn’t have met my husband, and I wouldn’t have my two beautiful children that I have now. The wonderful thing is even though I send, and there’s brokenness in all of this, there’s brokenness in the whole picture of it, there’s also incredible healing that’s happened.
Connie Going: Yes.
Brooke: That I’ve been able to witness and see my kids hang out with their half-sister. They all hang out together, and she’ll sing for them, and play the piano, and all those kind of things. They’re just in awe of her. She’s the youngest one in her family so she gets to be the older kid when Jersey and Jobe are around. It’s just been an incredible journey and blessing. It’s just going to keep getting better, I think.
Connie Going: Well, you’re definitely following the path and I think what I hear so much is that, by following that path, a lot of your pain was healed. Not that it goes away, but that by helping others and touching it, you were able to get through to some sort of peace inside your spirit.
Brooke: Yes, absolutely.
Connie Going: Then blessings came.
Brooke: Yeah. Incredible blessings. Incredibly blessings. It’s funny, my kids, Maya, Jersey, and Jobe, Maya is the only one that looks … They call her my mini me. She’s like my little clone. She looks exactly like me and the other two look exactly like my husband. I’m like, “Oh, that’s interesting.”
Connie Going: That is.
Brooke: You, being an adoptive mom, know that there is a connection between you and your child, whether they grew inside of you or not. There’s this adorable connection, I love seeing Maya with her parents, because her goofiness. Around me, she is a little different because it’s just different. I’m kind of a friend and a mentor more than anything else. I love seeing the relationship between the three of them and they way they’re like, “Oh, Maya tell Brooke that one thing you did.” It’s so exciting.
I hope that as things change from when my sister was released for adoption all the way to now, I hope things continue to change and that people will continue to be open-minded to even the way that families might look a little different, but just know that they have the biggest hearts and that birth moms could maybe talk about it a little bit more to get that healing without feeling that they could be rejected by anyone.
Connie Going: Absolutely. I think that just knowing that an adoptive mom can continue to have a relationship with a birth mom. That, together, they can … I’ve seen so much over the years go from closed adoptions to semi-open, to completely open, and it’s like there’s never too much love that a child can have. I always feel like even though with my children who were adopted as older children from foster care, that their biological family, which they really had some challenges, they are always going to be. I’m so grateful to them because the children that I have, they’re connected to them. Being an adoptive parent, it’s about owning that child, it’s about loving a child.
Brooke: Exactly, yeah.
Connie Going: That love you share, because when a child has really a biological mom and they have an adoptive mom, they’re loved twice as much.
Brooke: Yeah. Yep. With the same most pure love. Both the birth mom and the adoptive mom have the same pure love for that child. To have that from both sides, that’s so beautiful. It’s just really cool.
Connie Going: Well, it is. What I admire so much about domestic adoption, and a surrendered adoption, a released adoption, is that you’ve made a choice that is the most unselfish choice imaginable for your child.
Connie Going: I don’t think that in our whole lives, some of us will never be able to be that unselfish.
Brooke: Well, I appreciate that. One of the ways that I would explain it to kids when I would go to high schools, because they’re like, “How could you do that?” I said, “You know what? As a parent, you would do anything for your children. If a truck was coming and they were in the way, you would literally throw them out of the way and be hit so your child would not be hurt. That’s just the way parents are.”
I said, “This was more of an emotional truck. I didn’t want her to go through this emotional turmoil that she would have dealing with the youth of me and not being well rounded, not having anywhere to go after she was born, dealing with maybe being on Medicaid, and food stamps, and all those kind of things. The hardness of life would’ve been very apparent to her very early on. Then adding in there her birth father’s choices.” I said, “I would’ve rather take on the pain of releasing her into a family that she wouldn’t have to deal with any of that and I will take on that pain for her.”
I’m not saying she wouldn’t have pain down the road but, thankfully, I think God has helped in that by drawing a relationship between John, and Victoria, and I that she’s having a hard time, or if she can’t understand something. When she was nine she had a hard time understanding why I couldn’t just come live with them. “Why can’t Brooke just live with me and you guys? I don’t understand. If she’s my birth mom, why can’t this happen?” There was some difficult times, but through having great adoptive parents and, honestly, my husband has been over the top amazing.
Over the top amazing. Just every time we’re with her, if we do something fun like all the four of us and her, we all go bowling, and then my husband says, “Drop us off at my mom and dad’s house,” because we’re up in Michigan. “Drop us off, me and the kids, and then you go spend some alone time with her. I think that’s important.” Just him being thoughtful of those kind of things is wonderful. Even though my kids are like, “No, no, no, we get her too.” That’s very thoughtful and kind.
Through that whole process, I feel like emotionally, I maybe took on a little bit more up front, let that Mack truck hit me, and let her just grow up and have a great family. I think that more kids could understand that, what their parents would do for them. If they were in danger, if they were in trouble, what their parents would do for them. Not that I would’ve tried to put Maya, in danger, but I was still trying to grow up. My mistakes that I made wouldn’t affect me the way that they were going to effect her. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed enough that I’ve heard from Maya’s own mouth that, “You couldn’t have picked better parents.”
Connie Going: Oh, that’s great.
Brooke: That is a beautiful thing to hear from her because that’s what I longed to hear. I knew that, but I’m just glad that she realizes that.
Connie Going: Well, teens are quite challenging in their own way.
Connie Going: Girls [crosstalk 00:29:05]-
Brooke: Yours are teenagers now?
Connie Going: [crosstalk 00:29:09] adopted at 12, he’s now 15. My other son I adopted at 17, so I just adopted him this year. They spent their life without family at all.
Brooke: That is just awesome.
Connie Going: It’s a very different type of adoption, but if you follow what is God’s journey for you, whether you plan it or not, if you really listen, then you know that you have the children you are supposed to have in your life. I also have two biological daughters who are 18 and … I’m a single mom. Wasn’t anything that I planned again. I’d been married for 18 years and really I believe that if you listen to what God has planned for you, and follow that journey, then you will have affirmation after affirmation. That is what is supposed to happen. I have no doubt that we were meant to be all together.
Brooke: That is so awesome. That’s so awesome. Well, God has put on my heart over and over that possibly down the road that maybe we would foster or do something of that nature. My heart, it aches for children that don’t have someone to call mom and dad and that permanency. I’m just trying to figure out what is me, and what is God, and in between that. I am just incredibly blessed with the family that I have, the relationship that I have with Maya, and the prayer warriors that were out there during that time where I was 17 and didn’t know right from left. I was just incredibly, incredibly blessed. Yeah.
Connie Going: I have to tell you that your journey and the way that you talk about it is absolutely an inspiration. I hope that as our listeners that are tuned in now and the listeners that pull this up through the web will definitely listen. If you are a birth mom and you are considering adoption, please listen to the way that it can be. Go with what God has put in your heart and make the choice that is right for you and your child.
For adoptive families, I say, I just don’t have a higher pedestal than a birth parent. I believe that by listening to your story, Brooke, that they can learn how you don’t have to be afraid of an open adoption. That a child can be loved by multiple people, and multiple moms, and dads. I think it can be done so well. To go with their heart, but to open up their eyes to knowing open adoption is amazing.
Brooke: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes to a birth mom, especially young, and I long to be called mom. Then after I had Jersey, and after I had our son Jobe, and that need kind of got met by them calling me mom and me being me, it’s really fun just to be a birth mom. Just to be kind of the fun one. I don’t have to be put anyone in time out over there, I don’t have to ground anyone. It’s just really kind of fun that I am blessed to be a mentor to her. I have that love that wants her to have the best, and be the best, and follow God’s heart, and all of those things.
I also get to be the cool one that I texted my daughter the other day and I said, “Oh, JK.” Jersey, who’s 11, and she’s like, “Mom, you are too old to say, JK.” I’m like, “What? Are you kidding me? I’m not that old. Come on.” We went back and forth. Then I did it to Maya the other day, I said, “JK. Am I too old?” She goes, “No.” I’m like, “Yes.” In someone’s eyes I’m cool. That feels really good. That’s another great thing about being a birth mom is you get to be cool on some level and still have that love that you have, but still be really cool. Yeah, that’s pretty fun.
Connie Going: I love that, too. I believe that if God puts it in your heart to adopt and foster down the road, I hope that you do. Illinois, right now, where you live, actually is one of the states that are struggling and in need of foster homes and adoptive homes.
Connie Going: [crosstalk 00:34:22] right now.
Connie Going: I’ve been researching them this past month.
Brooke: Oh, have you?
Connie Going: I have. I was just up in Chicago.
Brooke: We are about two hours west of Chicago, directly west. We live right on the Mississippi River.
Connie Going: Beautiful.
Brooke: Yeah. It is gorgeous here. I just keep having this feeling like even if it’s to love someone for a little while, my heart would totally adopt every child that walked through my door, but whatever God’s will is, but just loving someone who doesn’t have it. I keep thinking in my head, “If everyone adopted one child that just needed a home, everyone in America did, then there would be no more children that wouldn’t have anyone to call mom and dad.”
Connie Going: I so agree. I believe, and I know that Adoption Associates, the wonderful people there, that no matter how you come to adoption, if it’s domestic, international, through the dependency system and foster care, there’s many common threads even with different types of adoption. Once it touches you, your life is forever changed. You, then, can pass that along and help other families and children. I really am sure that you and I will stay in touch. I am glad to help you in any way. I am just so grateful for you being here today and sharing your story because [crosstalk 00:36:01].
Brooke: Oh, absolutely. Well, I appreciate you asking and I will never turn down a chance to talk about Miss. Maya and how wonderful she is. She brings a smile to my face every time I think about her, so it’s a blessing to be able to share my story, and Maya’s story, and where that began, and how God used it, because He used it in an incredible way and I am incredibly blessed to be used.
Connie Going: Thank you, again. We’re blessed to have you here. I’m going to go ahead and end the show. If anyone has any further questions, they can reach out to us via Adoption Associate’s website, which is www.adoptionassociates.net, or our Facebook. You can just Google Adoption Associates, and they’re on Facebook, and send us a message. Brooke, I thank you again. It’s been a wonderful Friday. You take care.
Brooke: Thank you. You as well.