Air Date: 1.31.17 Aaron and Dakota – Birth Parents – The Adoption Decision
Aaron and Dakota a young couple are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. This blog is an insightful look into the decision making process Aaron and Dakota faced when thinking about putting their baby up for adoption.
You can click on the audio file above or read the transcript below:
EPISODE: AIR DATE – 1.31.17
The Adoption Decision – an insightful look into the story of the birth parents
Speaker 1: Love Talk Radio.
Jennifer: 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 pregnancy, and adoption services throughout all of Michigan with offices located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw. Anywhere in Michigan, you can find a 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 this radio show, to help educate, and support adoptive families, birth families in the adoption community. We’re very glad that you’re listening in today, thank you for being with us. Today I’m very excited to welcome a couple, a birth parent couple to our show, Aaron, and Dakota, are you guys with us?
Dakota: Yes, hello.
Jennifer: Good morning.
Aaron: Yes, we’re both here.
Jennifer: Great, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to come on Adoption Focus, and to share a little bit about your story. I thought that we could get started by going back a couple of years, and talking about your circumstances at the time that you learned of your pregnancy. Would you mind talking about that a little bit?
Dakota: We were both working, we were excited to have another child, well I thought we were, I hadn’t told Aaron yet, and every time I got ready to tell Aaron, something happened. Both of our moms were diagnosed with different kinds of cancers around the same time. His mom started treatment, my mom was still undergoing testing for staging, and the right time never came. We both lost our jobs, I was only working part-time, and I was still so excited, but it wasn’t the right time to tell Aaron that I was pregnant.
Jennifer: Okay, okay so it sounds like this was potentially a very stressful time for you. You had this information that you were excited about, but you hadn’t yet been able to tell your husband. Can you talk about that, about how you were feeling during this time, when did you eventually tell Aaron, and how all that happened?
Dakota: Over the first couple of months of being pregnant, I was watching our world slowly fall apart, and I knew it wasn’t fair to either of our children, our two-year-old, or the baby we were about to have, to bring them into a world where everything was spread so thin. In my heart, I knew adoption was the right choice, because I was adopted, I turned out okay, and I called the agency, and I was sobbing with them, and then they told me, “Well you have to tell your husband that you’re pregnant.”
I told Aaron sobbing, I pulled over in a parking lot, and I was sobbing telling him not to be mad, and he was like, “What is it Kota? I’m not going to be mad at you.” I refused to come home until one, that he knew I was pregnant, and two, that he knew that I was planning to make an adoption plan.
Jennifer: That was a really powerful conversation I’m sure, Aaron do you want to chime in here a little bit about what was going through your mind at this time, and then how did you guys come to terms with this?
Aaron: Well as soon as she told me, I was like, “I’m not mad.” The thing that upset me the most, was that she didn’t tell me sooner. Other than that I was happy in some ways, but I also knew that things wouldn’t work, although I kept trying to tell her that we could make it work.
Jennifer: Dakota you had had some time to really think about the pregnancy, and Aaron didn’t have that benefit, and so you had kind of already come to the conclusion that maybe adoption was what was best, and Aaron maybe wasn’t quite there yet. How did you guys come to this decision? How did you work through this to eventually end up on the same page?
Dakota: Well after I initially threw everything at him over the phone, which is the worst way to do it, a lot of nights we would stay up talking about adoption, and we would talk about what was going on, and how we only wanted what was best for our children. As the months went on, things went from bad to worse, and I knew that adoption was ultimately the right choice to provide for our child, and I think Aaron slowly came to that realization as well.
Jennifer: Aaron did you have anything else that you wanted to add there?
Aaron: Yeah, well the biggest reason that I was so cautious at first, is I wasn’t adopted quite myself, but I did go through the foster agency, and my story through foster agency was a nightmare, which was my biggest fear.
Jennifer: Sure, sure.
Dakota: I was adopted, so I knew that it wasn’t always that bad ending, a lot of times it’s a happy ending.
Jennifer: Both of you had your own experiences then, that’s not uncommon for those people who could be listening right now, we all come from different backgrounds, with different experiences, so I think this is important to talk about the fact that you guys had these two different viewpoints, and even though in your case Dakota, you had a little bit more private adoption understanding, you didn’t have an understanding of it from a birth mother perspective, and Aaron obviously you did not have a perspective of what it would mean to be a birth father in making this decision either.
I know that we hear a lot from birth parents that this can feel very overwhelming, and very scary at first, I’d like for you guys, if you wouldn’t mind, to talk about the fears that you had in the beginning of the process when you had decided to move forward with your adoption.
Dakota: I think the concern that the first year that we had, was who were the adoptive parents going to be. We had no idea, all we had was their profile to look at, and we had to choose a family to raise our child, and love her, and take care of her like we would want. That was super scary, because how do you do that?
Jennifer: That is something that we will certainly go on to talk about, and I want you to share that with us, but in reference to the fears, any others from either of you?
Dakota: We both had fear of judgment by our friends, our family, our coworkers, people our age. I found that a lot of people don’t really understand adoption still even though it’s becoming more of a normal thing, but some people still have that misconception in their mind about what adoption is, and then another one that farther on in our pregnancy, it was that our child wouldn’t know that she was always loved, and wanted, and that was something that kept me awake at night.
Jennifer: Of course it did.
Dakota: Hoping that, that wouldn’t be the case.
Jennifer: Right. Aaron did you want to say something?
Aaron: She basically touched on the spot that I was going to say. My fear was that she wouldn’t ever get to know us.
Jennifer: Absolutely, that would be a fear for anybody I’m sure, so we’re going to go on, and talk about how this transpired, and how you guys were able to come to terms with some of these fears that you had. In the adoption process, the next thing you did, was call Adoption Associates, and begin looking for an adoptive family. Can you talk about what that process was like, looking through profiles?
Dakota: Yeah, we met with a caseworker, and she handed us a stack of I think it was probably 20, or 30 profiles to go through, and that was start she said, and I wasn’t sure. I took my time looking through them, I picked out a few here and there, and they wanted to narrow it down three or four, something like that, and as I was looking through them I was like, “I’m not really sure,” and Aaron chose the adoptive families profile right away. It was one of the first ones he looked at, he was like, “I know this is it.”
A lot of times birth moms talk about the moment that they knew, but my moment that I knew did not come until later. I was still undecided, so we took our three profiles to the caseworker, and she gave us the home studies, and we were able to read through the home studies, and the adoptive family was really, really centered around family, and that’s what sold it for me, that was the moment that I knew.
Jennifer: What about you Aaron, what was the process like from your perspective?
Aaron: As we started reading through the profiles I didn’t feel like we were really reading about the people, but as soon as I picked up the family that we ended up choosing in the end, and I read through it, I was like, “Wow, these feel like real people, these feel like people who have actual goals, and actually want to have a child in their homes, and in their lives.”
Jennifer: They were real people, with real experiences, and a real story of their own, and it sounds like something that you guys related to. The typical next step is to meet them, and I know that you guys were able to do that, what was that like, the actual meeting them for the first time?
Dakota: Terrifying, I remember driving to the agency, and holding onto the steering wheel so tight, that my hands were turning white.
Jennifer: Oh goodness.
Dakota: I was scared. What if they didn’t like us? What if we didn’t like them? What if they’re not who they seemed that they were, it was nerve racking.
Jennifer: Right, absolutely it was, how did it go?
Dakota: It went really well, we met at the agency. They immediately hugged us, and they played with Annabelle, they shared pictures of their family with us, they talked about their jobs, their lives, where they came from, and they made it clear from the start that Annabelle would be a part of her siblings life. Once we started talking, the hour that we were there went by so quickly, because they were real people, they were good people.
Jennifer: It went far better than you could’ve imagined?
Aaron: I would say that the fear instantly melted away with them.
Jennifer: What about the piece that you mentioned earlier, the fear that your daughter wouldn’t know that she was always wanted, and that she was always loved, and that this adoption decision was not made for those reasons? What part did that play in this meeting with them? How did that kind of come to be?
Dakota: On our first meeting, they made it clear that we would always be a part of her life as Kota, and Aaron, and that she would know that Annabelle was her sister, and over the summer we would visit each other, and it just became more of an understanding that we would be the birth parents, and we would be able to tell her the story of her adoption when she was ready to hear it, and when they were ready for her to hear it.
Jennifer: What did that mean to you, to have that understanding, and to have them say that to you?
Dakota: It meant the world to be able to explain to Elin in the future, that she was always loved, and she always wanted is just relieving, because I never want her to think that she wasn’t good enough.
Jennifer: Absolutely, absolutely and that is such an important part of what we’re talking about today, which is obviously the case for the two of you, as is it is for all of the birth parents that we work with. The adoption decision is made out of love, such a great love for a child, that they are willing to sacrifice themselves, and place their child for adoption. I know that one thing we talked about when we were off the air that really resonated with me, was in this meeting with the adoptive parents, and as you were getting to know them, and this plan was coming to be. One thing that I think you were a little surprised about, was how you came to learn that they really cared about each of you, and your family, that this wasn’t just about the baby that you were pregnant with, right?
Jennifer: That’s really big, that’s huge, that this was more than just them adopting your child, and them becoming parents.
Dakota: Our family grew, it didn’t get smaller.
Jennifer: That is a very good way to look at it, I like that. Sometimes our perspectives change over time, after events, and circumstances, and I think that there’s value to be had in looking at things in hindsight, so I’m interested in hearing from both of you about what you might have done differently, now that you’ve been through the process of making an adoption plan.
Dakota: I would have been a lot less secretive. Nobody knew that I was pregnant, nobody close to me, Aaron’s family knew a little bit, and my mom knew, but I didn’t tell my brother, I didn’t tell my best friend, I didn’t tell my coworkers. Nobody had any clue that I was pregnant, and on top of that, they didn’t know that we were making an adoption plan for our child, and I feel like, because I had family that wasn’t supportive, they wouldn’t understand that I couldn’t tell anyone, and eventually I realized that it wasn’t fair to our child, that she wasn’t being talked about, that she was being kept secret, which is not at all how I wanted to be, I just didn’t know how to tell people after a year or so went by.
Once I was out, I would say, I realized how many people had been touched by adoption, and how normal adoption was becoming.
Jennifer: It wasn’t something to be feeling ashamed of, right?
Dakota: Correct. That it was something that is beautiful.
Jennifer: Absolutely, absolutely. Aaron, anything for you in hindsight.
Aaron: I was kind of late into the whole situation, so I guess the biggest things for me were like not tell, I’m sorry.
Jennifer: That’s okay.
Aaron: I can’t think of a way to word this.
Jennifer: However you want to say it, is fine.
Aaron: I guess just attempting to be more supportive towards my life.
Jennifer: Yeah, okay, that’s a very good point. What would you say, this question is for either of you, or both of you, what would you say was the hardest part of making the adoption plan?
Dakota: For me, I think it was realizing that we couldn’t care for our child, and provide for our child the way that we wanted to, and that was hard to come to terms with, that at this time, it was not the right time, so for me it took a long time to come to that realization, and to be okay with that.
Aaron: I started to feel weak, like there was something I couldn’t do, like I could have done a little bit more, I could have tried a little bit harder, but that wasn’t the case, the cards were stacked against us.
Jennifer: You guys did do more, you did do more. You made a life changing decision for your child, and that certainly wasn’t easy to do.
Dakota: That was the hardest part is realizing that, I think for Aaron it was hard for him to realize that it wasn’t that he wasn’t good enough, it was that we were making the best choice possible for both of our children.
Jennifer: Yeah, that concept of good enough comes up quite a bit actually, we hear that a lot, and that’s something hard to deal with, and hard to come to terms with, but you mentioned the timing factor. You certainly were good enough to parent your child, but you came to a decision that the timing wasn’t what was best, so I think that’s an important component that I hope that our listeners are picking up on here, that you guys are quite capable, you’re parenting. Your daughter at home is four, right?
Jennifer: Okay, so obviously making an adoption decision is hard, and it’s emotional, and it’s something that most people really can’t understand unless they themselves are personally touched by it, and I know Dakota when we were talking before today’s show, you told me that you had heard a lot of misperceptions about women and men who make adoption decisions, and I think you wanted to talk about that a little bit here too.
Dakota: A lot of what you …
Jennifer: We may have lost that connection for a second, Dakota are you still with us?
Jennifer: Okay, sorry I don’t know if we cut out, or what, but we did not hear you, so would you try that one more time.
Dakota: I would hear a lot about birth parents that they were more negative …
Jennifer: Aaron, are you with us? Dakota?
Aaron: Yes I am, I’m not sure what’s going on, on her end.
Jennifer: Yeah, she’s having some issues, did you want to try to jump in here, or were you prepared to jump in on that question?
Aaron: I don’t know what point she was going to touch on, but …
Jennifer: I think she’s back.
Dakota: A lot of what I had heard was negative stuff, that birth parents don’t love or want their babies, that they were high school dropouts, drug addicts, stuff like that, and that’s not at all the case. Birth parents are normal, regular people, we were everyday people trying to do our best, and something that I’ve been thinking about the past couple of days, is I saw a picture, and it said, “Birth parents put the needs of their child over the wants of their heart,” and I think that it’s important for birth parents to hear that. That it wasn’t just about them, it was about their child.
Jennifer: Absolutely, that you sacrificed yourself by doing what you believed was best for your child, and it certainly is not an issue of love. What advice do you have Dakota for other women who may be listening, that are pregnant, and possibly considering making an adoption plan? What are your words of wisdom? I think we lost her again.
Jennifer: Oh, there you are, we’re here.
Dakota: I think that being honest with yourself and others, and not being afraid to ask for what you want, and really just center your adoption around the child, because it’s all about what’s best for them.
Jennifer: Aaron what about from your perspective, advice from the perspective of the birth father? What this was like for you, maybe what you would have liked to have changed?
Aaron: One of the biggest struggles I had when we went to the birth parents 5K, or the Adoption Association 5K I should say. There were very few other fathers there, but that doesn’t mean they are not there. There are fathers who do involve themselves in this stuff, and it is important for yourself really, to have this closure. A lot of times the men are expected to just be emotionless, and they’ll be fine, but that’s not always the case, you have to be honest with yourself.
Jennifer: It sounds like it was an emotional process for you too.
Jennifer: That is something that I think, go ahead.
Aaron: It was hard coming to terms with everything, definitely, and I feel like it wasn’t just myself, even my family made it seem like, “It’s not your choice, you don’t have anything to do with this decision.”
Jennifer: I think that you bring up such a good point, and I thank you for this. The role of the birth father in the adoption plan, his own emotional needs, as well as his ability to hand in hand make the adoption plan with the birth mother makes for a very good adoption story for your child, that you were involved, and that you participated in this. The birth father is an important piece of the adoption, and sometimes we don’t hear enough about that, so I’m glad that you’re with us today on this show speaking volumes as well.
We are approaching the end of today’s show, and I am wondering if you guys could tell us how you’re doing, it’s been two years now since your adoption plan, and how are things going with your relationship with the adoptive parents, as well as kind of emotionally, and individually each of you, how are you?
Dakota: I think we’re doing really good, we’ve stayed in contact with the adoptive parents, and our daughter, and I think I personally have come to a place of peace, and I feel very good about how the adoption is. It’s very open, which is something that we couldn’t have possibly asked for the level of openness. I know that it works for us, and it doesn’t always work for other people, but the level of openness that we have is really nice, and it helps make us feel better about the adoption.
Jennifer: Anything on your end?
Jennifer: That’s okay.
Aaron: We definitely have a lot more opportunity, and this might sound bad, since the adoption, to really improve on our lives, because knowing that she was safe, knowing that she’s in a good place, she had the time to go back to college, we weren’t drowning in debt by any means, which who knows what may have happened had we not decided on adoption. We were on the verge of homelessness, and now we’re a lot more secure in our lives. We have a lot more security in our housing, and whatnot.
Jennifer: I am so happy to hear that you both are doing so well, and with a focus on your goals, and improving your lives not being selfish, but you’re doing what you need to care for your family, and to meet your own personal goals. I think that’s obviously something that is to be commended. I admire the strength, selflessness, and courage, not only for the adoption plan that you made for your daughter, and what I know that took of you to do that, but for opening yourselves up to share that story with us today, was also a very brave thing to do, so I appreciate you guys very much, and for doing this today.
If you are listening in, and would like more information about Adoption Associates, or potentially on how to make an adoption plan of your own, as we’ve heard Dakota and Aaron today, you can contact Adoption Associates at 800-677-2367. Dakota and Aaron, thank you so much again for today.
Dakota: Thank you, I’m happy to share our story.
Aaron: It’s quite an honor to hopefully inspire the lives of somebody else, who is at the crossroads where they haven’t made the decision yet.
Jennifer: Thank you very much, and for our listeners, please remember that we’re live every Tuesday at 11 on Adoption Focus. We would love to connect with you, and you can reach us through the Facebook page of Adoption Associates, or our website at adoptionassociates.net. I do hope that you can join us again next week when we hear from a birth mother about the decision that she made to place her child for adoption. For now, this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus, I hope everyone has a great day. Bye-bye.