Birth Parent Viewpoints
Here we have two stories interwoven. Joanne writes how she made an adoption plan through Beginnings and placed her daughter in an open adoption with Greg and Cherie. Greg and Cherie tell their side of the story— their journey into open adoption and how it has worked out for their family.
J: I will never forget the moment I found out I was pregnant. I was 36 years old and newly single and the last thing I ever expected was the positive sign on the home pregnancy test. At the time all I could see were the negative effects this would have on my life. I was terrified to say the least. I could never raise a child, not with my small income and chronic headaches. What was I going to do?
Then I saw my baby for the first time in an ultrasound when I was nine weeks pregnant…and it changed everything. Now it was all about this little baby and what was best for this new life. I now saw it as such an honour and blessing to bring this new life into the world. I still didn’t think I could raise the child so a good friend of mine mentioned Beginnings to me and that was the start of my adoption plan.
G&C: We have been abundantly blessed by being able to adopt two beautiful children through Beginnings. Our adoption journey began in January 2004 when we had the privilege of meeting with our social worker, Kerry Vandergrift. It was through Kerry that we were introduced to Beginnings.
J: Although I jumped at the idea of adoption; the best advice I received from Beginnings was to take three weeks and treat my situation as if I were raising the child myself. This idea absolutely petrified me and unfortunately I reacted badly towards this plan. (I still owe an apology to my birth counsellor.) But, I did force myself to face my fears eventually. I worked through all the details: went to the social agencies to see what help there was, spoke to my doctors about what the future might hold for me, concerning my chronic migraines, and spoke to many parents to learn what childrearing was really like. After all this I realized that adoption was still the best plan, but now instead of approaching it from a position of fear, I met it with logic and an immense love for my child. I wanted the very best for my baby and I knew that I was not able to provide the best. So, I was at peace with the knowledge that I was making the right decision.
G&C: In the spring of 2004, we attended Beginnings’ weekend workshop which really opened our eyes to the reality of adoption. As we look back, that weekend was a watershed moment for us. Up until that point, we had struggled with the concept of having an open adoption. It really didn’t make sense to us as to why we needed to have contact with birth parents and families. We felt uncomfortable about how our families would interact and fearful about what this type of relationship would look like.
J: Then came the time to choose parents. I can’t tell you the peace of mind it gave me to know that I had control over who would raise my child. What I thought was going to be a heart-wrenching, grueling process turned out to be relatively easy thanks in a huge part to Beginnings.
G&C: God really opened our hearts and minds during the retreat as we had time to talk and pray as a couple about considering an open adoption experience. We learned that we needed to take our pride and selfish motives out of the picture and realize how an open adoption would benefit our child! While at the workshop, we enjoyed the opportunity of meeting a “real life” birth mom, child and an adoptive family on the panel and see the bond between them. We could see firsthand how open adoption worked for them. Coming away from that weekend, we had a real excitement and true peace about open adoption for our future children. In fact, we became passionate about wanting an ongoing dialogue and shared journey with the birth family.
J: Beginnings found various sets of parents that met my list of criteria, but there was only one couple that stood out from the short list immediately—Greg & Cherie. I am sure I would not have been able to go through adoption if I could not have had contact, even if it was just a letter. I needed to know how my baby was doing throughout her life.
The time finally came on June 29th, 2007 when Kaitlyn Naomi was born. I was so blessed to have four days with her where she was only mine and I could get to know her and bond with her. It was just the right amount of time; any more would have made it too difficult to give her to her family, and any less would have felt that I didn’t have a chance to know her. The time came to give Kaitlyn to her family—in what could have been an incredibly sad time, became a joyous occasion for both the family and for me, because I knew I would see her again and that I would always have a relationship with her.
G&C: At present, we are receiving a great blessing through interacting with our children’s birth families. We are thrilled that they are part of our lives and our children’s lives. We know that it is a benefit to our children to have so many people that love them. We truly consider them as part of our family as we go through life together and especially love to brag about their milestones to more doting relatives!
J: I can’t express how grateful I am to Greg and Cherie for their compassion and the consideration they have shown me. They have sent me regular updates and many, many pictures (which I have memorized). I was also honoured to witness Kaitlyn Naomi’s dedication in October 2007 and, as I write this in February 2008, I am on my way to visit Katie again. I am looking forward with joy to what the future holds for me and Katie, thanks to Beginnings and Greg & Cherie.
G&C: One thing we have learned is that not everyone understands having an open adoption, but we are at peace knowing that it is okay if not everyone “gets it”. We also acknowledge that like any relationship, having an open adoption takes work. It is not always easy. However, we DO know that we are truly doing what is best for our children by allowing them to know their birth families and have contact with them. We are fortunate to have a healthy relationship with our children’s birth families and anticipate how this will benefit our children especially as they grow older.