The 2020 Spring Birth Parent Scholarship recipient is Amanda McDonald. A southern girl at heart, Amanda was born in Clovis, New Mexico and later raised in Dallas, Texas. She enjoys rock climbing and drawing in her free time. Drawing, in particular, became Amanda’s escape over the years. “Drawing is like therapy,” she revealed. Amanda has always wanted to pursue a career within therapy, likely stemming from her passion for psychology, childhood development, and educational development. Amanda currently works at a behavioral hospital which, over the years, has only made her even more sure of her goal to work in therapy. She wants to succeed in school and grow professionally. When she received the email from Adoptions From The Heart congratulating her as the scholarship recipient, she felt a significant shift in hope for her future.
Sign of Hope
Amanda works long, nighttime shift hours at the behavioral hospital. Therefore, when she was checking her emails, she was very sleep deprived. “When I got the email, I started to cry. I read it multiple times because I couldn’t believe it was true,” Amanda recalled. She felt like a huge weight was lifted off of her shoulders. Most would assume the huge weight that was lifted would be concerning finances. Indeed, her financial situation played a key role, however, the scholarship meant more than just the money. “I felt like someone finally believed in me,” Amanda explained. The scholarship gave her the motivation and courage to follow her dream.
Amanda’s journey as a birth mother began when she was twenty years old. One day, Amanda and her sister were running errands. Amanda’s sister said that Amanda was being extra moody that day and told her to take a pregnancy test. Amanda bought a test in Walmart and took it while they were still there. After five minutes of waiting, she looked at the test. The test read positive. Amanda was overwhelmed with emotions at that moment, but above all, she knew she needed to come up with a plan. Amanda’s mom and stepdad knew Amanda was confused and needed help. Amanda’s mom got in her car and drove eight hours to help and comfort her baby girl during this overwhelming time.
Finding An Adoptive Family
A few days later, Amanda was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post made by an old friend, Hannah. The post explained how she and her significant other, Brandon, had been trying to have a baby for the past eight years, their whole story, and how they were entering the adoption process. About a week later, Amanda met up with Hannah to talk. The two exchanged stories and then there was a special moment for Amanda. During that moment, Hannah told Amanda about a dream Brandon had the previous night. His dream involved a little girl with curly brown hair. Amanda’s eyes lit up because she had just found out, an hour before their meeting, that she would be giving birth to a baby girl. At that moment, Amanda felt like Hannah and Brandon should be her baby’s adoptive parents.
Hannah and Brandon were beyond thrilled with this good news. They had been praying alongside their family to be blessed with a baby for quite some time. Amanda was now answering their prayers. They all decided to process their adoption through LDS Family Services. At the time, the organization was still processing adoptions. They all chose this agency because of the organization’s dedication towards counseling, which is what the organization’s only service is to date.
“Do you want to hold her?”, Amanda’s mother asked. Amanda knew it wasn’t even a question she needed to think about and opened her arms wide to her baby girl. “I didn’t know what to feel but I knew I loved her so much,” Amanda gushed. Amanda held her for a long time, admiring her beauty while waiting for Hannah and Brandon to arrive at the hospital. They eventually showed up and were in awe with how beautiful Lilly was. “When they arrived, I knew I felt happy for them,” Amanda explained.
Amanda holding Lilly
Before Lilly’s birth, Hannah and Brandon had been staying with Hannah’s parents during the placement process. They wanted to ensure a quick arrival to the hospital for Lilly’s birth so, staying at Hannah’s parents made that easy. After Lilly was born, they went back to Hannah’s parent’s house with Lilly to stay for a few days before returning to their home in Washington. Amanda knew that once they left, she wouldn’t see Lilly for a while. Therefore, she made it a point to visit Lilly one last time before they left. Amanda walked in Hannah’s parent’s house and everyone was talking in the kitchen, however, Lilly was asleep. As soon as Amanda said “Hello” to the room, Lilly’s eyes opened and looked directly at Amanda. Amanda instantly was flooded with emotions knowing that her baby girl recognized her voice.
After time, Amanda, Hannah and Brandon, and Lilly started to exercise an open adoption relationship. “Something I really appreciate about Hannah and Brandon is their efforts to always keep me in the loop,” Amanda said. Amanda started making trips to visit Lilly. Around the time Lilly turned 4, Amanda and Lilly began making forts when they would spend time together. “It was just something fun to do,” Amanda explained. Before Amanda knew it, inside their forts would become the pair’s “special place.” Inside their forts is where Lilly asks Amanda questions regarding their adoption. “I was caught off guard and wasn’t expecting her to ask me questions about adoption so soon. I knew I needed to be completely honest with her though, so that’s what I did,” Amanda insisted. The two of them now share secrets, laughs, and honesty in their forts. “I hope we make forts together forever, even when Lilly grows up. We can sit in there and she can vent to me about future boyfriends or her husband. It will always be our place.” Lilly is now nine years old and shares a close relationship with Amanda. Amanda describes her as being the most caring soul, with a heart of gold. Something Amanda cherishes most about Lilly is that she tells her how appreciative she is to have Amanda as her birth mother. “She ensures me that I am enough and that she is lucky to have me. She is definitely an extraordinary little girl,” Amanda said.
As a strong believer in therapy, Amanda has advice for other birth mothers. “Utilize therapy and counseling, as it helps to talk about your story and have peace with it,” Amanda explained. Like most parents, Amanda has thought about future advice to give Lilly as she is growing up. “She should never give up. I want her to set goals and work towards them. I always want her to do the best she can and never dwell on past failures. Lastly, continue to spread love!”
Amanda and Lilly
Brandon, Hannah, Amanda, and Lilly