Every semester AFTH awards three deserving birth parents a scholarship to help them pursue a higher education. Since its establishment in 2014, 19 scholarships have been awarded. What makes this scholarship special, is that it is not limited to birth parents who have worked with AFTH. Anyone (men and women) who has placed a child after 1985, and is attending a university, college or trade school is eligible to apply.
We’d like to spotlight a recent grand award winner, Emma Hicks. Emma is a bright and talented young woman, studying social work at the University of Utah. We got the opportunity to speak with her about her adoption journey, and what it means to be a birth mother.
Q: What led you to create an adoption plan?
E: I created an adoption plan for my daughter because I knew that at my current point in life, I wouldn’t be able to support a child as a single mother and give her what she deserves. I also had so many dreams and aspirations that would have been put on hold or even ceased to exist if I chose to parent my daughter.
Q: What was the adoption process like for you?
E: Though my adoption process is different than so many others’, mine went as well as one could. I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks. My decision to place was right away. I got to researching adoption, which led me to finding my daughters parents with 6 months until my due date. During that time, I was able to get to know them, which turned out to be very beneficial to placement. When my due date came around, the adoptive parents flew to my state and waited for me to go into labor. I was very open with them throughout the birth, and they even had a room in the hospital to stay in. The birth went well, and everybody was healthy. The next day I got my day alone with her, which is still one of the most cherished and beautiful days of my life, but the next day was the hardest. I woke up, got her dressed, and my family all got to spend time with her. I kissed my baby and did the most painful thing I’ve ever done in my life which was signing those papers. After, I wheeled her into her new parents’ room and hugged them before leaving home. I then started my grieving process and starting a new life back up again, more motivated to be a better person for my daughter.
Q: Were there any difficult moments?
The most difficult part of placing is getting attached to your baby, then going against all physical, mental, and emotional instincts and letting another family raise your child, so you can give your baby a life it deserves. It’s easy growing the baby, giving birth, and befriending the adoptive parents, compared to the placement/after placement part.
Q: What is your relationship like with your daughter today?
E: My relationship with my daughter is hard to define since she is only about 20 months old now, but I see a lot of pictures and videos of her, especially on social media. I also have been able to fly to their place and visit 2 times so far, and I hope to have more visits in the future.
Q: What is your relationship like with your daughter’s parents?
E: Since I knew the adoptive parents for about 6 months prior to the birth, I was able to see that not only were they interested in the baby, but they were also interested in me. Today, we have very open communication still, just less often. We don’t usually talk directly to each other unless it’s a special occasion, we have a question, or they want to share a picture or video directly with me. We follow each other on social media and stay fairly updated on there. I know I can talk to them whenever I feel like I want to, and they’re so kind about everything. I love my relationship with them!
Q: What are your educational goals?
E: My educational/career goals stem from my experiences in adoption. I am currently in the process of getting my bachelors degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. After that, I hope to get my MSW/JD also from the University of Utah. Go Utes!
Q: What are your career goals?
E: My career goals include 2 different things! My biggest career goal (which I whole-heartedly believe is a career) is to be a mom! Before I become a mother to the children I parent, I want to be a social worker and maybe even do family law, both specializing in social work.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
E: In 5 years, I see myself still attending school, but hopefully married and living my life to the fullest!
Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is considering placing their child for adoption?
E: I could go on for hours giving advice to people considering placing their child for adoption, but to keep it short, I would say to know 100% for yourself that it’s the right choice, because it’s a long road ahead. Second, talk to the potential adoptive couple about how open they want the adoption to be, with all honesty. It will save you from a lot of heartache to have that discussion early on.
If you’d like to apply or learn more about AFTH’s Birth Parent Scholarship, click here.