Ever since Jen was young, she knew she wanted to be a mother. The day finally came when a birth mother and a birth father came across her adoptive parent profile and they selected her even as a single mother. Jen had already been waiting a long time, and with the COVID-19 global pandemic, she did not know if her wait would be prolonged even further. Despite the uncertainties, Jen was placed with a child this past May.
Last week, I, Diana Dopheide, Adoption From The Heart’s PR & Marketing Intern, had the opportunity to speak with Jen about her journey as an adoptive parent. Read on for the full interview.
AFTH: What led you to adoption?
Jen: One of my best friends adopted a girl through Adoptions From The Heart. I watched her journey and saw her joy and love for her daughter and that was my inspiration. That was what made me choose AFTH.
AFTH: When did you officially decide you were going to adopt?
Jen: I called in June of 2016. I tried IUI and IVF, and I couldn’t get pregnant. I decided I still wanted to be a mom, and my friend had such a positive experience so I decided that was the route I wanted to take.
AFTH: Was your family supportive of your decision to be a single mom and adopt?
Jen: Yes. Currently, my mom is helping take care of Daniel and my family can’t wait to meet him.
AFTH: How long did you wait until you were placed?
Jen: Almost four years.
AFTH: What stood out to you about AFTH?
Jen: I really loved all the social workers and adoption counselors. They were so dedicated and supportive. They offered webinars and support groups. I really loved the idea that they helped the birth parents throughout the adoption process and post-placement.
AFTH: Did Jackie* and Travis* select you to be their son’s adoptive parent?
Jen: Yes. They viewed my profile book and video. It meant so much to me that there was a couple that selected me as a single woman.
AFTH: How far along was Jackie in her pregnancy when you first communicated?
Jen: Seven months. I waited two months for Daniel to be born.
AFTH: What was your first meeting like with Jackie and Travis?
Jen: Due to the pandemic the first meeting was virtual. The adoption counselor easily facilitated the conversation. I was nervous but the counselor made it comfortable. Prior to the Zoom I brainstormed a bunch of questions for the birth parents.
AFTH: Were you apprehensive at first about having an open adoption? If so, what made you change your mind?
Jen: A little at first. Initially I didn’t understand why it’s so important. My social worker, Jenna, recommended books and podcasts about the topic so that helped me understand the topic. It takes away the secrecy of the adoption and it helps your child fill in the missing puzzle pieces.
AFTH: At the time, did you tell a lot of people that you were in the process of adopting?
Jen: No. Initially it was only my immediate family, my closest friends and my boss. The more people you tell, the more people will ask questions.
AFTH: Did people ask you a lot of questions; if so, how did it make you feel?
Jen: Sometimes I didn’t mind answering or sharing information. Sometimes people asked probing questions and I had no new news to report.
AFTH: Were there any moments where you had second thoughts about adopting?
Jen: Never. I felt invested in the process. I saw firsthand through my friends that it will happen and I saw how happy they were. My friends who adopted also supported me throughout the process.
AFTH: Do you have any friends that are adoptive parents, too? If so, was your experience similar or different to theirs?
Jen: I have four friends who adopted a child. Our experiences were similar in that they all adopted through AFTH. My best friend inspired me the most and she connected me to another woman who was in the process of adopting. She had a support system of both single women and women who were married or in a steady relationship and looking to adopt. What was different about our experiences was that all of them were emergency placements.**
AFTH: Did you join any waiting family support groups during that time? If so, did it help?
Jen: There were various support groups that I attended throughout the years with AFTH, and I attended a bunch of the meetings. Earlier in the process it was helpful. As I waited longer and longer they became more difficult for me when we went around the room and we all shared how long we were waiting. When I said 3 ½ years, people gasped.
AFTH: What was it like when you first held Daniel in your arms at the hospital?
Jen: It was amazing and joyous. I cried happy tears. I had waited and waited and waited, and just like that – I’m a mom, and I’m holding my beautiful, sweet boy. Daniel was placed in my arms on Mother’s Day. Since that was my very first Mother’s Day – it was amazing. It seemed poignant that it was Mother’s Day. It was this amazing coincidence.
AFTH: What was Mother’s Day like for you before becoming a mom?
Jen: Before becoming a mom, Mother’s Day was tough for me. After Mother’s Day I would always check in with my social worker, Jenna. It was tough because I was wondering when I would be able to celebrate Mother’s Day.
AFTH: What would you tell adoptive parents who have been waiting as long as you have or even longer?
Jen: Even though it’s difficult, be patient. It will happen, not if but when, and don’t give up because it’s totally worth it. [As an adoptive parent], you know that you’re going through this process – home study, background checks, profile book, key, continuing education – then all of a sudden when you have a son or a daughter it’s so worth it.
AFTH: Why do you believe open adoption is important for you and your son?
Jen: Daniel needs to know his adoption story and his parents. I am so honored I met his parents. As he gets older I’m sure he’ll have questions and ideally he’ll be able to learn the answers.
*Names have been changed to respect the individuals’ privacy.
**When the agency is contacted by a hospital for a woman who has just delivered her child and has decided to make an adoption plan.