Guest Post: It Was My Choice to Make and I Chose Adoption

Today’s post is from a guest blogger from When facing an unplanned pregnancy, she chose an adoption plan for her baby. She offers advice for other women facing unplanned pregnancies and shares some of the common questions she receives about adoption.

pregnant-1290403_1920Every adoption story is unique. There is not one right choice when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Adoption was the right path for me. Here are some of the most common questions I hear about adoption. I hope that my answers can help provide some comfort or relief as you make this difficult decision. Remember to be honest with yourself and don’t let anyone pressure you to parent or to place if that’s not really what you think it best. This is my story. It was my choice to make and I choose adoption.

How could you do that? I could never do that!

It’s often something that I hear when I tell people I was pregnant and choose adoption. Hearing those words brings back pain. Then I remind myself of the real question…How could I not? The truth is, making the decision to place my little girl for adoption was easy. It wasn’t painless and it wasn’t simple in any way but the decision itself to place her was easy. I looked at where I was in life and what I thought my daughter deserved and I knew I wasn’t in a place financially or emotionally to give her those things.

Why Open Adoption? Doesn’t That Hurt More?

Many people outside of open adoptions are quick to question the benefits that are proven by research. Our minds battle the facts. Many people worry that a child would be confused or that it would be more painful for a birthparent to get photos and letters. Yes, open adoption is hard and can be challenging to make the relationships work. However, not knowing how my daughter was or seeing her growing up would have been so much worse. I didn’t want to have any doubts that she was safe and loved and growing into the beautiful little girl I knew she would. When I get the package of photos I don’t hesitate to open it. I know I’ll be seeing her beautiful smile and bright eyes. The updates do also bring sadness. I miss her. I love her so much. But it doesn’t make me regret my decision. I’m so glad open adoption exists and that I found a family for my daughter who is committed to making it work. I get the chance to see her several times a year. They send me her artwork and videos of her running at the playground and dancing to her favorite tv show. I haven’t been cut out of her life. She knows who I am. And I don’t have to rely on her parents telling her how much I love her, though I know they do. I get to wrap my arms around her during our visits and tell her myself. Yes, in the future there will be those tough questions I’m sure she will ask. I will be just like any other tough questions a child will have. I’ll be my best to be open and honest with her. It gets easier over time. The pain doesn’t completely go away and some days are worse than others but in my heart I know I made the right decision and if I had to go back and do it all again I hope that I would have the strength to make the same choice.

What Does the Adoptive Family Call You?

During our very first visit just a few months after placement, they actually asked me what I wanted to be called. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say. I hadn’t really thought of it much. They asked if I would be comfortable with something like Mommy or Momma Jess. I almost jumped out of my seat, yes, yes, yes! I was honored that they wanted to acknowledge me as her mom not just in conversations but in my title and I loved it. When we are together, they use my first name. And when they talk about me to my daughter they call me Momma Jess. When I’m talking about them and my daughter to other people I refer to myself as her birthmother. The term is not something to be ashamed of. I’m her birthmother. She has two mothers who play different roles but are both very much a part of her life and who she is and who she is becoming. They say it takes two, well in this case it took four. Four different parents who each have given her something different. I love to see glimpses of me in her. The way she sings, that stubborn look she give her mother when she doesn’t want to do something, the way she laughed from the deepest parts of her belly, the fact that she’s very much a daddy’s girl…all parts of me I see in her.

Shouldn’t the Agency Just Have Helped You Parent Instead?

People often talk about how agencies and the community should be more supporting to pregnant women by offering them financial assistance and services to help them parent. The truth is being ready to be a parent isn’t always a financial decision. For those who are parents out there, you know parenting is so much more than just financial. The agency I worked with was happy to help me find services such as WIC, Medicaid and Daycare Subsidies however that wouldn’t have solved the whole problem. The place I was at in my life wouldn’t have allowed me to give my daughter the life I wanted her to have. I would have been working two jobs to make ends meet and my daughter would have spent so much time in daycare. It wasn’t what I wanted for her. I wanted to find her a family that was the type of parents I would have hoped to be. Now my daughter has even more people who love her and will give up everything for her.

Why Advice Would You Give Other Women Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

Often times, when people discover that I made an adoption plan for a child, they rush to me looking for advice about what they should do. The truth is…I don’t know. When you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s scary and a lot of the time you feel alone. Each woman needs to look at her own situation (housing, financials, support, job, etc.) and dive into the really tough questions to decide what is best for her baby. It may be to parent or it may be to place. Not I nor anyone else can tell you what the best decision for you is, only you can make that choice.

Do You Ever Regret Your Decision?

No, I don’t. I do however look back and wish that I had been in a different situation at the time. I wish I had been more careful the night I got pregnant. Not that I regret getting pregnant because then I would have my sweet little angel in this world. But I do look back and think, what if it had happened just a few years later. I think it may have been a different story.

I also think about what it would be like now having her with me. I wonder what it would be like being the one to send her off on her first day of school or running to her to kiss her boo boo when she takes a spill on her bike. I’m the kind of person that can drive myself nuts with “what if” questions and scenarios. The truth is, when faced with the biggest decision of my life, I explored all of my options and took every piece of information into account and made the best decision I could have at that time.

Don’t You Miss Her?

Of course. I think about her every day. My love for her hasn’t changed a bit since the moment I heard her cry and held her in my arms.

 What Do You Want For Your Future?

I want my daughter to look back and understand why I made the heart wrenching decision I did. My love for her did not allow me to make any other decision. I know I would have done my best to be a great mom and that would have been fine. I didn’t want fine or good enough for my daughter. I wanted the best for her. It was hard to admit that I might not have been the best thing but when I looked into her eyes that first moment, I knew that I was making the right decision.

I hope that we can continue to have an open adoption and the visits. I want her to always know I’m there, even when I’m not. When she is older, maybe the age I was when I found out I was pregnant, or when she has her own children, I hope she is able to understand my decision on an even deeper level.

 If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and are considering adoption, make sure not to leave any stone unturned. Consider all of your options. Think about the life you want your baby to have and then think about if that is something you can provide now, in a few months, in several years. If you are certain about adoption, really explore open adoption. Even if you aren’t sure you want an open adoption, leave the door open because you may change your mind later and really want updates and visits. Most importantly, don’t let anyone pressure you. Not your family, not your friends and not your counselor. I’ve heard many women who said they were talked out of adoption from their parents or grandparents who promised to help but later the responsibility fell back on them. Parenting is so much more than diapers and daycare. Only you can make the right decision for you and your baby. Talk with other women who have chosen adoption, talk with other young women who have chosen to parent. Get all your information and dive into those really tough questions. You may come to the realization, like I did, that you would be a fine mother but that you want the best for your child. Adoption is painful but my decision to give my baby everything I could was easy!



October 2016 Book Reviews


All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to

thicker-than-bloodThicker Thank Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World by Marion Crook – Author Marion Crook is an adoptive parent to two sons, using her experiences this book gets to the heart  of parenting in today’s world.  While there are other books out there that are similar its always good to have reinforcement of some of these tips, feelings and experiences.  While much of this book relates to adoption of older children there are some things that are still the same such as fear of birth parents, and addressing issues of abandonment with children.

Ms. Crook is from Canada so many of the organizations and agencies she refers to are not relevant to the US, the US may have something similar but the names are not the same. I did feel that some of her advice was a little judgmental or skewed when it came to birth parents. Overall however this is a good book that has some great advice and a well researched information. price $18.15 (pb) $17.24 (kindle)

images (98)99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption by Robert & Jeffrey Kasky – This is a quick read with some good information about legal risk, termination of parental rights and what expenses you can and can’t pay for with regard to potential birth parents. There is information on special needs adoptions, future contact agreements, and surrogacy as well.  While much of the legal information varies from state to state and these authors are in Florida its a good starting point.  You may want to check with your agency or attorney to see what the regulations and laws are in your state. price $14.97 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

99-dos-and-donts99 Adoption Do’s and Don’ts by Russell Elkins – This is a short book packed with a lot of great advice. In fact we liked it so much that we at Adoptions From The Heart have started giving this book out to our clients! This book is really geared toward adopting infants through open adoption directly from the hospital.  The advice is easy to read, and the book is only about 50 pages long.  These are things we really want all prospective adoptive parents to know. Great book price $5.99 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

Announcing Your Decision to Adopt

You’ve decided to adopt- that’s wonderful!! Now how do you announce your decision….?

Make a Plan

Do you want to tell everyone at the same time or are there people in your life who you want to know first? Would the news be better in writing or in person? Maybe you want to tell different people in different ways? This is your announcement and you only get to make it once so take the time to plan it out!

Information Overload

Make sure that when you’re making your adoption announcement you make it clear what you are comfortable to talk about- and what you are NOT comfortable to talk about. Not only do you want to share your decision to adopt, but you want to let people know why. This might be a sensitive topic. It’s possible that there were some bumps along the road on your journey to adoption (infertility, miscarriage, even loss). It’s okay to tell people what you don’t want them to ask about.

Hope for the Best – Plan for the Worst

Adoption is bringing new life into your world! A new addition to the family is a reason to celebrate- unfortunately, not everyone may see it that way. Different people in your life may process the news differently- and that’s okay! People will be on board sooner or later but, for some, it may take time.

It’s your decision- not anyone else’s! There will always be people who disagree with your decisions no matter what they may be. Don’t listen to those people! This is your decision- NOT theirs! You chose to adopt for all the right reasons. You’ve put a lot of time and consideration into this choice- A LOT! You’re doing a great thing for your family and for the life of a child. Don’t let anybody let you think differently about that.

Be Prepared to Answer the Tough Questions

By announcing that your adopting, you may now be considered the adoption expert to people in your life who haven’t yet had experiences with adoption. Get ready to be their go to person for all of the questions that they may have about: the process, reasons for adopting, common stereotypes.

Set the Precedent with Adoption Positive Language

Start using the correct terminology from the beginning and make a conscious effort to correct people who use insensitive language. By using terms like adoptive parent, expecting parent, birth parent, ect. From the initial announcement, you will hopefully avoid issues later- like someone asking your child about his or her “real mom”.

Straight Out of Cutesville

Go the Cute Route to announce your adoption! One popular idea is giving loved ones a picture frame with a message saying “picture of your grandchild/niece or nephew/cousin coming soon!”

Check out the photo-shoots that these families had done to announce their choice to adopt. A mass mailing with a picture like one of these will be sure to spread the news with a smile.

Create Your Network of Support

Keep your team updated on your journey! Adoption is a process that takes time. To keep the momentum going create a blog, send out an e-mail check-in, or update your Facebook status regularly to let people know where you’re at in the process. This can create a lot of excitement when things are moving along well on your journey. Keeping people in the loop can also be helpful when hardships arise, and help you find others to lean on when times are tough. You don’t want to go through this process alone, and the people who care about you will want to be there for all of the ups and downs along the way.

Remember, LOVE is What Builds a Family

Choosing adoption is an amazing way to create your family. Be proud of who you are, and what you’re doing. Love is all you need.

Helpful Resources

Second Parent Adoption: LGBTQ Edition


What is Second Parent Adoption?

As defined by the Human Rights Campaign, “a second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents. It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters.”

Very often people hear of second parent adoption when referring to step-parents adopting their spouse’s children from previous relationships. However, second parent adoption can occur for other parents as well.

What does Second Parent Adoption mean for LGBTQ couples?LGBT ISTOCK - LGBT FAMILY 2 (1) cropped

Second parent adoption gives the same parental rights to both parties in same-sex parenting. Take for example a lesbian couple. One is pregnant and gives birth to their child through a variety of avenues such as artificial insemination. The other does not have biological ties to the child in such a case, but through second parent adoption would have the rights of the biological parent.

The HRC explains… “for same-sex couples, it is often the case that there is only one legal parent even though two people may equally parent the child and think of themselves as co-parents. This is because the status as a legal parent is automatically conveyed to the parent who has a biological connection to a child, such as a biological mom or biological dad. Similarly, while some couples raise an adopted child together, only one of them may have officially become the adoptive parent because some agencies prohibit same-sex couples from adopting together but permit an LGBTQ individual to do so.”

According to

  • “Parents in legally recognized same-sex relationships can petition for stepparent adoption statewide; relies on access to marriage or relationship recognition in 50 states + D.C.”
  • “LGBT parents can petition for second-parent adoption statewide in 15 states + D.C.”

aa-male-gay-coupleWhile many second parent adoptions with same-sex parents involve a biological tie to the child, it is not always the case. Some states allow one parent to adopt a child they are not biologically related to. Then, the other parent can pursue second parent adoption. Other states allow same-sex couples to go through the process together from start to finish.

See more on standards for each state on this interactive map.

Second parent adoption allows both individuals the same rights as parents.

What is the Process for Second Parent Adoption?

Different states have different laws and procedures regarding second parent adoption. You can find out more about the process of your state here.

Is Second Parent Adoption Necessary or Fair for LGBTQ families?

Many people feel that their marriage/partnership and dedication to the child and home is what makes them a parent, not an official adoption. While many adoption agencies and professionals would agree this to be true, a second parent adoption can ensure the safety and well-being of the child.

In emergency cases that would leave the person who is the legal parent unable to care for the child, their partner would be able to continue caring for the child and retain legal rights as their parent. Second parent adoption also protects the rights of both partners in instances of separation or divorce. Or even the extreme case of death.

Adoptions From The Heart, a non-profit adoption agency headquartered in PA, saw this need first hand. Two same-sex couples hoping to adopt petitioned for the state to allow second parent adoption so that they could pursue a secure adoption through what was already an LGBTQ friendly agency. Of these families, one did end up losing a parent in a horrible plane crash. Thankfully, there were standards in place to keep the children safe with their other parent. You can read more about the couple and their journey here.

Although the label may feel unnecessary and even degrading, it can ensure the stability of your family and home. Second parent adoption is hopefully only the beginning for progressive parental rights for LGBTQ couples.


Things Adoption Social Workers Wish Prospective Adoptive Parents Knew

SpringThe adoption process is full of highs and lows as well as paperwork and classes and then of course the waiting. At times, things may feel overwhelming or you may be struggling with all the unknowns. We have asked several social workers to share what they wished prospective adoptive parents knew throughout each phase of the process.


  • Pre-match

Your social worker is always here for you! Don’t be afraid to check-in, ask for updates or even request a pep talk once in a while during your wait.

Birthparents are not what you see on TV. They are not irresponsible, selfish, inappropriate individuals. They are loving peopleselflessly putting their child’s needs first.

Educate your family and friends on positive adoption language and open adoption. Your child need  a support system of accepting family and friends who are informed about adoption.

Even though we cannot predict how long a family will wait, we do understand how hard an unbearable the wait can be for prospective adoptive parents.

It can be hard for prospective adoptive parents not to take it personally when their profile isn’t selected. Remember that women choose profiles for such very different reasons and one day an expecting parent will look at your profile and have that special connection too.

Adoption is a leap. Trust your social worker.

This is an incredible journey with many twists and turns. Embrace every part of the experience because it will be the foundation of the story of how you became a family.

You will be matched with the child that is truly meant for you.

Fully open adoptions are becoming the new normal and more commonly requested by expecting parents. Dive into what fears may be holding you back educate yourself of the benefits as well as the challenges about open adoption. It is important to be honest with the level of openness that you are really comfortable with.

We are rooting for you and are just as thrilled to tell you that you have been matched as you are to hear it!

Make sure to focus on all the information discussed during the classes and the education courses and not just the end goal of having a baby. A lot of times, once families do get the call and are placed, they look back and wished they had really listened.

  • Time of Match and/or Placement

While it is an exciting time for you, it is an incredibly sad and heartbreaking time for the birth parents. Respect their time to make sure adoption is the right decision, refrain from celebrating with a baby shower or “brother/sister” language until after the revocation period has passed.

The excepting parents are just as nervous to meet you. They think you will not like them or judge them. It’s funny how similar fears can be.

There are certain aspects of the delivery, health, hospital experience etc. completely out of everyone’s control. Patience, a healthy attitude and your support system will help you get through it.

Become familiar with the phrase “Cautions Optimism.”

Respect the birth parent’s time in the hospital – this is their time with the baby, you will get a lifetime.

Get to know the expecting/birth parents as best as you can as this may be the only experience you have to meet them and you will want to remember as much as possible to pass along to your child one day.

Be careful not to make promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep. The excitement of being matched may cause you to want to agree to things you weren’t initially open to. Make sure this doesn’t happen! If an expecting/birth parent asks you for something you are unsure about, just say that it is something worth considering and that you’d like some time to think it over. Lean on your social worker to help you sort out your feelings.

This is more than just the day they meet the baby that may become their child, but it’s also the beginning of their journey with their child’s birth parents. These are the beginning moments that they will be able to tell their children about and these are the stories their children will love to hear over and over again.

Medical records take time to retrieve. We cannot dictate how quickly a hospital or doctor’s office will respond to our request.

Respect the wishes of the expecting parents. Even though this is an amazing and wonderful time for your, remember that the birth parents are struggling with one of the hardest decision of their lives.

We cannot force a woman to get prenatal care. We strongly encourage it and offer to help in any way we can however there could be a variety of reasons she chooses not to.

Remember, remember, remember it is not yet your son or daughter until after the revocation period is complete. Shower the child with love and remind yourself each day that his or her birth parents are struggling with the life-long decision of placing or parenting and should not be shamed or made out to be a villain no matter what they decide in the end. Either way, they will be grateful that you were there to love and care for their baby.

  • Post Placement and for Years to Come

Birth parents never forget about their child, even if they don’t follow up with visits or future contact. Adoptive parents should remember this when approaching their child’s story and their updates for their child’s birth parents.

Birth parents should not be forgotten. They should always be a part of your story and deserve your life long respect. Do not minimize their role in your family.

Do not go back on your promises of updates and visits. We have seen the pain caused to birth parents when families do not keep their promises and it can be unbearable and cause doubts. Do what you say! It’s not only a commitment to your child’s birth parents but also a commitment to your child.

Be open with your child and ready to discuss their circumstances surrounding their adoption. If you would like help, don’t hesitate to call your social worker.

Leave space for your child to have a full range of emotions about their adoption story. When a child shares “big feelings”, even the negative ones, don’t override those feelings with a rainbow and unicorn speech about adoption. Adoption is love but it’s also loss and your child needs to feel comfortable speaking with you about ALL their feelings.

Do not talk negatively about your child’s birth parents. This is your child’s blood. Without them, you would not be a parent. Explain things in a way that shows that even through struggles, your child’s birth parents are important to you.

Be honest and loving. Don’t get tripped up on the hard questions. Your child deserves the truth and deserves to explore their story in their time and own way.

Open adoption is about removing the fear and stigma  and providing children with their identity and history. Base your decisions about the open adoption journey in hope and positivity rather than fear.

A child should not have fear that they will hurt your feelings by asking about their adoption story or birth family. Start the discussion early and explore their thoughts with an open heart and open mind.

It’s helpful to establish friendships along the way with people who have adopted.

If you have adopted transracially, do not be scared to ask questions. Your child deserves to know that you are doing everything you can to understand the challenges a child of transracial adoption may face.

Better your child’s experience by challenging yourself to really seek out other adoptee’s points of view. Unless you have been adopted, you cannot fully understand your child’s experience and so listening to many other adoptee’s experiences may give you a better understanding.

Book Reviews September 2016


All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to
Separated Lives by Lynn Assimacopoulos – Fans of genealogy may find this book very intriguing. This book is a short glimpse into how Lynn helped her sons friend track down his birth parents through perseverance and the internet. With the help of Google and several genealogy sites and other genealogy hobbyists, Lynn was able to track down Ryan’s birth parents.

Short, sweet and to the to the point this is an interesting story of how one person can use the internet to help someone find the separate pieces of their lives and put themselves back together. price $9.00 (pb)

Megan’s Birthday Tree: A Story about Open Adoption by Laurie Lears -Many adoptee’s wonder about their adoption, their past, their birth parents and why they were placed for adoption.  Open adoption helps to answer those questions for families and adopted children by giving them access to their birth parents.  In this story Megan loves looking through the letters she gets from her birth mother and gets excited when she receives a picture every year of her birth mother standing next to a tree she planted when Megan was born.  Megan loves to see the tree grow.  When she learns her birth mother is moving she is scared that her birth mother will forget her.

This story is sweet and honest.  The fears that Megan shares are real and they are handled very well in this story.  In the end Megan’s birth mother assures her that she could never forget her that she is very important to her.  Then she shows her that she had dug up the birthday tree to take it to her new home.  This book shows how important open adoption can be to help eliminate children’s fears and answer their questions. Nice story. as low as $.01 (HC used) kindle price $6.99

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Letters to their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon –   Uplifting letters from authors to their younger selves.  These letters cover everything from self-acceptance, keep pursuing your dream because it will happen, to stop being a bully and hanging out in parks at night.  For every kid who thought they were weird, different or didn’t know where they fit in this shows that it does indeed get better. I also like the idea of writing to yourself, one of the authors actually wrote a letter to his older self when he was 13 then stumbled upon it later and used it when writing his piece in this book.  What an amazing find and what a great idea.  To see where you are in 10-20-30 years and look back on what you thought was important to ask at that time. price $10.99 (pb) Kindle price $6.99


Celebrities Adopt: Inspirational Quotes About Adoption

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” – Oprah Winfrey

“I have a lot of respect for my birth mother. I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give what she felt was a better chance.” – Faith Hill


“We look at adoption as a very sacred exchange. It was not done lightly on either side.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

“They’re as much my blood as I am theirs.” – Brad Pitt


“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” – Valerie Harper

“You don’t have to give birth to someone to have a family. We’re all family – an extended family.” – Sandra Bullock


“I don’t think of them as adopted – they’re our children. Deb and I are believers in…I suppose you call it destiny. We feel things happen the way they are meant to. Obviously, biologically wasn’t the way we were meant to have children. Now as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone’s in the right place with the right people.” – Hugh Jackman