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Adoption: Is it Right for Me?

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I remember being pregnant for the first time… scared, ashamed, alone. I was in my second year of college and in an unhealthy relationship. The pregnancy was unplanned and devastating to us both.

After a few days of shock, I had a decision to make. A mentor of mine talked about my three choices. Will I parent this baby? Will I choose to make an adoption plan for this baby? Or, will I abort this baby?

Although I knew at the time that I wasn’t ready to be a mother I also had deep aching fear of someone else raising my baby.

Adoption, although infrequently talked about, is growing more popular around the world. Legal adoption dates to 1851 in the United States. According to the National Center on Adoption and Permanency (2014):

“There are no comprehensive numbers on total adoptions in the U.S. each year or the number of specific types of adoptions other than child welfare and intercountry adoptions. Of the approximately 135,000 adoptions in the U.S. each year, close to 40% are adopted by stepparents and another 40% or so from the U.S. foster care system. Private infant and intercountry adoptions together make up the remainder and are much smaller numbers. According to the U.S. Census, 1 in 25 families with children have an adopted child – about half of these have both biological and adopted children.”

The Guttmacher Institute states, “Nearly half of all pregnancies among U.S. women in 2011 were unintended, and about four in ten of those were terminated in abortion”. Only 1% of all women facing unplanned pregnancy choose adoption, down from 9% (National Center on Adoption and Permanency).

This begs the question, “why is there such a stigma around adoption?” As a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy I can only speak from my own experience.

I believe there is deep rooted fear in the decision, no matter what the outcome is. There is fear of becoming a mother when we believe we are not ready, there is fear we cannot provide for a child a safe, healthy and “perfect” life, and there is fear that is deep rooted in our selfishness. We do not want our lives to be interrupted.

There is another type of fear that many women face. If I choose adoption, I will never see my baby again. I cannot think about someone else raising my baby. I thought it, I faced it, and ultimately, I chose abortion. I was ashamed to be pregnant and then not take responsibility to raise the baby. I was threatened and told lies by those I loved the most.

I wish I could go back to that young 22-year-old pregnant girl and tell her “You are more than the choices you make, your life matters and this baby’s life matters.” I wish I could go back and give that baby the gift of life with a family that so eagerly yearns to adopt. The truth is, there are many women out there that cannot physically have their own baby. There are good people who want to be part of this critical decision, a decision that affects so many people.

One of my dear friends, Kimberly, and her husband Kenny have been on the receiving side of adoption, they have had the privilege of adopting both of their children. Here is a part of her story:

“In March, we were matched with a birthmom who was having a little boy. On April 4th, we received a phone call saying that the adoption had fallen through. And just like that, we were back at square one. The next morning, on April 5th, our adoption agency met with a birthmom named Emilie. At this meeting, she was shown our profile book. And the very next day, she chose to meet us. Had our adoption fallen through even one day later, Emilie would not have been shown our book.Seventeen days later, we walked into our adoption agency to meet Emilie. My heart was pounding as we walked into the little conference room. I remember seeing Emilie, and her mom and her sister for the first time. Emilie was standing, and we hugged right away. Within minutes, I loved her and her family. Throughout the meeting we cried, Emilie cried, and her family cried. Tears of heartache, mixed with tears of joy and relief. We talked about Emilie’s story, her dreams, her love for this baby. We talked about our life; our dreams, and our love for adoption. The hour and a half flew by. As we sat across from Emilie, Kenny and I would look over at each other; and I could tell we were both thinking the same thing. This is the reason. This is the reason for all the confusing paths and closed doors and hard choices that we had to make: Emilie and her baby were going to be a part of our lives forever. On Saturday morning, we got the official phone call. Emilie had chosen us to be her baby’s adoptive family. We were so grateful, and really happy. We spent the next three months getting to know Emilie. We hung out several times and we texted quite a bit. We met her whole family. They all met Parker. We shared meals together; and it seemed like we had known each other so much longer. Over the months, Emilie has become more than our child’s birth mom. She is our friend and an extension of our family. And because this is her story too; we wanted you to hear her own words. Before you hear those words, please know this: Adoption is laden with layers of joy, and grief and beauty. And sometimes all at once.

When Emilie hand wrote us a card, to share that her baby was a girl, we were so excited. But there was also an ache in my heart. Emilie was going to sacrifice this sweet bond that a mom and her baby girl share; and she was gifting that to me.

As I held onto Emilie in the hospital while she labored and as we all saw Ellery for the first time, there was joy and awe for this beautiful little life, but there was also heaviness because we knew what was coming. As Emilie held Ellery in the hospital, kissed her head, and handed her to me one last time, I could hardly breathe. This moment was sacred and we all knew it. As I looked around the room, tears flowed down the cheeks of Kenny, Emilie, her parents, her sister, and her brother.

Ellery is deeply loved. And that is what I will always know, Emilie loves Ellery, so much. Her chosen loss, her entrusting Ellery to Kenny and me, is drenched in brave, genuine love.

Every day when I look at Ellery, this sweet, amazing gift, I am reminded of Emilie. Ellery’s life is beautiful. She is a picture of God’s faithfulness and perfect work. I still can’t believe that we were chosen to be her parents.”

To read more about Kimberly & Kenny’s journey visit her blog: http://www.kstonephoto.com/blog

For more information on adoption you can call 530-876-1113 or visit these websites:

References:

March 29th, 2017

Posted In: Blog

Domestic Violence: Truths and Lies

Sad woman at home with a head ache

As a young woman, my heart and my mind believed I deserved it. The name calling, the shoving, the pin-downs that resulted in more insults and restraint from leaving. I believed that my actions controlled his reactions. I was the reason he was out of control. I was the reason for the screaming fights that ended in abuse. And I believed he was truly sorry each time he apologized — then it would happen again.

The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as:  “A  pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Domestic violence, a topic that doesn’t surface often but is present among us all, whether directly or within our circle of life. Each year in the United States, more than 10 million assaults occur, that equals 20 people every minute of the day. From name calling to physical and sexual assaults, domestic violence looks different in every situation but the effects are often the same. These patterns are happening at a young age. The Department of Justice reports that woman aged 18-24 are most likely to be abused by an intimate partner.

The question arises, why do we stay in a abusive relationship for so long? Why do we allow the person to continue to assault?

“An abused woman lives in fear, unable to predict when the next attack will come. She may become isolated from friends and family, and increasingly dependent on her abuser. In these circumstances it can be very hard to make sense of what is really happening. Over time her self-esteem may be worn down. She may start to believe her abuser’s insults. She may blame herself for the abuse, or deny that it is taking place. She may ignore it, hoping that her partner -the man she loves – will change (refuge.org.uk).”

Another reason a woman will stay in an abusive relationship is financial dependency on her abuser. Research suggests 1 in 4 female victims of domestic violence will end up homeless or without shelter. The National Center for Homelessness conducted a six year study, finding 92 percent of women who were homeless had been a victim of domestic violence – often before the age of twelve. According to the The National Journal, “Even if domestic abuse did not precipitate the immediate housing crisis, victims of violence have lifelong vulnerability to financial and social instability that often results in homelessness”. Thankfully there is a growing number of shelters and safe homes for woman (see below).

YOU MAY BE ABUSED IF…

  • You are frightened by your partner’s temper
  • You are afraid to disagree with your partner
  • You have been hit, kicked, or shoved by your partner
  • You do not see friends or family because of your partner’s jealousy
  • You have been forced to have sex or have been afraid to say no to sex
  • You have been forced to explain everything that you do, every place that you go and every person that you see to avoid your partner’s temper
  • You believe that you cannot live without your partner or that you cannot get enough of your partner
  • You believe that marriage will change your partner
  • Your partner makes you feel worse about yourself
  • You have fewer and fewer happy times together, and more and more of your time is spent on apologies, promises, anger, guilt and fear (http://houseofruthinc.org)

As a woman with a past of abuse who now walks in freedom, I can tell you there is hope. It takes courage to stand up to abuse. Sometimes that courage needs to even be the smallest amount. There is help. There is safety and refuge. You are not alone and you don’t have to be. You have no reason to be ashamed or to feel you are to blame for your suffering.  

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 911 now.

For local support call Catalyst at 530-343-7711 or visit them at 330 Wall St. in Chico.

For more information call or click on these resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

www.thehotline.org

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Catalyst

www.catalystdvservices.org  

330 Wall Street, Chico, CA 95969

Local Shelters for women:

Sabbath House ( located at The Jesus Center): 899-9343

Torres Shelter:  891-9048

References:

www.domesticviolence.org

http://houseofruthinc.org/you-may-be-abused-if

https://www.justice.gov/ovw/domestic-violence

www.ncadv.org/learn/statistic

http://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/what-is-domestic-violence/effects-of-domestic-violence-on-women/

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/how-health-and-homelessness-are-connectedmedically/458871/

July 11th, 2016

Posted In: Blog

Behind Closed Doors

Rear view of female college student in university corridor

You never believe it will happen to you. You think about abortion as something you will never have to choose, and if you come to that point in your life, you’re sure you’ll choose life, because after all it is a baby.

I grew up in a small town. When I say small I mean the kind of small where everyone knows everything about you. Your mom is their hairstylist, your brother plays football with their brother, your dad, well, he knows everyone. My school had 250 students 7-12th grade and there were 23 in my graduating class.

The first time I remember having an opinion about abortion was my senior year in high school in a Government class. I sat on the pro-life side of the divided class. The memories are still fresh. My argument was against a good friend at the time who happened to be a male. He made a comment we often hear about this topic, “It’s her body, it’s her choice”. I yelled back, “it is a choice, but it’s a baby we are talking about, that’s murder!” The class quieted.

Fast forward to college, I didn’t have much of an opinion either way, I stayed neutral but always thought the radicals outside Planned Parenthood who showed giant pictures of disassembled baby parts were a little much. In fact, I went to Planned Parenthood numerous times for birth control because it was free. I remember the staff being friendly, but the environment being cold.

In 2008, my senior year in college, I found myself in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. At that time my boyfriend and I were separated and the news was devastating. I was traveling to see my dad in San Jose and I stopped at a Walgreens on the way because I felt sick to my stomach. I bought a test thinking “No way am I pregnant!” It read positive. I was alone, scared, and hysterical. Pregnant?!? How could this happen to me? Why did this happen to me?

And just like that, I was a statistic. Half of all pregnancies are unintended, and of those, 1 in 4 will end in abortion[1]. Before I even began to think rationally about this pregnancy my mind was made up, “abortion, it’s my only option.” As thoughts ran rapidly through my mind, I began believing the lies: you’re not good enough, you can’t be a mom, you can’t carry this baby, you can’t have all your friends see you’re pregnant and not have a baby afterwards, and you can’t let someone else raise your baby.

After a few days of processing I confided in a friend who had been mentoring me for a while. I remember her asking me to go into the local pregnancy center. I refused because I knew deep down if I went there I would change my mind. More than that, I was scared. Scared of being “that girl.” I just wanted to have the abortion and be done so I could move on with my life. I knew that pregnancy center would talk to me about options, and deep down I didn’t want another option.

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy woman feel alone, scared and they often resort in making a quick decision. Current research suggests, as woman considered their abortion decision the most typical reaction/expectations were judgmental and condemning.[2]

Within 7 days of finding out I was pregnant I was on the abortion table. I thought if I did it quickly it would still be just a glob of tissue, not a baby. That was another lie I believed. The truth is that at 30 days the fetus has a heart that is already pumping, at 35 days five fingers can be discerned in the hand and at day 40 brain waves can be detected and recorded.

After my abortion, I ran further away from what I knew to be true. I pushed down all emotions associated with my abortion and began to drink away my memories. I pushed away the people I loved most, and made choices that would forever effect my life. Because the truth is, abortion hurts. It is a decision most make because they feel that is their only choice. It is not a choice that is a once and done decision. Most woman feel relieved initially and may even be content with the choice.

Two years after my abortion I was at a dinner benefiting a local pregnancy center. I was invited by a friend and felt prompted to go. As I listened to a staff member talk about what a post-abortion woman goes through, I began to weep. It was at that moment I knew my abortion had effected my life in many ways I never thought it would. It was in that moment I knew I needed help. I decided to join a post-abortion recovery group. It was through that recovery group my life was forever changed.

It was there where I met Jesus in the depths of my pain. It was there I could tell my story. I could weep, I could mourn, and I could just be me. I didn’t have to hide the pain that was buried so deep. I didn’t have to pretend that everything in my life was fine. You see, friend, when we allow God to expose our pain, when we allow God to penetrate those dark places in our hearts with His life, we experience His forgiveness and we begin to heal.


[1] Guttmatcher Institute, 2014 Induced Abortion In the United States Fact Sheet https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html 
[2] Care-Net National & LifeWay Research, 2015 www.Care-Net.org

January 8th, 2016

Posted In: Blog