“Why work for the Adoption cause?’
The other day I was being interviewed by the producer of a show that is interested in doing a piece on Adoption Answer. I like this producer – he and his wife have an incredible heart for adoption and orphans. As he delved into his many questions, he asked me one that I have not thought of in years. He asked, “Michelle, WHY did you start doing this?” (“This” meaning work in for the Adoption cause.)
As I thought about the answer to that question, my mind filled with images of adoptive families and birth moms and babies. That was not the answer he was looking for. He was digging deeper for the exact “why” behind Adoption Answer – the story behind this ministry and company.
When I was 20 and found out I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed with fear and shame. I was in college and working full time. My parents had raised me with values and I had gone to a Christian School and church twice a week since I was little. I knew what was right and I knew what was expected of me. When I sat down and shared my pregnancy with my parents, I could see the pain on their faces as they realized that the dreams they had for me were crashing and burning. They were shocked, hurt and disappointed in me.
My European father went quiet and after my, “I’m so sorry Daddy!” he withdrew to another room where I later found him on his knees praying. My mother, who is from the Philippines, was anything but quiet. I saw the respect that my 14 year old sister Marie had had for me fade quickly as she realized what was going on. My older sister, Millie, was there with me, giving quiet support. That evening was the hardest one I had faced in my lifetime up to that point.
The relationship I was in was my first “real” relationship. I thought it was love. After my pregnancy, he turned from charming to emotionally and mentally abusive to physically abusive with me ending up in the hospital. At that point, I retreated to safety and he walked away forever.
When I came to terms with the predicament I had placed myself into, I wanted to take full responsibility and make it right for my unborn baby. When I looked at adoption, it absolutely was the right option. My child deserved so much and part of that so much included two parents in a stable situation. I had no business taking on the responsibility of a child.
There were two odds against me regarding adoption:
1. Number one, I have shared freely. The adoption agency I chose was highly critical, judgmental and not birth mom user friendly. I felt that if they could not treat me with some compassion and kindness in our first meeting, I could not entrust my daughter’s life to them.
2. The second issue I have not shared. When my daughter’s biological father found out that I was looking at the option of adoption, he called to share that he had spoken to an attorney and that there would be no adoption because it was his right to veto it. He then proceeded to never ever even buy a diaper, birthday card, call or show any responsibility whatsoever.
As I look back on that time, it is more than evident that every piece of that pregnancy, family response, agency encounter and birth father reaction would be instrumental in helping me to understand and guide others.
My family’s response upon hearing of my pregnancy came from a place of love for me and was a result of my actions hurting them. Thankfully, they forgave me and accepted my situation and daughter with unconditional love. Without them, I could not have done it right. After my daughter Arielle was born, my first role in life became being her mom -though I continued to work and go to school. I accepted the complete switch of my social life and didn’t start to date again for a long time. Though all of my priorities changed and I was a responsible mom, the fact is, I NEEDED my family in order to raise my daughter properly. Their help allowed me to continue to reach my personal goals and provide for her at the same time.
Here’s the WHY:
My calling to work for the adoption cause didn’t happen overnight. I have always had a natural inclination toward helping others, but as I matured from my own experience – I began to feel a strong conviction to do so. As I began to work with others, I was able to relate on many levels -but one thing that differed with so many of them was the lack of a support system in their life. Without a support system, the cycles of addiction, abuse, abortion, non-education and reliance on the system continue. Here’s what we are dealing with:
1. 7 out of 10 girls that we work with have little to no family support.
2. 60% have a child already that they are struggling to support.
3. 75% have not even finished their high school education.
4. 70% are involved or have been in a relationship where some sort of abuse is present.
5. Almost 1/3 of teenage girls will become pregnant.
6. 750,000 teen girls will become pregnant this year alone.
The agency situation I dealt with myself – was what it was. My experience with them gave me insight as to how not to deal with a young woman in crisis. Adoption, from a birth mom’s perspective, is not a business transaction. It is a time of personal heart ache that takes a tremendous amount of inner strength to carry out. It likely will be one of the hardest decisions any young woman will face in her lifetime.
1. Just because we may be dealing with a young woman who may be one of the above statistics, does not give anybody the freedom to treat them as a “lesser than”.
2. We have an opportunity every day as these calls come in to pour compassion, kindness, encouragement, support and God’s love into these young women. We continue to do it for those who are able and willing to accept the help we give.
3. It’s not just about the baby and the adoption. It’s an Adoption Cause, about helping these young women to set goals, break bad cycles, gain education and gainful employment, and become better moms to the children they do have. The adoption cause, is a blessing and is what has brought them to us – it is significant, but just a piece of what I feel compelled to help them with.
The reaction of the birth father in my personal situation, though overwhelming at the time, is a typical one. Unfortunately, we see it regularly. We can recognize a baseless threat for what it is, we are not held hostage by them.
1. I give credit to any birth father that actually does have the best interest of their child in mind.
2. Be it parenting or adoption, we lend support to those birth fathers that will step forward and want to take responsibility and have the means to do so.
3. There is a process that is completed legally to terminate a known and named birth father’s rights.
As I have reflected on this “WHY”, it is good to define it and share with you. I have felt the freedom to share things I once found shameful. The truth is, I was the first young woman in a crisis pregnancy I ever had to deal with. Coming to terms with my own choices and abuse has helped me, and in turn – our staff, to meet these girls exactly where they are at with complete non-judgment. I thank the Lord for carrying me through that difficult time and my family for their never ending support and belief in me. It is our privilege as a staff to now share our faith and pass on that support to those we are called to help. If I can break the cycles, anybody can.