Welcome to our corner of the web! Here you will learn about our family and our journey of a family member adoption. In July of 2010, after 9 years of trying to add to our family and 5 years after we started our adoption journey, we welcomed baby Emily Rose. Emily's birth mom is Sharon's adopted sister. We look forward to someday adopting more children but for now, we are enjoying our time together as a family of 4!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Birth Mom's Journey: Jenn's Story

This week I am featuring birth mom's. I have contacted a few birth mom's who have all been happy to let me share their stories. I will also have other information this week on how to support birth mom's, what not to say to a birth mom, and more.
The first birth mom I would like to spotlight is very dear to me. My cousin Jenn placed her son Andrew for adoption 5 years ago. This is her story, in her words:
I had always liked Michael McLean, and had always had a bond with the song "From God's Arms to My Arms to Yours". I had always loved the story since he released the song, and listened to it often. Michael is the reason I gave Andrew up for adoption. Here's my story: I was living a life of sin when I found out I was pregnant with Andrew. It was February 2004 and I was living in UT going to college for massage therapy. All my family was in AZ, but I thought I wanted freedom so I chose the UT campus rather than staying at the AZ campus and living at home. I had been kicked out of school in December after flunking too many finals and my GPA being too low. I had just lost my job the week before I got pregnant. I turned to the internet for comfort and found a guy who wanted company. “R” was 24, lived at home, and I was 18 still. I met him at his place and the rest is history. We began fooling around doing things we weren't supposed to, but he wasn't a member of my church, and at the time I didn't care. I found out after “R” and I stopped hanging out, when I found out “R” couldn't work due to a mental disability, so therefore couldn't support a child. When the test came up positive, I knew he was the dad since he was the only one I'd been with. I called my mom in tears, she bought me a flight home and I broke my lease at the apartments (luckily without a fee since it was student housing).

I moved home but moved in with my sister “S” and her now ex-husband. I thought I wanted to keep the baby and be a single mom. My sister is not active in the church and was willing to help me raise the baby. I applied for state aid and was accepted for WIC and Food Stamps. My parents told me that I could always move home and they would help me out, but I would have to place the baby for adoption. After not finding a job, I began thinking about moving back home. My parents had me meet with a birth-parent volunteer, who was just that... she was a birth-mom volunteer who took time out of her day to be there to talk to. No pressure, no forcing, just someone to talk to. I started meeting with her regularly and decided to place Andrew up for adoption. I was probably 3 months along at this time. I moved home, started meeting with the bishop (church leader of our local congregation) for counseling, and continued to meet with “L” (birth mom volunteer). I also started meeting with Jason from LDS Family Services. He helped me be sure that this was the decision I wanted to make, and then helped me explore my options. When it kicked in that I was really doing this, I began listening to Michael's song more and more. It made me cry, thinking about what I was doing, that I would be giving a couple a gift they couldn't give themselves. I learned how to search for couples and read their stories. After searching for a month and praying, I finally came across David and Jami's profile. I read their story and I knew they were the ones. They had just lost their daughter not even 2 yrs before (August 2002). She was born premature due to a condition that Jami gets when she becomes pregnant. Kiley was born early, lived to be 10 days old and was taken off oxygen and put on room air because her breathing was improving. She died the next day from an infection in the air. I kept reading and discovered they liked to do things outdoors, they were active, liked to play sports and travel. Jami was a nurse but was looking to stay home when they had a baby, so I knew she would know what to do if the baby was hurt, sick, or in any danger.

After choosing David and Jami, I met with my counselor and found out that he worked with them, so he could contact them asap for a meeting. I discussed the pros and cons of open adoption and decided that's what I wanted. Luckily David and Jami were okay with that. I found out I was having a boy and sent them an e-mail. Of course they were delighted and had asked if I had any names picked out. Since I was trying not to get attached to the baby, I left it up to them. They decided on Andrew.

The rest of the pregnancy I don't remember much. I did get “R” to sign over paternity, thankfully, so I didn't need to fight him for it. The next thing I remember is the day my water broke. It was October 30 and I was 36 weeks along. It was a Saturday and the ward trunk or treat was that night. My dad was going to be gone all day at a YSA conference (young single adult as an advisor). I woke up at 4:30 to my water breaking (though I didn't know that's what that was). I ran into the bathroom around the corner from my bedroom as water was leaking out of me. I couldn't hold it so I knew I wasn't going to the bathroom. When I got changed, I went to my parent's room and got my mom. They were both up as my dad needed to leave by 6 (he had a 2 hr drive to get to where he was going). My mom confirmed it was my water, helped clean it up (thank goodness for tile in the bathrooms... he he he), and got me situated on the couch in the living room. She called my sister “H” who had been taking me to dr's appts all along (my mom was scared to go and get attached to the heartbeat). My sister came over and my dad stayed home to watch my sisters daughter, since my sister's husband was gone for the weekend at work. My mom hopped in the shower since my contractions weren't bad and then we left for the hospital. They got me up and hooked on monitors. I was only 1 cm along, but since my water had broken they admitted me. I spent the day watching shows on TLC (that's the only thing on tv on Saturday). My labor eventually progressed after they put me on petossin and I later got an epidural. Around 5:30 I called my LDS Family Services counselor to let him know that I would be delivering soon. He told me to call him back after I had Andrew and he would call the David and Jami. At 8:30 pm, I delivered Andrew. He was 6 lbs. 13 oz and 19" long. He had dark hair and was so handsome. He came out not breathing, and I began crying knowing that David and Jami were on their way and their baby isn't breathing. They luckily were able to get him to cry, got him cleaned up, wrapped up in a blanket and brought him over to see me. I was still crying and knowing I had chosen not to hold him made me cry harder. After getting me cleaned up, sewn up and new bedding and gown on, Jason arrived with David and Jami in tow. They were given bracelets to the NICU since Andrew was needing help breathing and his heart beat was irregular. Jami decided she wanted to spend the night in my post-partum room to be closer to Andrew and spend more time with me. My parents, sister, Jason and David left my room and I was wheeled over to my new room. I remember getting up several times, and we (Jami and I) would go see Andrew in the NICU. When we woke up it was Halloween and I was faced with having to transfer Andrew. The hospital I had delivered at was new and didn't have the equipment to take care of Andrew for very long. Signing away papers knowing I would never see him again, was hard. He was transferred via ambulance to another hospital, and I was checked out of the hospital and sent home. My parents met up with David and Jami and decided to take me to the new hospital so I could see him. When he was released 2 days later, I remember holding him in their room. I remember helping Jami get him dressed and him being so small. I remember crying, knowing I wouldn't see him for years to come... We took pictures of all of us in the foyer, said our good-byes and I left the hospital without a baby. I felt so empty inside, yet I knew that Heavenly Father would bless me later on for what I had done for David and Jami.

As it turns out, I was able to see Andrew one more time. We had put our house on the market since my dad had accepted a job in IA, and so we would be moving. We met up with David and Jami at a central location, close to the hospital since Jami had just delivered her daughter Kortnie days earlier. Kortnie came early, but was a fighter and was released after only 2 weeks in the NICU. It was the first week of January and we would be moving in 2 weeks. We exchanged Christmas presents, where they gave me a photo album, a poem about Andrew with his footprints on it, and a picture of him framed. I gave them a couple of things from the church bookstore, and a letter that I had written to Andrew for him to open when he turns 18. In the letter I quoted the lyrics to Michael McLean's song "From God's Arms to My Arms to Yours". The rest is history and we've been exchanging e-mails, pictures, letters ever since. I was able to set up how often I want to get letters and pictures, and as time went on we became "friends" on facebook, and I was given their blog address so now I can see pictures of Andrew whenever.
Bloggers note: Jenn and her husband have been married for 3 ½ years and live in California with their 2 daughters. Thank you Jenn for letting me share your story. Love you Cousin!

Jami, Andrew's adoptive mom has consented to share her journey as well
so, stay tuned tomorrow for Jami’s story.


penguin0802 said...

I read that like it happened yesterday. I also noticed that you must have had Jami proof read it, cuz I don't remember putting in some of those details (what we got each other for Christmas, etc). I'm excited to read her part of the journey. I love you cousin, and I'm glad that I could share my journey with someone...

ditndetes said...

I didn't proof read it at all! It was neat to read your thoughts on the whole process! Love, Jami

Gram-Gram said...

Jenn you are one wonderful person. You have blessed so many lives not only now but just think about the future. Andrew is such a special boy to me we have a real bond that I hope we never lose. I am so happy for your eternal marriage and the life and family you have now. Thanks just isn't enough!