A Family for my Baby
I was very young being pregnant with my second child and was struggling being a full time single mother in college full time with no income. Sometimes it was very difficult making ends meet. I did not want to bring a baby into this world and struggle to raise it. I found Catholic Charities and they welcomed me with open arms. I found a wonderful couple that could not have children. I felt so comfortable and secure with them and knew they would take wonderful care of my baby. They were with me during labor which was very comforting. I do have my regrets, but knowing that my baby is with a wonderful family makes me feel better. But it still hurts me time to time.
Request to remain anonymous
In Better Hands
I chose to share my experience with you about the adoption and my life and what (Catholic Charities) has done for me. I have really gotten a lot out of the agency and what they’ve done for me and the couple.
It was hard to give our little girl up that we love so much, but she is in better hands. We were trying to think and care for her over us, and how she could find a good home and be taken care of well and treated right. Catholic Charities has been always good and trusting to us and knowing that we would get pictures and letters on time and knowing that we would always get them.
Women at Work: Adoption is a wonderful story
November 28, 2014
My parents, Vince and Mary Herring, had been married for a year when they announced they were going to have a baby.
Complications arose, and in 1969, when babies were born three months early, their chance of survival was slim. They never were able to change her diaper, rock her to sleep or kiss her forehead good night as she slept. The doctors also advised that attempting to have a child by birth would be next to impossible.
In 1970, they decided to look in to foster parenting. In June of that year, they received a phone call letting them know there was a baby ready for fostering, but rather than fostering, would they be interested in adopting? I am not sure there was much discussion before they said, “yes!” That baby they adopted was me.
I have known I was adopted as far back as I can remember, and as I grew up, I came to cherish the concept even more. My dad always said, “You weren’t expected, you were selected.” It made me feel pretty darn special.
In 1988, I made the decision to create a loving adoption plan for my first-born daughter. At that moment, the most amazing (and I thought glamorous) woman entered my life. She held my hand through this entire adoption process and became my rock for the next 10 years. Her name is Valerie Strauss Cunningham, of Catholic Charities.
Valerie has been with Catholic Charities for 39 years. For a number of years, she provided direct service with the Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption Program, but for the past 22 years, she has been the director of the program.
She states, “During the years that I provided direct service I journeyed with many pregnant women who made a very loving and unselfish decision to place their child for adoption. Being a part of that journey has been such a privilege. I have also worked with many childless couples, and the joy of placing a child in their arms has been such a gift. I feel so very fortunate to have been a part of such a wonderful outcome for children for so many years.”
Cunningham has made a huge impact in many lives, not just mine. In 1998, Valerie entered the life of Elissa Robinson, who also needed help in creating an adoption plan for her first born. She states, “There is no way I could have made it through without all the help from Valerie. She was a shoulder to cry on while I was preparing my mind, body and soul for the emptiness I knew I would feel. She listened to my fears and was like a mother figure to me when my own mom was miles and miles away. Most importantly, it was her hand I held as I left the hospital. My story is just one of many which Valerie is involved in. Her heart is overflowing with compassion and love.”
Many times the negative of adoption is up front and center, but if you listen, you will see that the positives far outweigh the negatives. My child found me about seven years ago, and is now a part of our family. My birth parents located me as well, and I discovered I have two sisters! The only difficult part of all of this? Trying to draw a family tree!
My daughter, Lindsey, made the selfless decision when she was not ready to raise a child. This decision gave my own sister and her husband the chance to have a family they could not have had otherwise. Edith is very much part of all our lives and already knows how she came to be with Kendra and Aaron is pretty special.
I should add that my parents went against doctors’ warnings and proceeded to have my younger sister, Kendra, two years after adopting me, and my amazing brother, Kyle, was born seven years later.
The month of November is Adoption Awareness Month, and adoption can be celebrated in so many ways. Along with Elissa and I, Valerie believes, “that adoption is the loving creation of two families who share the decision to provide the very best for their child. Adoption is a wonderful outcome for the babies, their birthparents and for the adoptive families.”
– Kristen Asleson, Adoptee & Birthparent
Scared and Alone
My experience with adoption was extremely difficult because I kept my pregnancy a secret from the entire family. The father of the baby and I were the only ones aware of the birth of our child. At the time when I felt so alone, my social worker at Catholic Charities was the one person who reassured me that I was doing a truly wonderful and selfless thing in placing my baby for adoption.
I only turned to Catholic Charities for help in my 9th month of pregnancy after a pregnancy filled with fear, uncertainty and denial. From the moment I met my social worker there, I was never made to feel like I had been irresponsible or that my feelings didn’t matter. I felt safe and was so grateful for the kindness and understanding shown me.
For years after the adoption I have always felt comfortable in contacting Catholic Charities, and they have been so kind in facilitating communication with the adoptive parents. I am so thankful for the services Catholic Charities provides and for the kindness and compassion of their staff.
They truly made one of the most difficult times in my life less lonely, and gave me the support I so desperately needed.
~ Request to remain anonymous
From one adoption to another
The decision to give my child up for adoption was an easy one for me. As a child growing up, I had always known I was given up for adoption by a young couple who decided they could not raise me in the manner I should be raised. Adoption was not a foreign word to me from the day I can remember. Along with knowing I was adopted, my mother was very involved in MCCL and Birthright. I can remember accompanying her to fairs, and other functions where the fetal model displays were set up. Early on in life, we learned the growing stages of a baby during a pregnancy. Those images are burned vividly in my mind. That’s a baby in there – no matter what stage of a pregnancy the mother is in – that’s a baby.
So, when I found myself pregnant, I knew in my heart I could not raise a child, go to college and start a career at the age of 18. I also knew that abortion meant killing a baby. And that is simply wrong. As Catholics we believe abortion is wrong, but bottom line, in my eyes, no matter what faith one is, it is wrong to kill an unborn child.
So, with abortion out of the question and raising a child not being an option, I had one road to go – adoption. I went to counseling and helped choose the parents my child would go to. I had a birth coach who accepted and respected my decision to give my child up for adoption. The nine months flew by quickly, and on September 12th, 1988, I had a beautiful 8 pound little girl whom I named Kayla. Following her birth, Kayla was with me in the hospital for the two days. During those two days she met her grandparents, her aunt and uncle, and her great-grandparents.
I was met with so many comments on “how or why could you give your own flesh and blood up.” I did it because it was the best for her, and it was the best for me. I knew she was going to a household that desperately wanted a baby and who could do the things for her I could not.
The hardest part of my story was leaving the hospital without a baby and seeing my dad cry for the first and only time. Was it the easiest thing in the world to do? No, it wasn’t. Do I regret the decision I made? No, I would do it all the same again. It takes strength and commitment, but it was the right decision.
~ Kristen, Adoptee & Birthparent
The Best Thing
I found out 2 days before I delivered my daughter that I was having a baby. I had my daughter and I had to think about the right thing to do for her. It took me a couple of days, but then I decided that adoption was the best thing to do. Why? Because I was not ready for her and her dad had medical problems. The family that adopted her left her name what I had names her. We are in contact and I pictures as part of our open adoption. Open adoption is a great way to watch them grow up.
~ Requests to remain anonymous
A Catholic Identity
We decided to place our little girl for adoption through Catholic Charities because for one thing we’re Catholic. We got married in the Catholic Church and they really seemed to be very nice and cooperative with us and understanding. We’ve really enjoyed all the support they’ve given us and the couple that adopted our little girl.
~ Mike and Jodi
An adoptee, a birthmother, and an adoptive parent
Two months ago, I become an adoptive parent and also completed the triad of adoption. As an adoptee, a birthmother, and an adoptive parent, I have experiences adoption from all sides. When I was 18, I experienced an unplanned pregnancy. After considering my options, my family and I decided adoption would allow me to continue my education and my birth daughter would grow up with a family who was in a better place financially. Although it was a heart breaking decision at the time, I have not regretted it, as it allowed me to continue my education and my birth daughter and I would not struggle to make ends meet. All experiences with adoption, I hope will allow me to be able to give my adopted son some insight on his journey.
~ Requests to remain anonymous
My parents brought me to Catholic Charities to help me to explore my options. I was only 14 and the biological father was in jail for statutory rape. He was 20. They showed me a video which featured happy adoptive families. I was sold instantly. I knew that I could not provide the quality of like that an adult married couple could.
I felt completely supported by Catholic Charities, 100% accepted and loved. Now I continue to appreciate the role Catholic Charities plays as the intermediary between families. It was important to maintain confidentiality because we feared that my daughter’s biological father might try to find her. I enjoy letters and updates from the adoptive parents while maintaining a closed adoption. I am hoping that someday her adoptive parents will give us their blessing to have a relationship once she is an adult.
~ Request to remain anonymous