My Gay Adoption Day 316 :: Interview with a Birth Mother
As Kevin and I close in on our first full year pursuing an adoption, it occurred to me that we really have no idea how the process of matching works. Oh, we know the mechanics thanks to our adoption agency (and we’ve recently discovered that our "book" has been mailed out five times since we went live in the system in March, with one match resulting - not a bad ratio, but here we are, still waiting for that right mom to appear). But we know precious little about what goes through a pregnant mom’s mind when she formulates an adoption plan - and less about the decision she makes choosing a family for her baby. And it’s more than likely that my readers know even less.
Enter Antonia. Pregnant and serving in the military at 20, she chose a lesbian couple - Val and Mary - to become adoptive parents for her new baby, Emily. Two years have passed since she gave birth, and Antonia graciously took the time to chat with me about her experience as a birth mom, and the process of planning for her baby’s adoption.
Given her youth and her career in the military, that process started with the realization that Antonia was not ready to parent her child. "I know I was not in a situation where I could do that," she says, "and I myself was adopted when I was about two. So I immediately started looking for adoption agencies."
She found Friends in Adoption (our agency), and chatted with Director Dawn Smith-Pliner. Comfortable with the team she found at FIA, she was quickly asked a number of questions.
"They asked me if I had any preferences as to same-sex, traditional family, religious preferences, what did I like, what types of hobbies I had," Antonia recalls. "They then sent me packets of prospective parents who could match who I was." After perusing them, she chose her top three - and then sent the lot over to her parents, and discovered their choices aligned closely with hers.
"We both chose Val and Mary," she recounts. "Their packet was very personal; it was handmade, and showed the family and Val and Mary and it had a lot of photos and was put together really nicely. That stuck out to me that they’d handmade it."
Choice made, Antonia began the process of reaching out to her chosen couple via FIA.
"I was so nervous," she says, but points out that her first meeting with the girls went very well. "We had lunch together and almost immediately it was very obvious that I wanted to select them as parents. They’re such a lovely couple, and they asked if I wanted to meet their other daughter."
Val and Mary took the girl - Susie - over to meet Antonia and her parents. "My parents asked them how they felt about open adoption," Antonia recalls, "and it was at that point that they made it clear that they wanted my parents and myself to be part of their family in a way." Two other critical factors - the fact that Val and Mary were not highly religious, and that Susie was an older child - helped the match to firm up.
A lonely time followed that meeting for Antonia. Her pregnancy was unplanned, and her homecoming awkward for her.
"I was in the military and I’d been rather ill and I lost a lot of weight during my first trimester," she explains, concluding at the time that she was suffering from flu symptoms. "When I figured it out, I immediately had to think, ’I’m going to have this baby, so what am I going to do?’"
For Antonia, abortion was never an option - so she left the military temporarily and returned home, where her mom immediately noticed the change in her daughter.
"[My parents] were angry at first, but mostly that I’d kept this from them. Once I got the packets and they saw I was making a plan and doing the right thing, they were pretty happy about it." In fact, her parents stepped up and helped her with the process.