Why do women and couples come to OA&FS? These stories take you inside their lives.
Expectant parents are often navigating complex situations
Every day we hear a variety of stories in which pregnant women and couples are making difficult choices. We combined details from these stories into the composite scenarios below. These expectant parents deserve to connect with an agency whose services are empowering, informative and compassionate. We're honored to serve them.
We honor your unique experience in all its complexity.
Marissa grew up in the foster care system, and has navigated a myriad of challenges over the years. Finding herself pregnant for a third time stirs up strong feelings from her past, including a fear of judgment and a loss of control over her life. Her first son was removed by DHS and placed in a state adoption, due to the addiction issues that Marissa struggled with. Sadly, she was unable to play an active role in planning his adoption – she wasn’t involved in choosing his adoptive family and doesn’t have an agreement for ongoing visits, which has been heartbreaking for her.
When she gave birth to her daughter, she was determined to forge a different path, and has been able to parent her on her own to this point, despite enduring domestic violence in her current relationship and continued struggles with addiction.
With this third pregnancy, she immediately fears that child welfare will become involved if they discover her pregnancy, and that once again she’ll be shut out of her child’s life. She begins exploring voluntary adoption options, and reaches out to an adoption facilitator early in her pregnancy. But upon learning of her drug use, they tell her they won’t be able to work with her. She tries calling a national adoption agency, but feels put off when they immediately ask her for medical records and pepper her with questions about her prenatal care and the baby’s health, without inquiring about her own health and well-being. Feeling discouraged and frustrated, she considers waiting until she gives birth to make a plan, to escape her worries for the time being.
Then another service provider tells her about OA&FS, and after looking at the website and learning about the welcoming, non-judgmental pregnancy options counseling offered, she calls, speaks with a counselor and sets up a time to meet. From their first meeting, Marissa feels more open to sharing about herself than she had thought possible; she’s so relieved that the counselor never makes her feel bad about herself, or about her life. She and her counselor focus on addressing her immediate needs for safety, counseling and drug treatment, while also looking ahead to the birth of her baby. Marissa talks about her previous experiences with DHS and her resulting grief and fears. She’s able to clarify that she wants to plan an open adoption for this child, but one where she has choices in the process. She and her OA&FS counselor work closely with Marissa’s other services providers, empowering her to access drug treatment, counseling and support around domestic violence.
Despite the many challenges in Marissa’s life, she’s able to create a clear vision for her child’s future, one that includes an adoptive family who welcomes not only her child, but also Marissa, her daughter, her son and his adoptive parents into their lives. She chooses a couple that lives in the country and shares her love of horseback riding and hiking. She also admires their generosity and involvement in the local community. She recently shared with the adoptive parents just how much she appreciates them and the ways they have welcomed her into their family. Marissa deeply values the lifelong support and counseling at OA&FS that helps her process grief and build connections with all of her children. For the first time in her life she feels valued and respected.
Everyone is welcome here. We treat you with respect and dignity.
Chloe and Josh are a young couple who find themselves facing an unexpected pregnancy in the first few months of their relationship. With both of them still in school, they don’t feel ready to be parents yet. They’re intrigued by adoption, but don’t have much information about the process.
They look online for adoption agencies, and choose one with a bold website and lots of photos of happy babies and families. When Chloe calls she’s put off by their impersonal tone – a receptionist asks her for her height and weight, how far along she is, if she knows if she’s having a boy or a girl, and says that an “adoption guide” will call her. While this phone call doesn’t feel great, Chloe and Josh assume that adoption agencies will all be pretty much the same, so they continue working with this agency for several months.
As they ask for information about potential adoptive families they like, they’re given glossy brochures and shown videos that look like they’d been produced for TV – they hear about people’s favorite colors and foods, but aren’t able to learn anything beyond surface information. Their adoption guide will only talk with Chloe, not Josh, on the phone, and keeps saying that she’s “making a selfless gift” and “doing a noble thing” by planning an adoption. When Chloe asks about open adoption, she’s told that they’ll be able to receive photos and updates through the agency, but that visits aren’t recommended, because it could be confusing to the child. She also learns that the ongoing services the agency provides only include calling her adoption guide with questions for up to a year after the placement. There’s no counseling or open adoption relationship guidance. When Chloe and Josh find out that the agency won’t come to the hospital unless she’s committed to signing adoption consents, they decide there must be another option out there, and spend some more time exploring agencies online.
When they call OA&FS, they’re surprised to get an experienced counselor on the phone right away. Even more impressive is that the counselor asks how they’re doing, and invites them to share about their situation, rather than going straight to adoption planning or questions about the baby. They also appreciate that Josh is welcomed and included in the process from the beginning. In their initial meeting, they take in a lot of new information – along the way, they’d heard so many things about adoption that now feel untrue – it’s eye opening to hear a completely different perspective, one that makes perfect sense once they’re aware of it! They’re relieved to hear that lifelong counseling and relationship guidance is free, and feel deeply respected in learning exactly what their legal rights are (including that they won’t sign any paperwork until they’re ready). They’re also amazed to see how much information is provided to them about adoptive parents, even the written homestudy, which is so different from what they had experienced previously.
As they learn about what a truly open adoption looks like, they feel more and more secure that this is the path for them. They aren’t pressured at any point along the way, and are able to choose a family of two moms who right off the bat express excitement about how much they look forward to having them become part of their family. Chloe and Josh each create a legal contact agreement for three visits a year, since they aren’t sure about their future together, but both know that they will be involved in their son’s life no matter what. After they place their son in the adoptive moms’ arms, they have an entrustment ceremony where they all tearfully express how much their friendship and time together will always mean to them. They continue to meet with their counselor and join the OA&FS Birthparent Facebook group to connect with other birthparents. Chloe also looks forward to attending the birthmom retreat in the spring. Chloe and Josh feel their experience at OA&FS has been transformative, bringing them from a place of confusion to one of empowerment.
We trust you’ll make the best decision for you and your child.
At 19, Kendra is excited about life and her newfound independence since moving into her own apartment and starting college. She has a steady boyfriend, and is making new friends at school. Out of the blue, she discovers she is pregnant, and in an instant it feels like her life is unraveling. After telling her boyfriend about the pregnancy, he breaks up with her and tells her he wants nothing to do with her, and Kendra falls into a depression. She feels like her parents would be mad and disappointed in her, so she keeps her pregnancy a secret from everyone. She tries to blow off steam and mask her sadness by partying with friends and drinking, but underneath it all she can’t stop thinking about what she’s going to do. She knows she needs to make a decision, but has no idea where to start, and feels very alone.
One night, she googles “Oregon Adoption Agencies”, and notices a website for Open Adoption & Family Services that talks about free options counseling. She calls, and is surprised to reach a counselor so late at night, but they end up talking for over an hour. After sharing about her situation, they explore each of Kendra’s options: parenting, abortion and adoption. Kendra realizes that she hasn’t been able to really let herself consider all of her choices, and although she doesn’t know what she will decide, it feels affirming to have someone help her consider each possible decision, without judgment. They set up a time to meet the following week, and continue to talk about what each choice might look like in Kendra’s life. With this support, Kendra is empowered to think about her pregnancy without going into crisis mode, even though it’s still hard.
Kendra postpones making any decision until after the cut-off for having an abortion, and continues exploring parenting and adoption, meeting with her counselor weekly. She struggles with wondering if she is ready to be a mom at this point in her life, and worries that she won’t finish school if she decides to parent. She is also still sad and angry about her ex-boyfriend for leaving her alone in this situation, and wonders if this will make it harder to attach to the baby, and also worries about her depression getting worse with the stress of parenting. Her counselor acknowledges her worries, and shares about resources available for young first-time parents that could support her if she chooses parenting.
Kendra also looks through a book of letters of prospective adoptive families, and reviews several family books of people she is drawn to – they all seem warm, caring, and have fun lifestyles where she could imagine her child living happily. She learns more about what it’s like to build a relationship with a family, and to live in an open adoption, and her counselor even connects her with a birthmom mentor whom she talks with a few times.
With the holiday break coming, Kendra decides she is ready to tell her family about her pregnancy. While they are initially shocked, she is surprised that they are very supportive of her, and this allows Kendra to acknowledge that she really does want to parent, but that she needs support in place to embrace this. She moves back home in preparation for having the baby, and sets up a final meeting with her OA&FS counselor to return family books. She shares with her counselor how much it has meant to have a safe space to think through this decision, without pressure, something she never thought she would find through an adoption agency. She tells the counselor she has signed up for the nurse home visiting program they talked about, is planning to continue counseling for her depression and is considering reaching back out to her baby’s father to include him. While she knows parenting will have plenty of challenges, she leaves the appointment feeling proud and secure in her decision.