One Woman’s Brave Story of Choosing Adoption for Her Daughter
As a teenager and freshman in college, Gina Crotts was facing one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She was pregnant — a completely unexpected surprise — and she was overwhelmed.
Should she marry the father, as would have been proper according to her very religious upbringing? Should she forsake her education and other dreams to be a single mother? What would actually be best for this child?
Gina chose adoption — a difficult, brave and loving decision — for her daughter. With that choice, her life would never be the same.
In her new book “A Seemingly Unfillable Heart,” Gina documents her story and reflects on the deeper meaning of a journey full of peaks and valleys. From dealing with heartache to experiencing great joy, Gina’s story is an important contribution to the wider conversation around adoption.
The team at American Adoptions spoke with Gina over the phone about her book. The following conversation has been edited lightly for length and clarity.
A Conversation with Gina Crotts
You’ve been writing for a while. What was it that made you decide to take on a larger project and turn your story into a book?
I actually think my desire finally met up with my ability to write. I’ve always wanted to write a book, just my entire story, and when I first started… my first draft was not great.
But as things changed in my life, I felt like I was at that point where the story carried a lot more purpose. It kind of met up with the talent that I was gaining. It just seemed the book came to a head and it felt like the right time to do it. So, I went for it.
What was the writing process like for you? You cover over a decade in your book, so I imagine choosing how to tell that story wasn’t necessarily easy, especially a story as sensitive as yours is.
It was difficult, honestly, emotionally. It took me a lot longer to complete the entire story, and that was mostly because I had to allow myself to have a break.
I knew the only way it was really going to be good is if I tapped back into those emotions. That’s a difficult thing to do. I had to dive into dozens of journals searching for the right entries I wanted to share. There was a lot of stuff that came out that I had actually forgotten about.
I ended up quitting my corporate job to write the book. So this was my main purpose. I searched a lot of different processes, as far as turning to some of my favorite authors and seeing what they do.
I had to come back to just taking each moment — just those highlight moments that I wanted to share and focusing on each moment.
There’s probably quite a bit that you had to choose to leave out of the book that you wanted to include. That must’ve been a challenge.
Yeah, it really was. I wanted to make sure I was focusing on what I felt was the most important.
So, for me, that means things like the emotions of becoming pregnant, the difficulty of sharing that with my family and friends, the importance of choosing adoption and what played into the decision to place, and how that continues to affect my life. And also getting on top of grief, and figuring out how to live with grief for so long.
Way back when you first considered adoption, how much did you really know about it?
Probably nothing, if I’m being honest.
I didn’t know anyone who had been adopted, or if they were I had no idea. I didn’t know any birth moms. It really came down to that one high school class, where the abortion clinic came in and said, “If you find yourself pregnant, you can have an abortion or your other option is adoption.”
And that’s the first time I really remember hearing that word.
The confirmation, if we want to call it that, that I was going to chose adoption really came with no education of what was ahead, of what I was about to do.
Do you think there are a lot of women who are considering adoption and in the same place? Is one hope for your book that it would help them make their own decision?
Yes. I definitely think so.
Adoption has evolved and changed so much over the years. We have so much knowledge and information at our fingertips at this point that I didn’t have. Now, it would be different because there’s a lot of information out there.
With the book, I hope that it is someone else saying, “Hey, this is what I experienced and what I felt,” because I believe we all feel very similar things. And it’s nice to just know that someone felt that way, too. It puts everything into perspective if someone can say, “That emotion I felt — that’s alright because she felt that, too.”
Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re going through during this time of your life, it’s okay to feel that way. Accepting those emotions is also what helps free them.
You walk through a lot of complicated feelings, and one is the thin line between acknowledging how hard adoption is, but also always knowing this was the right decision for you. Can you talk a little bit about that?
I think, as human beings, we aren’t always given the easiest route. And I believe so much that there is a purpose for that.
I have moments and times where things feel great, but it has been a really difficult road. In those darkest moments, it’s just given me more appreciation for the light.
I love more passionately and deeper because I know the pain. And when we make those decisions, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be followed with rainbows and fairies. That’s juts not how it is, but that doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong decision.
Obviously, there were moments where I felt like I made the wrong decision or had regrets. But everything leads back to the fact that this was the path I was supposed to take.
How do you think your articulation of these feelings might impact other birth mothers, or women considering adoption?
I’m very careful to say this, because I very much believe that I wouldn’t sit down with anyone and say, “This is what you are supposed to do.”
I believe that we, as individuals, always know what is best for us. Nobody else does that for you, but you. I think everything you need to make the decision is within you. If you can find that answer within yourself, then that confidence kind of carries you throughout your entire experience.
Birth moms who have already placed, I think the book, for me, would be spotlighting the importance of understanding grief. Because it’s not going to go away, it will ebb and flow.
I think the book says a lot about educating yourself on grief. And, also, it’s okay to tell your story. It’s okay to have these emotions and feel them, but not allow them to take over your entire life to the point where you can’t see the good and the fortunate things that will come to you.
What’s your ultimate hope for this book?
I hope that it actually offers hope to other people. I hope it gives them strength to tell their own story, strength to be themselves, strength to be vulnerable in moments of our life that aren’t perfect.
It’s a story about hope and overcoming difficult trials in our lives. I hope that’s exactly what it does — that it brings strength and hope to those who read it.
As a public speaker and birth mother, Gina has engaged audiences at adoption conferences and birth mother retreats nationwide. After placing her baby for adoption in the fall of 2000, she founded Birth Mother Baskets, a non-profit organization focused on providing emotional support to birth mothers post-placement.
After 14 years of running Birth Mother Baskets, Gina stepped away to pursue a career as a Creative Arts Manager. A severe concussion in 2016 led Gina back to rediscover her real passion for writing and adoption. She has been working on her adoption memoir since that time.
Her writing has been featured on America Adopts, Adoption Today, American Adoptions, Adoption.com, AdoptionLife.org, and CAIRS News Room. Gina has received the UAC Community Excellence Award for outstanding contributions to adoption in Utah.
You can find more about her and her work at ginacrotts.com.