A Brighter Future - Why One Birth Mom Chose Adoption After Parenting
Casey's Adoption Story
Casey had just enough time after her overnight shift at Dunkin Donuts to make it home to her apartment in southeast Florida. She’d prepare a quick meal for the sitter before heading out for a long day shift at Publix, where she worked a second job to make ends meet.
This was her routine six days a week, and she spent her days off — Saturdays — catching up on laundry and cleaning the apartment she shared with her infant twin boys. It wasn’t easy, working long hours and spending so much time away from them, and Casey didn’t want their lives to be like this forever. She began to wonder what she could do to improve their situation.
She would find the answer eight months later, when she picked up the phone and called American Adoptions for the first time.
Making Ends Meet as a Single Mom
Casey was 19 years old when she learned she was pregnant with the twins. She was in a relationship with her babies’ father at the time, working alongside him at McDonald’s, but he wasn’t ready to be a dad. He was facing his own challenges; his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in several years, was ill, and he was planning to go back to Mexico to be with her. He left when the boys were three days old, with a promise to return in March.
“All my hopes were riding on that,” Casey says.
But March came and went, and Casey lost contact with the boys’ father. He called her a couple months later to explain — he wasn’t a legal citizen, and without his papers, he wasn’t able to return to the U.S. Casey and the twins were on their own, with Casey still scraping by on minimum wage and working overtime just to cover the costs of babysitting.
“I felt really sad for the twins because they were always with a sitter,” she says. “I didn’t get much time with them… it was very tough.”
Casey knew things had to change. She tried reaching out to her father, who lived nearby, and asked if she could move back home until she could get on her feet; that would allow her to cut back on her work hours and maybe go to school to put herself and her boys in a better position. But her dad was unable to help her, and she was running out of options.
“I didn’t have family support… everything was on my own,” she says. “I was just contemplating, ‘What can I possibly do now that would make a difference for our future and provide my sons with the life that I would like to give them?’”
That’s when she started researching adoption.
Choosing Adoption After Parenting
Casey wanted to know everything she could about adoption. She started researching how it impacted children, birth mothers and families. She poured over YouTube videos of people telling their adoption stories, and she made a list of all the pros and cons of choosing adoption.
Eight months later, when her boys were 2 years old, she made the phone call that would change all of their lives forever.
“I just came to the point where I didn’t want their life to consist of their mom working really hard at two jobs just to get by, and then I’m barely home,” she says. “Some people are a product of their environment… I didn’t want the streets to raise them because I’m so busy trying to provide for them, and I wanted them to have a father figure.”
Casey’s adoption specialist sent her some pamphlets and asked her about her preferences for an adoptive family, but to Casey, the details didn’t matter. She just wanted someone who would love her boys and who would be open to annual visits with her.
“It doesn’t matter what religion people are in or where they’re located,” Casey says. “I didn’t care whether the family had other children or not. Love is love.”
Her adoption specialist knew just the family: Kim and Dave*, a couple from Virginia who were interested in having an open adoption. Casey watched their video profile, and her adoption specialist set up a phone call for everyone to get to know each other better. They hit it off, and Kim and Dave arranged to visit Casey and the boys in Florida the very same weekend.
During their visit, Casey got to watch the couple interact with the boys in a variety of different environments — they went out to dinner, spent some time at the beach and visited the zoo and the park. But she says there is one moment in particular that stood out to her.
“The way I knew they were the family for my birth sons was when we went to the park,” she remembers. “The boys wanted to go down the slide, and their dad took the initiative not to take them up to the slide by themselves but to go down the slide with them.
“That’s the type of parent I wanted for them: hands-on parents that would interact with them,” Casey adds. “That’s what told me they were the perfect family for my boys.”
Overcoming the Stigma of Adoption
But while Casey knew she was making the best possible choice for her boys, not everyone agreed with her. Her family didn’t understand and wasn’t supportive of her adoption decision; one of her uncles called her selfish and even threatened her when he found out about the adoption.
“I’m Hispanic, and it’s not something anyone in my family has ever done,” she says. “No one’s chosen adoption.”
She also received some ignorant comments from other people in her life who found out about her adoption plan. She cites one example where a coworker told her, “I’d rather live under a bridge with my kids than choose adoption.”
Casey says she doesn’t take these comments personally, but she does wish more people understood the realities of choosing adoption as a birth mother.
“Adoption has a stigma,” Casey says. “You know, there’s that ignorance that you’re ‘giving up’ the children, when you do not ‘give up’ a human being. In reality, you’re choosing something for them… I know a lot of people try to hide it because they’re ashamed of it, and you shouldn’t be. You made a big and hard decision for what was best for your child, and you should be proud of that.”
Despite some of the negative comments she’s received, Casey says she’s very verbal about her adoption decision. She has a 19-month-old daughter she’s raising now, but when anyone asks if she has other kids, she’ll tell them about the twins — “just in case there’s anyone else that wants to choose adoption.”
And, if her story were to reach anyone who is considering adoption, Casey says she would tell them to do their research, and to not let a lack of support keep them from making the decision they want to make.
“You’re going to have to sleep at night with the decision you made,” she says. “So if someone is trying to persuade you to do it or not do it, you need to ultimately make that decision yourself, and you need to really sit down and think about what’s best for your child.
“Yes, we want to be in our children’s life,” she adds. “But we need to put what is best for our children first, even if it means being the birth parent, not being able to be there, physically, for every moment. We can’t allow those selfish wants to get in the way of our children’s future.”
An Ongoing Relationship
Now, Casey continues to see the twins every year, as promised, and their mom regularly texts her and sends her pictures. At 7 years old, the boys know about their adoption and that Casey is their birth mother, and their relationship just keeps getting better as they get older.
“It’s awesome,” Casey says. “They’re getting older, so I get to learn more about them, and they’re just amazing kids.”
And Casey has developed a special relationship with Kim and Dave, as well. She says they really make her feel like family, and they’re always there for her when she needs them. Kim gave Casey the emotional support she needed during her pregnancy with her daughter, and the couple has always encouraged Casey’s educational and career aspirations. During their very first meeting, they asked Casey all about her plans for her education, which she said helped encourage her to start college the following spring.
“They’re not my parents, but they push me how your parents would push you,” she says. “They kind of inspired me to go to school.”
Casey received her associate’s degree and is now working toward a plan for nursing school, with the ultimate goal of getting her doctor of nursing practice in pediatrics.
And her other ultimate goal? Continuing to see her boys grow. She says she’ll always be there for them and hopes someday they’ll be comfortable inviting her along to important milestones like their high school graduation. She hopes they always continue to build a relationship with their birth sister, and she would like to someday be able to contribute to their college education, as well — an opportunity she knows they’ll have, thanks to their parents and to the brave decision she made for them as their birth mother.
“I don’t regret the adoption because I know it’s what was supposed to happen,” Casey says. “I was supposed to raise them for two years so they could be with their family now. If I didn’t, they would never have had the chance to be with their wonderful family and to have all the opportunities they have in their lives.”
*Some names have been changed.
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