Still Family - How Two Birth Parents Overcame Their Adoption Fears
Frances and Matthew’s Story
Unlike many birth parents, Frances and Matthew weren’t new to the idea of adoption when they started their life-changing path. Not only was Frances herself an adoptee, but the couple had placed two babies for adoption previously — one with a family member and one with another agency.
But, when Frances found herself pregnant with her fifth child, adoption wasn’t automatically the first answer. Both she and Matthew had reservations from their previous adoption, in which their open adoption preferences were not respected.
But, then they found American Adoptions — and a relationship that made the choice all worth it.
Choosing the Best for “Little Bean”
Frances knew the positives that adoption could bring. Placed into foster care at 14 years old, she was adopted by her parents at 16 and had seen firsthand the love adoptive parents had for their children. When she became pregnant with her fourth child at a time she and her husband couldn’t care for another, they placed the baby for adoption. Unfortunately, their open adoption relationship with the adoptive parents dwindled after placement to pictures once a month.
When Frances became pregnant with their fifth child, they questioned whether they could invest their whole hearts into the adoption process again, especially at a time in which they were better equipped to raise another child on their own. After soul-searching, they realized that not every adoptive parent would be the same; they could find the right parents to maintain their open adoption, as long as they worked with the right agency.
“From what I read online and talked with Rachel (my adoption specialist) about, I learned that American Adoptions specifically does open adoptions,” Frances remembers. “That made me a feel a little bit better… Not every adoptive family is the same.”
Finding the Right Family
While Frances and Matthew now were reassured of an open adoption relationship they wanted, they still were wary of finding the perfect family. Any parents who adopted their child needed to be comfortable with a genetic prevalence of autism in Frances’ family.
“We started struggling after we decided that we were going to do adoption,” Frances says. “We found one family we really liked, but they decided they didn’t want to because of the baby possibly having autism. It really, really upset me, because I know so many people who have special needs — not just autism — and it made me really sad and really mad at the same time.”
Frances worried that she would never find the perfect family for her child, but her adoption specialist Rachel reassured her otherwise (just as she would reassure Frances throughout her entire adoption journey).
“Rachel said, ‘Frances, you’ll know when you have picked the perfect family,’” Frances says. “When we talked to Chris and Courtney, in the middle of the conversation, I knew Chris and Courtney were the ones.”
Chris and Courtney were an adoptive couple with one son who lived in Tennessee. From the very beginning of their journey together, Frances felt a special bond with Courtney, whom she talked with every week and updated on her pregnancy milestones as they occurred. Frances and Matt’s two daughters were able to meet the adoptive parents during the pregnancy and took to Chris and Courtney like they had always known them.
Matthew, however, took more time to trust the adoptive family, due to his reservations stemming from the previous adoption. Like many birth fathers, he processed the adoption in his own way, Frances says.
“He was just scared, like me, at first that they wouldn’t stay in contact and that they wouldn’t continue pictures and stuff like that,” Frances says. “My husband was a little standoffish; he wasn’t sure if he should trust them. They said they weren’t going to be like the last ones, but you never know.”
Knowing They’re Still Family
With Frances providing reassurance to her husband, and the adoptive parents providing reassurance to both birth parents about their future contact, all four were able to build a successful relationship even before Frances gave birth in June 2018. The two families went to the zoo together that April, where Frances and Matthew did a gender reveal for Chris and Courtney and, when it came time for delivery, Frances says she was thrilled when her two older children recognized Chris and Courtney at the hospital.
While neither birth parents had the intention of changing their minds, Frances admits it was difficult when it came time to signing her adoption consent for her little girl, named Jane by the adoptive parents. But, fortunately, Frances and Matthew had each other as they coped in their own ways.
“Matthew literally only held Jane one time, when they moved me from delivery to postpartum,” Frances remembers. “He was talking to her for a little bit. When we saw Chris and Courtney before they left, he would look at her and tell them to be cautious, like, ‘Be careful how you hold her head.”
Frances knew their “good-bye” wasn’t forever. Today, she and Courtney talk almost every single day, sending updates and photos to each other. The adoptive parents are adamant about Jane knowing about her birth family (including her siblings), and Frances is optimistic about having a direct relationship with her daughter as she grows up.
“Chris and Courtney consider Matthew and me still Jane’s parents and my two daughters her sisters, also. I think that’s amazing,” Frances says.
If you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption, please contact us today, for free and with no obligation, by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.
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