Sometimes I wonder if I was just so scared at the time, that I blocked out all of the details. I do know that when I first laid eyes on that positive pregnancy test in 1992, it was a completely surreal experience. I was Junior at Auburn, and my then boyfriend and I were not planning for this surprise. We had spoken about the potential for marriage after graduation, and had even looked at rings, since we had been dating for two years, but no… a pregnancy was definitely not part of the plan. A baby? While still in school? How on earth would I manage this?
Sure, there were ‘options’ available, but my boyfriend and I loved each other, so we decided to opt for a shotgun wedding and to give this unforeseen life twist our best effort. Truth be told, I wasn’t confident about any of it: the wedding, the marriage, raising a child, finishing my degree, and then on to who knows what. It all seemed so unknown…but at the same time, it somehow still seemed like the right thing to do.
We were fortunate to have family and dear friends that rallied, supported, and encouraged us along the way. I recognize not every young woman has this, and I’m forever grateful for that gift. Our parents were undoubtedly surprised, but they each provided much needed cooperation with our decision. My best friend from high school (Lauren), and my current roommate (Angela), were both Auburn students; they stood beside me on my wedding day, and were even at the hospital when that sweet baby girl, was born at 11:15 at night! So many people showed me, my husband, and my new family such profound, unconditional love. Words cannot express what it meant to me to have this level of encouragement during our time of need. Even if all I could do was say thank you to them at the time, now, I can’t so much as think of them without crying thankful tears for their unwavering support and belief in our future… even when I wasn’t exactly sure how much I believed in our future for myself.
Fortunately, I was ahead in accumulating hours for graduation, so I was able to take the quarter off from school after the wedding to deliver and bond with the precious baby girl, that we named Addison. Angela and Lauren would actually come to babysit so that my new hubby and I could attend a class together the next quarter (Music Appreciation on Tuesday nights - it was our ‘date night’ – ha!). Then, amazingly, us newlyweds both graduated one quarter later. Despite all the doubts and uncertainties, it happened – on time, and with honors! To this day, I’m still good friends with Angela and Lauren, but oh how great it would have been to have an organization like BABY STEPS to have helped with me additional support, resources, and the comradery of women going through a similar situation.
My husband and I went on to have another daughter, have been married for nearly 28 years, and if you can believe it, both of our daughters have graduated from Auburn – a big WAR EAGLE to that! An unplanned pregnancy turned my life into one that God blessed more abundantly than I could have asked or imagined. Addison is now a special education teacher living in Memphis, working in an underserved community for Teach For America. She’s making a real difference in an area that needs her. The world needed her… even though at the time, there’s no way that I could have known how it would turn out.
So, as hard as it was for me back in 1992, I’m incredibly thankful for it all in 2019. As impossible as it was to envision the future when my own idea of the future had been usurped, with a little borrowed faith from my support squad, a big infusion of God’s love, a lot of ups & downs, and a healthy handful of determination -- that unknown future turned out to be my biggest blessing: a life filled with undeniable love that I would not trade for anything. Ever.
I was nineteen when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I was a sophomore in college at Auburn University. This was not the plan I had for my life. I was not married and felt like my world was falling apart. In that moment I was scared. How was my boyfriend going to react? Would my parents be disappointed in me? What would everyone think of me?
I waited a few days to tell my boyfriend. He was just as scared as I was. We were both fearful of how our parents would react. Surprisingly, they were very supportive. They were filled with so much grace and compassion.
With the help of our parents, we decided to continue our education at Auburn. This was not an easy battle. Going to school and having a baby was difficult to say the least. It required a lot of sacrifice and dedication. We could not have done this without the support of our parents. They were our rock and cheered us on the entire way.
We both finished school and have amazing careers. My husband and I are now happily married. We actually just welcomed another little one. I look back at all of the struggles of getting through school and think about how did we make it? There were times that I thought we would not make it through but we kept on pressing forward. It was the single hardest thing we ever did but the most rewarding.
Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot have a baby and your education. You can have it all. My husband and I are a testament to that. It was a long and hard battle, but we made it through and I am so thankful we did.
I remembered feeling embarrassed about having a baby very young and not being married. I pray that you never feel this. Everyone makes mistakes but your baby is never a mistake. God has a plan for your life that may just look a little different than you imagined. "Trust in Him with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I have a plan to give you a hope and a future." Do not let the judgement of others bring you down. Hold your head up and walk with confidence and never be ashamed of your situation. God loves you through it all and is so proud of you.
by Stacie LeCroy
All views expressed in the following blog post belong solely to the author.
My then-boyfriend and I found out about our daughter five weeks after I turned 21. I was a junior at Auburn, and already 10 weeks along in my pregnancy. The feeling of being alone was overwhelming at times for me. I vividly remember walking through campus soon after I discovered I was pregnant and realizing that everyone I walked past had NO idea that my life had just done a 180. They had no idea I was going to be a mom or how terrified I was.
Throughout my pregnancy, people gave me all the looks, comments, and snickers as they saw me walk by. It hurt—tremendously. One day, I decided that I wasn’t going to be a failing statistic. I began to lean on my boyfriend (now my husband) who consistently reminded me how loved I was, and not just by him and my family, but by the Lord. I worked hard, and took online classes my last three months of the pregnancy so I wouldn’t fall behind in school. I finished my last semester at Auburn with a 4.0 while working 30 hour weeks at my job and raising a six month old. The Lord is so good. He is so faithful and will fulfill His promises to you. It was not easy, not for one second, but when He became my only hope and I began to trust He would take care of me, it became easier.
So, I’m writing this today to say how thankful I am for these scars. I can see now, with open eyes, that I wouldn’t trade any of it because my brokenness brought me to the Lord, and the wounds that I have are a story for Him to use for His glory.
It’s taken me seven years to tell my story. If you’re reading this, and find yourself in a similar situation, I want you to know that you are going to be okay. You have a Heavenly Father that loves you! It took me realizing He could have been so angry with me, so disgusted, disappointed…and I deserved all of those things, but that wasn’t at all His response to me. This is when I began to understand, for the first time, the Lord’s grace and mercy that He had for me. Instead of writing me off, He gave me one of the most precious gifts--my daughter, Bentley.
My husband and I married a year after we had Bentley. We were very lucky to have her with us on our wedding day. Eventually she will realized that she is older than the years we have been married and she will have questions. My hope is that she feels loved and wanted. I don’t know when this day will come, and I don’t know what I’m going to say to her even though I’ve practiced before but nothing seems right. But I know in that moment the Lord will guide me and it won’t be me speaking to her, but Him—for He knows exactly what needs to be said to her.
Bentley is now the best big sister to her two little brothers, Grant and Grayson! My husband and I could not imagine our life without our little princess. She holds a special place in our family and has a heart of gold. She has taught us about loving others better than we could have taught her. When I look at her, she is a constant reminder to me that the Lord is faithful and so good. It may seem like there is no hope—but that is so far from the truth. When you begin to believe that the Lord will always fulfill His promises to take care of you, your confidence will be found in Him, and you will find yourself on a mountain top.
The first thing I would want to say is you are NOT alone, you are not the first woman to have an unplanned pregnancy or be unmarried and pregnant, and you WON’T BE THE LAST. You are brave, you are strong, you are free to follow God’s plan for your life. He has blessed you with this baby for a reason! He blessed me with mine to save my life, to change me, and to show me how he truly sees me.
Although I had graduated college and was in my third year of teaching, it was still hard to be unmarried and pregnant. I’ve always believed I would be a mom one day, but I just didn’t expect it to look like this. It took three pregnancy tests and a doctor’s visit for me to believe that I was, indeed, pregnant. The ultrasound brought me to tears and made me realize there was actually something growing inside me and I was going to be a mom. I told the baby’s dad first, but he had an uneasy feeling about the pregnancy because both of us were in other relationships at the time. He was supportive, but he was not around as much as either of us wished he was. Next, I told my lifelong friend. She was supportive and proud of me for choosing to parent my child.
It wasn’t until the second trimester when I told my family. Surprisingly, my family was supportive. I expected them to be disappointed in me and to reject me and my child, but those worries proved to be pointless. I was most worried about how my pregnancy would affect my relationship with my dad, but he said that he was not going to dwell on the past and instead, look toward the future, and he even asked if my child and I were healthy. Looking back, I relate my experience to the story in the Bible of the prodigal son, and how God welcomes his children back with open arms. My oldest sister, who is generally toughest on me, called me once a week to check on me and the baby.
I feared telling my church family that I was pregnant, but they were very encouraging. I continued greeting throughout my pregnancy until my due date. I was never judged or questioned, nor did I fear people looking for the ring that wasn’t there on my ring finger. My worries and what-if scenarios never became realities. A church mentor helped me find a small group to join called “Embrace Grace-unplanned pregnancy.” Obviously, this group was PERFECT! There was another pregnant mom, and both the leaders had been single and pregnant. The leaders threw us a baby shower, and we were blown away. The older women that were there, who I feared might reject me, were supportive and loving. I stay in touch with them to this day.
I received God’s grace throughout my pregnancy. I never lost faith, and I was confident that God had a plan and purpose for this baby. I knew I would grow bigger and wiser. My pregnancy was a blessing in disguise.
I am blessed to share my story. I am able to help and encourage other moms by leading a Bible study for young single moms and Embrace Grace. It is beautiful hearing everyone’s story and building community.
I have support from my child’s dad. He sees our son a couple times a week, and provides his health insurance, toys, food, and clothes. You name it, his dad will take care of it. Our families, my church, and my friends are supportive.
Loving your child is like nothing you have ever experienced before. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. It’s not all about me anymore: Dean comes first. Sleep is a luxury. Personal space doesn’t exist. Food is a requirement. Being a single mom is exhausting, and it means that if I’m invited somewhere that Dean can’t go, then I probably won’t be there. There is no room in the budget for a babysitter. My parents are GREAT and help out with him pretty much every day. As a strong woman that is hard to admit, but sometimes you need help. You are the only one to make decisions, you fix the bottles, you change every diaper, you take out the trash, you wash the dishes, and you have to take care of yourself! You are also the one that sees the first smile, hears the first words, watches the first steps, and you are the one he wants in good and bad times. It is the MOST rewarding experience.
It’s a day every mom hopes never comes, the day her teenaged daughter announces that she has something to tell you. My daughter was having a hard time finding her way during her senior year of high school. An injury caused her to give up a sport she loved, and frequent debilitating migraines made it difficult to keep up with her classes. In the hopes of finding medical treatment to get her migraines under control she decided to put off college until the January after her graduation. A month before she was to start classes, she told me and my husband that she was pregnant. My first thought was “Get rid of it.” My second thought was horror over that instinct. My daughter is adopted and we have spent her whole life in thanksgiving that her birth mother didn’t abort her. The fact that I, an adoptive mother, had that brief, unbidden notion to abort my grandchild tells you how unwelcome this news was to me. Why? Because it wrecked my plans for my daughter. And it shattered my image as a “good” mom who was raising “good” kids.
It was very difficult for me and my husband to even look at our daughter over the next few days because of our crushing disappointment and shame. When she showed me the ultrasound I could only glance at the picture. To me it wasn’t a baby, it was a problem.
Knowing the birthfather was not going to be involved in the child’s life, we tried to convince her to place the baby for adoption. She adamantly refused, determined to keep the baby, the only person in her life of her own flesh and blood. Our emotional turmoil combined with the strong belief that our daughter needed to grow up fast to prepare for motherhood led us to the decision that she should not continue to live under our roof during the pregnancy. We needed some space from her and her from us. With a minimum wage job, she couldn’t afford a place of her own and had no possibility to find a roommate since all her friends were settled in college.
We told her to find a home for unwed mothers where she could get support from other women in her situation, learn about how to care for her pregnant body, and prepare for a newborn baby. She searched the internet but rejected the places that were in our area because they all had religious affiliations. Though raised in a church and a believer, a Bible-focused, “save your soul” environment was not a good fit for her. She found a place in another state, 2000 miles away, that didn’t have mandatory Bible study or church attendance. The house was located in a low-income part of a big city but it wasn’t a dangerous part of town. It housed up to 10 women and a live-in counselor. We decided that she would stay there for three months and return home to have the baby.
I flew out there with her and got her settled into her room, which she shared with a new mom and her baby. I couldn’t help but feel smugly satisfied that this would give her a good taste of the reality she was facing. Even amidst the emotional turmoil of leaving my pregnant daughter in a strange environment far from home, my bitterness ran deep. But leaving her was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My only consolation was the hope that this was the best chance we could give her to mature and gain the life skills she needed to be a single mom. That wasn’t going to happen with her living under our roof.
The staff at the home helped the women either get a job of find a place to volunteer. Because she was only going to stay three months, my daughter chose to volunteer at a thrift store instead of work. The counselor helped her find a doctor and get on public assistance. The other young women in the home had experienced much harder lives than my daughter. They were amazed that she came from a two-parent home of comfortable financial means, hadn’t done hard drugs, and had no legal issues. Though they couldn’t relate to her background, some of them were good friends to her. As expected, she experienced a lot of highs and lows. She was excited to get out of her hometown and experience a big city. The home got a lot of donations and she loved sorting through them, picking out things for her baby. But, not surprisingly, there were periods of intense homesickness resulting in tearful phone calls. On a positive note, pregnancy was the cure for her migraines.
During the time she was away, with the help of incredibly supportive and prayerful friends, my husband and I grew more accepting of the situation and finally started getting excited about being grandparents. When my daughter returned home, our shame and regret were gone, any remnant melted away when we looked the newborn face of a little girl who looks just like her mama. They stayed in our home for five years until my daughter worked her way up to a decent living wage in her job. She is a good mom and we are so proud of her!
My dreams for my daughter were shattered the day she announced her pregnancy. I had her life planned out in a course that matched my own: college, marriage, career, children, in that order. I savored my memories of college and was grateful that the early years of our marriage were child-free. But God had a different plan for my daughter, one that gave her a purpose which she was struggling to find as an 18-year-old. She will be the first to tell you that her daughter saved her life.
This blog post is anonymous because the author regrets her response to the news of her daughter’s unplanned pregnancy. She would never want her granddaughter to read this because, though unwanted at first, the child is one of the best things to ever happen in the life of the author and her family.
The author and her daughter do not regret their decision to use a home for unwed mothers during the pregnancy. They feel the separation was the best way to ensure the family would make it through the crisis pregnancy intact. They wish there had been an option like Baby Steps closer to home.
The author and her husband are more than willing to offer support to other parents who are experiencing the crisis of their daughter’s unplanned pregnancy. Contact Baby Steps to get the author’s contact information. (Be warned that, upon meeting, she will first pull out photos of her granddaughter to show off!)
Tell us a little about your story—what year in school were you when you found out you were pregnant?
I found out at the beginning of my senior year at Auburn. I had gotten out of a long-term relationship a few months prior and was in a weird place emotionally. I felt the Lord calling me in one direction and the world calling me the opposite way. I had reconnected with a friend named Conner, we hit it off immediately, but then he left for a 4- month deployment. A few weeks later on September 14th, I found out I was pregnant, and I completely crumbled. I was on the floor of my best friend’s room sobbing, trying to figure out how this could happen to me. I was not at all the wild party type (which I guess I thought you had to be if you got pregnant young), and I had plans! I was in the process of applying to grad school to become a physical therapist which has been my dream forever, I hadn’t graduated, and obviously I wasn’t married like I had envisioned I would be before having a baby.
If you could go back and tell yourself something in the moment you found out you were pregnant, what would it be?
You are loved, you are not alone, you are stronger than you think.
What did your decision to go through with your pregnancy look like?
I think this is the hardest question to answer. It’s hard for me to talk about my decision process because it breaks my heart to think I hesitated to go through with my pregnancy. I have always been the motherly type, and abortion had never been a thought to me until I saw the positive sign on my pregnancy test. The moment I found out I was pregnant I immediately thought I was incapable and unprepared. I had my own plans (finishing school, going to graduate school, being married before kids). Having a baby was not on my radar at the time. I decided that God made a mistake and that I would go through with a medical abortion the following week. I had an appointment set up the following Monday. Thankfully, in the time between when I found out I was pregnant and my appointment, God changed my heart. Between a perfectly timed sermon at ACC and a select few people surrounding me with love, support, and grace, we figured out some of the next steps. When I finally said, “Okay God, I am going to do this, but I cannot do this alone. I’m handing it over to you,” He gave me the most incredible peace. I didn’t know how, but I knew I would be okay.
How did you deal with any opposing forces you experienced during your pregnancy?
There were definitely some bumps in the road! I definitely felt a lot of guilt and shame. It wasn’t easy by any means, but I had to constantly remind myself it wasn’t in my hands (which is a good thing), and that I was loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father. I also had an incredible support system that I could lean on at any time of the day or night! Conner was deployed but was still incredible and so supportive while he was gone.
What was the most difficult thing about your unplanned pregnancy?
Probably the realization and coming to terms with the fact that my life was drastically changing and that I would soon be responsible for another life.Some other difficulties were finishing school, my self-confidence while dealing with judgement, and Conner being deployed.
What was the most beautiful thing about it?
Definitely the moment that I saw my baby boy and held him for the first time. I will never forget that moment. I was overwhelmed with love and somehow that love grows more every day. The most beautiful thing during my pregnancy was the support that I received from my friends and church family.
What support in finishing your educations did you receive from others?
It was truly incredible how many people rallied behind me to help me in any way they could. I was constantly encouraged. Baby Steps’ doors were always open for me to hang out or study, and I always looked forward to Family Dinner where I could be around girls going through the same thing I was.
Where are you now?
I moved back to Orlando with Mason and my now fiancé Conner to be around my family. I just applied to a Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UCF and wanted to be close to family for support. Conner is working full-time so I can be at home spending time with Mason before my program starts (hopefully!) in May. I am so thankful I get to be home with him to watch him grow (way too fast) and learn new things every day!
After I graduated from high school, I was in college and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in or even pursue as a career. Naturally, I ended up focusing more on having fun and dating than school. After a bad break up, I reset my priorities and decided that I needed to just finish something. Since I was already working in the field of healthcare, I began actively trying to finish and obtain my Associates Degree in that area. I graduated with my Associates Degree with every intent to later continue my education and work towards obtaining my bachelor's degree, but first I was going to take a short break. By this time, I was in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere, but for the sake of stability I was clinging to it for dear life. In hindsight it did nothing but cause more uncertainty and made life unsteady.
It was not long after this time that I found out I was pregnant. I knew immediately it was time to step up, be responsible, and take care of my baby. I was scared of telling people, especially my parents, because it was uncomfortable and challenging. I knew that by bringing a baby into the world, life was about to be even more challenging, so I was willing to take that first step of conquering the first of many new challenges to come. I enrolled at a local university and would continue my education that January. I listed my major as Information Technology with the intent of finishing my degree primarily online. I learned quickly that without any real experience in programming or coding, this field would be particularly difficult to complete. It was at the point that I changed my major and tried to finish my degree as best as I could within three years.
In May I had my son, and by July his dad and I had broken up. I was living alone, attempting to finish homework after my little one went to sleep every night. Luckily, I had the support of my mom. She selflessly retired early so she could keep him while I attended classes and worked part time at the local hospital. This job was one that I could mold around my schedule, which was another key factor in my upcoming success. I can't say I had the most supportive coworkers, but they were all generally pleasant about my irregular schedule.
I had classes both on campus and online, an infant, a part-time job, and questionable involvement from my son's father. I had parents who helped me during the day and constantly powered through long nights of studying. I was always upfront at the beginning of the semesters by saying to my professors, "I have an infant, and I'm a single parent. I have help, but I may need you to give me a little slack if at all possible." I never had to cash in on it, but giving them the heads-up really helped keep the lines of communication open so that they were willing to work with me. To say I was stressed would be an understatement. Nonetheless, I was and still felt lucky regardless of how the day to day stressors tested my emotions.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but from my experience, not all of your village will be there with the sole intent of helping you raise your baby; many will just be on the road to help YOU. Motherhood takes so much from us that we often aren't able to give back to ourselves. I was lucky I had people around me that recognized this and were able to put me first as I put my son first.
Having a baby in college was difficult because college is a time for people to learn more about themselves, grow, and figure out what they want to do. It is crucial to be able to establish a relationship with professors so that they are able to assist you when you might need it. Don't be afraid to take time or ask for help. I was so upset that I would miss any and everything in my classes, but I was giving my baby so much more than I could have given him had I not finished school: a chance at a good life! He has a mom who’s home every night to make him dinner, a mom who’s up every morning to fix breakfast, a mom to take him to daycare, and a mom that can do fun things with him on the weekends.
Having a baby while trying to finish college is a hard situation to wrap your head around. I can tell you this: it may change what you decide to do in life, but you'll imagine a life that could have been any better once you have your baby. If I didn’t have my little guy, I may have still been trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. He instilled a focus that I never had before and one that I haven’t lost since. I graduated in 2017 with a degree, and I am planning on going back for my masters in the next year or two. I now have two little boys and a wonderful husband. My oldest son who started this crazy journey with me is so smart and happy that it makes every struggle I went through before having him so worth it! No matter where your life takes you, you can do anything you put your mind to. The resources are there to help you through it all, so don't give up. :)
Charlton is a senior at Auburn University studying Communication with a Nonprofit minor. She has served as a Baby Steps intern since Spring 2018, helping with communication and event planning. She is graduating in December of this year and is excited to begin a new chapter. We are thankful for the time we have gotten to spend with Charlton, Seth (her awesome husband), and her new baby, Camdyn. We are so excited to share their story!
I was almost halfway through my junior year when I found out I was pregnant. I with with my then boyfriend, now husband, Seth. When I saw the positive results on the test, I remember just being terrified of all the change that was going to happen and how fast it would all have to happen. For me, it was never a question about what I was going to do, it was more so just thoughts of, “well you can't do this, this, or this anymore.” I remember telling myself I had to grow up and be a mom to this baby ASAP.
Seth was incredibly supportive at this time. He was with me, and we found out together. He knew I was afraid because of how involved I was on campus and that having a baby would require me to give up a lot. Despite that, he was instantly encouraging, and he never gave me any doubts that this was something we couldn't handle.
Seeing Camdyn's ultrasound for the first time was incredible. Hearing his heartbeat and knowing that Seth and I had created this little miracle was truly unforgettable.
I was afraid but I was determined. I was afraid because I knew I couldn't be an AU Singer or on the CHAARG exec team anymore. I was afraid because I had never seen a pregnant girl on campus before, and I didn't want to be "that girl" and be judged. But I was determined to do everything in my power to provide for my baby and give him a good life.
I feel like I was my own worst critic with my pregnancy. Most of my friends were surprisingly incredibly supportive, but there were so many times where I wouldn't understand why. I knew my situation was different, and no one else was going through what I was, so it was very easy to have a negative mindset and tell myself "they just don't understand or care" when in reality no one changed their friendship with me simply because I was pregnant and in college.
Seth and Sarah (the Baby Steps Live-in Support) were people who made a tremendous difference in my pregnant life. Seth always took the time to be understanding with what I was experiencing and he definitely loved me through all of the emotional chaos I experienced. He was there for everything, and I couldn't imagine having to do that without him. Sarah was such a great friend to me. She gave me the support from Baby Steps and allowed me to intern there while I was pregnant. She never treated me different from anyone else and made me feel so empowered.
If I could I would tell myself not to stress the little things. I would tell myself that I am going to love my baby more than I could ever imagine, and that he makes it so worthwhile.
I'm currently still at Auburn, but I graduate Cum Laude in December and will hopefully be attending graduate school in the spring. School is different now, but Camdyn has certainly helped me learn to prioritize and become more efficient in all of my school work. Seth and I will be married for one year in November, and I feel as though our relationship has been tested but withstood everything. I know without a doubt he will always be there for me and vice versa. Camdyn is now just over two months old.
It was life changing for me to find out Charlton was pregnant, but it was life changing for the better. I was nervous but also excited. There was joy there for me because I was excited to start a family.
Taking care of Charlton was difficult. Being able to be there for her was harder than I thought. Trying to ensure we had a healthy marriage through the pregnancy was difficult because of all the changes she was going through. There were a lot of emotional hills for us.
The ability to show of the love that we had to others was incredible. I loved being able to show other people that Charlton and I were together and starting a family. It was comforting to know that they knew to an extent what we had.
The support I received from my dad was incredible because of how nervous I was at times. It was nice to know he had just been through it all and could tell me it was going to be okay.
I feel like our family is strong now. Having Camdyn does put a strain on the relationship, but we do a good job of expressing how much we mean to each other. Like anything else there are ups and downs, but I feel like we are strong together and in a good spot.
This is a letter from Elizabeth, Emily's mother, about their experience with adoption.
"By far, the greatest blessing of our lives has been the gift of our daughter, Emily.
Tom and I always wanted children and were excited about the prospect of being parents. After 10 years of trying, including 4 unsuccessful in vitro attempts, the doctors still could find no apparent reason why I could not get pregnant.
Given that we really wanted to have children, we decided to pursue adoption. My father had been adopted so, to me, adopting a child was a very natural way to create a family. Dad and his parents had always been very open about his adoption. As a child, he felt special because he had been chosen. In our hearts, we knew that all children are gifts from God and that God would provide for us if we followed our hearts and trusted in Him.
My father’s family had been very involved in The Gladney Center in Fort Worth, Texas and we had several friends who had adopted children there. I knew in my heart that this was where we should go. The Gladney Center started as a home for unwed mothers in the late 1800s and their focus was on the wellbeing of the women in their care. Gladney provides a place to live, counseling, educational opportunities and health care to young women in need. They counsel these women about their options for the future and whether or not they want their babies to be a part of that future. The decision about whether or not to keep the baby is solely the birth mother’s. As adoptive parents, this was very important to us.
I will never forget the elation of getting the call that we had been selected by a birth mother to be her baby’s parents. Words cannot describe our overwhelming joy and gratitude. Because of Andrea’s desire for her child to be raised in a loving home with two parents, we were given the answer to our prayers.
At the time, Andrea was 20 and a student at a junior college. She worked with Emily’s birth father but did not have a relationship with him. When she became pregnant, she immediately sought out help at Gladney. She did not feel that she could raise a baby on her own and decided to place the baby for adoption. Andrea’s parents had adopted a child – Andrea’s little sister - so the adoption option was very familiar to her. With the help of the counselors at Gladney, she selected us.
Emily is our greatest joy and the answer to our prayers. Tom and I are blessed to be her parents and are ever mindful that this honor was due to the generosity and selflessness of her birth mother. I am eternally grateful to Andrea and to God for his perfect gift."
The Pritchards live in Atlanta, Georgia today. Emily is a sophomore at Auburn University. Scroll down to read her perspective!
Emily joined us for coffee at the baby steps house a few weeks ago to discuss her story about adoption. Emily is a sophomore at Auburn University and radiates joy and kindness. She is majoring in Human Family and Development Studies. Emily reached out when she heard about the mission of Baby Steps and felt compelled to share her story about the receiving end of someone who did not give up on her.
"My birth mother got pregnant with me at 19" she said. "She and my dad weren't in a relationship and barely knew each other." My birth mother made the brave choice of continuing with her pregnancy even though she knew she couldn't give me the best life possible. She didn't want to raise me without a dad in the picture."
Emily was in foster care for about a week or so after she was born but had two loving parents eagerly waiting to adopt her. "My mom wanted to have five children but never could. She had been praying for me for years and could never get pregnant." Emily said she didn't realize for years that her story was different from anyone else's. She had baby pictures to look at, a loving home, and two parents who adore her, but she is forever grateful to her birth mother. "My birth mother completely did it on her own and I am forever grateful that she chose to have me." We asked Emily, If there is one thing you could tell your birth mother now what would it be? And her answer was beautiful.
"Thank you. I know how selfless it was to give me a chance at life. She put my life before her own and that is the truest act of love."
Emily knows very little about her birth mother today. She knows that she went on to finish school and now is a very successful business woman whom never married and still lives in Texas. Emily's birth mother has spoken to Emily's mother several times over the course of her life, but Emily still does not know who her father is.
We are so thankful that Emily chose to share her story with us and hopes it inspires others.
By giving a voice to those whose stories include unplanned pregnancies, we hope to empower those who may be in the midst of their own. These are The Stories We Tell.