Jessica came to us when she was almost 8 months pregnant, along with her partner Jim. They were not in the position to parent and needed an adoption plan for their child. They had vey clear understanding of what was important to them and the future they wanted for their child. They wanted a family with one or no children, and wanted to make sure this family would commit to an open adoption plan so they could continue to be in their child’s life.

Jessica was more of a talker and communicator, while Jim was a quiet young man who had the same views as her, but was less outspoken. Both of them were very upfront with their current situation. She let us know she was using heroin and needed a family who would be able to deal with potential consequences of her using while pregnant. We appreciated the communication, as this is exactly what we encourage families who need an adoption plan to do! The more we know about lifestyle and potential level of risk (both from substance use and medical issues) the better job we could do of identifying which family is most equipped to take the best care of the child. And at the end of the day, this is everybody’s goal.

We showed Jessica and Jim profiles of fully approved families who met their wants, and they felt very good about one certain family. At their request, we scheduled a meeting with the family. We discussed all issues up front and talked about histories and traditions; what values did each family hold, and what was important to Jessica and Jim that be passed down to their child. It was vital to us that the family was not only able to care for the child physically, but emotionally. As always, we asked everyone to sleep on it before making any decisions.

As is procedure, Jessica provided proof of pregnancy (despite that she was definitely showing) and a copy of her ID. She filled out paperwork identifying Jim as the father, and we had a positive and straightforward start to the process. The adoptive family lived 4 hours away, but it didn’t matter to them; they drove in as many times as Jessica and Jim wanted them to in order to continue to get to know each other, attend doctors’ appointments together, and have meetings regarding what would happen going forward. One of these meetings discussed what would happen in the hospital according to Jessica and Jim’s preferences.

They had grown a great relationship together, and Jessica decided she wanted the adoptive mom to be in the delivery room with her (only 2 people were allowed and Jim would take the place of the second person, being both the father and Jessica’s support.) We put together an official hospital plan and sent it to the social worker at the hospital so they would know what her preferences were ahead of time. Besides who would be in the room, it was also important to know whether she wanted time with the baby afterwards, which room the baby would stay in (hers or the adoptive parents’), vaccination preferences and whether they wanted pictures together or not.

At the next doctors’ appointment, they were informed that a C-section would be needed. The adoptive family came in to town to be a support for Jessica and Jim before the procedure, and also stayed in the hospital afterwards. Everything seemed to be going well; that is, until I got a call from Jessica crying that staff had kicked Jim out of hospital for using meth on hospital property. She was extremely upset because she needed him as a support, but he was no longer allowed onto hospital property. Although she knew her baby was being taken care of (she had chosen for the adoptive family to care for the baby in a separate room), it was of course not easy. Unfortunately, there was nothing anyone could do as it was a legal/policy matter. That night, we were woken at 4 am by another call from Jessica. She sounded frantic, crying and screaming that she needed help and to come get her. She had run away from the hospital after her c-section, wanting to reunite with Jim. She had not been cleared to leave yet, was in a lot of pain and still had an ostomy bag. She said she felt like she was going to collapse, and we could hear sirens in the background. We threw sweatpants on and ran out the door.

We stayed on the phone with her until we arrived at her location. Once we arrived, we were relieved to realized the sirens hadn’t been for her. However, she did appear to be under the influence of substances. She refused to return to the hospital, so we instead checked her into a motel near our office for the night, so she could have a good night’s sleep and we would be near if she needed anything. She wanted to sign relinquishment paperwork for the baby, but our priority was to make sure she got enough sleep and was sober before doing anything else.

The next morning, we went to check on her. She expressed her worry that her child would be taken by CPS for abandonment, and she could lose her parental rights and no longer be able to go through with a private adoption. She did not want her baby to go into foster care and for her to then not be able to choose its adoptive parents. She wanted to sign the relinquishment papers as soon as possible, so that the family her and Jim had chosen and built a relationship with would be able to adopt the baby. We knew she needed support money, and that Indiana allows up to $4k in support up to 6 weeks after birth, but we did worry about her substance addiction. Our worst fear was that she might overdose.

We wanted to make sure her basic needs were met, and that she was physically okay.

We tried to get her to the hospital as she needed medical attention, but she refused to go without her partner Jim, whom was banned. We called the social worker from the hospital and arranged for her to be seen right away, and for them to allow Jim to go with her. We picked them up and drove them to the hospital. Jessica received help from a doctor who had a lot of experience with addiction, and he gave her lots of support and understanding. Afterwards, she stayed in touch with us and expressed that she was at peace knowing her baby was well taken care of by the family they had chosen. They had wanted an open adoption plan, with bi-yearly visitations and regular pictures/updates. Although she knew she was not ready to parent, she wanted to be a part of the baby’s life as she of course loved the child very much.

Time passed, and eventually she contacted us and let us know that her and Jim were getting sober and things were going well for them. We were so happy for her! After she had been clean for a few months, she called again and asked if she could help us work with mothers who were dealing with addiction. She wanted to use her past and her experiences to help others who were fighting a battle within themselves. We thought that was such a beautiful thing, and said absolutely! We hired Jessica on a case by case basic. She was doing great for the first few months. One day, we were contacted by the police to let us know that she had been writing bad checks in the name of KidsFirst. We also realized she had switched banks, and then cashed the same paycheck at both banks. The police advised us to press charges, but we did not wish to do so. We truly cared about and wanted the best for Jessica, but of course we could not continue working with her so we had to let her go.

We continued to schedule updates and visitations between her and her baby’s adoptive family, so that she could still be in the baby’s life. Sadly, it has now been over a year since we last heard from her. We truly hope she is doing great in life and will be here for her when (or if) she chooses to contact us for updates on her child. This was such a hard journey, and an example of how difficult it is for many women who have a great heart but can’t conquer the fight to get clean. Jessica’s baby is doing very well, and the family her and Jimmy chose is providing so much love, care, and stability to their child. They think about Jessica all the time and send emails asking if we have heard from her. They would be happy to have another visitation in the future, despite the fact that the last two meetings she did not show up and the family had traveled for over 2 hours each way to meet her. They appreciate her and continue to pray for her, regardless of any circumstances, because she gave birth to their child and they will always honor her. They have also unsuccessfully tried to get in touch with Jim, but pray that one day they will be able to reconnect with them.