Annie’s Adoption Journey as a Single Mom

When Annie started her adoption journey, she prioritized agencies where birth moms were supported, loved, and centered in the adoption story. This was not an easy find for her especially as a single mom, however, after a few bumps in the road, she would find the perfect fit at Courageous Hearts Adoptions.

At age 25, Annie learned that because of health issues she would not be able to carry a child to term through pregnancy. For several years she went through the grieving process around this news but ultimately decided adoption would be her path to motherhood. For Annie, becoming a mom had always been her goal: “I chose my career and stayed near family with that goal in mind. People often dream of their wedding but instead, I dreamed of being a mom.” 

JJ at Christmas

Almost ten years later, Annie felt her life was in the right place to start her journey to motherhood as a single parent – she had the career and the home. The only fear she had was the fear of judgment as a single mom, “society is cruel to single moms,” she says. But Annie knew she had the support system, her chosen family, to assist her on her parenting journey if needed and bravely took steps towards adoption.

Before starting the adoption process, Annie heard that it would be difficult for a single woman to adopt. This, she said, turned out to be true. Many agencies would not talk to her – saying that her wait as a prospective single mom could be up to ten years – and that was disheartening. She was finally able to settle on an adoption agency that met her criteria (centering birth moms) and would let her adopt through them. But after her home study was complete, this agency closed intake to new families and she had to start her search all over again. 

Thinking her journey had come to a halt and she would not be able to find another compassionate, birth mom-centering agency that would accept her as a prospective single parent, Annie was referred to Courageous Hearts Adoptions by a friend and it was a perfect fit! In June 2023, Annie signed up as a prospective parent with Courageous Hearts. She was told she might have a long wait ahead and was doing everything she could to distract herself in the meantime. 

Annie and JJ

Not but a couple months later, in August, Annie was set to go on a vacation but had to cancel last minute. Fatefully, that Monday of her vacation, Annie got a call from Courageous Hearts saying that a birth mother wanted to speak with her the next day! Tuesday evening Annie spoke to an expecting mother and said it was a “love at first sight (or hearing)” kind of feeling. They had so much in common and it felt “comfortable and right.” 

According to the birth mother, Annie’s profile stood out to her because of the way Annie spoke in her letter and her profile listed the importance of open adoption and continuing the relationship with the birth family – it felt sincere. It was also important to the birth mother that her child be raised in an environment with other bi-racial children, so location was very important to her and she saw that Annie lived in the diverse D.C. area. The birth mother had grown up in Indiana in a very white community and she didn’t want her child to also grow up in a place where no one else looked like them.

Annie not only got to speak to the expecting mother but also this woman’s mother. “Family is very important to me and has always been my priority in life,” says Annie. So finding a birth mother and her family wanting to be involved and have an open adoption was such a blessing for her. She knew her future child would be loved by their birth family, as well as their adoptive family. It all felt very in sync and that day Annie was told that the expected child would be a boy. Annie cried tears of joy, as she had always imagined herself as a boy’s mom, and it was on that call that her son’s birth mom asked Annie to be her child’s adoptive mother. 

As it goes, the rest of the story is a whirlwind. That same night as their phone call, the expecting mother went into labor. The expecting mother said it felt right and the baby must have known that! Ready to head to Indiana the next day, Annie woke up and tested positive for COVID-19. She recalls, “God had a plan, as much as I wish I could have been in the room with her and be there during the hospital visit, it was healing for his birth mother to get to be with JJ and get to know him and hold him independently for three days. She also got to take him home one night and show him off to her whole family.” 

Brothers

Having been generously prepared by members of her chosen family, Annie drove up to Indianapolis from Maryland on Friday and stayed in a hotel until she could safely meet JJ on Sunday. JJ was able to leave the hospital on Saturday and stayed Saturday evening with his birth mother. On Sunday, his birth mother brought JJ to Annie’s hotel.

Meeting JJ was a mixture of emotions for Annie. There was a feeling of “this is real” – until then the whirlwind had felt much like a dream. They spent 3 hours in the courtyard of the hotel getting to know each other and passing JJ around. When Annie held JJ for the first time and he snuggled into her arms falling asleep, she felt a sense of calm and peace, that “this is real and this is right. All the stuff it took to get to this place washed away.” He felt like a perfect fit for her. 

His birth mother shared all the quirks of JJ and his personality that was already coming out. For Annie, this time with JJ’s birth mom was important. Annie wanted her to know that she was loved and not being discarded. JJ’s birth mother will forever be a beautiful and integral part of his story.

That Wednesday, JJ’s birth mother and her sister came back to the hotel for an ice cream party so she could visit with JJ before they departed for Maryland. Finally leaving Indiana was a mixture of emotions for Annie. She was feeling the grief and loss of JJ’s birth mother and JJ’s loss of her as well. The fear of whether or not the open adoption would continue and if JJ’s birth mom be okay and feel supported. The joy and excitement of coming home with her week-old son to meet all of her family. But she also felt sadness that their time alone in the hotel, like a “little cocoon”, was coming to an end. She loved the time that she and JJ had to themselves to bond in the hotel room, away from the outside world. 

Annie was overwhelmed by the kindness of the strangers around her – the OB/GYN was super sweet and helpful and even gave Annie her personal pack n’ play because Annie had not gotten one in her rush to leave Maryland, the hotel staff was so helpful to her, and the Courageous Hearts staff provided her with car seats and support. “People went out of their way to help me and support me during an exciting but overwhelming time. My life changed forever within one week,” says Annie reflecting back.

Since returning home with JJ, motherhood has been an amazing whirlwind of its own. JJ’s adoption was finalized on December 15, 2023, which is rather fast. Annie has also since taken some training classes with other adoptive parents with children around his age. 

JJ dressed to impress

Annie says, “I haven’t caught my breath yet. But it’s been such a growing experience for me, learning about myself and JJ, knowing I need to ask for help and support from others. Those different pieces when this much happens this fast, I’ve had to learn quickly. I also own my own business and had to learn how to balance being a parent, a business owner, a daughter, all these different hats I wear.” 

According to Annie, JJ’s open adoption is going great so far. Annie and his birth mom talk a couple of times a week and it feels like a good rhythm for them. They talk about how his birth mother’s life is going now that she’s back in school and what she’s been doing with her family, and Annie gets to show her all the things that JJ gets to do now. 

Annie understands that there can be so much pain in adoption – for both birth mothers and children. “I didn’t want to be part of the problem. I think adoption is beautiful, there is pain and scars with adoption, but I want to be part of the process to support the most ethical and supportive way of adoption versus continuing the pain that has often been its history,” says Annie. 

Annie and Family

Part of her way to do this is to actively commit herself to the adoption’s openness and the relationship between JJ and his birth mom. Annie made a picture book of JJ’s first week, showing his adoption story from getting the call to bringing him home. “I want him, from the beginning, to know his story and know his “mama” (birth mom). I gave his birth mom the book as well. This is real and I want him to know her. “

Annie sent JJ’s birth mom 20 “get to know you” questions so he’ll have all of her answers. She wrote him some letters that are in the book too. Annie says, she wants JJ to be able to see the love of his adoption, so “he can own it and feel confident in being adopted.” “What I love about JJ’s story was that the best-case scenarios came true. He’s healthy and growing, his birth mom wants to be in our lives, and he’s taking on her personality. I’m excited to show him pieces of her, of me, and of all our family around us. That he gets pieces of all of us.”

At Courageous Hearts Adoptions, we believe that adoption is a beautiful gift but not without its complexities and hardships. We choose to walk with birth parents and hopeful families with compassion and grace. Adoption is not a transaction, it is a lifetime decision and a very difficult but selfless decision. We provide supportive services and lifetime counseling for birth parents, and birth moms are empowered to always be in control of their adoption plans. We work hard to ensure adoption is accessible to all families, but we cannot do this alone. Visit our donation page to help support families and nurture futures with a monthly donation today!

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