Published October 2010
By The Cradle Staff
Anne was already four months along when she discovered that she was pregnant, so she felt her only options were parenting or making an adoption plan. Since she herself was adopted as an infant, her parents assumed that adoption would be her first choice. Anne tried to gather the resources to parent, but the more she thought about it, the more she realized that adoption was the best choice for her and the baby.
“I was still in school, I didn’t have a good job, I didn’t have a degree, and it just didn’t work out,” Anne recalls. “From the first time I called the Cradle hotline, it felt right. They were very understanding and I didn’t feel like I was being judged.”
Anne’s counselor worked with her to help identify what was important to her in choosing a family for her baby. The counselor supported Anne throughout the pregnancy and was at the hospital on the day she placed her baby with her adoptive parents. “It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done,” Anne says. “But once you start building the relationship with the family, getting the updates, getting the photos, you come to realize it was the best thing.”
The Cradle’s Birthparent Services Programs receives calls from around 800 women just like Anne every year. The women range in age from early teens to early 40s, and many come from difficult family and/or home situations. While only ten percent of the women who call end up finalizing a plan of adoption, The Cradle provides services to every woman who seeks our help, whether or not she decides to parent.
Pat Trudeau, LCSW, is Director of The Cradle’s Birthparent Services program.“We provide options counseling so that women have support as they explore all the choices in front of them,” Pat says. “We talk with them about their feelings of ambivalence, grief and loss, which are very typical and a normal part of considering adoption.”
Cradle research shows that one of the biggest worries faced by pregnant women considering adoption is whether their child will be loved and cared for by adoptive parents. “Like all pregnant women, our clients worry about their baby’s health and want to be sure their baby will be loved,” says Pat. “With open adoption, birthmoms are able to see how their child is doing, reassuring them they made the right decision, and that this child is indeed cherished deeply by the adoptive parents.”
Around thirty percent of the women served by The Cradle also receive some kind of financial assistance, including help with rent, groceries or medical care. “These women are often living in very precarious situations, and we provide the basics so they can be healthy and safe as they consider their options,” said Pat.
The generous support of Cradle donors allows The Cradle to provide these services to pregnant women at no cost. A recent challenge grant from a Chicago area foundation helped The Cradle raise $25,000 for the Birthparent Services Program over the past year, and will help us to raise an additional $25,000 in 2011.
The late milliner and philanthropist Benjamin B. Green-Field established a foundation in 1987 with a mission to improve the quality of life for children and the elderly in the city of Chicago. The Benjamin B. Green-Field Foundation has supported The Cradle’s Birthparent Services Program for two years, with generous gifts of $10,000 each year.
“The Foundation is proud to again partner with The Cradle in its very significant work to serve vulnerable young women in crisis over unplanned pregnancies and their newborn infants,” wrote Foundation President Kathy Groenendal in the letter accompanying our 2010 grant.
Anne’s daughter Alyssa is now 11 months old. Anne is in touch with Alyssa’s adoptive family and receives regular updates, as well as photos via Facebook. She works as a Customer Service Representative for a small marketing firm in Arlington Heights, and is completing her second year of college. She hopes to be a healthcare office and business manager one day. Anne knows that while the emotions of relinquishing her daughter were difficult, she made the best possible decision for her baby and herself.
“At first I felt like such a bad person, like I was a horrible mother for giving my child away,” Anne says tearfully. “But as I got pictures of her with her parents at the beach, at the zoo, on the carousel, I realized they could give her things I couldn’t. It ended up being the best decision for her.”