Adoption Was Not Easy For Jessalyn Bills, But The Parents Who She Handed Her Daughter To Made Her Welcome
Women give up their babies for adoption for many reasons. Some may be financially insolvent and unable to properly provide for them. Other may be fraught with drug related problems. In some cases, a mother’s mental health may be unfavorable for a baby’s upbringing.
Incarcerated mothers may also find adoption as a way out to ensure their children get the best of life. Whatever the reason may be, it never is easy.
For Jessalynn "Jessa" Bills Speight, finding out she was pregnant at 18, in 2008, was like the end of her world. She lived in South Jordan, Utah, and was deep in the Bible belt where abstinence was the watchword. For starters, she was worried about how a baby would set back her plans to join the Army.
Also, there was the problem of stigma she expected to face. She eventually sought counselling from planned parenthood and decided to give her baby up for adoption when she was 12 weeks along. Later on, she shared her concerns about her search for adoptive parents with her roommate, Aly. Aly had an aunt and uncle looking to adopt, and Jessa decided to give them a shot.
After her first meeting with Aly’s relatives, Jessa was sure she had found the right couple. She chose to be induced and have the new parents in the room when she delivered, though that did not happen. The couple named the baby Josie and six months after, the adoption was finalized.
Letting go was hard, but the adoptive parents helped
Jessa is now happily married and has two more children. She may not be the legal guardian to Josie, but in her heart, she says Josie will always be her daughter.
Before Jessa signed the adoption papers, she almost changed her mind. Letting go of Josie was the hardest thing she ever had to do in her life. But the adoptive parents were kind and asides promising to take care of Josie, they also allowed Jessa to see the baby.
Jessa visited the new family when the baby was 3 months old, and although she cried most of the time, it was comforting seeing that little Josie was loved and well cared for. Nine years after the adoption, Josie still gets to see Josie on a regular basis and enyoys a good relationship with her.
Jessa is sharing her story and reaching out to other women like her
After her experience with Josie, Jessa decided to share her adoption story and help other women like her find ways to cope with the pain that comes with adoption. Her #placed campaign was geared to change the perceptions associated with adoption and educate the public on the need for understanding and compassion, especially for birth mothers.
The emphasis of the campaign is the fact that women made a decision to provide a better life for their children. So they are not giving them up, only placing them with loving families who will take care of them.
She hopes that this campaign will also check the stigma birth mothers face. Also, the Tied at the Heart campaign brings together birth mothers and provides retreats where women can share experiences and help each other on the road to healing.