Adoption Perspectives

I had the honor of being on the Adoption Perspectives Radio Show a couple weeks ago.

You can listen to the broadcast here:

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We Have an Announcement…or Three!

Hi friends!  My blog has been quiet lately, but a lot has been brewing and I am so excited to finally be able to share it with you!

AdoptionsWestLogo

First, as many of you know, a dear friend and I opened an adoption law firm, Adoptions West, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho!  We have loved owning our own practice and doing what we love, while splitting the work load so that we can be home with our little ones as much as possible.  It is so exciting to work with other couples who are on the adoption journey, to share what I’ve learned along the way, and to use my legal training to help them build their families!

Second, and even more exciting, our family is growing!!!

We have been matched with amazing expectant parents and are expecting a precious little BOY in mid-August 2014 AND, we are adopting two little boy embryos that we will implant when this little one is around a year old.  That is the quick explanation, but God has been writing quite the story, and this chapter has His fingerprints on every page.  I can’t share all of the details yet, but I can share some of the things that God has been doing.

Many of you may remember my post in early December about the many situations that we had considered and presented our profile for.  Shortly after I wrote that post, I saw a post in an adoption group, titled “an unusual request–could it be your family?”  I clicked on the link and read about two embryos that needed a family.  My heart leapt at the possibility, as embryo adoption was something we had been praying about for years.

[Quick Aside: For those of you who have never heard of embryo adoption, I’ll give you the cliff notes version: When couples undergo IVF, they often create extra embryos (an embryo exists when an egg and sperm have combined) for a myriad of reasons.  These embryos are frozen for future use.  In the United States alone, there are over 600,000 frozen embryos.  When a family is finished growing their family using the embryos, they often have left over embryos.  Many families are choosing to place these embryos for adoption to give them a chance at life.  The embryos are then implanted in the womb of the adoptive mother and she carries the pregnancy.  To learn more, visit: Snowflake Adoption or Embryo Adoption Awareness]

As I said above, embryo adoption is something we had been praying about for years,  as we had been told that I could carry a pregnancy.  We believe that embryos are lives and just as valuable as any other life, so we thought it would be neat to give some a chance at life and for me to experience pregnancy.  However, when we started our second adoption process, God told us to pursue a domestic infant adoption again, so we assumed we would adopt embryos in the future, if ever.

Yet, when I saw this post, it felt right.  Jonathan and I talked and prayed about it and decided to submit our profile.  Apparently a lot of profiles were received and we didn’t hear anything for a while, so we assumed another family was chosen.  Then, we received an email out of the blue, saying that we were selected as a back-up family.  Another family was chosen, but the other family wasn’t sure they were ready for embryo adoption, so we were asked if we would be willing to take them if the first family wouldn’t.  We, of course, said yes!  A week later, we found out that the other family wasn’t ready, so these little embryos (two boys) were ours, as long as testing confirmed I could carry and as soon as the contract was signed.

I was elated, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was another baby out there for us that we were supposed to adopt.  Every time I prayed or thought about it, I kept sensing “there’s another” and that there was a reason we had gone through the domestic adoption home study process.  I continued to pray and one day told a friend that even though I continued seeing adoption situations, I didn’t feel a peace about applying for any of them.  I joked that if there was indeed “another” we were supposed to adopt, that God would have to drop into our laps.  I had no idea how quickly He would or how faithful He would be in doing so!  That night, someone we know well told me that she was 8 weeks pregnant and that she was pretty certain she wanted to place the baby with us.  At the time, I encouraged her to consider parenting, but told her we would be willing to adopt her baby.

She was going for her first ultrasound the next day.  I asked if she wanted me to come with her so she wasn’t alone.  She said “yes, it’s probably your baby anyway.”  I was trying to keep open palms, because I knew this was early in the pregnancy and I wanted to be able to support her 100% if she chose to parent.  I also knew that parenting may be God’s plan for her, but I was honored to walk this journey with her and excited to see a little life on the ultrasound screen.

We asked her to continue to pray about the adoption plan and there were days when she considered parenting, but she continued to lean towards adoption.

Caleb

Two weeks ago, she invited me to her second ultrasound and we found out that the baby is a BOY!  That day she told me she was certain about her adoption plan.  I wanted to start planning for a baby, since I’ll be busy taking the bar this summer, but didn’t want to do much in case she changed her mind.  We talked again the next day and she said she was absolutely certain and to go crazy planning for a baby boy!  It is so bittersweet to see a good friend go through an unplanned pregnancy, making an adoption plan, but we are so excited to welcome a little boy to our family!

I know things can always fall through and this situation will continue to need  prayer, but I also know this expectant well well and know that once she makes a decision, she sticks with it.  I am choosing joy and am excitedly preparing for our little boy, because let’s be honest, if it falls through, it would be difficult and hurt the same whether I prepared or not.  Furthermore, if it does go through, I want to have experienced every joyful moment of expecting our little boy!  Ultimately, God has to protect my heart, because if I try to guard and protect my heart, I’m not fully invested and open to what He has in store.

Again, I love how faithful our God is.  When we started this process last summer, Jonathan and I both sensed that God was going to bring our next baby through our network of friends and family.  We felt strongly that we were to share our profile with friends and tell everyone we knew about our adoption plan.  We didn’t expect our next baby to actually be born to a dear friend (we thought it would be a friend of a friend), but we love to see God fulfill the promises He whispered to us.  There were  days when it was so tempting to take matters into my own hands, but I am so glad we trusted in His promises.  

God is also answering another promise.  Back in October, I found myself sharing our adoption story, but quickly following it with, “we’ll never have another adoption like this one,” implying that the next one would be messy and not good.  God reminded me that He is the one who gave us the gift of Abigail (our daughter) and Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  He gave us a perfect baby, a birth mom who is like a sister and more family members that share our faith (Natasha’s family).  He gave us a situation that our entire family was comfortable with and excited about.  Who was I to say He couldn’t or wouldn’t give us another amazing gift?  Low and behold, He has given us another amazing adoption situation, one with a sweet friend, where I am able to walk through almost every stage of the pregnancy with her.

Friends, we serve a God who keeps His promises and who rewards our faith, even when it is as small as a mustard seed!

Just in case you are wondering, we are still adopting the embryos, we will just wait to implant them until this little is around a year old!  Also, as a note, there is a chance that one or both of the embryos will not implant, but we are ready and willing to welcome all these little boys into our family, if God is willing.

If you feel called to support our adoption, we covet your prayers, for these babies, for us, and for this little man’s birth parents.  In addition, you can donate at http://www.adopttogether.org/theschmitts!  We would love your help in bringing our boys home!

They aren’t ours, they are His

As Abby-girl approaches her second birthday, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about those days before her birth and in the hospital, as well as the events that have transpired in the last two years. Mainly, I think about what open adoption has meant for our lives.

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As most of you know, we have a VERY open adoption.  In fact, we recently spent Christmas day with  Abby’s birth mom and her family and they will be joining us for our Abby’s second birthday party this weekend.  They have become like a second family to us and I thank God for them every day.

One of the most common questions or comments that I receive when people hear about our open adoption is, “how do you share Abby that much – don’t you get insecure or jealous?”  I would be lying if I said that I have never once felt insecure, but through adoption, God has taught me an amazing lesson that I think every parent needs to learn – our kids aren’t ours, they are His!  This means that I need to turn to Him with every situation in their lives.  It’s not about how I feel, it is about what He says is best for their lives and is about the plan that He has for them!

Early on in this journey, we knew God was calling us to open adoption and we committed to open adoption, as long as it was healthy for Abby.  We agreed to turn to God with how open the adoption should be and quickly had an open door policy with Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  There were times when I had small twinges of jealousy seeing Abby’s relationship with Natasha, but I knew that was my fleshly reaction and was quickly reminded that it is a good thing for them to have a special bond!  Now, I praise God that they can know each other and that Abby will always have Natasha in her life.  It is such a blessing that she can know and love her birth mom, that her questions can be answered, and that she has more people loving her and pointing her to Christ.  I also praise God that I can delight in their relationship and that He has made me secure in my role as Abby’s mom, so that I am not insecure when she has a relationship with someone else.

There were also situations early on where people were not supportive of the adoption plan, but later wanted to see and know Abby.  I was incredibly protective of Natasha and Abby and in my flesh, I didn’t want to share them or our story with people who hadn’t initially been supportive.  I was afraid of what would be said and how that could impact those I love.  I continued to turn to God and ask Him what His will was and He told me that I needed to open up and not withhold relationships because of things done in the past.  He reminded me that our adoption story is His to share, not ours.  It was hard for me and stretched me, but again, I thank God that He is all-knowing, because every one of those relationships has ended up being such a blessing in our lives and Abby’s.

I am sure in years to come I will have many opportunities to live this out in other areas of life and will be challenged again and again to trust God with our kids.  You see, our kiddos aren’t ours – they have just been entrusted to us for a season by our all-knowing God, a God who is and does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  Eph 3:20  Seek him for your children and I bet you’ll be blessed in the process!  IF nothing else, He’ll grow you and stretch you to be more like Him!

Handing Over the Reins

I am, admittedly, a bit of a Type-A, control freak!  I don’t like surprises if I know that they are coming (but don’t know what is coming).  My husband learned this the hard way as he was planning our proposal.  He kept telling me he had a surprise planned and that he was working on it.  He thought the anticipation would get me excited.  Quite the opposite happened.  I was a WRECK, thinking he might be proposing, but worrying that if he wasn’t proposing, I would be disappointed, when he had just put so much effort into surprising me with something else.  For a month, my poor family members and college roommates had to listen to me fret (and yes, cry) over this.

Well, adoption is NOT for the control freak.  Or, maybe it is…maybe it is God’s way of teaching the control freak, like me, to trust Him and hand over the reins to our lives.  I can tell you, though, this lesson does not come easily for those of us who like to take the reins in our hands and make something happen.  You would think, having been down this road once before that I would have learned my lesson and would be content to wait on the Lord and his perfect timing.

I do believe with my whole heart that God’s timing is perfect and I wouldn’t want any child, except the one He has for us, yet I still find myself obsessively trying to find our next baby and raise the necessary funds.  I search for adoption situations online through different agencies multiple times a day, then I focus on raising the rest of our money, then I read adoption books about successful adoption stories.  Obsessed? I’d say yes!  You probably think I am crazy right now, but I’m just being honest and I can honestly say that my experience does not seem to be unique.  Many adoptive moms I have talked to become obsessed about their adoption journey, having a constant internal tug-of-war between making something happen on their own and trusting God!

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

I’ll admit, I haven’t “been still” much lately.   I have been so afraid I would miss an adoption situation, that I have been obsessively checking online for adoption situations.  I keep trying to make something happen on my own or wish it out of thin air.  Guess what?  I haven’t found a single situation.  Oh, the irony!  When I do step back for a second and remember who God is and everything He is done, I am reminded that if it is the situation for us, I won’t miss it!  I’m not saying that I need to stop looking or reaching out to adoption professionals or sharing our profile, but I am saying that I need to make sure that I am first sitting at the feet of my King and that I am trusting Him to work in His perfect time.  I should be making myself available without making something happen.  I don’t want it, if God didn’t make it happen!

I’m sharing this, because I am sure there are those of you, like me, who are control freaks who struggle in many areas of life with giving the reins to God.  If you’re like me, when nothing is happening and you are just supposed to wait and pray, you instead try to make something happen.  If that is you, in any area of your life, I ask you to join me in waiting first on Him.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. ~Psalm 27:14

As I wait on Him, God reminds me of the story of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael.  You see, God promised Abraham a son of his flesh and blood (Gen 15:4)  and descendants as numerous as the stars (Gen 15:5).  Yet, year after year went by and Sarai still had not conceived, so Sarai tried to take matters into her own hands:

Genesis 16

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Genesis 17

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty[a]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[d] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

Genesis 18

“Where is your wife Sarah?” the three visitors asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

Genesis 21

2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.

Abram had received a promise from God, yet when it didn’t appear as if God was fulfilling it, he and Sarai took action and tried to make the promise happen on their own.  This caused a wedge in their home and a host of unnecessary drama.  It took God over 15 years after Ishmael was born for Sarah to give birth to Isaac.  Their waiting was long, but God was faithful and fulfilled His promise.  I bet that it was worth the wait and I bet not a day went by that Sarai didn’t wish she hadn’t interfered.  Let’s not be like Abraham and Sarah, who couldn’t wait on God’s perfect timing and instead took the reins and created drama.  Instead, let’s spend our time seeking Him and trusting that if God promises, He will deliver.  There is nothing more powerful we can do in this time than to pray and turn to Him.  I promise His plans are better than anything you could make happen.  If you wait on Him, you will avoid unnecessary heartache, stress, and drama, and, most importantly, your relationship with Him will grow in untold ways.  Will you join me in waiting on our King?

When a Day Feels Like a Week

This post good also be entitled: “Divulging Some ‘Secrets’ That No Longer Need to Be Secret” or “The Crazy Adoption Roller Coaster.”  You can take your pick.

Image by Robbert van der Steeg

Image by Robbert van der Steeg

If you haven’t noticed, I have been pretty quiet on this blog lately.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have a lot to say (we all know I always have something to say).  It was because everything that I wanted to say needed to be kept hush hush.  Most times that I thought about our adoption journey, I thought about things that I couldn’t share (at the time) and I couldn’t come up with anything else to write about, so I stayed quiet.

You see, in the last few months, we have been presented with five separate adoption possibilities.  I asked all of you to keep your eyes and ears open for adoption situations and you sure have.  Before you think I am going to make a big announcement, I should probably tell you, we ARE NOT matched, but we are at peace and are thankful that God is guiding and protecting us.  Keep those ears open!

Each situation has been exciting, even when we thought it was a long shot, and each one has resulted in my brain thinking non-stop about it and over-analyzing every single detail I knew.  Each situation has brought about hope, a little bit of anxiety, a lot of wondering, and even more prayer.  In these times of wondering, praying, and over-analyzing, a minute feels like an hour, an hour feels like a day, and a day feels like a week.  I check my email and phone WAY too often and, inevitably, the minute I stop checking and leave my phone somewhere or vow not to use it, I miss a call.  At one point, I realized I had only known about a situation for 12 hours, but it felt like it had been part of my thoughts for a week.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

I am thankful for the peace of the Lord, but that doesn’t mean that this journey hasn’t been trying and consuming at times.  I am so thankful for friends who listen to me vent and point me back to God and remind me of all that He has done for us.  You see, even when the “No’s” have been a slight relief (because I didn’t have a peace about a situation or because there were some scary unknowns), each one has also been a small disappointment.  It is a hope deferred (Prov 13:12), because each time, whether I tried to stop it or not, my brain hoped that this could be our next child and began to picture our life as a family of 4!  You see, I used to try to protect myself and guard my heart with each and every situation.  I still do to a point, but I have learned that if I am to be utterly surrendered to God’s will, I need to trust Him to protect me and I just need to say “yes” when He asks if I am willing.  I am learning that no matter how hard I try, it is impossible to stop my mind from “going there.” Instead, when my mind does go there, I turn it over to Him and ask for His will to be done and for Him to protect our family . It is so great to know that God’s plans are BEST for our lives and that He has good things in store for us!  I fail a lot and over think things, as I try to decipher His will and read into every possible sign, but ultimately, He is right there ready and willing to protect us and guide us if we ask Him.  I am so thankful that He knows the details of each and every situation.  He knows what the future holds and what we can handle.  He knows what will be best for the baby and the baby’s biological family.  He closes doors when they need to be closed.  What peace this knowledge brings!

Certainly The Lord guards the way of the godly ~Psalm 1:6a

The 5 situations that have been shared with us have each been unique and all have stretched us in one way or another, as we waited, sought God, and prayed for direction.  One – a set of 3 year old twins; another – a young girl who lived nearby and was considering adoption as an option fairly late in the pregnancy; another – a married expectant mom with children, considering an adoption plan for her unborn baby; another – a young girl who lived further away and had just told her parents; and, most recently – a high risk pregnancy with a very early delivery scheduled.  Some situations advanced further than others.  In one, the expectant mom never saw our profile, while in another we were tentatively chosen and I was mentally decorating a nursery.  It has been a roller coaster that I haven’t wanted to drag everyone on (except for a select few prayer warriors), but it has also been a time of growing in faith and praying for other people’s children and for sweet women who are at a point in their life where they really need prayer!  Although the hope deferred does sometimes make my heart sick, I know that the tree of life is coming (as it already has with sweet Abby), and am finding joy in the moment, enjoying our girl, trusting God, and meeting amazing people along the way.

Thank you for your prayers for us along the journey!  God is truly guiding and directing.  We are anxious for the day when we get to meet our next little one(s).  Some days I am less patient than I should be, but tonight, right now, I have joy and peace!

I am Thankful

As one goes through the adoption process, it is easy to get caught up in the difficulties, the frustrations, and the fear, but God has been reminding me over and over that this is a time to be thankful!  Even though this road can be a roller coaster, I have so many things to be thankful for and today, I am going to share some of those with you – from the magnificent to the frivolous.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7 (emphasis mine)

I am thankful for:

1) Our God who sent his son to die for us, that we might be saved.  This same God wants and desires a daily relationship with us.  He guards the way of the godly (Psalm 1:6), protecting us and guiding us. We can rest and not worry, knowing that if we are turning to Him, He will make our way clear! He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).  He is the God of immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20) The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

2) My amazing husband, who sacrificially cares for Abby and I everyday, putting our needs ahead of his own.

Family-1

3) My sweet Abby-girl, who brings joy everywhere she goes.  Her laugh, her smiles, her cuddles, and her sweet little voice make every day an amazing day.  As we go through this adoption process again, she is my constant reminder of God’s faithfulness.  He truly gave us more than we could ask or imagine with this sweet little girl!

Family-6

4) Cliche as it is, I am thankful for our family, for how much they love and care for us! We were blessed with a large family and we wouldn’t trade it any day!  I am thankful that they are willing to travel miles to spend time with us and that when we are together, it is as if we have never been apart.

Nanny Picks-2

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christmas-55

papagramma-25) I am beyond thankful for Natasha (Abby’s birth mom) and her amazing family.  They have become like a second family to us and we are so grateful for the relationship that God has given us and the story He has written for us!  It is not what any of us ever pictured, but it is incredible!  I am so thankful that Natasha made the courageous choice to give her baby life!

Abby 10 months-12

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6) Steve and Donna, the couple that Natasha stayed with during her pregnancy.  Without their willingness to open up their home, we would have never met Natasha or welcomed our sweet Abby-girl to our family!

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7) Technology: living far away from family, I am so thankful for face-time, the internet, and cheap phone plans that keep us connected.  I love that because of face time, my parents aren’t strangers to Abby, even when she hasn’t seen them for months!

8) All of our family and friends who have walked the adoption journey with us – offering prayer, a listening ear during the tough and exciting times, and more than generous financial support!  We couldn’t adopt with out you!

9) Amazing friends who are there through thick and thin and point us to Christ!

10) Our cozy house, which truly is a blessing from God.  I love that we have a guest room for our friends and family to stay in and that it has been full throughout the month of November!

11) Online adoption support communities – it is such a blessing to have people who understand the journey, because they have traveled it!

12) That we get to put our Christmas decorations up tomorrow!  I am excited that it is officially okay to watch Christmas movies tomorrow!

13) Our new home town of Castle Rock!  I love this sweet community and all the fun events they have!

I could go on and on, but you get the idea!

National Adoption Month!

I love November!  Not only is it a month where we are reminded again and again to be thankful (which, let’s admit, is a reminder we all need), but I also love it because it is National Adoption Month.  The … Continue reading

Guest Post on the Daly Focus: The Schmitt’s Adopt Abby

In honor of National Adoption Month, the Daly Focus, a blog by Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, is sharing adoption stories.  I was honored to be a Guest Blogger, sharing the lessons God taught us during our adoption journey.

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Months turned to years and I still wasn’t pregnant.  We were beginning to question what was going on. While we had always planned on adopting, we had always assumed we were going to have biological children first.

It was soon apparent that God had other plans for us, and we began to consider adoption as a way to start our family. I’m so glad we did. Not only did God use adoption to bring us our precious Abigail, but He also used the process to teach us three very important lessons.

Lesson #1: God can turn mourning into dancing

The story of Abigail’s adoption doesn’t start with her. It starts with a little baby boy we almost adopted.

To read more, visit the Daly Focus.

 

What I don’t want you to know…

I’ve been hesitant to write this post, but figured since this is a blog about adoption, it is important to share the peaks and valleys, the joys and the concerns.  My goal is to be real with you, my readers. … Continue reading

Updated Adoption Profile

With our new family pictures and the addition of a puppy to our family, we decided to update our adoption profile!  If you know anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy that is considering adoption, we would be honored if you shared … Continue reading