Lauren was starting a new season of life as a college student when she unexpectedly became pregnant. Left by the baby’s father, Lauren turned to her mother, who took her in and helped her through the scary and unpredictable time. “My mom was behind me 110%,” said Lauren. She offered to be financially responsible for Lauren and the baby until Lauren could provide for herself and her child. “My mom was my rock.”
With the support of her mother, Lauren started to weigh her options. She considered adoption but couldn’t bring herself to choose that path. However, as her baby started to grow, she realized she was running out of time. “When I was six months pregnant, it got very real, and I finally had that ‘aha’ moment,” reflected Lauren. “I started to ask myself, ‘How am I supposed to do this and go to college?’ Plus, I didn’t want to put that financial burden on my mother who was done raising kids. I just couldn’t do that.”
One of her mother’s close friends was adopted through Bethany Christian Services, so Lauren was already aware of one successful adoption story. She decided to learn more.
Heidi, a Bethany pregnancy counselor, came to visit Lauren at her home to discuss different options. “The first time Heidi visited, I thought she was going to try to convince me to choose adoption,” Lauren explained. “But Heidi made it very clear from the beginning that she was here to help me make the best decision for me and my unborn child, whatever that looked like. She said Bethany had services for whatever I decided to do – parent my child or make an adoption plan.”
Heidi regularly visited Lauren, and Lauren eventually decided to make an adoption plan. Bill and Nancy were the first couple she met with, and she instantly knew that they were the perfect family for her baby. “I just saw them and thought, ‘done,’” Lauren recalled. “We talked for an hour and a half, and it felt like it was only 15 minutes. I thought to myself, these people are amazing.”
Though Lauren was hesitant about an open adoption at first, Heidi provided information that helped Lauren discover that it was the right solution for her. “At first I thought that the further the baby went away, the easier it would be to pretend like the whole thing never happened,” explained Lauren. “But that wasn’t realistic. I imagined grocery shopping and seeing a blonde-haired child and wondering if that child was mine. I didn’t like all the uncertainty and the ‘what if’ scenarios.”
Heidi helped Lauren navigate all the decisions that had to be made about her baby’s arrival. “I’ve met moms who had no options and never got to hold or see their baby,” Lauren said. “I got to have complete control, and Heidi helped me figure that out along the way, so that was really special.”
Bill and Nancy came alongside Lauren, attended her doctor appointments, and were with her every day in the hospital after she delivered her son, Keegan. In the recovery room after delivery and after holding and feeding Keegan for the first time, Lauren placed him in the arms of his new parents. “Bill and Nancy looked so overwhelmed with love,” Lauren remembered. “They had been waiting for that day for years. I thought I was going to be jealous when I saw them holding Keegan, but I wasn’t. I could already see how they were going to take care of him.”
That doesn’t mean that saying goodbye to Keegan was easy. When it came time to sign the adoption papers, Lauren struggled with it. “I had written myself a note months in advance to prepare for that moment,” explained Lauren. “I think what everyone fears the most is that when you sign those papers, you’re giving your rights away – that you’re no longer a mom.”
But the letter she had written herself reminded her that placing her son with Bill and Nancy was the best plan for him. She spent her last full day in the hospital with just Keegan. When it came time to be discharged, Bill, Nancy, Lauren, and her family joined in a circle and prayed. “I think that helped me a lot,” Lauren recalled. “It gave me peace.”
Today, Lauren visits with Keegan once a month, as Bill and Nancy live ten minutes down the road. “I think it’s been easier for my healing process to have an open adoption because I can see how well Keegan is doing and how well his family takes care of him. He has all these things that I couldn’t provide for him,” explained Lauren.