In December 2016, my mother pulled me away from the self-destructive path I was wandering down. I had been living in Cleveland, Ohio, doing harmful things to myself — mind, body, and soul. I was also in a very unhealthy relationship, which drove my spirits into the ground. My mother saved my life. I hopped on a plane and moved in with her and her husband in Marietta, Georgia.
I couldn’t afford to raise a child by myself, I refused to abort, and the thought of giving my child away to somebody else without contact simply broke my heart.
I did not have my own room upon moving in with my mom, but I did have a couch to sleep on, a roof over my head, and food in my belly. She surrounded me with compassion, love, and encouragement. Two months after I had started my new life, I learned I was pregnant. This was my first pregnancy, and I had never been more frightened in my life. What am I going to do? I asked myself this question for a couple of months. Every day, there was a constant battle being fought inside my mind: I couldn’t afford to raise a child by myself, I refused to abort, and the thought of giving my child away to somebody else without contact simply broke my heart.
I was sitting on the back porch of a dear friend’s house one night, and she asked me, “Have you given any thought to adoption?” Just hearing that word made my stomach turn. I was hell bent on keeping my baby for selfish reasons, and I discussed this with her. “Just think about it,” she told me. “There’s always ‘open’ adoption where you can be involved. Why don’t you look into it?” Open adoption. Hmm. This gnawed at me, and I became intrigued. I pulled out my phone and typed “adoption” in the Google search engine. I clicked the first link: Adoptimist. The site gave me options about the different criteria I was looking for in adoptive parents. My first thought was to give the gift of a baby to a same-sex couple. I wanted adoptive parents who lived in my area, as well, and who were looking for open adoption with the birth mother.
Joe and Marcus shared this quotation: “Bloodlines do not define family; love lines do.”
I clicked the Search button, expecting this to be pointless and ridiculous. Then, in front of me was a photo of these two men gallantly smiling. How cute, I thought. I clicked their photo and began to read their profile: Joe and Marcus, soon to be married, together for seven years, eager to adopt a baby, live near Atlanta, would love for the birth mother to be involved. They shared this quotation: “Bloodlines do not define family; love lines do.”
In that moment, I knew I must reach out to them.
I sent an email explaining my current situation and how I was considering open adoption. I asked if they were still interested. To my surprise, Joe responded the next day: “Yes, we are very interested. Would you be willing to meet with us for lunch, so we can get to know each other a little bit?” I agreed, and we set up a date. My mother and I met Joe and Marcus at a local O’Charley’s. They immediately welcomed us with big hugs, smiling, happy faces, and more love than we knew what to do with. I knew I wanted them as my baby’s daddies. They were just so wonderful.
That time spent in the hospital with everyone involved turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
We set up another date, and each date we set up another. Time progressed, and I expressed to them that I had made my decision. I absolutely, 100 percent, wanted them to be fathers to my daughter. From then on, they were with me every step of the way. They connected me with their adoption counselor, Kristine French, who helped mentor me through the emotional aspects of my pregnancy. She was so wonderful to me throughout the whole process and helped build my confidence about my decision.
On September 18, 2017, my daughter was born via C-section. Joe and Marcus stayed at the hospital with my mother and me the entire five days we were there. We all exhibited an equal amount of love for Frances, and that time spent in the hospital with everyone involved turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Upon leaving the hospital, Joe and Marcus reassured me that we were all family now, and I had nothing to fear.
I have fallen in love with these exceptional people — these amazing fathers — with every ounce of my being.
I have since gotten to see my daughter about five times in person. We plan regular video chats, and the guys consistently text photos of her to me every day. Daddies Joe and Marcus came to our home with Frances on Thanksgiving, and we went to theirs on Christmas Eve. I have fallen in love with these exceptional people—these amazing fathers—with every ounce of my being. All of this was made possible by Adoptimist.com, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you, Adoptimist!
If you are considering adoption or wish to send Ashli a comment, please reach out to her at Maestroneko@gmail.com.