Meet Sarah Avery:
Right after finishing my undergraduate degree, I moved back home and started dating a new guy. After only dating for a few months, I found out that I was pregnant.
To say I was scared and upset would be a massive understatement. I was devastated. Here I was, a “Christian girl” who was pregnant outside of marriage with a guy with whom I had no future. I didn’t know what I was going to do, so… I didn’t do anything. I told no one except my sister and one close friend. I moved to Memphis for graduate school, as planned, and just put it in the back of my mind. After several months of hiding behind oversized sweatshirts in the Memphis summer heat, I knew I had to tell my mom. She came to see me that next weekend, and we both just cried. I knew I wasn’t ready to be a parent, I knew I wanted more for my child than a single-parent home, but that’s all that I knew.
After speaking with a wise friend, my mom and I visited Bethany Christian Services, a wonderful adoption agency and a strong resource for women facing unplanned pregnancies. After going back and forth between deciding to parent or make an adoption plan, I chose adoption. I looked through adoptive family books, and saw only one family I felt called to. After a few meetings, I ultimately chose them to parent my baby. My wonderful pregnancy counselor was with me every step of the way, and continued to stay by my side for the emotional storm I was about to face after placing my child with her new family.
In June of 2012, I gave birth to the most precious little girl in the world. She was perfect. And, while I cried happy tears because I was so thrilled to finally be able to hold her, my heart was broken at the idea of handing her over to the family I had picked out for her. There aren’t really any words to adequately describe the emotions that came with the act of placing my child with anyone other than me. It’s a happy moment, because the child is here and healthy, but, after I placed her with her adoptive family, I grieved as though someone had died. No one in my family really understood. No one anticipated it, because no one in my family had ever walked through this journey or heard a birth mom’s story. Over the next two years, I fell into a rather deep depression, but I held onto the connection I had felt towards my daughter’s adoptive family when I was looking at photo books. I had that hope that the Lord had a bigger plan than what I was seeing and feeling during this very dark time in my life.
Fast forward to now, my daughter is five years old and doing fantastic. She has three older brothers that absolutely adore her, a two-parent home, and a whole biological family that loves her. She is encased in love. In our adoption agreement, we arranged for me to go visit her every six months and receive picture updates three months after each visit. The Lord continues to work in my life. I still have hard days, but I bounce back more quickly than I used to, and now it has become my life’s mission to be there for other women and girls who find themselves in a similar situation, to inform them of all of their options, and support them with whatever they choose. Life is messy, and I believe God has called us to walk purposefully with others in the mess.
— Excerpt from Sarah’s podcast interview —
Alex: What do you wish that someone had grabbed you by the shoulders, looked you in the eye, and told you at the beginning of this journey?
Sarah: I was fortunate enough to have that wise friend tell me exactly what I needed to hear, which was, “This is going to be okay.” But, I think if I could say something else and wish someone else had been said to me, it would be, “This does not define you. This sin is not who you are,” because that was an identity that I carried for a while.
Alex: What is the biggest encouragement you have for women or girls in similar situations?
Sarah: You have options, and it will be okay. Whether you have the same support that I did with my mom and my friends, you are not alone and there is support out there. It’s going to be hard, but never give up on that child inside of you, and it’s going to be okay.
Alex: What is the singular biggest thing you wish that women on the other side of adoption–so, me, and most of the people listening to this–realized, and how can we be more sensitive to it?
Sarah: I wish that they realized that there is an actual woman on the other side. That it’s a woman, and not just her sin. It’s not the drug addiction; it’s not just a girl who is 15; it’s not just a girl who is getting ready to go to jail; it’s a woman. And she needs grace. And while people may not think that she deserves it, the Lord did choose her to carry this child into the world, so there is value in that. He finds value in her. And I can’t relate directly, but I can understand how hard it would be to learn to truly love and pray for someone like that, to see her more as a woman going through everything, and not just her sin identity.
Alex Fittin hosts The Adoptive Mom Podcast: A weekly program for the strongest of moms (and dads, too!). This podcast features all kinds of characters from the adoptive community, including support systems, grandparents, pastors, birth moms, educators, adopted kids, and of course, lots of adoptive mamas! On this show, we are honest, raw, and supportive about the struggles, joys, wins, losses, and the beautiful and ugly pars of this adoption thing. No topic is off-limits, and you can always count on a real take on one of the most important things one can do: adopt.