Teen pregnancy changed her life forever. Her open adoption story of fear, hopelessness, healing and finally fulfillment. Juanita was just 14 years old when she got pregnant. Scared and unsure what to do, she hid her pregnancy for 6 months. When her mother found out, she forced her to give the baby up through adoption–something that sent her spiraling out of control for many years. She was finally able to get to a place of acceptance and through open adoption, she’s been able to reconnect with her daughter.
In the first days of pregnancy, Juanita admits to being in denial and hiding her pregnancy for 6 months which is a really long time to not be seen by a doctor while carrying a child. Looking back, she even thinks her mother didn’t ask her if she was pregnant for fear that their lives would be changed.
Juanita wanted to keep the baby, but her mother would not support her in that decision. Her mother then placed Juanita in counseling services at an adoption facility. Their biased counsel made her feel pressured into the decision of adoption.
“Adoption, although now in retrospect–I think it was the best decision–it is probably one of the most difficult decisions that you’ll have to make.”
Juanita went through 5 different lawyers trying to get her daughter back, so there was severe regret for giving up her child at the time. Once she realized that she wasn’t going to get her daughter back, she spiraled out of control in rebellion.
To girls who are going through the same thing, she thinks unbiased counseling and continued counseling would be very helpful. She found a birth mother’s group that was very comforting to her. Birth Mother’s Day is the day before Mother’s Day which is when she joined the group for a lunch. That time with the group was crucial to her healing on the early stages of transition.
Things started to turn around for Juanita after 9/11 happened and after reading the book, Yesterday I cried, by Iyanla Vanzant. She realized then that other people have been through tougher hardships than she and that she was actually very blessed in her circumstances. Gratitude and acceptance was the key to change the direction of her life. She now has a great relationship with her daughter that she might not have had if she continued to resist her reality.
She was blessed to have access to her child through the open adoption, even to the point that the family accepted her into the family as one of their own. She would spend holidays with them, spend time in the park together and just recently had one-on-one time in New York on the train with her daughter.
“The greatest gift of this journey is my relationship with my daughter. It’s so great to be able to see her grow. She’s such a good kid! Being able to see her cheerlead and grow and make good grades and not fall down the same path that I went to… because I see the great support system that she has. She has a mother and a father in the home and brothers and a sister. And just seeing her raised with such care and value… so I think that is my greatest gift.”
She does wonder what it would’ve been like to have raised her on her own and sometimes craves having her daughter live with her for the summer, but knows deep down, that either of them wouldn’t have been able to get to where they are had Juanita kept her at such a young age.
For anyone out there who has given up a baby for adoption or is thinking about adoption or open adoption, I hope that my interview here with Juanita has helped you. It’s never too late to get the right support to help you move forward if you’re still stuck in the past.
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