Katie placed her first child 13 years ago. She loves helping others, spending time with her dog, and likes to consume true crime, adoption, and adoption education media. She recently began a community outreach called, TABLE. with another birth mom.
Katie was adopted when she was only a few days old, so she is no stranger to adoption or the adoption process. Due to the fact that it was in the 1980s, her adoption was closed. Her parents never met her birth mom. She knew about her adoption as it was extremely normalized in her family even though she struggled with her identity. This may have been why she figured she should accept toxic relationships, eventually leading her down the road of teen pregnancy.
Katie’s mom urged her to look into adoption because she knew that Katie could not parent a baby when she was a rebellious teenager. True enough, Katie’s rebellious nature kicked in, and she set out to do the exact opposite of what her mom wanted for her. Katie decided that she was going to marry the birth father and raise the baby. Unfortunately, apart from the fact that he was several years her senior, he was abusive. The couple only remained married for a month and divorced after the baby was born. To this day, Katie is proud of herself for calling it quits with the guy before everything went south too fast.
After the divorce, Katie did her best to raise her baby by going to school and working two jobs. The strain eventually proved to be too much so when her son was six months old, her parents ended up adopting. Although Katie got to see her son on a daily basis, when he was two, it was decided that it was too hard for her son to call her mommy. Instead, it was decided that he would call her “Katie” which hurt her, but looking back, she understands why it was decided that her mom was “mom,” her dad was “dad,” and she was Katie and no longer ‘mommy’. That was a hard thing for her to deal with since she’d been mommy from the day her son was born.
Once her parents adopted her son, she went from having all the responsibility of being a parent to nothing at all so her emotions ran wild. Partying constantly was the only way that she could cope with the hurt of no longer wearing the parent title.
When her son was three and she was 21, she became pregnant with her daughter. It was then that she decided to go to an agency to talk with them about an adoption plan. She moved into a birth mother dorm with several other women who were looking into adoption. They helped each other cope. It was not until she had moved into the dorm that adoption was more common than she realized. Her view about adoption was skewed to the point that adoption was not all “a bed of roses.” Emma stated, “A lot of women in an unplanned pregnancy situation do not realize that there are many options.
As Katie continued to look into adoption, scoping out families that might be a good fit for her and her daughter when she was six months pregnant. She had a certain criterion she was looking for when she began earnestly searching for prospective adoptive parents. These included a two-parent home and a family of faith. Those were the only two things that were very important to her. And, they needed to be local. She looked at five of them at first because the agency did not want her to be overwhelmed. She had an open mind as she went through them but eventually went back to the same couple. There were many pictures that showed this couple’s life together, and the thing that made her go back to them was that they wrote letters to each other.
After making her choice, Katie made a phone call to them. She does not remember much about it except it was around Christmas. She liked the fact that she was able to give them that Christmas news. That they would be parents to a baby girl. They met together after the new year. While this was initially awkward for Katie because she was afraid that they would not accept her, the adoptive parents were happy to get to know her as a person. They even included her in picking out items for the baby.
When she gave birth, the adoptive parents were not there but they went to the hospital the next day, giving her the time alone with her daughter. It was not until she was with her in the hospital memorizing and spending time with the baby that she realized that she would be leaving the hospital without her.
One question that podcast host, Emma, asked was, “What is the dynamic between your daughter and son like, being that they are both involved in open adoptions?” Katie confessed that she was afraid that her daughter would get hurt when she found out that Katie was more involved with her son since he lived with her parents. Luckily, her daughter took the news well. One day she asked Katie whether they were brother and sister when she was seven and Katie’s son was ten. Katie’s daughter often gets told that she was unwanted by ignorant people, but she does not believe it. Katie work’s hard to ensure that her children never feel this way. When she visits her daughter, she makes it a point to bring her son along so that they can build a loving relationship.
Life happens and people’s relationships change as a result. A couple years after adopting Katie’s daughter, the adoptive parents divorced and eventually remarried. This has complicated her family dynamic, something that Katie can relate to. Growing up, Katie had a hard time figuring out where she was and who she was. At 18, she decided to find her birth mother. Katie was only able to find out a little bit about her birth parents through the agency so she decided to see if the court would unseal her records which, she notes, was easy. With that, she was able to get a phone number which happened to be her birth grandparents’ phone number. Katie was distraught to find out that her birth mother was in prison. The first time they met was behind glass. Naturally, Katie is still conflicted regarding her feelings for her birth mom.
In due time, Katie discovered that she has two half-sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her birth father was just a one-night stand and signed the adoption papers right away because he did not want his girlfriend to find out. She found him in 2011 and they talked for a long time but when they agreed to meet, he did not show up. She went to his house and met him in person and he threatened to call the police if she did not leave his property. Just recently, Katie looked up his name and found his obituary in 2014. She ended up speaking to her step-brother who gave her information about her dad. She has gotten more closure as years have gone by, allowing her to come to peaceful terms with her identity.
In January of 2021, Katie along with a fellow birth mother funded the TABLE, a community outreach organization. They learned that there needed to be another place for birth mothers to build a casual, welcoming experience. Their goal is to help foster conversation and connections among birth parents.
Katie’s story was definitely different. There are not many grandparents that would adopt their daughter’s baby, raise them as their own, and allow the birth mother to have constant contact with them as well as letting the child grow up knowing who is who. When it was decided that he was not going to call Katie “mommy” anymore but she was just “Katie”, my heart broke for her because she had to give up a very emotionally charged title. I think that her parents were great for adopting her son and still letting her be a part of his life, although I think changing what he called her was not necessary. That had to be more confusing for him than it was for Katie.
When Katie became pregnant with her daughter, I admired that once she knew she was pregnant, she recognized that she was not able to parent her daughter and immediately found an agency to work with. The adoptive parents were very much in tune with Katie’s wants and needs as a birth mother and did whatever they could to make the transition easy on her. It really is amazing to know what you are capable of and accepting this will only bring positive results.
It is rare that a birth mother gets to have open adoptions with both children, but even more so in Katie’s case because her daughter’s adoptive parents allowed her to bring her son on visits with her. I found it funny that it was her daughter who is younger that brought up the fact that she and Katie’s son were related. Her son seemed blissfully unaware of that fact even after Katie and the adoptive parents sat them down and explained it to them. They both knew that Katie was their birth mother but her son did not seem at all concerned about that fact.
I think my favorite part of Katie’s story, other than the stories about her children, was that although living in different homes, everyone got to spend time together. I think that this must have been very important to this birth mother since her adoption was closed. I think a connection with one’s birth family is very important to Katie because she went through so much trouble to get closure about her birth family. This story had many ups and downs, but through it all, Katie came out victorious as she took the knowledge that she had, and the knowledge that she wished she had and came up with the community outreach organization called The Table. Katie and fellow birth mom, Lacey, have created a place where adoptees and birth parents can meet and get to know one another. This, in my opinion, needs to be done nationwide as it aids in a smoother transition and makes getting closure, where needed, possible.