My story begins when I was 23 years old and found out I was pregnant. I was not married, not working, and not in school. I was nervous, scared, and somehow had to figure out what I was going to do.

Three home pregnancy tests and three days later, I told my father, whom I lived with at the time, that I was pregnant. He said that everything would be OK and we would get through this. I was scared to death by the news, but he seemed a little excited. I told him that I would not have an abortion, but other than that I had no idea what I should do. He told me that he would help me and that he supported me. My dad wanted to be a grandfather and promised that he and my stepmom would help me and the child. However, the reaction from my stepmom wasn’t positive. As soon as he told her, she didn’t understand why I was to continue to live there when I had no job and was not attending school. Next I needed to tell my mom. I needed her during this strenuous time.

I was so nervous when I saw her that I burst into tears. I couldn’t handle it anymore. When the news finally spilled out, she said, “You’re punking me, right?” The disbelief in her voice hurt. I assured her that I was not. After a few minutes the message seemed to get through, and her response was firm: “You have one choice: adoption.” She pulled me into a big hug. But I knew this decision was mine to make.

I gave my decision a lot of thought and prayer. Did I want to be a single mother and struggle like my mother had? Or did I want a family to raise this child? I prayed and asked my Heavenly Father for an answer. I was in so much denial of the situation that when the Spirit told me to choose adoption, in my head I continued to think I should raise the child. Heavenly Father decided to approach my stubbornness from another angle. He told me to contact a friend of mine who had placed a child through our church’s adoption agency.

When I met with her I asked her how she found her adoptive family, and she told me about a website she had perused. I searched specifically for a family in my state that was willing to have an open adoption. My search stumbled upon the family that would become my child’s adoptive family. Their profile had a great family picture. Many of their other pictures looked like they were having so much fun doing family activities. They looked like a family I could be friends with. I loved that. I felt drawn to them and would visit their profile many times in the next weeks.

With this family in the back of my mind, I continued to move forward. A dear family friend told me about Jennifer Lewis, who handled adoptions within our church. A few days later, I decided to call Jennifer and tell her about my situation, including the family I had found.

I shortly realized why I couldn’t stop looking at that family’s profile: They were the people who were supposed to raise my child. I sent them an email telling a little about me. It was then that I recognized how desperate I was for them to choose me and my child.

When they emailed me back they told me about their family. We began to communicate regularly through email. After a couple of weeks of this, I knew I needed to tell my dad I had chosen adoption.

His reaction surprised me. I shared with him that I wanted two parents to love and care for this baby. He became very upset and told me to leave. I was so shocked and hurt that I went to my room. I didn’t know what to think or say. My dad did not speak to me or look at me for nearly two weeks.

From there things only seemed to get worse. My stepmother continued to make rude remarks until I finally confronted her. I asked why she was behaving this way and that’s when she told me I wasn’t wanted here anymore. My chest was on fire with pain at her casual statement. She sighed and told me that I was still part of the family, but that I was no longer wanted in this house.

I called my mom in tears and told her what my stepmother had said. She was shocked and immediately agreed that I come live with her.

After about a week living with my mom, we decided to meet the prospective adoptive couple with Jennifer. We met at Olive Garden and it was so nice to see them up close. The couple was as cute as their picture, and their son was adorable. We sat down, and I asked them some questions that were important to me and had been thinking about.

They gave all the answers I was hoping for. After that meeting, I was even more certain that they were to be my child’s family. As we drove away I didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t wait to meet with them again.

As months passed, the relationship with my dad began to heal, though even now it has not returned to normal. I felt confident in my decision, but I felt sad and disappointed in the way the relationship with my dad had changed. Still, I continued to have faith and confidence in my choice.