It took five years before Kelsey Freeman held her baby boy in her arms. The long years were filled with stressful waiting periods, rude administrators, and unhelpful organizations. Time seemed to stretch on forever, and Freeman wondered if she would ever make it through the adoption process.
Spoiler alert: she did! Freeman now has a sweet son named Mason, and she spends countless hours with him at their happy home in Frederick, Maryland. Their family isn’t complete without Mason’s birth mother, “Mama Anna,” who they constantly FaceTime chat with. Freeman expressed boundless contentment about a life with loved ones at her side. She was so overjoyed that it seemed hard to imagine her frustration only four years prior, where she dealt with discouraging agencies and difficult rejections.
How did she manage to make it through such a long and arduous journey? In an interview with the adoptive parent, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma spoke with Freeman to find out. She gave enlightening advice about patience, curiosity, and trust.
KP: Could You tell me a little about Your Adoption Process? How did You Decide to Adopt?
KF: My best friend was actually adopted, and we were born 4 days apart. We literally have pictures of us in car carriers, a week old together. So, I guess I kind of always grew up with adoption in my life. My mom says that I was four the first time I told her I was going to adopt. And so, my husband and I, when we decided to start a family, we kind of decided to try for biological children and start the adoption process at the same time. [We] just said: however the family is built, that’s how our family would be built.
KP: When did You Adopt?
KF: We adopted in May. We have a little boy. His name is Mason.
KP: What Type of Adoption did You choose?
KF: [We chose] an open adoption, and we talk to “Mama Anna” probably almost daily – like three text messages. I send her pictures; we FaceTime and video chat. We just adore his birth family.
KP: Why did You choose an Open Adoption?
KF: We started the adoption process five years ago. We had four disruptions between starting the process and placing with Mason. I guess when we started, the idea of a really open adoption was kind of scary. I mean as much research and everything I had done, it just kind of seemed really overwhelming. I guess through the five years of meeting other adoptive couples that had open relationships, as well as with some of our disruptions, we got to know the birth families as well. So we kind of developed relationships with them. One of them we still do dinner with and get together with and see. Her little boy would be two now.
So, I guess we just kind of developed a heart for it. It became less scary as you got to know who those other people are, I guess. They become real people to you. When we first saw Mason’s situation, they had just done it as a semi-open. But as we spent time with her [Mason’s birth mother] when we were there – we were in Oklahoma for about three weeks with her – we got to talk beforehand, and we’ve just kind of left it as-is.
We didn’t just get Mason, we got her and both of her other two friends. They became part of our family, too. We didn’t just grow our family by Mason. We grew it by them as well.
KP: What would You Say to potential Adoptive Parents that are Dealing with these Disruptions?
KF: I feel like people repeatedly told us throughout the process: “When the child is going to be a part of your family, you’ll understand why all the disruption happened.” In the moment, I probably wanted to kick every person that kept telling me that. Because in the moment, it doesn’t feel that way. It’s just so hard to feel so close to something you really wanted, and then have it not be there. It’s such a mix of emotions. You’re really really happy that she chose to parent, and you’re so excited for that child, that they’ll get to grow up with them. But there’s just also that disappointment on your end. So, it’s just a real mixture of emotions.
That was, just for me, really hard to decipher between. If I felt angry about something, I was like: “Well, I can’t feel angry. She got to parent, and that’s really awesome. And we want that for her, and we want that for that child.” So, it was hard for me to navigate those emotions, and now having Mason home…it does make sense. So much of just even our relationship with “Mama Anna” is so much of what we wanted. I don’t know that we would have necessarily had that in other relationships.
So, it really was kind of just the perfect situation for us. It just took a lot of heartaches to get there. So [I recommend] perseverance – as much as you might want to kick someone that’s like me on the other side saying, “It will make sense when that baby is in your arms and you go home,” just know that you’ll get to that moment.
KP: Do you feel like You Wish You had done Something Differently?
KF: I think I wish I had been more educated on the triad of the whole thing. That’s something we, five years into it, are very much aware of: adoptee voices, listening to other birth moms’ experiences or how they navigated relationships with their adoptive couples, and things like that. I think that when we started the process, we weren’t necessarily educated in that or as educated as we had to be for our home study, and it was very centered around us as the adoptive couple. [The agency] didn’t necessarily educate us on the other people that would be part of this process as well. I think that kind of hurt us in the beginning, of not having a full picture and not being aware of the other voices that would be contributing to this, and it didn’t just center around us and our desire for our family.
KP: Was this Lack of Communication the Biggest Challenge?
KF: I would say that probably the most daunting [challenge] was finding a place where we felt comfortable as well. We kind of started thinking that the adoption professionals are the ones that have all the knowledge and that we couldn’t question things. [We] ended up in some not-so-great situations, working with some not-so-great individuals. As we got more into the adoption process, we were kind of learning like, “Oh, that’s not normal,” or “That’s not how things should be going,” or “That does not necessarily follow appropriate standards,” and things like that, which I think we struggled with at the beginning of the process.
KP: What are some Warning Signs if Organizations do not Follow Appropriate Standards?
KF: We had one agency where we didn’t realize it probably is like… it has in [the birth mother’s] contract that if she [the birth mother] decides to parent, she has to pay back fees. We didn’t know better. We just kind of assumed that they [the organization] knew best, and it was part of a contract, and not realizing how corrosive that is. And how that can definitely change a mom’s decision to parent, when at that time it is her decision. That’s just one example, but we just came across a few things that we just didn’t know.
It wasn’t in Mason’s situation. It was a completely different situation with different agencies. They [the birth parents] would have had to pay back all of the birth mother expenses that had been distributed to them from the agency.
As you probably know, working with an agency, a lot of the time financial means are the reason that a mom is placing. So, imagine if you put that in front of her and say, “Well, even if you decide to parent, now you have to pay us back,” and just how corrosive a behavior that is on the agency.
Even if she had wanted to decide to parent in the end, she probably would have placed just because she couldn’t afford to pay back those fees. So, we had quite a few things that we came across during the process that, at the time, was when we just didn’t know better. We couldn’t do better until we knew better.
KP: Do You Foresee Yourself Adopting again?
KF: Yes, we would love to adopt again.
KP: Is Mason Your only Child right now?
KP: Do You have any other Advice for Parents looking to Adopt?
KF: I would just seek out other voices in the triad to learn from. I feel like with social media and blogs and the internet, even just from when we started five years ago, there’s so much more out there now that you can educate yourself in if you want to dive in deep and really get in conversations with people. Or if you even just kind of want to watch from afar and just listen and read and process in your own space. There’s so much out there now that you really can learn from those other voices. [You can] kind of be able to set yourself up for the best relationships moving forward. Especially if you’re looking to have an open adoption. Even from just five years ago when we started, it is amazing how much more is out there.
The Impact of the Interview with an Adoptive Parent
Five years and four disruptions later, Freeman finally rests at home with her beautiful baby boy. She keeps in close contact with his birth mother, even describing “Mama Anna” as a member of her family. It seems like she couldn’t be happier.
Freeman didn’t just snap her fingers and watch as it all worked out perfectly. It took her research, time, and faith before she ended up with what she wanted. Looking back on her life, Freeman hopes to educate readers who are looking to adopt. She doesn’t want them to make the same mistakes that she did.
Even despite the roller coaster of emotions, disappointing heartache, and flawed agencies, Freeman said she ended up in the perfect situation. Her final advice for readers is simply perseverance: “It may seem cliché, but it really does all work out in the wash.”
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Kenneal Patterson is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. She is currently studying Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in Global Health. She is honored to work with Adoption Choices, and hopes that her journalism will inspire others to be more empathetic and kind. She thinks that writing can convey important messages of hope and love, and wants to share these messages with others.
Kenneal spends her summers at home in Golden, Colorado, with her many cats and dogs. She is eternally grateful to those who read her work!