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A Birth Mother’s Journey Through Open Adoption

Jun 6, 2018

Kelene is a birth mother who placed her baby 26 years ago with a family she babysat for down the street. She had an open adoption with her daughter, Chrissy, and this week she shares what it was like to have a daughter she knows and sees...but is not raising.

This episode helps us understand how open adoption works as an adoptive family brings home a baby and a birthmother heals.

To start this interview about Kelene’s adoption journey, April asks her to go back to the moment she became a birth mother at only 17 years old.

At that time, Kelene was dating her high school sweetheart when she got pregnant.

April asked her if she was scared at this time:

Kelene said she was a little terrified at this moment in her life. She lived with a single mom who was a strict Catholic, which only magnified her fear. But Kelene knew she was going to have the child no matter what.

When asked if she thought about raising the child herself, she said she didn’t want to raise a child in a single-family home the way that she had been raised. 

In addition to the difficult circumstances of being pregnant at 17, she also wrestled with whether she should place her baby for adoption or not. 

“I thought about it pretty early on, but the thought was kind of terrifying too because right away, when you’re pregnant, you get heart was pretty broken at the time.”

Soon, Kelene would do a lot of research on adoption and decided on open adoption as the best choice for her. It wasn’t long before she was looking through profile books and potential families she could bless with the gift of a child.

April asks her how she found the right family and Kelene says it’s actually a really awesome story.

Kelene says that for years she babysat for a family that lived right down the street from her. She absolutely adored this family. After learning that they had been unsuccessful in their attempts to get pregnant again, she wondered if she was carrying the baby they were meant to raise?


One day, while babysitting the family’s daughter Katie, she mentioned to Kelene that she wished her parents could get a baby. At that point, no one in their family knew Kelene was pregnant. This seemingly out-of-the-blue statement was like a message from God:

“Right then when she said that I knew. It was like a thunderbolt from the Lord. I really truly felt like, oh my goodness, this is right.”

Immediately, Kelene went to talk to Joani about the realization she had. Six months pregnant, she told her about her idea of placing her child with them. Even with her husband Mike out of town, Joani said yes immediately!

As Kelene says, they were the absolute perfect parents. Joani and Mike were such a loving couple and she knew in her heart of hearts they were the right choice as adoptive parents. When Kelene called Mike while he was driving to deliver the good news, Mike had to pull over onto the side of the road because he was crying so hard.

April asked Kelene if Joani and Mike felt like extended parents to her. Kelene absolutely agreed, pointing out that they took her under their wing and showed her unconditional love.

But the birth of Kelene’s daughter was not without its challenges:

“Unfortunately when I had Chrissy she was three pounds and sick, and I had pre-eclampsia...I was due June, 7th and she was born April, 27th.”

After being faced with the incredibly difficult situation of signing papers just in case Chrissy didn’t make it and needed to be transported to another hospital, Kelene admits she was just so blessed to have Mike and Joani. 

They loved her through the whole process and helped her deal with the trauma. In addition, she credits God for really helping her throughout the whole adoption as well. She says she drew a lot of her strength from God.

When April asked how long until they knew that Chrissy was going to ok, Kelene says it was about a week. Chrissy stabilized, was gaining weight, and was healthy.

Kelene says that when she left the hospital without her child, it was traumatic. It all felt like a blur. In retrospect, Kelene knows she would have benefited from post-placement counseling, which she encourages for all mothers who have just placed their child.

Kelene went to college shortly after and almost felt like she was running from all of the emotions and feelings that she had.

She would soon meet her current husband after college and they would have three children together: two girls and a boy! And Chrissy has a special bond with all of Kelene’s children. In next week’s episode, you’ll hear about how Chrissy’s side of the story!

For information on Kelene’s children, her emotional journey with open adoption, and what to expect in next week’s episode, listen along!