Spread those wings, get out into the world and explore all the wonders of youth. Make some bad judgment calls and learn life lessons. Be a fearless dreamer and believe in the ability to conquer the world. This is the unmistakable mantra of every youth in America.
As vivid as the dreams may seem, reality can come crashing in whenever it sees fit. So for one 19-year-old, who we'll call Ashley for anonymity, this year meant welcoming a beautiful baby boy into the world. Just a kid herself, Ashley was faced with raising this little boy with no help from the loosely named dad.
With the support of family, Ashley picked herself up and loved her little boy in the best ways she knew. Providing what she could and trying to get her personal life back on track, Ashley marched on. This is a story of triumph and perseverance, but only three years later, fate would throw another curve ball and this time, Ashley wasn't so sure she was ready.
Pregnant for the second time and scared that she wouldn't be able to do it again with a 3-year-old already at home, Ashley weighed her options.
"I didn't want to have two kids without dads, raising them on my own and I didn't want my son I already had to have to suffer and go without because I made a mistake," Ashley said. "I'm not saying my (second) son was a mistake, but I couldn't financially afford two."
The nurse at Ashley's doctor's office took interest in the 20-something and explained that she, herself had adopted and that it was a viable option for women not able to take on a child.
"At first, I thought, no way," Ashley said. "After some time, I started thinking this was maybe the thing to do. Then I got nervous about it and thought about abortion."
After gathering information on ending the pregnancy and putting off follow-up doctor's appointments, Ashley made a difficult decision. She returned to the nurse that had first mentioned adoption and agreed that it was the best path for her and her unborn child.
It was the nurse's niece looking to adopt and though Ashley had interacted time and again with her nurse, she was nervous to make that call that would promise her child to another family.
"It was kind of nice because I had somebody that could tell me about them (adoptive parents), what they did and where they lived. I got to get a lot of insight without actually ever talking to them," Ashley said. "Once I talked to them, I knew it was meant to be and it was just kind of how everything fell into place."
From there, the adoption process went smoothly and the lawyer allowed the two parties to sit down and discuss what was best. The relationship between Ashley and the adoptive parents is a dream come true and for now, Ashley gets to play a role in the life of her youngest son while providing the best possible life for her oldest boy also.
"I'm not going to lie, I won't sit there and tell anybody it's easy," Ashley said. "It's hard on a day to day basis a lot of time and there are times I see a little baby that is the same age but when it comes down to it, I feel like I made the best decision I could and if I had to do it again, I'd probably do it the exact same way."
While adoption may not be the right choice for every woman that is struggling with the reality of pregnancy under less that ideal circumstances, Ashley attributes the success of her situation to the bond formed between her and the adoptive family.
"Adoption is a great thing," she said. "Not only did it help me do a great thing for both of my sons, but it also helped someone to be able to call a child their own and have the option of being called mom and dad."
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