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Connie Going: Hi. Happy Friday. Welcome to Adoption Focus. This is a radio broadcast. My name is Connie Going and I’m adoption consultant with Adoption Associates. They are an adoption agency out of Michigan. They were established in 1990. They have done well over 5,000 adopted placements. They are located in Jenison, Lansing, and Farmington Hills as well as the Saginaw area. Their mission is to promote adoption, international and domestic, support birth parents and adopted family along their journey.
I am so excited because they are innovative. They are focused on birth moms, and adopted families. And I really feel like this radio show that they allow me to for them is part of that innovation in getting the word out that adoption in an option. And with that in mind, we have today with us, I’m very excited to announce, Karen Jewell, and she’s the executive director and she is at A Woman’s Pregnancy Choice, AWPC. And I’m gonna have her tell you a little bit about her organization.
Hi Karen, and welcome to our show.
Karen Jewell: Hi Connie. Thanks for having me. I will speak about A Woman’s Pregnancy Choice here located in Farmington Hills, Michigan off of 12 Mile near Orchard Lake Road, which is the second busiest intersection in southeast Michigan. So we’re easy to find, easy to get to. And we exist to make sure that a woman’s choice is peril and that a woman can be given all of her options and information when confronting unintended or untimely pregnancy. So we’re happy to be on the show today, and to share information with your listeners.
Connie Going: That is wonderful. Now, how long have you been the executive director and when was AWPC founded?
Karen Jewell: We were founded 32 years ago under the name, Another Way Pregnancy Center. We’re currently in our fourth location over that period of time. This particular location, has been the last three years and I’ve been here as a director for the past seven years. And it’s been a remarkable journey especially, the last year and a half as we began offering ultrasounds as part of educating about choice and options. So that a woman could know how far along … First of all, if she is carrying a viable pregnancy. Meaning that the pregnancy is implanted in the uterus and that there’s a heartbeat present. And it’s called the Limited Obstetrical ultrasound. And we provide those free and having that information, lets her know about the development of the child in the womb, how far along she is. And if she’s considering abortion, it will give her an idea what procedure would be done, the risk factors and also the class.
Often women wanted information in considering her choices and yeah. It’s making a real difference. Many women come thinking that there’s only one way to deal with this “problem” and that’s to abort. And when they come to us they see the reality of the life within and learn about all three other options, including adoption, which I know we’ll be talking about a lot today.
Connie Going: And you know I think that that is why Adoption Associates has been so excited to be one of your partners in adoption because of the fact that you give women the whole picture. That they can choose to parent, that that is an option and you will support them along the way. And if it’s a pregnancy that they’re not ready to really deal with, that adoption and adoption education is given to them so that they could make a decision. And that’s so exciting because to know that a child will live because of a decision and because of a moment and a program like yours.
Karen Jewell: Not only will a child live, but the woman will be making a healthier decision for herself. There are a lot of physical risk involved in abortion as well as the psychological and spiritual aspects of that. A woman is made to carry life and to be nurturing, that’s in the very nature, nurture of our wiring. And to go against that … You know, certainly a woman has that right in this country to make that decision, but it really goes against her own nature, and part of what we see when women even when they come in for their ultrasound, they may not have indicated on their intake form about a previous abortion. But when they see that child on the screen, it takes her back to a previous pregnancy and termination, and realizing that the child that she terminated may have even been further along than the one she is currently carrying. So we deal with a lot of grief and sadness. And so we offer post partum counseling as well.
And if we can help women be aware of those things before making that decision then I think we’ve provided a good service. We really want to empower women with knowledge and the support that she needs to make her decision. So she makes an abortion decision, we’re here to help with the healing process afterwards, if she’s open to that. If she makes an adoption decision … Speaking of innovation, Adoption Associates just install this great system at our center. It’s in our consulting room. It’s a TV screen that picks up internet and there’s all kinds of information about adoption. What I love is that it shows it in the context of fetal development, and just how far along this development is happening as early as eight weeks after the first day of the last menstrual cycle.
And you know, we’re dealing with real human life here. So a woman shouldn’t have the be pressured to parent, if she’s not prepared for that. But nor should she be pressured to abort. There is a life giving option, and certainly there are many many parents who are desperate to have a family who haven’t been able to. So we’re happy to offer-
Connie Going: Well, I’m always amazed. I’m always amazed how adoption can empower women in a situation where they choose, where they make a choice for an unplanned pregnancy. And how they can take that and really make an adoption plan, be supported through that plan, and they’re just the highest on my … I honor them so much.
For women that are out there and listening and for those who may just have questions, if I come in to your office, what is the first thing that’s going to happen? Because I’m nervous, I’m scared. I think I’m pregnant. I’m not sure I’m pregnant. What am I going to experience?
Karen Jewell: First, you’re gonna experience a very warm, caring, confidential environment. We selected this location because of the privacy that it affords while we’re right off a busy intersection, that parking and the entrance is blocked from view by the L shape of the building. So she’ll come in to an environment that is very warm and the people who work here are extremely compassionate. We’re trained and ready to serve those who are nervous and anxious. And we’ll give her the time that she needs, just to sit and think for a while. If she wants to just go into a counseling and just let me gather my thoughts here, that’s fine. We’ll take some background information when she’s ready. She’s not required to give us any information she doesn’t want to other than we do take photo I.D. It doesn’t cost anything. We can provide a pregnancy test, a urine pregnancy test.
We have nurses and ARDMS, Sonographers, certified ARDMS. We can provide her a free ultrasound as early as four weeks after conception. It’s usually about after six weeks, but yeah we have some amazing technology. And we’re also very respectful that this … Pregnancy changes you regardless of the outcome, regardless of decision. Pregnancy changes a woman for the rest of her life. So we want to make sure that she has the space and the respect and the information and the time to make the best choice. And that’s what we work to provide here and sometimes it’s difficult because of the experience that we’ve had, but we’re here no matter what. Our goal is to love like the Lord loves each one of us and just to provide that safe place for her to come. And our hope is that she will find hope and help and real joy here.
Connie Going: I love how you say that, find hope and health and joy. And I think that at a time of such … I mean when you realize that you’re pregnant, and you go into kind of confirm that pregnancy and you’re faced with all those choices that we are given. To make the one that is truly in your heart that you know is right for you. To be given options. I know there are women and there are certain places that they may go, that may lean only in one direction whether that be abortion or whether that be parenting, but for a woman to be given the ability to sit there and reflect and given all the information and supported through those decisions. I think that is amazing.
And I love the fact that you are supportive of adoption because there are many families out there, many many families that are waiting who aren’t able to have children or have chosen adoption as their life path. And because the option are … And open adoption is such a supported type of adoption especially with Adoption Associates, to let them understand that they can have a relationship with their adoptive family.
Karen Jewell: Absolutely. Connie you know, you and I are kind of in this environment. We fully know what open adoption is. Can you talk more on that? You’re probably even more the expert than I am. What is involved in open-
Connie Going: It can be anything from you know where … I mean you can have semi-open. Semi-open would be that the birth mother just wants pictures, but open adoption. A complete open adoption is you can have a relationship and find a family that is willing to have that relationship as you become part of their family. That you meet them, you spend time with them, they get to know if you have children, you get to know their children. We have a very good story right now that is on our Facebook and on our website about called Unselfish Love. And it’s a story of a birth mother, Katie and the adoptive parents, Nikki and Adam, who have this amazing open relationship. They text each other during the week, they talk. I know that Shane, the little boy is now just, that Katie placed is just a year, and he had a birthday and he had both his adopted family and his biological mom there with his biological brother.
I mean it is an amazing … And it wasn’t done like this years ago, but to be able to have you know, when you know that you can’t parent and then you place, you can select your family. You can meet with your family. It’s about what you want. It’s your choice. And some women, they may not want open, but that’s okay too because there are families that are willing to do it any way that it works for you as the birth mom and the child. So that to me-
Karen Jewell: I’m glad that you mention, it doesn’t have to be that open. Because for some, that would be scary too. It’s like, “I don’t want to confuse my son or daughter by having two moms present at his birthday party, but I do want to feel involved in some way to see the growth, to see the … You know going through various stages and at some point, maybe you know, in teenage years or down the road, I want to be able to make a connection.” That option is available for them.
Connie Going: Absolutely. It can be anything that you imagine because there are some women who don’t feel that they’re ready to even have a relationship, but yet that information can be shared and put on hold. It all depends. I come from a time working as a birth mother social worker, where we had some that you know, girls would get pregnant, they would tell nobody. They would have no support and they would place that child in secrecy, never barely see the child or yeah even the family they went to.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You have that choice to look through family profiles and to select. To meet or not meet. To have open or semi-open or closed. It is really a period of time where we have empowered women. And that’s what I love about A Women’s Pregnancy Choice. It is really about empowering women about their choices, giving them factual information about their bodies and pregnancies. And giving them that emotional and practical assistance for women that are placing those or having those unplanned pregnancies.
Karen Jewell: Absolutely. We feel it’s important to keep the door open as well. That during the pregnancy that sense of overwhelmingness, and not knowing what kind of support there will be. She may not want to make a definite decision while she’s carrying the child. She wants to wait until the baby’s born. That’s okay. But to start looking at those very different option because sometime when the baby’s born, all of a sudden the family comes around her and will support her then. There might be disappointment and anger and even hostility, but after the baby comes, it’s like the baby is like this healing factor and it draws the family together.
Other times, it’s this overwhelmingness, “Oh my goodness! I didn’t realize how difficult this is gonna be and she can still make that option, that decision after the baby’s born. That she realizes that she is not equipped for the day in, day out responsibilities of parenting. And that’s okay too.
You know, it’s really remarkable when a woman can … I like how your story is … That Katie story is told as unselfish love. You know that as women, we have that capacity to love in such greatness that it goes beyond ourself. That we can put our children first and their needs as an individual and it’s not easy at all. It take a great amount of courage and a great amount of love. And not to say that a woman who chooses to parent as a single mom is any less because of that either. There’s heroes all around the board, but it really is to do what is best for her and the child. And you know that takes a lot of thought and consideration.
Another thing that we see here, that women struggle with is, “I already have one or two preschool children. Is it fair to bring another child into the situation when we’re already struggling?” And our response would be, “Is it really fair to you to put yourself in a position where you may feel that you have to terminate your own offspring. Is that feeling good? Do you have to parent by default? No, you don’t.”
I know of a story of a young couple that adopted a family’s third child because they were in that situation. They were just making do with their two when they had a third pregnancy. Just the story of love. This young couple were just desperate for a child and wow. There’s just love going around.
Connie Going: Isn’t it amazing?
Karen Jewell: It really is. It really is.
Connie Going: I think that once adoption touches you in any way, your life is forever changed and I think that the goal of making that a positive experience and for the children that are alive because their moms made a choice to either parent and move forward or choose to place their child for adoption. I think that it is the most unselfish because there are … To empower women to have a choice, I think is the ultimate … People talk about choices, but then they don’t give women all the information. I think we hear that continually. And so, I was just so excited to be able to talk to you and let women know that your agency exist, your non-profit exist, and that they can go there and get this counseling and this advice and this support.
Karen Jewell: And I appreciate the opportunity to speak on that too because this whole issue of “choice” is so divisive. And that’s unfortunate because when real choice exist, it really does empower women and it is for the best for everyone involved. So while we can criticism from the community, we’re really here to benefit women and to care for them in ways that they won’t receive anywhere else.
Connie Going: And I think that people need to understand that it is, you’re not telling somebody what to do, you’re giving them the choice. And I think that is a big difference because that does not happen in every type of crisis pregnancy center. That doesn’t happen in a planned parenthood. That doesn’t happen in … Other agencies have different purpose, and what I really enjoyed you know, I mean it’s very obvious where your heart is at as an agency. And that you are not supportive or pro abortion, that you really want to educate that mom, but you’re giving her that option and that education. And I think that is really what’s needed.
Karen Jewell: I do too. And again, not everybody agrees with what we do. We had a mother of a 19 year old who is pregnant call and was quite upset with us because we had told her daughter the process of abortion at 20 weeks gestation. And the mom said, “She didn’t need to know that.” I said, “For her to make a knowledgeable education decision, she did.” Now, I couldn’t talk about the particulars with the mom because it’s confidentiality. You know, I couldn’t even affirm how far she was gestationally. That is private information, but I did respond to the criticism of, “You gave her information she didn’t need.” No, we all need information. How can you make a choice without knowing what’s involved and without knowing … You know we told her, “You don’t have to give up your college education. There are women who go to school, who even get financial assistance because they have a dependent. And there’s childcare available on campus. And that’s a good thing, you don’t have to give up your goals and your dreams because you’re pregnant.it’s not the end of the world.” Then the mom just-
Connie Going: She didn’t get it.
Karen Jewell: The grandmother to be just hadn’t seen that side of it you know.
Connie Going: Well and because we are in a society that is very much … I don’t know how to describe, but it’s very much, you have an issue, you deal with it. And I think that we don’t always educate ourself to all the different ramifications about what goes into that decision. And no matter where you stand on this I don’t think you can argue that women need to have the knowledge, whether you believe in your heart that you know, that this is the way or that is the way. I think that to understand that to make any of those decisions, you have to have all the information. Because you’re not going to get that information in a clinic, you’re just not going to get it. You’re going to get scheduled and you’re going to have a procedure.
Karen Jewell: And anytime we withhold information either purposely or not, often it is purposely, isn’t that saying that somebody else thinks that they know what’s best for us.
Connie Going: And you know what, it’s funny you say that because I feel that as a social worker, we’re not God. And it’s not our choice to decide for somebody else what they need to do. And I feel that if you bring them in their faith to where they need to be in their relationship with God and you look at and you give them all these choices then they have to make their decision. Because it’s their life, it’s not mind to judge or to look at.
Karen Jewell: That’s right. It’s should always be her decision and made with all the information that’s available to her. So some would say, “Yeah, but this party slants it this way and that party, slants in that way.” We work really hard not to slant. Even as we’re doing an ultrasound. She maybe sending us signals that she’s making a life decision, but we keep saying, “It’s your decision. How can we help?”
And the other thing she’ll find when she come to us, we ask permission, “Is it okay if we follow up with you? If we didn’t hear from you within a week, is it okay if we call you?” And if she says no, we’re done.
Connie Going: Right.
Karen Jewell: We’re there for what she wants, not for what we want. We don’t make any profit off of any decision that she makes. This is all about her. And with that, that gives her the ability to step in and step away, no strings attached. And I think that’s important really to be free to make the choices and decisions that are hers. It’s very private. It’s very personal. Like I said, pregnancy will change her life forever. She may not fully understand that or appreciate that at that time, but it’s not something that goes away. It doesn’t go away with birth. It doesn’t go away with miscarriage. It doesn’t go away with adoption. It doesn’t go away with abortion. That reality of pregnancy, of life in the womb will stay with her for her lifetime.
Connie Going: And it will affect everything forward. That decision, no matter how you move forward will affect how you move forward in your life and you have lived your life and how you look at your life and you can just put in a closet and say that it didn’t happen.
Karen Jewell: Absolutely.
Connie Going: It’s just not healthy.
Karen Jewell: You know, real quick because I know our time is running out, but this program that we have here is a gift from Adoption Associates, also talks about some successful adoptions in the past. For my own sake, I just did an internet search and people who were adopted. And this is amazing because sometimes you hear horror stories about adoption, and you always hear the bad, you don’t hear the good. I just Googled, “People who are adoptions, outcomes.” Faith Hill, adopted child. Sheryl Crow, adoptive parent. Tom Cruz, adoptive parent. Bill Clinton was adopted. Bill Gates was adopted. You know-
Connie Going: I never knew that.
Karen Jewell: Yeah. Jesse Jackson was adopted. Here he is so pro-abort and yet he, himself was an adopted child you know.
Connie Going: It makes me want to go down and have a conversation with him. Oh yeah.
Karen Jewell: Joni Mitchell was a birth mom, who placed a child for adoption when she was 20 years old. I know that’s before most of us were around.
Connie Going: But I love talking about that because I don’t think that people realize that adoption awareness is … And I’m really passionate about that is that when you stay in another and you start talking about adoption, all of sudden someone will say, “Well, I was adopted or I’m an adoptive parent, or I placed …” And people will tell you, “I was a birth mom.” And I feel that we … To take a way the stigma that is you know, the veil that came over adoption years ago is so important to have this conversation. Because adoption many many people who are adopted have a wonderful incredible life, and adoptive parents do it because not just their own selfish need to be a parent, but because they truly believe their mission in life is to take care of an orphan. Take care of a child, or to have an open relationship with a birth mother. That to me is …
This most recent movement in open adoption, I have the honor of writing that series for Adoption Associates, and every time I talk to Katie that birth mother and Nikki and Adam, I’m just in awe of how they have so unselfishly chose to raise all their children with such openness and love. And I think wow! I just love them. And I feel so honored to write-
Karen Jewell: Love wins every time. Doesn’t it?
Connie Going: Love is [crosstalk 00:27:40] It’s so true.
Karen Jewell: Yes. Love wins every time. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. I think that’s where we get confused a lot in our society today. That everything you know, we have a choice and had this child by choice. You know, that everything is supposed to be peachy, rosy, fine, and easy and that’s not the case. Love is not easy, but love always wins. There’s great strength and beauty and joy in love, no matter what. And that’s what faith is for us too that when we believe in God’s love, look at the adoption he has for us. You know, that while we are yet sinners, he calls us to be his child and to be adopted into his family. Wow!
Connie Going: It’s the highest example. And I think that … You know, I love what you said that love wins. I don’t think I could say that any better because that is what it is about, it’s loving yourself enough to make a supported, intelligent, educated decision and loving your child enough to make a decision that will change somebody’s life, will change their life, your life and we just want to be there to support you. A Woman’s Pregnancy Choice is there. Yes. And I am just so excited to talk about that, but I can’t end any better than love wins. I just can’t. I just think that …
Karen Jewell: And I want women to know that they can contact us through the web at womanspregnancychoice.com. Woman is plural, pregnancychoice.com or they call us at 248-471-5858. That’s 248-471-5858. And again, no obligations, but we’re here to serve.
Connie Going: That’s wonderful and Karen, I want to thank you for being here. And everybody, when you see this come across your Facebook, if you’re listening now, if you’re going to tune in later to the archive messages, please share this segment. I think it’s so important. Share the word and the message and just share the love.
Karen Jewell: Let’s let love win.
Connie Going: Love wins.
Karen Jewell: Absolutely.
Connie Going: Thanks again and I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend. Take care and thanks.
Karen Jewell: Thank you. God bless.
Connie Going: God bless. Buh bye.
Karen Jewell: Buh bye.