Joi Wasill is a mom on a mission: A mission to correct people’s outdated perceptions about birthmothers and adoption.
It all started when her son, Jacob, then nine, presented his adoption story to his class. One response in particular stung. ”Hmmm, so your real mom didn’t want you?” a classmate asked him.
Joi got a similar reaction when she shared Jacob’s adoption story with friends: they thought Jacob was lucky and that his adoptive parents were great, but they had nothing nice to say about his birthmother.
But the real turning point came when a friend’s teenage daughter got pregnant and made an adoption plan, only to change her mind after receiving negative comments from classmates and teachers.
“’Don’t you love your baby?” people asked her. “No one will ever love the baby like you do. Your baby will grow up to hate you for giving it up for adoption.”
Joi knew there was another side to adoption — one that was missing from the conversations in her community and schools.
An educator by training, she believed that people needed to get better informed about the different options that are available today for women facing an unplanned pregnancy, especially teenagers.
One of the things she wanted to do was replace the negative language associated with birthmothers and adoption with something more positive.
Instead of “give up a child,” she wanted people to know that prospective birthmothers today make a plan and take an active role in the pre-placement process.
That includes everything from choosing and meeting their child’s future adoptive parents to making a hospital plan and having ongoing contact as their child grows up.
Since Joi’s original presentation to a high school back in 2002, she has created a non-profit group called “Decisions, Choices and Options” that currently educates about 12,000 students at public and private schools each year in her home state of Tennessee.
But she’s not done yet. In the future, Joi plans to expand her mission and her message to other states including Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina and Texas.
Other adoptive mothers might have kept quiet when their child’s birthmother was disparaged. But not this one. And because of that, thousands of people are better informed today about adoption and the choices that birthmothers make.
A version of this story originally appeared in Live Action News. Photo Credit: Decisions, Choices & Options.
Do you have an open adoption story? Email us any time or find out more about how to share it with our community.
Help us remove the stigma surrounding open adoption. Like us on Facebook.