My husband and I started the foundation because we believe in hope, promise and sacrifice. Working with pregnant women who choose adoption, knowing the emotional journey they are choosing and the future opportunities their unborn child will have has undefined value and heroism. These women deserve a second chance at their own dreams not only because of their selfless decision, but because of the legacy they leave behind.
Not all heroes wear capes, they just wear smiles. I learned this through my own adoption story. My biological mother was a hero and never understood the gravity or significance of her choice. She loved and lost without support, she dreamed and hoped without fail, and yet through patience and sacrifice she finally prevailed. The tragedy in my own adoption story is my biological mother will never have the opportunity of knowing the impact her life and choice had on hundreds, maybe thousands of other women.
Living life, wanting to believe that your life made an impact on others; a footprint that really improved the lives of others is the goal of most people. Sometimes people leave a footprint in the sand, others fade away without a legacy, yet a small handful leave a hole the size of the Grand Canyon. That was my birth mother, she has left a huge footprint and has paved the future for birth mothers now and in the future. Aftercare services for birthmothers will forever be tied to her name, making that her legacy. Since she went without any aftercare services, she suffered and other family members suffered, but not in vain, in sacrifice. Their sacrifice wasn’t a choice or an offering, it was bestowed among them for lack of post adoption services.
Donna K. Evans was a woman full of love, laughter and vigor, yet she held a secret from many and felt shameful for her adoption choice for the better part of her short life. Placing a baby (me) for adoption after just turning sixteen years old and her and her mother only telling a few family members festered in her mind for decades. Her shame and guilt grew as the years passed by, confiding in a few friends and family members as though she had committed a cardinal sin. She would look at children and later adults everywhere she went, wondering if they might be the baby she placed for adoption. It wasn’t until she was almost fifty years old that I walked back into her life.
Walking back into my birth mother’s life was for her like I had been resurrected from the dead. She had never been given the opportunity to see me, hold me or kiss me goodbye in the hospital and so seeing me at thirty-four years old was her mind unreal. She began our relationship with apologies and explanations for her adoption choice. She was full of fear and shame and after decades of self-condemnation, she was unable to ever fully free herself from those shackles of judgement. When she learned that I had co-founded an adoption agency, she was shocked and surprised at why I would want to help other women with placing a baby for adoption. My reunification was the opportunity she had waited thirty-four years for, but it also outed her secret to all of the family and friends who didn’t know she had a third child, baby girl.
Back in the 1970s, becoming pregnant out of wedlock, at sixteen years old was not looked at in a positive nature. Women were often sent away during their pregnancies and would return after their baby was born. My mother hid her pregnancy from everyone, including herself. At thirty-seven weeks pregnant, she and my biological grandmother were informed that a baby was going to be born at any time. After my biological grandmother passed out and regained consciousness, she and the family doctor went in a separate room and created an adoption plan. My young birth mother sat in the other room trying to comprehend the new that not only was she pregnant, but she had to figure out in her sateen year old mind, how to explain to her mother how and why she had engaged in sexual relations. Reluctantly going along with the adoption plan her mother set into action was the path taken. Unfortunately, the dominos fell after my birth; my mother dropped out of the tenth grade, ran away back to her previous home in West Virginia, found comfort with another boyfriend, got married at seventeen and had my biological brother on her eighteenth birthday. Life after my birth never got easier or less complicated. Decision after decision, lead her down a path of a difficult life and she never had the opportunity to change the course.
When she passed away at fifty-nine years from pneumonia, I knew something in the adoption world had to change. My mother’s life story is unfortunately not unique or rare, in actuality it is all too common. My husband’s promise to my dying mother that her life would not die in vain has materialized into the ability for the adoption world to understand that an adoption is not over after a baby is adopted, the baby and the adoptive parents are not the only two entities who matter and change has to happen and it has to happen now. Yes, people have to volunteer and donate, yes sacrifices on behalf of agencies, social workers, and individuals have to be made, but all in the name of aftercare services for pregnant women who make the selfless choice of adoption.
For those know had the opportunity of meeting my mother, of knowing the kind of person she was, unanimously they would say she was someone you could never forget. She was that kind of woman people write songs about and I will often hear verses that remind me of her from various artists. She was real with attributes and faults; she would give you the shirt off her back but swear like a sailor when she felt wronged. Donna would give her last bite to anyone who asked but fistfight anyone who demeaned her. Her fighting spirit will always stay alive. Now, from the grave, she will continue to fight for the women who make the same adoption choice she made, so they can have a better life.
If you are interested in donating, please go to our website at www.dkefoundation.com.