Continued from page 5

Pro-life groups are also determined to keep the “adoption option” alive and well.

Feminists for Life, for instance, is urging Congress to push colleges to offer services for pregnant and parenting college students, such as those offered at Georgetown University.

Campus officials too often steer young women to abortion, saying, “Well, you can’t graduate if you have the baby,” said Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life. But what’s the use of being pro-choice if there aren’t any choices, she asked.

Another way to encourage adoption is to hold a dedication ceremony as part of the adoption, said Ms. O’Connor-Petts, who placed her child for adoption more than a decade ago.

When she gave her baby to his adoptive parents, for instance, it was in a Catholic church. A priest presided over the “entrustment ceremony” and blessed all the participants. Afterward, the baby went home with his new parents, and Ms. O’Connor-Petts went home with her parents.

Jessicas story

Ms. O’Connor-Petts was a young, single college graduate when she learned she was pregnant. Marriage was not an option, but adoption was.

“We had always talked in my household growing up about abortion, and how adoption was such a natural choice for a woman not ready to parent,” she said. “So for me, it wasn’t such a long decision process. It was really the first thing that came to mind.”

She still toyed with the idea of single parenting.

“Financially, I could have done it,” she said. “But I was realistic with myself about what it would have meant for me — my goals, aspirations and what it would have meant for my child, who would have been in day care a lot.”

Also, there were many good prospective parents out there, “and it didn’t make sense to me to put my son in a situation where he probably wouldn’t have everything that I would want for him. He especially wouldn’t have the two-parent upbringing that I would want for him,” she said.

Ms. O’Connor-Petts initially pursued a “closed” adoption through Catholic Charities, which meant “I wasn’t going to know last names, but I would get updates and photos through the agency.”

But later, as the baby got older, “we all felt, and expressed to each other through the agency, that we would all be more comfortable with more contact.”

Today, she sees her birth son’s family a few times a year. He was also the ring bearer in her wedding and her sister’s wedding a few years ago.

The boy, who is now 11, has already asked her why she placed him for adoption.

Story Continues →