Member Spotlight: Jenny C’s Adoption Journey

Jenny C signed up for Cleo through her employer as she was pursuing adoption of a baby. Jenny’s Cleo Guide supported her after an initial match fell through and helped her feel supported and when she matched with Baby Charlotte and brought her home as an infant.

“It takes a village to navigate adoption, like so many things in life. You need to lean on your village—people you know and don’t know—to navigate it. Amy, my Cleo Guide, was genuinely supportive and caring for me at every step of the way.”

Cleo support during an uncertain time

Jenny always knew she wanted to be a parent and decided adoption was the right path for her. After months of waiting, in June 2019 she matched to adopt a baby that was due in December of that year. That same month she saw a note from her HR team about Cleo as a service for parents and signed up for support as she awaited the arrival of her baby. Jenny was paired with Amy, a Cleo Guide, and they had a call to get to know each other and discuss how Amy could best support Jenny throughout her journey.

“She helped answer new mom questions, but new mom questions with no baby like in sight and no baby in my possession. Adoption is so different because you’re not pregnant for nine months. You’re constantly getting ready for this baby, but you’re not pregnant to watch it evolve. I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I wanted to feel prepared, so I asked Amy all of my questions, like what baby monitor to get, diapers, everything.

She was so helpful and sent me a great list of recommendations for items so that I could feel prepared. We also talked about formula feeding and she sent me information about different formula options. Amy then checked in each month to see how I was doing, what questions I had, and if she could support me with anything.”

Amy also connected Jenny with various specialists from the Cleo network, including a doula who specializes in sleep training and a therapist to speak with Jenny and help her feel confident and prepared as she awaited the arrival of the baby.

Things do not always go to plan

Jenny had worked with her team and notified her clients that she would be taking parental leave and was all ready to start her parenting journey with her first match. Two weeks before the due date and the match was canceled.

Jenny was devastated, “The birth mother changed her mind two weeks before the baby was born. It’s like having miscarriage. You are planning for something and are super excited for it and then it gets yanked from you.” She emailed Amy to tell her the news. In order to make sure Jenny had the emotional support and guidance she needed, Amy checked in monthly as Jenny awaited another match.

“Her monthly check ins even while there was no baby were appreciated and it is nice to know you have someone thinking about you.”

A sudden start to parenthood

In May 2020, five months after her first match was canceled, Jenny received a call that a baby was just born and she was selected as the match. When that happens, adoptive parents need to be ready to go. Jenny immediately drove to meet the baby—her daughter, Charlotte.

Jenny brought Charlotte home and began her journey as a mother. Amy was one of the first people Jenny shared her news with. “When Charlotte arrived, she was genuinely excited for me. She’d walked this path with me as had just a handful of people. Whether it’s adoption or just trying to have a child naturally, or with IVF or whatever the case may be, there are certain people who take the time out of their day to let you know they are cheering for you. And Amy was one of those people for me.”

After Baby Charlotte was home with Jenny, Amy sent notes every week or so to check in and share information about infant development to help Jenny know what to expect.

“Amy was really sweet offering advice and again, checking in to make sure Charlotte was well, I was well, and sharing milestones that were relevant to that age and stage.”

Advice for other families considering adoption

Jenny wanted to share her story of adopting Charlotte because she found it very difficult to find information and stories of adoption when she began her own journey of adopting a child and was easily discouraged.

“I am a single mom and a couple of agencies early on wished me luck and made it seem impossible. Once I found the right people to speak to and work with, I knew it was possible! Don’t give up!”

Jenny also mentioned that often the stories you hear are the success stories. They may not include the details of how long the process actually took or whether matches fell apart (which is more common than many realize). She cares about elevating conversations about adoption and highlighting that adoption is a wonderful option for individuals and couples looking to build their family and that it shouldn’t be considered as a last resort option because it can be a great first option too (as it was for Jenny and Charlotte).

Lastly, Jenny noted that most resources for expecting and new parents are geared towards parents that give birth to a child. That support for adoptive parents is just as important and she is grateful to have had Cleo as a resource during her journey.

As of November 2020, Charlotte is six months old, and a happy, healthy baby!