The table was set for 11 strangers who share a common bond…
By Carolanne Wilson
ALEXANDRIA, VA-In a second-floor co-working space overlooking Mount Vernon Ave., the final touches for a small dinner party were being put together. The entryway welcomed guests with goodie bags and colorful desserts and the ambiance was feminine, intimate, inviting. Circled around dainty fresh bouquets, the table was set for 11 complete strangers who share a common bond – they chose to give their child up for adoption. These women are known as birth moms.
The Alexandria-based dinner on May 9 was the first of its kind in the city. Hosted by two-Alexandria residents, Julie Kelleher and Sara Butler, the event served women from across the greater Washington area.
“My passion has really gravitated towards Birth Mothers and I believe that they are this unknown, underserved population, so BraveLove has been an awesome entity to join forces with,” said Kelleher, an adoptive mom and adoption advocate who also works with the National Council for Adoption located in Old Town.
Butler is a mother to three girls and has been active with BraveLove this past year. Her story as a birth mom begins the day after her college graduation when she found out she was pregnant.
She recalled going through her options: “Do I get an abortion? I was always very pro-life, but when you are in that situation…it was very eye-opening,” she said. “I thought about keeping him. But, how does that look? Am I living at home? Are my parents helping? And then I thought about marrying (my child’s father).”
A Second Chance
Events like this are happening across the country thanks to Atlanta-based BraveLove, a pro-adoption nonprofit dedicated to changing the perception of adoption by acknowledging birth moms for their decision. During the month of May (usually the weekend before Mother’s Day) and November (National Adoption Month), BraveLove initiates nationwide “pop-up dinners” for women who chose adoption.
After working with a private agency and then a lawyer, Butler interviewed three possible couples for her now 10-year-old child, with whom she has stayed connected.
“I chose (my son’s parents) because, in a way, they connected with me versus ‘We want your goods,’ which is what some of (the couples interviewing) felt like… The first thing they said to me was, ‘We are so proud of you for choosing life.’”
It wasn’t until she had her three daughters with her husband that she sought counseling. Last year, she decided to talk about her experience on social media and found it to be liberating.
“Before I would start telling the story, I would start crying and have a panic attack,” Butler said. “We aren’t supposed to walk around in shame. God’s point is that I am free of that. I am not a bad person.”