Jacob Wasill was nine when he shared his adoption story with his class. He was stunned and hurt when the response of one of his classmates was “Hmmm, so your real mom didn’t want you?” When Jacob’s parents, Billy and Joi Wasill, mentioned to friends that Jacob was adopted (an event, not a lifestyle), the friends thought Jacob was lucky, and that Billy and Joi were wonderful, but had disparaging remarks about his birth mother.
When Joi’s best friend’s teenage daughter got pregnant and knew that marriage and parenting were not possible, she made an adoption plan for her preborn child. She wanted an open adoption and selected a couple who lived in the area. As the pregnancy progressed, she backed out of that decision.
She said that every day at school she met with nothing but disparaging comments from her classmates and even some teachers about her decision to make an adoption plan. Don’t you love your baby? No one will ever love the baby like you do. Your baby will grow up to hate you for giving it up for adoption. These were typical comments she endured each day. She was made to feel like she was a bad person. These events propelled Joi to do something to correct these outdated stereotypes of adoption and show adoption as the loving and life-affirming option that it is.
An educator by training, Joi knew that the community and especially the schools needed to be educated about the beauty of adoption. Adoption today is not like the inaccurate TV movies filled with drama. Adoptions today can be confidential, semi-open, or open, with the birth mother making that decision. Outdated and negative adoption language needs to be replaced with positive adoption language.
The birth mother is not “giving up”; she is making an adoption plan. Contrary to the negative image, birth mothers making an adoption plan are brave, courageous, and practicing sacrificial love. Research tells us that less than 1% of unplanned pregnancies end in adoption. This has tragic consequences for the child and our country.
Her original presentation was known as “The Adoption Option,” presented to one high school in her hometown of Hendersonville, TN in 2002. This was followed by other requests and soon turned into a written curriculum known as Decisions, Choices and Options. Today, this nonprofit currently educates approximately 12,000 students every year in middle Tennessee. The engaging, fact-based, and impeccably sourced material is accepted in public and private schools. Pregnancy resource centers are partnering with Decisions, Choices and Options in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, South Carolina, and Texas to present this prevention education program.
Studies have shown that when presented the facts of adoption and what it looks like today, teens are more likely to choose adoption in an unplanned pregnancy so their children can have life – and abundant lives, as members of a families headed by married mothers and fathers.
Joi Wasill can be contacted at [email protected].