Ellen Porter with her children. Photo by  Danny Fulgencio

Ellen Porter with her children. Photo by Danny Fulgencio

When Ellen Porter talks about adoption she jumps up in her seat and grabs at the edges of its fabric. To Porter, the heroism of women who give their children up for adoption leaves her in awe each day. Now a mom of four, two of them adopted, Porter started her own organization, BraveLove, to educate the public about the courage it takes to give one’s child a better life.

What prompted you to start BraveLove?

Frank Garrott, president of the Gladney Center for Adoption, and president of the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center, Mary Jayne Fogerty, and I got together to talk about the gap in women who [choose] adoption. Two percent of struggling pregnant women give their children up for adoption. As an adoptive mother I have two adopted children and two of my own. I clearly have a heart for women who give their children up for adoption. I started BraveLove to change the perception about those women and adoption.

What do you think the perception is?

There is a lot of shame surrounding unwed pregnancy and unwed mothers. We are trying to change the way people think about that. Yes, she got pregnant, but now this birthmother and birthfather can choose a way that’s noble and brave.

There are a lot of people that think it’s weak and immoral to give one’s child up for adoption. There are people that don’t think the adoptive mother is brave. What do you say to them?

Women who choose to place for adoption, they are not women that don’t love their children. They love their children so much and they can’t provide for them. Whether they are single mothers or 16 years old and not ready and equipped. Birthmothers have 100 percent involvement in the decision making process on who gets to rear and raise their children. Birthmothers look through profiles and can pick and choose people who will raise their children. That is an empowering fact for these young mothers who don’t feel equipped. I will say this: adoption is not the right choice for every woman in an unplanned pregnancy, but for those women who don’t feel equipped, adoption can be.

What made you decide to adopt?

Reid [husband] and I lived in San Antonio while in he was in law school. We went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and he talked about his three adopted kids. He gave a presentation on adoption and we immediately knew we were called to this. Fast-forward three years and we are trying to have children, but it wasn’t coming along too easily. We now have five-year-old Caleb from Guatemala, our biological five-year-old son Bennett, our biological two-year-old son Silas and two-year-old daughter Micah from China.

How long after adopting did you start BraveLove?

Right in the middle of it. In Summer 2011 I was meeting with Frank and Mary Jayne about how only 2 percent of women choose to place and what to do about it. Micah came home Sept. 6 from China and the BraveLove kick-off party was Sept. 26.

What does your organization, BraveLove, aim to do?

Our vision is that adoption will become a common path for women who experience unplanned pregnancies. We seek to be a clearinghouse for adoption information, resources and stories.

Do you have goals or deadlines you want to meet?

We have a strategic plan. This year we are going to do a “birthmother’s day” celebration. Oftentimes Mother’s Day can be a hard day for birthmothers. You can go on our website and purchase a gift basket to send to a birthmother you know, or donate it to us and we’ll send it to a birthmother. We are also going to put out informational brochures in women’s clinics and pregnancy resource centers. We seek to commission research about who birthmothers are, where they are from and why they choose to place.

What point do you really want to get across?

Everybody is an influence over the perception of adoption. Everybody plays a roll in the birthmothers’ choice to place for adoption. We need to realize our perceptions affect the decisions others make. We seek for BraveLove to touch everybody in its sphere of influence — grandparents, teachers, pastors, friends and family. This is not just a movement for birthmothers, it’s for everybody.

There are some that would ask you why women should give their children up for adoption instead of trying to find a way to raise them themselves.

This is definitely something we’ve talked about a whole bunch. BraveLove is not about separating babies from their mothers. Its about women who can’t do it and don’t have the support. We want to let them know it’s brave to adopt. We just want other people to realize adoption can also be a loving choice for your child. When I get letters from birthmothers and I read them, it rips my heart out, but then I think about their courage and I applaud them.

To get involved visit BraveLove.com

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