The wonderful Jamie Morris and Marshall (22 months). Jamie is also mother to Abigail Marye miscarried into her hands on 12/25/05.
Jamie grew up in a home, with parents who had both been considerably abused as children both physically and sexually. While they didn't continue the cycles there was a lot of emotional carry over and brokenness that surrounded her upbringing.
When Jamie was a young teen, close friends of hers were fostering a little girl who had been shaken and thrown against a wall by her birth mother. She was predicted to be vegetative due to her traumatic brain injuries but Jamie just fell in love with her. She and her brother introduced the idea of adopting this child to her parents and Jamie is now proud to call her, her sister. Jamie's sister has thrived in their care and though it has been a very intensive and difficult road she has exceeded every prediction set forth about the quality of her life. Jamie credits her sister for informing most of her life decisions including her decision to become a neuro occupational therapist and later adopt a child with special needs herself.
At 19, in her first year of college, Jamie found herself in an abusive relationship. She and her high school sweetheart had continued their relationship into college and at some point it had gone from being emotionally to psychologically abusive, to physically and sexually abusive as well. He was her first sexual partner and at the time she didn't realize that she had been being raped and that being forced to lay completely still during sex "like a doll" were not normal or safe for her. It was during one of these sexual attacks that she conceived her daughter.
Jamie went home for Christmas break and took a pregnancy test with a friend that was positive. After a doctor confirmed her pregnancy her mom took her in for an ultrasound. Jamie finally got to see her baby and suddenly everything felt real. The experience however, furthered her sexual trauma. Jamie had a male ultrasound tech who performed an internal ultrasound and berated her for bleeding. He demanded to know why she was even there, if she was already bleeding and her pregnancy wasn't viable but she hadn't been, everything had been fine before he inserted the wand and the blood started to flow. She learned that her baby had already passed at 12-13 weeks and didn't know what to do. She was sent home and told just to expect a heavy period. She had severe cramping, full blown labor pains and finally, on Christmas morning delivered her baby into her hand. Jamie was so stunned at the time she didn't know what it was and just flushed the toilet. She got in the shower and soon realized what had just happened, she didn't know what to do or what to ask for. It wasn't until she was much older that she learned she had the right to name her baby and was allowed to grieve her loss.
Christmas Day was always horrible for Jamie. When she was twelve a close friend from her small town was kidnapped, abused, murdered and found on Christmas Day in a drain pipe. Her dad was in the search party that found the girl which made it feel even closer to home. Christmas Day was also the day that she always had to push off a family member who was very abusive and would try to touch her and grab her sexually. And now she had given birth to her dead baby silently and alone on the same horrible day.
In the aftermath of this loss, Jamie attempted to set her life on a different path. She went back to school and unfortunately fell into another abusive relationship in which she was date raped severely multiple times, often waking up with him on her and in her. She says she didn't know she could speak up for herself. That she could say no. That it wasn't okay. Finally, Jamie she sought counseling,healing, and change and learned a lot about herself. She had a female psychology professor at school who mentored her and was a huge influence in her life. Her mentor was a feminist and helped her realize that she had worth, that she was equal. Her entire life changed.
Jamie worked in foster care between graduating college and getting her Master's in OT and realized that if she were ever to have more children she wanted to adopt. She knew she couldn't live through another miscarriage and due to her fibromyalgia and other chronic health conditions knew that another pregnancy would likely be high-risk and that she could potentially pass these conditions onto a biological child. She had a heart for children with special needs and there were already so many children out there who others were choosing to pass over that she felt compelled to choose adoption first.
Dating seriously became tricky as she realized that most men wanted to have at least one child of their own. Until, she met her husband who also had always wanted to adopt. After they were married, they had just started looking into adoption when Jamie was on Facebook one day and came across a posting from an adoption agency in Chicago with a little boy, "Baby K", who they couldn't place due his neurological conditions.
Baby K's birth parents were just teenagers, the first of their families to go to college. They chose to place their baby for adoption openly and were looking into families. His mother hadn't had any prenatal care prior to 32 weeks when she went into preterm labor. They were able to stop that labor and began to monitor her but at 34 weeks, she had a placental abruption and both she and her baby nearly lost their lives. Baby K was born dead and had to be resuscitated. It took them 10 minutes to revive him and he immediately started having seizures. They diagnosed him with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) immediately and he had a severe hemorrhagic stroke in his left occipital lobe causing much of the tissue to die. Because he had drown in amniotic fluid his ventricles were stretched and then receded quickly causing severe leukomalacia spots around his ventricles. He's also mostly blind due to cortical vision impairment and has a lesion near the sleep center of his brain which means that getting him to sleep has always been nearly impossible. The doctors put him on 72 hour cooling protocol which saved his brain and allowed him to live but all of the families who had been interested in adopting him, immediately backed out. They didn't want to parent a "broken" baby.
Baby K was left to live on the nursing floor of the adoption facility for the first 4 months of his life. The rotation nurses certainly gave him love but they did not know how to meet his neurological needs. He had never left that room and by the time Jamie met him he had a lot of the same issues that babies in orphanages do. He had very high tone in his back, was rigid and stiff, and because he could stand up as young infant they let him stand. He also had severe plagiocephaly and torticollis from laying flat for so long.
Baby K is now Marshall and Jamie and her husband are so grateful to be his parents but it hasn't been an easy road. After falling in love with Marshall they had to have home studies done for both Colorado and Chicago as they were adopting across state lines. Though they had been approved with flying colors and Marshall's birth parents chose them, they ran into legal loopholes that left Jamie stuck with Marshall in Chicago for 6 weeks after they took placement before they able to bring him home. She had been staying with a friend of a friend as they navigated the final steps of their adoption and she was gracious enough to keep her doors open to them.
One woman from Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) who needed to sign off on them leaving the state with Marshall had decided that Jamie was an unfit mother because she had fibromyalgia, anxiety and had previously sought counseling. Her job was to prevent human trafficking not make these decisions but she was trying to block the adoption and they now had to wait for state approval as well. Doctors had already signed off on everything, they had been cleared at the FBI office, but they now had to fight for their child.
Jamie had previously taken a course on postpartum depression with adoption and brushed it off as something that had would never happen to her. But after this struggle to bring Marshall home and after being left alone with a special needs infant experiencing the world for the first time with a mother he was just learning to know and trust - everything felt very intense. Her husband had to return to work and while the woman who they were staying with helped as much as she could Jamie was navigating uncharted territory and later realized that she absolutely had danced with PPD for awhile. It had stuck in her head that someone said she was unfit, she was up every hour with a child who could not be soothed, she was exhausted and uncertain.
At 5 months old, Jamie and her husband, were finally able to bring their son home. Motherhood has been more wonderful and more challenging than Jamie ever could have imagined. Marshall's care is very involved with lots of specialists and therapies but together they have learned so much. They are bonded, he is exceeding every expectation, he is happy. Skin to skin time, non-nutritive sucking, baby wearing and co-sleeping have allowed Jamie and Marshall to bond in a way that they struggled to forge for so long.
Their adoption is open and Jamie also feels incredibly bonded to Marshall's birth parents. She was in their shoes when she was pregnant with her daughter, afraid to go to the doctor and uncertain what her future would be. They have given her the greatest gift of being able to call herself mother to Marshall who forever changed not only her life but Christmas for her in the best of ways. Marshall was also born on Christmas and now, it's one of her happiest days.
Jamie wants other women to know that you can chose adoption first.
"Whatever you're going through, you're not alone - there is someone, somewhere walking your path."