Courtney and Tom Gilmour have been raising siblings Janielle and Elijah for the last three years. The whole family decided to take a trip to Walt Disney World for a very special reason.
The kids thought they were going just for fun, but Courtney and Tom had something even bigger planned. They were going to surprise the kids and tell them they were finally going to be adopted. The parents decided to get Mickey Mouse in on the surprise and so they booked a Fastpass to see Mickey at Main Street.
The adoption was revealed with a cute sign saying, "Your Adoption Day" with that days date written on it. When the park noticed what they were celebrating they made sure to capture the moment on video. What a beautiful surprise!
Senior year is supposed to be the pinnacle of high school. It’s a year meant to be brimming with excitement over the possibilities of tomorrow. But just a few months before graduation, fear and worry took the place of excitement for Kaleena Pysher, who was suddenly faced with some very tough decisions. And that’s because Kaleena was 18 and pregnant.
Before finding out that she was carrying a child, Kaleena had been planning to go on to college to become a dental hygienist. She’d even landed a scholarship. But now she had another life to consider -- one that, even at the young age of 18, she recognized took priority over hers. Which left her to ponder -- what decision would give her baby the best life possible?
Kaleena had seen the struggles young mothers face first hand, when her sister had a baby at 14 years old. She knew keeping the baby would mean putting her life on hold. She realized that at 18, she didn’t have nearly enough life experience to care for a child, and she also recognized the financial burden she’d be placing on her parents, who she’d be relying on to support both herself and her baby. Kaleena realized that the best option for her baby was to find a loving family to adopt her.
God had already put that family into Kaleena’s life. She knew of a couple that was looking to adopt a baby. The woman used to babysit Kaleena when she was young, and she knew this was the perfect family to love and care for her unborn daughter. Kaleena says,
“I would trust her with my life. I would trust her with my baby. She will get quality love, parental guidance and a good education. She wouldn’t be able to get that with me.”
And so, arrangements were made for an open adoption -- one where Kaleena would still have the ability to play a role into her daughter’s life. After all, she was doing this out of love for this child -- a love that only grew over 9 months of pregnancy where she felt her little girl grow and kick and even get the hiccups. During that time, Kaleena says, “I bonded with her.”
And this bond only grew stronger when Kaleena finally delivered a healthy baby girl, Raylie.
“As soon as she came out, they plopped her on my chest,” Kaleena said. “She was crying. I was just so happy.”
When the adoptive parents arrived, Kaleena turned Raylie over to them. Despite the strong bond she felt with the tiny girl, Kaleena wanted to make sure her daughter bonded with her new parents. They let Kaleena choose the baby’s middle name -- Brooke.
For many, that would have been the end of the story. Kaleena would have returned to her life and Raylie would go off with her adoptive family to live happily ever after. But Kaleena wanted to make sure her daughter had the best life possible in every way. So, what she did next was truly an act of selfless love.
During her pregnancy, nurses had educated Kaleena on the many health benefits of breastfeeding. And so, with full support from her adoptive family, Kaleena made the commitment to pump every 2 hours, sealing the breast milk into plastic baggies for the couple to store and feed to Raylie.
She continued to do so even after the family packed up and flew back home with their new daughter. She endured painful, cracked nipples and sleepless nights. But when it got hard, she thought of all of the nutrients and antibodies she was supplying to her little girl. She packed baggie after baggie of breast milk into large boxes that she shipped to the adoptive family.
This act of love helped Kaleena feel connected to the baby she couldn’t help but miss. And at times when missing little Raylie gets really tough, Kaleena says she just reminds herself of all of the reasons she put her baby up for adoption.
“I know in my heart and my mind this is the best thing.”
And thanks to the open adoption and understanding adoptive parents, Kaleena will still have the opportunity to be a part of her daughter’s life. They’ve assured her that she will be invited to birthday parties, will receive video chats, will be allowed to send Christmas presents and so on. And at 19, an age where most kids are still focused on themselves, this entire experience has opened her eyes. She says,
“Now I know there's a stronger love."
God bless Kaleena and the brave choice she made. In a society where abortion is often seen as easier, and therefore a better choice for young girls facing this situation, it’s wonderful to see her not only choose to bless another family with the gift of life, but also to make the commitment to provide for her baby’s health in such a selfless manner.
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