As a teenager, Hillary Jones gave up a child for adoption. Instead of distancing herself from that episode in her life, she tells her story to youth groups, sanctity of life conferences and classes of prospective adoptive parents at Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. It is a decision for life she has never doubted, she said.
Jones was a member of First Baptist Church in Williston, along with her parents, Frank and Lori Jones, a younger brother and sister. She was an active member of the church youth group, praise band, and a volunteer on several mission trips.
In high school she dated a young man who “said he was a Christian, but didn’t act like it,” she said. “He was a negative influence on me and my choices.”
During her senior year at Williston High School, where she was on the yearbook staff and in musical theater, Jones made plans to attend University of Central Florida in Orlando to study photography. However, two weeks before graduation—long after breaking up with her boyfriend—she discovered she was pregnant.
Her arrival at a spiritual crossroads coincided with the positive pregnancy test.
“Honestly, spiritual change came almost immediately. I hit rock bottom and I had to turn everything over to God. I knew that I couldn’t handle this on my own,” she said. “I had to tell my parents, too.”
Her parents were “devastated, to put it lightly,” she said.
“They taught me good Christian values, and they had no idea that I was sexually active. They didn’t really show anger. They were just sad,” Jones said.
“I was sad, too. All my hopes of moving to Orlando, of going to UCF were gone. I had to stay home. It was a difficult time,” she said.
Since Jones’ re-dedication to the Lord, the relationship with her mother, with whom Jones said she often “butted heads,” grew closer. In early summer, they discussed “whether to parent or to give the baby up for adoption,” she said.
When Jones chose adoption, she knew where to turn. She contacted Florida Baptist Children’s Homes because “my church had done mission projects there,” she said.
|Adoption specialists from Florida Baptist Children’s Homes provide counseling and supervise legal matters for biological and adoptive parents. Their ministry, which the FBCH Mothers Day Offering helps to support, may also include maternity foster care and post partum care. For more information on adoption through FBCH, go to www.fbchomes.org/ministries-services/adoption.|
FBCH social worker Amber Dufrene began traveling weekly from Jacksonville to Gainesville to meet with Jones. She counseled the 17-year-old throughout her pregnancy.
“By the time I met Hillary, she had already decided to place her child for adoption. Abortion was never an option for her. From the beginning, she said she wanted a Christian family to raise her child,” Dufrene said. “We also began praying that one day God would use her to help and to heal other young women. I am so proud of her. She is an amazing young woman of God.”
Dufrene provided Jones with profiles of Christian families who wanted to adopt. Jones studied them carefully.
“A lot of prayer went into that decision. When I was looking at the profiles I was constantly praying that I would know, and I knew immediately when I saw the right family,” Jones said.
Meeting the family confirmed her answered prayer, and she invited the adoptive mother to be in the delivery room when her son was born December 29, 2008.
Although Jones thought of herself as only “an incubator” after choosing a family, Dufrene said letting her child go was “the hardest thing she has ever done.” Jones, Dufrene and the adoptive family participated in an “Entrustment
Ceremony” before leaving the hospital during which Dufrene prayed and Jones placed the newborn into his adoptive mother’s arms.
“The ceremony was difficult, but a blessing at the same time. I knew my baby was going into the loving arms of a family hand-picked by God,” Jones said.
Jones, now 21, and Dufrene continue to meet together, although not as often as during Jones’ pregnancy.
“I love Amber so much. She is an awesome lady,” Jones said. “She has helped me through a lot.”
|SUPPORT Hillary Jones (l) appreciates the support she received from Amber Dufrene, a social worker from the FBCH, when she gave her child up for adoption. Photo by Jaime Eason|
Their meetings are easier since Jones is now a student at University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where she is a junior studying photography.
Jones has spoken at FBCH sanctity of life conferences, Sound the Call, and before youth groups. However, she especially likes speaking to groups of parents preparing to adopt.
“Almost every time they have pre-conceived notions of what a teenager who gives up a baby for adoption is like. I blow that out of the water,” she said. “They think we have a history with drugs, or are getting rid of a baby for selfish reasons.”
“Hillary makes them realize that birth mothers are not scary girls like they see in TV movies,” Dufrene said. “They are not all just one step away from abortion. Some are just girls in a church youth group who made a bad decision.”
Jones is in “the membership process” at First Baptist Church in Orange Park. She said she “fell in love with the church and their college program,” and she was surprised to find that several of the church staff members are adoptive parents.
“I feel like God is there,” she said.
She has not dated anyone seriously since high school, preferring to “wait for the right guy,” she said. She is open about her adoption story with anyone she dates. Someday after marriage, she says, she hopes to give birth to other children, but she will always remain open to adopting a child, especially the harder-to-place older children.
She wants to teach photography in a college, and she also wants to take quality photos for family adoption profiles. She wants to illustrate their stories with good photos of the families, their homes and their interests, she said.
Her child’s adoptive parents send her updates on their son every six months or so.
“He looks like me,” she said.
She prays daily for him, asking God that he grow into “a strong Christian, happy and successful, who will pursue his dreams.” She also hopes he will want to meet her one day.
Jones has never doubted the wisdom of her decision to place her child for adoption.
“This has all been worth it and it has affected my life in a positive way. I would not change my decision—ever,” she said. “I chose life because God has a purpose for every child, and I have given life to a beautiful family who was never able to have children.”