My name is Chanté Dent, and I love life. I love that in life, regardless of what comes my way, I can change my perspective and continue making it a joyous experience. My husband and I have two children. We live in the beautiful state of Georgia, and I love nature – it is my healing place. I am originally from California, which explains why, at times, I feel deprived in Georgia because beaches are not nearby as they were in California. I am a birth mom who has learned so much about myself over the past few years. I am stronger than I thought, and life is a precious gift from God. 

In 2005, I was sexually violated. I did not speak of the violation until I discovered I was pregnant. I had been feeling sick and called an advice nurse who told me I was pregnant or had the stomach flu. After disclosing to her what I experienced about a month prior, as a mandated reporter, she had the police on the line, and officers were dispatched to my home. I went to the hospital that evening, where my pregnancy was confirmed. I faced the reality that I was raped by someone I knew and trusted. I was devastated while processing that I was carrying his child. 

Adoption was not my first decision. After researching my options, I was overwhelmed with so much information. At one point, I wanted to have an abortion. It was the words of my dad that encouraged me to place Baby Joy for adoption. He asked me if I would consider giving birth, perhaps raising the child or placing for adoption. I do not regret giving thought to his suggestions. I had moments of envisioning myself as a loving mom. I also had fears, questioning if I would be strong enough – mentally and emotionally healthy enough to raise Baby Joy. I had a few people who knew of my situation and offered to adopt if that were the route I decided to take. Then one day at work, the decision was made. I was at peace with my decision to allow Baby Joy to be adopted.

Due to my pregnancy circumstances, the decision to place Baby Joy for adoption was solely mine. Legal advisors suggest the parental rights of the individual who violated me be relinquished, and because he did not respond to court orders, they were. A private lawyer finalized the adoption. The process was pretty seamless. There were forms to fill out as well as a questionnaire. To this day, the question that still stands out was along the lines: “if the child were to ask you why you placed them for adoption, what would you say?” I was appreciative of that question. It helped normalize the process and give me a voice in terms of the legal aspect of adoption. 

The details of my adoption story often seem like a fairytale. Although I missed Baby Joy in the early days of releasing her and wanted to hold her and do all the things that mommies do, I do not have any regrets. My “why” keeps me grounded. In the state I was in, I did not want to be emotionally unavailable. I also wanted her to have a mom and a dad. I wanted her in a healthy environment. Thankfully, the relationship with her parents is strong and healthy.  We met and bonded immediately. We committed to being open and honest with one another. The support that I continue to receive from them makes my heart smile. By having an open adoption, we communicate often, and I send Christmas and birthday gifts. Baby Joy’s parents decided that she would lead the way, and so far, so good. She calls me her birth friend, and when she has questions, her parents answer them. She knows her story, and recently, my husband and I told our children about her. 

I learned early on to be honest with myself and in tune with my emotions. I keep a journal to express my thoughts. I allow myself to be okay with how I feel at any given moment. I remind myself that I am human, and it is okay to make a healthy decision and feel sad and satisfied afterward. This journey has taught me that life is precious. Although it may not unfold the way I envisioned, it can still be beautiful. I have a special keepsake box full of gifts and photos from her parents. My constant reminder that God gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning.

I joyfully embrace my experience. As I often say, the adoptive parents were there for me when I needed them most, and I was there for them when they need me most. Each of us had a need, and all of our needs were met with love, and love continues to keep us strong.

“Chanté Dent is the Founder and CEO of Earnest Love, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping women heal from emotional trauma. Chanté has devoted herself to empowering survivors of all forms of emotional abuse as they heal from their painful past. She is a former Rape Crisis Counselor who received her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from California State University, East Bay. She currently volunteers as a member of the RAINN Speakers Bureau. Chanté also volunteers her time to support birth mothers during and after the adoption process.”-