Interview with Maria Malone and Jenny Galiani
Maria Malone and Jenny Galiani are both adoptive mothers and strong advocates for helping women facing unexpected pregnancies consider making an adoption plan for their children instead of choosing abortion.
Maria and Jenny have started a new organization called “Adoption Is a Loving Option” and I recently sat down with them to learn more about their vision for the organization.
PLM: Maria and Jenny, both of you are adoptive mothers. Could you give us some background on why you and your husbands chose to adopt?
Jenny Galiani: We started thinking about adoption after a couple of years of not being successful with getting pregnant. We had been married 10 years. We did some fertility treatment, not much, without luck. In my mind I think I came to adoption first before my husband. I felt like it was more important to be a mother than to be pregnant. So we started researching adoption and what the options were and went from there.
PLM: You participate in adoption support groups now and do you find that your case is common?
Jenny Galiani: I do. I think the majority of people who are adopting most likely are brought there through infertility, not all, but most.
PLM: And how about you Maria?
Maria Malone: Our story is similar. We tried to have a biological child. We tried to conceive and we weren’t having any luck. So I had a wise friend tell me “Don’t wait too long. Go get checked out.” So we did that and unlike a lot of our friends that we know, we had a pretty definitive reason why we were not going to be able to conceive a child. So thankfully, and I’m very grateful for this, we didn’t do any infertility stuff because based on our situation it wasn’t really an option.
And I’m also so grateful that it was a very easy transition for us to go to adoption for both my husband and I and say OK, we’ll just adopt. I’m very grateful for that because I’ve seen a lot of people, friends of mine, who have struggled with infertility, and for whatever reason they can’t go there and they decide that adoption is not right for them. I’m so grateful that our hearts were open to it and it was an easy transition for us.
PLM: When you say they can’t go there is there some kind of mental or emotional thing going on and they can’t take that step?
Maria Malone: From talking to so many people about this I think sometimes there can be fears. There are a lot of unknowns when you choose to adopt. There are fears about having to deal with a birth mother and what that is going to be like.
Jenny Galiani: And fears like am I going to be able to love this child.
Maria Malone: Exactly. So there can be a lot of fears. Like Jenny said, and it was the same for me too, it was not about being pregnant. It was about being a mother. That’s what was most important to me. So to adopt a child to be a mother was fine. It didn’t bother me that I wasn’t going to be pregnant. That didn’t bother me at all.
But we have learned through some fertility support groups that sometimes men can have a little more issue with it because for them it is a big deal to be able to create a new life. I don’t know that it’s always the case but it’s possible that sometimes maybe the men struggle with it a little bit.
PLM: Tell us about how the process of adoption works now. Both of you talk about domestic adoption here in the United States so tell us about that. I’m also curious to know if that process has changed compared to the past.
Jenny Galiani: It has definitely changed a lot. There are several different ways you can facilitate an adoption: through an agency, through a private facilitator, or through an attorney. And people are now doing it independently as well since the internet offers so much more outreach to people.
People are setting up their own websites and looking for their own birth parents too, although I don’t think it’s as common.
But compared to 30, 20, or even 10 years ago I would say the biggest difference is the “openness” of the adoption, how much more open we are now with our birth parents and what we know about our birth parents.
PLM: When you say “open” what do you mean by that?
Jenny Galiani: I mean information on what we know about our birth parents, what we know about their medical backgrounds, or their families as well, not just them but of their extended families. And also openness with contact with the birth parents and families. Maria and I both still have contact with some of our birth families in the form of texting, or phone calls, or emails, or Facebook.
So that’s a big difference, and it’s for the better because I think we saw the damaging effects of what having closed very secretive adoptions was doing to our children. So we don’t experience that as much now.
PLM: When you talk about the birth mothers, what are some of the main reasons that birth mothers give for making an adoption plan for their children?
Maria Malone: In our case all of our birth mothers were single mothers, and I think the driving factor for all of them was that the birth father was not going to be in the picture to be part of the child’s life. The birth mothers were raising children already and they just knew that they were not going to be able to provide what they wanted to provide for the child.
Within the adoption support group that Jenny facilitates at our parish there are several occurrences of children who were conceived by rape, so that definitely went into the birth mother’s decision process.
Jenny Galiani: And I think finances are a big deal too, just financially not being able to afford what they know it would cost to raise a child the way they would like to. That’s probably a very big driving factor too.
PLM: Sometimes is that reason because they are very young?
Jenny Galiani: Sometimes it is but I don’t think the average age is young. I think in studies it shows that the average age of a birth mother is 30, but some of our birth mothers are very young. I think it’s just financial in general.
Maria Malone: If you’re a single mother that’s only one income so that’s limited, and they are caring for other children so that can be a challenging financial situation.
PLM: So sometimes the birth mothers already have other children?
Maria Malone: Yes, that is often the case.
PLM: You both are very strongly pro-life. You know the statistics that in the United States today there will be approximately 3,000 women who will abort their children. Why do you think that out of those 3,000 women that more of them don’t decide to make an adoption plan for their children instead of having an abortion?
Maria Malone: I think there are probably several reasons. One is that for a birth mother to go through a pregnancy, which of course shows visually and is obvious to everyone around her and is difficult to hide, they aren’t going to have the support they need to get through that pregnancy and endure the nine months, whatever that means for their specific situation.
It could impact their jobs, or the rest of their family for example. It could be high school students or college students and the impact the pregnancy can have on their schooling. So a big reason is probably their perception that they won’t have the support they need.
Jenny Galiani: I also think that abortion for them is a very “quick fix.” It’s a very easy thing to look right in front of your face and say I can fix this problem right now, I can have an abortion, and they don’t really see past that. So I think that has a lot to do with it too. It’s the here and the now, not the later.
We’ve been really fortunate that our birth mothers did look beyond that, but I think it’s probably very easy to just look right here, right now.
PLM: If you had the opportunity to sit with some of these young women who are planning to have an abortion what are some of the things you would say, from an adoption option perspective, to try to get them to reconsider?
Jenny Galiani: Maria and I actually thought about this six years ago. We wrote lyrics to a song called “Let Me Live.” We wrote this before we knew it was going to be a song because we thought it was so important to give a voice to the child. If the child could say something to the birth parents what would the child say? And the child would clearly say “Let me live, give me a chance, I’ll show you where I’m supposed to be.”
They would say that their lives are so important too, and even though it’s nine months, it really is just nine months. And the value of human life over nine months is pretty significant. But it’s easy for anyone to think about what an unborn child would say if they could say something to their birth mother.
Maria Malone: The women that are facing this situation are in extraordinary circumstances. It’s important to try to really understand what it is that they are facing. Then I would just share our stories with them by talking about our birth mothers and the situations that they were in and how we came to meet each other. Then I would talk about our children and what a gift they are to us. Hopefully that might help them see a different option and consider adoption instead of abortion.
PLM: Tell me about your new organization, Adoption Is a Loving Option.
Maria Malone: We’re very excited. We feel very blessed to be in this position to share our stories. Jenny’s oldest child is almost 13 and my oldest is almost 11 so we have been talking about adoption for a very long time, but our audience up until recently has been other families interested in adopting.
Over all these years of talking to people, and even our own experiences with adoption and dealing with questions that our families had, and the questions our friends had, it was very clear that there were a lot of myths and misconceptions about adoption, and that there are a lot that people don’t really know about the process.
So we realized that if we can share with people how the process really works, and what the relationships are like with our birth parents, and the joy that we have felt from our experiences, that we can potentially educate other people and let them see that there is another option, that abortion isn’t the only option.
Since statistically the age groups that are most likely to make the decision about whether or not to have an abortion are high school and college kids, we are targeting that age group to see if we can educate them about adoption.
What we try to do is through our stories, and through pictures of our kids and showing the impact they have had on our lives, is just give a voice to those unborn children since our society often dismisses the humanity of those unborn babies. Our hope is that through all of this we will be able to give those little babies a voice again, and a face through our stories and the joy that has happened on all sides, for our families, and for the peace our birth mothers have found in their decisions.
Jenny Galiani: We just had an incredible experience at a local Catholic high school where you would think they would definitely be pro-lifers, but where when we surveyed the girls there I think it was about 80% of them considered themselves pro-choice before they heard us speak. After they heard us speak and they learned about adoption they were just so blown away about how the whole process works. They had never heard anything about it before. No one had ever talked with them about it.
They were interested in knowing if our children knew they were adopted, and were they happy kids. Our presentation, putting faces on it for those students, really brought it to a whole other level of motivation for Maria and me. If we can change one person’s mind and heart then this whole thing that we are doing is worth it, and so we have great urgency to get out and talk to kids in that age group.
PLM: I remember when you told me about your experience at that high school. You said that of the many girls who were pro-choice before your presentation that after your presentation they either wrote or told you directly that they had changed their minds. Can you put a finger on one thing in your presentation that was the primary factor that influenced the students to change their minds?
Jenny Galiani: Yes. In my opinion I think what made the difference was seeing the pictures of our children and hearing their stories. It’s a tangible “put a face on it and look at it” real life situation.
Maria Malone: I also think it affected them to see the impact that adoption has had on our families and on our extended families, to see the joy that this brings. They could see that the birth mothers had made this completely selfless decision to give us such a tremendous gift by making an adoption plan for their child, and also give us the tremendous gift of parenthood that we might not otherwise be able to experience. I think that message came across strongly to them.
We actually had one of the students write that she had always looked at this issue as a woman’s right to choose and she had never thought of the voice of the child. She then said she could now see that adoption was a better choice. That was really very powerful.
Jenny Galiani: And I think also that shining a light on our birth mothers’ courage probably removed the stereotype of what a birth mother is.
PLM: I’m glad you said that because that is one thing that I have learned from you guys. When I hear both of you talk about your birth mothers it is so powerful and grabs me because the typical stereotype of birth mothers is not fair. It doesn’t mean that mistakes weren’t made, but given the way our culture currently views these issues, for the birth mothers to decide to create an adoption plan is amazing.
I would think that when you present to the high school girls that those stories about your birth mothers would really have an impact on them.
Jenny Galiani: I told them about one of our birth mothers who went through high school. She was in their grade. So I asked the students to picture a girl in their class walking around pregnant, and what would you be thinking, what would you be saying about her behind her back, or snickering about, or surmising? And whatever that is I want you to stop that because I want you to think of what this girl did for us, and look at the face of my son.
And I think that made a light bulb go off in some of those foggy heads.
PLM: So you made it very real for them. So it’s not shallow stereotypical thinking for them anymore. It’s real.
Jenny Galiani: Yes.
PLM: I want to thank you guys for your time and your mission. For folks who are interested in learning more about what you do, or possibly having you come speak to high schools or any other group, how can people get in touch with you?
Jenny Galiani: Our website is www. AdoptionIsALovingOption.org, and all of our contact information is right on the site.
About Adoption Is A Loving Option
To live in a world where the demand for abortions is virtually nonexistent, because no one would ever consider one…
Making a difference by educating youth about the positive options for facing unplanned pregnancies. If we touch the heart and change the mind of one person, we will save the lives of many.
Our Vision Statement:
By sharing our personal stories on adoption, we give a voice and a face to unborn children. By educating youth and young adults on adoption, we empower them to speak up against abortion, support adoption as a better choice and understand more options if faced with an unplanned pregnancy. By rousing our youth we will change hearts which will transform our culture to a culture of life!
To speak to as many youth and young adults as we can through:
• Archdiocesan High Schools
• Private Catholic High Schools
• Other Christian High Schools
• Colleges and Universities
• Seminars through local youth groups
To provide educational materials to Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
About Maria Malone
Maria Malone and her husband, Mike, are adoptive parents of three children through domestic adoption. She has been talking to couples interested in adopting and going through the adoption process for over 10 years. The birth mother of Maria’s oldest child shared with Maria and Mike that she considered abortion for her baby. She told Mike and Maria that there was this little voice inside of her that kept telling her “If you give me a chance, I will show you where I belong”. That statement has motivated Maria ever since and is at the very heart of her work today as an adoption awareness specialist and speaker. Maria has witnessed firsthand the beauty and power of adoption. She has now partnered with Jenny, speaking about their experience with adoption in order to give a voice to unborn children by educating youth, young adults and families on adoption as a loving option to abortion. Maria is also a contributor to the Pro Life Response Blog. Maria has a degree in Computer Science from Drexel University. Before her children were born she was very involved in product and project management of software and hardware systems for industrial, chemical and defense industries.
About Jenny Galiani
Jenny Galiani and her husband, Dave, are adoptive parents of four children through domestic adoption. She has over ten years of experience speaking to hundreds of couples interested in adoption. Jenny is an Adoptive Family Mentor and Advocate for a domestic adoption agency as well; where she often shares her own personal experiences and ins and outs with families seeking information from someone who’s been through the process. Additionally, Jenny organizes a regional adoption support group, hosting fun events for all types of adoptive families and providing a sounding board for parenting tips. Jenny has spoken on adoption related topics such as open adoption, domestic adoption, national adoption vs. local agencies and how the internet is revolutionizing the Adoption Process. She has spoken on NPR to discuss and help educate the general public about adoption and the internet. Click here to listen and read about the story. Jenny works along with Maria to help spread the positive process of adoption as well as educate our youth on how adoption is an option to unplanned pregnancy. Jenny is a graduate from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA with a Bachelors Degree in Music, piano performance.