NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) --- For pregnant teenagers, adoption is one option, and open adoptions, which are growing in popularity, can be life-changing for everyone involved. A birth mother in Western Wisconsin made a courageous decision that enabled WEAU's Bob Gallaher and his wife to have a family of their own. Their daughter will forever share a blended family and a lifetime of love.
Neillsville's Sammie Pohle says, "I was scared, I was disappointed in myself, I just wanted to shut myself out from the rest of the world and disappear."
Those were the feelings of Sammie Pohle two years ago, 15-years old and pregnant.
Sammie's mother Amy Veltus says, "There was a little anger, scared for her, worried, a lot of stress."
Sammie faced an agonizing decision, raise her baby or explore adoption. "I think that's always in the back of my mind, and every night I went to sleep, do I really want to do this?"
With her parents, Amy and Gary supporting her every step of the way, Sammie turned to Lutheran Social Services.
LSS social worker in Wausau Sheri Mayer says, "She was quiet, but articulate and seem to know what she wanted to do, and that was to make an adoption plan for her child."
Mayer met with Sammie and her parents, encouraged them to look into open adoption. "Open adoption is the coming together of two families because I don't think anyone can have too many people love them."
Open adoption serves three purposes. A child receives a home and the love of a family, birth parents have the assurance their baby will be cared for and the adoptive family is blessed with the joy of loving and parenting a child.
Sammie looked through more than 70 portfolios, scrapbooks that families put together to tell about their lives. She read cover letters from couples all yearning to be adoptive parents.
Mayer says, "And I think Sammie could see her daughter grow up and be part of the family as she grows up and being involved in things, traditional adoption would not allow for that, letters and cards and pictures. Sammie having the comfort of knowing what her daughter is like, atmosphere she is living growing up and how she's being treated by her parents.
Sammie says, "I knew within the first hour I felt there was a connection, that we would have a future with you guys being in our family..."
Sammie and her family picked my wife Colleen and me to be her daughter's parents. After more than a year of waiting, our dreams of being a mom and dad became a reality.
Sammie says, "Those tiny little details, they turn out to mean the most because the little saying that the kids did, just the pictures of you guys bonding with them, you could tell that you would be great parents."
Amy says, "What drew us to yours was the closeness, your religious beliefs, looking at the pictures, we were like yeah, I think we could make a connection and everything could work out, and it did."
In the 16 months since Mary Katherine Kyle was born, Sammie and her family have had the opportunity for visits and have been able to watch Mary Kate develop and grow.
Sammie's parent, Gary Veltus says, "I didn't know what open adoption was, and you go into it with all these reservations, but I would tell anyone in heartbeat to do it, if you're not ready for parenting."
Sammie has endured more in the past two years than most girls her age. She will graduate from Neillsville High School in May and will pursue a nursing degree at UW-Oshkosh next fall.
Gary says, "She's done an awesome job keeping her head together, staying focused and pursuing her goals and this open adoption helped facilitate all of that."
Colleen Gallaher, Mary Kate's adoptive mother says, "I feel so grateful to be a parent, it's a privilege, I'm so grateful to be Mary Kate's mom and every day I think to myself, how did I get so lucky to have this baby as my child. It's not lost on me that the reason that I have the opportunity to be a mother is because of Sammie. And as Mary Kate gets older, we will let her know all the choices that Sammie made for her best interests. And they were very painful, difficult choices, but they were selfless and loving and she thought was best for her child."
Sammie says, "I hope to stay in touch, and see her grow, that's just going to be amazing.. just kind of be there but be able to pursue my dreams and goals in life."