After seven years, it was finally happening. Stacy and Ken Coleman spent two days at the hospital, falling in love with their son and getting to know Jenny, who’d chosen them to raise her baby. Now, upon Jenny’s discharge, they were returning to the nursery to take him home.
But stunning news awaited. “The state found drugs in the baby’s system and has taken custody,” a nurse told them. “They’re no longer allowing visitors.”
The Colemans had the birth certificate. They’d named the baby, fed and changed him. And Jenny thought he was in their care. Yet, like her, Stacy would leave the hospital empty-handed.
In that crushing disappointment, Coleman felt a connection with Jenny. She realized birth moms were adoption’s forgotten heroines—unselfish women who bravely said yes to life for their child despite inconvenience, heartbreak, and censure. Immediately she sensed a calling, and in November 2013 Three Strands was launched.
Based on Ecclesiastes 4:12, the name suggests strength emanating from a partnership of biological mother, adoptive mother, and adoptee. The initial focus was a hospital visit to help birth moms feel pampered and supported: Volunteers who’d been down that road delivered gift bags containing a Bible, a sweatshirt, fuzzy socks, personal care and additional items, plus a footprint kit and a disposable camera. Phase two—a private online community and quarterly gatherings—offers ongoing encouragement and ministers to others impacted by adoption, including biological grandparents.
Executive Director Jennie Hundley hopes to raise awareness that birth moms need compassion and healing—and that “they could be your neighbor, in your church, anywhere.” The message is resonating. Already in several Georgia locations, Nashville, and Memphis, Three Strands is exploring ways to answer the demand nationally.
The dream is for no birth mom to leave the hospital without knowing support is available. Calling their sacrifice “a huge act of love,” Hundley says, “We want to honor them.”
Photography by Artem Nazarov