IOWA — Jessica Vanden Berg has spent more than two decades working around the clock and all over the country as a political consultant. When she decided she wanted to be a mom, she approached it the same way. “In my mind, because I had success in the things I did career-wise, I would have success in having a child.”
Vanden Berg quickly found out, it wasn’t that easy. After a year and a half of failed fertility treatments, she was frustrated and sad.
She started pursuing adoption in April of 2016. “There was a point where I was working with an agency that turned out to be a really bad decision because it became clear that that agency probably did not have birth mothers that would choose me.” She says it was an expensive learning experience. She quickly put it behind her and started working with a different agency. “A week and a half later, I was matched with a birth mom. I thought it was perfect. I’d met her and we’d gone to appointments together and we bonded.”
The expectant mother changed her mind. It still brings Vanden Berg to tears. “I don’t think you can prepare yourself for that possibility. It’s really hard, especially when you don’t know people who’ve been through this before. I kept it pretty close to heart that I was making this decision. In fact, my parents didn’t know until I was matched that I was even considering becoming a mom.”
Vanden Berg remembers her social worker telling her there was a baby out there for her – that her baby was out there. When she felt ready, she reached out to agencies in other states, including one in Florida. “They called me on a Thursday and said she’d chosen me, and Jenevieve was born the following Friday. That was six weeks after the failed adoption.”
That year of working and waiting and grieving paid off. Now, Vanden Berg is working around the clock as a single mom. “The journey to parenting was hard, but parenting is hard, too,” she says with a laugh. “If I didn’t have to go through all of that and it was easy for me, I would take things for granted.”
She often thinks of the woman who made it possible. They have an open adoption and communicate through letters, and she expects they will eventually meet. “A friend of mine used to always say ‘don’t borrow worry’ because I always worry about things. I worry about the questions Jenevieve has, how she feels about it, how she feels about me, her birth parents, her story. I’ve learned to just take it one moment at a time.”