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Adoptive dad of 3 sons from different moms says culture must dignify birth mothers in a post-Roe era

Paul and Julie Batura and their three sons | Courtesy Paul Batura

A Colorado man who adopted three children from three different mothers believes society should do more to uplift birth mothers and emphasize what a blessing adoption can be in a post-Roe era.

Paul Batura, vice president of communication for the Christian parachurch organization Focus on the Family and author of Chosen for Greatness: How Adoption Changes the World, is the father of three adopted sons. 

Batura and his wife, Julie, struggled with infertility for four years before the birth of their first adopted son in 2005. The couple adopted two other boys from different birth mothers, who were born in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Their eldest son is 17, and they have two younger sons, ages 10 and 12. 

Batura said he was hesitant to look into adoption at first despite friends who knew of the couple's desire to start a family recommending the option. He never considered himself an adoptive parent and saw that role as a duty for someone else to fulfill.

"But, you know, God opened that door for us, and my wife was enthusiastic about it. And I've learned long ago to lean on her instincts," Batura said in an interview with The Christian Post.

A memory that Batura will never forget is the night of the entrust ceremony for the first adoption, where their eldest son's birth mother transferred parental rights to them. 

As she placed the boy in his adoptive parents' arms, tears fell from her eyes and onto the child's head.

"And that really set the tone for me and for my wife going forward, that this was a gift," Batura explained. "She was literally gifting him to us. It really, I think, was an amazing gift and something that we've been grateful for now 17 plus years." 

Following the advice of Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, who advised the father against letting the boys find out themselves they were adopted, Batura and his wife ensured the boys knew about the adoption as they grew up.

Paul Batura's three sons | Courtesy Paul Batura

"We probably overdid it in the sense that when we talked about adoption, we talked about it so openly and so regularly that I think maybe all of our kids thought every kid was adopted," Batura joked. 

The father said that he and his wife were careful to discuss the adoption with their boys in an age-appropriate way, speaking "lovingly" to them about their birth mothers and the night they were born. 

"'And of all the children in all the world, God chose you for us,'" Batura remembered telling his kids. 

"Even though we've tried to normalize it, we've had questions from our kids, and they come out here and there," he said. "It sort of just pops up. So we've tried to answer the questions as straightforwardly and honoring as we can." 

All three birth mothers were unmarried when they chose adoption for their children. 

With the first birth mother, Batura and his wife communicated with her by email and through phone calls during the adoption process. For their first and third son, the couple maintains communication with their birth mothers. 

Unlike the other two mothers, their middle son's birth mom chose not to pursue an open adoption. 

The circumstances surrounding the birth of his second son were unique, according to Batura, as the boy's mother did not learn she was pregnant until the night she gave birth. 

The mother chose Bethany Christian Services while at the hospital, the same agency that the Baturas had been working with, because of the word "Christian" in the title. She felt she would have trouble raising her son due to a lack of support and wanted to ensure he was raised in a Christian household.

Batura and his wife were walking another woman through her pregnancy at the time, who eventually decided not to pursue adoption after having the child. While the parents used Bethany Christian Services for this adoption, their other two sons were adopted through Adoption Choices of Colorado. 

"So, of course, we're kind of downtrodden and prayed, and literally the next day, we get this call that this young woman had a baby and was looking to make an adoption plan," he said. "Would we be interested? So that's how that all came together." 

For the other two birth mothers, Batura remembers it was important to them that their sons had a father.

Their eldest son's mother was choosing between two families, and she sent the Baturas a questionnaire with nearly 100 questions, asking about their values and typical weekend as a family. 

"She said, 'In the end, I chose you because I could see that you wanted so much to be a father and were eager to be a dad,'" Batura remembered. "'That's what I want my son to have because I know if he stayed with me, he wouldn't have that.'" 

The birth mother of the couple's third adoptive son lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and the family maintains communication with her through frequent phone calls, text messages and picture exchanges.

Since the Baturas are based in Colorado Springs, the adoptive couple and their children have not been in the same room as their second son's birth mom in 10 years.

Batura said his eldest son's birth mother lives in the Golden Colorado area, not far from where they live, and the family sees her at least twice a year. This past summer, Batura said they attended a wedding in Denver where all the guests were friends or relatives of the birth mom. 

At the wedding, the birth mother of Batura's eldest son introduced the adoptive family to those in attendance, including her friends who had never met her son. 

"She introduces us by saying, 'This is my son, and these are his parents,'" Batura recalled. "And I just thought that was really sweet. That's affirming to us as adoptive parents and affirming to her as a birth mother."

The positive experience the Baturas have had with their eldest son's birth mother is the "root" of their commitment to uplifting women like her, especially in the pro-life sphere, where many want to see women carry their babies to term and not pursue an abortion. 

The adoptive father believes that society should do more to make adoption more appealing and ensure that women who choose adoption don't feel like "second-class citizens" for their decision.

"They shouldn't feel discarded; they should feel honored because they're serving a remarkable role," he said. 

Batura says a way culture can do more to uplift birth moms is by portraying adoption more in books or movies, which he feels tend to focus on the adoptive family more than the birth mother. 

While he doesn't believe that telling stories through the adoptive parents' perspective is "ill-intentioned," Batura thinks it can cause people to see the issue solely through the lens of the couple and not the birth mother. 

Another problem Batura noticed is the tendency to avoid discussing the sacrificial component of adoption. He said relinquishing a child to someone else's care is one of the most "challenging" things someone can do. 

"We tend to shy away from those tough things," he said. "And there's probably some judgment in that." 

The father of three said he has seen people, particularly on social media, assume women who choose adoption are "unqualified" and made too many mistakes to be parents. 

"Well, you know what? So have us all, and we've all made mistakes. We've all fallen short," he said. "And I just think we need to give an ordinate amount of grace."

"Most of it, I think, is not intentional. I think most of it is just one-sided because it's the pop culture's portrayal of adoption." 

As the Adoption Network reports, about 135,000 children are adopted in the United States annually, with experts estimating that between 1 million and 2 million couples are waiting to adopt. 

2017 study published in Women's Health Issues found that one week after a certain group of women were denied an abortion, 14% of 231 reported plans to pursue adoption or to consider the option. The study also found that most women who received abortions knew about adoption but opted to terminate the pregnancy.

"Among women motivated to avoid parenthood, as evidenced by abortion seeking, adoption is considered or chosen infrequently," the study's conclusion reads. "Political promotion of adoption as an alternative to abortion is likely not grounded in the reality of women's decision making."

The analysis used data from the Turnaway Study, which assessed the effects having an abortion and being denied one can have on women's mental health. The study was widely criticized by pro-life researchers for its low participation rate and overreaching conclusions. 

Batura thinks some women may choose abortion over adoption because many feel like they're in a "crisis" situation, or the decision may be the result of pressure from their boyfriends. He attributed the problem to the fact that today's world is an "instantaneous society," where everything can be resolved quickly. 

"It's an overwhelming idea to carry a child to term and then relinquish it," he said. "I don't think many [women] have been given a vision of how great it can be and how loving it can be and then how involved they can continue to be in their child's life."

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