As told to Lisa Bast.
She was unmarried, struggling with a heroin addiction, and already had two children who her parents were trying to help her raise. This baby would be her third in three years. She had no longing to be a mother again nor was her family supportive of her giving birth to yet another child. For her an abortion would be the solution to her problem. That is, until co-worker Jacob "Jayke" Brown stepped in.
"My co-worker had asked for a couple of days off to have her abortion," Jayke says. "My supervisor knew that I had been considering adopting a child, so she convinced my colleague to reach out to me to discuss other options. When I met with her, I knew right away it felt right to adopt her baby and to save the child from abortion. I didn’t know at the time, though, the baby would be born drug-addicted."
Jayke holds pro-life views and believes a baby is formed at conception. He was not hesitant about becoming a father to an infant. Seeing his genuine desire to raise her baby, his colleague agreed to carry the baby full-term and Jayke immediately initiated the adoption process. Because it was a private adoption, he was required to undergo home and fire inspections, extensive background checks and to enroll in parenting classes. Additionally, he went to every medical appointment with his co-worker. While pregnant, she was put on methadone as a "step-down" drug — but after delivery, she quickly went back to abusing heroin.
Because baby Makenna was born with an addiction, she had to remain in the hospital for 30 days. Jayke never missed spending a day with her during that time. It was a challenging journey even before he brought his daughter home, but Jayke was in it for the long haul.
He said, "After a few days, the birth mother signed over her rights and six months and one day later she legally was my adopted daughter. During that six-month period, we had already gone to court and did all the necessary paperwork."
Jayke relished being a father to baby Makenna. Fortunately, she was warmly welcomed by most of Jayke’s family and friends. Early on, his partner and a live-in friend assisted with her care. But it was Jayke’s mother who was his biggest ally and was especially instrumental in Makenna's upbringing during her early childhood years and beyond. As such, Jayke moved from Columbus to North Canton to be closer to her and described the decision to relocate "the easiest and the hardest."
While Jayke attempted to keep in contact with Makenna's birth mother, she relapsed into her drug addiction six months after his daughter was born. He made the tough decision to end further contact with her. She died a few years later. Jayke has been as open as possible with Makenna about her birth family but for now, reserves telling her the most troubling information.
"I have told her most things except about her birth mother wanting to have the abortion and about the drug use," says Jayke. "I will tell her at some point, but when the time is right. She just knows that her birth mom was very sick and wanted to find her a forever home of a family that would love her. We do stay in contact with her uncle, aunt and grandparents and see them about twice a year. They love her, which is great, but understand I’m her father now."
Now almost nine years old, Makenna is growing up to be a delightful young lady and Jayke is deeply grateful for the privilege of being her daddy.
"The bond between my daughter and me is indescribable," he said. "She is my mini me and she has me wrapped around not just one, but all of her fingers. DNA does not necessarily make a parent or a family. Love, care, compassion, compromise, nurture, sharing the world, and more does."
He relates a special time when Makenna was reading him a bedtime story and held his hand while they sang their favorite nighttime song. Afterward, she tenderly whispered to him, "thanks for being my daddy!"
He said, "I know how simple that sounds, but that truly cut so deep in my soul that I had a few tears roll out of my eyes and down my cheeks. I just held her close and whispered back, "thanks for being my daughter!"
While he never regretted his decision to adopt Makenna, Jayke wishes the adoption process was easier and less expensive. "Adoption is a wonderful route to build a family and I know so many people would be happy to adopt," he said. "But the process is so complex and expensive. If this would change, perhaps more kids would be in loving, caring and safe homes – something I wish for every child in the foster care system."
No doubt, Jayke's adoption of Makenna was an unusual situation. Even so, Jayke believes there are others considering abortion who may be open to another avenue as his colleague was. He advises others not to hesitate to reach out to someone who is struggling and stand up to and support the unborn child.
"There are always ways you can provide support," he said. "Offer anything and everything, if necessary. Just be there for the person. Hopefully, you can help save a life."