A few years ago, 16-year-old Sophie was pregnant and facing a daunting decision: parenting or adoption. Each would present a unique set of challenges, but Sophie knew that whichever path she chose, she would always be in the child's life.
For Sophie, choosing adoption would mean maintaining an ongoing relationship with her child -- and she's not alone. While closed and secretive adoptions were once the norm, today, 95 percent of adoptions have some degree of openness between the birth mother, the child and the adoptive parents. Lisa Ling followed Sophie's story on a past episode of "Our America," back when the teen was exploring her options.
Leafing through albums of potential adoptive parents, Sophie was drawn to one couple in particular, Katie and Ben. "Something was telling me... 'If you're going to choose that path, then this is the family,'" Sophie recalled.
Katie and Ben were not new to open adoption. Less than a year earlier, they had adopted their first son, Angelo, after learning that they were unable to have biological children. "The first adoption felt so right and so natural. It was like, oh, this is how our family was meant to grow," Katie said. "It made it that much easier to then start the second process because we weren't afraid of it. We were quite comfortable with it."
Katie and Ben's comfort helped eased Sophie's fears about adoption. "I came to the decision of adoption because I'd really felt like Ben and Katie were such amazing people that they could really step up and be the best parents I could ever imagine for him," Sophie explained. "I just felt like they were the answer."
As adoptive parents, the couple knew what it took for Sophie to trust them and appreciate her resilience throughout the process. "It's very humbling being on the receiving end," Ben told Ling. "People sometimes ask us, 'Is it hard?' We didn't do that hard part."
It's now been more than two years since Katie and Ben adopted Sophie's son. Ling followed up with the family and learned that their modern arrangement is still working well for everyone. Not only is the toddler thriving in a stable home, but he also enjoys having a big brother.
"They're always seeking each other," Ben says.
"We're a family," Katie adds.
Below, Sophie defines her current role in the child's life, what she envisions for their future and how she copes with the devastating pain of separation she'll still feel when she's not with him.
"Our America with Lisa Ling" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.