The Sixteenth Year


It was the year that changed everything.

The Sixteenth Year is an inspiring, open adoption memoir from a birth mother's perspective—

from trauma to sacrifice to healing to redemption nineteen years later.

“The Sixteenth Year is a powerful book of a birth mom’s brave journey to make the choice to place her baby for adoption. Not only will you be inspired by Leah’s personal story, you will hear a refreshingly honest perspective of her adoption process beginning from pregnancy, through birth and leading to her bond with her teenage daughter today. Leah’s courage is contagious!!”


President of Embrace Grace + Author of Help Her Be Brave

The Sixteenth Year

It was the year that changed everything.

When a pregnancy test turns up positive, Leah has some tough decisions to make. At just sixteen, what will she do? 

Wrestling with her options for months, she then discovers open adoption: welcoming her daughter into the world while maintaining a connection with her daughter and the adoptive family after the placement. As her heart softens to the sacrifice she knows she needs to make in hopes to better her baby’s life, her life begins to shift too. She finally feels at peace with her decision, but can she trust strangers to uphold their promises? 

Leah pulls you into her story as she shares her heart. Vulnerable and tender, The Sixteenth Year offers a raw look into her story, not only through pregnancy and adoption but as a testimony of how God has used broken pieces of her life to heal and grow. From pre-pregnancy to life today and her bond with her teenage daughter, you’ll be inspired by her steps of faith, the grace discovered within her journey, and the transformational approach to adoption.



Leah is a birth mother in a fully open adoption and a mother of five that she parents with her husband. She has been writing, speaking, and serving the adoption community since 2004. Her passion for helping others blossoms from the light found within the dark trenches of her life and the support surrounding her. Sharing vulnerably about the beauty and aches of a birth mother, she aims to inspire hope and show how open adoption can be done well. Leah’s writing and story have been featured on national platforms including Focus On The Family, Epoch Times, LiveAction, and HuffPost.

The Sixteenth Year





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Extraordinary story from start to finish!

The author's recount of her unplanned pregnancy, through her decision making processes, through her choice to make an adoption plan, choosing the family, making the placement, the highs and lows of an open adoption, all the way to the relationship she has with her birth child now is simply beautiful. Leah doesn't sugarcoat her experience, rather she is honest, upfront and even matter of fact about both the difficulties and the joys that come with open adotpion. She is truly one example of how an open adoption experience can be such a gift to the adoption triad. Her book is written from her perspective and shows the love she had for her daughter from the moment she learned she was pregnant. A+++ Leah!



Leah is such an amazing woman with an amazing story. She opens up so freely about her story. The 16th year raises awareness to the part of the adoption triad that gets judged or forgotten. The struggles she talks about are so relatable and her raw emotions are so transparent! Thank you Leah for telling your story. It is motivating as a birth mother myself.


Grateful for this story!

As an adoptive mom, this book is a gift to the adoption community. The insight I gained to the feeling my kids’ birthmoms may have felt…it really made me sit and think. I laughed at some of the Christian music references of the early 2000s. Such a thoughtful well written book!

Norman a.

Vulnerable, an essential for adopting parents

Leah's book is a long time coming. She is a well-known voice in the adoption community as she shares her experience as a way to educate others and provide community to other Birth Mothers. Her book details her teen pregnancy and the years post placement with her daughter, Kaylee...

Leah's book is a must read for anyone in the adoption community who wants to understand birth parents and adoption in an honest and holistic way! My only criticism is wishing there were 100 more pages.


Blown away!

I was captivated by Leah’s story. As an adoptive mom, this is a very important book on my shelf.


Pulled into her journey of redemption

Leah's story drew me in as she welcomed me into the intimate and immediate experiences of her life. Her weaving of words made me feel like I was invited inside the passageways of her mind and welcomed into the longings and losses of her heart. I personally mentor numerous women who have found themselves in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy and it is rare to find a women who takes the brave stance to explore adoption. Open adoption has not been considered because stories like Leah's have gone untold. Leah's story invites our imagination to ask "what if a woman knew of this opportunity?" Because Leah took this less-traveled road, many more women can now read and follow a trusted guide who can open our minds to the wonder and possibility of the unexpected, other-centered opportunity of open adoption.



The Sixteenth Year



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Leah and her story have been featured on...

Note from leah

"Every birth mother and her story is different, but there are threads of similarities that can run through each. Painful childhoods, sometimes abuse, and often seeking affection and value in all the wrong places. 

My story is filled with those pain points, yet when I was facing the darkest moments of my life as a  pregnant 16 year old and feeling ashamed—I found hope. I discovered a grace that began to mend my brokenness. This display of grace was seen in the care of others surrounding me, even in unexpected places. People loved me when I felt most unlovable. It was a redeeming grace and a love that reflected Jesus. It was the year that changed everything.

The Sixteenth Year follows not only my pregnancy and adoption story but is my testimony of how God has used these pieces of my life to heal, grow, and now help others. Within these pages is my path toward authentic healing to be able to walk in freedom, not victimhood. It also demonstrates how healthy open adoptions are beautifully complex, yet beneficial, and what we have learned in the last 19 years!”

Chapter 01

The Sixteenth Year

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