How one responds to an unplanned pregnancy usually falls on the woman; but that’s not the case for Joe Rosensteel. When Joe found out he got a girl pregnant as a 17-year-old high school junior, he advocated for the baby’s life, even though an abortion had already been scheduled.
“She told me I don’t need anything from you, I can get an abortion in two weeks, no one has to know. I don’t need any money from you. She was basically just shutting me out completely,” said Joe.
Guys are usually never there to step up to the challenge…
The mother-to-be, Maddie (read Maddie’s story) was too scared to tell her mom about the pregnancy, and Joe knew that was the only reason she was planning to get an abortion.
“I told her I didn’t support the fact that she wanted to get an abortion and I knew her religious background and that she didn’t believe in getting an abortion either,” said Joe.
Joe went to a friend of a friend’s mom, and asked her to sit down with Maddie and help her consider other options. Around that time Maddie felt the Lord very strongly tell her not to go through with the abortion, which ultimately saved their baby girl, Elise’s life.
“I just did what I knew was right, which was to advocate for my daughter’s life. I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than that. I would never be able to live with that decision, that’s not how I was raised or what I believe in,” said Joe.
Maddie and Joe had to decide if they were going to parent or place their daughter for adoption.
“At first it was a tough pill to swallow deciding to go the adoption route, because I’ve always been a prideful person, and when people told me I was too young or didn’t have the money, that made me all the more want to say I can do it,” said Joe.
They found New Life Family Services and went through their options counseling, Joe says he felt no pressure from New Life to choose adoption. But that it became clear to both of them that placing Elise for adoption would benefit everyone involved.
“I slowly realized adoption was a better route because how I saw it was, Elise would have even more people loving her. And it allowed Maddie and I go out and start our careers, without having to raise Elise,” said Joe.
it gave me a softer side but also gave me a strong side and a more protective side…
When choosing Elise’s adoptive family, Joe and Maddie were drawn to the young, vibrant energy and strong faith of Jerome and Jamie Schmidt.
“When we met Jerome and Jamie, we knew she was in perfect hands, we couldn’t have picked better parents than the Schmidts,” said Joe. “We were assured we’d be involved in Elise life forever and that they’d love her to death.”
Joe says he’s been through a lot but has come out stronger. Having first gone through the shame of knowing he would be a teen dad, then the drama of rumors spreading around high school, he is now confident that through Christ he can go through anything.
“The perception is, ‘wow you just screwed up your life for good, you’re going to be a pile for the rest of your life.’ It motivates me more now, with the help of God that you can overcome the biggest obstacles and succeed at the highest level. I want to be proof how much good can come out of such a terrible situation,” said Joe.
I want to be proof how much good can come out of such a terrible situation…
Joe says through this whole experience, he’s found an internal strength, stability and sensitivity.
“When Elise came along, it gave me a softer side but also gave me a strong side and a more protective side. Going through everything we had to go through for her, it gave me a confidence that there’s nothing I can’t go through and succeed in,” said Joe.
Joe and Maddie were both able to finish high school, and are now pursuing their educational and career aspirations. Joe recently accepted a business internship. Maddie is at school in California.
Joe said even though most teen dads have earned a reputation of being uninvolved, he’s proud to have advocated for Elise’s life and that he gets to be a regular part of her life.
“Sadly, most teen dads aren’t in the picture. Guys are usually never there to step up to the challenge and women are forced to step up to the challenge because they are carrying the baby,” said Joe.
Joe subscribes to a life motto that adversity doesn’t make the man, but adversity reveals the man. And through the last few years Joe’s actions reveal a man who has shown maturity beyond his years.