Adoption can be a huge blessing for a lot of families. And nowadays, there are a lot of options when it comes to adopting a child.
Dr. Liz Hale shares a personal story about adoption that came full circle.
The Adoption Option
November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. Adoption is close to our Studio 5 heart. It was 30 years ago that you helped a 17-year-old young woman go through the delivery and placement of a healthy baby girl. And Studio 5 became the bridge that brought this triad of adoptee, birth mother, and adoptive couple full circle. How did it all unfold?
Thirty years ago closed adoption option was the only option in the agency Liz worked in. Today, open adoptions are offered by most American adoption agencies.
With closed adoptions it’s difficult for parties to find each other. One must get rather creative. When this baby girl came into the world, they were all living in Washington State. Now, 30 years later, they’re all living in Utah.
The birth mother happened to see a Studio 5 segment and reached out to Liz. A year and a half later this former baby girl, now a grown woman named Disney, also reached out to Liz because of Studio 5. Something in her adoption literature that she carried all these years happened to have Liz’s name on it. On a whim, Disney contacted her through Studio 5 to see if by chance she might be the same Liz Hale that played a role in her adoption 30 years prior.
Liz just had the privilege of meeting her. Talk about surreal. She was loved by her adoptive parents and family. Her birth mother wanted her to have an older sister because her older sisters are so important to her. Her sister, Mollie, was also adopted. And then these parents were also blessed with a biological son who was the last baby added to their family.
Disney has gone on to marry and become a mother herself to two adorable young boys.
She enjoys the relationship with her birth mother, and her birth mother’s husband and children. While Disney’s family has expanded, and she’s very fond of her birth mother, her parents are her parents. They raised her and loved her and took care of her all those years. The lines for this family are very clear. Her children call her parents Grandma and Grandpa. Her birth mother is not the grandmother. Disney’s sister, Mollie, is in an even more expansive relationship where her birth mother IS an additional grandma for her kiddos. There is as much variety in these relationships as there are people.
The Options of Adoptions Today
The world of adoption has changed in many ways just in recent years. There is an increase in the number of couples wishing to adopt, while the number of children available for adoption has not increased. There are three main categories of adoption:
1) Domestic Infant Adoption
2) International Adoption
3) Domestic Adoption from Foster Care
Foster care adoption often gets overlooked, but it’s a viable option for those wanting to grow their families through adoption. Many couples experience long periods of wait time and become frustrated with the adoption timetable. Foster care adoptions, however, often have shorter waiting times than private or international adoptions. For children in foster care there is financial assistance to help cover the child’s living expenses and healthcare. For most children, a portion of that assistance continues after adoption. Children in foster care range in age from birth to 19 years old. Last year alone, more than 600 children were adopted from foster care in Utah. Nearly 400 of these children adopted from foster care were age 5 or younger.
Couples who are attempting pregnancy by in vitro fertilization often create more zygotes than are used. These unused zygotes can now be placed for “adoption” through an embryo adoption agency. When selected, they are then implanted via in vitro fertilization into the adoptive mother making her the legal birth mother able to experience pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing.
Open vs. Closed Adoption
Know that there are as many adoption options as there are families. Some of the research has determined that the open process is an emotionally healthier option for the triad, but it may not be everyone’s first choice. Decide upon openness with the child in mind.
Honor birth parents even when you don’t know who they are.
An adoptive mom Liz knows talks about her daughter’s birth families often. She brings them up naturally in her conversations. She will say, “Miss. Kate had the most beautiful pink sweater on the day we met her.” It’s a semi-open adoption so there are some details and pictures but not a consistent and close connection.
This adoptive mom also might say, “Wow, you really, love sweet potatoes. I wonder if Miss. Kate likes sweet potatoes, too.”
There are reasons for closed adoptions or semi-open adoptions which include minimal contact. Maybe it’s the adoptive couple’s choice or the birth mother’s choice. Maybe you live across the country from each other. Maybe its unsafe or unhealthy to have communication. Maybe biological parents have passed away or they are unable to be located.
Whatever the reason, trust that a child can still feel overwhelmingly loved, honored, cared for, and familiar with their roots due to their parents’ normalizing of their child’s perfect adoption story, no matter how open or how closed.
One of Liz’s dear friends was adopted from India from Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Calcutta, also 30 years ago. Through the years when her peers would ask her if she ever wanted to find her “real family” she’d say, “this is my real family.” She was brought to the Seattle International Airport when she was 7 months old on May 11th 1989. THAT is the day they celebrate most: DAVINA’S GOTCHA DAY! She and her parents were all together that day; not on the day of her birth.
She has tremendous peace that she is a beloved daughter of heavenly parents and earthly parents. She has no desire for more. She believes that to open doors would only complicate her life.
Honor All Adoption Experiences
If someone in your family or close social circle has been adopted or has adopted, ask them to tell you their story about their adoption experience. There are as many stories as there are families. Heartache does not elude any of us. You may be surprised by the thoughts and feelings of all the parties involved.
One adoptive mother quoted, “Adoption will cost you. And I’m not just talking money here, although you may easily spend every last penny in your bank account. But adoption costs a lot more than that. It costs you giving up the dreams of a perfect round belly, labor, birth, and even nursing. It may cost you friendships of those who just didn’t get your unique situation. Adoption is beautiful and joyful and will take you on the greatest adventure. But not without sacrifices.”
Birth Parent Scholarship Fund
Birth mothers deserve the opportunity for a future after adoption in the same way they have ensured a brighter future for their child. The Fred M. Riley scholarship fund will help fulfill educational opportunities and dreams for birth mothers who have lovingly chosen adoption. This is a great way for those of us who are advocates of adoption to make a difference indirectly.
United for Adoption Conference
Listen to adoption stories whether you ever plan to adopt or not. It’s the best way to learn about and respect modern adoption with all of its options. It’s the best way to educate the world on how complicated and yet amazing, adoption really is. It’s a gift to all parties involved.
If you are interested in learning more about adoption or determine how to support the efforts of adoption in Utah, join the Annual United for Adoption Conference on Friday, November 8, 2019 from 5:00-9:00 pm. It is at the Kirton McConkie Building in Salt Lake City. Register online at United for Adoption Conference.