Everyone becomes like their parents in one way or another. There are physical characteristics that manifest themselves immediately, as well as personality traits and others that appear at different stages throughout life.
On Monday, Nov. 22, an adoption conference was held at UVU. The conference was sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The keynote speaker was Barbara Smith, news anchor for ABC 4. She shared her personal story of adoption and the struggles that she went through while adopting her child.
There were dozens of classes held throughout the day. Topics included: trends in international adoption, proactive adoptive parenting and psycho-education and resources for foster families who adopt. These topics only cover the surface on the deep subject of adoption.
One class focused on understanding the courage of adoptive parents. It was taught by Stan Swim, currently chairman of the National Council for Adoption. He and his wife have adopted children and he shared bits of his wealth of knowledge on the emotions and feelings that can come as couples embark on the adoption process.
“Every person has hopes, dreams and wishes and grief that goes along with adoption,” he said.
Swim also said that adoption will “test communication in a marriage.”
We live in a society that has laws that look to place children in homes that are “good replacements for birthparents … and where you will love the child as if it were your own.”
In a very touching session titled “Birth Parent Panel Discussion,” attendees discovered how to prepare for the personal and tender moments that the birth mothers shared, in regards to their experiences in placing their children.
There were many adoptees in attendance of all ages. Emotions were visibly close to the surface and it was clear that they were touched. As tears ran down many cheeks, the birth mothers answered several questions. One question that seemed especially touching to many was, “Does she think of me?”
The resounding answer to that question was“Yes!”
“She thinks of you all the time,” one of the birthmothers said.
When asked if it was hard for her, knowing that her child was going to being raised by someone else, Christy, a birthmother said, “No, not at all. I believe that every child deserves a mom and a dad.”
That was a reoccurring theme that the birth mothers shared; they wanted their children to be raised in a home with two parents.
Placing a child for adoption was, “the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” said one birthmother, while another said, “placement was amazing, it was the best moment of my life; in that moment [of placement] I had just made five years of stupidity right … in that moment it was all worth it.”
One of the next sessions was just as touching. This session was small, yet very informative. Two birth grandmothers, Becky Hanson and Renette Goodrich, shared their first- hand experiences of being part of a family where a child was placed in the arms of another family. Both of these women are actively involved with National Families Supporting Adoption Board, also known as NSA.
With all the parental love imaginable, these women have experienced a wide range of emotions as their children have placed babies with adoptive parents. They reminded attendees that adoption does not just affect the birth parents; it affects all those in the families involved.
There is much focus on the birthmother and not nearly the same focus given to the experience that the grandmother may have. Hanson said these insightful words, “there is so much love in the decision to place [a child].”
Goodrich shared her thoughts for those that have a child who is considering placing a child for adoption.
“Your child needs your love and support. There doesn’t need to be any additional punishment; the situation comes with its own pain, consequences, its own suffering,” Goodrich said. “There is no extra needed from mom and dad.”
A valuable nugget that can be applied to everyone was shared by Kerstin Daynes, author of Infertility: Help, Hope, and Healing, an honest and reassuring book for couples trying to make sense of infertility within a Christian framework, when she said, “sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you expected. Learn to be flexible.”