Blogtalk Radio Transcript: The Gift of Motherhood, Air Date: 6.21.2016 (You may listen to the podcast by clicking on the audio link, or read the transcript of the podcast below.) Adoption in Flint, Michigan.
Gabby and her husband were ready to start their family, but things weren’t happening. Gabby’s doctor, an adoptive father of three, suggested they look into adoption. They attended an Adoption Associates informational meeting in Flint, Michigan, near their home in Genesee County, Michigan. They asked a lot of questions and soon found themselves immersed in the world of adoption. They attended an additional informational meeting at AAI’s Lansing, Michigan office (in Ingham County, Michigan) to hear an adoptive family speak about their adoption experience. God had a plan and they are so glad that they listened. They now have two wonderful children by adoption.
Gabby says that there are two women out there who they view as heroes. These special women put the needs and best interests of their children before the desires of their hearts. Out of love for their children they made an adoption plan. They gave Gabby and her husband the gift of motherhood.
Read on below as Gabby shares the love and respect she has for each of her children’s birth mothers, and tells how they have always been open and honest with their children on how they came to their family. Because they have always talked about adoption, they are able to answer openly and honestly the questions the boys ask about their birth mothers. They have kept in touch with these special birth mothers and have continued to send pictures and letters to them.
Jennifer J.: Hi, and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworski, and I am a social worker with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates’ premier talk radio blog show. Adoption Associates was founded in 1990, and we specialize in domestic adoption. We provide pregnancy and adoption services throughout all of Michigan. We have an office in Lansing, Michigan, and one near Flint, Michigan, as well as offices near Detroit and Grand Rapids. We are even located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Anywhere you are located in Michigan, you can find a connection to Adoption Associates.
Adoption Associates brings knowledge, support, and understanding into our adoption services. Adoption is not only our specialty; it’s our passion. One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is this radio show to help educate and support adoptive families, birth families, and the adoption community. So we’re very glad that you’re listening in today.
And I’m really happy today to introduce our guest. We are speaking with Gabby today. Gabby, are you with us?
Gabby: Yes. I am here.
Jennifer J.: Hi! Good morning.
Gabby: Good morning.
Jennifer J.: Thank you so much for being on this show. I’m looking forward to the information that you have. I think it’s going to be really important for our listeners to hear your story. Today, we’re talking about how you received the gift of motherhood from a couple of brave, young women. So, if you don’t mind, could you just share with us your personal background with adoption?
Gabby: Absolutely. I want to thank you for having me on the show today. I’m really excited to be here. I would say that our adoption journey started, around 2010. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant and nothing was happening. We had medical exams and there were no obvious issues. We came to the point where you could go down the long road of doing infertility treatment, or you could look into adoption. I always say that adoption was meant to be for us because my OB doctor told me that he and his wife had adopted all three of their children. They had used Adoption Associates near Flint, Michigan in Genesee County, right where we are located. So, I strongly felt like God was calling us to adoption.
So, we started the adoption process. We went to our first informational meeting at Adoption Associates’ Genesee County location near Flint, Michigan. We heard that there was another opportunity to attend a meeting in nearby Ingham County at the AAI location in Lansing, Michigan, so we attended that one too. We wanted to learn all we could, so we felt attending both meetings would be beneficial. After attending those meetings, we really got us thinking that this was something we could see ourselves doing. After that, we completed the application process and got started on our home study.
After our home study was approved and our profile was done, our friends threw us a big celebration dinner. We were so excited to officially be on the waiting list!
Jennifer J.: So, that was the beginning of your first adoption. Tell us about your two boys.
Gabby: Yep. We have our first child, John, who we adopted in 2011. After that, I ended up getting pregnant – what a huge surprise! After we had our daughter in 2013, we decided to adopt again. We, we brought home our second son, Ethan in 2015 through adoption. The whole process, everything about adoption in Flint, Michigan was so positive for us. We just knew that it was the road we wanted to go down. And, when I got pregnant, God had a different plan for the way our family was going to look, but we always knew we wanted to adopt again.
Jennifer J.: Awesome. So you talked about the home study process a little bit, and then you had a period of waiting. What was that time frame for you?
Gabby: I feel like it was really short. We waited for about four months, which really isn’t too long. When we started our adoption process with you guys, I think we were told it could be a year from starting the process to being linked with a birth family. And so it ended up only being four months, which really wasn’t that long.
Jennifer J.: Right. That’s very quick. And for your second adoption, what was that time frame like?
Gabby: That took about six months, so again, it was not very long at all. Overall, the waiting is an exciting period, because you could get that phone call at any moment. The one that tells you a birth mother has chosen you. In fact, in both cases, our birth mother had already given birth, so we literally had to get prepared to meet our baby within about 24 hours.
Jennifer J.: Okay. So talk about that then, the day that the phone rang, the call came, what was going through your mind? What was this all about?
Gabby: Oh, goodness. The first time, we were driving home from church and we had to pull the car over, because we were so excited. I don’t even remember who we talked to now, but I just remember, we pulled over, and whoever we were speaking with asked to be put on speaker. I could cry right now just remembering the moment. She said that there was a baby boy, and she shared the circumstances around his birth and that he was healthy. And we were so, so, so excited! AAI processed John’s adoption in Lansing, Michigan.
The second time, I had actually just put the kids to bed and my phone rang. It was Paula, and she said, you guys have been linked with a birth family, and it’s a baby boy. And we were so thrilled! We could hardly sleep that night. AAI processed Ethan’s adoption in Flint, Michigan.
Both boys love to hear about their adoption story, and we are always so happy to talk about it with them.
Jennifer J.: We love to hear the excitement and the emotion behind what those phone call feel like on your end. So thank you for sharing. That’s really special. What are your thoughts and feelings about agency support and services that you received during your wait and during the placement? Can you talk about that a little bit?
Gabby: Yes. I think that you guys are amazing! Since we have started bringing adoption into our life, through church and through outreach to other people, we’ve met so many people who have adopted. Some have adopted through different agencies, and some through Adoption Associates. What we all love about Adoption Associates is the fact that there is so much support. Not only for adoptive parents, but most importantly, for the birth parents. Both of our birth mothers have told us that AAI is always there for them, supporting them, and providing information and resources.
I think you guys went above and beyond what I was expecting as far as questions and what to expect. It’s all laid out, which is great, because I like to plan, and I like to know what’s going to happen. And some things, like the waiting, you have no idea when that’s going to happen. But you guys were great about keeping us up to date. We would get emails from you regularly. You would let us know when our profile was shown, etc. And I think that’s important to know, probably from both sides, from being an adoptive parent, but also a birth parent, that things are still happening, even while you’re waiting.
Jennifer J.: Of course. Absolutely. I do want to note that each of the two adoptions that you and your husband completed were different in terms of openness. One being semi-open and one being more open according to the wishes of your birth mothers. I’m wondering if you could share your thoughts about how you view the differences in these two types of adoptions.
Gabby: Yes. Absolutely. I think that I want to say first that both of our adoptions, like you said, were by the choosing of the birth mother, and we respect both of their choices. With our oldest, we send his birth mother pictures and letters. And with our youngest, his adoption is more open. In fact, we are going to see his birth mother this weekend.
So, it’s different in the sense that John is older, and he asks questions that we don’t always have answers to. Like what his birth mother is like, etc. But what we always tell him is that the decision that she made was made out of love, and that does not mean that because she chose to have less contact doesn’t mean that she didn’t love him. And he gets it. It’s amazing how much he understands and how much he himself loves her. We have her picture in his bedroom, and he talks about her all of the time and how beautiful she is and how he looks like her. So I’m thankful that we were able to meet her. And you never know what the future is going to hold. We may end up meeting up with John’s birth mother at some point in his life, when she’s ready and when the time is right.
The open adoption we have with Ethan’s birth mom is so cool. It’s just amazing. Having communication with her and being able to interact with her has been so good for him. And honestly, the love that she has shown, not only to Ethan, but to our other two children, is so touching. I’m honored that we have the ability to be friends with her and that she’s a part of our life.
Sometimes it is difficult to explain to the kids the different type of relationships with have with their birth mothers. But without a doubt, even though we don’t see John’s birth mother, he knows that we send her pictures, we send her letters, and we talk about her all of the time.
Jennifer J.: That’s really important. One thing that is unfortunate that we hear oftentimes from birth parents is the guilt and the shame that can come with an unplanned pregnancy. And sometimes, that transitions into our community, as well, in terms of the views of who is a birth mother. Would you share your feelings about that, about birth parents and the choice that they’ve made?
Gabby: Yes. I think that, because these two women are absolute heroes to us, and they have given us the greatest gift, it’s important for people to know is that every single adoption situation is different. And every decision that a birth mother makes will be the most difficult decision they’ve ever made. As an adoptive mom, am frustrated sometimes with the way that society views birth mothers. I think what we need to remember is that they are making an amazing choice. There are other choices that they could make, and instead, they are making th completely selfless choice of adoption for their child. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about how amazing our birth mothers are for what they’ve chosen to do.
Jennifer J.: That is outstanding, Gabby. Thank you so much. I think that it’s so important that we respect, cherish, and honor the choices that they’ve made. Their gift helps families such as yours become families. That’s definitely our message. I know you talked about John asking questions, particularly when Ethan joined your family. How do you talk to your children about adoption? What sorts of questions has he asked you? And do you feel like you guys are equipped to handle those questions as he gets older?
Gabby: I do. What I love, again, about you guys is that I know if I were ever to have a question that I didn’t know how to answer, I could email or call you guys, and you would help me. So I really appreciate that.
Jennifer J.: Of course.
Gabby: But no. It’s funny. John is so in tune with things. I think he’s super smart and wonderful. But I’m seeing that these questions that come up from him are pretty typical. He’s known that he was adopted from the moment that he could tell the difference in the color of skin. Because John has brown skin, and we have peach skin. So he would say things like, “Well mommy, I have brown skin. Why do you have peach skin?” And we just always tell him, this is the way that God has meant for our family to be, and he chose that you would be a part of our family. God has known all along that we were going to be your forever family. And he doesn’t really go much beyond that.
He does ask questions about what was her favorite color, and did she like to dance. Was she loud, things like that. And we do have, some personal information that she filled out, so it’s really cool to be able to go back to that and answer some questions. We made him an adoption book that explains how he came to be a part of our family. It explains the before, while we were waiting, and what happened when we got the phone call. We have all these pictures from when we registered for his nursery and things like that. So, I think that he feels like this was a plan that was meant to have happened. This was the way that our life was supposed to have been.
I think one of the best pieces of advice that you guys gave to us was always to be 100% honest with them. There are no secrets. It’s all truth with them.
Jennifer J.: That’s so sweet. That’s so sweet. What about your extended family and friends? How has adoption impacted them, or has it?
Gabby: Our family loves and cherishes both of our boys. They admire our situation, and they, in turn, love our birth mothers, because we love them. I definitely think our extended family, our friends, and everybody would say that adoption is this very positive amazing thing.
Jennifer J.: You mentioned a little bit earlier that John recognizes the difference in your skin color and his skin color. Can you touch for a second on how you handle transracial and transcultural issues in your home?
Gabby: Yes, absolutely. We honor, and we are constantly trying to learn about the African American culture. In our family, we celebrate Kwanzaa, which has been something super fun for us. We’re also Christian, and so we took the principles of Kwanzaa, and we put some scripture verses with it that we’ve been teaching our kids. We try to do something a little each day of the seven days of Kwanzaa to celebrate that part of our culture. We do consider it our family’s cultural past.
This year on Juneteenth, which is the day that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, I felt comfortable explaining a little bit of that to the boys and what that means. They didn’t really have tons of questions, which kind of surprised me. We explained that this is a part of our country’s past, and this is what happened on this day, and why it’s such a great thing. We try very hard to incorporate not only music, but books and little pieces of that culture into our life.
The church that we go to is quite diverse. And that’s on purpose. We love our church, but we love the fact that there are people of other cultures there. And it’s not only African American and white. There are other people from different cultural backgrounds that attend that church, too. We get together with other transracially adopted families so our kids can see other families that look like ours.
Jennifer J.: Fantastic, Gabby that’s awesome. What is the most important thing that you would want to say to others that are considering growing their family through adoption?
Gabby: Well, I would probably tell them that I believe that adoption is a miracle. We have a sign that says that in our house. Our lives have been forever changed by adoption and by the fact that we have two amazing children who came to us through adoption.
I guess I would want them to know that there will be a couple of hurdles that you’re going to have to get over, but it really is no different than choosing to grow your family any other way. Everyone has challenges that they have to go through.
Jennifer J.: Absolutely. You’re right about that. So, we are close to the end of our show. My final question would be, “What would you want to say to birth mothers and birth fathers that may be considering making an adoption plan for their baby?”
Gabby: I think I would probably tell them thank you. Thank you for considering adoption and for listening today. Because if you’re choosing to listen to this or reaching out to people who can help you make an adoption plan for your child, then you care about that child so much. I think I would want them to know that their decision will be loved and respected. And I think that’s really important that whatever decision they make, they are respected.
I cannot speak from being in the position of a birth family, but I do know that we have so much love and respect for our birth families. And I know that we are not out of the norm. If you are an adoptive family, then you already respect and love those people. It’s amazing how that happens so instantaneously. Within a second of meeting both of our birth mothers, we were like, we love you. It’s an amazing feeling. You’ve never met them before, but you have this common bond, and it’s a child. So, I guess that would probably be what I want them to know, that they will always be loved and respected.
Jennifer J.: Thank you for that. Thank you so much, Gabby, for being with us today and sharing your really heartfelt story, and how your family has grown through adoption. I appreciate it, and I know that our listeners do too.
Gabby: You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me!
Jennifer J.: For now, this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus Radio. Thank you for listening in everyone. Have a great day. Bye bye.