A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Matching Mondays ~ Fun 16 year old girl is hoping for a forever family!

 
"Bri" age 16 is hoping for a forever family.

This sociable teen is Excalibri, who likes to go by “Bri”. She is often described by those who know her as cute, funny, and fun to be around. Listening to music, shopping, and crafting all top her list of things to do! Bri is a driven young woman and has many aspirations. She plans to obtain a cosmetology license and then attend college to obtain a degree in chemistry. She dreams of one day having a career in creating beauty products. Most of all, Bri longs for a forever family that will support and encourage her in fulfilling her dreams.

Bri is currently in eleventh grade and is excelling. This great gal would benefit from a supportive family. She is currently benefiting from counseling, which will need to continue after placement.

If your family can provide Bri with a loving, committed, structured environment, we urge you to inquire. Financial assistance may be available for adoption-related services.

For Utah children, only home studied families from all states are encouraged to inquire.

 You can inquire about these children we feature by clicking on their names above to go to their profile page or you can contact The Utah Adoption Exchange by calling:  801.265.0444

Please share this post with your social media contacts...don't forget to use Pinterest.  :)
Go here for some ideas on how you can help children waiting to be adopted.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A look back at our 1st Annual Adoption Conference.

A little peek at our adoption conference back in November.
Wonderful keynote, great vendors and awesome attendees!
Thanks to all who helped make this conference possible!
We look forward to our 2nd annual conference in November 2014.  More info to come.
This month UFA Celebrates a successful first year and our very first UFA Chapter!
We will be posting about Chapters in January!
UFA is growing...we hope you will join us and make it something extraordinary!
































Monday, December 16, 2013

Efforts to help Liberian children continue. Please join us!


We are continuing our efforts to help raise money for  the children in Monrovia, Liberia.
We appreciate the support from the Or So She Says Blog...you can see Mariel's post here.
Today we the day we were going to close the fundraiser but we have decided to continue the effort.
Please take  a moment and share this fundraiser with those in your social media circles and in your real life circles.   When many donate just $5 it brings about a mighty change for those who can't change their circumstances on their own.
Go here to donate.
Go here to learn more about Monrovia Orphans.
We will be posting more about those who care for the children later this week.  Very touching story!
Thank you for all who have donated to help these special children....the donations are in the hundreds now!  We are so excited about this!   We know we can do more...please spread the word then skip a run your favorite fast food place just one time and donate that $5 you would have spent!


The Best Christmas Gift


- Jessica Moon, Utah


Do you have a photo to share? Send it to us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Helping Children in Liberia.

United For Adoption is continuing our efforts to raise some funds for a small orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia.   We posted about it last Monday in place of our segment "Matching Mondays".   This is the last week of this fundraiser.   We are asking for everyone to donate $5....less than a a Big Mac Meal at McDonald's.   Please take a moment and donate today.   I am re-posting last weeks blog post below.  Read to learn more!
Thank you for helping these special children!
~
This time of year our thoughts turn to children.  We excitedly shop for the children in our lives hoping to buy just the right gift to please these little people we love.    Our thoughts turn to children in our community who's family have fallen on hard times.  The community pitches in and places toys  in a donation box at our local library or grocery store.   It is a blessing for these children.   

Today I want to introduce you to a new set of children who need your thoughts, prayers, love and support.   These children don't have a wish list, they don't have a Christmas.    These children are hoping to fill their little bellies.   They are in need of food, medications, shelter, clothing and love.  These children live in an Orphanage in Liberia.   They have a few caregivers who work for free on their behalf.  These children don't have food everyday, they don't have the medications they need.  Recently one of the little boys passed away when medical treatment came too late.   Today I am asking you to join United For Adoption in helping these beautiful children have food everyday rather than every few days, have shelter and medications.  
We are asking you to
GIVE $5 to help them THRIVE!
Between now and December 16th we are asking you to go to Hope For Fallen Leaves website
and donate 5 dollars (or more if you would like) to help feed these darling children!
(The link is below or you can go to their website and click on "store" tab.  Our fundraiser is listed under that tab.)

Eating after 2 days without food. 
United For Adoption would like you to join us in helping these children have what they need now and in the future.  This is our first fundraiser to help these sweet children.   We want to do more for these children in 2014. 
http://hopeforfallenleaves.org/store/?slug=product_info&products_id=44
Please help us make this first attempt a successful one!!!
We ask you to spread the word and share this fundraiser and the link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and all other social media you connect with. 
Join us in helping these children!
*Note:  The webpage you use to donate says the fundraiser ends today.  It will end on the 16th instead of the 9th.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Delivered Blessings



This article was published in Central Floirda Lifestyle. 
It is used with permission.
Written by:  Kimberly Kimmel
Going through an adoption process can be a nerve wracking, even frightening experience for everyone involved. Both the birth mother and the adoptive mother have absolutely no guarantees going in that everything will work out in their favor.

Rachel McMurtrey and her husband Steve fromDr. Phillips had taken the usual route in their quest to be parents. You name it; they explored it. Procedures, injections, surgeries, even egg donations. With each failed attempt to become parents, they grew more passionate and determined. “My husband and I have been married for 11 years and had difficulty getting pregnant. We went to two different doctors in the area and it just didn't happen. We were so disappointed,” Rachel says.

Taking a Chance
The last remaining step to get the child they so desperately wanted was adoption. The McMurtreys let their hearts lead the way and jumped into the process. “After we exhausted the fertility route, we signed up with several different adoption agencies,” Rachel says.
LDS Family Services, an adoption agency associated with the Mormon Church, was one of those agencies. Part of the process is to make a profile and be listed with an agency. Birth moms also choose an agency to help them place their child. Once vetted by the agency, a birth mom is able to look on the site to choose adoptive families. The McMurtreys, “the waiting family” didn't have their profile up on LDS’s website yet because they were in the very beginning steps with the process. The McMurtreys’ birth mom went on the site and chose a Florida couple for her child but discovered that the couple had already adopted and was no longer a waiting family. “She was told there was another brand new couple … and that was us,” McMurtrey says.

Tara Daugherty, the McMurtreys’ birth mom, got the information on the McMurtreys and liked what she saw. She chose them to be her child’s new parents. Rachel says when Daugherty discovered she was pregnant, she was going to terminate the pregnancy. But she had a change of heart at the last moment and contacted LDS Family Services. Daugherty, who lives in Georgia, says she was not prepared to have another child. “I have a daughter who is five and I wanted this baby to have a family and them to be a family forever,” Daugherty says.
When the McMurtreys began, they knew the emotional risks they'd be taking, but they were willing to go for it. Knowing the birth mother could bow out at any point, and they may go home from the hospital empty handed, was a risk they were willing to take.
“You don't realize how much control you don't have. Your heart is in someone else's hands. At any point they can back out,” Rachel says. Because they knew sometimes adoption stories end badly, the McMurtreys were leery, but determined. “There is a lot of heartache behind it. You guard yourself emotionally. People have a perception that you don't go through any pain when you adopt, rather than give birth, but it is a whole different pain. It is an emotional pain during each and every step of the entire process,” Rachel says.

Promises Kept
When the time came, Daugherty requested that the McMurtreys be present in the delivery room.
Easton McMurtrey was born December 26. “The birth mom wanted us there. My husband even cut the umbilical cord,” Rachel says.
As for Daugherty, she was completely satisfied with the way everything turned out. “It all went just how God intended. Nothing could have gone better,” Daugherty says.
In the beginning, each wanted a closed adoption, but they ended up getting along so well, they changed their minds. The experience greatly bonded the two women, who in the end, settled on an open adoption. “After getting to know Rachel and Steve we connected, and it was so great because I was able to bless them with a child of their own and we are great friends. It is such a huge blessing in my life and circumstances,” Daugherty says.

Abundant Blessings
Both moms share the same faith and received counseling through their churches. “We have found that studies have proven it is better for the child to have an open adoption. She couldn't take care of him. We helped her, and she helped us. We stay in touch often and see her. We are like sisters,” Rachel says. “It can be a long journey that makes you tough and more sympathetic. It is not an easy route. But of course it is now a blessing.” Rachel says her best advice to other families who want a child is to never give up hope.”
Rachel and Steve see their son as the ultimate Christmas gift. “Because he was born on December 26, Easton is our gift. We are like kids with our joy. Being parents means so much to us. We don't take a second for granted. A lot of people even say he looks like us. We love caring for him and savor every day of being parents. We are so grateful,” Rachel says.
And the most surprising part for Rachel? The love that is felt. To me I didn't realize I could love a child as though it came from me. I feel like he is mine and that he was always meant to be mine. I don't feel like he was adopted. Miracle after miracle has happened,”
There is a saying in the adoption community that Rachel says sums up how she feels.
“With adoption a baby grows in a mommy's heart instead of her tummy.”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Childless at Christmas: A Survival Guide

christmas tree
This article was pubished on DeseretNews.com.  It is used with permission from the author: Brenda Horrocks UFA Co-Chair
Erma Bombeck stated: "There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake on Christmas morning and not be a child."
For a couple battling infertility, the statement could read: "There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake on Christmas morning to a house empty of children." I know this is true for me, because I have lived it. When you are a couple with empty aching arms, Christmastime can be brutal.
For those who are hurting and hoping, they are not alone. According to RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, 7.3 million Americans deal with infertility. I am one of them. My husband and I have been married for 18 years and I have never become pregnant.
Here are some ideas to help your holiday season be merry rather than miserable.
Create a list of things you enjoy doing together.Pick one item each week and have it be your special holiday of the week. Take time to focus on one another and enjoy things you cannot do with children — like late night movies, fancy restaurants, an overnighter at a favorite hotel, sleeping in followed by a late morning breakfast. Remember, even though you don’t have children, you are still a family. In a RESOLVE fact sheet series about coping with the holidays, founder Barbara Eck Menning says, “You're as entitled as anyone else to have a tree in your home, even if there are only two presents under it. How about throwing yourself into the search for, or the production of, a special present for your partner? It's a way of saying, 'Baby or no baby, we love each other and we’re a family in our own right.'”
Sometimes you have to protect yourself when you are in a great deal of pain. If family gatherings are too much right now, then excuse yourself from the event and make other plans together or with other couples who are dealing with the same challenges. Those who love you will understand and be supportive.
Seek out and serve children. For some couples, being around children brings hope. If this is how you feel then find ways to be around children. Offer to babysit for parents who need to do some gift shopping. Ask to hold a family member’s baby. Children in foster care are always in need of clothing items — coats, boots and gloves — and love new toys. Hospitals greatly appreciate clothing gifts for premature babies in their NICU. There are children hoping to be adopted from foster care who would love to have something special at Christmastime. Take toys and clothing items to a local homeless shelter. With so many children in need, there are many ways to nurture children and many children who need that nurturing.
Remember to take care of your mental and physical health. Holidays are stressful for everyone, but when you have the added challenges of infertility the stress is compounded. Helen Adrienne, a psychotherapist, suggests couples seek out a yoga class or get a massage to help with the stress. She also states,Whether on your own or with professional help, if you successfully decide and declare your decisions about the holidays, you set yourselves up to minimize the impact of family/holiday stress on your bodies. And beyond the logistics of who and what, there exists a further opportunity to nurture the marriage. Now is the time to explore techniques of mind/body relaxation that you can enjoy together. Besides being on the same page, feeling loved and understood is palliative and has a positive impact as a stress reducer.” Go to her article titled "Dealing with the stress of the holidays" to learn more.
Seek out others who understand. Whether in person or online, being connected to couples who are going through or have gone through what you are, can really be a lifeline. Connecting online was a big key for me. I found commonality and developed special friendships. Here are a few of my favorite blogs/sites which tackle the infertility topic — The R House, LDS Infertility, Beyond the Rain. I share pieces of my infertility journey on my blog Another Small Adventure and my most tender writings on my other blog I AM.
When you are dealing with infertility, it is hard sometimes to not feel “left out.” While attending a church activity for children in our neighborhood, a leader read a book titled “The Crippled Lamb” by Max Lucado. By the time she was done I was in a mess of tears and had to escape to the restroom. The story is about a little lamb named Joshua who has a crippled leg. Joshua feels left out because he can’t be like the other lambs in the field. He develops a special friendship with a cow named, Abigail. Abigail helps him see that “God has a special place for those who feel left out.” I have come to know this for myself. I hope this special time of year brings you great peace and hope and the knowledge of your “special place”.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Children in Liberia need YOU!!!!

This time of year our thoughts turn to children.  We excitedly shop for the children in our lives hoping to buy just the right gift to please these little people we love.    Our thoughts turn to children in our community who's family have fallen on hard times.  The community pitches in and places toys  in a donation box at our local library or grocery store.   It is a blessing for these children.   

Today I want to introduce you to a new set of children who need your thoughts, prayers, love and support.   These children don't have a wish list, they don't have a Christmas.    These children are hoping to fill their little bellies.   They are in need of food, medications, shelter, clothing and love.  These children live in an Orphanage in Liberia.   They have a few caregivers who work for free on their behalf.  These children don't have food everyday, they don't have the medications they need.  Recently one of the little boys passed away when medical treatment came too late.   Today I am asking you to join United For Adoption in helping these beautiful children have food everyday rather than every few days, have shelter and medications.  
We are asking you to
GIVE $5 to help them THRIVE!
Between now and January 2nd we are asking you to go to Hope For Fallen Leaves website
and donate 5 dollars (or more if you would like) to help feed these darling children!
(The link is below or you can go to their website and click on "store" tab.  Our fundraiser is listed under that tab.)

Eating after 2 days without food. 
United For Adoption would like you to join us in helping these children have what they need now and in the future.  This is our first fundraiser to help these sweet children.   We want to do more for these children in 2014. 
http://hopeforfallenleaves.org/store/?slug=product_info&products_id=44
Please help us make this first attempt a successful one!!!
We ask you to spread the word and share this fundraiser and the link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and all other social media you connect with. 
Join us in helping these children!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Adoption?: "My Saddest Happiness"

Baby feet close up!
This was published on KSL.com and is written by Leanne Olsen.
It is shared with permission.

It was an ordinary day in August when my life changed forever. I found out I was pregnant.
It has been a long road from that day to where I am now, with lots of ups and downs in making my decision to give my daughter up for adoption.
At first, I was not connected to her at all. I thought I didn't care about her; I just wanted to get through this pregnancy and be done. I lost a lot of family connections as well as friends at that moment in my life.
I felt I had made the worst mistake ever and was now responsible for the life of someone else — well not just anyone else; this was my child, and her initial outcome in life now rested on my shoulders. I did not know what I was going to do or even where to start. I was lost.
But as things continued, my life changed. I moved to Utah and met amazing people and a bishop who changed my life forever. They showed me that even though I had messed up I still had a chance, and I could make it back to where I needed to be.
Even though I had great friends I still spent a lot of time alone. I had a lot of time to think about whether I wanted to keep this baby or think of a different option.

I am not happy to admit I did think about having an abortion, but I couldn't bring myself to do it and threw that option out the window. I had brought this on myself and was going to do the best thing for my daughter.
I knew I had to make this decision on my own since my daughter's father was never there and always seemed to make things complicated.
For most of my pregnancy I knew she was mine and I was going to keep her. I believed I could be the best thing for my daughter even if it meant doing it on my own.
Then, about six months in, I started thinking for my daughter instead of myself. I had to put myself completely out of the picture and began to think about her and what the best thing was for her.
This was the hardest decision I have ever had to make — to let complete strangers raise my daughter. I decided to give up being her mother and raising her so that she could have a better life with a better family structure. I knew I couldn't give her what every child should have.
I believe, with God's help, my daughter's family found me. I knew they were the ones before I had ever met them. I felt as though I had known them. To me, they were not complete strangers.
The night of the first day I had met them, I gave them the news that they had a baby girl on the way. They needed to get ready. If she is anything like me, they were going to have their hands full.

That night when I went home I felt a very calming peace come over me and had the best sleep I had gotten the entire eight months I was pregnant.
A month later I ended up in the hospital. A baby girl was on the way and there was nothing I could do. At this point, it all became real. She was coming whether I was ready or not.
I can't even begin to explain the connection that was made the first time I saw her. At that moment, my heart was broken. I knew I wanted her, but plans were already in motion.
When I saw the way her adoptive father looked at her I knew that was where she belonged, and no selfishness from me was going to keep them apart.
The adoption was finalized four days later. It has been the hardest eight months of my life. There has been a lot of heartache, insecurity and drama. But even through all of the heartache and hurt I have felt, I have always known she is special and has great potential. If I hadn't made that hard decision, she would not have all those opportunities to become great.
This is the saddest yet happiest experience I have had, and it has changed my life for the better. I have since graduated college and established new and lasting relationships. I know my daughter has been able to establish her own relationships that will also last forever.
Because of the decision I made, both my daughter and I have grown in ways I cannot even begin to describe. My daughter has made me a better person in so many ways. I now attend church regularly, my hate and anger that I used to once carry with me is gone, and now I feel love and compassion for those around me.
In the end, I know we will always have our connection that was made that day in the hospital.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adoption Shop Talk: Dollface Photo




Each month we feature a business that creates and/or sells adoption merchandise.
Today we are talking

DollFace Photo
Brandy Dial shares a little bit about her family and how she decided photography was her passion.
~

That's me with the giant family. As the mother of 5 adopted children, I've got a soft spot for adoption. I've tried for years to promote the cause, so I present at high schools and junior high schools with birth parents to dispel adoption myths and get folks thinking about it. But I always felt like there was very little support for adoptive couples through the process.

In 2001, when our adoption journey began, we needed to submit a family photo with our profile to send to multiple agencies. I was always unhappy with the first set, proclaiming, "Who would want an ugly couple to adopt their baby?" Silly, right? And yet so profoundly important when you're immersed in the process. So we paid for multiple sessions every time we submitted adoption papers. On top of intense and mountainous paperwork and personal stress, we couldn't get an adoption-worthy picture taken! So by 2008, when we were submitting our paperwork for a fourth time, my husband bought me my first professional-grade camera. He submitted that if I thought I could do better, I should.

I educated myself and practiced for a couple of years. I started my company and continued my efforts in the schools. After being asked by an adoption agency to do a presentation on how to make profiles, blogs, personal photos, and pass-along cards more beautiful and effective, I thought, "Why don't I offer profile, placement, or birth photos to ease the stress on adoptive couples?" And so it began! I've done numerous profile pictures for incredible couples hoping to start a family through adoption and have had the pleasure of taking newborn, family, and finalization photos when their dreams came true!

It's not any sort of experience you can truly understand unless you've gone through it. I hope that the couples who are willing to adopt can have their loads lightened, even a little, by having photos they are confident to share. 

I can be contacted via facebook DollFace Photo, or http://dollfacephoto.com/
Here are a couple of examples of her work.  You can view more on her website.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"I Love You More Than Tongues Can Tell"

As we were getting ready for our UFA Conference I had an author contact me.  Her name is Anne T. Zwicker. She goes by Terry.  She loves adoption and was excited to learn about our conference.   She sent my family a copy of her book titled
"I Love You More
Than Tongues Can Tell".  
We love this book!!!   I had no idea upon reading the book that the story was the authors story of her adoption and how her family was built.   I love this story because it is different than most children's adoption books...this book takes you full circle!   The illustrations in this book are very special.  They are created by Terry's son Forrest S. Ashby. 

If you haven't had a chance to read this book or add it to your home library now is your chance to get one.   Terry has graciously donated 3 copies for us to give away to our United For Adoption readers and Facebook friends.   Please go to our Facebook page and look for the related post to enter to win.
You can purchase Terry's book by going here.
Terry has another book titled "Lettuce Left Root Beer Right".  It is a great story that helps children learn how to properly set a table.   It has been helping my kiddos ever since we read it!  While not adoption related it is alot of fun!   You can learn more about it here.
Both books are also available in E-Book format.
Thank you Terry for sharing your book with all of us!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Matching Mondays~ Utah's Heart Gallery

This week is filled with sweet and savory smells from the kitchen, families gathering and lots of memory making!   Please take a moment and look through Utah's Heart Gallery and see if one of the waiting children might find a place at your table, in your family and in your heart!
Thank you for taking time to come here
(or to The R House blog)
each Monday to view these beautiful and special children.   They have touched my heart over and over again and have changed the way I think about waiting children.  I hope it has touched you too!

Happy Thanksgiving! 
:) Brenda Horrocks
UFA Co-Chair and Founder of Matching Mondays.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Embracing Adoption and Openness ~ Britta's Story

Britta with Dawson at the hospital.
Today we have the privileged of hearing from Britta Nelson.   Her story is very touching and very unique.   We appreciate her sharing it with us!
It was eight years ago this October that I stood in my bathroom staring at a little plastic divining rod, which read “pregnant”.  I was shocked.  This was not the plan.  My boyfriend and I had just broken up, and I was plotting my escape from a small party resort town I’d gotten too caught up in.  Instinctively I dropped to my knees to plead to whatever God that would hear me. I remember what I said as if it were yesterday: “I will do whatever it takes to provide the most loving, stable and consistent circumstances for this baby”.   

I couldn’t have known then what a unique path “whatever it takes” would eventually take me down.  

I began to consider my options, consulting with pregnancy support groups, friends, family.  Abortion never crossed my mind; along with tenants from my religious background, I was 32 and healthy, had a job with health benefits, and figured I could at least get through 9 months of pregnancy. I quickly crossed off the idea of raising my son with his father.  He was 10 years older than me, and a solid, kind guy.  But after our break up our lives were going in different directions.  I considered the various aspects of being a single mom, but it just didn’t match my ambitions for my baby’s life. I wanted him to have a family, with a mom and a dad.

From the beginning, I felt reserved in my joy and excitement about having a baby. For some reason, I never could picture him with me. In fact, I had dreams that I would go to find him in the house and he would be gone. From my dreams to my intuition and finally to my heart, I knew – I would not be raising this boy. This broke my heart. While I loved being pregnant physically, this intuition made my pregnancy emotionally tumultuous.

By month three, I felt strongly that adoption was the best option for my son, but not everyone agreed. My parents felt that raising a baby would be good to ground me, to get my life on track, but I felt uncomfortable with that being a reason to have a baby. And then I ran into the unexpected – my son’s dad was absolutely opposed to the idea, and informed me he would single parent our son. I learned that he could indeed exercise his parental rights this way, and I was devastated; it felt like what I wanted for my baby was being disregarded. So I began to reconsider, to explore a 50-50 custody split with his father.  But this plan didn’t feel right either. From my perspective, raising a baby well requires a couple to be very hands-on, engaged and committed. It seems like work that involves trust, love and vulnerability…the stuff good marriages are made of. Without such a foundation and goal, the plans we were making felt fake, like we were not looking at the reality of our relationship and circumstances. They also would be logistically disruptive – definitely not the consistent, stable life I’d hoped for my son.

In the midst of this, my intuition began to speak again, telling me that a family would present itself – but in a unique way, and not on my timetable. I trusted this, and by eight months into the pregnancy, I reached a deep, serene peace about allowing his dad to take him. I didn’t know why, but after months of exploring ideas that never felt right, surprisingly, this one actually did.

One month later, Dawson Lars was born.  I loved childbirth.  It was the most powerful, womanly thing I’ve ever done to bring this beautiful little boy into the world. And in sharp contrast, the hardest thing I’ve ever done is walk away from him, trusting my heartfelt intuition by leaving Dawson with his father.

During Dawson’s first months, I saw him only a few times; I had moved to Utah to build a new life. I would ask mutual friends how his dad was doing in his new role. Unanimously, they said he was doing amazing, and that his family and the community were being totally supportive. This gave me some peace. When I did have visits, there was still a sense a family was coming and a nagging nudge that I shouldn’t get too connected, because it would thwart things.

At first I thought my intuition meant that his dad would meet and marry someone. What did happen none of us could have predicted.  9 months after Dawson was born, his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  We knew we had only a brief time to make important decisions about how to provide our son the best life possible. I asked his dad if his experiences single parenting had assured him this was still the best option for our boy; he admitted no, that he wanted a family for him. It was at this point that our hearts mutually opened to a new solution – we would ask his sister and her husband if they would adopt our son into their family. Dawson was  already in their home because his dad’s health was too compromised by cancer and radiation treatments to care for him, so when we asked, they didn’t even think twice.

It was 7 months later, when Dawson’s father died, that his sister’s family adopted Dawson permanently into their amazing family – one that is loving, stable and consistent, as well as full of relatives and friends, adventure and exploration. Dawson now has the mom and dad – and even sister – I had felt would come.

One of Dawson’s father’s last wishes was that we foster our relationships between his sister’s family – which now included Dawson – and me.  Although Dawson’s dad and I had our challenges, we respected and enjoyed one another. He liked who I was – my values and interests – and was clear about wanting me to be a part of our son’s life.

Dawson lives in California, far enough for me to heal and move forward, but close enough to allow me to be more connected than I ever anticipated I would be. I make annual visits to their home, where I tuck him in, tell him stories, dance and build train sets with him. Between visits we Skype, I follow him and his family on Facebook, and they share photos via text.

It hasn’t always been easy.  The first two years of visits to see Dawson were heart wrenching and awkward for me, despite all of our best efforts. But we have just continued to be open and united in our commitment to one another.

Britta and Dawson
And we are open with him too. At the advice of counselors his parents have worked with, since as early as Dawson could understand, they’ve talked openly about him coming from my tummy, and he knows his first daddy got sick and went to heaven. The relationship continues to evolve as he matures.  Prior to my most recent visit he’s known me as “Auntie B”. But he’s eight now and asking lots of questions, of me and of them. Following an outing together at the Santa Monica Pier, to my surprise, he asked, “Auntie B, are you my real, real mom? Did I come from your tummy?” I was touched by what our new candor created; he was more vulnerable, more engaged and loving than he’s been on prior visits. It is evident he knows that somehow this makes our relationship unique.

At the same time that I feel such gratitude and delight in my growing relationship with Dawson, I’m also deeply sensitive to his parent’s needs and concerns. I want to be sure they I want to fully support them in their roles as mom and dad. They are giving him the life I’d hoped he would have, and I am forever grateful. We are working without much of a roadmap or template, just a willingness to be open, patient and trusting. I hope that with the foundation of trust and communication we are building and the love we share for Dawson will get us through whatever his future brings.

For reasons I could never have predicted, my adoption story didn’t end at my delivery date.  Trusting my intuition to leave my son was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made. I waddled around our small Idaho town for nine months, facing some shocked looks and shaming statements from those surprised I’d gotten pregnant or choose to have my child adopted, and for years after having him, I felt deep pain and loss. But my heart, perhaps my mother’s intuition, knew that my son would be taken care of, that someone was waiting in the wings, and that I needed to trust the process.  I am so glad I did. I truly have no regrets.  Following my heart down unexpected paths brought my son to a family and me back to my son.

 Britta Nelson


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