Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself. Because if you didn’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 6:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 7:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 8:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans foundation, and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife who’s an adoption attorney and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Birth mothers need support and the ability to grieve after placing a child for adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
This is why adoption after her services are paramount. As a nonprofit Arizona adoption agency, we developed, funded and supported the Donna Kay Evans foundation and many instances a birth mother is parenting other children in the home when she is pregnant and placing that baby for adoption. What is often unresearched, undiscussed, unexamined is the effects of a birth mother placing her baby for adoption on the other children currently in the home.

Ron Reigns:
Right, that makes sense.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And sometimes this can happen and the birth mother can go on and have children later on in life. Sometimes this can happen where at, like I said at the time, there’s no other children in the home, but she goes on to have other children. Does it affect those children? Does her inability to receive adoption aftercare services affect not only her but her children? So without counseling and the support system, a birth mother may not have the ability to continue to parent in a manner she wants to and her grief may or may not affect her daily living.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So aftercare services are designed to be wraparound services, to help her process grief that she may have and provide the support that she may need. Through the Donna Kay Evans Foundation, we as Building Arizona Families have developed this foundation to make sure that we are leaving no stone unturned.

Ron Reigns:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That we are crossing all the T’s, dotting all the I’s. Sometimes if a birth mother doesn’t have support and the ability to grieve, she may attempt to fill the loss by jumping into another relationship and getting pregnant again. That isn’t the answer or the solution, especially when she wasn’t able to parent the baby that she just placed for adoption.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think guilt and shame are two of the emotions that are very pronounced for a birth mother after placement of a baby for adoption. Once the baby is born, the decision to place the baby for adoption brings about significant feelings of guilt about concerns regarding is she rejecting the child, is she doing something wrong? Should this be kept a secret? And again, aftercare programs can teach, educate, inform birth mothers and birth parents after the baby is placed for adoption, even though they may have received the same information during the course of their pregnancy and preparation for the adoptive placement, hearing it again, they’re going to hear it with new ears because the event has occurred.

Ron Reigns:
Right. This is-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Preparing-

Ron Reigns:
You’re at a different point in your life.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
And so it sounds different to you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s like when you’re a senior in high school and you’re getting ready for graduation and you’re told after you graduate, it’s going to feel like this, this, and this. You know I had, when I was a school counselor, I had kids that would tell me, oh, I’m just going to sit back and see what happens. I’m not going to apply to school. I’m just going to, I’m going to see what comes my way.

Ron Reigns:
I know 50 year old’s that are like that, but okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And will I tell, I would tell the 50 year old the same thing I have told the 17 and 18 year old’s, nothing’s going to come your way. You’re going to have to get up and go look for it.

Ron Reigns:
There you go.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
There’s no colleges that are going to come knocking at your door. There’s no employers that are going to come ringing your doorbell.

Ron Reigns:
You know we heard about you through the grapevine. I know you didn’t put in an application, but… Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But your time on social media has been so significant.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That your dedication really speaks for your character.

Ron Reigns:
Yep. So, that’s not likely to happen. I mean it’s not impossible, but not likely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s probably as likely as waiting for the Hogwarts letter when he turned 12 or 13.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So, other birth parents may feel guilt and shame if they decided to keep the adoption a secret. So again, there’s a lot of aspects and entities that can come into play when a birth mother places a baby for adoption and doesn’t have an outlet to express the feelings and emotions she’s experiencing.

Ron Reigns:
Because she’s already hidden everything from everybody from nine months.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
If that’s the path she chose, yes. Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. So you say that the effects of going through the adoption process, effect of the children, the other children in the house, if there are any as well-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It can, sure.

Ron Reigns:
Now, does the Donna Kay Evans Foundation have programs to help counsel them or help them get through some of that?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Absolutely. So, we, we can provide referrals out to community resources. We also have an adoption counselor that will be happy to do a session with the children to help them understand what’s going on. And I think that that’s really valuable because again, education is key and the biggest component. It also can give them an outlet.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In this podcast, we’re going to hear from my biological brother who was born approximately 18 months after I was born. My-

Ron Reigns:
Like you said, that quick-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Turnaround.

Ron Reigns:
…fill the void turnaround, right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. Is exactly what happened. My mother was in 10th grade and had me in January and dropped out shortly after I was born and left the state and met my brother’s father and hooked up with him and had him on her 18th birthday.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So it was a pretty quick turnaround.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. So, let’s hear from him. What we’re talking about in this episode is aftercare services for women who placed a baby for adoption. And it is my belief that mom would have had a very different life had she received services like counseling and everything else rather than nothing and basically keeping it a secret.

Speaker 4:
Yeah. Well see he’s also got to understand, at that time, we was living in the back hills of literally West Virginia. So, the only kind of services that kind of, sort of, maybe was there it was called the mental health clinic. To me that’s like besides going into town to the actual hospital the only other place was it was like a doctor’s place set up in a trailer. If you can picture that, how construction sites had trailers where they had like their desk and stuff that they looked over the blueprints and stuff with this growing up in Chattaroy, West Virginia, this is what we had for medical provision.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Gotcha. Right. And I think that if the attorney that she was working with, if he had provided her some type… If there was no aftercare services back then, if she had received services, if they had been available, I think that she would not have grieved and not had struggled with depression and anxiety. Like she told me that she was struggling from for so long because she never was able to resolve those issues. So can you-

Speaker 4:
She struggled with it because she died.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Speaker 4:
I feel….

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And I, I agree. Can you talk about when you first found out that I existed, from her and-

Speaker 4:
But see, I didn’t find out from her. I found out when I was probably, I said I was maybe nine, ten years old.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. Just tell the story.

Speaker 4:
I can tell you exactly where I was. My grandma, my dad’s mother, she always liked to run my mom in the ground anyways, just talk about her. And can’t exactly remember the exact words, what brought her up to say this, but I was standing right in front of the doorway of the trailer and she was to the right where the kitchen area was. And she just said, you’re lucky your mom, your momma kept you and didn’t give you up like she did your sister.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Speaker 4:
And I was, it wasn’t like I was an infant at that time I, I knew what she just said. Even though I was a hillbilly child growing up in West Virginia, I still understood. You literally just told me that I had an older sister basically. And I just, well it, it’s hard to explain. Because I was so young, I still remembered an empty void kind of that I just didn’t have no explanation on why I was there, why did I feel like that? I guess something internally can nag at me. When my grandmother said that it was like lights going off, ding dong, ding dong. That was it.

Speaker 4:
I had a sister up there that I didn’t know I had that somehow, we shared a kind of bond without even knowing about it. Because it felt empty and when I found that out it didn’t completely fill it, I didn’t get that emptiness filled until I hugged my sister at the airport and we saw my mother. That’s when it actually… Wow, completeness. So, I knew from a very young age that my sister was out there. I just didn’t know who she was or where she was.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
When your grandmother told you that, did you go back to mom and ask her anything?

Speaker 4:
Yes. I asked mom and mom told me that you, that I already knew how my grandma was, that she was crazy and that that wasn’t true. And I just go, mom was saying that, so I didn’t look at her in a different way. She didn’t want me to look at her like, wow, you really gave up my sister. Kind of, you know what I’m saying? She wanted me to look at her as the super woman she was. Because I tell you my mom, mom would do some stuff man. And I saw some things that children should never see, but I was there for her. Hold your head up off the floor when she just got knocked out. Yeah. My mom was the first person I ever see getting knocked out.

Ron Reigns:
How old were you when your mom finally did admit to you what had happened or talked to you about it?

Speaker 4:
I don’t think I ever had that conversation-

Ron Reigns:
Really.

Speaker 4:
… with her.

Ron Reigns:
So it just happened.

Speaker 4:
Yeah. Yeah, it just boom, Kelly was here.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Now you told me that you used to go to the library and try to find me or something.

Speaker 4:
The hospital records say this person gave birth to a child and stuff and I could never just find anything that, with my mom’s name.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Got you.

Speaker 4:
But I was also, I’ve never been computer or technology friendly either.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, me neither.

Speaker 4:
The stuff that I looked at was on that clear paper, like plastic and you put it and it makes it bigger. What are those? Micrographs?

Ron Reigns:
Microfiche. Yep, fiche.

Speaker 4:
Yeah, microfiche.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Looking back at the situation as it happened, how do you think, knowing, if you had known about me growing up and you had known that there was an adoption… I mean mom was only 16 when I was born and they did what they felt was best. How do you think it would have affected you if you would have known? Do you think it would have been better having had all of the information all along? Do you think it would have been harder? What do you think, because times were different back then.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Speaker 4:
Yes, they really was. I mean, that’s a good question. I feel that if, I’m kind of glad that it happened the way it did because at least I had some kind of understanding on how I was feeling to where, if nothing would ever been said, my grandma wouldn’t ever said anything I would’ve never known what, why that was. I would always had questions or something that I didn’t even know if I wouldn’t know what the answer was. Does that make sense?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. So, let’s ask the age-old question. How has adoption impacted your life, positively and negatively?

Speaker 4:
That’s a tough question. That’s the toughest one yet.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I’m sorry.

Speaker 4:
Honestly, because I feel against it because it’s not fully it just in some way because I was robbed a lot of years from you. But on the other hand, it was… I’m kind of glad that you didn’t have to, live the way I did. Yeah. So, because it was rough. When you can remember looking in the cabinets, the refrigerator, seeing nothing but one can of Lima beans and we still hungry. We fight. Mom make us that then didn’t like it but was forced to eat it by my stepdad so we wouldn’t waste food.

Speaker 4:
And I wouldn’t want that for you. I wouldn’t want that for anybody. So, there’s, like you said, there’re positive things about adoption for me and there’s negative things because I felt like I wish I still could have you but not have you go through what I went through. But then again, if mom was never made to give you up for adoption, would we, our paths had been differently. I probably wouldn’t have been here, be here. Michael, might’ve been here, but not me because I was so close after, I mean, I don’t know…

Ron Reigns:
I know this is tough on you and I just want to say I really appreciate you, your honesty and your candor. It’s, it’s obviously not easy, but thank you so much for sharing with us.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
What would you say to kind of close this, what would you say to a woman who is placing her baby for adoption because she’s just in a place that she cannot parent and she does have other children. What advice would you give her? Would you tell her to talk about the child to the other children? Would you say to wait until they’re older? What would you say as somebody who’s been through this?

Speaker 4:
I think they should be honest because secrets always come out and sometimes, they come out at the worst time. So, honesty honestly is the key. Just the honest. Yes, you got a brother or sister out there. I had you guys, I was barely taking care of you guys or whatever the case may be and just let them know that there is someone else out there. I guess had to put them in a better place than what we was. I was already punishing you guys or you single whatever the case, and I just couldn’t see to do that to another child. It’s honesty.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I agree with you. I think that’s perfect advice. All right. Thank you so much.

Speaker 4:
Bye.

Ron Reigns:
One thing that kind of caught my eye or my ear, I guess I should say, as we were talking to your brother, is that not only are aftercare services so vital now in it could have changed your and his life so much to have that available back then. But also, how much more these days open and semi-open adoptions are and there’s so much more prevalent than they were back in the sixties and seventies and eighties and I think that would have changed his life immensely to have been able to talk to you on the phone. I think we’re going in a positive direction in adoption and I think that’s vital.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think that is too, and I think from his perspective, adoption is not something that an immature mind could have looked at as positively when he was younger. But because he is mature and he is able to look back at the situation as it was and he is able to see the positives of adoption now it is a dichotomous answer. It is. He is able to see both sides. And I, I’m just so proud of him that he has gotten to that place and can recognize that it is what it is. And, and yes, there are things that could have been done differently. And honesty is key. And yeah, I think that was amazing.

Ron Reigns:
He’s absolutely right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
There’s a quote from Margaret McDonald Lawrence who says, “Neither society nor the adopter who holds a child in her arms wants to confront the agony of the mother from whose arms that same child was taken.” That quote alone is why we as society need to turn towards adoption after care services rather than away and turning a blind eye to the woman that is the trunk of adoption is negligence on every level. And my adoption story is the poster child of why aftercare services are so necessary.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was placed for adoption in 1973 my mother was 16 years old. She made that selfless decision to choose adoption for me. I was adopted by a wonderful adoptive family and because I was placed for adoption, I was able to go to school. I was able to go to and I was able to get my master’s degree. My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the director and co-founder of Building Arizona Families and the Donna K. Evans Foundation, which we nicknamed SWAP, supporting women after placement. After I co-founded the agency, I actually looked for my mother and I found her in 2007. My mother struggled with her adoption choice. In her struggle had she had health assistance and counseling, she might’ve had a much better experience and she might have not struggled with depression or anxiety or guilt and so we developed the Donna K. Evans Foundation.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
The Donna K. Evans Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that helps women after they have placed a child for adoption. We want to give women the services and the support that women like my mother did not receive. Our goal is to let women know that women matter, that they made the right choice when they chose adoption. And what we’ve learned as we’ve done adoptions for over 14 years is birth mothers need help and we want to be the ones to help them. We know about the selfless choice that they made and we support them and we support their choice. When a woman comes into our agency, we are able to give them an emergency food box immediately. A woman can come into our office and receive a food box even if she is not pregnant. Our food pantry is funded through private donations, both financially and through food donations.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We have a clothing closet right here at our facility. We have maternity clothing for the women who are in our adoption program and are looking for clothing the minute they walk through our door. And we have in all sizes, these are all donated clothing. We have clothing that is appropriate for job interviews, that is appropriate for regaining their self-esteem. We do have GED materials onsite for women who are interested in obtaining their GED. We also have computers that you can use for practice testing to help obtain your GED as well. We also have domestic violence services. We can help with restraining orders. We can also help with emergency housing through hotel vouchers. We’re looking for monetary donations so you can help support this fantastic program. It’s going to help hundreds of women after they have placed a child for adoption. We want to give them a hand up, not a handout.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Donations could include anything from clothing to nonperishable food to GED study guides to temporary bus passes. We need you to help us help them. Be part of the solution. Make a difference in all of these women’s lives. The adoption community is a large community and you’re part of it. You are part of the solution. We chose angel wings for our logo because angels were important to my mother. Angel wings are symbolic of being able to fly. The goal of the Donna K. Evans Foundation is to help women find their wings so they can fly. Please contact us through the Donna K. Evans Foundation on our website at the dkefoundation.com

Ron Reigns:
We have a pregnancy crisis hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112 or you can call our toll free number +1 800-340-9665. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing, and started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. If you enjoy this podcast, rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts. And as always, thanks to Grapes for letting us use their song, I don’t know, as our theme song. Join us next time for Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns and we’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion, give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president and co-founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, who’s an adoption attorney and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Ron, why don’t more pregnant teenagers choose adoption?

Ron Reigns:
They haven’t heard our podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Good answer. Well, research shows that adoption is the least prevalent choice among pregnant teens. Research indicates that one to two percent of teenage girls place their children for adoption and the number of teens who place their babies for adoption have declined sharply over recent decades. This is very interesting to me because my mother was a teenage birth mom.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Statistics and research surrounding pregnant teenagers is not only interesting to me because of my personal experience, but professionally we see very few teenagers come into the agency. Now, I will say that out of our birth mother clientele, our numbers are higher than one to two percent. I would say that we … just a rough estimate, I would say five to 10%.

Ron Reigns:
Really? That high?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. And again, that would range from 13 to 19. The youngest that we’ve seen come in is 13, and then she was 14 when she placed, obviously on up and it’s hard. It’s hard to see the young girls coming into the program-

Ron Reigns:
Going through that tough life situation.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
… and making these tough choices.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Again, you’ve got to hand it to them though for making such an amazing choice at such a young age.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That is one of the reasons that this podcast, this particular podcast is special to me and really hits close to the heart because my mother was one of these. Births to teens in 2017 statistics are showing us that teens 15 to 19 years old account for five percent of all births in 2017. That has really declined since 2009. Now people have speculated as to the reasons why. Why is teenage pregnancy going down? Is it because of MTV show, Teen Mom? Is it because of what we’re doing in the high schools and we’re doing more sex ed? Is it because we are, as a society, being more conscientious about birth control? I think it’s attributed to a lot of things. I don’t think it’s just one thing in particular. I will say that I do credit MTV for the show Teen Mom.

Ron Reigns:
Do you really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I do.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. I’ve never watched it so I couldn’t …

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I do. I have watched it and I watched it when it first came out and I still watch it every now and then. And I will say that, yes, it’s a reality TV show, but I have had my teenage girls watch episodes with me and I will say that they’re able to relate to the teenager, minus the mom aspect and that being said, that’s not something that they want to do. And so, they’re able to identify with the teenager and say, “That’s not a life I want to live.”

Ron Reigns:
Right. They’re not glamorizing the whole … I mean, because just the name alone makes you think, oh, they’re promoting the idea of being a mom as a teenager-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No.

Ron Reigns:
… and they’re not.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I don’t think it comes across like that at all-

Ron Reigns:
Good.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… at least in my interpretation.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Additionally, they have a couple on the show who I would very much like to have on our podcast, Catelynn and Tyler and they chose adoption for their first child.

Ron Reigns:
All right. I’ll make some calls.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, absolutely. And Catelynn and Tyler if you’re listening, give us a call.

Ron Reigns:
Please.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We’d love to have you on the show. They let the audience walk through their adoption journey with them and afterwards and it gives teenagers a perception of if I do get pregnant, what does this look like and who am I going to be at the end of my adoption journey and how is it going to change me? And so when you look at pregnant teenagers, I think that everything we’re doing as a society is pushing the lower pregnancy rate.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But I think where we need to go now is to focus on adoption over abortion when teenagers do get pregnant because that is something that we still need to increase those numbers. When teenagers choose to parent, research has shown us that there are unfortunately some negative consequences for both the mother and the baby. Generally, they have completed less education, live at a lower socioeconomic status level and have poor health than other teenagers that do not have an adolescent birth, due to their lack of maturity because teenagers are still children. We don’t let a 15-year-old drive. Looking at a teenager and thinking this child can parent is really something that I think we need to explore more as a society. You have to be 18 before you can vote, but as a teenager you’re still able to make a decision on-

Ron Reigns:
Not just your life, but the child’s rest of their life and how they’re raised.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Not only the rest of their life, if they even can have a life.

Ron Reigns:
That too.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so I think that we really need to focus on, again, education, education, education, because the more we know, the better we will do. I think when a teenager finds out that they’re pregnant because they are still a child and they do have a lack of maturity, when it’s time to have them make a judgment call and a decision on something so significant, we’re taking … Again, we won’t allow this very child to vote, but we’re going to allow this child to make a decision on whether they’re going to parent, have an abortion or place the child for adoption. When you’re looking at the scales of justice that’s incredible.

Ron Reigns:
It’s ludicrous is what it is. I really have no words for it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
You’re speechless.

Ron Reigns:
I am completely speechless. I don’t even know what to say-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
… because you’re absolutely right. I wouldn’t let my son go to the park alone until he was well into his teens. And now it’s just like, okay, you’re making a major decision in your life.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, let’s go back. Let’s look at that. I think that’s really important. Why wouldn’t you let your son go to the park?

Ron Reigns:
Because obviously the safety reasons that’s first and foremost. Everybody has been, since the 90s anyway, afraid somebody was going to take your child while they’re at the park, so safety is definitely a big one. But also, I like being near him to see the choices he’s making and those aren’t life and death decisions. Those were are you going to bully a kid or are you going to act some way that I would be ashamed of?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Or are you going to allow yourself to be bullied?

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so what you’re saying, if I can summarize it, is, is that you at let’s say 15 didn’t trust your 15 year old child to make every decision independent of you.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Agree 100%. I do the same with my children.

Ron Reigns:
You want to watch them make the decisions and of course you’re trying to get them to a point where they can make those decisions on their own, but that’s what your job is as a parent is to help guide them-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Because they haven’t reached adulthood.

Ron Reigns:
… while they’re developing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. But that’s why this, as you said, is so ludicrous because we’re talking about teenagers and we’re saying that in some states they’re able to make a choice independent of their parental influence or permission to have an abortion.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We are allowing them to, in some cases, completely parent the child on their own, underneath the household of their mother or father without supervision maybe and we’re not educating on adoption as an option.

Ron Reigns:
It’s such an amazing choice that they could make and so many of them aren’t presented with that and I know that firsthand. I mean it was out there, but it wasn’t something that I thought was something I could’ve done back then.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Statistics are showing us that roughly 30% of teenage pregnancies end in abortion. Again, statistics change depending on what source you’re looking at. But if we look at this and we say 30% end in abortion, so out of 10 that … or out of 100, let’s do this-

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That is 30. One to two go to adoption, so 68 to 69 babies are being parented by teenage children.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Who are still being raised themselves-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
… in theory.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. They have a curfew and they have maybe so much TV time, so much social media time and we are entrusting them to not only make the choice of somebody else’s life, giving them that in their hands when they themselves are just a child. I think for teenagers when they choose to parent, I think a lot of the reason that they choose to parent is because they don’t have education on adoption. They don’t have real education on abortion either, other than it’s presented as a quick fix. They may have parents or grandparents that are saying that they will help co-parent the child. They’re living on planet fantasy and they’re looking at baby clothes and talking about having a baby shower and how cute the baby’s going to be and the name and they’re thinking maybe this will keep my boyfriend with me and we’ve been having issues lately and maybe he’ll stay with me. Whereas, statistics are showing us that 8 out of 10 dads don’t actually marry …

Ron Reigns:
Right. The statistics-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… the mother of the child.

Ron Reigns:
… don’t bear that out. Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, absolutely. And the scary thing is, is that a sexually active teen who doesn’t use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Teenagers are often at the height of fertility and just once can be all it takes to end up with an unexpected pregnancy. That is terrifying. I have teenage girls and teenage boys and I will say that although my teenage girls and teenage boys are not sexually active, but if they were, I would not trust them to even be responsible enough to take a birth control pill every night.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I would still be there-

Ron Reigns:
Use a condom or whatever it is.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, and just the pill on a daily basis.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. Oh that’s … yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so if I can’t trust them to take a birth control pill, how would I trust them to raise a child or make a decision that impacts the life of a child?

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We’re doing a disservice when we withhold education because of fear that it will lead to something else. In other words, adoption is not openly talked about in high schools as a seminar, neither is abortion. They are focusing on abstinence, which is great. We all as a society would love kids to be abstinent.

Ron Reigns:
Ideally.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Unfortunately that’s not reality. I think that instead of us as a society living on planet fantasy, we need to be in planet reality and really look at, okay, this is what’s really happening. What can we do to make the best of where we are today? We need to open our eyes and be present. What’s your take on that?

Ron Reigns:
I think you’re absolutely right and I do think we have closed our eyes too, because it is, it’s hard to talk about things that make you uncomfortable. The idea of my son at 15 years old having sex was like, you just want to put blinders on-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Unimaginable.

Ron Reigns:
… you really do.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It was unimaginable.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And it’s like if I don’t talk about it, maybe it’ll just go away and it won’t happen and I’ll get lucky. But you can’t count on that luck.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s planet fantasy.

Ron Reigns:
That’s planet fantasy. Absolutely. You’re absolutely right, so I agree with you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And having been a school counselor, I will tell you, teenagers are having sex and we need to open our eyes, like you said, instead of closing it and thinking it’ll go away. I mean it’s there and we’re not doing anybody a good deed by withholding education that in my mind is imperative. If we talk with our kids and the schools, educate them on sex ed, I think that in some aspects is a misnomer way. You’re going to teach certain aspects of sexual education, but that’s only giving part of the picture. We’re not getting the whole picture. We’re saying we want to focus on don’t have sex, don’t have sex, don’t have sex, which is a good thing. Don’t have sex.

Ron Reigns:
But it’s going to happen.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But if you do, let’s talk about-

Ron Reigns:
… the aftermath, the consequences and the decisions you have to make.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. Because if you’re going to be adult enough to make the choice to have sex, you have to be adult enough to understand and have been educated in what the long-term ramifications are for you and possibly your unborn child.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And that’s what we as parents of these children and educators and everybody else need to provide for them instead of just blinding ourselves to it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I also think that when we as parents don’t talk with our kids more and we don’t have that open line of communication, we’re doing a disservice not only in our household, but in other households as well. What I’ve always tried to do with my kids and I by no means am saying that this is what everybody should do, I try very hard to keep a very open line of communication. I talk to them about everything. I will often use a term, okay, amnesty, whatever you’re going to say next you’re totally off the hook for it, let’s just go there.

Ron Reigns:
This is off the record.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. We’re landing in Switzerland and we are going to stay there-

Ron Reigns:
No judgment.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… for the next five minutes.

Ron Reigns:
If possible.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And in doing so, my kids have often opened up about what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, what kids are doing at school and I think it’s scary. I think times are very different now than they used to be because when we were younger there wasn’t the social media presence there is now.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
There wasn’t the child trafficking high rate that it is now and I think a lot of that is due to probably social media, the access that predators are able to get to children-

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… through social media. I think that that’s a huge danger. I think, in my opinion, a lot of the drugs that are prevalent right now in society are factoring in to some of teenage pregnancies because some of these are really serious. I think as a society we need to focus on what’s important. Life is what’s important. Teenagers getting pregnant, it’s going to happen. It’s happened for centuries.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Although the numbers are decreasing, the numbers that are being placed for adoption are also decreasing. So rather than focusing solely on abstinence, why don’t we do a shift and focus on abstinence? Make that the biggest aspect. But then let’s focus on the consequences of engaging in teenage sex. If you wind up pregnant, what are you going to do?

Ron Reigns:
I agree. And I also think that what you do as a parent is important too. Because as you talk to your children, I think that it causes a ripple effect to their friends and so they’re going to be more open with their friends than perhaps some of their friends’ parents are with them. And so maybe they’ll get some good influence outside of your circle. You know what I mean?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
And by what you’re saying to your kids and talking with them about and I think we should do that as parents and as people in a society. We try and give a good influence to the younger generation and hopefully we do some of that on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I would like to have, in the future, one of the people that we interviewed that calls into to be a teenage mom and really talk about what that looks like.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I know that we have had some teenagers that chose adoption and came through our agency and placed their baby for adoption and to me those are some brave kids that are mature beyond their years. The fact that they were able to make the right choice does restore hope in humanity in my mind and I think that we need to really focus on that and we really need to look at the sex ed materials that are being presented at the high schools.

Ron Reigns:
See if they need to be changed.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Absolutely. Because right now we are solely focusing on abstinence and maybe giving very little to … I know they do some birth control. It’s minimal. But we’re not talking about what happens when birth control fails.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Dunno as our theme song. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast or adoption in general at 623-695-4112. That’s 623-695-4112. Make sure to join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters and Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Mother 1:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself, because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Mother 2:
I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Rachel:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Mother 3:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me Campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999 I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife who’s an adoption attorney and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Ron Reigns:
Between January 1st, 2011 and July 1st, 2019 States enacted 483 new abortion restrictions. These account for nearly 40% of abortion restrictions enacted by States in the decades since Roe V Wade. Some of the most common state level abortion restrictions are parental notification or consent requirements for minors. Limitations on public funding, mandated counseling designed to dissuade individuals from obtaining an abortion and mandated waiting periods before an abortion.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Louisiana!

Ron Reigns:
Louisiana?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Louisiana could become the first state without abortion access next year.

Ron Reigns:
Wow. That is incredible. Do you think this will happen?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t know. I think that people that are interested in the changes in abortion law and legislation, and I do think that the presidential election will all come into play.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly. Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think that if Louisiana does become the first state to have, to not have legalized abortion, I think it will start a trend like the heartbeat law. How States started adopting the heartbeat law.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Do you think that will cause pushback from the other side then? And maybe…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I do.

Ron Reigns:
… kind of defeat the purpose of it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I don’t think it will defeat the purpose. I think what will happen, my prediction is this, if it goes through, obviously Louisiana will be scrutinized and it is a Southern state.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So that being said, they do have a more, typically conservative approach. I do think that Louisiana would be very brave and bold and courageous in, in deciding to go forward with not having abortion access next year that could potentially eliminate abortion access throughout the United States because it could have a ripple effect.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that would be a historic monumental event since 1973 when Roe vs. Wade became legal.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Additionally, what I would foresee happening is, there would be obviously a backlash from the pro-choice, pro…

Ron Reigns:
Pro-abortion, you can go ahead and say it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… pro-abortion, pro-abortion thank you, stance. I think that they would use and capitalize on the old statistics on back alley abortions and there would be obviously data provided on their stance from the state of now how many children were coming into protective care and custody of the state because these children that previously would’ve been aborted are now wards of the state because the parents couldn’t financially, emotionally, and physically take care of them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think that would come into play. However, I do think that it would open society, the United States up to really looking at what life would be like without legalized abortion. I think it would give us an opportunity to have a different stance in a different viewpoint than we have now because we don’t have that now and I know that what our statistics are showing us is that people who are in a state where there’s not readily access to abortion, go to another state and try and have one there. In Louisiana, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of September 1st, 2019; abortion would be banned if Roe V Wade were overturned.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
If it was overturned. A patient must receive state directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two trips to the facility.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They’re not allowed to use telemedicine to administer abortion medication.

Ron Reigns:
What is telemedicine?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That is when a doctor calls a prescription into the pharmacy. One way that an abortion is performed is by utilizing, it’s a two-pill procedure and so they take one pill and then they take a second pill. So that that carries us over to Oklahoma, where in Oklahoma, an Oklahoma County district judge has halted implementation of a law requiring doctors to tell medical abortion patients, the procedure may be able to be reversed halfway through the process. The state argued before the judge, fetuses, which we call little ones or babies on our podcast can be saved an average of 48% of the time after the first of two pills have taken. If additional medical steps are taken, the first pill is intended to cut off the nutrients to the baby and then some period of time later you take the second pill and there’s this gap with there is a period of time the woman may or may not have successfully destroyed her baby.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Telemedicine would be going back to that. Telemedicine would be the doctor calling into the pharmacy those two pills that are needed to take in order to terminate. Those are normally taken in the first trimester. Early on, and I’m not sure how early, but early on. In Oklahoma there was a law proposed that physicians have to disclose to women coming in to have an abortion through the means of two pills that after the first pill, if they change their mind and want to go ahead and proceed with the pregnancy and have a baby, there’s still an opportunity and a possibility to do so.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
There’s a 48% chance that the baby can survive.

Ron Reigns:
So about half the time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct, with medical intervention if necessary.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Where the backlash came from was the other party did not want that to be mandatory. The law that was presented with saying that doctors would receive a $10,000 fine if they did not disclose that the baby could be saved. Reversed. Yes. It would have also made, the law does not make it a felony, but they could face up to a $10,000 fine. However, the Oklahoma district judge has halted the implementation of this law. Okay. So again, I think that we as a nation on the pro-life side, are looking for ways to save babies and eliminate abortion as much as we can.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In North Dakota, a federal judge blocked a state law, blocked the same state law that required physicians to tell women they may reverse a so-called medication abortion if they have a second thought. North Dakota is one of eight States to pass, or amend laws requiring doctors to tell women undergoing medication abortions that they can still have a live birth after the procedure. The other States with similar laws are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Utah. Five of those laws were passed this year. Again, as a society, we’re trying to move forward in the right direction. So, in Florida, Florida passed a bill as well recently, stating that a minor has to receive parental permission before getting an abortion. I cannot believe that this isn’t standard protocol for every state.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely. And every abortion clinic or whatever, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
An abortion is a medical procedure, even if it is a prescription procedure.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think a parent has a right to know. If you have a 13 or 14-year-old, I mean a teenager walking into a clinic and taking medication, the parents should have full knowledge. A child is a minor, and we don’t trust that child to drive a car until they’re 16 had training.

Ron Reigns:
Vote until they’re 18.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. Oh, we’re going to trust them to make a decision regarding another life and their own.

Ron Reigns:
And something that’s going to affect them for the rest of their life, chances are.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Possibly medically, physically, emotionally, spiritually in every aspect.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So I praise Florida for mandating this. Again, I believe in my opinion, that they should, every state should have parental consent before a child…

Ron Reigns:
Goes under any procedure, much less-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Or is prescribed any medication.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In the state of Arizona, and this is not the same across the United States. So I’m just speaking for Arizona.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
A miner needs a parent to sign all medical liability and permission when she’s in a hospital having a baby. However, she has all of the, her own right and can sign on her own behalf for the baby, but not on herself.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Which is very interesting because she, the state is saying that she has the ability to make the decision to place the baby for adoption, which I appreciate.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But at the same time, she doesn’t have the ability to make decisions on her own medical behalf.

Ron Reigns:
And this is the birth mother we’re talking about correct?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. So, for instance-

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, give me an instance.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… A 14 year old can go into a hospital.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Mom has to sign her in, dad has to sign her in, she is in labor, and let’s say there are complications and they need to do an emergency C section or she wants to get an epidural. She has to have parental consent in order to receive that.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Baby’s born, baby is all of the medical decisions and the ability to place the baby for adoption does not have to be signed off on by her parent.

Ron Reigns:
Her mother and father or guardians or whoever.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. So she can do an adoption with no consent whatsoever from her parents.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
But she can’t-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
and sign medically on the baby’s behalf.

Ron Reigns:
And I, kind of agree with, well, should we have parent, parental?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s a hard one. I don’t know. I, I’ve often thought about this and I don’t know my stance on that.

Ron Reigns:
Right. I mean cause you think about a perfect family or whatever that they’ve always been supportive and stuff. But there’s also families who are less than perfect and this could have repercussions on the birth mother.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
You know, this decision she’s making. That is, that’s interesting.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Its profound.

Ron Reigns:
Something to definitely think about.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s profound. It’s something that, you know, I have, I have girls that are teenagers and one of them is 17 and one of them is 15 I don’t believe that it’s 17 and 15 at least in my experience. And when my older daughter was a teenager that they would have the maturity level and they’re great kids. They’re amazing.

Ron Reigns:
Right, of course.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They’re right on par, to make those types of choices. But at the same time, I do want to encourage them…

Ron Reigns:
To come to you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right, and to be able to be a part of the decision. And that’s where family values come into play and are really strong and need to be really implemented from a very young age.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Pennsylvania maybe on its way to joining a handful of States where abortion is banned after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which again, I’m a huge proponent of the heartbeat law-

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… because that to me makes sense.

Ron Reigns:
And we’ve gone through these statistics before, but about what time or how long into the pregnancy does that fetal heartbeat generally show.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Five to six weeks.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. Five to six weeks. So very early.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Very, very early. Yes. And again, getting this information out to our listeners is really important because there is an election coming up.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And abortion is always a really hot topic.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Going back to Louisiana, I found this really interesting. Abortions in Louisiana only represent 1.2% of all abortions in the United States.

Ron Reigns:
Really? That small amount?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. However, however, in 2017 that small amount was still 9,920 abortions. That’s a lot of babies.

Ron Reigns:
Unbelievable.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s a lot of babies.

Ron Reigns:
And you would think that would be about half the national average, right? Because if it’s 1% that’s one in a hundred there’s 50 States. Does that make sense?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. So, if generally States are about 2%, they are about half. Okay, sorry, I’m trying to work around.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, absolutely. So, there are seven, now eight States, that have no gestational limits on abortion. So, what that means is that you can have an abortion at any time during your pregnancy.

Ron Reigns:
Including up to-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
The time of birth.

Ron Reigns:
… the time of birth. Shocking.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So that would include Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington DC. Despite abortion up to the time of birth being legal in several States and the nation’s Capitol, there were only five clinics nationwide that perform late term abortions. So not all of these States actually perform them.

Ron Reigns:
They don’t actually have access to it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
But it is legal.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Two are in States that allow abortion up to birth and three are in States that prohibit late term abortion, but allow exemptions. Among the States that have no abortion limits, so far, only Colorado and New Mexico have clinics that will perform abortions up to 32 weeks and later on a case by case basis. At least one clinic in Washington D C offers abortions up to 36 weeks. A baby’s viable at 24 weeks with medical intervention.

Ron Reigns:
Right. It can survive outside the womb.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
With medical intervention.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
There are some cases now where I think they’ve had success at 23 weeks in F and five days, and so the number is lower-

Ron Reigns:
Keeps getting lower.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right? A baby that’s born at 36 weeks may not need any medical assistance.

Ron Reigns:
Right. It’s just a premature baby.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. And I’m not sure how in 2019 we can look at a law like this and be okay with it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I’m not sure how, as a society we can sit back and say nothing and do nothing and…

Ron Reigns:
Allow it to continue.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And so obviously you have people with very strong opinions on both sides.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And you have people who have their beliefs founded and in religion or in some other basis as to why they believe what they believe. Sometimes it’s experience, sometimes it’s education. Again, sometimes it’s religion, sometimes it is just…

Ron Reigns:
Knowing that it’s not right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, your morals. You know your parents always say the one thing I want to teach you is right versus wrong. And again, I’m not judging anybody. I’m not saying what’s right and what’s wrong. I’m saying that as a mom that has had children and as somebody that works with women who are pregnant and who’ve had abortions and are now choosing adoption, that adoption is such a beautiful thing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
As an agency, we placed 69 babies last year-

Ron Reigns:
That’s awesome.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… and I have never been so proud. That being said, in Louisiana alone in 2017 9,920 abortions were provided to women.

Ron Reigns:
10,000 babies essentially.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Just gone.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I’m celebrating the adoption of 69 and that’s, that’s a hard pill to swallow. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you look at the scope, and that represents 1.2%. So, what do we as a society need to do, say, show, exemplify for people to understand what has to happen?

Ron Reigns:
The impact of this quote unquote choice.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Will back alley abortions resurface? Yes, probably.

Ron Reigns:
Possibly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
There will probably be some.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Will there’ll be 9,920 of them in Louisiana alone? I don’t think so.

Ron Reigns:
I doubt it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I don’t think so. I think the chances, the odds are very low of that. I, like I said this, this data that we gathered and that we’re looking at and scrutinizing and trying to understand and make sense of is really hard to grasp.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We’re not talking in a clinical term about fetuses. We’re talking about babies and people and human beings. When you turn on the TV and you watch the, the commercial that comes on about saving all the animals and Sarah McLaughlin song comes on-

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… What is the name of that?

Ron Reigns:
I don’t. Is it the ASPCA?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think it is, yes.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I always change the channel because I can’t bear-

Ron Reigns:
It’s heartbreaking.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… to look at it because it makes me feel so guilty.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It makes me want to open up my wallet and just start throwing money at the TV and write checks and write and write checks and

Ron Reigns:
So is that what we need is a powerful commercial with Sarah McLaughlin song going to open people’s eyes to what’s going on with abortions?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Maybe. Maybe we do. I know that when people who have tried to make a difference and stood up with posters and pictures that were labeled gruesome and horrific and how dare they have that picture up in a public place of an abortion or a baby being aborted, that’s what’s happening. When we watched the Sarah McLaughlin commercial for a ASPCA and we feel this moving feeling-

Ron Reigns:
However, nobody’s protesting that and saying, that is not right for them to put those images on our tv’s where our children watch.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
No, everybody has the same reaction. It’s heartbreaking. You tear up and you never want to hear that song again.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct, because it reminds you of how sad it is.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In that stance, in that frame of mind, those are animals.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We’re talking about babies and people.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, human beings, with potential and a life that could be ahead of them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Why can’t we have that same visceral reaction that we have to animals when we’re talking about babies?

Ron Reigns:
I don’t know. Because for the past 50 years, the propaganda, can I say that?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Sure.

Ron Reigns:
Has all been so one sided and kind of paints everybody else as closed minded and wanting to take choices away from women and their bodies and it’s only about them-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But are we taking choices away from women or are we taking choices away from babies?

Ron Reigns:
We are absolutely taking choices away from the baby. They don’t even have the chance to achieve any potential because we’re stopping it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We’re not giving them a voice.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So imagine if the same effort, intensity, feelings, emotions surrounding that ASPCA commercial-

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… was given to newborns, just a little sooner.

Ron Reigns:
It would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I wonder what difference it would make.

Ron Reigns:
Well, we need to do something to change America’s mind on this subject. We really do.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that’s one of the goals of the podcast.

Rachel:
My name is Rachel and I’m six and a half months pregnant and kind of the reason I chose adoption is I’ve had six abortions in the past. I was planning on having an abortion with this child and a friend of mine, she was like, “you know what? I know this agency called Building Arizona Families. Why don’t you go through them, don’t have an abortion, give this child a chance and maybe this’ll be an opportunity for you to change your life, get off the street and turn your life around and help somebody else in the process.” So I decided to do that and I have two other children. I have a 19-year-old son that I was going to have an abortion with. I told my mom when I was seven months pregnant with him, I went to the abortion clinic and they told me I was too far along.

Rachel:
My other child, my rights were severed four and a half years ago. So, I don’t have him either. When I came to Building Arizona Families, it just seemed like a really great place and everybody’s really nice and, and you know, people have asked me, “why don’t you keep this baby? Why are you giving this baby up? It’s your child. How could you do that?” And I just, I’m not ready. You know, and it wouldn’t be fair. It’s selfish of me to keep a baby that I can’t take care of. I’m very happy with my decision and I don’t listen to what people say about me being selfish or you know, “Oh that’s not right. That’s your child. How can you give away your child?” Why would you not want to give your child an opportunity to have a better life?

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters and Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna Kay Evans foundation and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to grapes for letting us use their song Item No as our theme song, you can check out our blogs on our website at AZpregnancyhelp.com and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast or adoption in general at (623) 695-4112 that’s (623) 695-4112. Make sure to join us next time on Birth Mother Matters and Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry., I’m Ron Reigns, we’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 4:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president and cofounder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We hold adoption information seminars across the United States. We’ve been doing it for the past couple of years just to recruit adoptive families, speak to adoptive families about adoption, to educate them, to let them see and meet us in person. Because if you’re working with an adoption agency in another state, it’s really hard to never have face to face contact with them.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And we only work with Arizona birth mothers, but we do work with adoptive families in other states. We now clarify that due to the Paul Peterson event.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, okay. So that’s changed the industry, or at least your agency.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Well, it’s never changed- We’ve only had in state birth mothers.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But it’s something that should be stated because-

Ron Reigns:
You let it be known is what I mean. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. Yes. But no, it’s always been our practice. We do not bring in other birth mothers from other states. So, when we have these informational meetings, we speak with lots of families that are just beginning the adoption stage and hoping to adopt. And we’re often asked the same questions and we’re going to share some of those because let’s learn more about adoption, right?

Ron Reigns:
Why not?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
What are birth mothers looking for in an adoptive family? Number one thing is love.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They’re looking for a stable family who can provide their baby with opportunities and a lifestyle that they themselves cannot provide. And that’s the most simple answer I can give. They’re not looking for the mansion or the private jet.

Ron Reigns:
I mean they wouldn’t turn it down but…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
The castle.

Ron Reigns:
Right, the castle. Kelly’s castle.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yep.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. What if they have other children? Will they still be able to get-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
A birth mother to-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Choose them?

Ron Reigns:
Be interested?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. So, some birth mothers want their child to be the first child and other birth mothers want already an existing family with children. So, I would say 50-50 as to what a birth mother wants. So half-

Ron Reigns:
Right, so it may turn some off.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Of the birth mothers-

Ron Reigns:
But others they may say that’s exactly who I’m looking for-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes, that’s what they’re seeking.

Ron Reigns:
Somebody with a family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
And so would that be the same for instance, a single mother?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Sure, absolutely the same. Some are looking … Actually, I don’t know that I’ve had one specifically say I want a single mother, but I’ve had birth mothers that are very open to single mothers.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And they may have been raised by a single mother. Yes so that is not looked at negatively at all.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In that aspect.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. Let’s go to open adoptions. Is that like co-parenting? No?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, that’s a real big misconception.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So when you have an open adoption, it is an opportunity for there to be a connection and information exchanged.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And maintained. And that’s really what it is. It’s not a co-parenting. This is not a exchange of custody or sharing decision making at all. This is strictly an opportunity to be a part of the child’s life and the adoptive family’s life.

Ron Reigns:
Now by and large in a situation like this where it’s an open adoption, is it generally this is your birth mother, I’m your adoptive mother or father? Or is it a lot of times like this is your aunt so-and-so and don’t exactly tell how?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No. We always encourage families to be honest.

Ron Reigns:
Honest and open.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Because-

Ron Reigns:
Okay, that makes sense.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We want to make sure that with regards to just about everything, especially adoption, you want to make sure that you build trust. And when you have told the child a lie about who they are and their story-

Ron Reigns:
At some point they figure it out.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s hard. Sure. When they’re younger and they’re under three, a lot of times birth mothers, if they have a very open adoption, will have a special name that the child will call them. They won’t even say birth mother. We went to a conference this summer, the National Adoption Conference and there was a birth mother telling her story and she said that her son that she placed for adoption calls her Bunny.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. That’s just her nickname.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s just her nickname.

Ron Reigns:
From the-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that’s his bunny. And so, there is a way that you can do this that’s loving and respectful and endearing-

Ron Reigns:
On all sides. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
On all sides. Yes.

Ron Reigns:
How long do you have to wait for the baby to be placed with you?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So that really depends on how open you are in terms of your preferences. So, a family that is very open with their preferences in terms of the type of adoption they want to do to which races they’re open to, if they’re open to drug exposure, mental illness on the birth parent’s history. The more open they are is how long they’ll have to wait. So, if they’re open, it’s going to happen a lot faster because there’s going to be more opportunities that they can be presented to birth parents. If they have a lot of preferences, and they’re very firm in those preferences-

Ron Reigns:
Well those preferences become limitations.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Exactly. And very well stated by the way.

Ron Reigns:
Oh thanks. How about the cost? I know it’s not cheap to adopt. How do families do this? How do they afford it?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I think that is probably one of the biggest misunderstandings in adoption.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Is adoption expensive? Sure, but so is life.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And having kids in general is expensive.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct. We are lucky enough there is an adoption credit that a lot of families are able to take advantage of that is huge, that helps. A lot of families apply for grants. People talk a lot about adoption and the fees and the cost, but what’s interesting is you don’t hear as much talk about the cost and fees of fertility treatments. There’s not as much negative press about the cost of fertility treatments and what’s really interesting about that is an adoption success has a higher probability than many fertility treatments.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So that’s an interesting take on that. I would recommend that adoptive families or families that are looking to adopt educate themselves. Educate themselves on prenatal drug exposure, what an open adoption is, what a close adoption is, what a semi-open adoption is, what an Indian Child Welfare Act adoption is. Multiples. Normally you see twins. I have never seen triplets or quadruplets.

Ron Reigns:
No?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, because those are usually conceived via fertility treatments-

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Or as twins.

Ron Reigns:
So that’s somebody that’s trying to get pregnant.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I would also recommend that people research adoption professionals, attend adoption information meetings, check people’s references, do soul searching. Find yourself and really what matters to you, and that will help you with your adoption preferences in the long run. Because if you just grab a preference sheet and just start checking boxes, is that really going to work for you in the end?

Ron Reigns:
You’re not prepared. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And you need to be prepared.

Ron Reigns:
So with these meetings, the adoption information meetings you brought up, where do they find those? How?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So they would go to our website.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We have an events page and, on the events page, will be a list. We have them locally here in Arizona and in other States as well. And they are free, there’s no charge. They get to come and learn all about adoption and ask questions. We often have other adoptive families present so that they can ask those families questions as well. I also recommend that families come up with a financial plan and a budget when they’re going into an adoption plan. Because that way nobody’s scrambling, everything is laid out. It allows you to focus on your adoption and your journey rather than worrying about the money aspect.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Completing a home study is always the first step in an adoption plan. If you can view adoption as a set of stairs, the home study is the first step and then you move up the stairs from there. Also, in your home study, your home study worker is going to be a great adoption resource. You can talk with them about who they work with regularly, recommendations that they have, they can give you adoption educational materials, so that’s really important.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Also don’t put your life on hold during your adoption journey. Don’t spend every day waiting to be chosen by a birth mother. You still have to live life.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, you’ve got work to do. You’ve got other family to deal with-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Memories to make.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, memories to make. And this can’t be your entire life, but it’s a big chunk.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It’s a big chunk. Yes.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Also, really developing an understanding of respecting people’s opinions and that people do process thoughts and feelings differently than others. So your spouse may process a feeling of excitement or disappointment differently than you, and that doesn’t mean that his is right and yours is wrong or yours is right, his is wrong. It just means that you’re two different people. Understanding that will help you build stronger relationships as you’re gearing toward your adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Also, we recommend that families who are adopting don’t do a baby shower before the baby’s born. This is an adoption situation. Not every adoption goes through.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Unfortunately.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So we recommend that until the termination of parental rights is done.

Ron Reigns:
Hold off on that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And the baby’s born, hold off on that. What a lot of families now are doing is called a Sip and See, and that is kind of like an open house and there’s refreshments, and they can see the baby. With an adoptive baby, it’s very controversial as to whether or not you really want to pass the baby around because the baby’s learning to bond to you. So, handing the baby to 25 people in an hour is probably not the best idea, especially with a newborn. I think that having people see the baby and stop by and spending that one-on-one time with them. After the baby’s born and the adoption risk has gone, I think that is a much emotionally safe choice. I think that you will be happier in the end rather than a baby shower. And if you’re dead set on a baby shower, then just wait until after the baby’s born and with you.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, there you go.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
The other thing that is always asked, and it’s a funny question, but friends and family always want to know, what do we give to an adoptive family? The same gifts.

Ron Reigns:
The same thing you would give-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
The exact same gifts that you would give to… There’s still a mom and a dad. They’re still having a baby. It’s the same gifts. Adoption signs or canvases are cool. Mugs are cool. Adoption books-

Ron Reigns:
Baby clothes.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Baby clothes, ornaments, jewelry, cute onesies, gift cards always appreciated. The same. And adoptive families want to be seen and heard and viewed just like anybody who’s having a baby. So, give them that opportunity.

Robin:
My name is Robin, and I placed my daughter almost three years ago. Placing my daughter for adoption was one of the hardest but best decisions I made in my life. I wanted to have her, but I knew it wasn’t in my best interest at the time. I’m Native American, placing our kids for adoption isn’t something we do. I chose to place my baby outside of the tribe because I wanted her to have a better life. As much as you want to think that we have our little reservations and we’re in our own little world, it’s a struggle of its own that I don’t wish on kids to have to grow up in. I see pictures of her and she has everything at her fingertips that I wish I could have given her. And I did give it to her in a way because I gave her to her new family.

Robin:
There’s open conversations there still, and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I don’t. Like I’m filled in with them. I see her milestones and I can get a grasp of how she is with people, the way they talk about her. They talk about her like she is this great being and she is because that’s their gift. And it’s amazing to see that they accepted their gift so proudly.

Robin:
I’m thankful for Building Arizona Families. I don’t know where I’d be without them. Three years later they’re still in my life.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast or adoption in general at (623) 695-4112. That’s (623) 695-4112.

Ron Reigns:
Make sure to join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Today, we have a very special episode of Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. In part two of this two part series, Kelly will be sharing her reunification story between her and her birth mother and we’ll continue talking to one of her best friends, Kim Brains about their trip to meet Kelly’s mom, Donna Kay Evans.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me Ron Reigns where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly R.:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president and co-founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna Kay Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a Master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I worked for my wife who’s an adoption attorney and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Ron Reigns:
You had talked about before how you just absolutely knew that your mother was a queen.

Kelly R.:
Royalty.

Ron Reigns:
And you were a princess and so you’re now what? The princess of West Virginia?

Kelly R.:
It was as Kim is describing, very much a culture shock. It was.

Ron Reigns:
And especially compared to what you believed to this point.

Kelly R.:
Having an adoptive mother that trains you from day one how to eat at the White House and reminds you of this every meal.

Ron Reigns:
In case that’s going to come up.

Kelly R.:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly R.:
And my children even talk about it. That’s, she’s known for it. Emily Post, you write thank you notes.

Ron Reigns:
That’s cool.

Kelly R.:
And going from being raised in that culture and thinking that, are just unfound royalty in my head. What am I going to inherit? Which castle is mine? That’s the thoughts of an adopted child.

Ron Reigns:
That is awesome.

Kelly R.:
And finding out that that was.

Ron Reigns:
The reality.

Kelly R.:
As far from it as you could.

Ron Reigns:
Polar opposites.

Kelly R.:
Right. That’s jumping off the Empire State Building, thinking that there is this magic trampoline.

Ron Reigns:
Going to bounce you right back to the top.

Kelly R.:
It’s like just jumping off the curb. It was very different. It was in some ways very comfortable, it felt right. But at the same time, I had no idea how to, everything was different. Her level of affection was different than my adoptive mother’s level of affection. And her, the words that she would use were very different. The way that she would speak to me was very different. And it was nothing that I was used to. And so, I didn’t know like Kim, how to process it and at first it was a lot to take in and it was very confusing. Kim, why don’t you describe Donna, my mom, and as you saw her and as our listeners would see her.

Kim Brains:
Oh wow. She exuded life. She, like I said, was genuine, transparent. She didn’t care about what people thought of her that way. She just was very much a real person, a warm person, loud, funny. A person that you could easily strike up a conversation with in the line at a grocery store and just feel like you’ve known her for a 1,000 years. That would be to me, the authentic nature of Donna. Really what the kids today would call extra. She was extra, she was just extra extra, Big hair, big eyeliner, loud voice, funny. She was not, I would not say that she was emotionally reserved from what I recall my knowing her, and I remember what you were saying, yes, she could talk different, she acted different. Her level of affection was different.

Kim Brains:
I remember being at the house and you just looked in shock. It wasn’t, they just, they brought you in and they’re like, oh by the way, here’s everyone by the way. It was like going from nothing to an entire household. It was a whole party. People were in every room. I think she took you aside and took you into her room and she gave you a necklace and I don’t remember what the necklace had on it, but I remember you were in shock over that because I think she was very emotional at that point. And had she called you her daughter and she said some very nice words to you, but it was a lot for you to handle right there and then because you weren’t used to that kind of outward sort of a person who was just saying everything they felt.

Kim Brains:
She didn’t hold back and I think you were just like, what? She was not holding back with you. It was like she didn’t skip a beat. You were always her daughter. It never, the time didn’t matter. The space didn’t matter. When she saw you, it was as if it was always there all the time for her. And it was hard for, it was I think more of a challenge for you I should say, because I remember when you came out of the bedroom you just looked like, oh my gosh. That was a lot and I don’t think you were overly comfortable at that point with her, I’m trying to find the word, the demonstration of her emotions, so to speak and her feelings, her way of telling you those things. So upfront without anything to hide.

Kelly R.:
Right.

Kim Brains:
It’s just who she was.

Kelly R.:
I think a lot of that too was I was trying to at the same time process the guilt over waiting for so long to find her and feeling almost guilty towards my adoptive mom because I didn’t want to take away from that relationship. And yet it was really complex. It was really overwhelming and confusing and I didn’t know, I couldn’t process it at that point.

Ron Reigns:
And I think a lot of that would be alleviated from having an open adoption or a semi open adoption.

Kelly R.:
That would have…

Ron Reigns:
Because then you know this person.

Kelly R.:
And then you’re not grieving over any lost fantasies of castles and royalty and you are able to know who you are and where you’re from. And that gives you an insight and a different perspective than a very closed adoption like mine was. Kim, what was your favorite, it can be funny, story about that trip?

Kim Brains:
Oh Kelly. There was so many. I think I’ve already said it just from the, my favorite thing that I remember is just when I realized that that was your mom. When she yelled out for the soda, that just, it answered so many questions. We often ask nurture versus nature and we try to put these things together in our head, but that was it. There were so many other funny stories. Your relatives are hilarious. I remember going with your brother and I was searching for something in all of their faces that reminded me of you. Do they have the same eyes? Always looking, looking, looking.

Kim Brains:
But I remember sitting at some little pub or something with your brother and listening to him talk. We were in a different culture altogether. Just listening to him talk. I remember you looked at me like, he was just saying some things and telling a story, but just the way he was saying it. You looked at me and I almost, you kicked me or the table, don’t say anything. It was we were in a different land and I just laughed and closed my eyes just because I thought, wow.

Kelly R.:
How did we get here to this place?

Kim Brains:
How did he get, yeah. I think that we were also searching in our hearts, is this really your family? But then also I was looking physically. I remember your brother had your eyes and or at least something in your eyes. Maybe the color, whatever. Because you have pretty astounding, pretty eyes. But just but listening to your brother talk, I’m like, this cannot be, your brother. This, you two are two whole different things. And the way he was just talking and the stories he was telling and the words he was using. It was funny. Kelly, there’s a lot of stories in there.

Kelly R.:
Yes there is. Do you have any questions for her?

Ron Reigns:
No, I’m just, I’m fascinated by the whole process because it’s all foreign to me so this is neat.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, I would say that it was an interesting dynamic in that my mom really wanted, like Kim said, to not skip a beat in terms of all the years that we had lost. And that’s a really strong point because that was true. And so, she kept kind of, she had found her peace in that I was her daughter and I was not with her for the 36 years. She didn’t find peace in the loss, but the puzzle piece fit for her right away. And so, she didn’t want to lose any more time. She wanted to know anything and everything. I remember at one point she wanted to look at my hands and see if they looked like hers. She wanted to look at my toes and was making comments about them. And it was that discovery feeling for her. And you’re laughing, Kim, because you remember this I’m assuming?

Kim Brains:
It’s bringing back memories. Well, awkward too. I can imagine you and I have both grown many, many years together, but I’m thinking back to where we were back then and can imagine if somebody wanted to look at your toes, you have been like, what the? No. It’s not okay. But if you think about it, she was doing what you would do if you had a newborn. I want to count all the fingers, I going to look at all the toes. I want to see.

Ron Reigns:
What reminds me of me and yeah. Things like that.

Kelly R.:
Where am I?

Ron Reigns:
Now with the relationship with your mom, was that instantly a mother daughter relationship? Or was it more, okay, we’re adults now.

Kelly R.:
In her eyes, yes. In her eyes it was 100% yes. She wanted me to call her mom from the get-go.

Ron Reigns:
Did she try and give you advice? Did she scold you?

Kelly R.:
Oh, she gives everybody advice. She gives the guy advice. Yes. In the line behind you. She gives everybody.

Ron Reigns:
That shirt doesn’t go with those pants.

Kelly R.:
No, she gives everybody advice. Did she scold me? Yeah, yeah, she spoke her mind.

Ron Reigns:
Whatever it was.

Kelly R.:
Whatever it was. And there was, I remember we went to dinner the first night. It was, I think it was at a Chili’s or Applebee’s or something like that and we were standing in front of the restaurant and there was the big no smoking sign and she decided that’s where she was going to smoke so she stood in front of the big no smoking sign and was smoking because that’s what people do. They stand in front of the no smoking sign and smoke.

Ron Reigns:
I’m not going to say I haven’t done it.

Kelly R.:
Okay, well confession time. And I remember a family walking up and looking at her like, don’t you see the sign behind you? And her kind of putting both of her hands up and saying, “What?” And because that was what she did.

Ron Reigns:
Just her.

Kelly R.:
Yeah. It was, as Kim said, it was very draining. Now I did look at her as a mother, but at the same time I couldn’t compartmentalize it. I couldn’t. I knew that she was. And I loved her, but it wasn’t that instantaneous Mommy, I’m home. It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t, it was really shock, real true, raw shock.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R.:
It was, yeah. There were almost no words and she wanted me to meet everybody. I think there was a grocery clerk that we had to go into the grocery store because she wanted me to meet the grocery clerk and there was a time she wanted me to meet all of her dead relatives. Kim, you didn’t get to go on this, but you heard about this. I think you were at the hotel. What had happened was her mother and two sisters were at the graveyard and we get in the rental car, my brother goes, it’s her and my brother, and it’s raining because it’s Ohio. And it was I think March. And so, we drive to the graveyard and in these graveyards, you drive pretty much up to where the graves are. We’re kind of in the middle of the graveyard in our car.

Kelly R.:
And so she gets out of the car and she’s showing me the graves and she’s talking to them and I’m just kind of wide eyed staring at her and staring at the situation, thinking again, I’m having an out of body experience. And I am watching her and she’s lifting angels off of people’s grave sites saying that they stole her mother’s angel. She’s rearranging everybody’s angels on their gravestones. And I’m just, I’m watching and I must’ve been wearing sandals or something because it was raining and my feet were sinking into the grass in the mud. I’m standing there and I remember thinking, it’s six feet below. Six feet, I’m not going to hit the top of the coffin because I’m beginning to get really nervous. She’s not crying at the grave site. She’s running around telling her stories, rearranging. Everybody around her is convinced that no, no, that’s the angel.

Ron Reigns:
The angels, right. Yeah.

Kelly R.:
And I’m kind of laughing, not really knowing how to react. And my brother’s very solemn and he’s walking around and so she decides she’s had enough. She goes and she sits in the car, the rental car, and the windows were rolled up because it’s raining, and he’s having a moment and is tearing up and talking about his aunt and all of a sudden we hear this banging. And I mean banging, pounding on the window and he’s crying and I’m still kind of frozen and I’m turning around and she’s banging so hard on the window. She was done, it was time to go and we needed to get in the car.

Ron Reigns:
I don’t care if you guys are done or not. Get in here, we’re gone.

Kelly R.:
And so she wanted to go. It was done. And so, and there’s no telling her no. At that point, she was going to bang on the window until we came to the car. Yeah. That was another moment that I…

Ron Reigns:
Will never forget.

Kelly R.:
I won’t because my shoes were now full of mud, I’m sloshing as we’re going.

Ron Reigns:
My thought would be, I’m sinking into this mud where these graves are and mom’s over here moving people’s angels and stuff. I would be thinking Carrie the movie where the hand reaches up and grabs.

Kelly R.:
At that point Ron, anything, nothing would have surprised me. Honestly, I was so out of my element.

Ron Reigns:
I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.

Kelly R.:
Uncomfortable, not knowing should I be crying because here’s my biological dead grandmother.

Ron Reigns:
Because they are from my family.

Kelly R.:
My two dead biological aunts. I think there was an uncle or at some point. Was I supposed to cry? Was I supposed to talk to them? What do I say? Hi?

Ron Reigns:
Never met you.

Kelly R.:
What do you, no, I never met you. And there wasn’t a book that prepared me for it and I didn’t want their response. I didn’t want them to think I was not sympathetic or not involved.

Ron Reigns:
And your support staff is back at the hotel or whatever.

Kelly R.:
Right, Kim wasn’t allowed to come to the graveyard. I think my mom had said that this was a family thing and she kicked Kim out. You were either at the hotel.

Kim Brains:
That was fine. That was fine with me. I think that was the point where I was like, okay, I’m going to take a breath because this was so overwhelming for me. I couldn’t imagine how it felt for you. It was just overwhelming. I think I remember I walked around a little bit. But you told me this story is so much detail I really felt like I was there. I wasn’t there? I wasn’t, I don’t remember that. But Kelly, when you’re telling that story, it’s like, that reminds me of way back when we were first together, you and I were in Walgreens and we’re walking out, we’re going to go see a movie or something together and we’re grabbing something beforehand and you’re just all over the store. Boo, boo, boo, boo, boo. Moving all over, moving so fast, and you’re like, yeah, I’m done. let’s go. I was like, okay.

Kim Brains:
I wasn’t used to that abruptness. That was before you met your mom, but that was, those are the little things that I know about you and that now I know about your mom that that’s like, it’s so weird because that connects you. Oh yeah, that’s you, that’s daughter, that’s your mom. That’s how you guys are internally because you can be pretty fast and when you’re done, you’re done. We’re going to move onto the next thing. Move onto the next thing.

Ron Reigns:
Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Kelly R.:
Right? Yeah. That would be nature.

Ron Reigns:
Exactly.

Kim Brains:
Yeah. That was pretty wild.

Kelly R.:
Yeah. Do you have any other questions?

Kim Brains:
It was the whole family.

Ron Reigns:
No, I don’t think so.

Kim Brains:
Was a mix, a deck of cards that I remember going back to the hotel and us talking and just kind of decompress and talk about what happened and work through it, but it was the whole entire family, I think both of us were having weird dreams at night. Remember that?

Kelly R.:
I do.

Kim Brains:
Both of us were just oh my gosh. What is this. It was like we walked onto to the movie set of the crazy movie with all the antics and the personalities.

Kelly R.:
It was just so different than anything we’d ever experienced. And I remember one morning, I think it was maybe the third morning we were there and we heard somebody yelling and both of us jumped out of bed and stood up because we thought my mom had come to the hotel and was yelling outside.

Kim Brains:
Like hey guys, come on, let’s go.

Kelly R.:
Yeah. And so, we literally were sound asleep with the time change and jumped up, standing at attention. We were right, we were ready.

Ron Reigns:
For anything.

Kelly R.:
And I remember looking at Kim going, “Did you give her the hotel room number?” Yeah, that was really an experience. That was, it was one of those moments I will never forget, and I never want to. It was, yeah. And leaving was incredibly hard. I really wasn’t ready to leave when we left. And that was tough. That was really tough. She, my mom had an exceedingly hard time when I left.

Ron Reigns:
Did she?

Kelly R.:
Yeah, that was really tough. Well Kim, thank you for joining us.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you Kim.

Kim Brains:
Thank you. Anytime. You guys have a good rest of your day.

Kelly R.:
Okay, thanks Kim. Bye.

Kim Brains:
Fun reliving. Bye.

Ron Reigns:
I think it also highlights how it’s kind of important to have a semi-open or open adoption.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, I do too. I think it’s crucial.

Ron Reigns:
Obviously there’s cases when, but I think it’s amazing what, the different things that you lose on all those 36 years.

Kelly R.:
You can’t get them back and as much as you wish you could, you can’t. And you can’t change it.

Ron Reigns:
And there’s nothing you can do. No effort you can put in to make it up.

Kelly R.:
No, and when you see the relationship that you can have with a biological parent and you don’t look for your biological mother until you’re 34, it’s like if you could rewind time and get those years back, you would. If you’d known then what you know now. Then you could do that.

Ron Reigns:
We all say that, but yeah, absolutely.

Kelly R.:
But there was a good example. Also, I wonder, if I had looked at 22 would she and I have both been in the same place that we would have been able to make the connection that we made?

Ron Reigns:
Right. It might not have.

Kelly R.:
Been the amazing relationship that it was. There was some research done and it wasn’t a hugely popular study, but it was done by Ruth Moran. Did some research on reunification. I think she may have reunified herself. I found her research really interesting because it was very relatable and I think that she nailed it. She developed stages of adoption and in those stages, which she defines as paralysis, eruption, loss and grief, and then empowerment. She says that the three factors that impact these stages are how successful the reunion is, the timing of the reunion and the fact that most reunifications in adoption are females seeking their birth mothers.

Ron Reigns:
Really? The men don’t do this as much.

Kelly R.:
Not as much.

Ron Reigns:
As they grow up.

Kelly R.:
For example, my adopted brother who I grew up with, has not searched for his biological mother.

Ron Reigns:
He just figures he has what he needs.

Kelly R.:
Well, see that was, that’s a really good response because that’s, I had what I needed too. That wasn’t my reason for searching. I think, well the research says that women who mother, experience the bonding of a mother and a child, and this can serve as a catalyst. That’s one.

Ron Reigns:
Theory.

Kelly R.:
Theory. Also, that women give more grace on displaying their emotions though and it’s a really emotional process. I can say that it has nothing to do with fulfillment in, for me anyway, in the adoptive family that I had.

Ron Reigns:
Right. No, no, no, certainly not to take away from that.

Kelly R.:
But at the same time it was definitely curiosity and I wanted medical history. The first stage that she talks about paralysis, would be the overwhelming amount of information you receive and how you kind of withdraw and need your emotional space. This actually happened to me the entire first visit, which was about four days. The entire first visit, it was absolutely a state of paralysis. I was in shock. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t want to come across offensive. I didn’t want them to think that I was some uppity girl that just descended on them. It was indescribable and incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced. Even becoming a mother the first time. This was more impactful emotionally because you don’t know. It’s the unknown, complete unknown and there’s not enough out there for people to understand what that feeling really feels like. I think paralysis is a very good terminology and a very good explanation of what’s happening.

Kelly R.:
The second stage eruption, it’s when emotions wash all over you. They do hit at times. They would hit me at night when I was away. And that’s when Kim and I would talk and process everything because we did stay in a hotel. It was like stepping out of this new world and looking in on it and it was the eruption stage for me, I don’t think stopped for the first year. It would come, I know that after we left and I went home, I remember thinking, where do I belong? Do I belong in Arizona or do I belong in Ohio? And I remember even pulling up houses for sale in Ohio, thinking maybe I need to start building Ohio families. Because at that point I didn’t know where I was.

Kelly R.:
And I remember thinking, I found a connection that I’ve never had before. And I actually asked my, one of my biological brothers, Clarence, to come out and visit me. And I actually, he agreed to it. I think I flew him out within two weeks of returning home because I couldn’t separate. It was like going into a dream that you could never imagine, waking up, but knowing you have the ability to go back into that dream.

Ron Reigns:
You’re trying to get back in. Right.

Kelly R.:
And so I flew him out and that brought so much peace when he was there.

Ron Reigns:
Because it was a piece of that dream, bringing him here.

Kelly R.:
Right. All of the sadness and despair and depression I had felt when I left, was gone when he was there. And then when he left, it resumed. Then my mother came out and again lifted immediately. And then I went through it again. And that is where her third stage, the loss and grief came into play.

Kelly R.:
There was a paradigm shift from thinking you’re royalty and inheriting castles to a very different world. It wasn’t ever a disappointment for me. It was a complete change of mind. And so, and I remember my mother asking me like, “Are you disappointed? Is this what you want?” And I wasn’t. It wasn’t. It was like if you were totally blind, totally blind and you’ve never seen anything and you open your eyes, but when you’re blind you’re thinking, this is what it’s going to be like.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Okay, that makes sense.

Kelly R.:
And then.

Ron Reigns:
It’s nothing like that.

Kelly R.:
It’s nothing. Indescribable. And then closing your eyes again so you’re blind in a sense and just wanting to see yet again, even if it’s only opening up just a little bit. And that’s what those visits were for me. They were another glimpse into the world.

Ron Reigns:
Just a peephole view.

Kelly R.:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly. Okay.

Kelly R.:
And so there were lots of moments of loss and grief. I think it did take me at least a full year before I was able to really let everything sink in and really understand the process.

Ron Reigns:
Kind of wrap your head around everything.

Kelly R.:
And stop questioning everything about who I was and what I believed in and where my roots really lied and how do I view this person? And how do they view me? And what regrets do I have? And what regrets do they have? And how should an adult adoptee really establish a connection and maintain one? And then her fourth stage, empowerment. And that’s when you move beyond acceptance into growth of a new self-knowledge and self-awareness. I think that phase never really stops because you spend the primary, your childhood without the knowledge in a closed adoption and without understanding fully who you are and where you come from and where your roots lie, that you will always crave to know more. And I think people who aren’t adopted feel the same way because that’s why, ancestry.com and 23 and Me and those sites are so addictive and so enticing for so many people because they offer knowledge into a world you don’t know about and that’s what adoption reunification is.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by Ron Reigns. We also want to thank building Arizona Families, the Donna Kay Evans Foundation and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Dunno as our theme song and we want to thank Kim Brains for joining us today on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

Speaker 1:
Today we have a very special episode of Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. In part one of this two-part series, Kelly will be sharing her reunification story between her and her birth mother. And we’ll be talking to one of her best friends, Kim about their trip to meet Kelly’s mom, Donna K. Evans.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, with Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and me Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 3:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself. Because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 4:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 5:
Don’t have an abortion, give this child a chance.

Speaker 6:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the UB4Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development, and a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother. Raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I get a lot of questions about reunifying with my birth mother.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
When I started the agency, I had not reunified with her at that point.

Ron Reigns:
You knew you were adopted, but you hadn’t contacted your birth mother?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I had not contacted my birth mother. We started the agency, Building Arizona Families in 2004. I had my third child in 2004 as well, almost born at the same time as Building Arizona Families. And we experienced some medical issues initially in the first two years with her, that prompted me to want to find out a little more about my medical history.

Ron Reigns:
That makes sense. Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
In addition, I was meeting with more and more women who were going through the adoption process, and at that time I was case managing birth moms. It was pretty much a two woman show at that point. It was myself and the other co-founder, Angie Penrose. I was obviously very hands-on in working with the moms and with the adoptive families. And it gave me a different perspective on adoption. The perspective that I had had, up until the point of being a few years into the adoption community, and the adoption social service world, was almost nonexistent. I was a school counselor, and I had worked with adopted children. In my master’s degree and my bachelor’s degree I had worked on studies of adoptive children, I’d read things. But again, it wasn’t something that I really embraced, being a part of the triad, being one angle was not something that I looked at and identified with.

Ron Reigns:
Did it seem unreal to you?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
In that it wasn’t concrete, you couldn’t touch it?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes, because I had such limited knowledge of who my birth mother was. I had no picture of her. I had no name. I had just the hospital you were born in, the three facts that we talked about, knowing that she-

Ron Reigns:
PE is the one I remember. She loved PE.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Which turned out that I really doubted. And she was from a very large family, which she was. She was the third youngest of nine, and that she was 16.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And that was all I had. And as a child, I didn’t talk to my adopted parents very much about adoption, because I wasn’t sure what their reaction would be. A lot of adopted children, and I was one of them, are afraid to talk about adoption with their adopted parents, because they’re afraid of hurting their feelings.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I fell into that category, and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so I didn’t talk about it.

Ron Reigns:
You just kept it in?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Which is always good policy. You keep it in, you bottle it up. You try and push it down.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
No, absolutely not. That’s not what you do.

Ron Reigns:
You make it a little ball.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
No, that doesn’t help anybody, including yourself.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So in 2006 actually, I believe it was October of 2006, I made the decision that it was time to start the process.

Ron Reigns:
Of reunification, or at least finding who she was?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Or at least trying to find who she was. At that time, all adoptions were closed. And I was adopted with the use of a private attorney. So, it wasn’t through an agency, there wasn’t an agency to contact. It was through an adoption attorney. So, when I spoke with my adoptive parents, and shared with them that I felt it was time in my life and my career, that I was going to begin the process of hopeful reunification. During this process, I asked them for their support and any further information that they had. They did provide me with the name of the adoption attorney, and I learned at that point that my adoptive mother had sent him a Christmas card every year-

Ron Reigns:
Really?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
For my entire life.

Ron Reigns:
Your adoptive mother did?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so, that was something new. And when you’re looking for information as an adoptee, you really are looking for anything. You’re looking for any little piece. So, I would start to jot notes down. And I reached out to the adoptive attorney, and he was an elderly gentleman at that point. And he talked to me about my adoption, of what he remembered. He had told me that the records that he had no longer existed. Back in the day, at a certain point, they just incinerated them.

Ron Reigns:
Right. After a certain amount of time you got to, you’ll be overwhelmed with files.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right. So, they literally incinerated them. Like in fire.

Ron Reigns:
That’s kind of sad, for you.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. So, I-

Ron Reigns:
Or anybody else going through that process.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
He informed me at that point that he wasn’t a regular adoption attorney. He was an attorney that had a relationship with the family physician that my mother had seen when she was 16 and found out she was pregnant. And had known that my adoptive parents were looking to adopt. What happened next was kind of a surprise. The attorney that did my adoption was still residing in Ohio, and said, ironically his daughter … He was flying out to spend some time with his daughter in Arizona, and was going to be visiting in the next two weeks, I believe.

Ron Reigns:
Just by chance.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so he did, and he asked if he could meet me. I got to meet him and his daughter, and we went to dinner. And he told me what he remembered. For him it had been 30-

Ron Reigns:
30-ish years.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, 30-ish years. And it wasn’t a lot that he remembered. He remembered that my mom was very young, and pretty much what I had been told, that her mother had had a lot of children and she was a single mom at the time, and she just couldn’t raise another one. And that I came as a surprise. And so, he was very positive and talked a lot about my adopted parents and how amazing they are, and that was great to hear that they were so well liked by him. After the phone call I did the next step, which was I signed a petition and filled it out to the court in Ohio to have them open up my court case. The only way that they will be able to release my original birth certificate, and the non identifying information, which was more information than I currently had, would be if my birth mother had gone and signed a release, saying that she would allow the case to be opened.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So I sent off the request, paid the $20 fee. About four weeks later I get a letter in the mail, and my mother had signed it. I called the clerk of the court to see if there was any more information, she could give me other than the birth certificate, which I had, and the page of non-identifying information. And she said that that was all they had. And she said that there were, I believe approximately 20 applicants that month, that were adoptees that had sent motions in, trying to ask if their records had been opened up.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I was one of two, or three that was able to receive the information.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And I thought, wow, I never win any time, but I just won the lottery. And so that was really exciting. So, I was able to see her name. She didn’t list a birth father.

Ron Reigns:
So you saw her first name, not her last?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
No, I saw both.

Ron Reigns:
Okay, so it’s not like the non identifying information that we see now?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
There was also that as well. Yeah. That’s all changed. And so I learned what race she was, what religion she was, how tall she was, how much she weighed, that type of a thing.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I was able to see the address that she lived at, at the time that she had me.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So that was all really neat. So, I hired a private investigator. I found her first.

Ron Reigns:
Before the PI did.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I did, I found her first.

Ron Reigns:
Good job.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. When I actually came in, it was hard to find her because she’d been married four times. So, the name kept changing, so it was a little hard to find her. What was very interesting was the address that she was living at, that she was pregnant and had me, was a block from where she was currently living.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
So she’d gone all this way, and ended up a block away?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Came up full circle, and did that because she said that she wanted me to be able to find her easier. So, when I had gotten the paperwork from the court, she had signed it back when I was actually 22. And so, all those years had gone by that I hadn’t looked, that she was expecting me … She had thought when she turns 21, she’ll come looking for me. And I didn’t know that was her thought or feeling. And so that’s obviously a huge regret that I would’ve had more time.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. That you didn’t do it sooner.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. And she had done everything that a mother would do. I mean, she had contacted unsolved mysteries, and they sent her back a letter saying, I’m sorry, we can’t help you.

Ron Reigns:
This isn’t really our forte.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so she saved that. So when I talk about meeting her a second, she hands me the letter-

Ron Reigns:
Signed by Robert Stack.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Pretty much, yeah.

Ron Reigns:
That’s cool.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so on the paper that she filled out, that says that they were allowed to release my records. She wrote on there; I think it was like you have two brothers. I never stopped looking for you. And it was really endearing. I actually found her sister-in-law first, because when you’re doing research sometimes a relative will pop-up, and the phone number. So I found her, and ironically it was like the stars aligned, is kind of what happened.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So she was one of the few people that knew that-

Ron Reigns:
That your mom had had [crosstalk 00:12:08] adoption.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes, an adoption. And her husband is my mom’s brother.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And he’s younger than her. So, my mom is the third youngest of nine. And I spoke with the youngest’s wife, if you will. So, he was still in the house at the time.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And at the time of my birth, is what I’m saying.

Ron Reigns:
I see.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so she had known that my mother was looking for me. And so, at first, she starts, I actually had a coworker call her. I just couldn’t do it. And she said hey, explained all the information. And she said, “Okay, yes, I think this is it.” And she went over to my mom’s house and brought her baby girl balloons to celebrate. Yeah. And we set up a phone call, I believe it was for the following day. And again, I had the coworker come over after hours and sit with me, and we made the phone call.

Ron Reigns:
Help you build up your courage and your … Yeah.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes, we did. And we called her, and it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. It started off with her asking me … Well first of all, I couldn’t understand her, at first. Her accent was so thick, and she spoke such strong West Virginia East.

Ron Reigns:
West Virginia?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
That I could not-

Ron Reigns:
Understand.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
It was a lot of, pardon, excuse me. Could you please say that again?

Ron Reigns:
Now, you spent most of your life to this point in San Diego and Phoenix area?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I lived in Ohio and in Missouri until I was 12, and then from 12 to 18 in San Diego, and then from 18 on in Arizona.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So I wasn’t real fluent in West Virginia East.

Ron Reigns:
What’s you talking about?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Gotcha.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
It was really thick.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And again, she would use some words that I wasn’t familiar with, like davenport. I didn’t know that was a sofa that was on your front porch. I didn’t know a lot of that kind of stuff. Davenport.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, you told me that last time.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I did. I did.

Ron Reigns:
Davenport is a good one.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
It is.

Ron Reigns:
So that’s what it is, it’s a couch on your front porch?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So in that first phone call we talked a lot, and my coworker went home after that. And my mom and I probably spent the next eight to 10 hours on the phone.

Ron Reigns:
Wow. Just catching up?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And then all day the next day. And that was on a Friday. I took my best friend; she and I flew out the following Wednesday to go and see her. I didn’t take my husband at the time, and the kids because I really just wanted to focus on her and the reunification.

Ron Reigns:
You want her.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And my best friend who went with me was amazing. She fit right in, and I knew that she would fit right in. When she shared with me that she has an aunt named Bama, I knew it was a match. I knew she would go and she’d be just fine.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
We got there and I was a nervous wreck.

Ron Reigns:
Of course.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
We wound up videotaping the whole thing, because my friend Kim insisted. And I thought she was crazy, but I thought what can it hurt? I can always just delete them later. And now I’m so grateful I did, because when I look back at them, I will say that it’s not the lifetime movie…

Ron Reigns:
Perfect, happy ending.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
It was, but it wasn’t like where the music slowed down and we ran to each other in slow motion. It was me thinking, I think I’m going to throw up, because I was so nervous.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I have a frozen smile on my face throughout the whole time, because I’m in utter shock. I have seen a picture of her. But to see her in person-

Ron Reigns:
Moving and talking, and just being there.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And being a real human being after wandering for 34 years, who this person was. It was just like probably waking up from a coma almost, after so many years.

Ron Reigns:
In a weird way, I can almost see that.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Getting out of prison after 31 years, that type of a thing. And so, we get off the plane and she’s waiting there, and she has an armful of roses. One for every year that she missed my birthday. And my brother Clarence was standing behind her, and he was grinning.

Ron Reigns:
So you’re not only meeting your mother for the first time, you’re meeting your brother-

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
For the first time.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
That’s huge.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
It is. As nervous as she was, and I was nervous too, both of us were really nervous, and I’m sure he was nervous. I didn’t ever ask, but I assume somewhat. And we had talked on the phone as well. It was surreal, is probably the best description. It was surreal. It was one of those moments that when you’re having a hard day, it’s always nice to go back and think about.

Ron Reigns:
Just kind of smile.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
But at the same time, you also think that was really awkward. I remember at one point she was hugging me, and she was crying, and I was still smiling. I was still frozen.

Ron Reigns:
Frozen in shock, plastered on smile.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I believe that Kim was probably crying, because as an outsider looking in, and she has adopted children and biological children.

Ron Reigns:
Really? Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so she got to see it from a different perspective. So, in meeting my mom and seeing her for the first time, I will say it was funny, because her personality really … She has a really strong personality, a really bold one. She’s hilarious. And it came through. She was hugging me and crying, and then she stopped hugging me and she pulled away a little bit, and looked at me and she said, “You’re short.”

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I just looked at her and I said, “You’re shorter than I am.” And like it was-

Ron Reigns:
so she was shorter than you, and still?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Casting aspersions. Nice.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. So that was funny. It broke the weirdness.

Ron Reigns:
The tension a little bit, right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. And we really wanted to preserve that moment. And I’m sure that people in the airport were all looking at us and wondering what’s going on, because it was a little bit of a scene.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I’m not one that really likes to draw a crowd in that aspect. So, it was a private moment for me, but in a very public place.

Ron Reigns:
Again, making it a little more awkward. Good.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right. Yeah. Especially when someone’s videotaping the whole thing. So, Kim Brains is joining us on the phone. She is one of my best friends in the world, who went with me on my first trip during my reunification process with my birth mother. And I thought it would be kind of fun for Ron and I to speak with her, and ask her some questions, and get her perspective of what it looked like. Now you’re an adoptive mom yourself.

Kim Brains:
Yes.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And you have two adopted children?

Kim Brains:
Yes, internationally from Ethiopia.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And at the time that we went to Ohio to meet my birth mother for the first time, you actually had only had one adopted child at that time.

Kim Brains:
Yes. I hadn’t actually got to experience going to my children’s birth country and picking up my child. And that whole entire process that hadn’t happened yet. The first child we brought home, I stayed with the other kids and so I felt like I was really missing a piece at that point. And I remember being very excited about going with you, and being there to support you, but also being there to be a part of it on my end too, to see how that all felt, and to see how it played out, how it looked. It was just another part to a bigger puzzle.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I think that’s a really good way to describe it.

Ron Reigns:
Nice.

Kim Brains:
Yeah.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So if you can remember as we were getting off the airplane, and we’re walking through the airport, I remember being an absolute wreck.

Kim Brains:
Yeah.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
What do you remember?

Kim Brains:
I remember you were a wreck, well before getting off the plane, it was a difficult process. I guess and processing it was difficult, because there was a little bit of the fear of traveling. We were leaving our children, remember that Kelly?

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I do.

Kim Brains:
We were leaving our babies, our little ones behind. And we were on this journey together, and you weren’t excited about flying at that point. So, I was there, and I really felt I could be supportive. You’re so of strong and I had a chance to be that person for you, and that made me feel good. But getting on the plane and just feeling that nervousness that you had. It was something I could genuinely feel for you. And walking through the airport, it was just like … I remember it being empty, the airport and that long hallway. It just seemed like we were walking forever to go down and get a rental car. And just feeling like at any moment somebody could just turn around, and we’re not going to know who it is, and they can just pop up and it could be your family.

Kim Brains:
And it was something that we had talked about for so many years, and becoming friends with you and through adoption, just going on and talking about how it felt for you, what were your experiences. And so, I had years of background of what you felt and what you were already thinking. And all of those for me too, were just culminating into this moment where at any moment, any second, somebody could just turn around, and it could be your actual birth mother and brother. And it was just like [inaudible 00:21:48] anticipation was sitting in your heart and in my heart, just like what’s going to happen next? How’s she going to look? How is it going to go? Or is it going to be awkward. Are you going to hug? Are you going to run like in the movies, or is it going to be more subdued? So it was a lot of excitement, and a lot of feelings adding up to that moment.

Ron Reigns:
Now did you, as you were about to meet your birth mother, did you ever, just even for a second think, I can’t do this, I’m turning around and going home.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I don’t remember. I don’t remember having that thought.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. Because I think I would, I think I would be like panicked and think, I can’t go through with it.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
I think I was really so nervous that I was thinking, I don’t know how to take my next breath, and if I do I’m going to throw up. I just remember that feeling. What do you remember of it, Kim? Do you remember?

Kim Brains:
Yeah. You were so nervous. I don’t think I’d ever seen you that nervous, nor have I ever seen you that nervous again. And I guess having adopted my second child, I can only imagine that feeling now. I could place it then, but now having flown to Ethiopia and picking up Neddy and getting ready to meet my adopted daughter for the first time, who was four. I remember being on the plane and feeling that same feeling, I remember seeing you feel at the airport. Getting ready to land, this is like a wedding or a reunification, or it is just the unknown. And it’s so … The adrenaline almost takes over and you’re just, you can’t breathe. And I remember you feeling like that and just watching you, and you were just … I don’t even know that you were talking. But the look on your face was just like kind of frozen, like what’s going to happen.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Now, I heard about her smile. Did she keep that smile on the whole trip, or was it just the beginning?

Kim Brains:
The frozen smile. You know what? I would say that it was a predominant smile. Yes, it was definitely … It was just not knowing. There was a lot to learn, and we can look back at that point and say, there was so many things to understand and learn. I mean, you’re meeting an entire family, she didn’t just meet her mom. She met a lot of people, and it was overwhelming and completely, almost a different culture altogether. And so, it was like being in another world, being in another land. And her and I stayed up a lot of nights, talking just talking so much, and trying to put it together, make it make sense, because it was still … Probably, I don’t know, Kelly, what do you think? Years away from making sense. It took time to put it together and make the entire experience.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, that’s something that we’re actually going to be talking about in a little bit, but yes, absolutely. It did take a long time to compartmentalize everything, and put the whole puzzle together, and look back and say, “Okay, now I get it.”

Ron Reigns:
But I tell you what, it’s awesome that you had such a cool support structure to go out there, and to talk with you every night, and to just be there for you and say, “Okay, we’re going to work through this together. I don’t know these people, you don’t know these people, but you’re related to them and I’m going to help you.” And that’s neat.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right, right. And I will say that as we got into the airport, and Kim is one of those people that can talk to anybody, anywhere, anytime about anything.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And so she can fit in anywhere. And I remember we went to the airport … I’m sorry, we went to the rental car location, picked up the rental car. My brother actually drove with us, and my mom drove her own car. And we got to the house, and at that point when we got to the house, I believe that my brother’s girlfriend and her children were over at that time and some other people. Is that right, Kim? Am I remembering this correctly?

Kim Brains:
I believe so, yeah.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And I remember turning around and Kim’s sitting there with a cigarette in her mouth, and a beer in her hand. And I thought, I didn’t even know that you smoked.

Ron Reigns:
She didn’t, until she went to West Virginia.

Kim Brains:
It felt like family to me.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
So-

Ron Reigns:
That’s awesome.

Kim Brains:
It’s like, we’re having a party. I’m just going to jump right in.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
And you did, very well.

Kim Brains:
And I did, yeah. I always remember thinking that I did feel at home with your family. They remind me of some of my family, difficult parts of my upbringing, my roots. Kelly and I joke around a lot that we’ve been related somehow, and this just goes to prove it. But it is a different culture all together, and a lot of times, I just remember your face was like … Because for me it felt a little like, okay this is sort of normal-ish, but for you it was like a really big … Like jumping into cold water, or just walking into another world.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Right.

Kim Brains:
And I remember Donna just being so genuinely herself, like you meet her, that’s who she is. What you see, is what you get.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes.

Kim Brains:
End of the story. And I remember thinking it was so different, because the culture to how you were brought up, versus your biological family, and the different regions of the United States. But I thought, how are they related? It wasn’t making sense to me. But then there was one point where your mom yelled for a soda, and it reminded me of you. I’m like, there it is. She had your voice; she had your tone of voice. She was yelling for some diet soda, I think Kelly, I can’t remember, like, “Get get me a soda.” Or something like that. And I’d heard you say that a million times on the phone to your kids, like, “Hey kids, go get me a soda.” Or whatever. And I thought, how is that possible that they almost sound identical in every way, and they’d never even met? and I’m like, yep, that’s her mom for sure.

Ron Reigns:
That’s when it clicked for you. Okay.

Kim Brains:
It did. Because I also remember, a lot of our discussions were really deep, and still even after the proof is there, even after all these things, even after your mind knows, but your heart is like, what in the world? Like maybe, maybe not. Maybe, is this possible? Can this actually be happening? There’s maybe a little bit of a denial. Like I don’t know if this is the real thing. Did you feel that way Kelly? I remember we talked about that a lot.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
Yes, yes. It was surreal.

Kim Brains:
Yes.

K. Rourke-Scarry:
It was definitely surreal.

Kim Brains:
I don’t know if I ever told you this, I might as well on a podcast. It was overwhelming for me. I know it was overwhelming for you, and just being there and being empathetic to what was happening, and being involved, and having known your story, and being your friend, and all of those things, and having this love for your family. It was hard. The emotional part of it was almost draining a little bit. I don’t know if you felt like that in yourself, but I felt like I needed to take a breath for a second. I remember once, I think I just went and took a walk, because it was really surreal.

Kim Brains:
It was overwhelming. Like did this really happen? You and I stayed up on the phone so many nights talking about what it would be like if you met your family, who were they, where could they be living? What happened? What was your story? And I remember you sharing that when you were younger, you had created a story to sort of make everything makes sense in your child’s mind. And so, having that childlike story, sort of clash with your new reality, it was overwhelming. It was like, one side of the story that you created as a coping skill, had to meet reality. And those two meeting, that meeting place was a difficult place. It was very emotionally draining.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and edited by Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the UB4Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song, I Don’t Know as our theme song. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, for part two of our discussion with Kelly and one of her best friends, Kim Brains, about Kelly’s reunification with her birth mother, Donna K. Evans. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself because if you didn’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
I know that my daughter will be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly R-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the Executive Director, President and Co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna Kay Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me Campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling.

Kelly R-Scarry:
I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife who’s an adoption attorney and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Disruptions do happen in adoptions. That is a common question I get asked by adoptive parents over and over and over again. Do they really happen? Do you see them a lot and my answer is yes, they absolutely happen. They do. Do they happen a lot? No.

Ron Reigns:
Fortunately.

Kelly R-Scarry:
If they did, people wouldn’t do adoption.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Too much risk.

Kelly R-Scarry:
There’s too much risk. One thing that is really important to understand about adoptions is the definition of a disruption. Different agencies, different attorneys will have different definitions of when an adoption occurs. Does it occur after the match with the adoptive family? Does it occur at the hospital? When do you count it as a disruption? That’s why data on disruptions can be very misleading because it just depends on how it’s defined.

Kelly R-Scarry:
So when you’re looking at a disruption, for instance, in our agency, we consider a disruption anytime after a family has been matched with a birth mom and she changes her mind, whether it is a month after they’ve been matched, two months, at the hospital or before she signs consents. That is when we as an agency, because I feel-

Ron Reigns:
Any time in that timeframe is considered-

Kelly R-Scarry:
I feel that that is basically covers the whole gamut. We’re not singling it out and saying, “Well, a disruption isn’t until the baby’s born and the baby had to be removed because consents weren’t signed.” That is, I feel, a skewed version of it and we’ll give an agency much better statistics. That is really important to understand. Make sure whatever agency or attorney that you’re talking to, that you really understand what the rating is and how they’re defining it, what they’re considering a disruption.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Disruptions happen for all different reasons. It can be anywhere from family or friends stepping in saying, “Hey, we’ll help you with the baby. We will support you. We’ll support the baby.”

Ron Reigns:
“We’ll be there.”

Kelly R-Scarry:
“We’ll be there mentally, physically, financially-

Ron Reigns:
And we’ve talked about this before. If they’re not helping during the pregnancy, there’s a pretty good chance they’re not going to be helping after.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Correct. Other times, a birth mother may have emotional feeling she wasn’t expecting to feel, and she changes her mind. Sometimes this can be due to you have a huge hormone influx after the birth of a baby and that’s just nature’s way of helping you bond with your baby is this rush of hormones, this mother instinct. And when you’re doing an adoption, you’re fighting that instinct and it is a battle. It’s an internal battle. She may be positive for drug use and planned on Child Protective Services taking the baby and is choosing adoption as a way to not have her child placed in the system. And when the state Child Protective Service case worker comes out, she explains the process and the birth mother thinks that that is a plan she’d be able to work through and get reunited with her baby. Unfortunately, oftentimes that’s not the case.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, by and large.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Correct. Another reason may be the birth father shows up and promises her the world and this is what she’s wanted to hear the entire pregnancy. She wants the perfect family. She wants the birth father. She wants her new family united. And up until this very moment, that wasn’t the case. Another one could be her circumstances have changed and she’s able to parent. Maybe she had a relative that passed away and she received an inheritance and can now financially support her child. There are lots of reasons that a birth mother may change her mind.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Another one could be that she has scammed and successfully done so.

Ron Reigns:
And never intended on the adoption in the first place, but thought, “Okay, I can get living expenses and help from this agency while I’m pregnant.”

Kelly R-Scarry:
Correct and that’s unfortunate. That’s something that as an agency I can say that we really try to screen out-

Ron Reigns:
Certainly.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Women that are scamming. We-

Ron Reigns:
Not to get too far into the legal weeds but are there repercussions for somebody scamming the system and trying to-

Kelly R-Scarry:
Yes.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Yes, there are. The question that I get from adoptive families when a disruption occurs is what happens? What happens? What happens to the baby? What happens to the mother? What happens? So, there’s lots of things that can happen. The baby can go into state custody. The birth mother can work on a plan to try to reunite with the baby. If the birth mother decides to keep the baby and she is able to, then she parents. The baby can go to a relative or family member that has stepped up that maybe had not stepped up in the past and she and the baby may go live with a family member.

Kelly R-Scarry:
When a birth mother genuinely has worked an adoption plan, plans on placing the baby for adoption, this can absolutely impact her life in a way that she didn’t see coming. When she has an adoption plan and she’s been focusing all of her thoughts and her energy and her future plans on placing this baby for adoption, she’s not going to be prepared. She doesn’t have baby items, car seats, formula, diapers. She’s not prepared for a life change and she’s also not going to have the agency or attorney helping her with living expenses. Her financial resources have just been cut off. Emotionally, her world just got turned upside down and she will probably experience very mixed emotions, happy that she is going to parent her child. The hormones have come into play. That’s what the focus is. They’re overtaking all of the other thoughts in her head of why she was going to originally place in the first place and the hormones are overtaking her emotions.

Kelly R-Scarry:
That being said, she may be spinning in her head. It may be something that she is wrestling with and she’s going back and forth in her head and really trying to process it. When those family members and friends that have not assisted her during her pregnancy show up, they promise the world. And as quickly as they come in, I have seen them exit back out. At that point, birth mothers will often reach back out to us and, they, from what I’ve seen, often don’t place at that time. I have heard stories where they do. Personally, in our agency, I haven’t seen that because they have bonded with the baby at that point. They don’t know what they would tell their family and friends as to what happened with the baby, so they feel shame and embarrassment if they were to have taken the baby home and then say, “Well I now I failed and so now I don’t feel like I can place a baby,” even though that wouldn’t be the case.

Ron Reigns:
But emotionally, it’s hard for them to go back.

Kelly R-Scarry:
It is very hard. It is very hard and the dreams and plans that she’s made are all gone and she’s now going to face a life of having a newborn. When women are struggling with homelessness and drug use and mental illness and they’re unemployed, they’re having relationship issues, bringing a newborn into that is going to complicate all of those issues even more so. There is the honeymoon high of having a baby and bringing the baby home, but when the baby’s not sleeping at night, and newborns don’t sleep at night, they’re very expensive, they are very draining. You have to make them immediately a priority over your own wants and needs. And when it switches on a dime, that can really throw somebody.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Again, a birth mother that’s struggling with all of these issues goes from having an adoption plan to having her world turned upside down and she is having to really look at what this is going to do and impact, how it’s going to impact her life. When a birth mother does change her mind and does not follow through and proceed with her adoption plan, oftentimes she is as devastated as the adoptive family, for some of the same and some different reasons.

Kelly R-Scarry:
She may have felt forced to parent. She may have succumbed to the pressure that was being put on her. She also may feel very guilty towards the adoptive family. She may have really wanted them to raise her child and feels a horrible sense of guilt. I’ve had birth mothers write letters to adoptive families. Oftentimes, they don’t want to be the ones to tell the adoptive family and the law doesn’t preclude that it has to be them that tells the adoptive family. She may very well be resentful towards the fact that now she’s being forced to parent and that is something that she may struggle with.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Another situation that is not often spoken about in the adoption world is the birth mothers that allow Child Protective Services to take the baby rather than proceed with their adoption. One of the reasons that a birth mother may choose Child Protective Services over adoption is because of guilt. If they allow Child Protective Services to take the baby, then they feel it was out of their control. Whereas if they choose adoption, they feel that they are then placing their child, they’re giving their child away. If somebody takes their child, then it’s not their fault.

Ron Reigns:
It’s not their fault and it becomes easier to explain it to friends and family-

Kelly R-Scarry:
But it’s really, it’s really a misconception on their part.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Because-

Kelly R-Scarry:
Child Protective Services would be removing the child from them because of the behavior, whether it’s drug use or a previous history of neglect, for some reason they have other children in the system. It’s not as if it was just circumstance, it was a reason to get there.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Certainly. They don’t just take babies Willy nilly.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Correct. And I think what we really need to explain to birth mothers is if Child Protective Services is in a position to take your child, you allowing them to take your child over placing the baby through the adoption plan and creating-

Ron Reigns:
And choosing a family.

Kelly R-Scarry:
And choosing a family, is doing the baby a service rather than putting the baby in the system. That is a big misconception and I have seen birth mothers choose to allow Child Protective Services to take the baby for that reason.

Ron Reigns:
It’s hard to believe.

Kelly R-Scarry:
It’s hard to believe and it’s devastating. It’s devastating on the adoption agencies part, it’s devastating, obviously, on the adoptive families part and in time it will be devastating on the birth mother’s part. Because when she realizes in reality that she’s not going to be able to work the plan, be reunited with her baby and now her baby is in state custody and in foster care and they have only closed adoptions, that now everything that she had originally planned on has changed.

Kelly R-Scarry:
Additionally, if a birth mother’s not working her adoption plan, then she’s no longer financially assisted by the agency and so her child goes into state care and she is where she was prior to coming to the agency, whether that’s homeless or couch surfing or back to living the life that she was living.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R-Scarry:
And it can happen abruptly.

Ron Reigns:
Building Arizona Families is a licensed full-service nonprofit, Arizona adoption agency.

Lacey:
My name is Lacey and I placed my daughter Jayda two months ago. I chose adoption because I didn’t feel it was fair to her to go the route where you terminate a pregnancy because it really had nothing to do with her. I was the responsible party and I needed to make a decision accordingly. So, because the father left when I was three months pregnant and I already have two daughters, I knew that was the only option really for her to have a better life. I knew that there was a lot of beautiful families out there who can’t have kids or for whatever reason, they don’t go through that process, so I felt that it was the best thing for her is to give her everything I could never give her. So that’s why I placed her.

Lacey:
I chose Building Arizona Families because I was kind of in a situation where I was going to be kicked out of my house and I was going to have nowhere to go, be five months pregnant and they got me in. They got me taken care of. They basically saved my life and they saved my baby’s life because I would have been homeless on the street. They were amazing. I got in here and they took care of me and were there with me through the whole journey, so it was a good choice. I didn’t think I was strong enough to do it and I did it and I’m in a really good place now.

Lacey:
Even though it’s only been two months. I’m in a very good place and I have a really good adoptive family who are beautiful to me and so it can turn out good for everyone involved. Building Arizona Families, they were just supportive through the whole process. My case manager, Blaine was beautiful. I love her and she was there no matter what I needed. Like I said, all my needs were taken care of. I’m really glad I chose this place and the people here are wonderful and they support you the whole way.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna Kay Evans Foundation and the You Before Me Campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast or adoption in general at (623) 695-4112, that’s (623) 695-4112. Join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. We’ll be talking about life after abortion for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

Ron:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 3:
It was best for your kid and for yourself, because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid. And that’s not fair.

Speaker 2:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency. The Donna K. Evans Foundation, and creator of the You Before Me campaign.

Kelly:
I have a Bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development, and a Master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption and reunited with my birth mother in 2007.

Kelly:
I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott Arizona. Now I work for my wife, who’s an adoption attorney and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly:
Adoption. The good, the bad, and the ugly. As the co-founder and agency director there’s little that I haven’t seen or heard. That being said, I think adoptive families will be surprised by some of, the answers that I am going to disclose.

Kelly:
In my opinion there should be no secrets. I believe in complete transparency when it comes to adoption. Secrets just breed concern, fear, and separation. When public figures adopt it brings light and awareness to adoption. And in most cases it’s a good contribution to adoption.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
But without releasing personal information it can sometimes breed assumptions, myths, and speculations. An example would be when Madonna adopted some kids from an African country.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
There was so much information that was not disclosed, and she has every right to not disclose that.

Ron:
It’s her right. Right.

Kelly:
That’s her life, it’s her child, it’s her adoption, and it’s her family. Sometimes I think that we take it too far with celebrities, and we feel owed that information.

Ron:
Sometimes. Right.

Kelly:
Yeah. Okay.

Ron:
It’s gotten pretty ridiculous.

Kelly:
Understatement of the year. Right?

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
Yeah. As people are sticking cameras in people’s windows and the fact that she shared she was adopting, I think was enough.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
Without having to go into explanations. For all the birth mothers that are listening now these are your stories. You’ve shared them with me, and I want to share them with our other listeners, so they can understand where you’re coming from.

Kelly:
Again, these are your stories, but it’s the only way I can have your voice be heard in this manner.

Ron:
I like it.

Kelly:
Let’s do it. So, here are some things that I have seen over the past 15 years. Prostitution is a way that babies are conceived, that are placed for adoption.

Ron:
Be still my breath, I didn’t expect that.

Kelly:
Yeah. Prostitution’s not uncommon at all. A lot of prostitutes do have pimps. Most of them and they are in favor of adoption for the most part. As long as they can maintain control.

Kelly:
So, I haven’t seen pimps interfere in most situations. In terms of preventing the adoption from going through.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
It means there will be a lot of birth fathers, but other than that …

Ron:
Potential birth fathers.

Kelly:
Right. Potential birth fathers. Thank you. Birth mothers often have other children, and yet still choose to not parent this unborn child. Every woman has her own story and her own reason for choosing adoption.

Kelly:
No one should ever judge a woman for making this choice. Going back to the Madonna scenario that we just talked about, Madonna didn’t need to, nor do I believe she did disclose her reasons for making an adoption choice as an adoptive parent.

Kelly:
For the same reason a birth mother doesn’t need to disclose to society why she’s choosing to place her baby for adoption. Everything does not need to be an open book.

Ron:
Everybody’s business.

Kelly:
Right. If you were to choose an abortion you don’t walk out of the abortion clinic and acknowledge and yell out to everybody why you chose to have an abortion. Should that be the unfortunate choice that you make.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
Birth mothers may be married, and the birth father of the unborn child may not be her husband. I have seen that situation play out. An example of a situation that we had happen, was a woman was married, living with her husband and he had, had a vasectomy, and she was pregnant.

Kelly:
And the baby was not his, and she hid her pregnancy from her husband. When it came time to go to the hospital the father, the biological father of her baby was aware of what was going on and was in favor of her adoption choice, and very supportive.

Ron:
That’s a strong man. I had to admit. I don’t know if I could put myself in that same category.

Kelly:
Right. Sure. And in the hospital, she had told her husband that she was having some kidney issues, and so she was going to be in the hospital for a few days. And apparently, he didn’t believe her.

Kelly:
He decided to show up at the hospital after the baby had been born. At that time the adoptive mother, and the birth mother, and the baby were all in the room together. It was late at night.

Ron:
Okay.

Kelly:
And the husband walked in and looked at his wife and said, “You had a baby?” And she said, “No I didn’t.” She said, “It’s her baby.” And pointed to the adoptive mother.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
Well, the adoptive mother is now covering her head with the blanket and is calling me on her cellphone asking me what to do. Now, this is one of those, “Oh my goodness.” Situations.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
Like, this is a one in a million situation.

Ron:
This isn’t a common occurrence. You don’t get this every five adoptions.

Kelly:
No. No, no. No, I’ve never seen this but one time in 15 years.

Ron:
Okay. Thank god.

Kelly:
Yeah. Looking back it was like, “Wow.” So, she’s underneath the covers asking me what to do and I’m trying to instruct her in staying calm, and the husband ups and leaves when the adoptive mother took the baby home.

Kelly:
And because the husband was the legal father, because they were married the biological father took a paternity test to prove that he was in fact the biological father.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
So, he was able to sign consents and that was how the adoption was able to go through. It was just one of those situations where you look at lives and you think, “How did you get into this situation?”

Ron:
Right. Not to judge them, but to go, “Wow.”

Kelly:
No. To go, “Wow, that was a doozy.”

Ron:
but for the grace of God go I.

Kelly:
Exactly.

Ron:
Yeah.

Kelly:
Exactly. Well said. So, that was definitely a situation that I will never forget. And I’m sure the adoptive mother will never forget it either.

Ron:
Or the legal father, or the biological father, or the adoptive parents, or anybody involved.

Kelly:
Right, right. Absolutely.

Ron:
The case manager. Everybody will remember that for a few days.

Kelly:
Absolutely. The family of the birth mother may not know about her adoption choice, and may not even know that she’s pregnant. We have lots of women that come to us that often hide their pregnancy.

Kelly:
They don’t want to answer questions, they don’t want to be judged or criticized. They want to be embraced. And I can’t tell you how much I love it when I have a birth mother that comes in and she has her grandmother, which I see a lot, or her own mother come in and sit next to her and support what she’s doing.

Ron:
It’s awesome.

Kelly:
That brings tears to my eyes.

Ron:
Yeah.

Kelly:
I had one this week that did that, and the grandmother sat there and asked questions, she was so supportive.

Ron:
And involved.

Kelly:
And involved.

Ron:
Wow.

Kelly:
Involved. Absolutely.

Ron:
That’s an amazingly strong family when you see that. I’m sure. You probably don’t see a whole lot of it, but when you do it’s got to …

Kelly:
I don’t see it very often, but when I do it’s incredible.

Ron:
Yeah.

Kelly:
And I like I said, it brings tears to my eyes, because it is such a strong sense of, in my mind, support. No matter what, I’m here.

Ron:
Yeah.

Kelly:
And that’s what I tell my children. No matter what, I’m here.

Ron:
Good choices, bad choices.

Kelly:
I’m here.

Ron:
Good boyfriends, bad boyfriend, whatever it is, your mom.

Kelly:
Right. Yeah.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
Some birth mothers may have intentionally become pregnant and then decided that it wasn’t the right time to parent. So, not all babies that are placed for adoption are unplanned. Not all of them are surprises.

Kelly:
There are situations where a woman and a man may have had, wanted to have a baby, and then he wound up getting arrested and is going to prison, or they both lost their jobs and they’re now homeless, or they broke up and want nothing to do with each other, and don’t want to raise each other’s child, so there’s lots of different reasons.

Kelly:
We do have, as we have said In other podcasts, that birth mothers may have a very long list of potential birth fathers. This doesn’t negatively impact the adoption, it makes more work for our attorney, but other than that it’s just fine.

Kelly:
Sometimes a birth mother may plan on doing an abortion and then change her mind and make an adoption plan. Oftentimes I will have women come in and say they were going to abort the baby, but the baby was further along than they had thought.

Kelly:
They didn’t have enough money. I hear that one quite a bit. Or they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Birth mothers who do more than one adoption may or may not choose the same adoptive family.

Kelly:
Sometimes a woman will come in and she’s already placed with our agency one time, and she may not have had a good experience. Sometimes they may not have had a good relationship, or a good connection, or they feel that the adopted family didn’t follow through with the post adoptive communication as smoothly and seamlessly as they wanted them to.

Kelly:
They may want to bless another family, because they want their child to be the first child in the family. There’s lots of reasons.

Ron:
Okay.

Kelly:
We as an agency love it when we can keep siblings together.

Ron:
Yeah. I kind of, think that’s where my heart is too.

Kelly:
That’s always my first choice. Yes. That’s my first choice.

Ron:
But, hey, everybody’s got to walk their own path and figure it out for themselves too.

Kelly:
Correct. And again, we empower the women and let them choose, but my preference is to keep siblings together, if we can do that.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
We had a question once where a woman was having twins and she asked, “Are you going to keep the babies together?” And I said, “Oh, absolutely. I would never in a million years split up twins. Never in a million years.”

Ron:
With twins. Certainly.

Kelly:
And she said, “Oh, good. I was concerned.” And I thought, “Yeah, that’s something that as an agency director I would never ever….”

Ron:
Recommend or even support.

Kelly:
No. I wouldn’t be a part of it.

Ron:
Okay. That’s where you draw the line then on that?

Kelly:
I do.

Ron:
Okay.

Kelly:
I do. I do. Absolutely. Sometimes birth mothers will choose a closed adoption and then when the baby’s born they may change their mind and want an open adoption. I have seen a mother who goes into labor and delivery, and wanting an open adoption and then she disappears after the baby’s born, and doesn’t want to see the baby.

Kelly:
That doesn’t mean that she won’t come back in the future.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
That’s sometimes a big disappointment for some adoptive families. Some adoptive families really want an open adoption, and they really want to include the birth mother, and they want to have her be a part of their lives and their child’s life.

Kelly:
And sometimes birth mothers aren’t in a place where they’re ready to do that.

Ron:
And they’re just having a baby, it’s an emotional time as it is. It’s very hard. A lot of anxiety and a lot of different direction. So, I understand why they wouldn’t want to, and hopefully they do come back fairly soon and get to see the family and the adopted child.

Kelly:
Right. I have seen birth mothers come back. When we travel to other states and talk with adoptive families about adopting oftentimes adoptive families will ask about their birth mother, “Have you heard from her? Have you heard from her? Has she seen our pictures?” And sometimes we haven’t.

Ron:
Yeah. And it’s hard to give them the true response, but you do what you got to do.

Kelly:
Yeah. You do what you got to do. And again, it’s not that the birth mother’s not interested in them or interested in the baby, it’s, sometimes they’re in survival mode and you go back to the hierarchy of needs.

Kelly:
And they’re worried about where they’re going to sleep that night. They’re worried about where they’re going to shower. They’re worried about when they’re going to eat again.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
And to add in the component of, “Oh, here’s pictures and letters of the baby placed for adoption.” Is just too much.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
So, when you’re in survival mode their mind is in a different place. Other times that they may disappear is, after they’ve placed their baby for adoption, choosing a better life for their baby than they feel they can provide, is a real blow to their self-esteem.

Kelly:
And we’ve talked about self-esteem in another podcast.

Ron:
Absolutely.

Kelly:
This realization is absolutely heartbreaking. To be open and raw, and real, and present in every moment is painstaking. So, when birth mothers aren’t able to be present for extended periods of time after the baby’s born, and they come and go, or they go for long periods of time, or they disappear, it’s not that they regret their choice or that they resent the adoptive family, it could just be that it’s just too hard.

Kelly:
In the future they may come to a place in their life where they’re able to say, “I’m ready.”

Ron:
Yeah.

Kelly:
And I’ve seen that happen. I have seen that happen. And we embrace that. And that is why, at the Donna K. Evans Foundation, if you have placed a baby privately for adoption you can come directly into the program or you can come back in a year, or two years, or three years. There’s not a deadline, because the deadline is only in your mind.

Kelly:
We’re there when we’re needed, and we’ll wait, because it’s the birth mother who’s made the choice of life.

Ron:
Right.

Kelly:
We can wait for her and give her that opportunity.

Ron:
With the Donna K. Evans Foundation what if they place through another agency, besides Building Arizona Families, are the services, and is this help available to them as well?

Kelly:
Good question. The answer is yes. Any birth mother who has placed privately for adoption can have equal and total access to the services offered by the Donna K. Evans Foundation.

Kelly:
This is not solely for our agency.

Ron:
Right. Okay. That’s awesome to hear.

Kelly:
It’s awesome to do. I was placed for adoption in 1973. My mother was 16 years old. She made the selfless decision to choose adoption for me. I was adopted by a wonderful adoptive family and because I was placed for adoption I was able to go to school, I was able to go to college, and I was able to get my Master’s degree.

Kelly:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the director and co-founder of Building Arizona Families, and the Donna K. Evans Foundation, which we nicknamed SWAP. Supporting women after placement.

Kelly:
After I co-founded the agency I actually looked for my mother, and I found her in 2007. My mother struggled with her adoption choice. In her struggle had she had help, assistance and counseling she might have had a much better experience, and she might have not struggled with depression, or anxiety, or guilt.

Kelly:
And so, we developed the Donna K. Evans Foundation. The Donna K. Evans Foundation is a non-profit 501C3 organization that helps women after they have placed a child for adoption.

Kelly:
We want to give women the services and the support that women like my mother did not receive. Our goal is to let women know that women matter. That they made the right choice when they chose adoption.

Kelly:
And what we’ve learned as we’ve done adoptions for over 14 years is, birth mothers need help and we want to be the ones to help them.

Kelly:
We know about the selfless choice that they made and we support them, and we support their choice. When a woman comes into our agency we are able to give them an emergency food box immediately.

Kelly:
A woman can come into our office and receive a food box even if she is not pregnant. Our food pantry is funded through private donations, both financially and through food donations.

Kelly:
We have a clothing closet right here at our facility. We have a maternity clothing for the women who are in our adoption program and are looking for clothing the minute they walk through our door.

Kelly:
And we have, in all sizes, these are all donated clothing. We have clothing that is appropriate for job interviews, that is appropriate for regaining their self-esteem. We do have GED materials onsite for women who are interested in obtaining their GED.

Kelly:
We also have computers that you can use for practice testing to help obtain your GED as well. We also have domestic violence services. We can help with restraining orders, we can also help with emergency housing through hotel vouchers.

Kelly:
We’re looking for monetary donations, so you can help support this fantastic program that’s going to help hundreds of women after they have placed a child for adoption. We want to give them a hand up, not a handout.

Kelly:
Donations could include anything from clothing, to non-perishable food, to GED study guides, to temporary bus passes. We need you to help us, help them. Be part of the solution. Make a difference in all of these women’s lives.

Kelly:
The adoption community is a large community and you’re part of it. You are part of the solution. We chose angel wings for our logo, because angels were important to my mother. Angel wings are symbolic of being able to fly.

Kelly:
The goal of the Donna K. Evans Foundation is to help women find their wings, so they can fly. Please contact us through the Donna K. Evans Foundation on our website at the dkefoundation.com.

Ron:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. Written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns.

Ron:
We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna K, Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me Campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t know as our theme song.

Ron:
You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast, or adoption in general at 623-695-4112. That’s 623-695-4112. Make sure to join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns, we’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself because if you didn’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
And I know that my daughter will be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion, give this child a chance.

Lindsey:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly R.-S.:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development, and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly R.-S.:
A little self-esteem can go a long way.

Ron Reigns:
That’s for sure.

Kelly R.-S.:
Self-esteem is the stairway out of the basement.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly R.-S.:
Really. Many of our birth moms find themselves in negative life cycles, and one reason for their adoption choice is to break the familial negative life cycle.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly R.-S.:
That is what I have said in previous podcasts my mom did when she placed me for adoption. There is a common thread among many women who wear the moniker of low self-esteem. They’ve been raised by parents with one or more of the following traits. These can all contribute to low self-esteem. Parents that are incarcerated, either one or both of them, they’re in foster care, their parents are perpetually unemployed, they’re drug using, they’ve been on welfare, food stamps, EBT, are considered lower class, we used to say back in the day in parentheticals, living on the wrong side of the tracks, the parents have little to no formal education, and it can go on and on.

Kelly R.-S.:
What I have seen is these lifestyles are what is modeled, and so when these children are raised underneath these circumstances, and it’s not that one of these is negative or, if you don’t have enough money, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have low self-esteem. It’s when you combine these and you raise a child in these circumstances, and this is considered normal for the child. So every child looks up to their parents, and they want to strive to be like them, so if you have a parent living in a home that is not working, let’s say it’s the dad, the dad’s laying on the couch drinking a beer, not working, collecting his unemployment check, and he is physically abusing his wife, and she’s using drugs, and you watch this behavior growing up, then as you get older they say that you look for a partner that is similar to the traits of your parents. Again, that can normalize some of the behavior. That can also damage your self-esteem because when you get out in the real world and you see these things, you can start to internalize them. When you’re stuck in negative life cycles and you do have low self-esteem, it’s very hard to take steps to climb out of it.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, absolutely.

Kelly R.-S.:
Change is hard. It’s doable, but change is hard. Self-esteem and the lack thereof is really a huge contributor to decisions that people make. In other words, somebody that has very low self-esteem and sees an option, a job opening let’s say, and they would love to work that job. That’s the dream job. They qualify on paper for it, but if their self-esteem is so low, the chances of them actually applying for that job for fear of rejection, it’s probably not going to happen.

Ron Reigns:
So they’re sabotaging themselves by the choices they make.

Kelly R.-S.:
Right, because they don’t want to … they’re already in such a low place that they don’t want to try to reach out and possibly face rejection, which will then, again, in turn affect their self-esteem. It’s already low. They don’t want to bring themselves any lower.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly. Okay.

Kelly R.-S.:
When a birth mom comes into our adoption agency, one of the first things that we as an agency collectively try to do is work on their self-esteem because empowering a birth mother and trying to help her see what an amazing thing that she’s doing is not only going to help her for the rest of her life, but it will help her to see what a beautiful choice adoption is. If you have somebody with very low self-esteem, the chances of them feeling guilty about their adoption choice are higher because they’re going to look at it like, “Well, see, I can’t even raise my own baby,” whereas if you have higher self-esteem, you can look at it like, “I know I’m not in a place that I want to be to raise a baby, so I’m going to place my baby for adoption because it’s going to help the baby, and it’s going to give me an opportunity to be able to parent in the future another child.”

Kelly R.-S.:
When birth parents are stuck in these negative life cycles, they don’t often know how to find a way out of this labyrinth lifestyle, so when they get pregnant and they come to us, they may be living on the streets. They may be in a domestic violent relationship. When they’re in these situations, again, it flattens self-esteem. Nobody wants to be sitting, and I spoke with the birth mom last week about this, nobody wants to be sitting with their back up against the outside of a grocery store with nothing, with nowhere to go, with nobody to call, with nobody calling them to say, “Hey, how are you? What are you doing?” with no place to put their things but a grocery cart. That’s a really hard place to be. When we have them come into the agency and we’re able to help them with their living situation and stabilize them and help them raise their self-esteem, the goal is to have them leave better than when they came in.

Ron Reigns:
Definitely.

Kelly R.-S.:
And I think that that piece is often missed in some agencies because they don’t realize that the long-term effects, without counseling birth mothers and birth fathers and working with them and helping them with their self-esteem, is actually going to help them feel good about their decision. It’s going to help promote the adoption. They’re going to feel strong. Strong people do good things.

Ron Reigns:
Right, and so they’re going to start making more right decisions from that progression, you know? Just like the downward spiral is self-perpetuating-

Kelly R.-S.:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
… so is the upward climb.

Kelly R.-S.:
Correct. Absolutely. And when you look at it, if you have a woman who is in a domestic violent relationship and she has low self-esteem, so she thinks very little of herself, when she’s being verbally abused and she’s being told that she’s nothing and that she’s lucky to have him-

Ron Reigns:
And she’s believing it.

Kelly R.-S.:
… she’s believing him. When he’s physically abusive with her, she may feel like she deserves it. I have had women come into the agency that they are with somebody that is very abusive to them, and what they tell me is, “One day a month, though, he’s amazing. He’s amazing. So I just hang on for that one day, because that one day is better than not having anything. It’s worth the 29 days that I have to go through to get to that one day, because I don’t have anybody else. He’s stuck with me for all these months when everybody else has walked away,” and they don’t see the value in themselves. They don’t see their worth.

Kelly R.-S.:
When we’re working with women, and I very much do believe that women can help women in a certain way, just like men can help men in a certain way, there’s a connection. And when a woman can help another woman and let her know that she matters, that she’s worth more than she’s giving herself credit for, it can change her life. And again, it helps the adoption process because when you have a woman that has no self-esteem and goes into a hospital, and she’s in a very dire life situation, she goes into the hospital and she has the baby, this baby is new and precious, and in her mind, that’s the best thing that she’s ever done. When she looks at placing that baby for adoption with her low self-esteem, that’s hard to do because then she is letting go of the one piece of her that means something.

Ron Reigns:
Right, that she’s taking pride in.

Kelly R.-S.:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly R.-S.:
Whereas if you have higher self-esteem and you’re building it up, she can look at the baby and look at the adoptive family and look at herself in the mirror and say, “This is the right thing to do. This is what needs to happen, and yes, it’s going to be hard, but I’ve got an agency standing behind me that is going to help support me through this.”

Kelly R.-S.:
Self-esteem is the key. It’s the key to helping women leave domestic violent relationships. It is the key to employment. It is the key to higher education. It is the key to so many vital things that we need in society to better humanity as a whole, and it’s underrated. It’s not given the attention that it deserves.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, absolutely. So how do you develop somebody else … I mean, it’s hard enough just to try and develop your own self-esteem, especially if yours is low. How do you help to encourage somebody else to value themselves?

Kelly R.-S.:
One of the things that we do is we empower the women through choice. So when they come into the program, we talk to them about adoption options and explain each one of them. When you start giving somebody the power of choice, because they have little to none, they start to see that what they’re saying matters. When women have no self-esteem, they don’t think that anybody’s listening to them, and when you spend time and you focus on what they have done, what their hobbies are, when you show interest in somebody and they start to realize, “Somebody cares about me,” they start to feel like they matter, and everybody deserves to feel like they matter.

Kelly R.-S.:
We’ve talked about homeless people on the streets. When you drive by and you see somebody homeless on the street, that’s somebody’s mother, that’s somebody’s sister, that’s somebody’s friend, that somebody’s daughter, that’s somebody’s aunt, and it’s so hard to think, “Do they feel themselves that they matter?” And those are the women that we see a lot that come into the agency. They have been standing on a street corner, or like I said, in dire situations. But by giving them support, not just financial, but emotional support, and showing them, “Not only are you going to go to the doctor because we’re going to make sure that you and your baby are okay, but we’re going to go with you because we care. We care about you. This isn’t just about the baby. We care about you too.”

Kelly R.-S.:
When we talk to them about what they want in the adoption, what type of communication they want during the adoption process, what type of adoptive family, when they choose an adoptive family and they see profiles that these families have chosen to be presented to this birth mother, it’s a slow start. We have a one of our workers in our after-care program meet with them prior to delivery to find out what they want to do. Do they have a GED? And if they don’t, is that something they want to pursue? The thought of being able to do something, with somebody holding your hand who believes in you, is much easier than trying to do it alone. Climbing out of the basement with little to no help, never having done it, is daunting.

Ron Reigns:
It’s almost impossible.

Kelly R.-S.:
Sure. But step over step is how you can start to raise somebody’s self-esteem. Without emotional support, without somebody that believes in you, how are you to believe in yourself? When a woman comes in and says, “I need to place my baby for adoption. I’m not in a place that I can raise a child,” we commend her on her bravery. We commend her on her choice, and she starts to see what a good person she really is.

Kelly R.-S.:
When women are trapped in negative life cycles, like prostitution, domestic violence, homelessness, they’ve lost children to the state, they have felonies, they feel very beaten down. They’ve been told by either somebody in society or society as a whole that they are less than, that they don’t matter as much as the next person and-

Ron Reigns:
They’re marginalized.

Kelly R.-S.:
They are. They are. And their voice is a lot of times taken away. By, again, encouraging women that they don’t have to live underneath that moniker, that they don’t have to have this stigma over their head, there’s no scarlet A on their forehead, again, it’s a way to start empowering them towards building their self-esteem.

Kelly R.-S.:
I have had woman after woman that has come to the agency that is pregnant as a result of prostitution, and in speaking with them, I will often ask them to tell me about it, what it looks like, why they chose to do that, is this the lifestyle they want to live?

Ron Reigns:
What in their life … You know. I’m sure they were just regular kids in kindergarten like all of us, and then was it their example from their parents or friends or … Yeah.

Kelly R.-S.:
The answers that I get are often astounding. What I want to share with our listeners is the women that are in prostitution and have a “pimp” will tell me, “The reason I do it is because I can make a couple thousand dollars in a night,” and when my question is then, “So financial is not an issue for you? I mean, finances are fine.” And she said, “No, I give it all to the pimp.” And when I ask her why, she says … most of the time I hear, “I love him,” “He will beat me up if I don’t,” “He gives me my drugs and he takes care of me,” and she doesn’t see her own worth. She doesn’t see herself. When she looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see the value of her as a human being.

Kelly R.-S.:
In relation to adoption, again, a successful adoption can hinge on self-esteem because if you have somebody who doesn’t believe in themselves, it’s hard to believe that they will make the right choice. I think it’s very important for us to realize the value of self-esteem, of what we think of ourselves, because you can’t love somebody else if you can’t love yourself. It’s like the airplane analogy. When you’re on an airplane, they say make sure you put your mask on if there’s an emergency before you put your child’s on.

Ron Reigns:
Because if you can’t breathe and you pass out, how are you supposed to-

Kelly R.-S.:
Who’s going to help your child?

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.-S.:
It’s the same with self-esteem. If you have no self-esteem, then how can you help somebody else?

Ron Reigns:
You got to get yourself in that position first.

Kelly R.-S.:
Right. And as a society, we need to make sure that we are encouraging humanity as a whole to take the step and really work on our own self-esteem. Being hungry, being alone, being homeless, being addicted, and being pregnant, only to have your money taken away by your pimp if you’re a prostitute, is literally adding insult to injury. There’s no other explanation.

Kelly R.-S.:
It takes such a brave woman to walk into an adoption agency and say, “Hey, I really do need to place my baby for adoption. I can’t bring a baby into my world.” That is an inner strength that so many people can’t fathom. Women who believe in adoption and who believe in themselves will climb, claw, and fight their way up those basement stairs to make sure that their baby is not in a place that they are themselves in. Raising a woman’s self-esteem will help them believe in themselves. It will help them leave an abusive partner if that’s necessary. It will help them trust sobriety, giving them the desire to want to be clean, to not use drugs, because a lot of women use drugs to self-medicate.

Ron Reigns:
Definitely.

Kelly R.-S.:
It will give them the strength and the belief in going back to school and completing their education, and lastly, it will give them the wherewithal to listen to others without fear of being judged. Nobody wants to be judged.

Ron Reigns:
No.

Kelly R.-S.:
So adoption is definitely breaking the cycle and climbing out of the basement.

Ron Reigns:
And you can attest to that from your side of the adoption triad as well.

Kelly R.-S.:
I can.

Ron Reigns:
In that your birth mother wasn’t ready to raise a child. It was so beneficial for her to have made that choice for your entire life. You wouldn’t be the same person you are without that choice have been made, you know?

Kelly R.-S.:
Agreed.

Ron Reigns:
Does that make sense?

Kelly R.-S.:
It makes perfect sense. And not only have I thought about that probably hundreds of times, but I’ve looked at it almost like a Rubik’s cube from all angles, and I’ve thought, “Well, would I have had the inner strength to be the one to make it out?” And I’ve looked at the situation, and no, I don’t believe that I would have. I think that her choice saved mine.

Ron Reigns:
Right. Not to mention, I mean, I just love how your story really illustrates how one person’s choice several years ago-

Kelly R.-S.:
Thank you for that.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely … can affect so many different lives in so many different ways, because obviously chances aren’t good that you would have started an adoption agency.

Kelly R.-S.:
Correct.

Ron Reigns:
Chances are even less that you would have started the Donna K. Evans Foundation and the You Before Me campaign. These things probably never would have happened, so all these birth mothers now that you’re affecting the lives of was because a choice made several years ago.

Kelly R.-S.:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
So there you go.

Kelly R.-S.:
Yeah. Thank you for that.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, certainly.

Kelly R.-S.:
I agree.

Lindsey:
My name is Lindsey. When I found out I was pregnant, I was homeless, on drugs, and I was trying to escape a domestic violence situation with my baby’s father. I came to Building Arizona Families as kind of just to explore my options. From the moment I walked in, they were super supportive. They were great. They did an interview and kind of asked me what my plans were, what I was thinking. I let them know that I was interested in adoption, and from there I received a case manager, and I was really terrified. This was my first child. All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Lindsey:
I couldn’t even get off drugs at the time, and I just had all these horror stories of, “Would I go back to my ex-boyfriend?” Who he had a son my age, and he started doing meth with his son when his son was 13. I mean, I was totally alone. My family was not in the picture. They told me that I needed to get an abortion. So, my case manager became like my mom.

Lindsey:
I would call her crying in the middle of the night, “Oh, my gosh, I’m so scared about … I’m having this pain or this feeling,” and she’d walk me through the process of just kind of being there, because I’d never been pregnant before. Everything was brand new to me. She just loved me through everything.

Lindsey:
I mean, I went to all my doctor’s appointments because of Building Arizona Families, transportation, just everything, anything and everything to make sure that my son received the best care possible. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do that for him had it not been for Building Arizona Families.

Lindsey:
It was definitely the hardest decision I’ve ever made, and it still is something that is very hard, but it was the right thing, and it’s still every day I’m so thankful for Building Arizona Families, I’m so thankful for the couple that adopted him, and I’m just so thankful for just this whole situation. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own, and I just, I know that he has a better life now and he has a chance to be great. I know that he would have that chance no matter what, but he’s growing up in a good family and he’s growing up surrounded by love. I couldn’t be happier with all this. The care I received from Building Arizona Families and the whole process was just a dream come true. I wasn’t alone.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com, and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast or adoption in general at 623-695-4112. That’s 623-695-4112. Make sure to join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

Ron Reigns:
Welcome, and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into the issues of adoption from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:
Do what’s best for your kid, and for yourself, because if you can’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:
And I know that my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:
Don’t have an abortion. Give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:
All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly R.:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the executive director, president, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development, and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at the age of three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the cohost of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, who’s an adoption attorney, and I’m able to combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly R.:
Abortion again is one of those hot topics that we talk about. The reason we developed the You Before Me campaign was to provide continued education to society about abortion and make sure that facts are known. One aspect that’s not often discussed is what life is like after an abortion for the woman who has one, or for the significant other who is with that person who has one. Meaning the birth mother.

Ron Reigns:
Right, and sometimes supportive, sometimes not as supportive, but either way, they feel the effects, as well.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely, and I think it’s important to understand what emotions a birth mother and birth father experience, how long they experience them, where do they go from here, does the pain, guilt, shame, regret go away? Is there any of those emotions, or is there just relief, and feeling like you dodged a bullet?

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
This is a hard one.

Ron Reigns:
I can attest.

Kelly R.:
And this is one that I am speaking solely from a professional standpoint, because I have not experienced this. As you’ve shared, you have experienced this.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
And I hope that you will feel comfortable in chiming in, because again, I’m only on one side of this. Various research studies state that there may be categories of women who do regret their abortion choice. Women who are affected by the stigma of abortion, women who go on to change their beliefs on abortion, and women who never really wanted to abort, and felt pushed or pressured into it.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R.:
I would believe that a birth father would feel the same way.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, in the same free categories like that.

Kelly R.:
Okay. Do you think from the woman who actually physically had the abortion to the birth father who in my mind was just as affected by it, not physically, but in every other area, do you think that those feelings are the same?

Ron Reigns:
That’s tough to say, because I’m kind of a firm believer that we’re all individuals, and we all take things differently. Who knows? Maybe there are people who, men and women, who can just move on after this choice with no regrets, and maybe don’t even feel any effects of it ever. But it’s hard to say that my walk is the same as anybody else’s. But from my experience, yes, I definitely have felt these effects. I don’t know if they’re even the same as the effects that my ex-wife feels, so I don’t know. That’s a hard question to answer.

Kelly R.:
How long after the abortion did you start to feel the effects?

Ron Reigns:
It certainly wasn’t immediate. I think maybe a couple of years, and then I really started looking back on it and thinking, “What have I done?”

Kelly R.:
Was it before or after the birth of your son?

Ron Reigns:
It’s been so long ago, I’m going to say honestly, it might have been when she was pregnant with my son.

Kelly R.:
That makes sense. That would be a huge trigger.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, and as I had said, she had gone through two abortions, so I guess at the time I just… I was so young and very naïve. Didn’t realize the consequences, not just emotionally on me, that’s beside the point, but on what I had… God, I can’t even do this here. Hold on.

Kelly R.:
Just take your time.

Ron Reigns:
The consequences on the life that was never allowed to be because of the choice I had made.

Kelly R.:
On the baby. You are so brave to talk about this, because I believe that what you’re saying is saving lives.

Ron Reigns:
I hope so. I hope somebody will hear this and go, “Wait, am I choosing the wrong thing here? Or how will this affect me when I’m 50?”

Kelly R.:
You don’t have the ability, unfortunately, to go back and change the past.

Ron Reigns:
No.

Kelly R.:
But you have the ability to talk to other birth fathers. Because men, in a lot of instances, would prefer to hear it from another man, and that’s what I’ve been told when I speak with birth fathers, and you have the platform and the opportunity to share, because they… There may be birth fathers out there, and they’re with their pregnant girlfriend, one-night stand, somebody, and they may think, “Well, abortion is a really quick fix to get out of this.”

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly R.:
It’s really something that we can just put behind us, and move on, and because you’re being courageous, and you’re able to share your story, I really do believe that if there’s a heaven, your baby’s looking down giving you the thumbs up.

Ron Reigns:
Well, thanks.

Kelly R.:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
That made it worse. Thank you.

Kelly R.:
Okay. Sorry. Not trying to make it worse. It’s what I believe in. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Ron Reigns:
No, I know. Not at all.

Kelly R.:
No. It’s I really do believe. I really do believe that we all have regrets, and we don’t always have an opportunity to-

Ron Reigns:
Help others to not-

Kelly R.:
Not even helping others, but sometimes you can’t fix a mistake that you’ve made.

Ron Reigns:
Certainly.

Kelly R.:
But there are things you can do to make it better.

Ron Reigns:
Okay. Yeah.

Kelly R.:
And that’s what this is, and I think that by making it better, and I wasn’t… An example would be I wasn’t able, during my mother’s life, to make her life better. I wasn’t able to change her view of adoption, or her feelings of condemnation, or shame, or regret, because of the care that she didn’t receive. After she died, I was able to do that. I was able to take a stand, and start a foundation, and use her life as an example of what shouldn’t be.

Ron Reigns:
Right, and how we can affect change in our lifetimes.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely, and that is parallel to exactly what you’re doing by sharing your story.

Ron Reigns:
Well, I don’t even know how to respond. Thank you, and I hope so.

Kelly R.:
I hope you can see the connection.

Ron Reigns:
I absolutely can. I just… I’m in a little bit of a vulnerable place at the moment, so it’s kind of… I’m a little overwhelmed. Sorry.

Kelly R.:
No, don’t be sorry. I think that this is exactly what needs to happen for people to understand the after effects, because people don’t talk about what can happen years and years later, or the triggers, or when you have an abortion, or your significant other has an abortion, and you didn’t at the time have the literature, or the understanding, and the studies weren’t out there as to what it really was, what it entailed, how it affected the baby, and you read it now, those things… I’m getting chills as I’m saying this. Those things can be beyond overwhelming. It’s not just like a dark cloud. It’s all encompassing, and I completely understand, because from a different standpoint, I had those same emotions with my birth mother.

Kelly R.:
I wasn’t able to fix it. Because I didn’t come into her life until 10 years before she passed away, I was not able in those 10 years to change her view on adoption. I wasn’t able to erase the guilt, or the same, or the condemnation she felt. I didn’t have that ability, and it wasn’t until after I lost her that I could. People say that all things happen for a reason. Maybe you had to experience that to be in a place that you can help save hundreds and hundreds of babies through your words, your thoughts, and your emotions.

Ron Reigns:
That would be nice. I hope so. I really do.

Kelly R.:
I promise you.

Ron Reigns:
I don’t want to have another man or woman facing this same kind of thing at such a young age, and thinking that that’s the only option, and then years later looking back and regretting. Or just going through this.

Kelly R.:
Right. And it takes, in my opinion, the bravest of the brave to be real, because men always want to act like nothing bothers them, like they’re fine, they’re indestructible, and that’s not the case, and I believe that when a woman is choosing, “Do I do an abortion? Do I do adoption?” In most circumstances, it’s not just her opinion. She consults with the birth father.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
And if we don’t address with that birth fathers are thinking and feeling, and we don’t let them know, “Hey, this may really bother you. This may come back to where you’re not okay years later.”

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
That you’re going to suffer these regrets, and all these emotions that you may not be prepared for, and they may hit you at a time in your life when you’re least expecting it. It could be at the birth of your next child. It could be when you’re holding your grandchild. It could be seeing a pregnant woman in the store, or it could be walking in Walmart and walking past the baby section. It could be any of those things.

Ron Reigns:
They could be a trigger, an emotional… Yeah.

Kelly R.:
Right. Again, I appreciate that you’ve been so open and honest about it, because again, for the birth fathers out there, and yes, a birth father is somebody who has conceived a child with a woman. There’s an actual conception.

Ron Reigns:
Right, kind of half the equation.

Kelly R.:
The baby doesn’t have to be born for it to still be a baby, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that they have feelings too. I mean, it’s not just up to the woman. It’s not just her choice.

Ron Reigns:
Well, and it’s interesting, because throughout my lifetime, that’s been the clarion call of the pro-choice side, is that it’s the woman’s choice. It’s the woman’s choice. And we get that drilled in so often that I think maybe to a small degree… I’m not trying to put blame on anything or anybody else than me for the choices I’ve made in my life, but perhaps that’s why I went along with it at the time and said, “Well, it’s her choice. I really don’t have a say in this, so I’m going to support her.”

Ron Reigns:
Because you hear it on TV, it’s only the woman has the right to choose, and it’s like there were two people involved in the conception, the procreation, whatever you want to call it of the child, and there are two people, three people who will be affected long term sometimes.

Kelly R.:
You said something really powerful. You said that you felt that it was her right to choose. How has that thought process changed? Because that’s really, really powerful.

Ron Reigns:
I have my own very strong beliefs on abortion from partially my past, things I’ve seen, and I honestly don’t think it’s anyone’s right to choose that, in a way. Whether government is involved or not, that’s… I’m not going to get into the political side of this, but I honestly think it’s… Even if it’s a right to choose, it’s a poor choice. I don’t know how to put that without… I don’t want to offend anybody who has done this in the past like I have, or any… I feel like it’s a life lost that didn’t need to be. Unnecessary.

Kelly R.:
Okay.

Ron Reigns:
And in a lot of cases, most, due to a feeling of expediency.

Kelly R.:
When did you, though, as a dad, decide that it was no longer solely the woman’s right to choose? Because I do agree with you. I do agree.

Ron Reigns:
Right. I think as I watched my son grow and realized that he didn’t have an older brother or sister with him. I don’t know. I can’t really pinpoint it, but that’s kind of… I just saw my son grow, and I’m so proud of him.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, he’s amazing. So, as a woman, I have not had an abortion. Again, I was born eight days before Roe v. Wade became legal. My mother was pregnant, became pregnant when she was 15, and I was told by her over and over again she didn’t know until the three weeks before I was born, as when she found out at the doctor. I’m sure she suspected. I don’t know how you couldn’t suspect.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
I do believe there’s a very real possibility that I myself wouldn’t be here had that been an option, and I’m not sure if my birth father would have been consulted, or if he would have had a say in it. As a birth father, what do you think… What’s the best advice that you would give to a man and a woman, the woman’s wanting to do an abortion, and that’s what she is thinking is the best for their situation, what would you say to him?

Ron Reigns:
First of all, I would hope he would be more mature than I was at the time, honestly, but how do you do anything about that? But I would want him and the birth mother to look at the options, look at the choices they’re making, and see not only what they’re doing to the baby’s life, but also what are going to be the long-term effects on them as people? As a couple, or as individuals, however you want to look at it, but where are they going to be when they’re 50? Are they going to look back with regrets because they chose adoption, chose to raise the child, or chose to terminate it? Because I think if presented with the facts in a realistic way, I think that me and my first wife would have made a different choice.

Kelly R.:
Do you think that, and again, this is very personal, so thank you so much for sharing this.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah.

Kelly R.:
Do you think that that impacted your relationship?

Ron Reigns:
I think it did. I think we probably… I mean, I definitely wouldn’t say that that was the reason that we didn’t stay married. Who knows? Maybe deep down… I think we lost a little respect for each other, and maybe… For sure, even ourselves. So yeah. It affects our relationship. You realize how easily you terminated a life, and it doesn’t feel good. We all want to respect ourselves. We all want to look at ourselves as the good guy, or at least not the bad guy, and it’s hard to do that after you make a choice like this.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely. I think that one of the purposes of these podcasts are educating men, and women, and society in general, that birth fathers are important. That they do matter. And the focus is very much placed on the woman’s right to choose, the woman’s right to choose, and I do agree that the birth father will carry as much emotionally, obviously not physically, but emotionally, mentally, the weight of the decision, as much as the birth mother. Because it takes two to make a baby, and that being said, the ramifications affect both.

Ron Reigns:
And I think, again, earlier I talked about how it’s been drilled into our heads that it’s the mother’s choice, it’s the mother’s choice, and I certainly don’t want to come across as saying, “No, it’s not the mother’s choice. It’s the father.” No. It’s two people who kind of made their bed.

Kelly R.:
It’s their choice.

Ron Reigns:
It’s their choice. Whether as a couple, or as individuals who had had a one-night stand, or whatever it is, I think just as the birth mother deserves the respect to make this choice, so does the birth father.

Kelly R.:
Right, and we don’t ever hear on the news, on society, it’s the father’s right to choose. We don’t ever hear those words.

Ron Reigns:
Right. As well we shouldn’t. We should be offended if they say, “No, it’s the father’s right to choose.” Just as I think we should be a little bit offended that it’s just the birth mother’s right to choose.

Kelly R.:
Right, and I do agree with that. You see it’s her uterus, and it’s her this, but it’s their baby.

Ron Reigns:
Right, and it’s their emotional well-being, possibly for the rest of their lives.

Kelly R.:
Sure. Sure. I really hope that if there are listeners out there that are facing an unexpected pregnancy, an unplanned pregnancy, or maybe have found themselves in a position where they cannot parent, I really hope that adoption is placed on the forefront, and really looked at, and that is what these podcasts are geared to do, is to really provide information that you may not find elsewhere.

Kelly R.:
Birth fathers matter. That needs to be on the forefront, I think, of a lot of people’s minds, because the attention given to birth fathers with regards to abortion is almost nil.

Ron Reigns:
What do you think of society putting it solely upon the birth mother? Do you think it would be better from a social worker standpoint to have two people to making a decision? Because maybe you make a little wiser decision with another person involved, and you can stand firmer with the choices you’ve made, as opposed to one person going, “I hope this is right.” I don’t know, I’m just curious.

Kelly R.:
100%, because in adoption, both people have to consent. A birth father has to be served, but he has 30 days to go to the court. In the state of Arizona, he has 30 days to go to court and file paperwork to contest the adoption.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
So, it does take two people. With an abortion, you don’t have to have the consent of the birth father.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
So, in the state of Arizona, you do have to have parental consent if you’re under the age of 18 to obtain an abortion. However, you do not have to have the consent of the biological father of the baby.

Ron Reigns:
The biological father is completely cut out of the equation.

Kelly R.:
Correct, because again, the focus is on the woman’s right to choose. Whereas as a society, those that want to promote life absolutely believe in the unity in the decision, which is why adoption provides that.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
And parenting, so choosing to parent, or choosing to place a baby for adoption, requires both parties.

Ron Reigns:
And it should.

Kelly R.:
And it should.

Ron Reigns:
In all three cases it should.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely. One study that I read suggests that 33% of women who have had an abortion develop an intense longing to become pregnant again, to “make up” for the lost pregnancy. 18% of these women succeed within a year of their abortion. My biological mother had me. She didn’t have an abortion. They weren’t legal. But she did go on to have my brother almost immediately, so I… She was 16 and four months, four and a half months, years old when she had me. And then had my biological brother on her 18th birthday, so she did the same thing in essence.

Ron Reigns:
Just a year and a half later.

Kelly R.:
Well, she had him, so she got pregnant again within nine months of having me, so she would fall… Even though it was an adoption.

Ron Reigns:
And not an abortion.

Kelly R.:
She fell into that category as well. Was that the circumstance that you experienced after you had yours?

Ron Reigns:
Honestly, no it wasn’t. It was a few years later. It wasn’t like… Trying to think how old I was. It was about two years later, so it was fairly soon, but not… And at that point, we were ready to get married, or so we thought, and ready to raise a child. Yeah. It wasn’t immediate, but it wasn’t that long, either. Sorry. I’m very distracted today.

Kelly R.:
No, you’re doing fine. You’re fine. I also believe that women that do experience aftermath of having an abortion may not always attribute triggers or factors that may come into play later on to the fact that they had an abortion. And they may not think, “Oh, wow. That is a trigger because of this, or that is a trigger.” You’ve talked about your son not having a sibling.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
And that being the case, do you think that before you really came to terms of your experience, that there may have been triggers with that?

Ron Reigns:
You know, I hadn’t really thought of it that way. There’s one incident in particular, and I rarely cry for movies. They’re movies, you know. And there was one movie, it was when… I had watched it when my son was very small. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s called My Life. It’s got Michael Keaton in it, and Nicole Kidman, I believe. It’s been a long time since I saw it.

Kelly R.:
I believe I have seen it. I don’t remember it specifically, but I do believe I have seen it.

Ron Reigns:
All right, well, the premise of the movie is Michael Keaton finds out he’s got cancer, and his wife is pregnant, and then, so he’s making this video tape for his son to know who his father was when he’s born. At the very end, the little boy is watching the TV, and he touches the TV and says, “I love you daddy.” Or something that just set me off, and thankfully I was alone in the apartment at the time, and I’m watching this alone, bawling, just uncontrollably, sobbing. Like you say, the ugly cry. Because of this movie, and I always thought because I had developed this appreciation for how I feel towards my son, how much I loved my son as a little baby, and still do, but who knows? Maybe deep down it was a sense of the loss I had because of a choice I made.

Ron Reigns:
And I never really put that together, but that’s definitely a possibility.

Kelly R.:
I can see the connection. I can see how absolutely that would be a trigger, and-

Ron Reigns:
And I don’t think I’ve seen the movie… It wasn’t a great movie, but boy that was effective. It was a good movie.

Kelly R.:
Because in your mind, was that little boy the boy that’s not here?

Ron Reigns:
Possibly.

Kelly R.:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Possibly, or for years, I just thought of it as me thinking about John, and how much I loved him, but who knows? Maybe it was how much I could have loved a brother or sister of John’s.

Kelly R.:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
That doesn’t even get a name.

Lacy:
My name is Lacy, and I placed my daughter, Jada, two months ago. I chose adoption because I didn’t feel it was fair to her to go the route where you terminate a pregnancy, because it really had nothing to do with her. I was the responsible party, and I needed to make a decision accordingly, so because the father left when I was three-months pregnant, and I already had two daughters, I knew that was the only option really for her to have a better life, and I knew that there was a lot of beautiful families out there who can’t have kids, or for whatever reason they don’t go through that process, so I felt that it was the best thing for her, is to give her everything I could never give her, so that’s why I placed her.

Lacy:
I chose Building Arizona Families because I was in a situation where I was going to be kicked out of my house, and I was going to have nowhere to go, be five-months pregnant, and they got me in, they got me taken care of. They basically saved my life and they saved my baby’s life, because I would have been homeless on the street. They were amazing. I got in here and they took care of me, and were there with me through the whole journey, so it was a good choice. I didn’t think I was strong enough to do it, and I did it, and I’m in a really good place now. Even though it’s only been two months, I’m in a very good place, and I have a really good adoptive family who are beautiful to me, and so it can turn out good for everyone involved.

Lacy:
Building Arizona Families was… They were just supportive through the whole process. My case manager, Blaine, was beautiful. I love her, and she was there no matter what I needed. Like I said, all my needs were taken care of. I’m really glad I chose this place, and the people here are wonderful, and they support you the whole way.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and edited by me, Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, The Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. You can check out our blogs on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com, and you can call us 24 hours a day with questions or comments about the podcast or adoption in general at 623-695-4112. That’s 623-695-4112. Make sure to join us next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption.

Ron Reigns:
For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.