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.

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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.

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

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

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

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the executive director, president and co-founder of Building Arizona Family’s 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

So today’s podcast, we’re talking about when another adopted sibling joins the family, when a family decides to pursue a second adoption. One of my favorite quotes is by somebody who’s unknown that says, “Not by blood, but bonded to each other just the same.” What was found in a study that was published in 1979 is that sibling relationships are among the most significant and by potentially important bonds that individuals have in the course of their lifetime. I find this absolutely fascinating because it’s not just reflective of an adoptive household. I think it is reflective of any household where there’s siblings.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And these next two podcasts, we’re going to talk about siblings, and traditional biological household, a blended family household, a foster family household. There’s lots of different families that can experience the same joys, the same issues, and have a lot of the same outcomes. So I think this is a really interesting topic that there’s not a lot of research done. And you think that there would be, especially with regards to adoption. If you look up adoption and siblings and research studies, there’s really just not a lot out there. So that’s definitely a point where, as an adoption community, we really need to focus on.

Ron Reigns:

And I found that very interesting because as I was reading the materials that you kind of prepared for this episode, it really brought me back to my childhood and my relationship with my brother and my two sisters. And it was fascinating because family dynamics can diverge so vastly. I look at my wife’s family, and I think how their relationships went from one thing to another, and then changed again. And my family is completely different as far as… And so, yeah, I would be very interested in deeper studies of family relationships, not just as children, but as they grow up into adulthood and become old farts like me. And yeah, it was very fascinating. So thank you for providing all this information.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

One of the reasons I find this so fascinating is I grew up adopted. And my brother was adopted five years after I was. And so I grew up in an adoptive family with an adopted sibling. And when I talk about this, the question I get is usually, “Well, what was it like?” Well, I don’t have a reference point to compare it to. So in my mind, it’s the same as everybody else. We weren’t raised, to my knowledge, any differently than if we had been biological siblings. We fought pretty much all of our childhood years, and now we’re great. I love seeing him. I love his children. I love his future wife. We’re great. And so in reading studies of siblings, I don’t see any difference between us than had we been biological.

Ron Reigns:

Right. And because as you grew up, that is all you knew. That was your “lived reality.” And the parents presumably wouldn’t treat you any differently than they would their own biological children. Hopefully. I mean, obviously there’s exceptions to any rule. But I would think that, yeah, it’s the exact same as far as how you’re raised and how you grow up, and your relationship with a brother, sister, or whatever.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What’s so interesting about that is, and you just brought up that point, is that they wouldn’t bring you up any different. Well, they didn’t have a reference point either because they didn’t have any biological children. So our normal was their normal. And that’s what a lot of people who are not in the adoption triad, they don’t understand, is that when you don’t have other biological children and you’re an adoptive parent and you are raising two adopted children, people may say, “Are you raising them as if they were your own?” Well, there’s no point of normal or frame of reference. This is their normal. So to say that is almost offensive, if you will. It’s almost as if this is outside the box.

Ron Reigns:

Right. And I guess, from an outsider’s perspective, maybe it’s just curiosity at a different situation than they’re used to. But I wouldn’t even fathom to ask somebody that. Because I would just assume that it’s normal, the same as any other family. Whether it’s blended, or biological, or adopted, or foster, or whatever, I would think it would be just kind of the same.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that’s really what we, as an adoption community, and you and I with our podcast, we’re really trying to do. We’re really trying to make all of this normal, and just family. And trying to break down those walls and barriers. And as a child growing up, I would go to friends’ houses that were not part of the adoption triad. And I would see their brothers and sisters, and their interactions, and I’d watch it on TV. And it was all the same. It wasn’t any different than mine was. We fought and we got along just like everybody else.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But I agree with you. I think that every household has their own norms. What they will accept, what they won’t accept. It was just my brother and I. So we had a lot of attention and a lot of the focus was on us. Whereas if you have a larger family, like I do, and we have a non-traditional family, being that we have a blended family, you are not able to focus on one child to the extent that you can if you only have two. When you have six in the house, time just doesn’t allow for it.

Ron Reigns:

Well, that makes sense. And I think something that would contribute more to a different upraising than adoption or biological would be just the dynamics. We’ve talked about age range and separation between the children, as far as ages, birth order, all those things. I think they come into play more so than adopted or not adopted.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I actually agree with you 100%. I will say having a blended family and disrupting the birth order definitely did shift some things for some of our kids. And really only two of them were shifted out of their order. And so everybody else was able to maintain the same. So it was a pretty, I don’t want to say seamless, because it wasn’t seamless. There’s always going to be hiccups and walls and issues to address when you have six children, and everybody is under the same roof.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But you learn so much, I think, as a member of a large family that I didn’t learn as a member of a smaller family. So with eight in house, we have nine total. I mean of us. I would say we have seven children, but one of them is on her own. But being a part of a family of nine, you do, you learn a lot because I think it pushes you to grow in areas that maybe you wouldn’t have grown. In other words, I’ve read studies where they say that larger families do teach children to share more and to compromise. And I didn’t have these things really growing up so I don’t share well. I don’t. I do compromise well, but I don’t share well. And so that’s just one attribute. And how many were in your family growing up?

Ron Reigns:

There were four of us. So we’re kind of right in the middle of that. And now when it comes to sharing, it’s interesting that you bring that up. Because I feel like I share very well, except when it comes to food. I’m not good at sharing food. That’s the worst because somebody sticks their hand in my french fries, I get territorial. Because we didn’t have a lot of food growing up. My mom couldn’t afford it. So you kind of held on, but as far as toys and stuff, I have no problem with that. I love sharing things now, and giving people things that are mine, that I’m like, “You know what? I think you’ll get better use out of it.” But food, that’s a different story.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s funny you say that. Because I actually have the same issue. Because I look at it like this. So if I have a hamburger and one child wants a bite, all other five in the house are going to come and want a bite. Then there’s no more hamburger.

Ron Reigns:

That’s exactly true.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. And even when I was dating Lisa, for instance, when we would go out and she would start eating my fries, I mean, we’re dating, I’m trying to be on my best behavior. But in the back of my head, I’m going, why didn’t you order fries. If you wanted them so bad.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s really funny.

Ron Reigns:

So a little honesty is coming out here.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I’ve also heard about Lisa, about your wife, Adam has shared this with me, and you know that they’re brother and sister, that Lisa will wait until there is one bite left, and then ask for it.

Ron Reigns:

Yep.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

True.

Ron Reigns:

She did that to me just the other day. She still does that.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And she’s one of six.

Ron Reigns:

Exactly. According to an article titled Sibling Issues in Foster Care and Adoption by Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Sibling relationships are emotionally powerful and critically important, not only in childhood, but over the course of a lifetime. As children, siblings form a child’s first peer group. And they typical spend more time with each other than with anyone else. Children learn social skills, particularly in sharing and managing conflict from negotiating with brothers and sisters. Sibling relationships can provide a significant source of continuity throughout a child’s lifetime and are likely to be the longest relationships that most people experience.

Ron Reigns:

The nature and importance of sibling relationships vary for individuals depending on their own circumstances and developmental stage. Typically there is rivalry in preschool years, variability in closeness during middle childhood, depending on the level of warmth in the relationship, and less sibling closeness in adolescents when teens are focused on peers. An extensive body of research addresses issues of birth order, gender, age spacing, and other influences on sibling relationships. Research has demonstrated that warmth in sibling relationships is associated with less loneliness, fewer behavior problems, and higher self-worth.

Ron Reigns:

Marjut Kosonen studied the emotional support and help that siblings provide and found that when they needed help, children would first seek out their mothers, but then turn to older siblings for support even before they would go to their fathers. She also found that for isolated children, as in the case for many children in foster care, sibling support is especially crucial. For these children, an older sibling was often their only perceived so of help.”

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So what I think is so important about this article is it really emphasizes the importance of siblings. So families that have one child and are looking at adopting a second child, I’m a big proponent of multiple children. It’s not for everybody. I understand that some parents have a child and they feel this is what they can handle. And this is what’s right. And they should stick to what is right for their family.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That being said, I just personally have seen, it’s like puppies, for instance. When puppies are nipping at each other and they’re litter mates, the other puppy will yip really loud. And that signals to the puppy that’s biting, to stop. Too hard. Siblings kind of do the same thing. Remember those old games? It wasn’t ping pong ball. It was those where you’d pull the lever on the machine, and then the ball would do this. What is that called?

Ron Reigns:

Pinball?

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Pinball. And you know how it just kind of keeps you in the center of the game, right? Down the middle? Kind of what siblings do. I mean, I will watch my girls, and one of them will come out in something, in a skirt. And then the other sister will say, “That’s short. Too short.” And then they’ll kind of argue back and forth. And then most of the time, without me even saying anything, my daughter will walk back in the room and change it. So it’s kind of that pinball machine to where it kind of keeps everybody in check, if you will. Or another example would be when my youngest son decides to exert himself and gets a little mouthy. Before anybody can have a chance to say anything, one of the kids is chiming in at him to stop being disrespectful.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so it is that pinball approach. And so I think that it is very healthy. And I would love to see more studies on just relationships in between siblings. I know that there are some out there, but not to the extent. We’re so focused as an adoption community on nature versus nurture and what that really looks like. But yet the siblings would give us that platform if we really studied more about siblings to really dive deeper into nature versus nurture and so forth. So that would be fascinating to me.

Ron Reigns:

I agree 1,000%. And like I said before, as I was going through the information on here, it really did bring me back and remind me of how important my relationship with my brother and my two sisters was, because I was the youngest, so in my own becoming who I am and getting those boundaries. My mom gave me certain parental boundaries, but my siblings showed me those boundaries from the point of view of somebody that was much closer in age to me. So I could look up to my oldest sister, and go, oh, she did it that way. And I kind of followed suit. Or my brother and go, I want to be like my brother, and I would follow suit. And really it’s amazing how much it made me think how these family dynamics were important to me growing up personally.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And you grew up with a disability. How did your siblings influence either positively or negatively that aspect of your life?

Ron Reigns:

I think that they were rallied around me a little bit because of it. And they supported me knowing that, okay, he’s got this thing that he can’t really change or do anything about, and kind of hinders what he’s able to do. And I think that they kind of took me under their wing. You know what I mean? And so it was helpful because otherwise I would’ve felt like just an outcast and I’m different from everybody. But even being different, they were supportive of me. And then I think even when I started developing relationships in my own sphere of other peers, you know what I mean, I would look for people that would support me. I mean, we would all kind of tease each other and joke around about things, just like my family would. But I always knew there was support. And I looked for that in friends, and then eventually in relationships.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They set the bar.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, they really did. I mean it makes me really want to call all my family members and say, “Hey, thanks just for being you and just the relationships we had growing up.” Because much like you-

Ron Reigns:

… and your brother, we fought, we loved, we had a great time. And we had some hard times and some knock down drag outs, but it was all a blessing to me.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. And they know you better than anybody in the world. And I think that those relationships are so important. When I was able to reunite with my biological mom, I met my two brothers and I have, I believe, an amazing relationship with them. We didn’t grow up together, but the connection we have is still incredible. So yeah, I feel so blessed to have them in my life. So I completely understand absolutely what you’re saying.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In what you just read a couple minutes ago, you stated the research has demonstrated that warmth in sibling relationships is associated with less loneliness, fewer behavior problems, and higher self-worth. I really believe that statement to be true. I can’t tell you how many times my nine year old in the past two years would come home from school, and say so and so was picking on me on the bus, or somebody did this. And all the siblings were jumping up saying, “I got it.” “I got it.” “No, I got it.” And then his now 12 year old sister was like, “I already handled it.” So it’s neat to watch. And as a parent, there’s nothing in the world like turning around and seeing two of your children hugging each other during a hard moment, or supporting each other without you asking them to. So I think it’s really incredible. I agree.

Ron Reigns:

And to connect that actually with the question you had for me before about the disability, it brings to mind a particular story of when I was in high school, I was a sophomore, or maybe I was a freshman and my brother was a senior. So he was a couple years ahead. And one of my peers, one of my friends, had teased me about my eyes. And my brother saw this from down the corridor, or whatever you call it, from down the sidewalk basically. And when I had gone to my class, that kid walked around the corner to where my brother was waiting, and my brother put him against the wall and said, “You don’t mess with him.” And I found out about this, obviously later. I was just doing my thing. And it was heartwarming because it was like, wow, he really would stand up for me and just kind of put somebody in their place, and say, “Hey, that’s not acceptable.” And I thought that was pretty cool. But yeah, same thing.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s amazing. And it goes to say, nobody outside the family can touch one of your siblings except for the sibling in that family.

Ron Reigns:

That same brother would punch me in the arm and give me wedgies, and all that all day long. And that’s fine.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oh man. Yeah. No, I totally get it. So some common questions that we get asked by adoptive families are, when is the best time to begin a second adoption? When the time is right for you. Adoptions can take a while or they can happen very quickly. So really when is the best time for you. Regard the birth order, should a baby be adopted to maintain the birth order? That’s really what you believe. There are so many decisions when you are creating your family. I think birth order is one of those topics that everybody has a very strong opinion on. Should you stay within the birth order? Should you go outside the birth order? Does it really matter? And so to give an answer on that, I feel is really kind of touchy. My personal opinion is, if it was up to me, I think the birth order is established for a reason. I think that it really does help for continuity and the children. But yet, there are so many times I’ve seen where it’s worked out great.

Ron Reigns:

Well, even for instance, your family. Like you said, the blended family, the Brady Bunch kind of approach to parenting. Obviously that is subverted. That birth order gets all changed up because of this whole new family coming in. And it’s worked out great for you guys.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. Oh, but not without our hiccups and issues. You know what I mean? It would be naive to think going into building our blended family, that it was going to be all roses and rainbows. And no, that’s not reality. But the changing of the birth order did not have a negative effect in our household. The children did acclimate. They have done very well with it. And again, only two of them were really butted out of their-

Ron Reigns:

Right. Displaced from their position.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And so it wasn’t significant. There wasn’t a whole lot of change up. So that was helpful. Should I adopt the same race as my first baby? I do get asked this question a lot. And again, that’s not for me to decide. In the adoption world, some families are colorblind and it doesn’t matter to them. Other families want to appear as if there was no adoption. They want the children to look like them. They don’t want to answer questions. They don’t take on the Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt approach. I think all families are beautiful. And I think that you have to choose what’s ever right for you. And again, there are so many stances on this that you really have to go with the research that you have read and done on your own and what you believe in.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What if the birth parents of my adopted child experience a second unplanned pregnancy and choose adoption? Well in our agency, and I can just speak for Building Arizona Families, we always ask the birth mother if she would like to have the same family if she chooses to do a second adoption. And this is something that we do encourage. I love to keep siblings together. I think that’s ideal. But not every birth mother will choose that. So when families say, “Should I wait and see if she gets pregnant again,” well, I mean, you’ve got a chance that it might happen, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s going to choose you. So it really depends what I’ve seen on the relationship that is built after the first adoption. If there’s a really close relationship and the post-adoption communication agreement has been followed, and everybody is having a good time, then usually they will choose the adoptive family. But when it doesn’t go as well, they don’t.

Ron Reigns:

Now, it also would depend upon the adoptive family. Maybe they just don’t want another child. You know what I mean? Does that happen often?

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Sometimes. So we’ve had birth mothers where they’ve come to the agency three times. And yes, we do very much teach and preach birth control, but they’ve come three times. And at the third placement, the family said, “We can’t do anymore. This is our limit.” And I totally understand that. And I do see, for them, it will be very difficult if the birth mother comes back to the agency pregnant again. Because obviously we’ll reach out and let them know if she wants to have them adopt this baby as well. But to know that there’s another child out there that somebody else is then going to adopt.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What I have seen people do is have a communication agreement informally between the two adoptive families so that the siblings can still maintain some contact. I have seen that. It’s nothing that’s really formal. It’s informal. But that is nice, especially for the children. So yes, we have had families that have said, “You know what? I just can’t. I just can’t.” And that happens.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Should I choose a gender this time? We actually don’t do gender preferences. When you are having your own biological child, there aren’t really special requests. And so we, as an agency, have done away with the gender requests.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What if I prepare my child for this baby and the birth parents change their mind about placing the baby for adoption? This is a hard one. What I would would say is when you are discussing adopting a second child or a third child, or whatever number this is, with your child or children really be mindful of their age, and give them information as they ask. Let them know what’s happening. And don’t give definitives. Well, this is going to happen in December. Well, this is going to happen this. What you can say is, is that if you have a child under the age of five, is we’re looking to adopt again, and we’re really excited about this happening, and we’ll have to wait and see. And as it gets closer, you can inform a little bit.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But you definitely don’t want to get a child’s hopes up. When you have children that are maybe between the age of five and 10 to start preparing them for a sibling, but maybe not let them know just yet when that sibling may come home. Because you may not know. Again, as they get older, telling them as they need to know. And definitely enough time to prepare, but not too much where they get anxious and they’re counting off days with you and hours. And that can be overwhelming.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. Okay. And expectations can be just shut down and it breaks the heart of the child just as much as the parents. So if you don’t raise and elevate those expectations too high, it’ll help cushion that blow.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Exactly. What if the birth parents want a different type of post-adoption communication agreement? So this situation usually comes if a family is adopting from a different birth mother. So if they have an post-adoption communication agreement with one set of birth parents and a different one, again, you just explain to the children. This is what was right for your birth mother, and this is how she wanted it to go. And this was right for your birth mother, and this is how she wanted it to go. And then as they get older, you can take it a step further, and maybe explain why. Maybe your mom wasn’t in a place where she had a consistent telephone or computer, and she wasn’t able to keep up the contact. Or maybe your mom… You know what I mean? So there’s reasons why. But again, explaining it when they’re very young is just confusing. And so trying to give them age appropriate answers is what to focus on.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

After I bring my second baby home, how do I answer the question are they siblings? Yes. So we, as a society, have taken a lot of liberties in what we say and ask people that we don’t know. And people that we kind of know, that we’re acquaintances with. And I would love for that to stop because I think that it is very inappropriate and almost hurtful when I have a family call me, and they’re standing in line at Walmart, and they may have children they have adopted. They’re different races. And somebody will turn around and ask if they’re babysitting or if they’re a foster home. And it’s offensive. So when people ask if they’re siblings, of course, they’re siblings. You’ve adopted two children. I would say that’s all you need to answer. It doesn’t matter if they have the same biological mom or not. If you are raising them as siblings, then just leave it there.

Ron Reigns:

Now, do you think that’s getting better as time… I mean, because when you look at the Angelina Jolies and Brad Pitts and all that, and the families that they’ve created, I think that shines a light on it. And I think people are less apt nowadays to ask something that could be hurtful or offensive like that just because it is becoming a little more normal to see families that are so diverse.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think in some areas, yes. I do think that Angelina Jolie has done wonders for the adoption world. I really do. I do think in some areas, yes. But I think as a whole, even outside of adoption, I think that people go into areas of questioning that are how highly inappropriate, and frankly, none of their business.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Another question I get asked is how many babies are enough? Our birth parents keep coming back pregnant, but I don’t want to adopt our child’s siblings. And we talked about that a couple minutes ago. Really that’s up to you, and you’re not under an obligation because keep getting pregnant and having babies to keep adopting them. You don’t want to end up being the little old woman that lived in a shoe. Had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. I get it. So that is absolutely your choice.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When a child does have a different adoption story, maybe theirs is unique. And I think actually every child’s adoption story is unique. They’re like snowflakes. I know we’ve talked about birth mothers as snowflakes in the past. And I think that it’s important to celebrate the differences, understanding that children really don’t want to be looked at as different. They want to be same as everybody else. When I was a child, people would come up to me and say, “Oh, you’re so lucky you got adopted.”

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well first of all, I didn’t really want them coming up to me and telling me that I was adopted. And second of all, telling me that I was lucky, I had no frame of reference what it would’ve been like to be unlucky. So what they were saying was more for them than it was for me because all they did was single me out. It wasn’t like I had an aha moment or the ball dropped, and I was like, wow, I’m lucky. It wasn’t like that. Children really want to be birds of a feather flock together. They really want to be birds of a feather. They don’t want to be the ostrich in the group of cardinals. And so they want to be the same.

Ron Reigns:

Well, I was just wondering, if the wording was different. For instance, if somebody came up to you and was talking to you about it and said, “I think that’s cool,” as opposed to, “I think you’re so lucky.” Do you think that would’ve changed your perception of what they were saying? No?

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No. No.

Ron Reigns:

Even when you just say, I think that’s cool. No, kind of keeping it casual. It still singles you out as different.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And only speaking for myself and the children that I’ve worked with, no, they don’t want to be singled out. It would be no different than somebody coming up to you, you wanted to be as normal as everybody else. You wanted to be looked at as the same, right?

Ron Reigns:

Right.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So if somebody was to come up and say, “It’s so cool that you can see so many shades of gray,” would you be like, okay, that’s kind of cool. Or would you be like, yeah.

Ron Reigns:

Now, if they had said that, that would definitely make me feel singled out. But if they said, “I think it’s cool how, despite your eyesight issues, you are still able to do something that a lot of people wouldn’t.” Because I would see it as a compliment. I would. You know what? Then that’s a personal thing. Maybe that’s why I asked you the question. But I would see that as oh, okay, they’re noticing that, okay, yeah, I’m different, but I’m able to achieve some degree of normalcy through how I conduct myself.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I just wanted to be normal like everybody else.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. And again, I’ve tried to avoid people even knowing that I had eyesight problems as much as I could. So I guess I’m talking about a friend coming up that knew. But if somebody else, like a stranger, came up and said, “Oh, I can tell you’re legally blind, and I think it’s cool that you…” Yeah. So I guess that would single me out in a different way and make me feel not normal.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

To put it out there, I’m not comparing being adopted with having a disability. I’m just saying that anything and everything that singles a child out from the pack of normalcy per se, anything that’s a deviation from the traditional standard, I guess, crowd, if you will, is often perceived as not the same. And kids want to be the same.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. Yeah. That’s totally fair. And when I kind of put it in my own mind as a perspective from a stranger, as opposed to somebody who knows me better. In my head I put in a certain friend that would talk to me about it and it never offended me because that person knew me in a closer relationship. But somebody from outside of that, that didn’t know anything about me, yeah, I would feel like singled out and de-normalized.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I can tell you that even as a young adult, I had just had my oldest daughter. So I was in my early, early 20s. And I was on a jog with a family member. I don’t want to say who. But with a family member. And she said to me, “It’s so hard to believe that you’re adopted.” I remember I stopped jogging and I looked at her, and I asked why. And she said, “Because you’re so much like us.” And so immediately it was like I was being pushed into a different category. And I was like them, but it was a reminder that biologically I wasn’t. And so it was, yeah, that was hard. And that was long time ago, decades ago. And I remember it like it was yesterday. So that would be another example of, yeah… She didn’t mean it in a bad way, mind you. She didn’t mean it at all.

Ron Reigns:

Right. Oh, absolutely. I’m sure she meant no malice whatsoever. But that’s exactly how you would feel, like I’m not good enough to be part of you.

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Exactly.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. There’s some really interesting points made by an article titled Preparing Children for the Adoption of a Sibling: Recommendations for Families Considering Intercountry Adoptions by Laura Beauvais-Godwin. The article’s very relatable for domestic adoptions because it describes the preparation for the addition of another sibling. One of the recommendations made is to share with your children of all ages, that you are considering adoption. “Once that discussion becomes serious, and you begin to talk on the phone or schedule meeting with an adoption agency. It’s also important to know how your children feel about having another brother or sister. However, it should be clear that they are not part of the ultimate decision to adopt. Adoption is an adult decision. You should talk frequently about the adoption to come, discuss what it will be like to bring a new child into your home. Make a list of some of the good things about having another brother or sister and another list of some of the challenges to expect.”

Ron Reigns:

And finally, “Every adopted child has a history before arriving in the family’s home. Certain details may not be appropriate to share. So if you feel that some information is too sensitive and your other children might repeat it to others, for instance, you may choose not to disclose it to them. Every child has a right to their own history. And if, when, and how it’s fully shared with others.”

 Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

This article was very, I think, relatable for those that are adopting and for those that have a non-traditional family. Almost like a Modern Family. I know there was that show. I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard lots about it. We began with a quote so I wanted to end with a quote. And this is a Vietnamese proverb, “Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.”

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112. That’s (623) 695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information.

Ron Reigns:

You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

Today we’re going to talk about the pressure of not adopting, and that may sound like a funny topic that we’re going to go into, but I want to use this time and this podcast to let people know that it’s okay to not pursue parenthood. And all through life, many times people are peer pressured for different reasons in their lives, and the different types of pressure will change with age group. For example, when you’re in high school there may be pressure to get good grades, go to college, maybe even experiment with drugs. When you’re in your twenties the pressures change to getting a job with benefits. I know that was my mom’s biggest thing is do they have benefits? Do they have health benefits? Do they have dental benefits? It was a big deal back then to get a job that had benefits with it. Do you remember those days?

Ron Reigns:

No, my mom was just happy I got a job, so there was that. So, “Hey, Wendy’s, all right.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So, other pressures that you might have experienced in your twenties is getting married, starting a family, which people usually associate with having children. The pressures in your twenties may further be pressed upon you into your thirties, and then start to dwindle in your thirties, in your forties. I’m sorry, in your forties. The pressure categories change, and you may be a steady or stable career and so the pressures then become advancement in that career. And, are you going to get your PhD? Are you going to continue your education even further? And all along you want to be saving for retirement and the whole time you’re an adult, you’re worrying about your kids’ college education. You may not have even finished paying for yours and you’re setting aside money to pay for your child’s.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So all this time there’s these new pressures that are being pushed upon you. And as you head into your fifties, your friends, your loved ones, start becoming empty-nesters. And they’re looking at that and they’re being faced with not having their children at home anymore. And so then it switches to are you going to start settling down? Are you going to start traveling? When are you going to retire? And so all through life we hit these milestones of when you should be doing something, just to keep up with the Jones. Have you experienced this Rom?

Ron Reigns:

Well, right now I am actually. Yeah, of course I’ve experienced pressures and stuff throughout my life and peer pressure and all the other, “Okay, everybody’s doing this, so you should be doing this too.” But now I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I’m the one, I’m trying not to, but I’m actually causing the pressure on my son. Like “Hmm, A lot of my friends are grandparents now.” So now the shoes on the other foot, and I kind of feel guilty about it because it’s a bummer being in the other side of it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Sure. So I have the same experience with my oldest daughter, is 24. And I tease her as well and say “When am I going to be a grandma? Because I don’t want to have any more children at this time in my life, but I’d like you to.”

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I’ve been same thing. And she says that, no, she’s not going to do that. And she picks up her dog and says, “That’s the best you’re going to get mom.” And so, obviously I support her decisions. But I do know what you mean, it’s very hard to not fall into that rhythm of, “Oh, you’re this age, this is what comes next.”

Ron Reigns:

Right. And, “I’m this age and this is what I deserve.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And what’s so funny is I was one of those very old school mind of thought thinking people that my parents never said to me, “Which, are you going to go to college?” It was always, “Which college are you going to one to go to?” So it was never an option. And looking at that now, I think it was good because I did go to college and I took that and that went. Again, I think it puts you in a mindset that prepares you to look at the next generation and say, “Yes, when am I going to be a grandparent? When is this going to happen or when is that going to happen?”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I think with our generation, things have started to do a shift because looking at where my high school classmates are in their lives, a lot of them never got married, a lot of them never had any children. And so it’s, I think that we’re starting to kind of deviate from what we have at one point considered the norm. The goal of this podcast is really just to kind of look at what society’s doing in terms of parenting. What are the reasons that people choose not to parent and how does society look at that? And when adoption comes into play, it shouldn’t just be looked at as what some may consider a default, “Oh, if you have fertility problems, are you going to, you’re going to adopt them, right?” That’s the next, you know what I mean? That’s the next step.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I really thought that we could look at that today. So I believe that you shouldn’t be pressured into not having children or having children. My daughter would laugh if she heard me say this, because I joke with her all the time, as I’m sure your son would laugh at it too.

Ron Reigns:

Exactly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Being pressured into adopting, fertility treatments, or even biologically having children when that’s not really what your life goal is, I think is really unfair. And children are a lifetime commitment, that will change your life forever in many, many good ways. And in some not so fun ways too.

Ron Reigns:

There’s a couple.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There is a couple. Making that choice to be a parent is a wonderful gift, choice, opportunity, but it has to be one that you want. It has to be one that, I was somebody who wanted to be a mom from probably 10 years old. One of my daughters just turned 18 two days ago and she wants to be a mom. Not that she’s going to be a teen mom, she’s going to college and all that. But she talks about it all the time.

Ron Reigns:

Right. That’s kind of a future goal for her, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oh yeah, absolutely. So when somebody is trying to pressure somebody else into having a baby ,being told “When you see your baby, you’re going to fall in love with your baby. I felt the same way before I became a mom and I wound up loving it.” And then you hear the “Well, your biological clock is ticking. You know, it’s now or never. Like you don’t want to be the oldest parent at the soccer game. You know, if you’re going to do this, you need to jump on the train.” But my advice is don’t succumb to pressure. You, and if you’re married, your partner know what’s best for you and them. Working in the adoption field, I get asked constantly, “Have you adopted?” I get asked this, especially because we have seven children.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

As a result of a blended family. So when I say “No.” Their first question is “Why not?” And it’s almost like I can predict what they’re going to say to me. And I feel like I should just get a tee shirt and just point.

Ron Reigns:

Right? You’ve had the conversation enough where it’s going every time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So much that I can just go into the rat maze, you know what I mean? And just not even think about what I’m saying, I know exactly what the questions. For us, seven’s enough. Our oldest is 24, living on her own, and we still have the other six children in house. and I still get asked the question, “Well have you considered adopting?” And I usually answer with momentarily, when we see the babies of course they’re darling and beautiful, but our youngest is nine. And to reset the clock and start all over, we would be the oldest at the soccer game for that child. And not that that’s a bad thing but-

Ron Reigns:

No, but all your kids’ friends are going to say, “Oh, your grandma and grandpa are cool.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And actually, when I had my nine year old, they thought that my 24 year old was the mom and I oftentimes ha could tell that they were trying to figure out who was mom. And I would always Jump in and say, “Oh no, no, no, this is his sister. This is not mom.” But yeah. So I think that it’s enough. So it wasn’t that I ever made the decision not to adopt. I just never made the decision to adopt. And yes, I could have many, many times. I was never really for or against it for myself, but I’ve had four biological children. My husband has three biological children. Again, we blended them and we have four teenagers in high school right now. The thought that adding to our chaos is crazy.

Ron Reigns:

Right. And not to mention with your excessively busy work schedule, also doing this podcast takes time out of your life too. So yeah, a lot’s going on.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

A lot is going on. What about you guys? Did you and Lisa ever think about adopting?

Ron Reigns:

We had talked about it and it wasn’t, it just was never the right time, for instance. And especially early in our marriage, she was still of going to school. Then she ended up going to law school and so the schooling took a big chunk of time, not to mention both of us working. And then actually she had gotten pregnant and we had a miscarriage and I think we really both seriously thought about it at that time, but again, still just not right for timing. And then we just started thinking we’re getting a little old. It’s much the same as yours. It’s not that we were against it or for it one way or another necessarily. It just never was the right time or the right circumstances for us. But yeah, we had talked early on about it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Do you ever look back with regrets of not adopting?

Ron Reigns:

Maybe, but again, we were both ensconced in careers and we just didn’t know if we would, I mean, and then yeah, the miscarriage was really hard on both of us, especially her. But yeah, we both suffered from that and it just kind of, and she loves her dogs, I guess. So there’s that she treats them better than she treats me, which is good.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She dresses them in dog clothes and they’re beautiful.

Ron Reigns:

She spends more money on their wardrobe than on mine.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well, so she’s a great mommy.

Ron Reigns:

Right? Just not of children, just dogs, that’s all. But yeah, now it’s definitely too late. Do I regret not pursuing it a little closer? Maybe to some degree, sure. But not like, “Oh, I wish I could redo everything.” You just, I guess, move on and try not to look back with all the regret, I’ve got enough of them on my own.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Do you think the regret is more, what could Lisa and I have done together parenting? And having shared that experience or do you think it is maybe one of the common fears of, “Well, who’s going to take care of us when we’re older?” I mean, you have John, from your first marriage. But who’s going to, who are we going to leave all this to? Who are we going to pass torch to? Is it that, or?

Ron Reigns:

I think it’s more the first. Just the idea of what Lisa and I could have done as a co-parenting unit and being parents that are evenly yoked. You know what I mean? Whereas me and my former wife weren’t exactly on the same terms as far as how we wanted to raise John and he turned out wonderfully. I give her a lot of credit and try and take a little credit myself because he’s a fantastic kid, but it does make you wonder what we could have done with another child. And yeah, we miss a little of that too and then for John to have a little brother or sister on this side would’ve been kind of cool too.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. Well again, the offer is always extended, if you ever need to borrow a niece or nephew, we’re happy to send one or two or three, four, five, six, you can pick the gender, you can pick the age.

Ron Reigns:

I can take everybody out of your household all at once. And yeah, okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Absolutely. So it’s, and I would say that at this time, I don’t have any regrets not adopting. Will that change in the future? I don’t know. Right now, if I ever started to even consider adopting, then a child’s face is in mine asking me what’s for dinner or can I help with this school assignment. Or can they please go, not during the COVID time, but to a friend’s house or what have you. So I don’t even really have a moment to really sit and think about it.

Ron Reigns:

Give it that much thought.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I will say that when we’ve had babies before, as they’re waiting for their adoptive families to pick them up, there have been moments where I will look down at the baby and think “With one more, it’s a little one.”

Ron Reigns:

How hard could it be to have eight? Dick Van Patten could do it. That’s a reference that no one will get.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So it is one of those things that you always wonder. I do believe that not everybody was meant to be a parent. I think that some people have very high career goals and sometimes those goals will monopolize every moment of your time. And that won’t allow you to be the parent that you want to be and that your child deserves. And others may have dreams of exotic and frequent travel. Others may just want to focus on being married or single, having a clean house. That would be something.

Ron Reigns:

Do you remember that at all?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No. Or maybe they really don’t like kids. I’ve had friends that have confided in me, “I really don’t like children. I love my own. but I don’t anybody else’s.” And so they were able to find that with their child, but they really just didn’t like children.

Ron Reigns:

Because some people just don’t and some people aren’t natural parents.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s funny to me because I’m still a licensed and certified school counselor. And when my son was in kindergarten, my husband and I would go and volunteer on Halloween day. Because we wanted to help him get in his costume and then they’d do a little parade and handout candy. And my husband, like I said was the youngest of six, he’s used to being around tons and tons of kids. He coaches my son’s basketball team and so forth. And as we’re walking into the kindergarten room, he looks odd. He has this weird look on his face and he’s sweating. And when I asked him, I’m like, “What’s wrong?” And he’s like, “This gives me such anxiety.” And I’m looking at him and I said, “What is?” And he goes, “Look at all the kids.” They have snot running down their face, they’re everywhere. It was a kindergarten classroom with a party, it was chaotic.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And with me, I am so used to kids that doesn’t, I think my blood pressure probably dropped, you know what I mean? It was nothing.

Ron Reigns:

Like a natural state.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

He said it was just creating significant anxiety, having all of these children running around. I’m trying to help the teacher find the children’s costumes and then have them go to the restroom and change. And then so I’m jumping in and he’s looking like he should just be sitting in the chair rocking at this point because he’s very nervous and uncomfortable. And then I watch a child walk up and plant his shoe right on his lap and tell him to tie his shoe. And if you’ve met my husband you know that out of his mouth, he wants to say “That’s not the way that you would ask. You would say could you please tie my shoe?” but I’m looking over to him and I’m smiling like “Just tie his shoe.”

Ron Reigns:

Just do it and get it over with, come on.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

He’s tying the shoe and it was just funny to me that he’s so good with our kids and he is so good with kids in general, but that really creates anxiety within him being in a kindergarten classroom.

Ron Reigns:

I think that’s a big thing of it. It’s all a bunch of five and six year olds and it’s 30 of them or whatever, you know what I’m saying? That’s just a lot of kids, is what that is. And and all very young. And at that age where they’re not super hygenical and just… Yeah, I see his anxiety. I’ve been to Peter Piper Pizza when it’s been like that. And it’s just like, “Okay, I’ll sit in the corner. I’ll talk to somebody over here. And you guys do your thing. I won’t interrupt you, don’t interrupt me.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I have to say to tag onto that, my adoptive parents, I did a lot of McDonald’s birthday parties for my kids and Peter Piper as they were younger. And when you go into McDonald’s, you know how it’s kind of glassed in like the play place? My parents would always outside in the main section because it was so loud and they had just had adopted two children. And so it was really overwhelming to have kids running everywhere, whereas I’m just doling out Happy Meals and making sure everybody’s good.

Ron Reigns:

Everybody’s got three balloons and whatever it is. Right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so, anyway, I thought that was funny, but so it’s okay if you don’t like children, it’s not for everybody. Or you can be anxious in the middle of a room of 30 kindergartners and yet still have seven children of your own.

Ron Reigns:

And be amazing as a father, right. Or a mother. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So in talking with birth mothers who have gotten pregnant and decided that they’re going to place their child for adoption, some of their reasons are: this isn’t the right time in their life, they want to achieve stability in their life before they have a child. Some of them have confided in me: I never wanted to be a mom. I have a good mom growing up and I just, I just don’t know how to do it and I just don’t want to. Other moms have come in and said, “I would love to be a parent, but I know that I can’t do it. I know that I am too selfish.” And that sounds really, really bad, but it’s not, and they can own it and they can accept that. And they said, “I just, I want to go out at night. I want to go to parties. I want to have fun. I want to live my own life and I’m not ready to give that all up and, and become a mom that this child deserves.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I think that is such a selfless act. If that’s who you are inside, then embrace it. And don’t be ashamed of it and know that you’re still doing something amazing. And so that’s something that I hear from them. Sometimes the reasons that birth parents choose not to parent are very reflective of why non birth parents also choose not to have children. They may want to achieve that career marker where they’re at the top of their career, climb that ladder, or maybe after having one child, they think it’s too much. I will say that having one child and then having another and then another, and then another going from two to three is the marker.

Ron Reigns:

Oh, that’s the one?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s it, right there.

Ron Reigns:

Three to four, four to five, five to six and six to seven aren’t that big of a deal? No big jump, it’s that two to three.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You’re out of hands.

Ron Reigns:

Okay, fair enough.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When you’re walking street, you’re out of hands. And I always thought that God should give you one more hand and arm for each child that you have over two. So, because you know what if you don’t have a child that is old enough and trustworthy enough to hold on to one of the children, it’s like… So you’ve got to really pre-think out more than you would normally have to, because again, you only have two hands.

Ron Reigns:

Right and that just gave me a completely different image in my head of Octomom.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. She should have at least eight hands and arms. Yeah. I don’t know how that’s where, like I said, it becomes challenging and you have to really prethink everything. Just to make sure that when you are by yourself with your kids at the grocery store, that everybody is safe and you’re accountable for everybody and it’s yeah. And then after that, you’re already outnumbered significantly. And so I guess one more really wouldn’t matter then Ron, I guess maybe it wouldn’t matter.

Ron Reigns:

Go ahead then.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, no. No, just kidding. All right, so six terrible reasons for anybody who’s on the fence to have a child really would be in my opinion, according to psychology today, which was posted on December 1st, 2015. Just to have somebody who loves you, sometimes people want to have a child because they want that unconditional love. Puppies can give you unconditional love. And because somebody expects you to. Trying to keep up with the Jones’s, follow the markers as they were set a long time ago. That’s not the reason. To fit in, if you’re seeing all your friends having kids and you really don’t want to be a mom. Again, that’s not a reason either. To give your life purpose, you already have purpose and you’ll find that within yourself. Having a child to give you purpose isn’t a reason to have a child. To establish your legacy, carry on the family name. Again, that’s not a reason to have a child. And sometimes people will have a child to keep your marriage together. And again, that has never really proven to be effective, especially for happiness.

Ron Reigns:

Ever.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right.

Ron Reigns:

I don’t think, there’s probably not even one example of, “Hey, we had a kid, everything turned out great”, you know?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. That being said, we both work in adoptions. We love to help create families. And so we’re not trying to tell anybody not to have a child. We obviously, if you want to have a child, we want to be the ones to help you but we don’t want you to feel like you have to have a child. Sometimes we’ll get couples that come into the programs and they want to adopt a child, or whether the wife wants to adopt a child. And the husband is being strung along for the ride and that is why the state mandates that you do two separate interviews. Now again, you really have to kind of dig deep because he doesn’t want to go do his private interview and then have his wife find out that he just ratted her out. And she’s going to know that they’re not going to be adopting because he opened his mouth.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But I think it’s really important to understand that we want to help those that want to be parents. If you think you shouldn’t be a parent and you don’t want to be a parent, then don’t be. Then don’t be, then live your life the way that you want to live it. In working in the school systems, in the adoption world, people who work with children all day, don’t always choose to be parents. I knew a lot of people who did not have children who worked in the school system and in the adoption field. But the adoption question, if you work in the adoption field, you still get it a lot. Now, I will say within our agency, the majority, and I mean, vast majority, if not all, of the people who have adopted, and we have a lot of people who have adopted, adopted prior to working for us.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So they did their adoption, they loved the adoption experience. They loved the whole culture of adoption and then came to work in the profession. It wasn’t the reverse. I will get phone calls sometimes and people will say, “Well, you know what children do you have available?” As if it’s like the cabbage patch. Well, I’ve got one with red hair and blue eyes and then I’ve got another where… It doesn’t work that way. There’s not, behind us there’s not a room full of children with their hands up. It’s not like that. I mean, in the international, they have orphanages and we have the foster care system here in the United States. And then we have the birth moms who are pregnant and delivering but it’s not as if you can run in the back room and pull out what somebody is looking for.

Ron Reigns:

Right, I want the one with the red hair and the mustache and right. Not a lot of babies have mustaches though.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s not like, you’re just going to, it’s not like you’re just going to pick up one on the way home and say, “You know what, I’m going to, we’re going to do this. I stopped at adoption agency on the way home picked up a kid, paid.” So it’s not, that’s not something. And so to squash any and all of those thoughts out there that are, that if you work in adoption field that one day you may just come home with me one, it doesn’t work.

Ron Reigns:

Right. No, it’s an entire process for sure.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes, it is an entire process and a little bit on the funny side that people would sometimes maybe think that it was just something that you would just bring home. Like somebody having puppies in the Walmart parking lot and you swing by and they’re cute and they’re popping out of a box and so you swing by and make that decision in the fleeting moment. And then you know have-

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, this isn’t like, I mean, we’ve gone just goofing around, looking at co and then come home with a car. You don’t do that with adoption. It’s not like a “Oh hey, it’s a Saturday afternoon. We got nothing to do. Let’s stop in and look.” Yeah, it’s-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That impulse. We actually did that with my daughter’s cat. We had, she was struggling one day and she had been wanting a cat for a long time. And Adam came to me and said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to go get her a cat?” And I said, “Yes.” And so I looked on Craigslist and I thought, “Let’s just go over and look.” We were going to go to the gym, we’ll just go look at a cat instead, you know?

Ron Reigns:

There you go, you got a cat.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I think that the takeaway from this podcast is really focus on the reasons you want to be a parent. And if that’s what you want, then adoption agencies and fertility doctors are there to help you if you can’t conceive a child on your own. Or maybe you’re just choosing to adopt, maybe that’s something that’s on your heart and you just want to go through an adoption experience. If that is, that’s what we’re here for. But we don’t want you to feel pressured or railroaded into doing something that you may not want to do.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so maybe before you begin an adoption plan or go down the fertility road, or even try to have a baby, maybe really think about what your reasons are for wanting to be a mom and looking at your life. And if it’s a workable connection between what you want, what your life is providing, and where you are in your life, and see. And if it is then by all means, congratulations, move ahead. But if not, that’s okay too. And there are a lot of happy people out there that chose not to have children. And there’s a lot of happy people that chose to have children. So I think adoption just offers a win-win situation.

Ron Reigns:

According to an article from USA Today published on March 29th, 2019. “It’s just not for me. Why a growing number of women are saying no to parenthood.” America’s fertility rate steadily declined between 2014 and 2017. And 2017 marked the lowest rate in over 30 years with 60.3 births per 1000 women aged 15 to 44. In a 2018 poll of nearly 2000 people ages 20 to 45, 36% of survey respondents who did not want children or were not sure about becoming parents said they wanted more leisure time. 34% said they haven’t found a partner to raise children with. And 31% say they can’t afford childcare. Women are choosing higher education and career opportunities in the face of the high costs of raising a child.

Ron Reigns:

Many women who pursue higher education do have children though, and in increasing rates. Between 1994 and 2014 the percentage of women with a PhD aged 40 to 44, who had ever given birth increased from 65% to 80%, but overall trends still point to American women having fewer children later in life with nearly 500,000 fewer babies born in 2017 than in 2007. The cost of raising a child is an estimated $233,610, excluding college tuition, according to a 2018 estimate from the Department of Agriculture.

Ron Reigns:

That being said 10 major reasons people decide to adopt according to an article posted at rainbowkids.com: to overcome infertility, to protect your health, because you love caring for children, to balance population growth, to choose the sex of your child, to avoid passing down genetic disorders and diseases, to help a child in need, to avoid pregnancy complications, and of course, to become parents.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at (623)-695-4112. That’s (623)-695-4112.

Ron Reigns:

We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website azpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song “I don’t know” as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m the Executive Director, President and Co-founder of Building Arizona Family’s 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 Raines, 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 Rourke-Scarry:

Today, we’re going to talk about the what ifs in adoption, from both sides, because the adoptive family and the birth parents obviously have concerns throughout their adoption journey. And I think by addressing some of those what ifs, maybe we can show each side the opposing sides viewpoint and in doing so hopefully alleviate some of these concerns and worries.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

First and foremost, I want to point out that these are normal, normal concerns and worries across the board when you are doing an adoption. Very much parallel to, if you are going through fertility treatments, you have a different set of worries and a different set of concerns. So understand that when you’re embarking on a new adventure or a new journey that you haven’t gone through before, you are going to encounter these worries and concerns and fears, and it may create some anxiety and stress.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so hopefully, this podcast will alleviate some of that. And we can turn this around and how you really some of these, you can just push by the wayside. So that’s the goal for today. So for birth parents, you are in a good place. The adoption is primarily going to be dictated by you. You get to make the final decisions and the final calls. And so, what birth parents often worry about is, what if the adoptive family doesn’t like me when we meet in person? What if the adoptive family I choose I don’t like when I meet them in person.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What if I deliver prematurely and my baby has to stay in the hospital longer than the normal amount of time. What if the adoptive family is only being nice to me because they want to adopt the baby? What if my baby isn’t cute. And the adoptive family changes their mind about wanting to adopt my baby. What if my baby has medical problems? And the adoptive family changes their minds about adopting my baby. And the last most common one is what if I really struggle when it’s time to let my baby go with the adoptive family?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So, what we’re going to do first, is talk about these concerns and I’m going to go back through them and contradict them and give you really what the responses and the feelings are, not only from the adoptive family, but from an adoption agency’s perspective. So, what if the adoptive family doesn’t like me when we meet in person? The adoptive family is going to be more nervous than you are. The adoptive family is so excited to meet you, so excited to form a connection with you. They want to know absolutely everything about you, but they’re also going to be very, very, very nervous.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And sometimes nervous people come across quirky or they’re not really themselves and they may ask a dumb question or they may seem scattered. They’re trying to put their best foot forward.

Ron Reigns:

They may not come across as being genuine. They may come across as being very phony on both sides.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so, sometimes when somebody is so nervous about meeting somebody else, and they’re just really struggling with getting words out, you tell them, fake it till you make it, you just got to jump in and just do it. And so I always say, if you’re worried about whether they like you or your concern is the second of, what if you don’t like them, give it a second meeting. Really try to go back to what you liked about this family, what you found in their profile that you really fell in love with them as a family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And know that if for some reason you decide after giving them a second opportunity or a third opportunity, I’m just not clicking and there’s just nothing there, then what you would do is go back to your adoption agency and say, “Hey, I’m struggling because this family isn’t really who I thought they were, and I’m not comfortable with it.” And just see what can be done because it doesn’t happen very often. I think I’ve seen it a handful of times in 16 years, but in the event that it does, there’s always another plan that we can create. So that’s not something to stress about.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

If the baby comes early and the baby has to stay in the hospital longer, then that just means more time with you and the adoptive family and the baby. So, everyone has the common goal of wanting the baby to be as healthy as possible, to have the medical care that the baby needs. So again, that’s not really something to worry about because you and your baby are going to be surrounded by support. What if the adopter family is only being nice to you because they want to adopt your baby? Is a concern that I can see why somebody would worry about that, but understand that they want to be nice to you, and they do want to adopt your baby.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

However, they want to be nice to you because you are giving the greatest blessing that somebody can possibly give them. And when they’re with you for a couple days, or maybe even a week, they only have so much time to show you their gratitude and their appreciation for what you’re doing. So, it’s not that they’re only being nice to you because they want to adopt your baby, they’re being nice to you and maybe they’re being extra, extra nice to you because they’ve got to shove all of this into one week, know that it is not going to be as frequent of communication as it is at that time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The next one, what if your baby isn’t as cute as you thought it would be. So this one’s funny to me because those of us that have had newborns understand that all newborns are pretty in their own way. And I’ve never in 16 years had an adoptive family look at a baby and say, “No, thank you,” and walk out the door, that has never ever happened. A baby is in the womb for nine months and they’re scrunched up and they got the fluid all around them. And then they put the drops in the baby’s eyes, so then the eyes swell and they’re all scrunched up.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so, when you’re unfolding as a newborn you get prettier as the days go by, but some people really especially, birth parents, if it’s their first baby and they look at the baby and they’re like, Ooh-

Ron Reigns:

What happened?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Know that your baby will pretty up and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ron Reigns:

Well, my mom is still waiting for me to pretty up, it hasn’t happened yet, but most babies do.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I find the most honest people, the funniest and I had a colleague once and when she delivered her second child, they held up the baby after the baby had been born and she looked at her daughter and she started laughing. And then she looked at her husband and said, “What did we do?” And I have to say her daughter’s beautiful now, she’s beautiful. But when she was born, one ear was flat down on her head and she looked a little distorted the way she had a big lump on her head. And she had a huge cone head on top of it. And so, those things can happen and it’s not abnormal when you first see your baby to think, oh that’s not what I had envisioned.

Ron Reigns:

This doesn’t look right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When my son was born, they had to use a vacuum to pull him out. And so he had a really big bump on the back of his head. And when he came out, that was… I saw it immediately and I said, oh, “What’s that on his head?” And they said, “Oh, it’s going to go down.” And I remember looking at it thinking, maybe I could put a hat on him, you know what I mean?

Ron Reigns:

Or wings.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Just to hide it. I didn’t know if they meant it was going to go away completely or if it was not going to be this-

Ron Reigns:

It’ll mitigate but it…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But it totally went away. It was totally fine. And it was gone within I think a few hours. I mean, it was-

Ron Reigns:

Oh really that quickly. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. It went down really, really fast. But sometimes when babies are in the birth canal for an extended period of time, they get a real big cone head and that could be really alarming if you haven’t seen a lot of newborns and-

Ron Reigns:

Especially like you said, if this is your first child, it’s like, wait a minute, I didn’t do something right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So people can be very concerned, the same with an adoptive family, we reassure everybody know the baby was just in the canal. I mean, a lot of people know that if you have a C-section and the baby hasn’t descended it all into the canal, the babies do look prettier because they’re not misfigured, you know what I mean?

Ron Reigns:

From-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Coming out of-

Ron Reigns:

Going through the tube.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But I have to say, in 15 years, I have seen a lot of babies and a lot of cone heads. And you see with like the birth moms, if they take a picture with the baby, you see their, kinda like, concerned look on their face. But again, it’s totally normal, the heads do go back to normal shape and it’s nothing to be concerned about. And regardless, the adoptive family and the birth parents, I want to reassure you both, you are going to love this baby cone head or not but the cone head will go.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

If the baby has a medical problem, sometimes we know this going into labor and delivery, and it’s been disclosed to the adoptive family, the birth parents know. Sometimes there’s a surprise at delivery and there’s a medical condition that the doctors didn’t discover during the pregnancy. And I’ve had that happen a few times. I would say more than a few times, or sometimes if there is a medical situation that they have or suspecting when the baby is born, it’ll either be not as bad as they thought, or I’ve had a situation where it was much worse.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And the way that we handle those is, the adoptive families we are prepared and they understand that if they were to be giving birth to this, and this was their biological child, the exact same thing could be happening. And so they understand that this is their child. I have never had an adoptive family walk away because of a medical malady with a baby. I’ve heard of it happening, it’s not very common at all, but again, with our agency, I can say that we definitely prepare families. Anything can happen, you can have a perfectly healthy pregnancy, a perfectly healthy baby during the pregnancy and then something happens during labor and delivery and the baby may go into distress and then there are issues afterwards.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So things happen. I mean, the we’re talking about the birth of a child, anything can happen, but yes, adoptive families for the most part are right there and on your side. So birth parents know that. Letting the baby go, it is very normal having a hard time, anticipating letting the baby go, the physical and emotional act of letting the baby go with the adoptive family. And our case managers and the adoption counselor are ready to help you process, see emotions. They’re going to help you prepare for that moment.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And then we also have our adoption aftercare program, the Donna Kay Evans Program, that will continue to assist you in the care support that you’re going to need after the adoption, because you are going to go through a grieving process in most situations and we’re going to be there for you and help you through that. So now switching sides, for adoptive families, you actually have less control over the adoption situation. You can choose what adoption agency you’d like to work with, what your adoption preferences are and which birth mothers you’d like to be presented to. And this is where a lot of adoptive families struggle.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So this is where we also say adoption isn’t for everybody, because you don’t have full control over what happens during the adoption journey. In a lot of ways, it is like infertility, you can go in with the best of intentions and be given percentages by your doctor, that how successful it’s going to be, what the chances are. And then it doesn’t work out. You just need to remember whether you are choosing an adoption plan or whether you’re going down the infertility route and doing fertility treatments that when you embark on a journey, you don’t always know where are going to land. And you have to find peace and reach the acceptance stage prior to even starting that journey or you’re going to be setting yourself up for failure.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You have to know that at the end of this fertility treatment or the end of this adoption plan, we’re either going to be successful or we’re not. That’s a hard reality to accept and comprehend and find peace in. And for those that are struggling, I do recommend and counseling prior to beginning either way to start your family. So adoptive families worry about will the birth mother go through with her adoption plan. As an agency, we are working with the birth mother and we are doing everything to support her in her adoption plan. But these are human beings and human emotions, and we’re dealing with life and there’s no guarantees.

Ron Reigns:

And beyond being human emotions and a human life event, this is one of the biggest life events anybody will ever experience. So, the emotions are going to run higher than normal and the choices that are made are going to be sometimes more drastic than normal. But yeah, there’s no guarantees. We’ve said it 1000 times. There’s no guarantees in life.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And for a birth mother who is placing a baby for adoption for the very first time, she has no foreknowledge of what she’s going to feel at the moment of having the baby and when she is about to sign consent. And when the baby is about to go with the adoptive family. And so, she’s doing the best that she can to prepare and to find peace in her decision. But sometimes those feelings are overwhelming and sometimes she didn’t expect to feel a feeling that she is in turn feel. So that is very hard. And it’s very hard on both sides. It’s hard on the birth mother side, and it’s hard on the adoptive family side.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Another one that adoptive a family worry about is, what if I don’t feel a connection with the birth mom or with the baby when the baby is born. Again, this is very normal. So some adoptive mothers, more so I think than adoptive fathers have, if they have not received counseling and they have not gone through the grief stages of choosing adoption, because they’re not able to biologically have a baby on their own, sometimes it is very hard to hear about the birth mother’s pregnancy, going to her OB-GYN appointments, seeing the baby on the ultrasound, not being able to experience all of that herself. So watching somebody else go through that sometimes can be very, very difficult.

Ron Reigns:

So is there some jealousy going on from the adoptive mother then with seeing the birth mother go through all this?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Sometimes, and we find that more if an adoptive family has not received counseling or has not processed the emotions of grief of not being able to biologically have her own child. And so, sometimes when you’re feeling jealousy or resentment towards somebody that is able to do something that you are not, it is harder for them to form an emotional connection with a birth mother.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so, that’s why we really encourage adoptive families, prior to starting an adoption plan, really make sure that you are in a place mentally, that you can enjoy your adoption experience, that you can not miss out on anything. And whether that is going to require counseling or whether it’s just something that you need to process on your own and really work through those stages of grief, it’s something that we do recommend.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

If the baby’s born some adoptive moms really feel that connection immediately when they see the baby and they immediately look at this baby, like in that Twilight movie, when they say that, what was that term where they hone in on somebody and then bam, that’s their person. You know what I’m talking about?

Ron Reigns:

I never saw the Twilight movies. I know it’s a surprise, but I get you. I’ll look it up.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So, if you’re not feeling that immediate connection, it can take time. We would recommend doing kangarooing, where you do skin-to-skin contact with the baby, spending time with the baby, but don’t let that worry you. And again, as time passes, you’re still not feeling a bond with the baby, then we can have somebody, a specialist come in and help you through the adoption agency, through the counseling services that we can offer through our adoption counselors. So there are avenues to assist you with that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What if the baby doesn’t look like the adoptive family imagined. This is a funny one because I see this, it’s not funny for them in the moment but looking back, reflecting, I can tell you situation after situation where the baby came out a different gender or the baby came out of different race, or the baby came out looking different than they had… The baby didn’t come out looking like a Gerber baby. And the baby didn’t look like a Gerber baby when the baby was discharged from the hospital. So the couple they unfold didn’t work in the baby’s favor as much as we had hoped.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so, I think the best advice I can give is that babies change in how they look and you are going to love your baby. You’re going to fall in love with your baby, if your baby has a different look than you were expecting. When your son was born, did he look how you thought he was going to look?

Ron Reigns:

Oh, exactly, 100%.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Really?

Ron Reigns:

Well, okay, maybe not exactly. No, like you said, they come out and they’re not quite what you expect. Again, John was my first and only but you don’t… All you see is pictures of babies and they’re also perfect. Like you say, the Gerber babies and things like that. And of course, no, he didn’t look like… As a matter of fact, so John was a big baby. He was 10 pounds, 13 and a half ounces, something like that. So almost 11 pounds, he was… And this wasn’t a C-section or anything. So it was a rough one. And the nurse at the time, when he first came out, said, “Oh my God, he’s a monster.”

Ron Reigns:

Well, my wife took that a different way. She didn’t know what we had done wrong. So obviously, she just meant he’s big. And he was, he was long, he was big, but you just get over it really quickly, and like you say, they do grow into their beauty and their… But that first couple hours, you’re a little nervous like, is this what I created?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. I have to say the biggest shock of my four biological children would’ve been my second child. I was actually induced at 37 and a half weeks back then they did it much earlier than they do now, but they were worried that she was just going to be so big based upon the ultrasound readings, that they were concerned that she was going to be too big and I wouldn’t be able to deliver her. And so, they induced me at 37 and a half weeks and when she was born, she was six pounds, nine ounces. So she was tiny and she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice. And so her face was pretty blue.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So it was one of those experiences that is scary where the nurse is pounding on the emergency button on the wall and people come flying in and they’re taking her and trying to get her to breathe and everything else. So it was when the doctor pulled her out and she had the cord wrapped her on her neck twice and she’s little, the doctor and I both just stared at her because I was expecting something like your son coming out, this big baby and I had this little peanut that came out and I thought, wow, the ultrasound was really off on this one. So, she was a tiny and she’s fine, she’s beautiful.

Ron Reigns:

And that was what? Almost 18 years ago now.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

On Sunday, yes, will be 18 years.

Ron Reigns:

Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Wow. 18 years. She was also a vacuum baby. I had two that they had used a vacuum on and my babies had really big heads. And so they… But her head wasn’t like my son’s, my son had the real lump on his head. And I didn’t get to really see her that much right away because they were working on her, so it wasn’t… With him I got see him pretty much right away. And then they cleaned him up and then they brought him right back. And I have to say the hospital was amazing with my son because my ex-husband had reached out as they were bringing the baby back. And they said, “No, sorry, mom first.”

Ron Reigns:

That is hilarious, she did all the work.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. But even though labor and delivery is really not fun per se, because it’s labor and painful and it’s all kind of stuff and I have to say with my third child, I absolutely had the best experience with labor and delivery with her because I had, when she was coming out, I didn’t have to have a vacuum which was nice, when she was coming out my doctor did the most amazing thing and he used this firm voice and told me to open my eyes. And he said it in such a way that I listened. When you’re in labor delivery, you’re really in your own head and he just commanded me to open my eyes and look, and I actually got to watch her being born rather than streaming or, you know what I mean, yelling or closing my eyes and pushing. And so-

Ron Reigns:

In a weird way it takes away a lot of the pain?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. And it was amazing to watch her be born. And so that was, yeah, third time was a charm. And over at one with my son. So if the baby doesn’t look like you had envisioned, I have to say, having had four by biological children, none of them came out in that moment and looked as if I had thought they would look. They all very much grew into how I thought they would look. But in that moment when they hold up the baby and the baby’s covered with white stuff and it’s sometimes really red or sometimes the face is purplish or blue. And then they put the gel in the eyes and then the eyes, well, I mean, you look at the baby and I can see why my colleague was like, “What did we do?”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So just know that that moment will pass. What if the baby doesn’t love me? Well, the good news is, is that newborns don’t talk, so the baby is not going to tell you that the baby doesn’t love you. The baby will love you. You have to believe that and showering this baby and knowing that you chose this baby and that you are so blessed by this baby. This baby is going to grow and this baby is going to love you. So take that off of your mind. Your worries, just be reassured that this baby’s going to love you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So then I get the questions of, what if something happens? What if, what if, what if? We can what if all day, every day I do it too. I, what if I’m a “whatifer”, are you a “whatifer”?

Ron Reigns:

I am actually, I’ve gotten better because of your husband because a long time ago he told me, he said, “All too often, we worry about things that haven’t happened yet and aren’t likely to happen, but we worry about them.” And I try and put that in perspective because he had said that and I’m like, that makes a lot of sense. I’ll spend all day long with the what ifs of life, if I don’t control it and go wait, this is not even likely, why am I worried about it? If it happens that’s when you should start worrying about it. I mean, sure, you should be prepared for something, but don’t worry and stress yourself out over it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Because and I’m saying this tongue in cheek, worrying about something, takes away your joy and it takes away your ability to be my mindful and present in the moment because you are focusing on something else. And as much as I would like to practice what I’m preaching, it is hard, it is a struggle. And I think that sometimes if you’re really stuck in the what ifs either, if you’re a birth mother or an adoptive family, try to distract yourself, try to find something really positive. Like if you’re really struggling about, is my adoption really going to happen? Is the birth mother really going to place her baby with us? Maybe watch a Hallmark movie about a positive adoption, just find positivity and try to surround yourself with that, but it can be difficult.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that’s when maybe speaking with adoptive families, who’ve gone through the same experience as you and had a good outcome speaking with them or speaking with, if you pray, maybe pray about it. Or if you meditate, maybe meditate, or if you can walk on a beach and that’s your happy place, then walk on the beach, but really try to not let the what ifs rob you of the amazing journey that you’re going to have because it’s something that you will cherish for the rest of your life and letting worries and fear detract from what should be the most special time is just going to hurt you in the end.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s going to take away from it, it’s going to Rob you of those moments that you could have just been excited and you’re right worrying about something isn’t going to change it but again, much easier said than done. My best advice on the what ifs, it goes back to again, be educated, make informed decisions when you’re doing an adoption plan, have faith in the agency that you have chosen and have faith in the birth mother that you chose as well. And if you have of confidently made these choices, whether you are an adoptive family or birth parents, then find peace and comfort in the choice that you yourself take.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more inform about adoption, Building Arizona Families, is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112. That’s (623) 695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website @azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also, go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, I Don’t Know as our theme song, Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly-Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website @birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m 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 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.

Ron Reigns:

This is a press statement from the US State Department dated August 17th, 2020. Today, the United States imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions on four Ugandan individuals for their involvement in activities that victimized young children in a corrupt adoption scheme. Ugandan judges Moses Mukiibi and Wilson Musalu Musene, and Ugandan lawyer Dorah Mirembe and her associate Patrick Ecobu, participated in a scam whereby young children were removed from their families and placed into a corrupt adoption network, aided by the facilitation of Ugandan officials. The U.S. government designated these four individuals pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The Department of State also designated Mukiibi and Musene under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94) due to their involvement in significant corruption.

Ron Reigns:

Together, these individuals engaged in corruption to arrange the adoption of Ugandan children by unwitting parents in the United States. Mirembe’s law firm used the services of intermediary parties to seek out vulnerable families in remote Ugandan villages, promising parents that their children would be moved to Kampala to further their education. American prospective adoptive parents then traveled to Uganda to adopt children from an unlicensed children’s home in Kampala.

Ron Reigns:

Mirembe, with the assistance of Ecobu, facilitated bribes to Ugandan judges and other Ugandan government officials to fraudulently procure adoption cases, either directly or through an interlocutor. Mirembe paid bribes to get cases steered to judges Mukiibi and Musene. Mukiibi and Musene are current or former government officials who have, directly or indirectly, engaged in corruption.

Ron Reigns:

Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States. The law also requires the Secretary of State to either publicly or privately designate or identify such officials.

Ron Reigns:

Today’s actions demonstrate the United States’ commitment to protecting the dignity of every human being and protecting the United States from those who seek to profit at the expense of others. These individuals’ actions also resulted in the submission of false documentation to the Department of State for consideration in visa adjudication, a falsification the Department will not tolerate.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So today we’re going to be talking about international adoptions and we’re going to focus on what has been happening in the country of Uganda. One thing that is important to note is that Uganda is not a Hague Convention country. This is a significant distinction as it means there are no overall guidelines for inter-country adoption. So the Hague was implemented so that this entity could oversee the transactions of international adoption to prevent child trafficking, to prevent exactly what happened in Uganda from happening. So this big situation that happened with this one agency, European Adoption Consultants, which used to be a very big agency, is parallel to the Paul Peterson of the Domestic Adoptions. So the European Adoption Consultants, as you read in the press conference, there was a bunch of illegal adoption activity that occurred. And just to kind of break it down so that our listeners can understand.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What was happening was there were orphanages per se, that were recruiting children from families. They were also getting these children that were in orphanages, with the families were bringing them there. They were under the impression it was temporary. And then the ones that were being recruited was for a better education. And so what they were doing was they were having them sign over a legal guardianship for the child to go to another entity. And then they were being adopted out under the pretense that the mother was dead or was not able to parent.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There were three women that were charged through European Adoption Consultants. And then there were some people over in Uganda that were charged as well.

Ron Reigns:

Judges and lawyers, right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

According to the guardian EAC received more than $900,000 from clients. I guess I’m so disheartened in this because when an agency becomes accredited, it’s a huge process that the agency has to undergird. I mean, not only are you licensed by the state that you are residing in, in order to facilitate adoptions, but you are now also licensed through an entity that has been selected by the US State Department in order to do these international adoptions. So when the Hague was ratified, it was a really big deal to be able to do international adoptions. And at first it was the Coalition on Accreditation that was the licensing entity. And then it has since switched. And now it looks like it may be switching again as to who’s going to be the overseer.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That being said, the fact that Uganda never ratified the Hague, they did not join the Hague Convention, their children were left open to be victims of this situation.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. This fraudulent scheme. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And again, where I really, really struggle is for all of the children, for all of the birth families and the adopted families, because they’re all equally victims.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In the adoption world, it is very similar to… You know how they say, if there’s one bad apple in the bag, everything is spoiled. It tarnishes the reputation and the safety and everything. When someone’s coming into an adoption, when there is something like this going on, because it’s scares everybody. And then we see the movies on Lifetime and other channels where they’re highlighting the bad rather than the good. In reading through what’s happened in this Ugandan scheme. And it’s not just a Ugandan scheme, I mean, there was definitely the United States agency that was absolutely-

Ron Reigns:

Fully apartied to this.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

… Correct. A US State Department statement had stated that Mirembe had promised vulnerable Ugandan families or children will go to these schools in Kampala. Instead they were taken to an unlicensed children’s home for adoption by American families. Mirembe and Ecobu then facilitated bribes to Ugandan judges and other government officials. So what’s interesting about that the highest number of children in one year from Uganda was recorded in 2013, and that was adoptions of 276.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That doesn’t mean that all of them were through EAC. It just means that that’s the amount of Ugandan children that were. But when they banned the legal guardianship in 2016 and the government began closing unlicensed orphanages, obviously the numbers have drastically declined. Now we understand that legal guardianships can no longer be used for adoptions in Uganda, which Mukiibi had coined the term constructive fostering and parentheticals, which waves the requirement for prospective parents to foster child in country before adopting them instead of pointing a third party to look after the child on their behalf.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Really these children do need to be protected as much as their families. And the adopted families in the United States are very much victims as well, because they are trying to build their own family, unknowing that what is happening on the other side of the continent is a crime and are completely unaware because they’re going through what they believe is a reputable adoption.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Just like the families that were working with Paul Peterson felt… They were working with an attorney who was also had his adoption agency. And so it’s really hard for families, like I said, to develop that sacred trust and to spend $30,000 to $40,000 trying to complete an international adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In 2016, there were still 187 adoptions from Uganda. That’s a lot of chaos. Right now if you go to the US State Department website, you will see that they’re actually not recommending travel though, due to the violent crime and nature of what’s going on over there right now. And after this has come out, I’m sure that people are nervous and hesitant to proceed with a Ugandan adoption for fear that there may be something wrong, but again, hopefully things will change. And the children of Uganda that are eligible and able to be adopted will still have that opportunity.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And hopefully that now that this has happened, it can be done safely and securely and nothing like this, I hope will never happen again. So there are some definite rules in adopting from Uganda. The children are between two to eight years old. Prospective adoptive parents must be open to a child at least three years of age. Like most international adoptions, children with special needs are common, including children affected by malaria or who are HIV positive. Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and must be at least 21 years older than the adopted child. For married couples, there’s no minimum duration of marriage to qualify for adoption. Single adoptive parent, I should say, are welcome to apply, although single applicants may only adopt a child of the same gender. It’s interesting.

Ron Reigns:

That’s fascinating, I wonder why.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I’ve seen a lot of country requirements and I have never seen that. So that’s very interesting. There are no minimum financial requirements to apply, the families with five children or more are not permitted to adopt. The average timeline for adoption is 18 to 36 months, and a cost falls between $30,000 to $40,000, including agency program, government and travel fees.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So Uganda is still open for adoption. It’s just now going to be done the correct way, but again, this wasn’t all adoption agencies. This was European Adoption Consultants in combination with some of the judges over in Uganda. And so I want to make that really clear that this is not Uganda as a whole. We’ve had situations with other international countries, the whole country shut down because the adoption process became corrupt. And then they would shut down, go into moratorium, some would reopen, some would not.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean, if you look at Romania, Romania still has not really opened to adopt. Guatemala was a big one. That was one of the biggest international countries to adopt from. That one shut down and then there were pilot programs to try to get it back up and running. Russia has closed their adoption program because of United States and the backlash that happened when some children were not treated properly by their adoptive parents. And so Russia has primarily shut down their adoption program to the United States.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Other countries, there were things going on in Ethiopia, and there were some agencies in the United States that were a party to some things that were very questionable and not ethical. And so Ethiopia has shut down and then it reopens and it shut down, it reopen. So, you really have to watch countries as what seems to be happening is as the programs get larger and larger and larger in these countries, they become really popular countries to adopt from people get into it, maybe for the wrong reasons. Agencies or officials or adoption specialist and in doing so, it wrecks it for a lot of people.

Ron Reigns:

Right. I mean, there’s always somebody that’s willing to do the wrong thing to make a buck or to game the system or whatever it is. And so, like you say one bad apple spoils the whole darn bunch, and you got to be aware of that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No, it really does. The only international country that we do right now and work with is Haiti. And Haiti has been really through the ringer, not regarding adoptions, but just everything that that country has been through. I mean, with the earthquakes and they are considered a fourth world country. And back when you and I were in grade school, I don’t recall ever hearing about a fourth world country. It kind of stopped at three, the third world countries. Haiti is now considered a fourth world country.

Ron Reigns:

Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And they have gone into moratorium, and put things on hold, but not due to any corruption or anything regarding adoptions, it’s just to restructure and to make the process better for their country and the way that it’s happening. So they have done a phenomenon job in the way that they have overseen their adoption process in Haiti and who they choose to work with in the United States.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But we’ve worked with Haiti for years and years and years. And we have placed a lot of children through that program. And it’s something that I am really proud of. But again, I’ve seen lots of country open and closed, and it’s really sad to know that there are children that would love to be adopted and come to the United States. And now that may not be a reality for them because of the other people have done. It looks like the three women with European Adoption Consultants are going to really do some prison time. And I think that’s really important. I think that that’s really a big deal.

Ron Reigns:

Right. We need to set an example with these people and try and make sure that this doesn’t happen again. As a matter of fact, I’m kind of glad that this story came to light because you do want to shine a light on the bad parts and make sure it stops.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Absolutely. The only way to make it stop is definitely to bring awareness to a situation and to make sure that people understand what’s really going on. We always talk about the importance of option education and combine that with why we teach history in schools so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. So that we catch it and we don’t repeat bad behavior if you will. But I think that that’s really important to know. And again, I want to put it out there that if in your heart international adoption is where you feel that your child is meant to be from regardless of what country you choose, just do your research, make sure you utilize the US State Department website. They have a whole site on adoption where you can go in and look at all the requirements for each individual country and it’ll walk you through everything.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You also can find a list of accredited agencies, even if the country that you are wanting to work with is not accredited. With the Hague, you can still use the Hague Accredited agency and you’ll need to, because it’s the safest obviously route to go because that agency will have been, like I said, audited again and overseen by an entity that is assigned by the US State Department.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So it’s a really big deal. It’s a really, really big deal. And I think that if you go and you do your research and you check the better business bureau and you talk with families who’ve adopted from the country and the program that you want to use, you’re really doing your due diligence. These families that adopted through EAC, no doubt did everything in their power to make sure that they were using a credible agency that had an established program, that had recommendations from families who had brought their own home. And so it’s just really sad to think about what’s happening now with those children. If there’s concern on the adoptive families part and in what they’re going through into trying to maintain stability and not have worries. So my heart goes out to them as I’m sure yours does too Ron.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely. And this is something that we emphasized, especially when the Paul Peterson story started to break. Definitely do that due diligence, find out more. I mean, there’s always more to learn. You’ve given some great resources, like you say, go to the State Department website and just make sure you’re dealing with an agency or an organization that has everybody’s best interests at heart.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And hopefully in the future podcast we’ll be able to maybe speak with a family who has been a victim of this. So they can maybe speak out for families who are in the same boat, if you will. So they don’t feel alone. And I think that it would be… We’ve got families obviously that adopted from Uganda that are struggling, and then there’s the families from the Paul Peterson situation. And so uniting some of these families I think would bring comfort and peace and maybe, I don’t know, maybe a sense of community would really help, would really help. So our heart goes out to all of you that are victims. And we still believe in international adoption, even though this happened. This is not reflective of every agency, please understand that. This is one agency that did a really bad thing and now are going to be paying the consequences for it.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at 623-695-4112, that’s 623-695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at AZpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, I Don’t Know, as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, for Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m 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 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.

Ron Reigns:

Today on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, we’re going to do something a little different, and I’m going to try and find out things that I don’t know about adoption. That of course, Kelly being in the adoption industry, not to mention being adopted, she knows these things a lot more than I do. So I’m going to go ahead and kick this off with the idea of the 72 hour wait period, because between the birth of the child and signing of the adoption consent I know that there’s a 72 hour period, and that makes sense. I mean, especially from the birth mother’s standpoint, you want to make sure that she’s in the right frame of mind. She’s had enough time to think about it and that’s a law in Arizona. I don’t think it’s nationwide, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Actually each state has their own individual laws. So some states have a longer wait period in some states have a shorter wait period.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. And what do you think the average is? Do you think about 72 is the average across the country?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think 72 hours is considered an adoption friendly state. I think it is actually a fantastic law on behalf of Arizona because it gives the mom enough time without having to rush her decision if she’s had an adoption plan in place and this is something that she’s been building up to. Sometimes moms want to sign sooner than 72 hours, but in the state of Arizona we’re not allowed to let them do that. So I think 72 hours is a really good median timeframe. It doesn’t mean that a mom has to sign at 72 hours though. Sometimes if a mom is taking medication from her delivery, we may have to extend the timeframe to which she can sign because she cannot be under the influence of medication.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When she signs those papers.

Ron Reigns:

Or like when a baby is born at 10 o’clock at night, for instance, they’re not going to do it exactly three days after. They’re going to wait till the next morning for it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well, actually, sometimes we have done them at 10 o’clock at night.

Ron Reigns:

Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. It really depends on the mind frame of the birth mother. So let’s say that you have a birth mother that really wants to put this adoption to bed. She’s really anxious to get the papers signed and put this behind her and move on with her life and know that her baby’s going to a beautiful and safe adoptive family. At that point, I would the executive decision that if this was in her best interest, that we would sign at 10 o’clock at night. Now we wouldn’t sign at two o’clock in the morning, but 10 o’clock at night I would say is not outside the realm of what we have done in the past.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So then it would depend on the frame of mind of the birth mother and what her request is. Now, again, adoption, we work 24/7, 365 a year. I mean we’ve talked about it in the past that we’ve had birth mothers that sign on Christmas Day or sign on New Year’s Day, holidays. And that is one sacrifice that an adoption case manager or a social worker has to make because these are people’s lives. And just like working in the medical field, it doesn’t stop when there’s a holiday.

Ron Reigns:

Right. When it comes to that 72 hours, like you said, I agree with you a hundred percent. That that’s a pretty good… That gives enough time for consideration of what the impacts of this are even after the birth, but how are those 72 hours handled by and large by the adopting family?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The 72 hour timeframe is obviously a difficult time for everybody. And when I say everybody, I mean the birth mother, the adoptive family, the case managers. So let’s kind of back up a little bit.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So in the state of Arizona, when an adoption agency is doing an adoption, we have something called pre-consents. So we don’t just do post adoption consent. We do what’s called pre consents, and pre is a time where we sit down and we have a pre-consent conference with a birth mother. When we are going over consents, prior to the delivery of a baby, with a birth mother, we’re preparing her for that time when we are going to be executing consents at 72 hours. So this will not be the first time that she has seen the paperwork or the documentation. And again, this is to prepare her so that she has time to think about what she’s signing. Consents are irrevocable, and so it’s really important that she understands all of the language and the documentation that she is going to be executing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And again, these are irrevocable documents. These documents are the most important part of the adoption process. So it’s really imperative that we do a good job explaining it. We have this conference with her. If for some reason she has come into doing an adoption after the baby has been born, we do have to do a post-birth pre-consent conference prior to doing those consents as well. There is also a timeframe that we honor so that she has enough time to really understand what she is signing.

Ron Reigns:

Definitely. Now the pre-consent conference and the pre-consent documents as well, is that a state law or is that just something that your company does, the Building Arizona Families?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In the state of Arizona, that is something that all agencies have to do.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Attorneys do a pre-consent conference.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. I’m going to switch gears here a little bit and talk about international adoptions. Because as I work with Lisa, my wife, we mainly focus on domestic adoptions here in the United States, whether the birth parents are in Arizona and then the adopting family is in another state, or whether they’re in the same state, but I don’t know a whole lot about international adoptions. And you guys do international adoptions as well. So what would bring, say an adopting family to the conclusion that they want to adopt from another country?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think it’s really where somebody’s heart is. Sometimes we’ll have families that’ll have gone on maybe a mission trip to another country, or they have grown up their whole life around maybe having a friend that was adopted from another country, or maybe they have a special liking for another country, or they just feel that that’s where they’re led. We do have employees that have adopted internationally, and so that’s really neat. But I think it’s really where your heart is. You know, some people want an older child adoption. When you’re adopting overseas, really the youngest child at this point that would come home is about 18 months.

Ron Reigns:

Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. I didn’t know that as well. Do the adoptive parents, do they usually look for a particular country or is it kind of like what do you have that’s international and then they choose?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. So certain countries are open for adoption where others are not open for adoption and sometimes a country will open for adoption and then close. They’ll go into like a moratorium or they’ll completely shut down. And we’ve seen that with Guatemala, with Russia. Countries again will open, Romania is another one, and then close. And so if somebody’s interested in international, what they would need to do is go to the US State Department website and see what countries are open. The other thing that you would want to do is you would want to look at the numbers of adoptions that had been done from that country last year. So in other words, if you’re looking at the state department website and you’re seeing a country that you’re very interested in, and there was only three adoptions last year through that country, you may want to focus on a country that has had more adoptions.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oftentimes in the past I would get a call from a family who is interested in adopting from a specific country that I had never even heard of. And when they went to the website, they discovered that you know what, that country, although it may be open for adoption, one child came home. And so you really want to find, first start with a country that is open for adoption and has had a lot of children coming home. Another thing is that once you determine or decide on which country you want to adopt from then you would pick an agency that has a contract with that country and does adoptions through that country. With Building Arizona Families, we do Haiti, and that is the country that we do right now.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Another thing-

Ron Reigns:

So that’s the only country you do right now? Okay. Interesting.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right now. We’ve had a lot of other countries in the past, but again, what happens is like we were working with Ethiopia and they had an open program. And then there were some things that went on in Ethiopia that were not good. And so at that point we stopped using the program because we felt that it was not in the best interest of the agency and the families. And then Ethiopia went through some changes and they shut down and then they opened back up and they shut down. And so there’s a lot of movement as to the countries when they open and close.

Ron Reigns:

Do international adoptions go the other way? Is there ever a case where say somebody from Europe wants to adopt an American baby?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes.

Ron Reigns:

Really? That surprises me.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. But that’s not something that our agency does. We don’t export children out of the country.

Ron Reigns:

Now has anybody who has listened to our podcast before probably knows you yourself are adopted. And actually I mentioned it earlier, so they would definitely know if they’ve even been listening to this podcast. You were adopted back right around the time that Roe vs. Wade changed. And it’s really impacted your life in so many ways. Obviously you probably wouldn’t have even gotten into the adoption field, had it not been for that. But is there anything about your personal adoption that you wish was different?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes.

Ron Reigns:

Something that you would change?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes, actually there is. I wish that I, a couple things, actually. I wish that back in the seventies, that open adoption was more of a thing. It was not at all. And so my adoption was totally closed. I think it would have been amazing to have an open adoption. And I also think that it would’ve been, knowing what I know now, having my biological mother passing away at 59, I would’ve liked to have found her sooner so that I would’ve had more time with her.

Ron Reigns:

That’s completely fair. Now when you look back on that time and knowing your mother the way you got to know her in those few years that you had, do you think that if open adoptions were more a thing back in the sixties, seventies, all that time, do you think that maybe she would’ve gone with an open adoption?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes.

Ron Reigns:

Really? Did she ever tell you that?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She never really understood the scope of adoptions. When she found out what I did as a career choice, she was not well versed in adoptions at all. She didn’t understand what an open adoption was even at her age. I mean, she was around 48 when I met her. 48, 49. She did not really understand how they worked. Her adoption was very, very different from today. I mean, her adoption really consisted of her finding out she was pregnant three weeks before I was born. Her adoption choice was really her mother and the family doctor going in another room and coming back and telling her that’s what was going to happen. And then the three weeks go on that she’s not allow to talk about it with anybody in the family or anybody else. And then they knocked her out. I was delivered. They woke her back up and she never saw me. So there wasn’t really an adoption experience for her. There was no counseling afterwards. There was no, really, speak of me.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so it was this, in her mind, shameful secret that she carried around that turned into a source of guilt and depression. And that’s one of the reasons that we started the Donna K. Evans Foundation is because we didn’t want anyone to experience what she had gone through. Because I do have two biological brothers that were born after me, and they lived in the wake of what had happened to her with me.

Ron Reigns:

Emotionally.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And so, it’s very common when you have a teen pregnancy to then have a second teen pregnancy. So my mother got pregnant with me when she was 15 and had me four to five months after she turned 16. She then had my brother on her 18th birthday. So she turned around and got pregnant again pretty quickly.

Ron Reigns:

Fairly soon. Hmm.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so it was, what happened to her, I think, had she understood really what adoption entailed? She didn’t understand that what she had done was a beautiful and loving choice. She had thought she had done something very wrong. I have discussed, I think on the podcast, I know I’ve talked about it when I do public speaking, about the second time that she came to visit me. At that time I was going to a megachurch and we were walking into church and she grabbed my arm and stopped me as we were walking in. And she said, “I can’t go in there.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I asked her why. And she said that they were all going to judge her for what she did. And she was terrified that they were going to think that she had done something horrible and she was so ashamed of it. And so I spent so much time and effort and energy trying to explain to her that she did something that was amazing and beautiful, and I was grateful for the choice that she made. And she just really struggled to see it like that.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so I think that adoption has a very different connotation now. I mean, back in that day they were sending women away to these maternity homes and they were delivering and coming back like nothing ever happened.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And those babies placed for adoption. So she hid her pregnancy and nobody knew. I was born in January so there was that Christmas break to where those last couple weeks she was able to kind pretty much hide that she was pregnant. And back in that day, they were wearing those kind of like flowy shirts and coats. It was in Ohio so it was cold. So she was able to hide her stomach. And she said that she left the hospital. And back in that day you actually had to go and make a court appearance and say that you wanted to do the adoption. And she said that she went to court by herself. Her mom waited in the car and she went in and she had to go up in front of the judge and say that this is what she wanted to do. And then she walked back out and got in the car and went to school the next day.

Ron Reigns:

Wow. You had over 10 years to actually get to know her and find out who she was, and she found out who you were. And I know you developed a lot of love in that time and a lot of respect for her and between each other. Is there anything looking back now? Because I think of people who, even people who haven’t passed away, but that I haven’t seen in years and I think I really wish I had told them something. Is there anything you wish you had said to your mom while you had the chance that you can maybe kind of say to her now?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. I wish that I would’ve taken more time and really explained to her and maybe flown her out again so she could see that adoption is something amazing. I tried to take as much time as I could. I mean, I bought her a book and I tried to get her into a counseling program and I tried to really educate her, but she didn’t really want to talk about that.

Ron Reigns:

Hmm.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She didn’t want to focus on her adoption choice. She wanted to focus on how much I, she felt like I favored her in appearance and how beautiful her grandchildren were. I’d buy her a book on adoption trying to help her understand and she’d read the first page and she’d toss the book aside. She just wasn’t… So I wish that I had really taken the time and kind of forced her a little bit to see the good, because I’m not sure that she really ever reached a level of acceptance in her grief.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I know that her being from the south and in West Virginia, it’s not common, especially back then, to place your child for adoption and for people to know that. And so when I found her, the majority of her family didn’t know I existed. And so that forced her to come out in a way. And then there was the judgment that she faced from that. And so that was hard. That was the main reason that when I wrote her eulogy at the funeral, that I made sure to include that what she’d done was beautiful. And because of that, I’ve been able to help hundreds and hundreds of women and their children and families all come together. And without her making the choice that she did that wouldn’t have happened. And so I hope that I was able to raise the opinions of those that judged her before after.

Ron Reigns:

Kelly, I really appreciate you, first of all, explaining some things that I didn’t know, and also opening up a little bit about your personal story. And I know that can be kind of difficult, but also uplifting at the same time. I know that it’s been edifying for everybody listening because it helps them to understand more deeply about what adoption is. And I just want to thank you for answering questions and sharing with us just honestly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Absolutely. I hope everybody takes away from it and learns a little bit more and embraces adoption tenfold.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at 623-695-4112. That’s 623-695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song. I Dunno as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

All right. So today we’re going to discuss adoption reunifications and the effects that adoption reunification can have on the adoptees children, whether they’re biological or adopted. And when I went through my adoption reunification, my oldest daughter was 10 years old and she is going to join us today and talk about how the experience impacted her life then, and now, and looking back on it, how she can help other people who are in the same situation, what to expect, what the experience was like, how it changed or didn’t change who she is today.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So that was a long time ago, but my daughter, Michelle is with us. Hi Michelle. Thank you for joining us.

Michelle:

Hey, thanks for having me.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Again, you were 10 years old when I found my birth mother.

Michelle:

Yes.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And it took me about six to eight months from the time I started looking for her to the time I actually reunited with her. And the first time I reunited with her I had flown from Phoenix to Ohio and I didn’t actually take any of my children with me. I went with one of my best girlfriends and I didn’t know what it was going to be like, I didn’t know what I was going to get into, and so I thought it was better if I just went alone the first time. However, my mother did come to visit us on two different occasions, and one of them was about four to six weeks after I went out to meet her for the first time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So, Michelle, when you heard that I had found my biological mother, what were some of your first thoughts?

Michelle:

Some of my first thoughts were that I had originally assumed that it wasn’t going to be as pleasant a meeting. And that’s probably because when I was younger, when I was 10 years old, I didn’t fully understand that there are certain circumstances that can cause you to look towards adoption as an answer, whereas I had always assumed that people who put their kids up for adoption were doing it simply because they didn’t want them in their lives and not because of certain circumstances or events or so on.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So at that point you thought that my mom had not wanted me in her life and that was why she had made an adoption choice.

Michelle:

Yes, exactly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that’s so interesting, Ron, because from a 10 year old’s perspective, and granted this was 14 years ago, that is the mentality of a lot of people. And that is why we do the podcast today is to change that perception because that’s not the case. So that’s really interesting.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, it absolutely is. And that’s what we’ve been saying since day one. We’re trying to get the word out there and have people understand what adoption is and what reasons people would have for placing a child for adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So, tell everybody about the first time that you met, and you call her Memaw, which is how she demanded that everyone call her. So talk a little bit about her and your first encounter with her. What did you think? What was she like? Was she like your adoptive grandparents?

Michelle:

I would say that she was the complete opposite of my adoptive grandparents and probably the complete opposite of what I was originally expecting. I was expecting a woman very much like you, my mother, but something that I wasn’t expecting is that she was very outspoken about her opinions. She was very proud to say what she believed in. She didn’t take into account what people thought of her, because she just simply didn’t care, and I had never quite met anybody who so strongly felt that way.

Ron Reigns:

Has that affected you in any way, as far as, because you seem pretty reserved when it comes to what other people think of you. I mean, do you ever just kind of, “Hey, it’s my opinion. You don’t like it. You can take off. I don’t care.” Or did that impact you the other way? Did it maybe make you more conservative about how other people view you?

Michelle:

I would say that she showed me that I don’t have to care what other people think about me and it is something that I still struggle with, I can definitely say that, but she’s kind of opened that door of you don’t have to take into account what other people think, you don’t have to-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Live or die in their court of opinion.

Michelle:

Exactly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When I found her, you had shared with me a little bit before the podcast that you saw some similarities between her and I, but that you also saw some change in me.

Michelle:

Yes. When I met her, I noticed that there are definitely some qualities that you have as well that are very similar, but something that I noticed after you had met her, you were almost able to open up to a way of life that she was living, which is very free, very open, very open-minded, very honest. And while you had those qualities before, I feel like you were a lot more open about showing them and being yourself about it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When your experience had been my adopted parents, which would be your adopted grandmother, they were the only grandparents on my side that you knew. And when you met Memaw, was it shocking? In other words, when she first came off the plane and you met her for the first time, you had already heard stories because I had already gone out there and I had met her. How did you describe her to your friends? How did you explain what was happening in your life to other people? How would you explain it now looking back on it?

Michelle:

Now I would say that she is a person who, even though I had never been in her life prior and she didn’t even know about me, she opened her arms to me, without question. There was no conditions. There was no precursors. It was immediately she was ready for a connection. And it just really surprised me because I had assumed that since, I mean, I grew up with my adoptive grandparents and had forged a relationship, whereas I had never gotten the chance to do that with her, but she made it so easy, and I mean she was so wild and free and was the wind, she was easy to get along with. And you just never knew what to expect of her and I just fell in love with her.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

Now, do you realize, as an adult or did you as a child, how blessed you were to have these two so drastically different sets of grandparents or, well, the grandmother, and then the set of grandparents you already knew, and such diverse people. So you get more of a well rounded raising as you’re going up. Does that make sense or?

Michelle:

Yes, and I do feel like that. I feel like it made a huge difference in that in the beginning my mom was very much like her adoptive grandparents and then after she had met her biological mom, she became almost a combination of the two. And it kind of opened up that world for me, that not everyone has to be a certain way or fall into a specific form, but I mean, beauty comes in all shape, sizes, colors, and wild people.

Ron Reigns:

That is cool.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What is the one memory of her? Because she did come out and you did get to spend time with her as a 10 year old, and an 11 year old, because she came out twice. What is a memory that you have of being with her in person?

Michelle:

A memory that really sticks out for me is there was one day we were both sitting outside together and she was having a conversation with me and I kept thinking in my head, over and over again, she must not how old I am because she was talking to me like I was an adult. She was one of the first adults at the time to actually talk to me like I could understand them as opposed to like I’m a child. And that made a huge difference for me. I was shocked and I was absolutely positive she had no idea the age that I was because of that. And then when we were sitting outside, she was smoking a cigarette and she was telling me about how much she regretted things like smoking and falling down that path and it had become a very raw and real conversation that we both ended up crying together. And it was just very surreal to be able to kind of have that relationship with her, where I felt like I couldn’t with a lot of other adults in my life at the time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Do you think that the adoption reunification had an overall very positive experience for you?

Michelle:

Yes. I wouldn’t take it back for the world, and I only wish that it could have happened sooner.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And we lost her in 2016. And I know that I still struggle with grieving over her loss and I’m sure you still struggle with the grief over her loss.

Michelle:

Yes.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What do you think that she would to you today so that you could share your experience with other people who maybe have mothers that are going through an adoption reunification and meeting their birth parent for the first time? What do you think she would say to you, using her polite words, to share with them?

Michelle:

Life is bigger and there’s always certain circumstances and that it’s never too late.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Do you think that she would be proud of you with what you have done with your life so far at 24 and where you’re going?

Michelle:

I hope so.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think she would. So when I would go and visit her, because I went and visited her many times throughout the 10 years that I had with her, and I would come home and I would show you pictures and tell you stories about what happened. What did you think about that?

Michelle:

I couldn’t believe that you were able to get so close with somebody that you hadn’t grown up with because I always thought it’s your parents, like you grow up with your parents, so you become close with your parents, and I wasn’t close with my biological dad and never got to reforge that connection. And when I saw how easily and how closely you were able to connect, I guess it just surprised me because I had never realized that that was a possibility.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And did it give you hope?

Michelle:

Yes. It opened my eyes.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. So it was a positive thing?

Michelle:

Yes, definitely positive.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And do you think that your relationship with her impacted or changed your relationship with your adoptive parents?

Michelle:

No. I would say our relationships were completely separate and neither impacted the other. I had my own special relationship with her and I had my own relationship with my adoptive grandparents.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. So I think for everybody listening, the way that we could interpret or look at adoption reunification is really like opening a book. When you start reading a book and you open and you read the first page, you really don’t know what is going to happen throughout your journey and what is going to happen at the end of your story. So look at it like a journey, and appreciate and be present in the moment because you never know how long you’re going to have in that journey. Unfortunately we only had 10 years in that journey and it was cut, I feel very prematurely short, because she did pass away at such a young age. And so because of that, we only have those 10 years of memories.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But if you are embarking on a reunification story or journey and you have that opportunity, take it for what it is, and know that it’s your journey and your story and the way that it winds up going and the events that happen along the way are going to be memories that you’ll have for the rest of your life and cherish every one of them. Not all of them have the same ending, not all of them start off where you think they’re going to start off or end where you think they’re going to end. But again, just being present in that moment will give you insight, and those loved ones around you, insight that hopefully will last a lifetime.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters In Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112, that’s (623) 695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters In Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters In Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m the Executive Director, President and Co-founder of Building Arizona Family’s 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

Today we’re going to be talking about adoption profile books. And adoption profile books are books that a prospective adoptive family creates for birth mothers or birth fathers or both, to see when choosing an adoptive family. The adoption profile book includes pictures, possibly a letter to a birth mother, and explains their lives. Everything from pets to their favorite things, their home, and just a little bit about them. Their extended families sometimes is included. What type of jobs they have. It’s really a snapshot, or many of them, into their actual lives. Kind of in a scrapbook format is the best way I think that you could use to describe what an adoption profile book is.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They’re really fun to look through after you’ve made them. I know lots of birth mothers in our agency, they get to keep the book that the adoptive family has created. And it’s something that they hang onto probably for the rest of their lives. And it’s also neat when adoptive families make these, because when they wind up adopting their child and their child grows up, their child can look through the profile book and see this memento of how their adoption came to be. It’s just one artifact that they can hang onto.

Ron Reigns:

And I also see it as a glimpse into … Especially for the birth parents, a glimpse into what their child’s life could be like with this family. And it’s a precious thing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It is a precious thing. So Robyn is the match coordinator for Building Arizona Families, and has assisted hundreds of prospective adoptive families in creating and reviewing their adoption profile books. And you are also an adoptive mother yourself.

Robyn:

I am.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I have to ask you, before we jump in and hear your tips and tricks about adoption profile books. You’ve done your own.

Robyn:

I did.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And looking back now at your adoption profile book, would you say that, would you keep it the way that it was or would you change it?

Robyn:

I would probably make a little bit of changes, but I’m happy. I’m still looking back at it now, I’m happy with the pictures that I chose, which is obviously a huge part of it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. What are the top three most important things in an adoption profile book?

Robyn:

First, I would say selecting the correct pictures, the right pictures. Second, I always tell people to watch for personal identifying information, because that can sneak in on you when you even don’t expect it. If you have a military person putting a picture of them in uniform, they need to remember that their name is on that. I’ve had teachers take pictures in front of their classrooms and they’ve had their name there. I’ve had people put pictures of their house in there with house numbers. So just remember that personal identifying information to be taken out.

Robyn:

And then I always tell families to always, always include why adoption. Because I think every birth mother that views the profile books wants to know that, why did they choose adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Good. Okay. And what’s your opinion on the birth mother letters?

Robyn:

I think if you’re going to have one, put it in the front of the book but I would keep it to two paragraphs. Lately I have been having people not put them in their book, but when we go to show birth mothers to put a separate letter, that way you can tailor it and make it more original, and not just your typical birth mother letter. You can tailor it to that specific birth mom.

Robyn:

So they won’t put a birth mother letter in their book, but they will add one to just … For us to print and slip in the front of the book for the birth mother to read when she’s reviewing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And what are some suggestions you have about the books? I’ve helped birth mothers choose, but you see the books and work with them prior to that. So what are some recommendations you have?

Robyn:

I would say, again, be very picky about the pictures that you select. I think candid pictures are good throughout your profile book. I think that you need to have no long paragraphs, like that birth mother letter. And if you’re going to do that, keep it short. I think bulleted points work good. I think that you should always, again, always answer why adoption, but I think you should definitely include family holidays and traditions.

Robyn:

And if you do put pictures of your family with other children, make sure you say who those other children are. Because you can look at those pictures and be confused as to, “Okay, does this family have children? Who are these people?” So when you’re putting those pictures in there, always try to explain your pictures.

Ron Reigns:

Now, when’s somebody’s putting together one of these books, actually, you see these all the time. So what’s one of the more common missteps? Is it the identifying information? I mean, what is one thing that you see more often than anything else that you would advise against?

Robyn:

Definitely the identifying information. And then I think people need to select maybe a professional picture on the front with your family, a posed picture on the front, but yet put some candid pictures throughout. Because I think birth mothers commonly misunderstand the pictures if you don’t explain what those pictures are. So when you have your pictures in there of Christmas, tell your different traditions, don’t just stick pictures in there.

Robyn:

So I think some families it’s either one extreme or the other, they get too wordy or they don’t put enough. Because you definitely want to know how they spend their holidays and how they spend their summers and why they chose adoption, but yet some will put too much information and it’s going to get lost in those paragraphs.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What is your favorite and your least favorite things to see when you’re looking at a book?

Robyn:

Wow. My favorite is probably those holiday pictures and traditions, how families spend their holidays. Because you get to see such a wide variety of that. My least favorite is the ones that just stick pictures in there and don’t tell anything.

Robyn:

I look at this as your chance to connect with that birth mother and make that connection and make them want to know more. And if you can make them want to know more, that could lead to your match. It could lead to a phone call prior to your match to ask those more questions, but definitely use the information and the pictures that’s going to draw that attention to wanting to know more.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

How many times have you seen a profile book and said, “I think we need to send this back.” And sent it back before we would even show it.

Robyn:

Yeah. Oh, numerous times. And I try very hard not to hurt feelings when we do that, but just to give constructive criticism. And they may not change it, they may think say, “No, this is what I want to go with.” But I try to be very nice and explain to them, “This is your chance to get her attention.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What would be the best advice that you could give and that you would’ve wished when you did yours, that you had known?

Robyn:

I wish I had used a better program on the computer because when I did mine, I honestly went through a … I don’t remember if it was Walgreens or CVS, but just a little program like that. I wish I had gotten a little bit more creative with the actual programs that are out there right now. I definitely wish that I was done my research.

Robyn:

And then I wish I had gotten feedback. I think it’s important to show to as many people as you can show to, even if they’re not in the adoption world. You could go to family members and say, “Look, what do I need to change here? What needs to be added, what needs to be taken out?” And definitely have the eyes for people to look at extra identifying information that could be hidden in there. And for typos, because we’ve had a lot of books go to be printed and they have typos and grammar mistakes in there. So I would definitely have somebody to review those.

Ron Reigns:

Now, when you say you should have other people review these and take a look at it. Do you think it would help them to have, not necessarily strangers, but somebody a little bit less associated than a family member for instance, because they might give you a more raw, honest truth about it when they look at it.

Robyn:

Absolutely. I would definitely go that route and have the most amount of feedback that you can have on it. And take it as constructive criticism, not try to let it hurt your feelings.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah.

Robyn:

I know that that’s easier said than done, but you want people to be brutally honest with it. Again, because this is your chance to get her attention and to make that connection.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Robyn, thank you so much for joining us today and giving some advice. I know that I, myself, learned things to every time I talk to you. So I really appreciate it.

Robyn:

You are very welcome. I hope you all have a good day.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

All right.

Ron Reigns:

You too, thank you.

Robyn:

Great. Bye-bye.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I’m so grateful to have Robyn back on our podcast again, and listening to her talk about her passion for adoption. And helping to connect adoptive families with birth mothers, and increasing the bond between them, just in this initial step of the adoption profile book. Robyn is, personally and professionally, vested in adoptions, having adopted herself through Building Arizona Families, years and years and years ago. And she is a real asset to adoptive families. Her knowledge, like I said, both personally and professionally, is unprecedented.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I think that she is just an amazing person. And for families that are coming into our adoption program, make sure that you reach out to her and you get her words of wisdom as you’re working on your adoption profile book.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families as a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24, four, seven by phone or text at six, two, three, six, nine, five, 41, 12. That’s six, two, three, six, nine, five, four, one, one, two. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, I Don’t Know, as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

Today we’re going to be talking about podcast confessions of an adoption agency director. I thought as we enter this new season of podcasts, I thought it would be a good time for a confessional.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When I am speaking with adoptive families, birth parents, adoptees, or anybody interested in adoption, what people are most interested in or fascinated by, is the inside scoop. They want to know what happens behind the scenes, the magic formula, the stuff that nobody really wants to talk about, and feel like they have a real sense of understanding.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think that is true in a lot of areas of life. I know that when one of my daughter’s is working at a new fast food restaurant or something, I always want to know, “What’s in the secret sauce?” Or, “Tell me the truth, is this in it or …” You know what I mean? You always want to be an insider.

Ron Reigns:

I agree. And I think that about every job. I think, “Oh, that would be interesting to learn more about that.” We lived in California for a while near Anaheim, and for a while Lisa wanted me to get a job at Disneyland. And then she started talking to people about it and they said, “No, you don’t want a job at Disneyland because it kills the magic. You’ve learned too much.” This is the opposite of that, you want to know how the donuts are made.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I do, I do. Especially the kinds that have the filling. Here is the raw and the behind the scenes information.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I actually have no inhibitions about sharing this type of information, because as we dive into everything, you’re going to learn that as an agency, we’re very transparent. Transparency is the key to any adoption agency’s success. The more adoptive families and birth families can see, understand you are there by eliminating the backstage, and the more safe and secure and reassured you can help people feel. Nobody, or almost nobody, including me, like surprises. Do you like surprises, Ron?

Ron Reigns:

It’s a mixed bag. I like some surprises, I don’t like all surprises. But yeah, I understand what you’re saying. You want to be prepared for whatever comes. And sometimes things come out of the woodwork that you’re like, “Wait, where’d that come from? I’m not ready for that”.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

One of the first questions that I often get asked is, is domestic adoption risky? Bottom line, yes, it is. It is just as risky as infertility or a traditional pregnancy. Risk, I think the word in and of itself is an all-encompassing word and there are varying degrees to it. Some adoptions may appear less risky or more risky at various stages in the adoption journey.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We’re going to talk a little bit about infertility in a little bit, but infertility is also risky, just like a normal traditional pregnancy can be risky. You can be pregnant with your biological child and as you’re moving through your pregnancy journey, there can be factors that increase your risk. And so is adoption any different than that? No.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But let’s talk about some of the risks that we may encounter. Sometimes adoptions will start off or begin as, what we would consider, a lower type risk adoption. But circumstances in the birth family’s lives may change, which may make their adoption plan less stable. For example, their financial situation may change into a positive direction. Family members may take issue with their adoption choice, or maybe they didn’t form as close of a bond with their adoptive family as they had expected to.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Other situations, where the birth parents had an adoption plan that we may have had initial concerns about as an agency, but then those risks slowly became eliminated as the journey went on, would include maybe child protective services removed some of the birth mother’s other children. Maybe the relationship between the birth mother and the birth father has been terminated. Or maybe be their situation financially took a turn for the worse.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Risks can ebb and flow. I had mentioned that we were going to talk about infertility, because a lot of times adoption is compared to infertility. When you cannot biologically have a child without external measures, your choices are adoption, infertility or choosing to live life without having children.

Ron Reigns:

Well, according to the American Pregnancy Association the success rate depends on a number of factors, including reproductive history, maternal age, the cause of infertility, and lifestyle factors. It’s also important to understand that pregnancy rates are not the same as live birth rates. In the United States the live birth rate for each IVF cycle started as approximately 41 to 43% of women under age 35, 33 to 36% for women 35 to 37, 23 to 27% for women ages 38 to 40, and only 13 to 18% for women over 40.

Ron Reigns:

And according to CCRM Fertility, the chances of pregnancy will depend on the age of the women’s eggs, and many of their factors particular to a couple. But on average, only 37% of assisted reproductive cycles for women under 35 result in live births, a chance of success decrease with age.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In looking at these numbers, the standard percentage for domestic adoption, the average they say across United States. And again, we’ve talked about before understanding that every agency or attorney will define their success rate by certain factors and you really want to get clarity on that. But that being said, the standard is 50%. Our agency, Building Arizona Families, is between 70% and 80%, and so sometimes even higher. So if you look at it, is domestic adoption risky? Sure. But again, so are a lot of other apps.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

All right, going on. What situations make me nervous, as the adoption agency director, about an adoption being successful? Do I ever get a bit nervous? Absolutely. Some things that make me nervous in terms of adoptions having a happy ending, is when we find out that a birth parent has been dishonest or has not disclosed important information.

Ron Reigns:

Of course.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That obviously makes me question in my head how committed and serious she is towards her adoption process. When an adoptive family says things or acts in a way where the birth parents get offended, uncomfortable or upset, that also really concerns me. Because that, again, in my mind, is placing the adoption potentially in jeopardy.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When an adoptive family becomes entitled and demanding during the adoption journey, this mentality is actually translated and oftentimes picked up by the birth parents. And this does not result in a positive income. All birth parents are looking for four core things. They’re looking for respect, trust, love, and commitment. And I would say that those four things are universal for all of us, whether we’re a birth parent or not.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

There was this one family that I will never forget. They had matched with a birth mother and a birth father, and so the couple was together. And they went in to the hospital with the birth parents. The baby was delivered and the birth parents started to struggle about their adoption choice. And so during the struggle they had asked the adoptive family to step out so they could have some time to think. And the adoptive family asked them, “Would you like us to go back to the hotel? Do you want us to stay close?” And the birth mom said, “I really don’t want you to leave the hospital. I just want some time.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so the adoptive family went outside the hospital door to her room and they sat down up against the wall. And the nurses would come in and out. Everybody knew at that point that the birth parents were really struggling. Our case workers gave the birth parents time to focus on and really decide what was best for them. And so everybody just gave them space.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

A lot of times, this is where adoptive families, with all due cause, really panic. And sometimes when they panic they say things or do things that don’t help the situation. Even against our advice, they still want to take it into their own hands and that’s where concerns develop. So this adoptive family remained very calm and would tell the nursing staff, “No, we don’t need anything. We’re fine.” Same with our staff, they were like, “No, we’re good. You guys just keep on going. We’re fine, we’re fine.” They waited out there for 12 hours Ron.

Ron Reigns:

Oh my God.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And again, their attitude was just as positive at hour 12 as it was an hour one. And-

Ron Reigns:

That is incredible.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

They must have been supporting each other as well then in that. Because I’m sure each of them individually had times of weakness where they’re like, “We’ve got to go in there and do something.” And the other said, “No.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No, they didn’t appear to be. I mean-

Ron Reigns:

Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

… they were very cohesive. This was their first child. They were a very cohesive married couple.

Ron Reigns:

Cool.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And yes, they were very supportive of each other. And what was so beautiful about it is when a couple takes that stand of, “We understand that this is hard. We understand that you’re struggling, and we support you even during your struggle and honor your choice.” At the end of the 12 hours, the birth parents called them back into the room and they had found peace in their adoption choice and their journey. And they moved on and continued, and the adoption went through without a hitch.

Ron Reigns:

They were ready.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

They were. Had that not happened the way … Had they been knocking on the door, asking to see the baby, starting to really question everything, that vibe goes off. And nobody wants to be pressured, especially in an adoption situation because that’s where, if there’s coercion, it can be overturned and we don’t want any of that happening. They handled it beautifully. And that was a really hard 12 hours. That was really, really hard.

Ron Reigns:

I’m sure, yeah. I’m sure it was hard for everybody. Just pins and needles for everybody. Now, I imagine you tell that story to potential adoptive families on a regular basis.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes.

Ron Reigns:

But I can’t imagine that … I mean, how do you impart that wisdom to somebody who just doesn’t have it? I mean-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think finding peace in a place where there is no peace, and at that moment there wasn’t for them. I think that’s where you have to dig deep inside yourself and find some either source of faith or find something that will just calm you down. I’ve seen people pull out essential oils and they’re smelling them, anything to just bring that anxiety down.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think though that by having a good attitude and saying, “No matter what, we’re going to support these birth parents. Even if they choose to parent, that’s their choice.” And so because they were so positive and so loving and so real and raw in their emotions, they had a great outcome.

Ron Reigns:

Wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And a lot of times you just need to have families settle down when there are those moments of uncertainty. And when you’re dealing with families that don’t handle crisis well, that don’t handle the surprises and the roller coaster well. They really need more time prior to the adoption plan or being matched or the baby being born, of really being able to settle themselves down. Because when you come in like a bull in a China shop it really off throws everything.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I would say, the best advice that I could give to adoptive families is really, before you begin your adoption journey, find a way to settle yourself down, find your center of peace. And again, some people find that in faith, some people find that meditating, some people find that in their spouse. And they’re able, like you said, to just really together connect and be able to be that stability for each other.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

One other thing is, is sometimes what scares me or makes me nervous or what I think about is birth parents, you’ve heard stories and read it on Google and seen it on Lifetime movies. Oh, the birth mother wasn’t honest, or the birth father wasn’t honest. Sometimes it’s the adoptive families.

Ron Reigns:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And we’ve had situations where we’ve had to exit birth mothers, birth fathers, adoptive moms, adoptive fathers, out of our program because they weren’t honest. And rather than, as an agency, looking at stereotypes and stigmas, we look at the whole picture. We have had situations where applications were not filled out correctly by both sides. We’ve also had situations where they both were not forthright, both the adoptive families and the birth parents. It is startling to hear of it. Sometimes adoptive families are not honest in their home study or they’re not honest in their application.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so I think what I really want to get out there in terms of the behind the scenes is, you got to look at the whole picture. It’s not just the stereo and the stigma of birth parents. Both adoptive parents and birth parents are equally nervous. That’s the one thing that people don’t realize. Birth parents are not as stigmatized or stereotyped as being nervous like the adoptive family is, but they are. They’re both nervous about being accepted by the opposite party, the commitment of the opposite party. If the birth mother is using drugs during her pregnancy, she may be very worried that something may be wrong with the baby. And is the adoptive family going to stay in the adoption and love the baby unconditionally, as if they were delivering their own child?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Funding, both sides worry about funding. The birth mother is worried that her funding is going to continue after the delivery for six weeks. And the family is sometimes worried because there are sometimes unexpected expenses. And so they worry about the funding, or maybe they’re using grants. Both sides are worried about the baby’s health, I would say equally.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And the committed adoptive parents, sometimes you see things that are just a light. You’re going through and you’re doing adoption after adoption. And sometimes there’ll be a note in the doctor’s medical records, it’ll say, “You know what? We are concerned. We need to do more tests.” And you have the families that panic and say, “We don’t know if we can proceed, depending on what the results are.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And then you have the other families that say, “This is our child, or will be our child. There are no guarantees in life. Even if this was our biological child, there’s no guarantees. We’re in. We love the birth mother, we love the baby. We’re here.” Those are the ones that send chills up your spine because those families, you can feel good about the adoption, no matter what the outcome.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Also, both sides are nervous about the post-adoption communication agreement. They want to make sure that it’s followed. If you are an adoptive family and you are doing an open adoption, you want that birth mother to be a part of your life and your child’s life. And the birth mother wants to make sure that you’re going to follow through as an adoptive parent on the post-adoption communication as well.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The next topic is one that is a little controversial and one that I have been looked at … I get that surprised look, when we talk about birth parents returning. I am not of the mindset that it is celebratory when a birth parent returns to do a second adoption. I do feel very grateful that they chose our agency again. But our goal is when a birth mother has placed a baby for adoption, that she then leaves the agency in a better place than she came. And we want her to be successful in her own life and move on and accomplish great things.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When we find her coming back into the program, it means that she is still in a place where she’s choosing not to parent and she is pregnant again. And maybe this was an unplanned pregnancy again. So we, as an agency, will encourage and offer birth control to every birth mother before she leaves. The agency will actually pay for them to receive birth control if their insurance doesn’t cover it. We developed our aftercare program, the Donna Kay Evans Foundation, to further ensure that they are able to leave the program in a better place than when they came in.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But if we’ve taken these measures and they find themselves pregnant and are choosing to make another adoption plan, we are so elated and it is such a compliment that they’re choosing us again. That means that we did a good job the first time. And yes, we definitely try to keep the siblings together. So we always offer the adoptive family, if they’re able and willing, to be the adoptive family for this child as well. Again, assuming the adoptive family is ready and willing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But overall, I really want to put it out there that yes, adoption agencies, it is a business, but first and foremost, it’s a social service agency. And we’re there to help women move out of the situation that they’re in and make their lives better. It’s not so that they will come back into another adoption, it’s so that they can be and achieve the very same dreams and goals that they’re choosing for their baby to receive. And I think that it’s really important to remember first and foremost, that as a nonprofit social service agency our goals are very different than a regular business. Our goals are the success of women. And we want them to succeed because that shows that we’re doing a great job.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families as a local Arizona adoption agency and available 24, seven by phone or text at six, two, three, six, nine, five, 41, 12. That’s six, two, three, six, nine, five, four, one, one, two. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com.

Ron Reigns:

Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, I Don’t Know, as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us, we’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmother matterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m the Executive Director, President and co-founder of Building Arizona Family’s 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

We have begun season two, and this is second episode. John, thank you so much for joining us. We have heard so much about you. I do know you personally, but we have heard so much about you on the podcast from your dad. All delightful things, how amazing you are. And I’m going to just jump right into this episode because I have been wanting to talk to you about this for probably six to nine months.

John:

Excellent. Can I say congratulations on season two? That’s awesome. Season two, episode two. I’m glad to be on it. And I’m honored to have been spoken about. It’s just good to be here. So thank you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We’re happy to have you. I want to start off, like I said, I’m just going to kind of jump into this be because your dad in my opinion is one of the bravest, most forthright men, and he represents so many other men that don’t have the courage or the bravery to come forward and talk about what they feel is one of, if not their biggest mistakes and their biggest regrets. And not only is he standing up for those that don’t have the courage to stand up, but he’s going there and going to places that people just don’t go to. And you are absolutely following in his tracks by agreeing to come on the show and talk to us about your thoughts and your feelings, and just know that regardless of what you say, no judgment. But it’s important to really talk about this issue that we’re talking about. And today we are revisiting the issue of abortion.

John:

Okay.

Ron Reigns:

Now a while back, John, I had asked you to listen to one of our podcasts in particular. It was the one where I discussed a choice I had made, or your mother and I had a long time ago concerning abortion. I don’t know if you actually listened to that, did you?

John:

I’m not sure if I got to listen to that one exactly.

Ron Reigns:

Oh, okay. Yeah. But so now did you know, so this is a revelation maybe to you, that we had had actually, she had had two abortions, one of them from a previous relationship and one of them with me before we ever had you, got married, any of that. Did you know any of this?

John:

Yeah, I did talk to, it was either you or her and I’ve known probably for about six months.

Ron Reigns:

Oh, okay.

John:

So yes, I’ve had a bit of time to process said, I don’t know if I’ve fully processed what that means. And that internal who am I thought process that comes with it, but yes, I am aware of that choice and the choices that were made. But I’m glad to answer questions on anything that you want to hear from me about it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

The reason that I think this topic is so important, especially understanding how choices that we make as young adults or middle aged adults, how they’re going to impact future generations and how they’re going to impact those we love the most. And when we are in that moment of, okay, so, I’m experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, what are my choices? What am I going to do? And Ron, you have shared that you didn’t really in depth, think about your choice before it was made. Is that correct?

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely. At the time it was the expedient choice. It was “I’m in a bind here and just the easiest way out.” And that’s, I think how I looked at it, although I never really thought as a 50 year old man, I would look back and regret that choice and every day, miss a child that was never brought into this world because of that choice. And now, so John, for instance, have you, since we talked about this or since you and your mom talked about it, have you ever thought I could have had an older or two older brothers or sisters or any variation in there of, have you thought about that at all?

John:

Strangely, no. And it might sound selfish. It may sound self-centered. I always thought that maybe the first could have been me still. I’d never… And that’s kind of the philosophical, I guess, way that I thought about it.

Ron Reigns:

And there have been a couple of younger siblings.

John:

Correct. I just, I never thought about it as a form of two separate entities. Yeah. And it might be weird. It’s just kind of how my mind went to it. And that might just be, I don’t know if that’s selfish. I don’t know if that’s just me pushing it to the side or pushing away those sad thoughts.

Ron Reigns:

I’ve always thought that it’s… I mean, when you look at life, it’s hard to conceptualize things that happened before, especially as you’re younger, but all throughout life, it’s hard to conceptualize anything, whether it be history or whatever that happened before you ever existed. Okay. So when I look back to things that happened in the sixties, they don’t quite seem real because I wasn’t even born yet. And things started getting more concrete or real to me if they actually existed during the time that I existed. Does that kind of make sense or so maybe that’s why you feel the way you do?

John:

Maybe. I think so.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

John:

And maybe part of me my whole life, maybe when I was very, very young, I heard conversations or overheard things that made me face that reality already. Because it didn’t surprise me to hear those things.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

John:

I was not… I didn’t go and sit in my room or sit in my car and ponder deeply about it. It may have just been a reality I already had.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

John, you grew up as an only child, correct?

John:

Until I was six.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. And then you had a younger or older?

John:

Younger brother, with my mom and stepfather being the parents of him.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Did you ever want to have an older sibling?

John:

No, I enjoy that I’ve been the older sibling to my brother.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. That’s probably a huge relief for your dad, I will say.

John:

Right. Well, I mean…

Ron Reigns:

It takes a little of the pressure off, definitely.

John:

Maybe. I mean, I’m sure. I, I do my best to be a good younger brother, but going through my whole life, being that older brother, the one that has to learn to share everything, the one that has to try and protect this little person, it really changed my outlook on life.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Wow.

Ron Reigns:

When you look at it in your philosophical way, where you’re saying that you might have been that because you would still be the first child, so it might have been you anyway and then maybe have a couple of younger siblings.

John:

Right.

Ron Reigns:

Do you ever, I mean, this is kind of odd, but do you ever think what it would be like if you were now 30 instead of 26? You know what I mean?

John:

I feel 30. I don’t know if that’s…

Ron Reigns:

Don’t feel bad, I feel 70.

John:

… Just a living problem. So yeah. I don’t know. My age has been a… The only time I look to age is that I look forward, kind of hopeful and I look back wishing I had done more. I feel like I’m in maybe this limbo state that I don’t… Maybe I do feel 30. I don’t know what it’s like to feel 30 and I don’t know what it’s like to feel 26.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

John:

My spirit, whatever conjurence of me that might be 30 years old. Right. My outlook on life might be 30 years old.

Ron Reigns:

Interesting.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What an interesting perspective. Yeah.

John:

Thank you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. When you heard and you first learned about their choice, were you upset, were you a little bit angry? Were you relieved? Were you just indifferent?

John:

I was relieved. And I wasn’t relieved because of how I felt, more so with my mom, less with my dad, because I feel like you’ve come to terms with it when you told me about it. But I feel like my whole life, my mother has never come to terms with the choices that she’s made. I feel like she regrets it every day. And I had to see that on her face every day. When she finally told me that was, I could see that she could breathe fully for the first time, if that makes sense. And I was so happy to see her like that.

Ron Reigns:

To get that off her chest.

John:

To feel like she could share her act with me, the thing that she possibly regrets her whole life.

Ron Reigns:

Wow. See, and I didn’t even know this. I mean, we never, especially back then, talked about… And I don’t know that at the time I did have regrets and I don’t know if she did at that time either. But, so yeah. I didn’t know this is how she felt. I haven’t talked to your mom in years, to be honest. But I am glad that that helping to unburden that for her, because I know how it’s made me feel and I know that I still have regrets about it. And you say, I’ve come to terms. And to some degree I have, I’ve really gone through it a lot in my head, especially over the last couple of years, but I don’t know if I’ve totally come to terms with it because I still regret it.

John:

The way I see it is that it was never my choice to make. I don’t feel like I’ve really missed somebody in my life, in that way, as it being a physical person. I feel like I’ve been missing the full reality of my parents, the full character of my parents, because they’ve kept that bottled away from me, changing how they feel about me.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

When you say that, do you think maybe they clung to you just a little bit harder and loved you just a little bit more because of the choice?

John:

I feel like I’ve been extremely gifted with the amount of love that I’ve been showered with my whole life. Sometimes to a fault because I just look for love wherever I can find it. I seek it. I want to be with people who love me and that’s because I had such loving parents, which makes it difficult for me to be by myself sometimes. I’m getting better at that. So…

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well I have to say, I mean your acceptance level and your support of your parents is unprecedented. I mean, it really shows what an amazing job that they both did. And I’m not sitting in your father’s shoes, but if I was, I know I would feel a huge sense of relief. Ron, am I nailing it?

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, you absolutely are. I mean, you know me, it’s hard to stop me from talking about John and my pride for him and in him is always something that I just can’t let go of, ever. I’ll always be just as proud as I am, but yeah, it does… I don’t know. I want to know something about you as a person. Now, knowing what you do know about what we did some 30 years ago or close to, if you ever found yourself in that situation where you were with somebody and you got her pregnant before you were expecting to or thought you should, or just didn’t think it was the right time. Do you think that what we did in the past might help you make that decision one way or another? Do you think it might make it easier to go through with an abortion? Or do you think you might think of alternatives that I didn’t think of when I was young? Like for instance, adoption or things like that. Do you think that’s colored your view on this topic?

John:

Yes. I feel like it’s colored my view. I don’t feel I’m going to be put in a position with somebody where I would end up potentially having a child, unless I knew they were the one that I wanted to have a child with. So your actions, the way that I’ve learned from both of you, my parents, is that even before, that’s a possibility, I want to choose the person that I can have a child with. I don’t want it to be a choice I have to make. I don’t think it’s a choice I ever want to make. So I’m going to avoid that choice. If it were a situation where I wasn’t expecting to have someone be pregnant, I know that I’d be okay with it because I know that that would be the person I would want to have a child with.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

John:

And hopefully they would want to have one with me. And if they don’t, that’s a whole another story. That’s taking everything they value in life and talking about those values with them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What an incredible answer. I mean, seriously, that is yes.

Ron Reigns:

Now see, don’t you see why every day I have just these prideful moments and it’s just like, see, he’s learned from my mistakes. He’s moving ahead in his life in a way that’s actually informed, unlike the way I have led much of my life. So, yeah. I’m awful proud.

John:

I make plenty of mistakes, just different ones.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s how we learn.

John:

Exactly. Pass on those stories.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I always say we can’t high without the lows. And you can’t make great decisions without having made some mistakes. So, but I have to say that you coming on the podcast today and talking to us about this, again, people don’t talk about the after effects of an abortion. They don’t talk about how it’s going to impact people 30 years down the road.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And that’s why your father coming in and discussing it was so revolutionary and so amazing and so brave. And that’s why you coming on, you’re following in his footsteps, you’re doing the same thing because to learn six months ago that you could have had more siblings and to be able to even talk about that without fear of judgment or without fear of hurting someone’s feelings or without… It’s one of those things that you have to put it out there because there’s so many people just like you in your shoes that don’t know how to process that information and don’t know where to go with it and don’t know how to feel about it, or should they be angry or should they be upset or should they be relieved or where do you take this? And so your responses are without a doubt going to help so many people that are out there. And I can’t thank you enough.

John:

Thank you for having me. One last note for me before I let you guys take it away, do your thing. I hope that anyone listening to this, if you are a parent, who’s gone through something similar to my father and mother, please talk to your children about it. They’re intelligent. They see things, they feel things they can read the emotions through your eyes. Tell them so that they can learn from you. And thank you for listening to this podcast because I feel spreading that word will make a lot of people’s lives, a lot more meaningful and full.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families as a local Arizona adoption agency and available twenty four seven by phone or text at (623)-695-4112 that’s 623-695-4112. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan, or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at AZpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song I don’t know as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns.

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’m the Executive Director, President, and co-founder of Building Arizona Family’s 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 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 Rourke-Scarry:

Ron, we have to welcome our listeners to the first episode of Season 2.

Ron Reigns:

Dun, dun, dun.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We made it all the way through Season 1. We did our first hundred episodes, which is incredible, just even saying that.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And we have ventured on into Season 2. And so we want to thank, obviously everybody who stayed with us, welcome the new listeners that have joined us along the way, and I want to appreciate each and every one of them.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean, I never thought that we would have this much interest. And I don’t look at it as much as interest in us, but interest in the adoption process and learning about all of the nuances of adoption.

Ron Reigns:

And specifics. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. The more we can educate and learn the better we can do, the better we are. I mean, if you’re going to go and have heart surgery, you don’t want to talk to somebody who has, to have surgery done by that just read the book.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You want somebody who’s tried and true and has practice, even though they call it practicing medicine. But, and I think that’s really important to understand. So I’m so excited that people are showing an interest in adoption. I do take it personally since I was adopted. And I feel that maybe my life would’ve been even better had adoption been talked about like it is today. And if people have the correct knowledge, then we can just keep on sailing from here. In looking back at the last hundred episodes, and just saying that makes me giggle a little bit, the last hundred episodes. Well, the first hundred, I noticed that there were definitely topics that people really seemed to like and really wanted information on. So I thought that we would take this next season and really just do head dive into deeper levels of those topics.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And those include: abortion, adoption disruptions from both perspectives, both the birth mothers and the adoptive parents. Starting in the beginning and how to even prepare for an adoption journey and where you even go once you get the inclination or the idea or the suggestion, Hey, you should adopt. What does that really mean? Rather than, when somebody says, oh, you should consider adopting. Somebody may take a step back and think, what are you laying on me?

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

What are you saying, when you are being picked by a birth mother? We’re going to talk about, we’re going to do a whole podcast on making your adoption profile book. We’re going to have Robin come back and talk to us about what she talks to adoptive families when they’re starting them. I can jump in because I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of birth mothers choose an adoptive family. And I can tell you what they like, what they don’t like, we’re going to go really into depth. Also, we need to stay on top of what’s happening in the adoption world and in the abortion world, because with the pending election, issues and topics and new laws are being proposed and it’s on fire. It’s like a wildfire.

Ron Reigns:

It truly is, yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And then topics that we touched on, we’re going to also dive into these. We’re going to talk more about ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We’re going to hear from a specialist. We’re going to hear more from birth mothers and more from adopted families. And I think it’s important to really dive into what ICPC is, Interstate Compact Placement Agreement. What is that? And what does it mean for families who are traveling between states when they’re choosing an out-of-state adoption agency? We’re going to talk to legal experts and find out more about when a case is presented in front of them, how they handle it? What it means legally, what the ramifications are. And so much more. I’m really excited about the next hundred episodes.

Ron Reigns:

I am very excited, also. I think we did a great job on the first one-hundred episodes, and I think that’s only going to progress and get better with the new season, and with any seasons after that. So I’m proud of what we do. And I think this is a great direction for us. I’m looking forward to each and every episode.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So in this episode, I thought what we would do is kind of look at where we are now.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In order to look forward, you have to be able to stand in one place. And so we’re going to stand in one place today and we’re just going to look around at what has happened around us.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

According to azfamily.com, there was a girl that was featured in an adoption slideshow that found her forever home. And I guess this was a story about a girl who was the first in the first adoption slideshow to find her forever home. And I will let you jump into that.

Ron Reigns:

Definitely. Alice and Jim [inaudible 00:06:45] had eight adopted children and five children between them, but their kids were grown up and out of the house and they wanted to adopt again. Originally, their plan had been to adopted child over thirteen, but when they saw nine-year-old Gloria in the slideshow they knew that they found their daughter. The couple began fostering her in late 2019 and her adoption was completed in June. Shortly after coming home, Gloria asked to change her name to Lindy Noelle. Lindy is already thriving. When she first moved in she could barely read children’s board books, now she’s reading chapter books and scriptures. Alice said that Lindy’s team from the Department of Child Safety has been exceptional. Not only have they provided all the needed services throughout her time in the foster care system and since the adoption, but they continue to inquire about her.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

This is Arizona’s first adoption slideshow, like I said, and they have their first child that benefited from this opportunity. And I’m just so grateful that we, as a state, are moving in the right direction for children.

Ron Reigns:

With this slide show, this is the first of hopefully many waves of children that will be adopted through this process. I think that’s cool.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I think finding forever homes for older children is just amazing. And I think any avenue that we can help provide to facilitate that process is something that needs to be poured into. All right, according to the Christian Post, over a hundred pro-life Democrat leaders urge Biden, Democratic party to soften stance an abortion. I found this fascinating because typically you associate pro-choice with the left side.

Ron Reigns:

Right, with the Democratic Party, and the people on the left, a little more liberal.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so I was very happy to hear this. They stated that a group of more than a hundred Democratic politicians, including a Governor and members of Congress, have signed a letter urging the Democratic Party to soften its stance on abortion. I feel that we’re headed as a nation in the right direction.

Ron Reigns:

I think so too. And this gives us a lot of hope that we are proceeding in the right direction, and that in a hundred years, people will look back on this time and see it as something that as a nation, we should not celebrate and that maybe we should even be ashamed of.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Agree.

Ron Reigns:

And I hope that’s where we’re heading over the next many years.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And if it’s not where we’re heading, it’s where we need to be headed.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Because it goes on to state in this article that many Democratic leaders support abortion at any time for any reason. And this position is opposed by 79% of Americans. The 2016 Democratic platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion, opposed by a super majority of the population. [crosstalk 00:09:34] The same platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion in developing countries, opposed by three fourth of voters. And then the letter went on to say that in 389 out of 435 congressional districts, a majority of voters support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. And we’ve talked about this ad nauseam. I mean.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We really need to understand what that means. And at 20 weeks, what a baby looks like at 20 weeks.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And we’re talking about a baby.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, I think this is a positive direction and it is something that I’m very happy to hear. That they are softening, some of them anyway, on their stance. So this is fantastic.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. And then again, the article goes on to say accordingly, we urge the Democratic Party to embrace policies that protect both women and children. Legal protection for the preborn children and improved prenatal care for women in need, especially women of color. Alternatives to abortion and a comprehensive culture of life free from violence, poverty, and racism. Amen. So I think that is exceedingly important. One thing that I think that we together, Ron, really need to keep an eye on is, unfortunately in 2020 we have to acknowledge that we do have a pending election and keeping politics completely out of the podcast is unrealistic.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s just unrealistic. The topics hit very close to home when you’re talking about abortion, and adoption, and women’s rights. It just all comes together. And so I felt like before we could close this episode, we really needed to acknowledge: Joe Biden announced that Senator Kamala Harris was going to be his Vice Presidential running mate. The campaign was described by Susan B. Anthony’s List President, Marjorie Dannenfelser, as the most pro-abortion presidential ticket in American history.

Ron Reigns:

And see while we’re coming off this story that is such good news, we’re now facing this story, which could be potentially such horrible news for the abortion issue.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. For all the babies.

Ron Reigns:

For all the babies.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So I think that this is something that we will have to keep an eye on. We will have to provide updates as to the stance that is taken. I did look into it a little bit and was disappointed because I feel like as a Nation we’ve come so far. We’re looking at whether or not as a Nation, we really made the right choice back in 1973. And you and I have stances that we did not, as a Nation, make the right choice.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And making abortion legal led to death, after death, after death.

Ron Reigns:

Millions.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Of all these babies. And it feels like two steps forward. How many steps back?

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Because this isn’t a one step back, if this was to happen, so.

Ron Reigns:

No, this is a huge thing. And I would never want to influence somebody’s vote. I feel like.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No, that’s not my point.

Ron Reigns:

Whether it’s religion or this or whatever, I’m not here to tell you how to vote or live or whatever. However, if abortion, and also adoption, are big issues for you, then you need to take that into consideration before putting out your vote, I think. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption.

Ron Reigns:

If you’re listening and you’re dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency and available twenty-four seven by phone or text at (623) 695-4112 that’s 6-2-3-6-9-5-4-1- 1-2. We can make an immediate appointment with you to get started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or just get you more information. You can also find out more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks also go out to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, I Don’t Know, as our theme song. Birth Mother Matters in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d really appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.