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.

Lindsey:
I’m not ready, you know, and it wouldn’t be fair. It’s selfish of me to keep a baby that I can’t take care of. This was my first child. All I could think about was needing to save my son. And maybe this will be an opportunity for you to change your life, get off the street, and turn your life around and help somebody else in the process.

Kelly R.:
I’m Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the co-founder of Building Arizona Families, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the developer of the You Before Me campaign. I have been in the adoption field for 15 years. I have both personal and professional experience in adoption. I was adopted myself, and I also have been a social worker my entire career. 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 think a really important question to be asked is, how does adoption benefit biological mothers?

Ron Reigns:
Right. I mean, we’ve been talking a lot about how their gracious act is benefiting the child and benefiting the adoptive parents. But yeah, how are they benefited by it?

Kelly R.:
Yeah, that’s a really good question because when somebody is looking at the choices of, can I parent, do I place my child for adoption, or consider abortion, they’re looking at, “Well, if I have this baby that’s nine months of my life that I’m investing into this child.” I think it is absolutely reasonable to say, “I still have to be me after the nine months, and this is really going to affect me.” And it is. The adoption really does affect you, but it’s going to affect you in a good way. And the other ways that are harder to deal with, that’s what an agency is for. That’s what we help with. Does it benefit the biological mother? Absolutely.

Kelly R.:
Not only can an adoption agency like ours help you with financial resources, but our agency itself has a food pantry. And we have a maternity closet, so we get donations of clothing. We also have a book nook, so if you’re a reader and you like to read … I’m a huge proponent of education, and so I always make sure that we have actual books rather than just tablets and phones. And so there are resources that we try to provide that are geared for our average birth mother that comes in.

Kelly R.:
At Christmas time we have kind of like a Santa’s workshop, to where we had Santa come in last year and it was really neat. We had adoptive families that were local come in with the baby and the birth mom and they got to take pictures together. We had a Santa shop where we had toys so birth mothers, both current and previous, if they had other children they could come in and shop and it was all free for them. And then we had volunteers that were helping wrap and … you know, just so that they could have their own Christmas because every mother, whether she places the baby for adoption or not, and has a child, really wants to make sure that they are able to give their child a gift for Christmas.

Kelly R.:
And so, adoption can benefit biological mothers because it still keeps them in their baby’s life. If they choose open adoption, they’ll still get to see pictures and letters and have visits and watch their child grow up and have a special relationship with that child. It’s different than if you’re raising your own child, but it’s still special and it’s unique.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely, just as special.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely. I can tell you that when I met my birth mother after I was an adult, we became best friends. We were talking on the phone three to four times a day.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly R.:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R.:
Yeah. And it was so interesting to learn as an adoptee … to have that familiar connection. You know, to look at somebody in the eyes and realize, oh, you have brown spots in your eyes like I do in mine. And you know, to make the same facial expressions and have the same likes and dislikes in food, which I didn’t even know existed.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And you have told me personally … not on the show, but you’ve told me that you see your daughters do things that remind you of your mother.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
So you see that being passed-

Kelly R.:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
… down and you still get to see it. That’s awesome.

Kelly R.:
I do. I do. And I never knew where that came from. When I see the strong will of any of my kids, I absolutely think, “There’s my mama.” Yes, little traits that she did, little funny things, and it wasn’t even behaviors that were modeled. It was DNA. It was really interesting when I met her to see like, I do that. That’s how my brain thinks too.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
And so, it-

Ron Reigns:
So someday are you going to end up with a little squirrel named Survivor of your own?

Kelly R.:
I hope so. I’m working on my husband at the moment.

Ron Reigns:
Okay, okay. Good for you.

Kelly R.:
I’m working on it, yeah. One peace of mind that I think adoption gives the birth mother, is peace of mind. You know, when they place a baby for adoption, it’s a sacred trust. They’re trusting the agency that they’re going to help them pick the best adoptive family for them, with them, and they’re going to trust the adoptive family to raise the baby in the manner they want the baby raised. You know, sometimes birth mothers will want traditions kept. For instance, my adoptive mom, we had a tradition of star eyes in pumpkins. Every time you carved a pumpkin, one of the pumpkins has to have star eyes.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly R.:
Really.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly R.:
I think it’s so funny, because when my kids were younger, we started that. You know, I just continued it. It wasn’t even something I thought about.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
Now my now 16, almost 17-year-old will not carve a pumpkin without star eyes. She is the avant-garde of the star eyes.

Ron Reigns:
She loves the star-eyed pumpkins.

Kelly R.:
Yes, and so that is her thing. And it’s those little things that birth mothers can share with the adoptive family, just carry it on. And so-

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, do this little thing for me and our child. Yeah.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, and it’s incredible, the stories that come out of it. And like I said, ours was the star-eyed pumpkins. Did you have any traditions?

Ron Reigns:
None that I can talk about on the radio, no.

Kelly R.:
You didn’t have any traditions?

Ron Reigns:
Nothing that’s standing out at the moment.

Kelly R.:
Seriously?

Ron Reigns:
I mean, yeah. No, just … We were average milquetoast kids. Yeah, nothing exciting.

Kelly R.:
Okay.

Ron Reigns:
I’ll think of it. If I think of one, I’ll throw it in later.

Kelly R.:
All right. All right. So again, some other benefits … They get the financial assistance. They’re not sleeping on a park bench. I have so many women that come in that are homeless when they come to us. I’ve had people who were sleeping in the alcove in the stairs of an apartment building, to sleeping behind an air conditioner, to sleeping during the day because they walk all night because they’re too scared. So for safety and security, what they do is they sleep all day.

Ron Reigns:
When it’s day time.

Kelly R.:
Yes, and they walk the streets at night. That’s a really hard life. And when you’re pregnant and you’re hormonal and it’s hot out and you’re getting bigger and the baby’s getting bigger, that’s awful. And you’re hungry. So, choosing an adoption plan alleviates you of those immediate stresses. When you look at like, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you know you’ve got to stabilize yourself before you can really make those big decisions and really understand, okay, this is life. You know, I’m not having to worry about where my next meal is or if I can take a shower or if I can lock the door when I close my eyes. Adoption offers you that.

Kelly R.:
And then an aftercare program is supposed to solidify it. That’s the goal. It’s supposed to say, “Okay. So now that you’ve had the baby, you go into an aftercare program and you rebuild your own life so that you don’t wind up walking the streets at night and sleeping during the day.” And you know, the aftercare program is really, I think one of the biggest benefits for a birth mom. It gives you the opportunity to get a GED if you don’t have one. We do job searches and job train so we can help with a resume and help you find a job. We have a job board.

Ron Reigns:
And maybe even get you on the path to a career.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely. We’ve actually helped women get into beauty colleges. We’ve helped them get grants. We’ve helped them by paying an admission fee. We’ve seen women become advocates for other women. We’ve seen women who come into the program, like I said, get long term housing. These are women that, when they came to us, they were the ones walking the streets at night. We’ve seen women have a baby, place the baby for adoption, go and do the prison time, and with our program we will actually pick them up when they are released.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly R.:
Uh-huh (affirmative), and bring them back to our aftercare program and help them re-acclimate with services-

Ron Reigns:
And try and get back on their feet.

Kelly R.:
… and get back on their feet, yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Wow. Give them a head start.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely, because we can provide emergency housing vouchers. So there’s so much that adoption can do. We just need society to see the value in women. That’s where a lot of the stigma can lie. When you see a woman on the street and she’s got a sign and she’s pregnant, what I don’t think all of society is recognizing, is how much these women matter. When they walk in and their self esteem is lower than low, by rebuilding them up, they’re able to rebuild their own life and they’re able to go on and … You know, I teach my kids this because I think this is really important. When you see somebody on the street and they’re homeless, that is somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister, somebody’s best friend. A lot of times our birth mothers share their stories with us and it was one bad choice that just spiraled and dominoed.

Ron Reigns:
Right. It started out, it didn’t seem to mean much. Next thing they know, they’re on the streets and they have nothing.

Kelly R.:
They have nothing.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R.:
There was a girl … I was going to say woman, but she was a girl. She was young. She had just turned 18, and she walked through our doors and I have … My oldest is 23, and so when I look at some of the younger ones, I think, “Oh, you could be my daughter.”

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, you see your kids-

Kelly R.:
I do.

Ron Reigns:
… in them.

Kelly R.:
I do. And she came in and … darling. She looked like a high school cheerleader. My daughter was a high school cheerleader. And so she walked in looking like a high school cheerleader. She was pregnant and she said, “I’m homeless. I’m on the street.” I started talking to her and she said, “Yeah, I’ve been on the street now for about six months. I actually was raised in Scottsdale and I was in high school and I was a cheerleader. I was walking down the street one day. I didn’t have a ride, and some guy asked me to get in the car. So I got in the car and he said if I went back to his place with him, he would give me $500. So I did. One thing led to another. The next thing I know, I’m hooked on heroin. I’m turning tricks. My family has basically disowned me, and now I’m homeless.

Ron Reigns:
And it was all from one poor choice.

Kelly R.:
She got in the car.

Ron Reigns:
Just getting in that car and saying, “Yeah, $500 dollars sounds nice.”

Kelly R.:
Yeah, to a high school kid.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R.:
Yeah. At that point she said, “I want to stop the bad choices from continuing, and that’s why I’m choosing an adoption.” And so yeah, that was-

Ron Reigns:
So just like one poor choice can affect your life so drastically to the negative, a good choice can start your ball rolling the other way.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely. You’re going the opposite direction.

Ron Reigns:
You know, you’re going … you know what, I’m helping a triad. I’m helping myself, the baby and the adoptive family, and I’m making a good choice now.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely. And if you think of your life kind of like … Do you remember … I’m going to date myself. Do you remember stick shifts?

Ron Reigns:
No. Oh yeah, the cars.

Kelly R.:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
I thought it was a TV show or something and I was like, what?

Kelly R.:
No, no, no. Like standard. Standards, right?

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, yeah, standard. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kelly R.:
Okay. My dad taught me how to drive on a standard, way back when. I kind of think of that as I’m working with moms and rebuilding their lives. Like you got to put … You know, don’t go in reverse. You want to go into first and you want to step over step. Whereas, an automatic car, you just go.

Ron Reigns:
Just goes forward and-

Kelly R.:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
… keeps going forward.

Kelly R.:
But if you look at life like, step over step over step, and you take one thing at a time and you make sure you’re only going as fast as you really want to go and need to go-

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, you just start over-revving that engine-

Kelly R.:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
… you need to back it off.

Kelly R.:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
Cool.

Kelly R.:
And so again, if you can get into that mindset, you can make those changes. You’ve got to have the belief that people can still change, and people can still grow and learn, and when they know better, they do better. Thank you, Maya Angelou.

Ron Reigns:
And it helps to have a support system, whether it be family or a great organization like Building Arizona Families, that’s there to help you follow those steps.

Kelly R.:
Right.

Ron Reigns:
Good.

Kelly R.:
So if you take that pregnancy test, it’s an unplanned pregnancy, and you see the two lines or that positive sign, step out of the denial, step into reality and know that you’re going to be okay. There are people that will support you and you don’t have to face this alone. And adoption is a really good option.

Lindsey:
My name is Lindsey. When I found out I was pregnant, I was homeless, on drugs, and I was trying to escape a domestic violence situation with my baby’s father. I came to Building Arizona Families as kind of just to explore my options. From the moment I walked in, they were super supportive. They were great. They did an interview and kind of asked me what my plans were, what I was thinking. I let them know that I was interested in adoption, and from there I received a case manager and I was really terrified. This was my first child. All I could think about was needing to save my son. You know, I couldn’t even get off drugs at the time and I just had all these horror stories of you know, would I go back to my ex-boyfriend who … He had a son my age and he started doing meth with his son when his son was 13.

Lindsey:
And I mean, I was totally alone. My family was not in the picture. They told me that I needed to get an abortion. So my case manager became like my mom. I would call her crying in the middle of the night, you know, “Oh my gosh, I’m so scared about … You know, I’m having this pain or this feeling,” and she’d walked me through the process of … just kind of being there. Because I’d never been pregnant before, everything was brand new to me. She just loved me through everything. I mean, I went to all my doctor’s appointments because of Building Arizona Families. Transportation, just anything and everything to make sure that my son received the best care possible. And I don’t know if I would have been able to do that for him, had it not been for Building Arizona Families.

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

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and edited by Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song, I Don’t Know, as our theme song.

Ron Reigns:
If you’re pregnant and considering adoption, we are a licensed, full-service nonprofit Arizona adoption agency. We believe in adoption aftercare services, and have a program on site to provide continued support through the Donna K. Evans foundation. You can contact us 24 hours a day at 623-695-4112, or our toll-free number, 1-800-340-9665. Check out our blogs and website at www.azpregnancyhelp.com, and make sure to join us next time. We’ll be talking about our adoption aftercare programs and the Donna K. Evans Foundation on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

 

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