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

Speaker 2:
I’m not ready, and it wouldn’t be fair. It’s selfish of me to keep a baby that I can’t take care of.

Speaker 3:
This is my first child. All I could think about was needing to save my son. And maybe this’ll be an opportunity for you to change your life, get off the street, and turn your life around and help somebody else in the process.

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.

Kelly R.:
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.

Kelly R.:
Donna K. Evans is my biological mother. We lost her at 59. She went into the hospital with what we thought was a really bad cold, and it turned out to be a lung infection and pneumonia, and she never made it out. My husband and I flew over when she was already in a coma. And I remember walking into the hospital, it was at Mount Carmel West. And we did all the things that I thought a daughter should do. I was the only girl of my mother’s. She has two boys and then me. And so my husband and I are painting her toenails, and I’m brushing her hair, and everything that you think that you should do, and-

Ron Reigns:
Real quick, just a quick aside, I know Adam, and he takes a lot of pride in his machismo.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, he was painting toenails.

Ron Reigns:
And he was painting her… Okay, I just have that picture in my head-

Kelly R.:
he was. He was painting toenails.

Ron Reigns:
… to lord over him at some point.

Kelly R.:
Yes, absolutely. He was absolutely painting-

Ron Reigns:
Good for him.

Kelly R.:
He took it from me and he absolutely said, “I’m doing some too.” It was amazing. We decorated her room with balloons, and I went out and I purchased a ton of pictures, of photos, that I covered one of the cabinets in, because I wanted everybody to know how much she mattered. And I thought this would personalize her, because the shifts were changing. I knew that she was on Medicaid, and I didn’t want her looked at differently. I didn’t want people to think that she didn’t matter, because she did.

Kelly R.:
I did everything I could to brighten up the room and make it cheery, and be super nice to the nurses and bring them drinks, just so they would give just a little extra attention. And when we were there, I kept thinking, “She’s so young, how can this be happening?” We didn’t plan on this happening. At 59, you don’t think this is going to occur.

Kelly R.:
And, actually, it was Adam, my husband, that grabbed her hand and said that, “This isn’t the end. Your life isn’t done. We’re not going to let it end here.” What was so incredible about that was the fact that she was from West Virginia. She had been looked down on when some of the family had found out that she had placed a baby for adoption. So in her eulogy, I was able to write it and talk about the hundreds and hundreds of women that, had she not placed me for adoption, I wouldn’t have been able to help.

Kelly R.:
All of the babies and all of the women that I have participated in helping with their adoption was because of her. And so it was there that the idea of Donna K. Evans Foundation was born, so that we could make everybody else’s life just a little bit better, and they wouldn’t have to go through life like she did, because she didn’t have the aftercare services.

Kelly R.:
So, as a birth mother, she wasn’t given that step up. And that’s what the Donna K. Evans Foundation does. It gives people a step up.

Ron Reigns:
That is amazing. And to make her name something that I’m sure she never in life thought that her name would mean to people, that is… It actually chokes me up a little bit.

Kelly R.:
It does me too. And what I have to say is so incredible. And I want to talk more about the Donna K. Evans Foundation. And how people can help is… I was at the National Adoption Conference in June, and we had a table. It’s a display table. It’s where all the adoption professionals go, and there’s tables and conferences. And somebody came up and said, “Oh, yeah, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, what do you know about that?”

Ron Reigns:
A little bit, actually.

Kelly R.:
And I thought, “That’s my mom’s name.” It was just so, almost, an out-of-body experience. It was just surreal.

Ron Reigns:
Right, just… Uh-huh (affirmative).

Kelly R.:
And I keep thinking up in heaven and my mom’s going, “I got me a foundation,” because she would say, “I don’t ever…” Her quote was, “Don’t ever brag, say I’m blessed.” So I would just say, “I’m blessed. I have a foundation,” because she said, “You don’t ever brag. You just say I’m blessed.”

Kelly R.:
But the foundation was in honor of her. And the goal is to help women rebuild their lives, because adoption is such a selfless sacrifice that they deserve something, rather than just to be cast back to where they started. And a lot of women are really vested in changing their lives because they are going to have a continued relationship with their baby. And they want their baby to see them succeed. And they want their baby to see like, “Hey, my birth mom did graduate high school. My birth mom did become a nurse,” or, “She was able to go to beauty school.”

Kelly R.:
It’s like a goal that they have is like, “Okay, well now that I’ve made this amazing choice, and my child’s going to have an amazing life, now I can focus on myself, and I can rebuild, so they can be proud of me too.” And that’s the goal of the foundation.

Kelly R.:
And so we have helped women with everything from group counseling to housing, emergency housing vouchers through hotels, through emergency food bags. We do classes and workshops. We have people who have been at the very bottom and gone to the very top, and their success stories. And we’ve had Wells Fargo come in and do financial classes for them. We have people that volunteer and come in and will do resume classes. We have computer stations at the facility, where you can practice GED study guides.

Kelly R.:
You can apply for jobs, work on your resume. You can log into Child Connect and do the communication between the adoptive family and yourself after the baby’s born and get pictures. We have lots of areas that can help just globally support the mom. What’s neat is watching the women that come into the program really use the program and get better.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, get the benefits out of it.

Kelly R.:
And some women actually, after they have the baby, they’re not ready, and that’s okay too.

Ron Reigns:
Right.

Kelly R.:
They go off in a forget about the adoption for a while and take a break. And the program is always there. And so-

Ron Reigns:
So they can come back-

Kelly R.:
Anytime.

Ron Reigns:
If it’s been five years-

Kelly R.:
Ten years-

Ron Reigns:
… or two weeks.

Kelly R.:
Anytime. And there’s no limit.

Ron Reigns:
Wow.

Kelly R.:
So it’s not that you have to work the program and you’re done. It’s that we’re going to help you as long as you want the help, because you made the sacrifice.

Ron Reigns:
And as long as you’re taking advantage of it.

Kelly R.:
Right, absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
That’s great. Oh, that’s awesome.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, you’ve got to work the steps and do the program, and we’re here to help you. And it’s been amazing to know, for the adoptive families, to know that their birth mother is being cared for, because I can’t tell you how many years prior to this program that adoptive parents would say, “Well, what’s going to happen to my child’s birth mom? I don’t want to think of her out on the street walking at night.”

Ron Reigns:
Right, they actually care-

Kelly R.:
Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
… not just about, obviously, the child, which they do, but where the child came from and-

Kelly R.:
Absolutely, because they know that they’re going to get that question one day of-

Ron Reigns:
Where’s the birth mom?

Kelly R.:
“Where’s my mom?”

Ron Reigns:
Oh, yeah.

Kelly R.:
“What happened? What is she like? What does she do?” And I knew three things when I was growing up until I found my mom. I knew that my mom was 16. I knew that she came from a large family, and her favorite class in school was PE.

Ron Reigns:
And that’s it.

Kelly R.:
Those are just… That’s all I knew.

Ron Reigns:
That was your connection to your mother-

Kelly R.:
Until I was 34.

Ron Reigns:
until you were 34.

Kelly R.:
Yep, that was it. And what was really funny is I don’t think my mother liked PE. I don’t. After meeting her, I’m not sure. I think somebody mixed [crosstalk 00:08:52] I don’t know.

Ron Reigns:
They accidentally switched.

Kelly R.:
The first two were good but I’m not so sure. She wasn’t the athletic type. I have a funny story on that, and this is a tangent, but this is funny, is she had a lot of back problems. The knock them out, drag them out procedure didn’t do her any favors. And as she got older in life, the lower back problems became worse. And at one point… Now, she’s very stubborn. She’s from West Virginia, so she’s got the full accent. They sent her to physical therapy, because they thought, “If we can loosen her back up a little bit, maybe it won’t cause her so much pain.”

Kelly R.:
So she walks into the physical therapy room. They want to put her on the treadmill and the bike, and she sees the hot tub out of the corner of her eye. And so they said, “We’re going to do this.” And she says, “I want to do that,” and she’s pointing at the hot tub. And they said, “Well-

Ron Reigns:
“You’ve got to do this first.”

Kelly R.:
“You have to do first.” Yeah, and she said, “Nope,” and she walked right over to the hot tub and got in the hot tub. And she didn’t do any [crosstalk 00:09:51] of the other. She thought just sitting in a hot tub next to the little-

Ron Reigns:
… was physical therapy.

Kelly R.:
Yeah, absolutely. And that was what she was going to do. She said, “No.” She said, “You can do that. I’m not doing that.” So I’m not so sure that PE was-

Ron Reigns:
… high on her list of favorite classes, right?

Kelly R.:
I don’t think so.

Ron Reigns:
They probably did some square dancing back then.

Kelly R.:
Maybe. Yeah, who knows, right? Absolutely, who knows? But I think that the program, the foundation, the whole aspect of it is really to help women. I believe in the analogy of don’t just give somebody fish, give them the fishing pole, teach them how to fish.

Ron Reigns:
Exactly.

Kelly R.:
And that’s why I always say, “We give you a hand up, not a handout.” I used angels in the logo because they were my mom’s favorite thing. They were angels. And so that’s where the phrase that we use comes from is, help her find her wings so she can fly, because my mom didn’t get to fly. And so-

Ron Reigns:
Well, she is now.

Kelly R.:
She is now. And now she is an angel and she is up there being blessed for having a foundation. So, yeah, so people can absolutely help with the foundation. They can… There’s a lot of volunteer opportunities. They can also donate. Obviously, we’re always accepting monetary donations. You can go right to our website. There’s a PayPal link. This is 100% nonprofit. We don’t charge the women anything. It’s all donations, Building Arizona Families funds the majority of it. We are in the process of trying to look at grants and other funding opportunities, but we really need help from everyone to help fund this program, because we’re a community, and we need to come together and do this as a team.

Ron Reigns:
There’s many ways you can volunteer to help us, including community engagement, outreach, donation help, holiday help, fundraising, peer support and mentoring, help from home, and professional consultant help.

Ron Reigns:
Call Maura Salaya at 480-392-0146, or email her at M-A-U-R-A@dkefoundation.com. We also have other ways you can support women after they place their baby for adoption through the DKE program, including monetary donations, nonperishable food, including grocery gift cards, fast food cards, GED study guides, one day bus passes, and prepaid cell phone minutes, as well as car seats. And, as always, you can find out more about the Donna K. Evans Foundation at www.dkefoundation.com.

Ron Reigns:
Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters and Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by Ron Reigns. We also want to thank Building Arizona Families, the Donna Kay Evans Foundation, and the You Before Me campaign. A special thanks goes out to Grapes for letting us use their song, I 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 onsite to provide continued support through the Donna Kay 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.

Ron Reigns:
Make sure to tune in next time. We’ll be talking about the differences between open and closed adoptions. For Kelly Rourke-Scarry, I’m Ron Reigns. We’ll see you then.

 

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