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When a birth mother is seeking adoption and chooses to make an adoption plan, she selflessly chooses to share her role as a mother. This choice is an incredible one. Building Arizona Families, our Arizona adoption agency in Arizona, has almost two decades of experience supporting birth mothers during their adoption journey. Please visit us HERE to learn more about how we support our birth mothers emotionally, financially, and throughout their pregnancy and after through the Donna K. Evans Foundation. Find out more about our DKE Foundation, HERE. 

Our Arizona Adoption Agency Helps Support Birth Mothers During Their Adoption Journey

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption, a licensed adoption agency is your best option.  We are an Arizona Adoption Agency that meets with you face to face, holds your hand when needed, and can remain with you throughout your pregnancy.  Building Arizona Families is a licensed private adoption agency that can walk with you every step of the way and we understand how stressful an unplanned pregnancy can be.  Please Call or Text 24/7 623-695-4112.

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #45 – Love & Loss in Adoption Reunification, Part 2

Visit us HERE to listen to Episode #45 of our podcast Birth Mother Matters. Read the transcript to our Podcast Episode #45 below-

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

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

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

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

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

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 #YouBeforeMeCampaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies and human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling.

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

Ron Reigns:
And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the 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:
Here’s part two of our revealing conversation between Kelly Rourke-Scarry and myself about her reunification with her birth mother. We’ll pick it up right where we left off last time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I still didn’t really know what I was getting into. I mean, she loved telling her the story of my birth and that was really important to her. She very clearly remembers going into what must’ve been the operating room, because there were panels on the ceiling, and she remembers the nurses being very nice to her. And then she remembers waking up in the bed in pain and them trying to help her afterwards.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Then she remembers her sister that knew that she was in the hospital, had come to the hospital, and her dragging her out of bed and taking her over to weigh her because they wanted to see how much she’d lost after having me. And she said that she had to walk past the nursery and she-

Ron Reigns:
Things a 16-year-old would do.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I know, right? She said that when she walked past the nursery, she purposely looked the other way because she said that she knew she wasn’t supposed to see me and she didn’t want to break the rules. Which I found kind of ironic because she got there in the first place by breaking all the rules but, okay.

Ron Reigns:
But this rule she didn’t want to?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. She was sticking by this rule. She remembers a social worker coming in and talking with her about the adoption. She said, looking back, she felt pressured. And she said there was another woman in the room and she really believed that the other woman in the room was my adoptive mother.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My adoptive mother says, “Of course not. That was a closed adoption. That wasn’t me.”

Ron Reigns:
But that’s what she had in her head, “Okay. This is the woman who’s taking the child.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
To the day she died.

Ron Reigns:
Wow. Oh, even after you met? And I’m sure you’ve told her, “No, that wasn’t…”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. She didn’t believe it. She was very much a believer of conspiracy theories and things like that. And she really had some anger towards her own mother because she felt pressured into the adoption situation. She remembers-

Ron Reigns:
Do you think she regretted it though?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
Even when she saw the life that you would eventually live?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Because of her own loss.Arizona Adoption Agency

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In her words. So, she was very proud of the person that I became, but she felt very much like-

Ron Reigns:
Like something was stolen from her.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
She was robbed. Yeah. And I do think that my biological grandmother made the right choice. And I think that had she received services and aftercare; she would have seen that it was the right decision. And would have helped her.

Ron Reigns:
Right. And had it been an open adoption or even semi-open. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. But that wasn’t the case. And so, as I’m learning all of this and I’m preparing to fly out, which I found her on a Friday and I flew out with one of my best friends on a Wednesday. I left my ex-husband and kids at home because I didn’t know what I was getting into, and I thought it would be better the first time if I just…

Ron Reigns:
Less moving parts. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so I took Kim who we have interviewed before…

Ron Reigns:
And if you haven’t heard that, go back and listen to that podcast. It’s very fun. Kim, she was delightful. She was fun.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, she is. She’s a riot. So, I remember her pulling out the video camera and we’re in the airport and she’s like, “I’m documenting this.” And I thought, “Are you kidding me? I don’t want to be on camera.” And she goes, “You’re going to regret it if we don’t.”

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. Thank God she did.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so she did. Yeah. So, she’s interviewing me beforehand. And I remember her asking me, “What is the one thing you hope to achieve on this visit?” And I remember I said, “I hope I find me.” With that, we got on the airplane, and the gentleman sitting next to us was asking questions.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And then he asked me, he said, “Does your adoptive family know that you’re flying out to meet her?” And I said “No.” And he said, “Why not?” And I said, “Because I wasn’t ready.” They knew that I had looked for her. They knew that I found her. I wasn’t ready to process whatever emotions that they were going to have about it.

Ron Reigns:
Do you think there’s a possibility that it was also in the back of your mind, maybe, saying, “What if this doesn’t work out? What if this isn’t what I thought it was?”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, I felt guilty. Like I was cheating on somebody.

Ron Reigns:
Did you? Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I felt really guilty. I felt like I was cheating on them. Like I was robbing them of…

Ron Reigns:
How well did they get to know each other? Your adoptive parents and your birth mother?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Pretty much not at all.

Ron Reigns:
Did they meet?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No.

Ron Reigns:
They never met?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No. My adoptive mother and my birth mother spoke on the phone one, maybe two times briefly. And my dad, never. No. Because my biological mother had felt so robbed, she had a hard time-

Ron Reigns:
Dealing with them?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Not dealing with them. And it wasn’t that, it was accepting that there was another couple that got to raise me, and she was not able to.

Ron Reigns:
She was robbed and they got the blessing for it. And in a way, they were the robbers.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
From her perspective, which wasn’t the case at all.

Ron Reigns:
No, no. Of course not.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But from her perspective, that’s exactly what it was. And she really struggled with-

Ron Reigns:
She resented them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes, she was very jealous of them, and more, not really my adoptive dad, for some reason, she did not have any issues. It was because he didn’t take her place. Whereas my adoptive mom did.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so it wasn’t anything personal. It was more, I think it was just raw jealousy. I think it was. And the other issue and the reason that I never facilitated the two of them meeting is they came from very different worlds and very different cultures. And I’m not sure it would have gone well.

Ron Reigns:
Do you regret that at all?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No. No, I don’t. I think sometimes in certain situations, the unknown is better than the known. And that’s a rare to say that, but in this situation, no.

Ron Reigns:
Usually, obviously, you’re a big proponent of educate, shine a light, but in this case-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In this case, no. I think it would have resulted in hurt feelings and more confusion. And I didn’t want anybody’s feelings to get hurt. That was something that I was always, even as a child, very conscientious of, I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I was very protective of my adopted family in that first visit.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I remember that first night after we got off the airplane and went to her house, I remember some of her family members came over and they were asking me, “What’s your adoptive family’s name?” And I wouldn’t tell them.

Ron Reigns:
Really?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, because again, I was protective of them and I didn’t know what they were going to do. I didn’t know these people, even though I was biologically related to them, I didn’t know if they’re going to call them up and-

Ron Reigns:
Stalk them, or heaven forbid, come and hurt them, or anything.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. Accuse them of something. Right. I didn’t know anything. And so, I just said-

Ron Reigns:
And in essence, it would be like giving a stranger your family’s information, because it was.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And so I wasn’t ready to do that. I remember, I was really in that frozen state pretty much, I would say the first 48 hours. I was really just polarized because it was nothing that I could have foreseen, there was nothing. When I got off the airplane, she had a rose for every birthday she missed. I mean, she did things beautifully.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And she was so worried that I wouldn’t think she was beautiful or that I wouldn’t bond with her. People asked me right away, “Well, did you call her mom?” Well, I did. That was what she wanted. And I felt that after 34 years of life without her, she deserved it.

Ron Reigns:
She deserved that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. That was from the onset. I got a lot of flack from a lot of people on that.

Ron Reigns:
Did you have similar fears, like, “She won’t look at me like a daughter,” before you met her, obviously? Or even before you talked to her?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No, because I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t have any fears around that.

Ron Reigns:
So you had no pre..? Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Mm-mm (negative). No, I didn’t know whether this was going to be a one-time visit, or whether this was going to be an ongoing relationship.

Ron Reigns:
For the rest of their life. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. I mean, no doubt, throughout her life with me in the last 10 years, there were highs and lows. I’m not going to say that it was a beautiful relationship the whole 10 years.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I mean, there was a period of time where we didn’t speak for a little while because, I mean, it became a real relationship with highs and lows, and good days and bad days. And the other question that I get often is, “Was it like a mother/daughter relationship?” And in some aspects, yes, and in some aspects, no.

Ron Reigns:
Because she didn’t raise you as a child, or even know you as a child. So, it’s hard to replace that. So, a lot of it would be just like a friendship.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I had a mother growing up. So, it wasn’t like I was looking for a mom. There were-

Ron Reigns:
But you said she would scold you?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Ron Reigns:
So in a lot of ways it was a mother/daughter.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Oh, a 100%. Yes, she absolutely would. And in front of anybody.

Ron Reigns:
Nope, she didn’t care.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No. She was who she was. And our relationship was very much, I would say it was real. We had to learn each other’s boundaries. In other words, she grew up in a different area and parented differently than my adoptive parents did. And I remember telling her, “You may speak to my brothers like that, but you’re not going to speak to me like that.” So, we had to cross hurdles, and really set limits, and it was-

Ron Reigns:
And figure out this relationship.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And at first when I got there, she wanted to look at my fingers and my toes, just like you would a newborn baby, and she wanted to do all those things. And I’m an exceedingly private person as we talked about. So, I’m ready to crawl underneath the couch.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I remember sitting next to my brother and my friend Kim was there. I remember her sitting on the couch, and she’s mouthing to me, “Do you want to switch seats?” And I’m like, “No. I’m good.” And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be next to her. It’s just that, for her, she was just coming right at me and I wasn’t used to that. So, I was taking a step back, going, “Okay.”

Ron Reigns:
I need a little boundary.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. I am sure that she, looking back, and I kind of wish I would’ve been like this for her, I’m sure that her vision and dream was for me to get off the airplane and run into her arms. Yeah. I got off the airplane and probably hid behind Kim as we were walking up. I was just scared.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I remember, she was very emotional and I thought I really should be emotional, but I wasn’t. I went flat. I just smiled. I had a frozen smile. When you look at pictures, I just have this frozen smile on my face.

Ron Reigns:
Did it look fake?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah.

Ron Reigns:
Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It did because I didn’t know what to do. I always worry. Am I going to show the wrong emotion at the wrong time? Is this what I’m supposed to be doing? And I remember thinking, “Okay.” So, she was crying and my brother was pretty emotional, and I think Kim was crying, and I remember just-

Ron Reigns:
Smiling? Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Smiling. And then she was hugging me and I remember her pulling away, and then she got this really strange look on her face. And I remember thinking “What?” I look around and I said, “What’s wrong?” And she goes, “You’re short.” And I looked back at her, and I’m like, “Well, you’re short too.” I mean, I don’t know what she expected.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And that’s just her humor. I mean, she tries to be funny. So, it was just an experience that, in looking back and being as open and honest, it went from me being excited and nervous, to feeling guilty about my adoptive parents, to having to process everything at night when Kim and I would go back to the hotel room because it was so overwhelming.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And then we stayed for a few days. And then I remember when we left, I almost went into this depression. I questioned everything, everything from who I was, what I believed in, what my role in life was, was I a good daughter? Was I a good wife? Was I a good mother? Was I a good friend? You know how when you spin somebody around and then all of a sudden, they can’t walk in a straight line?

Ron Reigns:
Disoriented and dizzy.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s exactly how I felt, for a long time. I would say, probably at least a couple months where I couldn’t walk straight. At one point, I thought, “Okay, I’m going to pick up and move to Ohio.” And I remember looking at houses online thinking I’ve missed too much. And I felt so much guilt because had I found my mother sooner, maybe I could’ve changed the course of her life. In doing so then I would have changed the course for my brothers.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But there was so much to process, like I said, that I would just sit there and think and think, and I would go through moments of panic. And a week after I got back, I remember calling my brother and saying, “I’m really not doing that well. Is there any way I could fly you out here for a week?” Because I just needed some connection.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And he was like, “Yeah. Okay.” So, he actually, to his credit, jumped on the next airplane and came out and stayed for a week. And that really helped because I had him tell me story after story. We had Little House on the Prairie TV marathons.

Ron Reigns:
Marathons, yeah, you talked about that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And it really felt normal with him. I remember at one point he wanted the remote and I was teasing him and I pulled it away, and he shoved me a little bit, and I shoved him back, and I thought, “We’re really trying to figure out what this is.”

Ron Reigns:
This whole brother/sister dynamic?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. Because he’d not had a sister. And so, it was interesting. And I remember before he left, and this was clarence that we’ve also interviewed, I remember when I drove him to the airport and I was walking him to the gate, he was hysterical, absolutely hysterical. And I was at that point too.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I was crying, but he was really upset, because again, it was like we had come together and we’re trying to figure this out, and then we were apart again. And I still wasn’t doing well after he left, so then I had my mom come out. That was amazing. She came out two times and that was amazing.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
She’s one of those people that doesn’t really like to leave her house that much. So, she came out and loved the kids and the kids loved her, and she was a great grandma, and she was great. She was fun. She was playful. And that was where I remember she was standing downstairs because we had a two story, and she said, “I’m so proud of you.” And I said, “For what?” And she goes, “For what you’ve built.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And she’s looking around, she would always have these moments of this really sentimental, which I don’t always do real well with, I kind of want to escape, and then she would start laughing and she’d go into a joke. So, she would do that, and then she’d crack a joke. And I remember when she left and I took her to the airport, and with her, you really had to walk her as close to the gate as possible and make sure she got on the right plane, because she could wind up in China, otherwise.

Ron Reigns:
I’m the same. Lisa has to do the same thing with me.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
When I watched her walk away, I remember thinking, “This is wrong. I can’t. She can’t leave. She can’t leave.” And it was almost like a child wanting to yell for their mom to come back. It was the weirdest sensation ever.

Ron Reigns:
Almost panic. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. It was almost a full-blown panic. That was awful as well. And then I stop and I go back and I think about all of the things that you read about, and they say you can recognize your mother’s voice before you’re born. And I’ve seen that, I’ve seen evidence of that because I’ve seen babies in the NICU that won’t move and a birth mother will come in and say something and the baby will move.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so I’ve seen it, but I didn’t know the lasting effect of it. Which is why, again, I think open adoptions are so important. There was two times that it really brought things to light. I had asked her one time, I said, “Did you sing a lot when you were pregnant with me?” And she said, “All the time,” and she broke into a song, and granted, she wasn’t really a singer. That wasn’t her strength.

Ron Reigns:
That wasn’t her thing? Right. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I must’ve been tired because I was on the phone talking with her, and remember I’m an adult at this point, I fell asleep, like sound asleep.

Ron Reigns:
Was it soothing, you mean? Or just her voice?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I don’t know. Must have been. I don’t know. It was the weirdest sensation. I remember I was laying on the bed talking with her, and I went to sleep.

Ron Reigns:
Next thing you know, wake up?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. There was another situation. So, she lived in a home that was very small with her mother and her siblings. And when she was an adult, she moved back. So, she actually lived down the street from where she lived where she was pregnant with me. And it was a really small house, I got to see it when I found her.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
When I was maybe nine or 10, we were living in Missouri, and we went to Lake of the Ozarks. You ever been there?

Ron Reigns:
No.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Okay. So, we stayed in, they’re little, I want to say a cabin, but I don’t even know if that’s the right word. It’s like a little shack, if you will. And my parents, yes, they’re good parents, no, they didn’t leave us unattended, but they had to run up to the store or something, and I was in the little shack for 10 minutes by myself.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I remember to this day, this deja vu feeling where it was like I’d been there before. It was the weirdest sensation I’ve ever felt. It was so comforting and peaceful. And it was like I’d been there. Well, what’s kind of odd is when I had found the house that she was pregnant with me in, it looked very similar.

Ron Reigns:
It was very similar? Oh, wow.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And so I don’t know, because you can’t see, so I don’t know if it was just, I don’t know. It was just one of those things. And so I think all of these things, the accumulation of my experiences really just point to me that open adoption is vital, with regards to reunification to do it when you’re ready. It would have been better for my mother if I did it sooner, but personally I wouldn’t have been-

Ron Reigns:
You weren’t in that place. You weren’t ready.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I wasn’t ready. I wouldn’t have been able to be the person that I was. I wouldn’t have had the financial means to drop and fly out. I wouldn’t have been able to spend the kind of time with her and be away from my children at the ages they were at that time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I wasn’t at a place in my life that mentally, emotionally I could have been that support structure for her. Because once I found out how she was struggling, I was sending her books, which she didn’t read. I mean, she’d read the first page or two and then she wouldn’t keep reading them.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I wouldn’t be able to hold her hand and walk her through some of the hard stuff. When I did finally find her, I was able to do that. So, it was the best thing I’ve ever done. I don’t have regrets other than I would’ve liked to spend more time with her. But I would really encourage people who are going on the reunification journey to expect the unexpected. Things that are simple and small to somebody else may be huge to you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
For example, I had no idea that my adoptive parents were sending a Christmas card to the adoption attorney that did my case, my whole life. I had no clue. When I had started looking for my mother, I went to them and asked for his name and they gave it to me. Ironically, he flew out the next week.

Ron Reigns:
Right. It just happened to be, not because of that. Right. Well, you gave a smirk, so.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. I mean, in addition, I said, “Well, can I see my adoption records?” And he said, “Oh no, I don’t have them anymore.” And I said, “Well, where are they?” And he said, “Incinerated, when I stopped my practice.”

Ron Reigns:
He burned all the paperwork.Arizona Adoption Agency

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. And so that was why I had to petition the court. So little things like that. So, my mom and dad never really thought it was a big deal to tell me that they had been in contact with the adoption attorney the whole time. Whereas to me, that was monumental, because had I learned of that years and years and years before the records may have been available.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And it wasn’t a deliberate withholding. It wasn’t anything like that. It was probably just, they didn’t think much of it. Whereas I was running around with three pieces of information, and two of which were correct. So, I think that when you do something as huge as reunification, prepare for counseling, I think that will really help. I will say that for the 10 years I had with my mother, I did try to get her into counseling. She wouldn’t go, but I did try. And I think that that would help anybody.

Ron Reigns:
I know that this is very difficult for you to open up like this and share because you are a private person and I do want to thank you. It’s so neat hearing a story from a different perspective from somebody who’s lived the life of an adopted child. I want to thank you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
You’re welcome.

Ron Reigns:
We have a pregnancy crisis hotline available 24/7 by phone or text at (623) 695-4112. Or you can call our toll-free number 1 (800) 340-9665. Our Arizona adoption agency can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing and started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information.

Ron Reigns:
You can check out our blogs about our Arizona adoption agency on our website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption, written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry, and edited by me, Ron Reigns. If you enjoy this podcast, rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts.

Ron Reigns:
And as always thanks to Grapes for letting us use their song I Don’t Know as our theme song. Join us next time for Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns, and we’ll see you then.

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