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Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #50 – What Agencies Want Adoptive Families to Know

When a birth mother comes into our local adoption agency in Arizona with the intent of placing her baby for adoption, we make great effort to understand her reasons for choosing adoption. It is our responsibility as a local Arizona adoption agency to always prioritize the best interests of the unborn baby and the birth mother, and our professional staff is highly trained in doing so.

Contact our Local Adoption Agency in Arizona Anytime, Anyday – Call or Text 24/7 at (623) 695-4112

If you are pregnant and are considering adoption, Building Arizona Families is a licensed, full-service, non-profit, local adoption agency in Arizona. Our Arizona Pregnancy Help program is here to support you on your adoption journey. We are also committed to adoption aftercare services.  We have a program on-site that provides continued support for birth mothers after adoption through the Donna K. Evans Foundation.

You can contact us 24/7 at (623) 695-4112. You are not alone, and we want to help. Thank you for considering adoption, you are making an amazing choice.

Birth Mother Matters in Adoption Episode #50 – What Agencies Want Adoptive Families to Know

Visit us HERE to listen to Episode #50 of our podcast Birth Mother Matters. Read the transcript to our Podcast Episode #50 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 2:
Do what’s best for your kid and for yourself, because if you didn’t take care of yourself, you’re definitely not going to be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

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

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

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

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I am the Executive Director, President and Co-Founder of Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation and creator of the You Before Me Campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development and a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in school counseling. 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 this is a fun one Ron. This is fun.

Ron Reigns:
Finally.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. Go figure, right?

Ron Reigns:
We always have fun.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So as an adoption professional in the adoption community, we always try to be politically correct. We always try to say the right things. We don’t want to offend anybody. And when we’re working with adoptive families, sometimes we want to say things, but we don’t, so we hold it back. Today when I’m holding it back. We are going to go there.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, I can’t wait.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Our goal is always successful adoption placements. We want all three sides of the triad to be safe, happy, healthy, enjoy their adoption journey. Adoption can be a very emotional topic and opinions can vary from person to person. I do think that people’s opinions can vary based upon their background and experience and whether they have adopted, were adopted, placed for adoption, have a friend or a family member that fell into one of these three categories and then the outcome of their experience, because I think we are shaped by our experiences and influenced by others.

Ron Reigns:
Oh, absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
So a single experience can throw shade. Isn’t that kind of a good little lingo? Can throw shade.

Ron Reigns:
You sound like a teenager.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
I do, towards another’s experience, whether it be negative or positive. Unfortunately, this can shape perceptions and create stereotypes. So, I really want to break out of the mold and I want to discuss those things that we sometimes have a hard time saying. I will say that experienced adoption workers, I don’t know whether they’ve just had it sometimes or whether they’re braver, bolder, are more likely to say some of these things than newer caseworkers. Maybe they have just seen it so much-

Ron Reigns:
Kind of walk on eggshells to some degree.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Not only walking on eggshells, but they want to please more. They want everybody to have a good taste in their mouth. Whereas social workers that have been in the adoption world for decades are more seasoned and their skin’s a little jaded or their skin’s a little tougher. So here it is. The good, the bad, the ugly, no holds barred, nothing off limits and no secrets.

Ron Reigns:
Love it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
All right, let’s do this. First one. We want the adoption to be as successful as you do.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We are working behind the scenes, 24/7 to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make the adoption occur. We are crossing our fingers and holding our breath right alongside you. There are moments where we can’t breathe either. And yes, we’re holding back tears too. So, when your adoption isn’t going as you want it to, and you’re at the hospital and you’ve been asked to leave the hospital or something catastrophic happens, and your worker steps aside, she’s having as hard a time as you are. No, she’s not as emotionally vested or as financially vested, but she’s doing adoptions because it’s what she believes in and what she loves. And it’s still difficult on her too. Number two. Sometimes adoptive families can come across entitled. That is a real turnoff for social workers in the adoption field. We do believe the baby is the birth mother’s child until she signs the adoption consents.

Ron Reigns:
72 hours after the birth, or at least 72 hours.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
In the state of Arizona.

Ron Reigns:
Right in Arizona, you’re right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. And sometimes without realizing it, I hope, adoptive families will talk about the baby as if he or she is already theirs. And when that happens, they come across as being demanding and disrespectful to the birth mother. And we get very defensive because we want the birth mother respected just as we want the adoptive family respected.

Ron Reigns:
Now, do you think more so yourself because of your relationship with your birth mother? No?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
No. I think any time you see somebody who is disrespecting somebody else, whether it’s an adoption situation or whether it’s at the grocery store or whether it’s between your youngest two children, I think you get a feeling that everybody wants equity and justice and fairness.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. And you want to stand up for the underdog or the person being disrespected or belittled or, okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. Where my mother would come into play, my biological mother, is as a practice, I don’t want anybody to be disrespectful to a birth mother in general, but I wouldn’t want anybody to be disrespectful to an adoptive family either.

Ron Reigns:
Absolutely. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
All right. So, we are just as protective of the adoptive family as we are the birth mother. So, when the birth mother has concerns or questions about her adoptive family, we make sure we discuss everything, positive and reassuring, we want you to be successful. We want you to know that we do have your back and we would never do or say anything to jeopardize your adoption. Once a family is matched, in our mind, that is the sacred bond. We want to preserve that at all costs. And so, we are working 24/7. At our agency, we actually staff every birth mother every week as a team and go through each case just to make sure that everybody from the case manager down to our front office receptionist, knows what’s going on, can be prepared, can be supportive. When people come into our office, our receptionist has been trained to greet them by their first name. And we want that comfort level. All right.

Local Adoption Agency in Arizona

Ron Reigns:
And you want everybody on the same page as you say.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We do. We do, because if you have a birth mother that’s really struggling and she’s had a very hard time and maybe she’s not bonding with her adoptive family as much as you would like her to, and she would like her too. You don’t want her walking in and have the receptionist go, “Hey, I didn’t get anything from your adoptive family this week for you, sorry.” And so-

Ron Reigns:
Being very nonchalant, I got you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right. We want her to be understanding and choose her words wisely. We do understand how important it is for a birth mother to go to her prenatal appointments. And yes, we are really trying to make them happen. Unfortunately, we are not always successful in getting them to their appointments. And we know that this is a huge stressor, but know that we are doing our best. Birth mothers attending medical appointments, some birth mothers are very good about it, and other birth mothers are not. And some of the reasons are it’s hard and it makes it real. Some of them really shy away from ultrasounds because it’s hard for them to see the baby knowing that they’re placing the baby for adoption. Other reasons are they fear judgment from the doctor’s office. So, there’s lots of reasons why birth moms don’t want to go. Maybe they’re not as invested in their pregnancy because they’re not planning on keeping their baby.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And so there are reasons why, so we do the best that we can. And we do know that this is a really big stressor for adoptive families. When we deliver bad news, like a birth mother has changed her mind, she’s miscarried, or the baby has passed away, we dread delivering that news in a way that is indescribable. The entire staff is always supportive to the caseworker that has to break the news. Sometimes there’ll be two of us on the phone because the case worker can’t find the strength to deliver the news herself. I am on the phone some of the times that we have a situation that is so heartbreaking that the caseworker is concerned that she’s not going to be able to complete the sentence because-

Ron Reigns:
She’ll breakdown.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… nobody wants to be the bearer of bad tidings. Nobody does. And there have been situations that when in a hospital that I’ve had to walk up to a family and deliver bad news. And I remember thinking this is very similar to how a doctor must feel after he gets out of surgery and has to walk up and deliver bad news-

Ron Reigns:
And give the bad news to the family.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah. You just, you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to be in their mind what they associate that bad news with. And that’s really hard.

Ron Reigns:
I have a strange story from when John was a little boy. He was probably three and we were at Easter with my family and he was getting really sick and he’d been sick for a couple of days and we decided we’re taking him to the hospital. We did. And the doctor said, “It looks like it’s probably just a flu that he’s going to get over, but we’re concerned about spinal meningitis.”

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Oh wow, I would have fallen to the ground.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. So, he was recommending that we do the spinal tap to see, just to make sure. And at that point, well, for a couple of reasons, I mean, if John had moved during this procedure, I had to literally hold him as well as a nurse, and my wife at the time, had to hold him still while this procedure’s being done on him. And so, for so many reasons, this was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. And obviously it’s also very painful for him and we’re holding him down, well, we do this and everything obviously has come out fine. And he’s 26 years old now. So, I don’t think it was spinal meningitis, but the next time that doctor had come around the curtain to where John could see him, John looked at him with tears in his eyes and I’m getting a little choked up now-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Oh, I can imagine.

Ron Reigns:
And he looked at that doctor and he said, “No, no, no.” And it was just, it broke my heart because he associated that doctor with that pain and so kind of the same.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Nobody wants to be associated with that level of pain because nobody is a social worker or a doctor because they want to hurt somebody else.

Ron Reigns:
Of course not. They want to do it because they want to help.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They want to help. And so, when we are giving that news, we’re dying inside. And as a parent, I’ve had lots of children and I still do have lots of children. And I will tell you that watching them go through something painful is the worst thing in the world. And you as a parent would rather take it a thousand times worse than watch them go through it once. And so, I get it. I know exactly-

Ron Reigns:
But yeah, when you brought that up about being associated with that, that came into my mind. I hadn’t thought about that in years.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
For sure. And how old was he?

Ron Reigns:
About three I think.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Oh so he was a little guy.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah. Very little.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Wow. Yeah. It’s rare. But when a baby has been placed with an adoptive family and the birth mother does not sign the adoption consents and has to be returned to the birth mother, nobody wants to take the baby back, in terms of the adoption agency staff. It is to the point where we’re not drawing straws because we keep the case worker on the case that has a relationship.

Ron Reigns:
Yes, she’s already developed that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
But I often go out in most cases and we have a team right now, so where I don’t have to. Again, it’s really rare. I mean, it’s so uncommon, but we do have a support system right now to where we have one worker that will stay with the adoptive family and then one worker that will take the baby and leave because in dragging that out, it’s ripping apart everybody. And one of the last ones that I did was, still in my mind, I remember. I went out with a case worker and she stayed with the adoptive family and the adoptive dad wanted to walk the baby out the car that I was leaving in. And he had the baby stuff and he was holding the car seat and he was walking out with me and my heart is breaking. I don’t even want to look at him because I feel so guilty, even though this was nothing that I could have prevented or controlled. And very tall gentlemen, I mean probably six, two, big guy. I think he was a firefighter or something like that. Really, really big guy.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And he brought the car seat out and asked me if he could hold the baby one more time. And so, I took the baby out of the car seat and handed him the baby, and he fell to his knees, holding the baby sobbing. And then he found some inner strength and he stood back up and handed me the baby back. So, I’m putting the baby in the car seat. And I realized that he has brought with him an additional bag of stuff that he had bought for the baby. And it wasn’t like, I want to take these babies things and get them out of the house. It was, these are the baby’s things that go with the baby. We bought these for this child. And then he wanted to go over each and everything. And I’m watching this brave strong man-

Ron Reigns:
Who can fight fires or whatever it is that he did, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And he is forcing himself as he didn’t need to, to talk through his tears and go over everything, when the baby had last eaten, when the diaper was changed. And I remember thinking that I don’t ever want to be in this position again. I don’t ever want to take a child away from another person. And I will tell you that when they got a placement, I think it was six to nine months later, and it was successful.

Ron Reigns:
I was going to ask about that because God, I needed a happy ending to this because I’m-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yeah, it was.

Ron Reigns:
… breaking over here. Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And it was one of those things that when I drove away, because of course, after he went over all the things he leaned over and kissed the baby goodbye, and I am driving away and I’m shaking and I’m looking through the rear-view mirror and he’s just standing there, watching the car drive away. And I remember thinking, “I’m the worst person in the world,” and it wasn’t anything I could have controlled, but I was the one taking the baby away-

Ron Reigns:
That was associated with that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And yeah, that was really hard. So, this is gratefully, not common. And…

Ron Reigns:
And you have said before, and this is kind of for the listeners that you will end up with the baby you’re meant to have. And so-

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And I’ve never had somebody tell me different, never.

Ron Reigns:
Yeah, because I’m over here about to start sobbing for this poor guy that I’ve never even met.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Right, yeah. But I will say that I’ve never had somebody come back at the end and tell me that. Now in the heat of the moment-

Ron Reigns:
Oh, I’m sure.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
… when they’re putting the baby in the car and they’re kissing the baby goodbye, like I said-

Ron Reigns:
Have you ever had anybody kind of lash out at you? I mean, not necessarily physically, but in anger or in despair, just kind of lose it in your direction basically?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Later, not in the heat of the moment, In that moment, it’s just pure grief. It’s just grief. I mean, raw grief. You know how when somebody does something and you had no part of it, you still feel guilty sometimes?

Ron Reigns:
Oh, absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It was one of those situations where you feel so guilty, but yet it wasn’t that anything could have been done differently. But when you’re walking out of Walmart and there’s a kid getting arrested for shoplifting, I’m looking through my purse, thinking, “I hope nothing fell in.” It’s not one of those things where I would never shoplift, but what if something fell in my cart? You know what I mean? Or my purse, because it was open as I’m walking through the store. And so, I’m panicking thinking, “Did I do something too?” And so, it’s one of those moments that you just, you learn how to sleep at night when you have days like that.

Ron Reigns:
And again, thank God, there’s very few of them for you, so, that’s good.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
Yes. Another thing that we want to tell adoptive families is we love to celebrate with you. When you send a picture of a baby at Christmas or just an update to the office, we all gather around and ooh and ah and how beautiful the baby is and what amazing job you’re doing. What good parents you are. We love to see those pictures. We love it. And we hope you’ll adopt again. We really want you to be kind and respectful to the hospital staff. We work with these people a lot. When an adoptive family is demanding or rude to a hospital staff member, it puts us in a really awkward position because we work with these people day in and day out. And we want it to be-

Ron Reigns:
And even though it’s beyond your control what somebody else does and their attitudes and how they treat other people, they’re still associated with you.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
They are. And-

Ron Reigns:
It reflects badly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
We want to show you that we’re supportive of you, but at the same time, we have to be supportive of them too. We kind of feel like the man in the middle, and that’s hard. When those situations go bad, we usually deliver brownies the next day, because brownies fix everything.

Ron Reigns:
That’s a fact scientifically proven.

Local Adoption Agency in Arizona

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
And lastly, when you go home with your baby, we’re cheering you every minute of the way. We’re doing everything we can to expedite you getting home and we want you to begin your new and beautiful life.

Sharelle:
Hi, my name is Sharelle. I’m doing my adoption journey. It was kind of like a last-minute thing to consider because I just, in my mind, me and my husband was going through some issues, separation issues. We have three other children, still in denial, “Oh, well I’m pregnant again.” But I was in my first trimester and I knew in my heart, I didn’t want to abort my baby. So, I was looking for other options and one of my friends mentioned, “Why don’t you Google and look for adoption agencies?” So, I did, and it had a general one that was in California and then I kept going down the list and then I found BAF. And then I called just right away. I think it was like three or something in the afternoon. And look, I called and he was like, “Oh, you could come right now, we close at 4:30, but you can come right now.”

Sharelle:
And it was just perfect. So, we hurried up and drove to the office of BAF and then I met one of the agents here for the first time and she confide in me. I went through the process, just let me know,” Hey, it’s a good choice, you’re making a good choice obtaining all the expenses and benefits of a good family.” And let me know that, “Hey, I get to pick the family.” So, we was able to go down the line. I think we had three families to pick and me and my husband, he just said, “You know what? This one kind of mirror the type of lifestyle we are,” because we are family-oriented. We like to travel and stay physically active and they look like they was doing all of that.

Sharelle:
And I read a little bit of their story and we went ahead and picked them. And I would say from this day that I am happy with the decision I made, that we picked this family. I’m going to say, it’s a open adoption. I call them the extended family. They got to meet my other three kids. They know who they are. They communicate with us, send us pictures, even little videos here, and even let me know like, “Hey, if you’re going to talk, don’t be afraid to send a message to me or reach out to me.” So, I love that because it does feel like they are an extended part of our family. We’re not just giving our child here. We’ll see pictures here and there. They really are part of the family.

Sharelle:
We got a win-win situation and we put our child up there knowing that he will be taken care of and then we got blessed with… We got a part of the family too as well. So, I’m very happy with the decision I made and I’m glad that at the time, whatever emotional decision that was for my husband, that I didn’t… I agreed and say, “Hey, let’s just let… ..” That decision was not an option for me, even though we did have three other children, we was in a situation that could go left or right. I was trusting God, like, “No, I’m not going to give this child. Either we’re going to find a family for him or are we’re just going to toughen it out.” And I was grateful because at BAF, they had counseling and let me know, “Hey, it’s okay. Decision happens in life.”

Sharelle:
They relaxed me. Because women, especially in that situation, our emotions and hormones are here. You get anxious and worried like, “Oh, what if?” And it’s helped me to relax. And I think about the what ifs, but look at the positive. Even cite positive affirmation, like, “Hey, you’re a good mother. You have three other ones, you’re doing a good thing.” And I loved that and the right people don’t say it, but counseling is good about it. Some people get the wrong option about it so it was a mediator. But actually, it really is, it’s more than just being a mediator in a situation. It helping you emotionally and mentally, stay stable. And I’m grateful for BF for that.

Sharelle:
But it was there to emotionally support me and even I was a little upset at my husband at the time, grateful that he did come and was there to support me during my time for us, to give birth to our son. And I’m grateful for that. I think I made a very good decision with that. So, I love BAF for that. They have been there to support me in many ways, not just emotionally, to help make decisions with housing or finances, they support you in all ways to make you feel that you’re genuine, you’re important. I’m important and I’m not just a mother out there giving up a child. So, I’m happy for that.

Ron Reigns:
Our local adoption agency in Arizona has 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 local adoption agency in Arizona can make an immediate appointment with you to get you to a safe place, provide food and clothing and started on creating an Arizona adoption plan or give you more information. You can check out our blogs on our website at AZpregnancyhelp.com. Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me, Ron Reigns. If you enjoyed this podcast, rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts and as always thanks to GRAPES for letting us use their song, I Dunno, 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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