Open Adoption

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Open Adoption

Bumps,Hurdles and Miracles

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Our story is a long one with many bumps and hurdles, but it has brought us the two most amazing and loving children. During the journey of trying to have a family, we encountered surgeries, procedures, injections and many heart aches, before we decided that having a biological child was not what we really wanted or needed. It was more important to have a family, regardless of how it came to us. It was then that we set our sights on meeting with different adoption agencies. Destiny being the planner that she is, met/spoke to agencies (interstate and intrastate), all tracking them in a nice little spreadsheet format. As a couple, we sat down and looked at the pros and cons of each agency before deciding on “The One” and turning our application into Geri.

We took our large stack of papers home and began working on the long list of requirements, being careful to not get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data and steps needed to pursue adopting a child. Once all of the paperwork was completed and the photo book was finally ready, the waiting game started. Even though it was only a few short months, it seems like forever, but the call we had so desired to hear came in. “Your book has been selected” will forever be our favorite words. We met the birth mother and her mom the following week, during a match meeting. We loved both of them to pieces and were over joyed after they decided to move forward with us. We were able to go to doctor visits and were even at the hospital during his delivery. He was the most precious baby we had ever seen. Our family came in, from out of town, to share our experience and we were so excited to finally have a family.

Unfortunately, 9 weeks after his delivery, we lost this precious child in a court battle, to his birth father. It was the hardest thing we have ever had to face. We loved him as our own and would have done anything for him. Now we had to hand him over to someone who had a very strong drug history, didn’t want anything to do with him until after his birth and didn’t know anything about him, since the day he was born. Our world was shattered and not only did we feel like we lost a child, but we also felt like we were losing our birth mother. The agency called a counselor to meet with us and our birth mother, to help process our grief. We also started to wonder, were we not meant to have a family? Is God trying to tell us something? Destiny had the hardest time with the loss, but it only strengthened her desire to have a family and she convinced Chris to put our profile book back into the waiting family pool.

To our surprise, less than one week after losing our little boy, another birth family wanted to meet us. The agency briefed them on our recent loss and told them if, they were not 100% sure of their decision, then we were not the family for them and took great liberties to protect us from another loss. Approximately 6 weeks after meeting this family, our baby girl Brooklynn McKinley was born. We were not allowed at the hospital, which was extremely hard since we had been at the last delivery, but waited patiently for our daughter to come home. We had some difficulties initially with our birth family, following her birth, but sought help from Geri and the agency and each other to define boundaries, communicate our concerns and worked through issues. Today, we have a great relationship with our birth family and see/talk/text as much as we can.

A couple years later, we decided to try again. Brooklynn was 2 years old and was a very social, loving and outgoing child. We wanted her to have a sibling and our desire to complete our family was very strong. The agency had a waitlist, so we put our names on the list. We used this time to compile our paperwork and start working on another photobook. This time around, we were excited to include pictures of our daughter, so we felt she made our book extra special. All paperwork, including our book, was turned in and less than 2 months later we got the call….”your book has been selected”!

We met the family a few days later and were elated to hear of their strong Christian background and love they all had for this unborn child. The birth mother was in college, adorable and seemed like an extension of our own family, the moment we met her. Brooklynn came to the match meeting and she, our new birth mother brought her parents. A couple days later, Geri called to let us know she wanted to move forward with us. The baby was due in less than 6 weeks, so we began to prepare our home and our life for a new little one. A week later, Aidan Kai was born! He was delivered via c-section and was born before his due date, but he was perfect. We asked the family if we could come meet him and were allowed to visit the following day. Two days later, we brought him home! Brooklyn was a big sister, “I be big sister” she kept saying and our family was complete. Since we didn’t have much time, before his delivery, to build a relationship with our birth family, we spent a lot of time the following weeks and months to learn more about them. Our birth mother pumped breast milk for 7 months!! It was the most amazing gift she could have ever given him, especially considering he was a preemie and quite small.

Brooklynn is 4 and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall and Aidan is almost 2. We have the family we always dreamed of and our family is complete!! We continue to stay in touch with our first birth mother, even though we weren’t parenting her child, we still love her deeply and would do anything for her. Brooklynn’s and Aidan’s birth families continue to be a part of our extended family and share in the love we have for these 2 precious angels. Open adoption is the most amazing gift we have ever experienced. Not only do we get to raise these beautiful babies, but we have 3 amazing women in our life who put their children before anyone and anything else – even themselves.

-Destiny and Chris Berndt
Disclaimer Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.

Someone I want in my Life

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When we began looking into open adoption, I was initially very skeptical. Like most people starting out, I was scared about the relationship with the birth parents. I have never been more wrong and two things drastically changed my mind.

1) While reading “Dear Birthmother”, a great book on adoption that includes letters between birth parents and adoptive parents, it suddenly struck me. It is much more difficult and unselfish to place a child for adoption, than to choose to parent when you couldn’t take care of a baby. Someone that unselfish is someone I want in my life.

2) During an adoption education class with Geri, she said quite simply and perfectly, “You can never have too many people love your child.” She was so right. When you have kids, you love seeing them be loved. Only adopted kids get to have birth parents spoiling them along with the grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s a wonderful feeling.

Have questions? Want to talk? –Please feel free to email me at [email protected]

-PhilDisclaimer Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.

Jake and Dana-An Open Adoption

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Some twenty-plus years ago, my family and I went to a park on a beautiful Friday afternoon.

It was a great day to enjoy the outside, but this was for a meeting.

We, my wife and I and our seven year old son, Max were going to the park for a gathering with some special people. We were joining Geri, Babette, a lovely, nineteen year old girl and Babette’s new baby boy. The little baby boy was to come home with us.

That experience comes back to me, in my minds’ eye, in the form of snapshots, images from that hour, that provide the point of transition in our collective life from before Jake, to after Jake. I see the flowering trees and the greenery of the park. There are tears streaming down to meet smiles on most faces. There are brave and loving words being exchanged. My seven year old is holding this newborn stranger, with pride and serious question crossing his face. There is me, looking down and seeing this tiny little guy, and I’m scared, because I don’t feel anything for him. Zip, nada, nothing.

The worry didn’t last long though, because soon I remembered, that this had been my same experience, in a hospital seven years before. I remembered holding a baby and being scared witless, because I didn’t have a warm emotion to be found. That had changed profoundly in the following weeks. A miracle occurred, and my heart blossomed and I had feelings I had never before known.

Truth be told, as I stood in the park, I wondered if there was anyway that this situation with adoption could possibly be the same? Can I feel for this little squeaky guy, that which I feel for my biological child?

Luckily miracles are not like lightning. They can strike twice.

My son’s have each gone off to college, stepping out into their emerging lives. Now, the times that we are all together at the same time, are more rare and special. So often, I look at the two of them, and marvel at who they are, what they each mean to me, and how great my love is, for each of them in measures that have no distinction.

Our adoption was open. Jakes first-mom is part of our lives, and she has been an instrumental advisor, friend and source of love to our son.

We are blessed.

-Dana
*Disclaimer Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.

My Beautiful Children

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I could go on about them all day. My husband and I always joke that our kids are much more adorable than anything the two of us could have created. I love that my daughter knows she has curly hair like her birth mom, and beautiful blue eyes like her birth dad. I smile every time my son gets a certain impish grin on his face that reminds me of his half-sister, Olivia. The other day my daughter and I were talking about what it meant to have birth parents, and she said, “Morgan and Eddie picked you and Daddy to be my parents.” Sometimes what comes out of the mouth of a nearly four-year old makes a lot of sense. –Please feel free to email me at [email protected]

-Jenn
*Disclaimer Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.

The Love that has Grown in our Hearts

Two years ago, immediately following Mother’s Day, my husband and I submitted our profile book to our adoption agency and officially became a “waiting family”. I remember all of the anticipation, questions, hopes and fears swirling in our heads. Most notably, we wondered whether there was really someone out there who would identify with our book and who would have the courage and love in her heart to place her child with us.

Later that year, we got “the call” from Geri Glazer—a day we will never forget—and two days later we met our incredible birth mother. Two weeks later, our beautiful, amazing son, Owen, was born. Like every adoptive family going through adoption preparation, we had attended education, read books, talked with other families and researched open adoption on the Internet. We felt as prepared as we could to handle and relate to the open adoption experience. As I write this letter now, I realize the one thing I wasn’t completely prepared for, and didn’t necessarily expect, was the love that has grown in our hearts for our birth mother.

Our birth mother had experienced some trauma in her life in the year prior to her pregnancy with Owen. In the aftermath of Owens placement, she experienced additional trauma, but of a different variety…there were post pregnancy health complications. I remember a personal feeling of despair when her ability to live happily in the aftermath of the placement was overshadowed by these complications. Fortunately, her strength and resolve carried her through this period of turmoil. In the second year since the placement of our child, we have witnessed her regain her health, happiness, and positive outlook on life. She found a job which she loves and I know she has the confidence to pursue her dreams. The happiness and personal fulfillment of our birth mother will always hold a great deal of importance to me.

When I reflect on our lives and the family we have built, I cannot do so without a great sense of love, admiration and appreciation for our birth mother. Owen has filled our hearts with joy and our home with laughter. By choosing adoption, our birth mother has made a profound and everlasting impact on our lives.

-Sheryl

*Disclaimer Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.

Who Would Ever Choose Us

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After having healed from the emotional pain of infertility, my husband and I decided to pursue adoption. We were given Geri’s name by more than one person, so we decided to call and find out about her and her agency ourselves. We met with Geri and spent a couple of hours with her. We were both very comfortable with her and very impressed by her and by what she had accomplished over the years. We were put on a waitlist for the application process, and a few months later we got the go-ahead to start our application. A few months after that, we were in the final stages of the process and were in classes with other couples, all of whom were quite a bit younger than we were (we were in our early 40s). I worried out loud to Geri at one point that we were “too old” and no birthparents would ever choose us. She was wonderfully reassuring and stated that we were just what birthparents were looking for – a committed, stable couple who could offer a stable, established home to a child.

After a few months went by and all of our classmates had been chosen by birth parents, I started telling myself that we were not going to be picked by anyone. I went out of town for a short weekend trip, and the night before I was to come back home, my husband called and said, “Geri called.” At first I was a bit confused (as a friend of ours is Jerry and I thought for some reason he had called but couldn’t imagine why). It finally dawned on me, after my husband started explaining, that it was “THE CALL.” We had indeed been picked! Our future birth mother wanted to talk to us right away, even though we would be meeting within the next few days, so even though it was an unusual request from a birth mom, Geri ok’d it and I ended up spending over 2 ½ hours on the phone with the birth mom.

My husband and I were so nervous to meet her, yet so excited too! We spent another couple of hours talking with her, her boyfriend, and her 1 year old son in the restaurant where we had our first face-to-face meeting, and probably the highlight of my night was when she asked if I wanted to feel her belly (she was 7 months pregnant at the time). I was blessed to be able to feel the head of my future daughter and was nearly overcome with emotion. The next couple of months were a flurry of activity for us, getting our baby’s room ready, plus talking and texting with our birth mom. The day finally came for the birth, and at our birth mom’s request, we arrived there a few hours after she was born. She wanted to have some time alone with her/our daughter before we got there. We paced all morning long, nothing but nervous energy as we waited for the go-ahead to come to the hospital.

Once there, we were so excited to hold this new little life, but so uncertain as well. Not just uncertainty about how to hold a baby just a few hours old, but also uncertainty about how the birth mom would feel about us holding her, knowing that we would be taking her home instead of the birth mom. All through the process, though, our birth mom, young though she was, was so incredibly mature. Once she made the decision to make an adoption plan for her daughter, she was completely committed to that route. Even in the restaurant as she was offering for me to touch her belly, she said, “It’s o.k – after all, you’re her mom!” That statement just blew me away. As we all were leaving the hospital, the birth mom and I waited in the lobby for the guys to bring the cars around, and it finally started to hit us. We were both sobbing, and I kept asking her if she was going to be o.k. She kept saying yes, that this was the right thing to do for her daughter. Promises of visits helped both of us say goodbye at the hospital, but I still cried all the way home. For me it was grieving for our birth mom who was releasing her daughter into our care. We saw her a week later as they came to our house for a visit, bringing breast milk that she had pumped for her daughter. We saw each other quite often over the next several weeks as she continued to pump for us. What a blessing that was, and I can only imagine the sacrifice it was for her. All throughout the process, though, she was adamant about doing the best things for her daughter. She wanted to give this precious little girl the best start in life that she could, and she continues to amaze me even after all this time. I thank God for her maturity and for allowing us to grow our family in this way.

I know that all the counseling that Geri did with her also helped prepare her for the many overwhelming emotions that she was likely to face. Our birth mom bonded so well with Geri, who is a pillar of strength and a wealth of knowledge for all participants in the adoption process.

We continue to see our birth mom as well as talk and text with her, and we truly have a good relationship with her. We share pictures over Face Book so she can see her daughter when we aren’t able to visit frequently. Our daughter will grow up knowing her biological siblings (she now has a biological half-sister, too, along with her brother), for which I am so grateful. There was a time in my life (before meeting Geri) when I was very leery of open adoption, but I now see it for the blessing it is for all of us. It has been an amazing journey, and through it all I credit Geri for preparing all of us in the adoption process.

-Steve and Tammy
*Disclaimer – Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.