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Finding Julie – A Story of Adoption

Saturday, May 20, 2017 @ 01:05 PM
posted by michael

Tori’s Story of Open Adoption

Sunday, July 3, 2016 @ 01:07 PM
posted by admin

My eleven year old son was adopted at birth.  I was very fortunate to have met his birthparents exactly four months before he was born.  They allowed me to be present at his delivery  and I took him home from the hospital.

Eleven years ago open adoption was not popular in my state but was being done in other states.   There was quite a bit of information available on it and some really great message boards devoted to adoption issues. I met some amazing women in that part of the journey who are still with me today to counsel me and share their own journey.

The adoption attorney I worked with had never done an open adoption.  My state does not recognize open adoptions and there still isn’t anything in the finalization of the adoption that would compel adoptive parents to keep an open adoption agreement.

When my son’s birthparents met me they were very clear that the only way they would consider me was if I was willing to do a fully open adoption.  Their version and my version of open adoption was face to face contact visits and information sharing throughout his childhood.  Nothing less.

They knew it could not be enforced in Iowa and that we could not enter into any legally binding written agreement.  I was willing to set terms in writing but the adoption attorney we used said that this was not a good idea because my state doesn’t recognize it.   She also made a very good point that what I feel pre-adoption about having an open relationship may change as my son grew and I got to know the biological parents better.  We talked a lot about the idea that you can’t really KNOW before you become a parent who you will want your child to grow up with until you actually become a parent.  Giving away your “rights to association” was a risky move before you had parented a single day.

Our agreement could only be verbal.  After counseling I realized that even if I could have signed a specific visitation and information sharing agreement that I would not have done it.  I knew I wanted to raise him with full openness but I wouldn’t have agreed to a court ordered agreement.

Eleven years later we have a fully open relationship.  My son doesn’t have any clue that this is unusual.  He has been raised with full knowledge of his adoption.  He knows all of his brothers, sisters, Aunties, Grandparents, and his birth parents.  He’s been to their family reunions and met his extended family of great aunts, uncles, and cousins.  He knows both sides of his family and they all know where we live and how to get a hold of us.
Now that he is eleven he does a lot of the communication without my involvement.  When he was little I was in between him and his biological family but as he ages that becomes less and less.   He has his own mind of when he wants to see them and contacts them by phone and internet whenever he pleases.

Last week he was  fishing at one of the lakes close to our home.  He ran into his Dad when he was fishing.  They hung out together for a bit before the weather turned and they decided they would like to spend this weekend together.  His Dad called me to ask if he could have him this weekend to take him fishing.  The boy needs some fishing lessons I’m told.

It hasn’t always been an easy road.  Along the way many decisions have had to be made on what will work best for everyone.  I made a commitment that he would be able to spend as many holidays and special occasions with them as possible and try to always say “yes” when they ask to see him.  He has been fortunate to be able to spend many of the major holidays with them like Christmas Eve, Easter, Thanksgiving, Fathers Day, and even Mothers Day.
This means we have to change our own schedules and celebrate holidays on the day before or after.  We have worked around these kind of visits with my family to still be able to attend meals and celebrations with them too.  Sometimes the schedules collide but we always seem to work it out in his best interest and the interest of his brothers and sisters.

There’s many theories about how open adoption can be confusing to children as they are growing up.  My eleven year experience with it is that it is only as confusing as your emotions dictate it will be.  When you stick with the truth and care about the WHOLE family’s well being it makes it much easier to muddle through.  It’s not always an easy road because you are often dealing with the issues that brought the child to adoption in the first place.  These don’t just go away when the child is born.  It’s not, however, any different than dealing with your own family and their life issues.  Day by day you deal with it and make decisions for your child and your family.  Sometimes you get it right.  Sometimes you don’t.

The thing I like most about open adoption is that I have a direct line to his tribe of origin, especially his grandmother.  She is an excellent resource for me to learn about their family and keep up with the academic, medical,  and behavioral issues that come up with his siblings.  They are older than my son  so it gives me a road map for what I may come across as he enters his teen years.  She is someone I can talk to about my son because she knows him in a genetic way that I never will and she has most likely recently been through the problem with one of his siblings.  I profit from her connection both ways.

My core reason for being so generous with sharing our son is because I want his birth family to have as little pain as possible and a history with him.   Loosing a child to adoption is something that has deep and lasting affects on the family.  It’s my job as his mother to lessen that pain for all of them whenever it is possible.

I care very much about both of his parents, grandparents, and siblings.  It hurts ME when they are hurt over adoption issues.  I want them all to “grow up” as happy and healthy as possible just like my son.  I want them to know we love them very much.

The secret to my success with his birth family is to have a respect for who they are in his life and not try to compete with that truth.  I don’t have any jealousy in my heart or secret longing to be his REAL biological parent or his only parent.  I don’t try to take their place in his heart.  I want them to have their own place with him.  Their rightful place.
I am his Mother… his Mommy… and currently his Ma.  I know who mothers him and that he belongs to me.  He belongs to them too.  I know that he has two mothers and am quite happy to share the role with her.  It doesn’t bother me when he calls her Mommy.  It makes me very happy because it shows me I’m doing it right.

Tori Fees an adoptive parent of one son age eleven who was privately adopted at birth. She is in a fully open adoption with contact with both birthparents, grandparents, and extended family. She is also a child care provider for 31 years and is featured on as Nannyde The Daycare Whisperer. You can read her fist article titled:

Tori’s Story of Open Adoption


An Angel Brought Her to Me

Monday, June 27, 2016 @ 01:06 AM
posted by admin

June in China is a mixture of pure humidity and buckets of rain.  I remember getting off the plane, knowing full well that I was in for ten bad hair days.  The trip from South Florida was long and I was tired, but as soon as my husband and I arrived at the Guangzhou airport our guide quickly put us in a taxi, and off we went.  He announced that we were going immediately to the hotel where our little girl was awaiting us; no turning back now.  Our lives were about to change.

Many had told us, but nothing could have fully prepared us for what happened next.  We arrived at the hotel and as my husband took care of the taxi driver, I just went ahead of him into the hotel lobby.  There, sitting on a wooden bench was the orphanage director, a caregiver, and this little baby wrapped in the thinnest towel I had ever seen.  Christa, formally Yang Chun Dao, was the most beautiful child I had ever seen.  At less than fifteen pounds the thirteen month old was so tiny.  Her face was angelic, full of dimples, and she had the biggest heart shaped lips; she took my breath away.  I was so drawn to her that I left my husband in the dust and I had to run back to bring him to see his daughter for the first time.

The exchange of the initial paperwork took an hour, and of course I quickly replaced the old clothes and the towel with a little pink designer outfit.  Christa Joy Gerard was now ours forever to love and cherish.  The little girl who was left in a market at four days old had become our treasure.  I knew that only an angel could have seen all the children in the world who needed a mommy and daddy and choose this precious child for us.  As a million emotions swept over us, we knew that we were in the perfect plan of God.

joannaJoanna Gerard was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in East Haven, Connecticut. Always a lover of the ocean, she moved to South Florida in 1977. Joanna entered the health food industry and began managing health food stores where she learned about the important role nutrition played in ones life for health and wellness. Her nutritional expertise was later put to good use when her daughter was diagnosed with ADD. Through the use of natural methods, Christa was completely cured and today remains symptom free.

In 1982 Joanna married Ralph Gerard and together they founded Metro Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During the first twenty years of their marriage, Ralph and Joanna went through the challenge of desiring a family, yet were unable to conceive. In her early forties, Joanna came to the conclusion that she would regret not having children and she and Ralph decided to adopt a baby girl from China. They named her Christa Joy.

As Christa turned six years old they had the opportunity to adopt their son, also from China, Rapha Simeon. Joanna has found the most rewarding role in her life as a wife and mother. She has had a front row seat to the amazing transformation of two unique lives plucked from a sea of millions.

If you asked Joanna what stands at the center of her heart, she would say adoption. She has risen to the forefront as an adoption advocate and is committed to helping families realize their dreams of becoming adoptive parents. Millions of children will never know the love of a parent and the security of a family until more people take that step of faith and open their hearts and their homes.

In Joanna’s words, “I am very happy and thankful to be part of the family. I look forward to recording my journey and that of others through the world of adoption. You may have questions or comments and we are here to help. We certainly hope you will be strengthened and encouraged in your decision to make adoption a reality for your family.”

The Gerard’s are enjoying life in South Florida where Ralph is the lead Pastor of their new church, Dream Church. Their live services can be seen at

Take a Mental Picture

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 01:06 AM
posted by admin

Any woman that has ever held her child for the first time can say that the range of emotions at that time can be compared to few things in life.  Human beings were created with this great capacity to love one another, and the love of a child can totally fill one’s heart.  Receiving an adopted child in your arms opens a woman’s heart to that love equally as much as if she had borne that child herself.  I know this to be true, because it happened to me.

To this day, ten years and another child later, my heart is so grateful and so full of love for my children.  I thank God for them every day, and I do not take their presence in my life for granted.  After receiving Christa, Ralph and I took a taxi through the busy streets of Guangzhou to a government building; more legal forms to sign.  Ralph looked at me as I held Christa in my arms.  After twenty years of waiting he looked at me and asked “How do you feel right now?”  I remember searching for the correct wording and all I could say was “I feel smitten.”  I knew that these moments in that taxi would quickly pass, so I made a decision to take a mental picture.  I closed my eyes and created a picture of us sitting in that cab.  To this day, I can go back there and hear the sounds of the cars and the rain drops tapping on the roof.  I can remember how the humidity felt on my skin, and the look of wonderment our precious new baby had on her face.

I am not sure she had been out of her crib much, never mind ever being outside. Her eyes were as big as saucers, and that is saying a lot for a Chinese infant.  Through it all, she did not make one sound.  As much as our lives were about to change, so was the life of this amazing little girl.

Our Long Journey to Yuna – International Adoption

Saturday, June 27, 2015 @ 01:06 AM
posted by admin

In a blink of the eye the holidays are over and a new year is upon us! The last two months of 2009 were very busy – just like for everyone else in the entire universe, but for us, it was also a time 2007 Nearing the End of the “Chase”…
We received our approval for the I-171H on January 11th! Kadavy and I were talking to a neighbor when the postman passed by, recognized us and gave us our mail. There it was! I remember telling our neighbor, I’m sorry, but we have been waiting for 79 days now (not that anyone is counting!) for this piece of mail – so we gotta go! Then off to get a certified true copy, money order at Publix, Great Seal from the Georgia Secretary of State then off to Fed / Ex so it will be delivered the next morning at the Chinese Consulate in Houston. They call it the ‘Paperchase’ – I think “Paper Race” is more like it. All with Kadavy in tow while it’s freezing outside! Yes, I’m exhausted!

(We at will be showcasing real stories that highlight the process of adoption. The Story of Mick and Joanne is ongoing and we will provide updates and information as they progress on their family adventure.) You can read the rest of thier story here:

I Was Okay With Not Bearing a Child

Sunday, June 26, 2011 @ 11:06 PM
posted by admin

After twenty years of marriage, I had come to a place of peace with the reality that I was not going to be able to conceive and bear a child.  Like many others, I had gone through the stress of trying all that the doctors had to offer without any success.  I was busy with my career and continued to believe that perhaps a miracle would happen.  Already forty, I realized that although I was okay with not bearing a child, I would regret not being a mother.  I had to do something quickly if I was going to turn my desire into reality. 

My husband and I had heard that in China there were many girls that were being aborted or abandoned and we made a decision to proceed with the detailed process of putting the necessary documents together.  You have to have the courage to ask yourself the tough questions in life.  You must value your future peace of mind sufficiently to make tough choices in your present which will create the tomorrow you are dreaming of.  There is a force called faith, and time and time again I have seen it’s power move mountains in my life.  I refused to see myself childless.  I knew that by positioning myself to receive this great gift and doing all that I needed to do physically, it would produce my hearts desire. 

I learned from my husband to never complain about what you permit.  By keeping my focus on having a child to hold and to love, it helped me get through all of the forms, procedures, and subsequent waiting until our vision was fulfilled.