Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FSA regional conference

This weekend is the Families Supporting Adoption regional conference. November is National Adoption month and I will be co-teaching a 1 hour class and will be a panelist to tell my story as an adoptee. Do I dare say how nervous I am? I am. So. Very. This subject that I am to talk about is so very near and dear to my heart. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh, it makes me have anxiety. It is beautiful. Here is a little bit of what I am going to say, while I am not going to bring this paper with me, I think that it was imperative to write it so that I would be prepared. I didn't want to read from a paper when I told my story, I wanted to have the Spirit lead and guide me on what to say. I wrote it because I wanted to document it plus it really made me think when I wrote it. Here it goes!

As early as I can remember, my parents have told me that I was adopted. The story is super cute and my dad still gets a little choked up when he tells the story about the day that they placed me in their arms and how they just KNEW that I was their baby. They would tell me, Shelley, you are SO special. They said it over and over again. These words were important to me growing up. You are special. I knew that I was special and being adopted has been one of the biggest blessings in my life!

I was born on January 14th 1982 in Phoenix Arizona. I was placed in my wonderful parents arms at the Mesa LDS family services office on January 22nd, 8 days after my birth. Even though I do not remember it, I know that it was one of the best days of my little life.

With closed adoptions 30 years ago there was such limited information. All that my parents receive after placement was a small three to four paragraph piece of paper. It is basically family and medical history, which was very vague. It has some facts of where the family originated. Still the facts are broad. I have read it thousands of times in hopes to pull something more out of it.

If I could have my wish, I would liked to have known these things:

About my birthmother:

What is her name?

What does she look like? Do I look like her?

How old was she when she had me?

What does she like to do?

Can she sing or play a musical instrument?

What type of personality traits did I inherit from her?

Where does she live?

What is all the medical history in her family?

Is she happy?

Did she have more children?

If she has a family do they know about me?

What did she do with her life?

Is she doing the things that Heavenly Father would have her do?

Did she ever see me?

I was born by C- section and so a lot of times back then they would put the mother under for this procedure. I have no idea if my birthmother ever even saw or held me before she let me go. I would really love to know that!

With my birthfather I didn’t have quite so many questions but I did always wonder where he went and ended up.

What was he like?

Is he happy?

Is he doing the things that Heavenly Father would want him to be doing?

Some of you would ask why do you want to know these things? My answer to that would be that it definitely differs from person to person. Having a few friends, a couple of cousins and my own mother having been adopted I know that I am not alone on some of the questions that I have had. Growing up, when people would find out that I was adopted, there was always a really positive reaction and then they would ask a whole bunch of questions that I was NOT prepared to answer. I didn’t know any of the answers and there is so many questions that a person can take when they just don’t know. I want to make a note before I go any further that it is different for everyone and these are my own personal feelings. I am sure that I made my mom’s head spin at all of the million questions that I spit at her. I would always ask her if she was hiding something from me and often would snoop in their stuff to find a document or letter of some sort. The truth is that the letters or hidden documents that I had hoped to find had never even existed. It was hard and me being a very curious girl to begin with wasn’t making it any easier. Here is the way that I coped with not knowing the things that I wondered and the things that people would ask me: I used to make things up. I used a toy bunny that I told everyone she gave to me. I even went as far as telling everyone that my birthmother was Whitney Houston! For those of you who don’t know her, she is very black and an amazing singer. I used to think I could sing exactly like her when I was 5 & 6. I remember telling my mom very seriously that I thought that she truly was my birth mother and then proceeded to sing “ Oh I wanna dance with somebody.” You know....just to prove it. To this day my family won’t let me live it down. If she comes up on TV or is on a poster somewhere my siblings laugh and say “Hey Shelley! It’s your birth mom!” It’s pretty funny now.

Now while I have a lot of questions about my origin and birth parents, I do need to add that there is one very important question that I can answer without fail. I found this answer through personal revelation. Why? Why they did it. Well everyone I KNOW why. It is because they loved me. They wanted something more for their precious daughter of Heavenly Father that they chose to place me with two wonderful parents that were able to provide me with so much. I am very sure that I was meant to go to the family that I went to and I had the most amazing childhood ever! By doing what they did, my birthparents provided me with a stable, spiritually sustaining home with a mother and a father, where I was able to thrive upon my parent’s wonderful testimonies. They taught me about the Savior and what it meant to be a good example and serve other people. They were able to give me four siblings shortly after I came to the family. They took me to the temple when I was one to be sealed to them for all of Eternity by my very own grandfather, who was a temple sealer. My birthparents gave me the gift of being raised in a home where I learned that we are all God’s children.

I am a mother of one precious little girl. She is six years old and her name is Tatum. My husband and I feel so blessed to have her and know that Heavenly Father sent her to us so that we can teach her how to live her life in a way that emulates the Savior. It is a humbling experience and I feel such a responsibility to do it right. I feel that the knowledge and testimony that I have of the gospel is a direct blessing that came from my birth parent’s decision to place me in the home that they did. They were not ready for the challenges of parenthood and knew that it was important for me to go to my family. I commend, respect and love them so much for that.

On August 11th of this year, my husband Shane and I entered the very same LDS family services building that I was placed in my parents arms 29 years and 10 months ago. I am so happy to announce that we are now embarking on our own adoption journey. My husband and I just got certified and our profile is up on the LDS family services website. We are currently looking for our baby and we could not be more excited! We look forward to welcoming a new baby into our home to love, to teach, and to guide throughout this life. So you see? The decision that my birthparents made so long ago continues to bless my life and those that I love. My very own special parents that raised me, those wonderful and amazing parents who adopted me taught me how to be who I am today. I love them so much. I would have never had their great examples and guidance if my birth parents had not been so selfless.

I love my birth parents. It would be so great if I could someday get the answers to the questions that I have behind those two mystery people that I love. While it is not totally important to my happiness to know the things I want to about them, I feel that it would be a sort of healing experience and would put an end to all the wondering. I want to make sure that when we are placed with a beautiful child of our Heavenly Father, that they will never have any of the questions that I had growing up.

For those of you trying to adopt or if you plan on placing your child, try to have an open mind and remember my story when deciding if you will do an open or closed adoption. I hope that I have been able to tell my story and relay my feelings in an adequate way that can help support you in the decisions that you make with adoption. My hope for all children is that they will grow up healthy, happy, and strong. That they will have the kind of stability and wonderful home that I was placed in. It is my prayer that the children who are adopted will not grow up with unanswered questions about their birth parents and that they will come to know and embrace our Savior Jesus Christ. I love being adopted. It is a true gift and I leave these things that I have said with you and wish you well in all of your endeavors to come!

In a nutshell! These are some of the things that I will say at conference. I will probably elaborate much more. Who knows what will come out of my mouth. I feel that sometimes I can be a loose cannon without any filters. Wish me luck that I don't say something silly! Anything could come out of my mouth. I'll update with pictures later:)


  1. well, you will have everyone crying there! what an honor. Your story will not be forgotten and no doubt will influence many people.
    I've always been a little skepticle of the really open adoption trend that is coming on now...I guess I worry that if I adopted my kid would want to run to the birthparent/s when times got hard, like kids of divorced parents sometimes do, in a fantasy. But I have personal experiences with adoption too and wish I had more answers for myself, so I see it's a double edged sword. I also wonder how hard it is for the mothers to have continuing contact - certainly the mother instinct grows as you watch your offspring grow...i have talked with some moms at LDS support groups for adoptive moms about this, but as you said in your talk, people are so unique in this journey.
    Hope that's not too much tmi - your words just make me think...
    I am so excited about your child. Can't wait to meet him/her!

  2. that was so great. Really sweet and so touching. I hope my kids say the same things that you said in 20 years. I do the same, tell them how special they are and how lucky i am. I tell them that most parents dont get to choose their baby, but i was so lucky because I got to choose the best babies!
    Adoption is amazing!!! good luck Sat!

  3. Kelly, if my child ever says that they want to run away to their birth mother then I know that I will be doing my job. Life is not easy and I can relate to this very much. This is something that I am sure to face. So, if I indeed do face it, I will gladly help them pack their bags;) It wouldn't be the home that they were raised in and I am sure that they would want to come home sooner or later. I am so not worried. Nothing can change the fact that they will love their birth mothers forever so that just may happen. I will be so secure in knowing that our child loves us and recognizes us as their parent because I have those feelings for my own parents. It differs from person to person but I guess we will tackle it if it ever comes up. The birthmother that chooses us will hopefully have our backs as parents right? You never know! Meredith......I love that you tell your babies that. I am for sure going to write that in my kids birth stories. I love it!

  4. Oh Shelley as your adoptive mom I am so proud of you! Your story is very beautiful. As a adoptive child myself I completely understand what you are saying. You have brought such wonderful assets to our family. You are truly beautiful inside and out. You and Shane will be amazing adoptive parents! And the icing on the cake is that they will get Tatiebugs as a big sister! Love you so much!

  5. Your story made me cry Shelley!! Such a great story- thanks for sharing it! Good luck at the conference and with your entire adoption process. I hope a sweet baby finds its way to your home soon!!

  6. That was soooo good Shell. I loved it. I have to tell you I didn't even know until after your family had moved away from your house across the street that you were adopted. You look so much like your siblings. My best friend gave her baby up for adoption. She had a pretty much closed adoption. That family sends her a letter and picture once a year and I know that she has almost all the same questions you have but about her little girl. Someday you will get those answers. My friend also says that she was given confirmation in a dream that she had made a pact long ago that she was to be her daughters way to get to this world. It was the only way that she was going to be able to come down and get a body. ask me sometime I will tell you. Good luck in your journey you guys deserve it.

  7. You're so amazing! Whitney would be proud ;-) I love you XOXOXOXO!!