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Front Page » November 21, 2002 » Local News » November recognizes national adoption month
Published 4,412 days ago

November recognizes national adoption month


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

Susie was 15 years old, good-looking, outgoing, and maintaining good grades in her first year of high school. She had a steady boyfriend and both her parents were extremely dedicated to their careers. She came home one evening, sat her parents down and told them she was pregnant.

At that moment in her life abortion and adoption were out of the question and she wanted to raise her baby. The family and the boyfriend were incredibly supportive and together, as a family, they raised the baby. After high school Susie and her boyfriend married and today are happily raising their 18-year-old daughter and three younger children.

Sarah was already a single mother to 4-year old Debbie when she became pregnant for the second time. She had grown up in a loving family but at age 18 a life-style change that involved drinking and drug use led her away from her family. She went on a downward spiral and got very depressed, eventually letting her parents raise baby Debbie. Surprisingly it was her unplanned pregnancy that provided the wake-up call she needed. While she never considered giving up the first daughter she had given birth to as a teenager, the bittersweet lessons she had learned as a single mom made her realize that this time it wasn't right for her to keep the child growing inside her. "I knew I was suppose to give this baby up, " said Sarah, as she planned the adoption process.

These are true stories, although they do stereotype mothers with unplanned pregnancies. Although the names have changed and the situations vary from family to family, stories like this occur every day in some corner of our state.

It would be safe to say that everyone knows someone who has been adopted and most of us know people who would like to adopt. For over 20 years adoptive families organizations have observed November as national adoption month

Originally the purpose of the awareness was to dispel myths about adoption and focus on the normalcy of adoptive family life, as well as to call attention to the need for homes for hundreds of thousands of waiting children. But the awareness month is also about celebration and gratitude and hope. It has become a popular time to recognize the two factors in our society. First, there are many young girls, as young as 12 years old, that get pregnant before they are able to or willing to care for their babies. There are many couples who are able to and sincerely wanting to raise a child but cannot give birth for a variety of medical reasons.

In Southeast Utah, Carbon and Emery counties there were 105 births to women who were not married in 2001. Forty of these were to teens age 15 to 19 years old, while 49 were to women in their 20's.

Looking for Adoption Information?

LDS Family Services, Quinn Nelson and Glenn Farr, practitioners, Southeast Utah district, 435-637-2991, specializing in counseling and adoption.

Lifeline pregnancy assistance, support center - The facility offers free confidential pregnancy testing, verification, counseling and baby supplies. Connections can be made to adoption centers. 636-0700.

Foster Care Foundation and Division of Child and Family Services partner to recruit and train adoptive families. Call 636-2360. Ron Law, Associate Director for Eastern Utah.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics approximately 1.7 percent of the babies born out-of-wedlock are placed.

Five to six couples are actively seeking adoption for every actual adoption that occurs. Trends have removed much of the stigma that used to accompany unwed pregnancies. Single mothers are relieved from much of the embarrassment and shame that a few decades ago sent young women in the same circumstance to homes for unwed mothers where they stayed until they delivered their babies and relinquished them for adoption.

At the same time society has become more accepting when it comes to unwed teens keeping their babies, statistics also show the public, the teenage mother and the child are also paying a price. Statistics compiles for the Report on Adolescent Pregnancy In Utah , show that when an unwed teen keeps the child it increases her chances of living in poverty, and results in high social costs for health care and public assistance. In these cases, statistics show there is also a much greater likelihood for subsequent infant illnesses and or disabilities for the child raised by a teenage mother, and for low educational attainment and low marriage rates for single teenager mothers.

Adoption can benefit all parties involved, but most importantly, the child, according to LDS Family Services, an organization that acts as advocate to provide education and support to individuals and families involved in the adoption process monitor and promote positive adoption legislation, inform the community of benefits of adoption and assistance available.

LDS Family Services is one of a couple well-known agencies that young single expectant mothers in Utah turn to in a time of crisis. They offer their services free of charge to unwed mothers regardless of religious affiliation. The young woman's family, the birth father and his parents are also welcome.

"We answer questions and talk with them about the options they have, whether they're looking at getting married, single-parenting, or placing their baby for adoption," explained Quinn Nelson, a practitioner working at LDS Family Services in Price.

Nelson is joined in the Southeast Utah district with Glenn Farr, and together the practitioners cover the areas from Vernal to Moab and all of Carbon and Emery counties.

Although adoption is stressed as the most viable alternative, practitioners who counsel with the young women and their families realize it may not be the right answer in every case.

"We create a safe place for them to come and tell us what they want to have happen. If they change their minds, it's okay. Many are young women and men who are unprepared to be parents and just trying to decide 'what now?'

After a birth mother has placed her baby for adoption, LDS Family Services continues to help her be comfortable with her decision by offering follow-up counseling after the adoption takes place. Single mothers who decide on adoption are given the option of selecting the family they want their child to go. The selection process involves reviewing family photographs, reading letters written by the couple to the prospective birth mothers, and learning of their background.

National adoption month is just that, a time to reflect and realize there are agencies whose goal is to provide a safe place for the mother to come and talk. There are places where couples wishing to adopt a baby, can get assistance in the process, and best of all, there are people working hard to always place the child as a top priority.


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