Adoption changes lives


Growing up in Salt Lake City, Annie Hollowell was always the only girl at the table for family dinner. With four older brothers, she never had  someone to do make-up and hair with.

But everything changed after her family decided to adopt a baby girl.

When Hollowell was 12 years old, her parents let their children know they had started the process of adopting a baby girl. Annie couldn’t have been more thrilled to become a big sister.

“When she got into the house, there were changes,” Hollowell said. “It took some adjusting, but I was so excited to be a big sister. I grew up as an only girl. I was so excited to have a sister.”

Rebecca and Davis Wallentine may be raising their adopted daughter Allison, but they say it's Allison who is doing the teaching.

Adoption is a tough decision for a family to make. Factors such as infertility or a passion to provide a home for a child in need, can influence a family’s decision to adopt. Regardless of the situation, lives can be changed for the better.

Meredith Long, 20, a pre-communications major, was adopted as a baby. She has seen firsthand how wonderful adoption can be for everyone involved.

“My birth mom’s whole life changed because of what she did,” Long said. “It all fell into the right place. I think it blessed her. It blessed my parents and it blessed me tremendously.”

Parents who make the decision to bring a new member into their family are giving a child the life that he or she would never have experienced. At the same time, the adoption gives the family an opportunity to raise and guide a child to a successful life.

BYU graduates Rebecca Wallentine and her husband, who live in River Edge, N. J.,  adopted a 21-month-old girl.

“My life has changed immensely since adopting our daughter,” she said.  “She is now 21 months old and I have learned so much about love. Obviously, the love I have for her which comes along with being a parent.  But there was also the experience I have of knowing her birth mother and having a very open relationship with her.  We have a lot of contact with her and it is so wonderful to know how much she loves our daughter and wants the best for her.  It inspires me to be the best mom I can be. I saw her tears and heartbreak, as she made the most difficult decision of her life.  I have also seen her joy that her daughter has been able to have a mom and a dad.”

Preparing to adopt can be a long and expensive process. When a family decides they are ready to bring a new child into their family, an adoption agency begins the process by doing a background check to make sure the family or parents are suitable to adopt. Along with criminal and abuse clearances, a social worker goes into the home to interview the family to make sure the home and family are a proper fit for the adoptive experience.

Morgan Grow is the director of social work with Heart and Soul Adoptions in Centerville. She knows about adoption as she was adopted herself.

“During a home study, I interview the family and go through the home to make sure it is safe and appropriate,” she said. “After, I write the home study report that ranges from 16 to 20 pages. The document is my approval that the family is fit to be adoptive parents; it is required by the state of Utah.”

Adoption is like a roller coaster ride. A birth mother can back out of the adoption at any point, leaving the family to wait for another potential adoptive match. It can take several months or even years to find the right fit for the child and the family.

Denise Garza is the executive director and birth parent director of Heart and Soul Adoptions. She has adopted two children of her own.

“It’s difficult for adoptive families because they are not in control,” she said. “They are putting their heart and emotion in a situation where they are relying on another person. They are trusting a birth mom to continue with her adoption plan to place the child with their family.”

A birth mother may back out of her adoptive plan for a variety of reasons. She may begin to feel that she could take better care of her child than an adoptive family; occasionally, the birth mother gets cold feet.

“The birth mother’s biggest fear is that the child will grow up to hate her,” Garza said. “She may also worry if the adoptive family will stay true to their word that they will send pictures, letters and tell the child about his or her birth parents. The birth mother wants to trust the family to provide for her child because she can’t at that time.”

A child may always wonder what his or her birth mother and father will be like. Growing up, the adoptive child has the decision to search and meet her birth mother and father.

Taylor Lansford, has a friend who just returned from meeting her birth parents.

“She felt like she was always missing out on something,” she said. “With our parents we know where we are coming from, we know our family history. She wanted to know her background, not just her adoptive’s family background.”


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