It’s Time to Reflect
During the course of planning activities for our 25th
Anniversary year, I’ve pored through many old scrapbooks and photos … and memories …
This year marks my 20th year of personal involvement,
in fact. I was a new adoptive mom treading lightly down a path of openness in
adoption with a one-year-old little boy when I first made contact with Betsie
Norris, the founder, in 1993. I didn’t really know or understand what the
future would hold in our relationship with his birthfamily … I just knew in my
heart that if he always knew where he came from, it’d be the right thing to do.
Through Betsie, an adoptee, I had validation in that thinking.
Besides supporting our openness path, the next thing that Adoption
Network Cleveland did for me was to provide a safe place for me to talk (and
mostly listen) to adult adoptees and birthparents at General Support and Discussion Meetings
around town. As a young adoptive mom, I found myself concentrating on every
word from the adult adoptees and would strain to hear things that their parents
did right or did wrong. Over and over again I heard them say that they grew up feeling
very loved but also they always wondered about their origins. Countless
times I heard that adoption was a taboo subject in their homes, that they never
wanted to bring it up because it would hurt their parent’s feelings, and that
they had guilt even thinking about
birth families. It seemed so wrong to raise a child with such fear to talk or even think about their beginnings. I
was determined to do things differently with our little one … I wanted him to
always have a full sense of his origins and an open door to always talk about
I also learned from adoptees that sometimes they felt like
they were their parent’s second choice … oh my goodness, I never felt that way.
I fully grieved the biological child that my husband and I never created before adopting. This helped me to
welcome our baby as exactly who he was … and importantly, acknowledge fully
that he came from other people. On top of that, since they created him, how
could I not love them with my whole heart, as well?
An eye-opening experience actually only happened in the last
couple years, when a 55-year-old adoptee asked me a question she had been
wanting to ask her parents her whole life. The words “Am I enough?” hung out
there above our restaurant table. I looked in her eyes and said, “Oh my gosh,
you are more than enough. I am honored to be a mom, yes, but mostly honored to
be his mom.” I continued to look in
her eyes and said, “You ARE enough.”
I also have always valued the chance to be in the same room
with birthparents. Young or old, it doesn’t matter … they have an ongoing hurt
that doesn’t go away. Sure, life goes on, but the pain of giving their child to
another never goes away. That’s a pretty hard window to face as an adoptive
parent. As daunting as it was, it was (and is still) invaluable as a parent to
deepen my understanding of this thing called adoption, from all perspectives.
Over the course of the next decade, I volunteered regularly
on projects and programs with the growing organization. I was a part of the
start of our Adoption 101: Where Do I
Begin? workshop for prospective parents, which is still going strong today.
I am humbled to know that by sharing our openness story, many have taken that
same path with a little less fear. After having an incredible experience as
participants in the Parallel Group program for 9-13 year-old-adoptees and their
parents, my son and I both volunteered. He volunteered as a teen leader, and
me, as one of the Parent leaders.
Through my involvement, I learned how unique Adoption
Network Cleveland is … that there is no other organization in the country doing
all that we do, how we are considered a trend-setter and a national model and
that we are the recipient of several prestigious awards. How cool that it is
Since first learning of Adoption Network Cleveland in 1993,
I have always felt extremely appreciative that Betsie started this place right
here in Cleveland in a bedroom of her home. She worked continually on
relationships and funding sources to eventually support such a cause. To make
the most of funds, she volunteered her own blood, sweat and tears for years,
while working full-time as a nurse, to get this non-profit organization off the
ground. Now, she leads a team of 19 with the same passion, dedication and, yes,
still holds a tight reign on precious donated dollars.
In 2008, I was lucky enough to become an employee of this
organization that I care so much about. My job is all-encompassing in terms of
communication duties and is still all-encompassing around my heart.
Come reflect with us … reconnect with old friends … or meet
new people … and join us all year long as we celebrate the 25th
Anniversary of something truly unique and special, right here in our hometown.
Linda M. Schellentrager
Co-Chair, 25th Anniversary Committee
Adoption Network Cleveland
AND .. Save-the-Date - Friday, November 15, 2013 - for a special 25th Anniversary Party, which will be combined with our Annual Meeting.