My dream to begin my own adoption agency was realized in 1997, with my first placement in 1998. I started thinking about it while still in grad school. That it really happened is a small miracle to me.
In late 1996, my uncle in Pomona, California died. My aunt’s family called me and asked if I could come and take care of his estate as I was the only family member he had liked besides my dad.
My brother-in-law, Herman went with me. We spent 3 days going through my uncle’s things and pictures. I got this huge ring from him (years later I exchanged the ring for some cash and bought cabinets for our new house.)
I received $10,000 from the estate that year. They told me that when my aunt died, the whole estate would be divided up between her nephews, nieces and me. My sister was not on my uncle’s list of beneficiaries, just me.
When I quit Children’s Service Society (CSS), I had to work at temporary jobs. I worked at Fuji Films Processing where my sister worked. I hated the hours since I turn into a pumpkin after 10:00pm. The hours were 7:00pm to whenever the work was done.
We didn’t tell the company I had a master’s degree. Just as I had enough of getting home at 5:00am, they wanted to promote me to a lead. Not happening!!! I quit. My sister broke the news about my degree. The supervisors were shocked I’d work a non-skilled position.
I knew I wanted to open an adoption agency. It was slow going at first because I had to work a job while I completed all the reams of paperwork it took. I had a very old computer and it took forever.
In the middle of the summer of 1997, my aunt in California died. This was incredible timing. The money my uncle left me came in a large (at least large to me) check. Those funds allowed me to finish the paperwork to get my agency licensed.
I had an opportunity to meet an attorney. I’ll call her CRP. She had helped another agency with a placement and was really wanting to get an adoption agency going. We met and hit it off and there began a 12 year association.
Adopt an Angel, Inc. was begun in November 1997. There was no fanfare, there were no clients. I was trying to run the business out of my house, but the State of Utah licensing person said “NO, NO, NO!”
CRP had an office in downtown Salt Lake City with several attorneys. I think they adopted me and found me a corner and a desk and that was my office. Of course I didn’t need a lot of room. My clientele being zero.
CRP promised me some clients, which took a few months, but did happen. In the meantime, I like to eat and pay rent. You know, the necessities. I needed an interim job.
The State of Utah’s Department of Human Services had some really bad foster care placements and a Watchdog group had sued the State and the State lost. The courts had issued a decree that all the foster care files be read by an independent group and then recommendations to improve the system be implemented.
I applied for the reader position and was tested, like about 30 other people. I was the second one to finish the test. Number one was hired first, then me and about 18 of the others. Number one, I and 3 others were hired as supervisors of a pod of 3 each reviewers.
I spent the next few months reviewing foster care files till I wanted to cry somedays. If there were one system I would like to see demolished, it would be the foster care system. Someday, I’ll write a separate post on what seems to be the foster care system’s worst issues, but not today.
All the while I was working at reading the foster care files, I was still working at getting clients, both families and birth mothers. My first real set of clients arrived in the early spring of 1998. The birth mother gave birth in Nevada. The couple lived in Utah. This was my baptism by fire with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
Thank God for CRP. She knew the rules and we got the couple and baby together. Hopefully they lived happily ever after. I did do their post-placements and court finalization.
The second adoption I did gave me one of my favorite adoption stories of all time. It began when CRP brought in a couple she knew who wanted to adopt. I did their home study and they were a great couple that we approved.
CRP had a working relationship with the director of the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) who was working with a birthmother and birthfather who wanted to place their child. The birth-couple liked the profile of the adopting family and a meeting was set up.
Of all the birth parent couple meetings I facilitated, this one had the most participants. The 3 professionals were me, CRP and the PRC director. The birth parents, the birthfather’s mother and the birthmother’s mother and the adopting couple made up the rest.
We had to use the big boardroom to hold us all. Everyone was shy, no one was talking. I jumped in and had everyone introduce themselves. Then the room went silent again. I asked the birthmother if she would like to ask a question to the waiting family.
This cute young birthmother nodded and quietly asked if the couple liked animals. The waiting dad started to chuckle and said, “We have every kind of animal allowed by the city we live in.” They had several dogs, a couple of cats, some chickens and a hamster.
Then he told a story about the last winter when his wife spotted a piece of ice moving on the ground and she stopped to see what it was. It turned out to be a kitten who was covered in ice. She rushed him to their vet and he said he’d find a good home for the little guy.
The birthfather’s mom gasped. We looked at her. She said her brother was the vet and the kitten was in her home. Of course that broke the ice for everyone. There was laughter and an unbreakable bond was formed.
The reason I know a bond was formed is every fall the families would get together at a corn maze the birthfather’s family had every year. They always found a way to let me know how they all were doing.
Over the next 9 years, I placed about 8-10 children a year. Adopt an Angel was never going to be an overwhelming success. I loved my clients, both families and birthparents. There were other agencies out there that were placing 8-10 children a month. I couldn’t compete.
Because I had CRP as a somewhat working partner, we completed adoptions that other agencies would not. We did 3 Native American placements which entailed getting relinquishments done by a judge and following the Indian Child Welfare Act.
We did a placement where the birthmother was terrorized by the birthfather and she wanted to protect her child from him. We had her listed under a pseudonym at the hospital and when she was released, she was escorted out the back of the hospital by the security guard and CRP took her home.
Another time I had to find a family for a birthmother who didn’t know if she were having a bi-racial or full Caucasian baby. She had sex with 2 guys New Year’s Eve, one Caucasian and one full African American. The little guy turned out to be bi-racial.
Holiday babies were always happening. The agency had 3 babies born on Valentine’s Day, 2 on Christmas and one on New Year’s Eve. That one was crazy.
Why the OB/GYN decided to induce my client at noon on December 31st is still a mystery, but he did. She managed to have the baby at 11:50 PM. It was approximately 1:30 AM when she was finally brought to her room. After a few minutes, she asked if I would help wheel her outside so she could smoke a cigarette.
Off we went. She smoked her cigarette and wanted to enjoy the evening for a little longer. She had another cigarette and I decided it was time to return. However, the hospital had locked all its doors because it wasn’t an emergency hospital and they weren’t expecting any patients that night. We couldn’t get back in. I tried every door I could find, all of them were locked.
Just as I was thinking I wanted to do something dangerous to this birthmother, a security guard showed up and let us back in. The nurses were frantic about where she had disappeared to. I left the hospital around 4:00 AM and went home and crashed.
One of my Christmas Day births had the birthmother leave the hospital without being admitted. The baby stayed, but she was doing so well, she had me take her home.
We had 3 babies born 9 months after New Year’s Eve 1999. All 3 were conceived on that date. The maternity wards were full with Y2K babies. I had one baby born at LDS Hospital and 2 at Jordan Valley Hospital clear across town from each other.
Infant adoptions were becoming fewer and fewer by 2007. The agency was struggling to pay its bills. I realized that I was beginning to get really stressed and knew it was time to call it quits. I was really sad to close its doors.
Agencies in Utah had to keep their files available for 99 years. I had to find a place for my files to go to. I was planning to just retire and enjoy not working. The agency I chose to hold my files was Wasatch International Adoptions (WIAA) in Ogden, Utah.
The reason I chose WIAA was because I felt that they were an ethical agency and would care about my clients. The only other agency I considered was Children’s Service Society (CSS). Since I have a personal connection to CSS, I decided it would be better to have the files in a different agency.
I didn’t realize that adoption had me hook, line and sinker. After the shortest retirement of 4 months, I went back to work and I’ve been working with WIAA ever since.
Adoption agencies in Utah that I support:
Wasatch International Adoptions
Children’s Service Society
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