Category Archives: adoptees

My Mother’s Love by Ahnah Katsis

If you were not able to read my previous post about my adoption story, then let me give you a brief overview. I was adopted as a baby and have a great relationship with my birth mom. She got married when I was only 3 and she and her husband have 6 children together. My next half-biological sibling is 5 years younger than me. My birth mom has always been involved in my life and has always accepted me into hers. I grew up knowing my biological siblings and have watched them grow up too.

     Two questions I have answered multiple times before:

“Why did your birth mom place you for adoption but kept all her other kids?” 

and 

“Do you feel like she doesn’t love you as much as she loves her other kids?”

Growing up I have never had that feeling. My birth mom has always made it a point to let me know that she does love me as much as her other children. She was just not able to care for me the way she would want to and the way that she can now care for her other children. When I look at the bigger picture I know that is 100% the case. My birth mom was 16, living on her own in a different state, not married, unemployed and really just surviving. 

I love my life and I am thankful for the life that God gave me. People still ask me when they see that I am with her or going to her house and it doesn’t phase me at all. I know the answer to those questions. I tell people as much as I can, but someone who hasn’t been adopted doesn’t fully understand what it really feels like. I get it.

How can one understand what it feels like to be placed for adoption and grow up knowing that she “kept” her other children and not me? It’s very hard to wrap your head around. As for me, it has never been a question that I specifically need answered because of the love she has shown for me and the love of my parents. I cannot answer that question for other kids who have been placed for adoption, and I would never want to put words into their mouths. After speaking to people that I know who have been in similar situations, they all say that their parents are the best people ever and they are happy with the decision of being adopted by them. It obviously depends on the person and the situation, but all-in-all, I believe that Crisis Pregnancy Outreach (CPO) does an amazing job of finding really good people to adopt the children and we all know that.

I decided to ask my birth mom a hard question relating to this…

“Do you ever feel the guilt of giving up one of your children for adoption and keeping your other children?” 

Here is her answer…

“No. I was in a different place mentally. Maturity and stability were not where I was, if that makes sense. Always knowing you and being allowed to be involved in your life from the beginning helped relieve guilt. I was married when I had all my other children, and with him and his family I had people that were able to help. If it had been a closed adoption, I believe I would have felt more guilt and sadness, always wondering about you.”

A welcomed family connection

After reading her response, I believe it kind of gives you some insight as to what the birth moms have felt. She used the word “allowed” which I think is kind of hard to think about because it can have a negative side to it. I think a better word is “welcomed”. My birth mom had the opportunity to not be in my life as much as she was, but she made the decision to be in my life and my parents were more than happy to let her. She also said the same thing about the fact that when she had her other children she was married and had the help she needed, whereas when she was pregnant and had me she didn’t have that.

I wouldn’t have the same thoughts if it was a closed adoption. Always wondering who she was or where I came from. I feel like my opinions and answers to the questions would not be the same. Not so much feeling guilt, but feeling like she really didn’t want me. CPO does an amazing job with open adoptions and keeping the family and birth moms connected!


I’m Proud of You

My name is Ahnah Katsis and I am 23 years old. I was adopted at birth and have always known my birth mom for as long as I can remember. My parents have always been very open and willing to answer any questions I have had about my adoption. My birth mom has also been the same way. I have many memories about growing up and my birth mom being there. From her wedding when I was 3, to my kindergarten graduation, to countless sleepovers at her house, many birthday parties, my high school graduation and just random times of showing up at her house just to hang out with her and her kids. I have never not felt welcomed by her and also knew I had a place in her heart as well as her other biological children. I have always loved her and felt loved by her and never felt like she “gave me up”. Being adopted has really changed my life and a lot of my friends’  lives. I have been telling my story for as long as I can remember and in a way have been educating my friends about adoption also and now they can tell my story and educate others. 

My story is not like a lot of other adopted kids’ stories though. Even though many other children (especially who were adopted through CPO) have open adoptions, my story of having a very close and personal relationship with my birth mom is rare. An example is my brother who was also adopted through CPO and has an open adoption with his birthmother, refers to her as “Miss so&so” rather than just her first name like I do mine. Another example is a very close friend of mine who was adopted through CPO not long after me, has a very rough relationship with her birth mom that has caused her a lot of pain and sadness in her life. 

The relationship I have with my birth mom is definitely more of a friend relationship than a parent-child relationship. I have always been able to talk to her and address her like a friend. She also has never tried to punish me or told me what I’m doing is wrong. I feel as if she has always shown respect to my parents in that way. As I have gotten older and experienced life a little more and found out who I really am, I have been more open to talking to her about those things. For instance with school. I went to 3 colleges before dropping out and when I felt the guilt from that, I talked to her about it and she reassured me that she was never a big fan of school either. It was nice because we had something in common and it was good to hear that it was not just me who felt like this. Another thing is the depression that I have gone through. I talked to her about it just to maybe get an answer as to why I was going through it. She told me that it ran in the family, she didn’t have it, but her mom did and that is probably why I have it. It is nice having this relationship with her because even though we don’t have all the answers, I can find out a little more about myself that I might have never gotten the chance to know. 

I never really went through a period of thinking my birth mom didn’t want me. She always reassured me that that was not the case. My parents also made sure to let me know. I’ve always understood that what she went through was very hard and she was so young and could not take care of a baby and that she specifically picked out my parents to raise me. Now at my age, I can not even begin to imagine what she went through when she found out she was pregnant. And how she made the adult decision to look for other options because she knew she was not capable at that time to raise a baby. I don’t know if people who have not been associated with adoption know what it is really like to have to go through something like that. Like I said, as I’ve gotten older I have really tried to put myself in her shoes and really understand what she went through, not because I felt like it wasn’t the right decision, but more so to understand how much of a grownup decision she had to make at 16 years old with not much support in her life. 

I am thankful every single day for my parents. They are the best people I have ever met in my life. I am the oldest of 8 kids, us older 3 were adopted through CPO, the middle 2 are biological, and the younger 3 are adopted through foster care. Both of my parents have the most selfless hearts. They have helped so many people in their lives and continue to do it everyday. If were being honest, my mom still helps me make decisions and helps me through things and I’m 23 years old. She doesn’t have to, but that is the type of person she is. She really puts everyone before herself and it shows. My dad is the same way. I literally could not think of better people to be my parents and I am not only thankful to God, but also my birth mom because she found the exact right people to place me with. It has not only helped me, but it has also helped her. I have never told her personally but if there were four words I could tell her that really show my genuine love for her is “I’m proud of you”. I don’t know if she’s heard that at all and I don’t know how it feels hearing it from the child that she placed for adoption, but I really am proud of her. Making that decision had to have been one of the hardest decisions of her life and it really means the world to me that she made that decision not only for me but also for herself and stayed to tell me about it.

Navigating Transracial Adoption

written by Jenni Hutchins

When Kobi Redman’s now teenage daughter was 5, her brown-skinned girl looked up at her and asked “When will my skin turn white like yours, Mommy?” Kobi and her husband, James, became a CPO adoptive family 18 years ago when there was not a long list for adopting a non-Caucasian child. “We believed God gave us this gift of these babies, so we wanted to accept whomever God gave us,” explains Kobi. Their first two girls are Caucasian; their third and fourth are African American.

The Redman Family

Today, the number of families open to adopting any race has greatly increased. Rhonda Fisher adopted her daughter of mixed descent five years ago and says, “Adoption has changed so much over the years. There is no longer a clear expectation of how a family has to look.”

The Fisher Family

Along with the other unknowns of adoption, transracial adoption comes with its own list of unique concerns: How will having different color skinned parents or siblings affect my child at school? Will our extended family accept a child of a different race? How will I manage hair that is a different texture than my own? Kobi’s family deals with these concerns like all families do: one at a time and as they naturally arise. “Raising children comes with challenges no matter your skin color,“ says Kobi. “When race issues arise, we discuss them open and honestly with our teenagers and look for resources that in turn help us all.”
Preserving the child’s cultural heritage is important to transracial families. CPO adoptive parents can look to birth parents, siblings and their extended families as relationship opportunities through which their children learn to appreciate the color of their own skin. These relationships also serve as safe, valuable resources for the parents to ask questions about hair, history and culture. “Having a wonderful relationship with my daughter’s African American birth mom has been an amazing resource for me. I get her perspective and assistance on so many topics,” says Kobi.
Adoptive parents also look for mentors at church, at school and in their social group to help their children see a reflection of their skin color in others around them. Maddie McCoy, who is Caucasian and adopted her African American daughter three years ago says, “We work to create diversity in our daughter’s life through her birth family, church, books, dolls, and toys. We moved to a more diverse neighborhood so we would be in a more diverse school district. She is too young to notice the color difference yet, but I want diversity set up in her life so she grows up surrounded by different colors.”

The McCoy Family

More than anything, Rhonda says, “I want my daughter to appreciate all the shades, and believe not one shade is superior.” When her daughter began asking questions about her skin color difference, Rhonda explained the science of melanin and how its quantity determines the color of your skin. She reads books to her daughter and shows her photos of women with similar melanin levels explaining, “You are always going to be this beautiful color you are.”
These parents are navigating the issues society has created revolving around skin color. Sometimes they get looks or questions, but these families spend the majority of their days not noticing their color differences, but instead, laughing, loving, and caring for each other.
Rhonda simplifies her transracial adoption this way, “A child doesn’t have to look like you for you to be their parent.”


Ziona’s Adoption Story

At CPO, we call birth mom’s Superheroes. I know there are people out there that don’t understand this, but they really are. Don’t take our word from it, read Liona’s story. Liona wrote this back in 2015 when she was only 9 years old and she tells her story.

 

I was 3 1/2 years old, and it was a beautiful day in Hawaii. The sun was shining in my eyes. My mom seemed a bit worried, but I wasn’t. I had a peace in my heart that I can’t explain. I knew I was going to meet my new Mommy and Grammy when they got off the plane in Hawaii. I was sad to leave my birth mom and the only family I had known, but I was certain that where I was going was going to be a good place. When I saw Natalie, my new mommy, asked her if she was going to be my mom and she said yes. It felt like the happiest moment in my life. I kissed my birth mom goodbye and told her not to cry because I would see her again soon. I snuggled close to my new mommy that night in the hotel, and she promised never to leave me and to keep me safe.

Then the plane took off, and I held my new Mommy and Grammy’s hands and prayed because they were crying. I prayed that this would be a good family and that we would always be happy. I also prayed for Miss Shawna too that God would help her not to be sad. When we got off the plane, I was a little nervous. My mommy held my hands even though I had trash in my hair. “How could they even love me or want me,” I thought. Then we walked over to a big group of people, and it was my new family! My brother Zach, my sister Kennedy, and best of all, my DAD!

You may ask why that would be my favorite part. The answer is because my birth father left me and Miss Shawna because he didn’t want to have me for some reason.

We went and got my suitcase that my mommy had brought my special things in. Then we went to the car. I was nervous because I hadn’t been in a car very often because Miss Shawna and I had to walk everywhere we went, even to get food from the shelter. Then the car stopped at a big house. It was magical. I had never even had my own bed before. I kept sneaking food from the pantry and hiding it because I was afraid that we would run out of food. Sometimes, it would be days before Miss Shawna could get us food so I was afraid it could happen again.

Now that I am 9, I know that Miss Shawna made an adoption plan for me because she loves me very much. I can’t imagine what a hard decision that was for her. She gave me the best of both worlds. I have a family that can take care of me and provides the life she wanted me to have, and I still get to know her. What Shawna did for me was like a superhero because she was unselfish and brave. She made a very loving decision for me because she believed I was worth so much. I would never be mad at Miss Shawna. I’m very proud of her and thankful she gave me an opportunity.


Have Fun for a Great Cause!

CPO’s Super Hero Run

CPO's Super Hero Run

In case we haven’t mentioned it enough, CPO’s Super Hero Run is now only days away!

Check out this post for more information on how you can participate, volunteer, or sponsor!

Register online: superherorun2016.eventbrite.com
Facebook: Super Hero Run Tulsa
Instagram: @superheroruntulsa

Create a team, join someone else’s team, participate individually, or volunteer. And be sure to dress up!! No matter how you get involved at this year’s run: It is sure to be blast!


Retro CPO: Meet Kelly Jacobson

Each month we will feature a “retro” CPO article, one that is pulled from our archives of quarterly newsletters. Whenever possible we will provide details regarding the author and date of publication.
This month’s Retro CPO article was written by Kelly Jacobson, one of Cheryl’s assistants at the time (and still!). It was written in winter of 2009, and is her personal testimony.

I began volunteering for CPO sometime in 1996. At the time, i just wanted to support a pro-life ministry, because at 19, I had an abortion. I believe that if I had known of a crisis pregnancy ministry, I would have made a different choice.

Sometime along the way, God gave me a strong desire to adopt. Steven and I turned in our life book in December of 1997, but since we had three biological kids already, we wanted to only adopt a “special needs baby.”

We expected to wait for a long time, but in only two weeks Cheryl called to tell us about Jewel. She was born 9 weeks early, and only weighed 2 lbs., 14 oz. And that began our “adoption adventure.” We now have seven awesome kids and are blessed beyond measure.

In 2002, we moved to Denver and spent three years separated, in body but not in spirit, from CPO. In 2005, we moved to Owasso and got more involved than ever.

I love CPO.  I love watching God work miracles in the lives of birth moms and adoptive families… not to mention the awesome baby stories.

I love CPO because it gives women the help they need to choose life in a society that promotes death.

I love CPO because without it, I wouldn’t have my babies.

I love CPO and I feel privileged to serve.

My husband, Steven, works for Level3 in Tulsa. Our blessings are Madeline (16), Aaron (15), Elaina (13), Jewel (11), Isaac (9), Nate (7), and Zachary (16 months). We are a trans.racial family and I have a passion for racial reconciliation. I love to encourage anyone who has questions about transracial adoption.

The whole Jacobson crew!


Retro CPO: Cheryl Said

Each month we will feature a “retro” CPO article, one that is pulled from our archives of quarterly newsletters. Whenever possible we will provide details regarding the author and date of publication. 
This month’s Retro CPO article was written by Cheryl Bauman, our founder and executive director. It was written in fall of 2009, and explains her feelings about open adoption.

As most of you know, I have hd a heart for adoption all of my life. My sister was adopted, so I always knew about adoption. But in those years, it was shrouded in secrecy. My mom never spoke of it in a normal tone of voice. She whispered the word.

When I founded CPO 26 years ago and we became a licensed adoption agency, my vision was for none of the children to grow up having to fantasize about their birth mothers. I have such a passion for open adoption.

Surprisingly enough, none of my children are adopted, and none of my grandchildren were, until—a wonderful day in January, when my daughter, Natalie, and I flew to Hawaii to meet three-year-old Ziona!! The story is long and miraculous, and ended in my 15th grandchild being adopted through CPO!! She is beautiful and precious and such a wonderful addition to our family.

God has blessed our family so richly and I am so very grateful.

1O9A0605(Here’s little Ziona, speaking and singing at the CPO Celebrate Life Gala in 2015.)


Nathan’s Story

Needing inspiration? Watch the video from this year’s gala. It is so good!


Birth Mother’s Day at CPO

This year’s Birth Mother’s Day celebration at CPO was on April 30. It was a wonderful event!

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For those that don’t remember, Birth Mother’s Day is an event planned to honor the women who have made adoption plans for their birth children through Crisis Pregnancy Outreach. It is a day set aside to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice it took for them to make a loving adoption plan for their birth child.

As birth mothers arrived, they were greeted with a smile by some of our volunteers.IMG_0790

They received gorgeous custom-made tote bags filled with fun make-up, accessories, and coupons to a local salon. The tote design was hand-drawn by one of our very own CPO birth mothers, Angela McLaughlin, and printed by a CPO adoptive mother, Carrie Jones.

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Birth mothers were also encouraged to sign up for door prizes. Among the prizes were designer bags, robes, bath supplies, gift certificates, and more. Wow!IMG_0789

After being greeted, birth mothers were treated to a delicious meal. Dedicated volunteers Tracie Roesslein and Jeff Bauman (along with a crew of others) served fresh smoked BBQ meats, salad, baked potatoes, and mini bundt cakes for dessert. Of course, there were hot dogs on hand for the many kiddos in attendance, too. The food was absolutely perfect. Yum!IMG_0936

After the meal was devoured, the “pampering and photos” portion of the day began. The CPO Day Spa officially opened.IMG_0788

There were sign up sheets for nails, massage, and make up. We had 5 professional pamperers who graciously volunteered their time, supplies, and skills to make our birth mothers feel special. IMG_0791The lobby outside of the “spa” was full of birth mothers, adoptive families, and volunteers all chatting as the girls happily waited for their turn to be pampered. Some adoptive families chose this time to give Birth Mother’s Day gifts to the women they love.IMG_0934

Meanwhile, a nursery was provided for children under 4 years, and a volunteer-supervised bounce house was available to entertain kids of all ages.

We also had 3 professional photographers volunteer their services: Melissa Barnes, Melinda Hunley, and Ashley Ledbetter. IMG_0792They each had their own style, and birth mothers were able to choose what kind of photos they wanted: indoor or outdoor, lots of props or simpler, etc. They were also able to choose who would be in the photos with them: just their birth child, all of their children (those they placed for adoption and those they parent), or the entire adoptive family. This variety made for some beautiful photos the birth mothers (and adoptive families!) will cherish for years to come.

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In all, it was a wonderful day, and we couldn’t have done it without an amazing set of about 30 volunteers. We hope the birth mothers from CPO felt as special as we all know they are!