How Adoption Became My Life’s Work
I remember when we decided to adopt. My personality was and is “I’ve made the decision so let’s do it – NOW!” In my life, if I wanted something, I could pick up the phone and call in an order, sign a check or ask my secretary to have it on my desk by noon. So here I sat with this overwhelming desire to be a mother and all this love to share with a child asking, “How do I complete this ‘task’ of parenthood by my deadline?”
The first week I drove myself crazy spending hours per day researching the process of adoption. The door was often slammed shut because we were too old; my husband was 40 and I was 30! Agencies turned us down because we were overweight, not married long enough, because I owned my own business and wouldn’t be a “stay at home Mom”. Sometimes it was; our income wasn’t high enough, we were not the right religion, we lived in the wrong county and the list went on. Nothing seemed to work. I had never had so many rejections in one week. I decided that if conventional methods wouldn’t help me adopt, I would network and do it myself. Through my persistence, I found and contacted sources that led me to other sources until I found my precious son.
During my quest, I kept a spiral notebook of the doctors, attorneys, counselors and other professionals that helped me. I even recorded every step I took to reach my goal. Along the way, I met dozens of others trying to adopt who also met with roadblocks put up for seemingly ridiculous reasons. As I held my son in my arms, calls poured in from other couples striving for parenthood. Soon, I became an adoption facilitator by default! Many of my early adoptions were made while I was cooking dinner!
I sold my manufacturing/wholesale company and went full steam ahead as an adoption facilitator. I applied my marketing background and the same research techniques I had used for my own adoption in 1986. I opened Lifetime Adoption Center and became a Certified and Bonded Open Adoption Practitioner/Facilitator through the National Federation for Open Adoption Education and a member of the Better Business Bureau.
As a facilitator, I’ve found that each morning could find me in a sudden flight to pick up a baby or on the telephone handling a birth mother in crisis. It has been an eventful and rewarding career and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
At Lifetime we have had adoptive families who have welcomed with open arms babies born to drug-addicted mothers and even a family who adopted their child from an HIV positive birth mother. We facilitate bi-racial adoptions and now single women are adoptive mothers. We have one birth mother who chose adoption for her baby then wrote a book to share her story with the world. We have an attorney who, after adopting a child through us, became an adoption attorney – and the list goes on!
A number of adoptive families have found their children via our Internet website. The Internet helps put people in direct contact; birth mothers with adoptive parents and visa versa. All the legal steps, the home study background check and necessary paperwork still must be done, but the task of finding a child or an adoptive family has become much easier by using the Internet. Birth parents and adoptive parents can take an active part in pursuing their goals. A birth mother has the opportunity to look at photos and resumes of available adoptive families in privacy. Families can search for a child with a similar heritage, physical appearance, religious background, etc. This information posted on the Internet speeds up the selection process. The term “waiting list” just about disappears and waiting in obscurity has become a thing of the past.
To date, Lifetime facilitates over 120 adoptions per year. We have in-house, 24 hour phone lines and receive over 300 calls a day. We love what we do. The joy and contentment on the faces of the families and birth parents we work with keeps us going through the ups and downs of working in a very emotional profession. We cry every day and laugh every day. It is our intention to answer each of your adoption questions straightforwardly and honestly. I have been there and I know it can be done.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.
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