Photo courtesy of Terra Cooper
Terra Cooper thought she’d be different.
Since she and her husband, Josh, already had two biological children, she assumed adoption’s “roller coaster of emotions” wouldn’t give her the same legendary rushes of sorrow and joy.
“Boy, was I wrong,” she says. “Adoption comes with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There are so many emotions—emotions you never thought you’d have. It’s bittersweet. And as with every happy event, there is always that tinge of guilt or pain on both sides.”
In fact, after the successful adoption of her daughter Alayna, she says the guilt “overwhelmed my entire being.”
“I had a really hard time feeling like I took Lauren’s baby from her,” she says, speaking of Alayna’s birth family. “But in reality, Alayna was into our family by Lauren and Matt. She wasn’t taken away.”
The gift of Alayna—and that distinction—has been life altering and life affirming. “It has completely changed me as a person,” says Cooper, who has an open, beautiful relationship with birthmother Lauren. “It has shown me I can love more than I ever thought I could and that family is the most important thing in this life. Family is not just who you are related to by blood, but who you choose to bring into your life—or who chooses you.”
Adoption is joyous. And heartbreaking. And overwhelming. And beautiful. And selfless. And inspiring. And it also comes with countless questions, especially when a go-to adoption resource for LDS couples—LDS Family Services—changed its strategies in June of this year and no longer works as an official adoption agency.
Here are the top frequently asked questions about what the changes at LDS Family Services mean for potential parents:
Q: How is LDS Family Services changing?
LDS Family Services may be ending its run as an adoption agency, but they aren’t leaving the adoption world—far from it.
“LDS Family Services is not ‘getting out of adoption,’” says David McConkie, group manager of Children’s Services at LDS Family Services in Salt Lake City. “Because LDS Family Services is an integral part of the Church’s Welfare Services program, we are able to provide services in a unique way. Unlike traditional adoption agencies, LDS Family Services provides free professional counseling to unmarried expectant parents and their families who are referred by their bishop, regardless of whether the parents choose to marry, be single parents, or place their child for adoption. We will help unmarried expectant parents with their individual mental health needs, whatever they may be.”
Q: With these new changes at LDS Family Services, have chances for adopting decreased?
On the contrary!
After selecting LDS Family Services as her agency, Cooper learned there were more than 1,200 families in Utah alone looking to adopt through them—while LDS Family Services (at that time) only placed 400 babies nationwide.
“The program changes will be a blessing to more adoptive couples,” McConkie says. “In the past, many couples relied solely on LDS Family Services to find a child for them, and we were able to place children with only a small percentage of our clients.
We now offer free consultation for couples in order to help them find the best resources to achieve their adoption goals. Instead of competing with other adoption agencies, LDS Family Services will work closely with community resources to help bless LDS couples. In addition, LDS Family Services will provide new and improved online matching services where couples and parents who choose to place a child for adoption can be matched. This service will be provided free of charge.”
Q: What about cost? Wasn't LDS Family Services one of the only affordable options out there?
It pays to do your homework—and that’s exactly what LDS Family Services still plans to do for its clients.
“Many people are very concerned about the cost of adoption,” McConkie says. “Because LDS Family Services is not motivated by profit, we can help people find resources to help them adopt in the most affordable ways possible. Many will find the new program will not increase their cost for an adoption. In fact, many will find their costs will actually be less than in the past.”
Q: Where can I get more information about adoption and LDS Family Services?
The Church has an official website for the adoptive arm of LDS Family Services: itsaboutlove.org. This beautiful resource shares real life stories about adoptive families, resources for pregnant mothers, and help for adoptive parents. They also have an excellent FAQ section that will help answer more questions about their services.
And, if you want to meet someone in person, LDS Family Services also has local offices around the US--click here to find one near you.
Learn more about adoption in Adoption: 20 Questions Asked and Answered, found in the September/October 2014 issue of LDS Living magazine