Merriam Webster’s definition for adoption is “the act or process of adopting a child; the act or process of beginning to use something new or different; the act or process of giving official acceptance or approval to something.”
During my 25 year journey as a maternity and adoption professional and as the Program Director of Adoption Services for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, I am truly blessed to have the daily opportunity to share in the personal experiences of birth families, adoptive families and adopted individuals – all of which are amazing, selfless, and filled with many different emotions that go beyond the definition as provided by Merriam Webster.
Ask those who have experienced adoption what their adoption definition would be and you may receive many different responses. In my experience, each adoption discussion is filled with many thoughts and feelings, some with many years of secrecy and all with such honesty and love that is beyond imaginable.
During the month of November, we celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month, and it provides the perfect opportunity to share a wonderful story of adoption, more specifically open adoption.
Our Experience with Open Adoption
For years we struggled with heartbreak and sadness over not being able to have a biological family. We are both from large Catholic families, so birthdays, christenings, etc. were especially tough. But then, in a moment of clarity, we decided to explore adoption after we spoke with one of our co-workers about the great experience they had in adopting their children through the Adoption Services of Catholic Charities (CCANO). After meeting with the wonderful social workers at CCANO in December 2006, we knew adoption was for us.
Of course, there was the usual mountain of paperwork and background checks before we were approved for adoption. But our son came along rather quickly … only 8 months after our initial meeting with Danna and Cindy. On our adoption day returning home, we had this beautiful baby boy in the back seat … this event was as stunning and just as miraculous as any live birth. Of course, we will be forever indebted to our son’s birth mother, a lovely and strong mom who truly gave us the gift of life.
After surviving our son’s adventures, or more accurately him surviving our parenting, we knew we wanted to expand our family to give him a brother or sister. So we applied again to CCANO in January 2010. Again, in less than 9 months, we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family. We treasure the gift that our daughter’s beautiful and intelligent birth mother entrusted to us. Before our daughter was born, we asked our son if he would like a baby brother or sister, and he proudly proclaimed “I want a sister!” You can imagine our relief because we already knew that a baby girl was on the way! Like many families who expand to 2 children, we quickly discovered that 3 + 1 = 99 as far as the work load. But even as tired as we are sometimes, beneath the fatigue, we are very happy as we waited a long time for the privilege of being parents.
The adoptions of both of our children are open adoptions where we keep in contact with their birth mothers. We send them updates regularly (texts, emails, photos) and meet several times a year when it is convenient for all of us.
Our children are now 8 and 5 years old, and we have nothing but positive things to say about open adoption. For our family, open adoption is a win/win for all involved: the meetings are always joyful; the birth mothers are reassured of their adoption plan by witnessing our children growing and thriving; our children receive extra love from their beautiful birth mothers; we (parents) have a ready source of info if a health or developmental issue presents itself (we can talk to their birth mothers directly to find out more medical information if needed). To us, open adoption is the way to go!
“I didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn’t give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.”
The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
The Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans continues in its tradition of providing maternity and adoption services that include maternity and adoption counseling services, case management, adoption education, pre and post adoption support, search / reunion, homestudies, and post placement reporting for domestic / international adoption. All services are available to those served through the program for as long as needed. When someone chooses to work with Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, we see this as the beginning of a relationship with families that can extend 50+ years.
Adoption Services of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is accepting requests from prospective adoptive families that are interested in domestic adoption during the months of November and December. The basic criteria to request the information packet / adoption questionnaire are:
- be between the ages of 27 and 45
- married a minimum of 3 years
- reside within the Archdiocese of New Orleans or the Diocese of Houma / Thibodaux.
If you or someone you know placed a child for adoption or is adopted through Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (also previously referred to as St. Vincent’s Maternity Home) and would like to receive the available non-identifying background information or counseling services, please contact Danna P. Cousins, MSW, LCSW, Program Director, by email or phone at 504-885-1141. All contact is strictly confidential.
About Danna P. Cousins, MSW, LCSW, Program Director, Adoption Services
Danna graduated from Ursuline Academy, Loyola University, and Tulane University School of Social Work (Masters in Social Work). Danna has worked in the maternity and Adoption field for over 25 years, providing services to expectant parents, adoptive parents, and adopted individuals. She also provides pre/post adoption services including reunion counseling services. Danna served on the Louisiana Adoption Advisory Board, an adoption advocacy group, for 9 years as well as previously served on the Advisory Committee on Licensing Child Care Facilities and Child Placing Agencies. In 2008, Danna was honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) as an “Angel in Adoption”. Danna and her husband, Craig, have been married for over 25 years and are the proud parents of two children, Elizabeth and Benjamin.
About Cindy Falgoust, Maternity Case Manager, Adoption Services
Cindy graduated from Nicholls State University with a Bachelor of Science in Child Family and Social Services. Cindy has worked in the maternity and adoption field for over 15 years, providing services to expectant parents considering adoption and to adoptive families. Cindy and her husband, Chris, have been married for 14 years and are the proud parents of three beautiful children, Zack, Luke, and Emma.