November is National Adoption Month, and Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois is celebrating all the “forever families” that they helped bring together through adoption. There are many myths and misconceptions about adoption. LCFS’ adoption program is a resource to help educate and navigate adoptive families through their adoption journeys.
Adoption has changed over the years, but what remains the same is that adoption is both a brave choice made by birth parents and a beautiful way to build a family.
At the age of 12, Leanne needed a copy of her birth certificate for a class trip. She noticed it was missing information. When she questioned her parents about it, they told her that they had adopted her.
The news didn’t make Leanne love her parents any less, but it did cause her to have questions. “All of a sudden the fact that I was adopted became a huge thing in my life, because I hadn’t known. I wondered if my friends would still want to be friends with me after they found out.”
As Leanne grew up, she continued to have questions about her adoption, and wondered if her birth parents ever thought about her. She began hoping to someday connect with them and have her questions answered.
Later in life, Leanne made the decision that she wanted to be an adoptive parent herself. “I told my husband, Herb, before we got married that I wanted to adopt one or more of our children.”
When Leanne and Herb were ready to grow their family, they turned to LCFS for help.
“LCFS has always been an integral part of our family’s adoption story,” shared Leanne. “Not only was I adopted through the agency, but they also guided my husband and me through the adoption of our daughter Gabrielle.”
Shortly after starting the home study process with LCFS, Leanne and her husband were introduced through a family friend to an expectant mother considering adoption. “We connected immediately. She allowed me to come to all her doctor appointments, and I was even able to be in the delivery room when Gabrielle was born. We became very close and still are.”
Leanne knew because of her own experience, that she wanted an open adoption for her daughter. “We have always shared Gabrielle’s adoption story with her and answered all her questions. She has grown up knowing her birth family.”
After adopting Gabrielle, Leanne decided that it was time to find her birth parents. LCFS assisted Leanne in accessing her original birth certificate and the adoption records that were available to her. Eventually, Leanne was able to find both her birth mom and dad.
“My birth mother told me that she thought about me every day and had even saved items from my birth at the hospital.”
Today, Leanne has a close relationship with her birth mother, but it will never replace the love she has for her adoptive parents. “My mom is my mom and she was there for everything. Having a relationship with my birth mother doesn’t change that.”
Since finalizing Gabrielle’s adoption eight years ago, Leanne has participated in panel discussions for LCFS’ Adoption Seminars. She shares her own story, as well as her daughter’s, so that other families considering adoption can learn from them and make an informed choice.
LCFS helped Leanne and her family by providing the guidance, training, safeguards and emotional support they needed as they navigated their adoption journey.
“I will always be grateful to LCFS for the role they played in my daughter’s adoption and mine.”
Headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois has offices across the state in Chicago, Belleville, Decatur, Joliet, Kankakee, Mt. Vernon, Oak Brook, Quincy and Springfield, where they work to protect children, strengthen families and build futures for those who have experienced trauma. As one of the largest private child welfare agencies in Illinois, they do this by providing a variety of services including foster care, adoption and preventative care programs that keep children safely with their families. LCFS embraces new and innovative solutions to the challenges impacting children and families. Services are available to people of all faiths, races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender expressions and gender-identifications.
For more information on LCFS, visit www.lcfs.org or connect on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.