Let me set the scene. I was very pregnant. Probably 7-8 months. I was starting to experience some swelling and water retention, pre eclamptic. Likely not feeling the best. Hormonal. Uncomfortable. Testy.
Our ASC team was at our weekly staff meeting.
I can’t remember exactly what we were discussing. And really, the specifics don’t matter. The room started to heat up. Tensions rising. As can sometimes happen when a handful of strong, smart, opinionated women are working together. It’s why we’re good at what we do. I was sharing my heart, my passion for the birth mothers. Specifically the ones I’ve walked with and sat next to in their trauma. Julie was sharing from the business side of adoption.
Side Note: Yes, ASC is a business. We’re not afraid to say that. There are things to consider when running a business. If we didn’t do that, we would not still be here, able educate and support all sides of the triad. I’ve heard one birth mother speak on this before (Ashley Mitchell, @BigToughGirl). She talks about how women are going to keep choosing adoption. A lot would have to change for that to change. That’s a discussion for another blog. So, if women are going to keep choosing adoption, hopefully agencies and attorneys will then serve them well. Ethically. Compassionately. With life long support. Our goal is never to convince a woman to choose adoption. Our goal is hopefully the women who are considering adoption and then the ones who ultimately place, find us or an organization like us. One trying to do right by them. Again, all of this is a topic for another blog, but I think worth acknowledging here when you put the words adoption and business side by side.
Back to the day in question. As Julie and I shared from two different perspectives, I quickly lost it. I am a passionate person when it comes to my work. My energy can become frenetic. My voice raises. I talk fast. On this day, I took it to another level. I’d say it was an out of body experience. I don’t remember much of it. I began yelling. Some profanities spewing out of my mouth. I quickly stormed out and got in my car. Presley ran after me, as they were worried my emotional, pregnant self was now setting out in the car. More profanities exited my mouth. Amanda was back inside crying. We all say if Kathryn had been there, maybe it wouldn’t have escalated to this point. She keeps us all grounded and in check ;). My husband still doesn’t believe me. He thinks I exaggerate this story and how I acted. Ron, I promise you, it was as bad, if not worse then I’ve described.
In many places of business, you’d be fired if you acted the way I did. That’s not the case here. I apologized to Julie. She acknowledge my feelings and my heart. We moved forward.
Julie founded ASC in 1986.
She was an adoptive mother and wanted to start changing things in adoption. She had a vision of more support for all members of the triad. Later, when her daughter (through adoption), Lauren, struggled with her identity as an adoptee, Julie was the one paving the way for her. Making a safe space for Lauren to search for her birth family. Sitting next to her in her grief and trauma and then in her joy and peace when she reunified. I often ask Julie how she did it. She was ahead of her time as an adoptive parent. Julie has told me on numerous occasions, “There was no room for insecurity and/or fear (many adoptive parents experience) when it came to supporting Lauren.”
Julie hasn’t always gotten it right in this work. None of us have. How could we? Adoption is ever changing. We’re learning as we go. Sometimes faster then we can keep up! But I can say this with 100 percent certainty. Julie has always been willing to listen and learn. And then, change and grow. And thus, ASC has always been willing to do the same. It’s why we’re still here. It’s why I’m still here. Why I still believe in this work, this incredibly difficult work, we are doing.
Julie lost her daughter, Lauren, in a car accident, suddenly and tragically, in 2005. I have no doubt if Lauren were still here she’d be one of the strong, courageous, trailblazing adoptees on social media sharing her story. Hoping to help future generations of adoptees and adoptive parents. I can picture she and Julie sitting next to each other, educating the adoption community together. I imagine her calling Julie out on the things she did wrong ;), and thanking her for the things she did right. Lauren would be leading us right now. I have no doubt about that. I never got the chance to meet her, and I miss her. I know she’s looking down, proud of her mom. I hope she’s proud of us too.
Why am I sharing all of this today? Both taking a trip down memory lane and looking towards the future. Today is Julie’s birthday! She’s 60 some years young ;). I think it’s a perfect day to say thank you.
Thank you for leading us. For paving the way. Even when you/we didn’t or don’t get it right, you’re ready to make changes. To grow! Thank you for trusting us, this next generation at ASC. When we recently asked to set aside some funds for continuing education on transracial adoption and post placement support (as we move into this next era in adoption) you didn’t bat an eye. Your YES was on the table. Thank you for that. We wouldn’t be here without you Julie, and we wouldn’t be going forward without you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. And, happy birthday!
With love and gratitude, Alli (and all of your ASC ladies J)