Is she alive or is she dead?

    ABBOTSFORD, BC, Nov. 26 /CNW/ - Hope Adoption Services, based in
Abbotsford presented a 2 hour workshop on open adoption at the 'Celebrating
Family' Adoption Conference held November 23 & 24th, 2007 at the Executive
Plaza Inn, Coquitlam, B.C.
    Hope Services social worker, Christene Buchanan, RSW, facilitated a panel
of adoptive parents and birth parents sharing experiences involving openness
in domestic, intercountry and MCFD adoptions.
    One aspect of the workshop was a video produced by Hope Adoption
Services...a 'look back' expressed through the voices of B.C. children of
varying ages, who were placed through the Agency during its 20 plus years of
existence. Open adoption experts and authors, Kathleen Silber of Children of
Open Adoption and James L Gritter of "Adoption Without Fear" and "Spirit of
Open Adoption" were consulted and are quoted throughout the video.
    Gritter says, 'I remember an adoptive person saying a really interesting
thing...She said, "You know, being adopted in a secret adoption is like
arriving at a complex mystery movie 5 minutes late and you spend the whole
time scrambling, trying to figure out 'what is going on here'. You just don't
have enough information to get your bearings".
    Silber: "Any little bit of information is better for a child than
nothing...than to have a total void and not know anything. There is still a
lot to do in bringing open adoption, which is now mainstream and the norm in
infant placements, we need to bring that to older child placements as well and
to international adoptions".
    Glenna Lundberg, Hope Adoption Intercountry worker was one of the
panelists. Her 9 year old son, Cole is one of the kids featured in the video.
    "Hi, my name is Cole and I am nine. I was adopted when I was 18 months
old. I am from Thailand.
    I had a question: "Is she alive or is she dead?" And I wondered if I had
any siblings.
    I've met my mom just last summer, so that's happy! When my Mom told me
she is still alive and that we were going to meet her and I was really happy
and excited and happy and excited".
    Cole was brought to a Thai orphanage by his HIV positive birth mother
when he was 3 days old. 18 months later, he was adopted by Glenna & Kurt
Lundberg of Abbotsford.
    'There had been no further contact from Cole's birth mom, Glenna told her
audience. We had some information come to us that led us to believe that she
may have passed away. When Cole was 6 he started asking questions. We openly
shared what we knew...that she had a sickness she had probably died from. We
worked through with him as much as we could. He came to me a couple of times
to ask "probably isn't for sure, is it Mom?"
    Cole returned to Thailand for a 2 month visit with his adoptive family in
the summer of 2006. His adoptive parents took him to The place where he had
lived as a baby, until the Lundbergs took him home to Canada. Glenna longed to
have answers for her son, Cole, so she started asking questions. She told the
person in charge that Cole wondered about his birth mom and they wished he
could know about her and whether or not she was alive. She said she felt like
otherwise he would come back one day and who knows how long he would scour the
country to try to find her.
    What followed was beyond what the Lundbergs had allowed themselves to
hope for. Cole's birth mother was found to be alive! With the help of a
translator, they were able to have a wonderful visit. Glenna says, 'We met her
at about 5 o'clock, had dinner and spent the evening together. We stayed over
in the same guesthouse, then had breakfast and said our goodbyes. My boy
turned to me and said "Mom, that was the best day of my life". That was what
meeting Radree meant to him. He didn't love me less.
    In some private moments with Radree, she told me as she thought about her
unborn child she struggled with what she should do. Tears streamed down her
face as she quietly told us she supposed that she would be sick at some point
and that she had decided she would rather have the pain of losing him than for
him to experience the pain of being in different homes and then loose her,
    We send letters and pictures through a translator and of course hope to
visit her again some day.
    Lundberg says to adoptive parents, 'I guess I'm on my soapbox for
openness in adoption...I believe in most cases, with an international
adoption, the adoptive parent is the only one that can make it happen. A poor,
uneducated woman, working at a menial job 14 hours a day to support other
family members does not have the resources to find you. Besides, the
prevailing thought in her culture is that she shouldn't find you. It will not
happen if we don't pursue it. The joy Radree experienced in being able to see
Cole was very clear. For 8 years, she desperately wondered how he was. It is a
commitment - to keep these relationships up - sometimes just hard work. But I
believe our capacity to love expands to the need.' Others may say: Well your
kids' birthparents are nice, but what if ours aren't? I say,...But what if
they are? And what if you make them nicer because of the love and confidence
expressed towards them. What if it makes you nicer, too? What if your kids
feel more supported and understood by you because you took the risk? What if
meeting their birth parent/s could give them a better sense of self but you
left the opportunity untapped because you didn't want to disturb anything? It
can't be open if you don't make the effort.'

For further information:

For further information: Ann Welwood RCC, Director Programs, Hope
Adoption Services, No. 200 - 2975 Gladwin Rd., Abbotsford, B.C., V2S 1V5,
phone: (604) 302-2530, (cell) (604) 850-1002

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