â€œI was nineteen when I found out I was pregnant,â€ Paige, a young mom who chose to give up her daughter for adoption, said. â€œThe first couple of days after I found out I didnâ€™t know what to do.â€
For Paige, the decision to give her daughter up for adoption was the right thing to do in order to give her child a family who would love and support her in ways she knew she could not.
â€œI went to talk to the agency and met my adoption counselor,â€ Paige said. â€œI then knew after discussing every option that an open adoption was the best thing for me. After that I started feeling better about my situation.â€
Waiting on the other end of the adoption story was Colorado State University alumnus Dawna and Jonathan Susa, a local Fort Collins family who found out they were unable to have children naturally soon after they were married in 2001.
â€œWe always thought, weâ€™ll have kids right away,â€ Dawna said. â€œWhatâ€™s funny is we always thought adoption would fit into our family plan, but we also thought we would have natural kids and then add to our family through adoption,â€ Jonathan finished.
Paige found the Susas after speaking with a counselor at Adoption Dreams Come True, a statewide agency with headquarters in Fort Collins.
â€œWhat made me choose adoption was mainly the situation I was in,â€ Paige said. â€œI wasnâ€™t in school, and was working a fast food job, which made it nearly impossible to be a single mother.â€
Paige knew she wasnâ€™t ready to be a mom, but the Susas were enthusiastic to begin building their family. On average the time between when the birth mother and the adoptive parents meet is within three months of birth. The Susas met Paige just a few weeks after she learned she was pregnant â€“a rare but wonderful experience for both parties.
But for the Susas, the story doesnâ€™t end there.
Two years later, the Susas canâ€™t picture their life without their vivacious daughter, Riley, who gets visited by her birth mother Paige on a frequent basis. The Susas stay busy with dress up, books and ocean themed puzzles.
With all of the hustle and bustle that comes with a toddler, the Susas couldnâ€™t be happier, except for one thing â€“they want Riley to have a sibling.
â€œUnfortunately once you have one child, youâ€™re not as highly ranked in the minds of birth parents,â€ Dawna said. â€œNone of them understand the need for why we want her to have a sibling. They say, â€˜Well they already have one, I want to give one to this family because they canâ€™t have a babyâ€™.â€
Cindy Sarai, Founder and Executive Director at Adoption Dreams Come True, said that often times itâ€™s the adoptive parents perception that makes it seem like they are not getting chosen because they already have a child, even though that may not be the case.
â€œA birth mother may choose a same sexed family, a single mother or a couple with children or no children for reasons that are personal to her,â€ Sarai said. â€œYou never know why they choose the families they do. It is a very personal choice.â€
A short clip about how the couple likes to stay active and a thumbnail photo is all the Susas can promote on the agencies website, adoptiondreams.org, among dozens of other waiting families hoping to be chosen.
â€œYou never know why a family or a birth mom is going to choose,â€ Jonathan said. â€œThere was one birth mom and she picked because there was a photo of the momâ€™s grandfather in their portfolio that looked like her grandfather. And that was it â€“that was her reason to make decision.â€
Nov. 1 marked the beginning of National Adoption Awareness month, which provides an opportunity for the Susas search for Rileyâ€™s sibling to be brought to peopleâ€™s attention. Still, the Susas feel as though they can only do so much to get the word out.
â€œWhere we are now is what can we do?â€ Dawna said. â€œThere are a lot of laws in Colorado about what you can and cannot do. Like you canâ€™t pay any body, or give them things.â€
Dawna has created flyers to post around town and Paige has even been posting announcements that the Susas were looking for a sibling for Riley on her Facebook â€“something that the Susas do as well.
Sarai said that self-advertisements are fine, as long as the information on the flyers and announcements directs the birth mother back to the agency.
“You don’t want a birth mom to contact you directly because there is a lot of vulnerability there on both sides,â€ Sarai said. â€œAdoptive parents can’t ask the hard questions that an agency can ask because we don’t have our emotions involved in the same way. We check for any loop holes.”
Dawna has also increased awareness among family and friends by utilizing social media.
â€œWeâ€™ve been doing a little bit on Facebook like posting to our profiles and walls, asking friends to post it and share,â€ Dawna said. â€œWeâ€™re getting the word out there and I think thatâ€™s about all that you can do and then you just wait for the right person to show up.â€
Dawna said that Paige picked her and her husband because they liked to do things such as fish, camp and attend football games and shows â€“many things that Paige didnâ€™t get to experience as a child.
â€œI figured it would be best to give my child to a family who would love support and take care of her,â€ Paige said. â€œI get to watch her grow up every month and it bring joy to my life. Just knowing she is happy, and getting everything she needs.â€
Dawna will continue to post flyers around town in local coffee shops, churches, Laundromats and the post office, to name a few. For now, flyers and Facebook is their lifeline for spreading the word before they begin more intense fundraising.
â€œI donâ€™t really want to tap our organization of friends and contacts right now for fundraising,â€ Dawna said. â€œIâ€™d rather that they help get the word out that weâ€™re looking.â€
Dawna says she no longer aches when she sees pregnant women walking down the street, but itâ€™s easy to spot the longing for a second child in her eyes. Regardless of the wait, time, money and endless amount of flyers, the Susas are optimistic of completing their family with a sibling for Riley.
â€œYou sort of choose what you feel is right. Yes, the financial stuff comes in to it, butâ€¦â€ Dawna said. â€œYou make it happen,â€ Jonathan finished.
*Editorâ€™s Note: If you or anyone is interested in learning more about adoption, the adoption process and other options, or the Susa Family, please visit Adoption Dreams Come True at www.adoptiondreams.org. To read more about the Susas, check out the Cache in our next issue of College Avenue Magazine on Dec. 5.