Surprising Reunions

Holly Shearer and Benjamin Hulleberg

Benjamin’s birth mother, Holly, was only 15 when she gave birth to him. When she was 6 months into her pregnancy, she began to search for adoptive parents for her baby. She feared that she would not be able to provide adequately for him.

Benjamin was given up to Angela and Brian Hulleberg on the day he was born, which just happened to be Thanksgiving Day in 2001. His adoption was never hidden from him and his adoptive parents talked to him about his biological mother.

Like many adoptees, including my own adoptee mom, Benjamin had always had a deep desire to meet his birth mother. He searched for her for many years. He’d written letters to adoption agencies of Utah, had his DNA tested and registered with the adoption registry. Nothing came of his efforts.

Like many birth mothers, Holly cared deeply about the baby she had given up for adoption and did a google search which found him on Facebook. 2 days before his 20th birthday, she took a risk to message him on Facebook – “You don’t know me but 20 years ago I made the hardest decision of my life and placed my beautiful little baby up for adoption with a beautiful family.”

Like many birth mothers, she was concerned about disrupting her son’s life, yet she simply wanted him to know that she had thought about him every day of his life. So she admitted that she finally found the courage to send him a message. She simply wanted to wish him a happy birthday.

When Benjamin saw the message, of course he wanted to meet her right away. So, they planned to have dinner and agreed that both of their families should be there to support them. On National Adoption Day, his wish became a reality. He discovered he had 2 half-siblings and that he was actually working at the same hospital that his birth mother worked at.

His mother is a medical assistant at the heart center at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital. Hulleberg volunteered at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. She notes that “Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work. So, I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close.”

After their reunion, Benjamin moved in with his mother, Holly. He also shares a coffee break with her each day before his shift in the NICU. He will leave soon to attend school in another Utah town.

~ today’s story courtesy of The Huffington Post.

What It Is and Is Not

Every November it comes back around – National Adoption AWARENESS Month. While all adoption-related issues are important, the particular focus of this month is the adoption of children CURRENTLY in FOSTER CARE.

The first major effort to promote awareness of a need for children in the foster care system to be adopted into a permanent family began in 1976, when Massachusetts governor Mike Dukakis initiated Adoption Week. The idea grew in popularity beyond that state and spread throughout the nation.

President Gerald Ford later released the first National Adoption Week proclamation. In 1990, the week was expanded to a month because of the number of events and states participating. For many, the foster care imperative has been lost along the way and it has become a celebration of adoption in general. Proof of this is National Adoption Day (traditionally a Saturday) observed occurring in courthouses across the nation, when thousands of adoptions are finalized simultaneously.

During the month of November – many states, communities, public and private organizations, businesses, families, and individuals celebrate adoption in general as a positive way to build families. Activities and observances include recognition dinners, public awareness and recruitment campaigns, and special events shed light on children who are in need of permanent families (ah, back round to the kids in foster care – finally).

Even in non-election years, elected officials at all levels are supportive of efforts to build adoption awareness. Both current officials, and candidates especially, are often receptive to invitations for their participation in events with family appeal.

So now you know a bit more about what National Adoption Awareness Month was actually meant to achieve and how it has been hijacked by adoption advocates more generally.