Faith and Perseverance: Three Generations of Domestic, Infant Adoptions
Diana was adopted as an infant and her birth father, Chuck, was adopted as an infant. Three years after Diana gave birth to her son, Blake, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctors recommended that she not get pregnant again. Eight years later, Diana’s daughter, Danielle, was adopted as an infant. Diana credits Blake’s prayers for a sibling and her own faith and perseverance for her journey as a proponent of adoption. Diana is also an adoption researcher and founder/executive director of The National Center for Adoption, doing business as Iowans for Adoption.
Diana, her birth father, her daughter and all of her family members are extremely grateful that three generations of birth family members placed infants for adoption. Their lives have been richly blessed and they want others to know that adoption has many positive outcomes!
I have always known I was adopted. My mom told me everyday that I was adopted. This was nothing out of the ordinary for our family. My parents are the most amazing parents. They have been supportive through this entire journey! I was given the gift of a photo of my birth mother at age 16. From that photo, I tracked her down, however, she asked me to never contact her again. I was devastated. But as I have grown, I realize that is nothing personal - she doesn't' know me. But, I knew my birth dad was still out there.
I had to have surgery shortly after that encounter and was in bed for three months. I thought I would give 23&Me a chance. I got my results and had no close relatives. So I then started my research. Maybe it was the pain pills or lack of sleep, but I also posted on the Colorado for Sale site on Facebook asking "looking for my birth father."
Low and behold, I got a response. Not from anyone who had a connection to me, but someone willing to spend hours combing through my DNA to help me find a match. Kathy Strandberg Powers - you are a godsend! After some Facebook stalking, I found one of my 23 & Me matches, and she actually messaged me! This was the first person who was biologically related to me on my paternal side that talked to me. She sent me a giant family tree book, which was one of the keys to my story.
The pieces started coming together, and it came down to three brothers that could be my dad. The oldest said there was no way. The youngest was 12 at the time, so I assumed it was also not him. That left me with the middle brother. I pondered for a while. On April 27, I worked up the courage to send him a Facebook message. I got a response almost immediately. We talked and I shared my story. I knew at that moment in my heart it was him. Over time, a friendship was formed between us, but I needed to know for sure he was my birth father. We did a private paternity test, and he was my dad. He didn't know I existed. He didn't know he had a daughter. Mark Harrington is my birth father. And here we are today. There is no guide book of what to say, or how to act, but we are figuring it out. I couldn't be more excited to expand my family and my family couldn't be happier to open their arms to him. This is my adoption story.
Iowans for Adoption: Rusty's Story
Raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Rusty Johnson defied the odds of the foster care system. Beginning in the fourth grade, Johnson moved into several temporary foster homes. By the sixth grade, elementary music teacher Ms. Carolyn Brickley agreed to take Johnson as a foster child. During supervised visits, he also connected with his biological mother, who in return, gave him a saxophone. After his mother’s death in 1994, Johnson used music and his saxophone to ease his childhood struggles. In 2006, he combined music and advocacy to create “Rusty Johnson’s American Dreams” tour. His child welfare advocacy has received national recognition and awards. In 2017, on his birthday, he was adopted by Ms. Carolyn Brickley.