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Adoption Awareness: Their Stories

Profiles of local adoptive families and agencies

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The decision to place a child for adoption is one of the most difficult decisions one could make in their lifetime. It is most often done with tremendous love, compassion and selflessness, mixed with tremendous inner turmoil. Ultimately, it is both a tender and powerful, life-changing experience for all involved.

In this issue, we feature adoptive parents and birth mothers who worked with equally dedicated agency’s in our region. These individuals share their own stories of adoption and how this powerful experience has forever impacted their lives and the lives of those they love.

metro MAGAZINE, Spirit of Omaha.com, buyOmahaNOW!, Omaha's Best Event Resource, Kelly and Ross Martinez

Introducing parenthood into a marriage is an adjustment.  Period. 

To skip the infant, toddler and young child years of development and launch head first into the turbulent teen years takes courage.  But that is what Kelly and Ross Martinez did.  After ten years of being married without children, the Martinez’s decided to adopt an older child via the foster care system.

“My parents had fostered a child before they had any children of their own,” says Kelly Martinez.  She had also worked part-time as a teenager in a day care facility that catered heavily to children who were in the foster care system.  “I knew that those kids needed stability in their lives,” she states.  So when she and her husband began discussing starting their own family, she presented the option of older child adoption to her husband and he agreed. 

Martinez says they chose this avenue to parenthood for a few reasons.  First, they were altruistically motivated: “There are already so many kids out there who need homes and loving families, we didn’t feel the need to have our ‘own.’”  There were also practical considerations.  Her husband was familiar with parenting, having helped raise his younger brother and sister during his teen years.  “He wasn’t overly eager to jump back into diapers and 2 AM feedings,” she admits.

Martinez owns that it was quite an adjustment to have a teenager living with them, especially after ten years of being childless.  “But it also felt natural,” she says. 

“Every kid deserves to have a family that loves them unconditionally.”

The Martinez’s feel the impact of their unconventional route to parenthood when they hear their daughter talk about a future she never thought she’d have.  At the close of her 8th grade years, Martinez was talking to her daughter about high school when a strange look shadowed her daughter’s face.  She questioned her daughter about what she was feeling, and her daughter responded, “’ It’s weird talking about my future.  I didn’t know I had one until I came here.’”

Fostering or adopting an older child may be challenging, the Martinez concede, but to do so is meaningful and life-altering in the life of a child.

metro MAGAZINE, Spirit of Omaha.com, buyOmahaNOW!, Omaha's Best Event Resource, Meghan and Ray O'Connell

Megan and Ray O’Connell had been married for six years, and for many of which they had struggled with infertility issues that left them emotionally taxed.  They were unwilling to pursue the financial sacrifice of invetro fertilization given the procedure’s success rate. 

“We don’t even buy lottery tickets.  The risk was too high,” states Megan O’Connell.  “We always thought adoption was wonderful.  We just didn’t know if it was for us.” 

After giving themselves time to accept that a biological child was not in their future, they began considering adoption as an option.  The more they looked into it, their perspective changed.  “It became more about helping not just ourselves but about helping others in the process,” O’Connell says.  Two families benefit with a single act.

Two couples the O’Connell’s knew had gone through adoption: one open and the other closed.  They received counsel and training from Child Saving Institute and decided an open adoption was the kind of arrangement that appealed most to them.  They began the process in the fall of 2007.  They had a home study conducted, created a family album, and met with the birth mother of their future child all the while building a nursery for their baby. 

O’Connell’s family and friends threw her a baby shower in July.  She and her husband took maternity leave in August when the baby was going to be born.  But after giving birth, the birth mother decided she wanted to parent her son. 
Saddened but not angry, the O’Connell’s returned to work fully anticipating starting the process all over again.  But a week later, Child Saving Institute called and informed them that the birth mother would like to place her son for adoption and inquired if they still were interested.  The answer was a relieved and resounding “yes.”  “I was happy to see the birth mother and meet the baby.  She had become part of our life,” says O’Connell.

The O’Connell’s feel that adopting Alexander was more than just about becoming a family or giving a child a “better” life. It impacted a huge circle of people beyond their family unit.  In the year that they brought Alexander home, friends of theirs pursued adoption and brought home their child this past September.

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