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I can’t believe it – AAI turned 22 this month!  I would like to start out by saying how proud I am of the agency and the work we have done since this day back in 1991.  We have joined hundreds of families, providing education and support along the way.

Looking back over 22 years, my how we have changed!  Our first open adoptions consisted of very limited contact during the pregnancy and post placement contact consisted of pictures for only the first five or six years.  Now, we see birth and adoptive families truly getting to know each other before the baby is born, spending quality time together at the hospital, and then after placement, having visits, sometimes several times the first year. If you had told me, even just five years ago that this would be the new norm, I might not have believed you. We have helped so many overcome the fears and myths that society has created about members of the triad consisting of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees. My hope for AAI is to strive to be an adoption agency that seeks to honor and protect our birth mothers and the lives of their babies more and more each year. We still have work to do but I’m excited about the progress.

One thing I have discovered in this field is that people are complex and there is always more that goes on beneath the surface. The key element that sets AAI apart from any other adoption agency is our vision. We understand that each birth mother that we encounter is much more than a “case” on which we must work. These women are real. These women have lives. My desire is to care for each one of these women that walks through our door and to treat them with the utmost respect and sensitivity. It is not enough to just have them come in, place a baby, and walk out of our lives forever. Relationships are a reality of life and cannot be so easily and carelessly broken, especially that of a mother and her baby. Over the decades, I have come to understand so much more clearly that people cannot be pigeon-holed into a type. It’s easy to judge people on their relationship status and track record, but beyond the labels, there are real humans living and struggling just as you and I are with the multitude of challenges that we must face day-to-day.

I get an opportunity to educate folks every time someone asks me what I do for a living.  Their reaction includes one of two responses – either “oh that’s so wonderful” or “oh that’s so sad”.  Well, it’s true on both and when I explain it, you can see them starting to understand!  Adoption is sad and wonderful.  I see these emotions on all sides of the triad.  There is loss mixed in with the joy.  I see the tears from the adoptive parents’ eyes because their joy comes from someone else’s grief.  I hear from birth parents that about their mixed feelings from placing – proud of their decision and happy for the family mixed with overwhelming grief experiences.

Our job is to prepare each side for all of these emotions.  It’s not an easy task but we give it our best shot.  At the end of the day, as much as we prepare, each individual has to walk their own path. The beauty of adoption is that each family’s journey is so unique. Not one birth mother, baby, or adoptive family is the same as the next. There are many families that share similar emotions and experiences, but ultimately, the adoption journey is their own–to laugh about, to cry over, to share with others, to hate at times, and to love.

AAI has been blessed tremendously over the years and I look forward to the next decades with full anticipation and excitement as to how our adoption agency will grow and transform as generations shift, as society develops, and as life moves forward.

Keep checking back here for more updates on what we’re doing here at AAI!

— Rory Hall