In honor of National Adoption Month, the Adoption Option, an operation of Lutheran Social Services and the Village of Minot, is recognizing adoptive families and birth parents for choosing an option that can be beneficial for children.
"Adoption is an option for families who aren't able to have a child to grow their family," said Anna Knight, licensed social worker for The Adoption Option. "It also benefits those with unexpected pregnancies who want to provide a loving home for their child. It benefits all of the people involved the adoptive family, the child who is adopted, and the mother or father putting the child up for adoption."
Shellann Munson has seen those benefits from different sides. She was adopted as a child, and has now adopted a child with her husband, Ken. The Munsons chose interstate adoption, adopting baby Jacob 5 months ago.
Submitted Photo - - The Munsons have chosen adoption to grow their family. Pictured are Ken and Shellann Munson and their newly adopted son, Jacob.
"I always wanted to adopt, to give someone else an opportunity like I had," Shellann Munson said. "It was already a part of how I wanted my family to be."
"It's a great experience," she said. "It can be scary, and it's exciting. The outcome is just amazing."
The Adoption Option played a role for the Munsons in helping them become certified to adopt by conducting home visits and interviews.
"When we screen adoptive parents, we look at a couple's past, where they are now, and if the family is able to provide emotionally, financially and physically for the child," Knight said. "We are looking at all aspects of a family."
The Adoption Option also provides pregnancy counseling and helps birth parents in considering their choice. Knight said the counseling is focused on helping the birth parents to make positive decisions.
"We make birth parents aware of their options, if they want to choose adoption or to parent," she said. "The adoption process is a grieving process for them, and we can help them through it. We can also help them decide on an adoptive family and a birth plan. We try to help them make positive decisions."
Currently, Knight said, the average age for a birth parent is 23, with more parents in their 20s choosing adoption than those who are younger.
"For those who choose adoption, some concerns are financial," Knight said. "Others may be that it's not a two-parent relationship, or they may not have a support system to help them raise a child. For some, they may feel they won't know anything about the baby after adoption, but adoptions aren't completely closed anymore."
The birth parents and the adoptive parents can choose how open the communication between them will be. For the Munsons, a more open adoption was the goal.
"I wanted an open adoption, just to be able to have answers to the questions Jacob might have some day was important to me," Munson said. "My parents had encouraged me to find my biological family, so I did when I turned 22. It was a closure for me. I would support him in meeting her some day if that's what he wanted to do."
"Jacob's birth mom wanted a closed adoption originally, and we respected that, but she did change her mind and wanted it a little more open," she said. "I was able to meet with her, and talk to her about the things she wanted her son to know about her. I'm grateful that I'll be able to share that with Jacob some day, because my own adoption was closed, which was quite common then."
Open adoptions are now more preferred for birth parents and adoptive parents, Knight said.
"Now, the birth parents can meet the family their child will be placed with, and it gives them some comfort," Knight said. "For the adoptive families, now they are able to answer health history questions and have a reference. Open adoption keeps an open line between the birth child and the birth parent, and there's no lies or anything hidden. It's beneficial to everyone."
For all parties involved, she said, adoption can be a gift.
"It's a gift to all of them -- the child, the birth parent, and the adoptive parent," Knight said. "We want to make people aware that adoption is a wonderful choice."