Just found a speech I gave during a Rose Vista fundraiser…

Posted on May 13, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

ROSE VISTA MATERNITY HOME FUNDRAISER SPEECH

JOY A. KENNELLY

Copyright NOVEMBER 12, 2004

OVERVIEW

Rose Vista is the only maternity home in Los Angeles dedicated to helping women considering adoption.

I lived there my first year after my son was born and placed in adoption. I felt loved, accepted and understood. Jane Bright, the executive director, has a heart like no one else for the women who come through Rose Vista. I don’t know how I would have survived that first year without her love and support.

That’s why I’m speaking tonight. It’s not easy to relive painful memories, but my hope is that you can see that through sorrow there is joy; through loss there is gain and through faith there is hope.

MY BACKGROUND

My name is Joy Kennelly. Although we hear many stories of women who choose adoption who are teen-agers, uneducated, poor, and substance abusers, I am college-educated. I’ve been named Who’s Who in American Universities, Who’s Who in Information Technology, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. I rarely drink, don’t smoke, and don’t do drugs. I am white and was raised in an upper middle class background. With all that, why did I choose adoption over having an abortion or single parenting?

REASONS FOR CHOOSING ADOPTION

There are many reasons. 1. It wasn’t the right time for me to parent. 2. Abortion was not an option. 3. There was no family support available for me. 4. I wanted my son to have a strong male role-model and a consistent dad which I didn’t feel the birthfather would be able to be at that time 5. I wanted my son to have all the advantages a stable home life provides.

Now some may think I’ve listed some selfish reasons – I wasn’t ready to be a parent – who ever is? But I really wasn’t ready. At the time I got pregnant, I was in my early 30’s and producing a short film festival that never made any money, but gave me a lot of acclaim which was very important to me at the time. I met the birthfather when he volunteered for my festival.

MY PREGNANCY

He thought I had my life together and that I was going someplace. I had broken up six months prior with someone I’d been with for three years and I was very lonely. The birthfather on the surface might seem like someone I should be with – he is an award-winning writer, a natural athlete, very intelligent and a very interesting Nigerian. I had lived in Africa as a teenager which drew me to him. On the surface he looked great, but he was more of a financial, spiritual and emotional mess than I was.

After knowing each other for two weeks, one thing lead to another and I became pregnant. Believe it or not, I was shocked because my former boyfriend and I had never used contraceptives. I’d never gotten pregnant which made me think it wouldn’t happen this time either. I’ve since learned.

For three months I lived in denial hoping and praying that I would miscarry. I kept my focus on fulfilling my commitment to my film festival because I didn’t want to think about being pregnant. On top of this, I had the stress of being a disappointment to my parents because I am the second daughter to have a baby out of wedlock.

LIVING IN A SHELTER

After telling my parents, I realized that I was on my own with my pregnancy. I moved into my first maternity shelter called Harvest Home soon after. I was surrounded by girls from the ghetto, a former stripper, and others I’d never come in contact with before in my daily life. I felt really out of place, yet at peace. All the women were choosing to raise their unborn children. I was the only one considering adoption. However, we all soon became fast friends.

Every Friday we would have group therapy. When I mentioned I was considering adoption, one girl came up to me afterward to share her photo album from her adoption. Her son was 10 and she had never met him, but kept in contact with the parents.

Another acquaintance who volunteered at the home shared about her open adoption experience with me too. She had placed her child with relatives. She actually had visits with her son and also received pictures.

PURSUING ADOPTION

It was then that I began to see how adoption might work for me too. My festival ended successfully. Actor Eriq La Salle came and was honored. MTV, HBO, and William Morris agents scouted my films. I was riding high professionally, but I was ignoring the very real baby within me.

As soon as the festival was over I was left with myself and my pregnancy. I began focusing all my time and energy on researching adoption. I met with counselors, attorneys, agencies and began filling out the reams of paperwork required. I learned all about my family’s medical history through this process.

I went with an agency for a little while. I can remember just sobbing into the phone to my counselor how much I wanted my old life back. I didn’t want to continue living like this.

SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT FAMILY

I began looking at potential parents’ profiles trying to find the right couple. I turned my search and research into a full-time job. I had major complications in my 5th month and had to have an operation where I could have lost my child. I can remember telling my mom, “I know I’m not keeping this baby, but I don’t want him to die.”

The surgery was successful. After a brief stay with my parents while I recuperated, I went back to Harvest Home determined more than ever to find a couple. One of the attorneys I met with had me fill out a questionaire listing the top ten qualities I was looking for in a couple. I remember narrowing it down to three (Christian, inter-racially married, and would love my biracial child). I began calling attorneys all over the country asking if they had any couples with those qualities. One New York attorney told me, “You’re never going to find that.” I hung up the phone sobbing because he’d been doing adoptions for so long I believed him.

Then I called Doug Donnelly, the attorney I ended up going with, who told me, “Joy, God has a family out there for your child. He will not let you down.” I clung to that statement through the upcoming months after not finding anyone. I think towards the end even Doug was beginning to wonder if he’d find someone for me.

One day I wrote 11 letters to churches, adoption agencies, and friends across the country asking for help in finding a family. As I was writing I had a vision of the couple I saw adopting my baby. It was a tall black man and a petite blonde woman. I kept that image in the back of my mind while I continued to look.

The adoption counselor even began to ask if I wanted to raise my child after all. She gave me an assignment to spend time thinking and living like I was going to single parent.

By this time all the girls in the home were involved with me on my search. I had begun to give up hope of ever finding a couple that would fit any of the criteria I was looking for.

SURRENDER

One day, I was involved in an arts therapy presentation for a Television newscast. The therapist lead us in her guided arts project for battered women while they filmed our hands. All of a sudden I began to sob. The leader stopped everything to take me outside to comfort me. She gave me paper and pen and encouraged me to express my feelings in writing because I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk.

I wrote pages and pages and finally surrendered to God to raise this child if this is what He really wanted for me. That day I walked home and received a package from Amy and Jeff, the couple I eventually chose to raise my child. Looking back later I found that they had fulfilled all ten qualifications I had been looking for all along.

CHOOSING AMY & JEFF TO PARENT MY SON

I resisted making the final decision because I loved the child growing inside of me more and more. After much prayer and counseling and questioning Amy & Jeff extensively, I chose adoption for my son. I knew this was the right thing for us. We have what’s called an open adoption. I see him once a year. I get frequent pictures. I can call whenever I want. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him.

Although he is being raised by someone else he will always be my son to me. We don’t forget our children. They will always be a part of us. I have rarely regretted my decision although it’s taken me years to heal from the loss. Adoption is like a death. It’s not an easy decision.

CONCLUSION

There’s a reason why you only see a few women living at Rose Vista when all the other maternity homes in Los Angeles are full. Society encourages women to single parent or abort. However, adoption is another option. Jane and Rose Vista stand in that gap and offer a valuable service to those women who choose to make this difficult life choice.

I will always be grateful for the love and friendship I have received from Jane and Rose Vista over the years. I hope you will continue to bless this ministry above and beyond this evening. I hope too, you will walk away with a better understanding of adoption and the sacrifice each woman makes with her choice. Adoption isn’t easy, but it is a third option I hope more will consider.

Thank you for listening.

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    Emotions I feel surrounding my adoption, books I read and other experiences in life

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