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11/15/2011 10:43:00 AM
Open adoptions may cause tears, but for the best
Catholic Charities photo
Chantel and Herb Spiering stand behind adopted daughter Kyrah, her  half-sister Jordyn and birth mom for both girls, Angie Wilson.
Catholic Charities photo
Chantel and Herb Spiering stand behind adopted daughter Kyrah, her half-sister Jordyn and birth mom for both girls, Angie Wilson.
Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

As the remarkable circumstances of her birth and home life were conveyed to an audience, 11-year-old Kyrah Spiering played joyfully with her year-old half sister. That was sign enough that this open adoption worked.

Kyrah's birth mother, Angie Wilson of Portland, was addicted to crack cocaine and already had two children she could not handle when she became pregnant again 12 years ago. She wanted a better life for this child. Hard as it was, she went to Catholic Charities and said she wanted to offer her unborn baby to a family who wanted one.

Across town, Herb and Chantel Spiering had been trying to have children with no success. They, too, had contacted Catholic Charities, knowing they had lots of love and energy to spare.

From a list of profiles, Wilson chose the Spierings for her child. She knew the baby would get a lot of attention from the couple.

The Spierings were delighted and had dinner regularly with Wilson. They also laid down the law for her: stop using drugs or the agreement is off.

Wilson entered treatment and stayed clean for the duration of the pregnancy. It was during a group meeting that her water broke, about a month early. Everyone rushed to the hospital expectantly. A healthy baby girl emerged.

Wilson could not be the first one to depart from the maternity ward. It would have been impossible to walk away and leave the child behind, so asked the Spierings to go first with Kyrah. That moment was still unimaginably hard, even harder than kicking the crack habit. But Wilson knew she'd see Kyrah again. She and the Spierings had agreed to an open adoption.

Wilson, now clean for eight years, still tears up when she tells the story, but she knows she did the right thing.

Pregnancy support and adoption is the oldest continuous program at Catholic Charities, which has adoption records dating back to 1902.

Through many decades, birth mothers and children were kept apart via secrecy. Now, the organization helps arrange about 10 adoptions per year, all of them open.  

"We wanted Kyrah to know who her birth mom was," says Chantel.  
Wilson calls Kyrah on occasion and the two gather on the girl's birthday. Wilson's year-old daughter Jordyn is the apple of Kyrah's eye.

Herb grew up in foster homes. He never knew his father and his mother was deemed unfit to be a parent. He always felt compelled to adopt because he wants to give back all the care he received.

"Angie is part of our life forever," he told a group of prospective adopters and birth parents gathered last week at Catholic Charities. "Everyone wants to know who they came from. This is the most raw, honest thing I've ever been a part of."


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