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Open Adoption

Roberto and Brianna Morales hold their adopted son.

Replacing anonymity with empowerment

by Dave Meyers
Southwest Kansas Catholic

Brianna was sweet 16 when Roberto “Beto” Morales walked into Burger King and into her life.

Seventeen years later, the couple, who will be married 10 years in December, held their infant child—their first—whom they adopted through the Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas Infant Adoption Program.

“This is Julian,” Brianna said as she cuddled the 8-week-old child. After a time she handed the child to her husband, Beto, next to her on the couch . . . .

 “I was scared of carrying the baby,” Beto said as he held the baby like a seasoned pro. “I’m a big guy, and he’s so tiny. But when he arrived, it just came naturally.”

A few moments later, as Brianna continued her interview with the SKC, Beto gently carried Julian to the nursery to change his diaper.

“We worked together at Burger King,” Brianna said with a smile from the couples’ home in Garden City. “We dated for seven years. We went through high school and college before we got married.”

Brianna, 32, is a radiology supervisor at St. Catherine Hospital, while Beto, 33, works as a draftsman at Kanamak Hydraulics.

“We talked about children for a long time,” she said.

When it became apparent that the couple was having difficulty conceiving a child, they began fertility treatments. Eventually they turned to the Catholic Charities Infant Adoption Program, the same agency used by Brianna’s parents when they adopted three of Brianna’s seven siblings.

They attended classes to learn about the open adoption system used by Catholic Charities. The system allows the birth mother and/or father to be known to the child and to be a part of the child’s life. There are no mysteries, no long searches for a child’s birth parentage when the child is older.

“We had an extensive interview with our caseworker [Lori Titsworth, LBSW, an Adoption Social Worker with Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas], talking about the time when we were a twinkle in our parents’ eyes up until now,” Brianna explained. “We learned how to talk to a child about their adoption; we received finance coaching.”

The couple also had to undergo a Kansas Bureau of Investigation background check. The entire, very stringent, process is designed to ensure that the child is entering a safe and healthy home.

Finally, once the couple was approved by Catholic Charities to adopt, they placed their profile on the Catholic Charities website: http://catholiccharitiesswks.org/services/adoption/our-waiting-families.

Through the website, birth parents are able to learn about, and then choose the adoptive parents they wish for their child. The only determining factor regarding how long it will take to be chosen as adoptive parents is the specificity of the perspective parents.

“They can choose its race, boy or girl, whether or not they would accept a baby with an illness. That can make the search take longer.

“We just said we wanted a baby,” Brianna said with a laugh.

Still, “They told us it could be a week or a couple of years,” Brianna explained.

Turned out, it wouldn’t take a couple of years. In fact, the couple received word only one week after they placed their profile online.

“We were in shock,” Brianna said.

“We got the call around 7 a.m. that he had been born around 6:33 that morning,” Beto added.

In addition to that significant miracle is the fact that the call could have come from anywhere in the United States. The couple was fully prepared to reserve an immediate flight to Arizona, Rhode Island, or wherever the birth parents might happen to be.

Instead? The birth mother was at St. Catherine Hospital ... the same hospital in which Brianna is employed—a five minute drive from the couple’s home.

“That was amazing!” Brianna said.

The couple’s familiarity with the hospital eliminated some of their nervousness. They met the birthmother—who, these few weeks later they are still getting to know—and little Julian, with whom they stayed at the hospital for two days.

“We celebrated by buying four cartloads of baby things,” Brianna said.

About the birth-mother, there was little said. Not because there are any secrets in an open adoption; it’s just that they want that part of the story to be Julian’s story, to tell when he chooses—after he discovers it for himself.

That part of the story, thankfully, will be no great mystery for the young Julian.

Click here to read more about Roberto and Brianna.

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