Tamra got her name in the Church News!
Celebrating adoption - 'Letting love lead'
Annual conference strengthens all involved in the adoption process
By Marianne Holman
Published: Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009
What started as a quest for his mother's biological medical history in 1990 has now, almost 20 years later, become a major part of Troy Dunn's life, he said at the LDS Family Services-sponsored Families Supporting Adoption National Conference held at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah, July 31-Aug. 1.
Brother Dunn, who has become known as "The Locator" from hosting a television show that reunites loved ones, spoke of the lessons he has learned while working in his profession — specifically about adoption.
For Brother Dunn, adoption is a large part of his life.
"My love for adoption goes back to childhood," he said. "It is a topic that is very close to my heart and very close to my life."
With a brother and mother who were adopted, Brother Dunn recognizes the blessings that come from adoption. He shared the process that his family went through as they prayed and waited patiently for many years to bring his younger brother home.
"My mom introduced the beautiful concept of adoption in a very simple manner," Brother Dunn said. "She said, 'There is something that is called prayer trading, and we're going to trade prayers with somebody. Somewhere out there is a girl praying for a good family for her baby. We are going to pray for a good tummy with a baby in it, and we are going to answer each others' prayers.' "
Audience members listen as keynote speaker Troy Dunn speaks during the LDS Family Services-sponsored Families Supporting Adoption conference held July 31-Aug. 1. The conference included workshops, panels and presentations on adoption.
From that point on, adoption — or as they named it, prayer trading — became a part of the Dunn family's life.
In addition to his personal story, Brother Dunn shared insights from his profession in which he has watched countless reunions of birth parents and children. He spoke specifically of the effect it has on adoptive parents.
"Never have I had an adoptee come to me requesting a search because they want a better mother. I hope that every adoptive mom or dad can take some comfort in that," he said. "It is a search for answers, not a search to replace their mom and dad."
He said that reunions between birth parents and children usually help the adoptees leave with a greater appreciation for their parents who raised them and a better understanding of the incredible sacrifice a birth mother made.
"I have never sat with a birth mother who was making the decision because they couldn't be bothered," he said. "I've only experienced birth mothers making incredibly courageous decisions under difficult circumstances. … I can't imagine the condition of my own family had there not been a brave birth mother who traded prayers with our family."
According to Steve Sunday of LDS Family Services, the annual Families Supporting Adoption National Conference has many purposes.
"A big part of it is to support adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees in the journey they have taken, and to provide continued support," Brother Sunday said. "It is a way to celebrate adoption. To get together to celebrate all those who are involved. Not only to celebrate the adopted children, but to celebrate birth mothers as well, those who make decisions that are a huge sacrifice."
Phil Hochheiser and keynote speaker Troy Dunn, also known as "The Locator" on his television show, talk during the Families Supporting Adoption conference.
More than 400 people from around the country attended the two-day conference titled "Letting Love Lead." Workshop topics varied, ranging from affording adoption, parenting classes, being a birth mother who placed a baby for adoption, transracial adoption, to coping with a failed placement. All of the classes were to support every party involved in the adoption process.
"A lot of our couples are new to the adoption world," Brother Sunday said. "Many couples when they first come in don't know anybody else that has adopted. [Birth mothers] don't know another birth mother that's chosen adoption. They don't know what the process is like, and this takes the mystery out of the experience for them."
Not only was the conference a resource for anyone interested in adoption and their loved ones, it was a place for people who have placed a child to get involved and give back.
"Last year was the first time we had birth parents participate," Brother Sunday said. "They feel good about the decision they made and feel like it is a decision worth promoting."
Included in the conference was a panel of birth parents who have placed children for adoption through LDS Family Services. It gave personal insight to feelings birth parents experience while making the decision to place a child for adoption, and then subsequent feelings they experienced later after the adoption process was final. The participants shared their own stories and opened the floor to answering questions.
"I really want other birth mothers to know what a beautiful thing they did and who you are is not what you've done," said Martina Muir, a birth mother who participated in the panel. "I am just so excited about this conference. People need to know what adoption is these days; it is a beautiful thing. We can take something and turn it into something good."
During the conference individuals were given awards for their service rendered in the cause of adoption. Award recipients include: Tamra Hyde, Lon and DeAnna Kennard and Kelly Grove. Lois Martino received the hall of fame award for her development of adoption and a children's home/orphanage in Africa.
Participants and attendees walked away from the conference with a greater understanding and support for adoption as well as a love and appreciation for all the people involved in the process.
"I hope they all walk away with a feeling of what a great opportunity it is to be involved in adoption and what's best for the children," said Brother Sunday. "It's a win, win, win for everybody involved."