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4The Daily Tar Heel Wednesday, Afcril
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By LIZ SAYLOR
Nona Bolenhaugh and her husband
were the first N.C. couple to adopt a
Korean child through Bethany, the first
N.C. adoption agency licensed to
arrange foreign adoptions.
' "On June 30. 1984, Keri came into
the Chicago airport, Bolenhaugh said.
"An escort brought her to Charlotte.
We found out the day after Mother's
"Day last year that., we had a 6-week-old
baby girl. ;
I "We believe that the God we believe
in created Keri just for us. We got a
'really perfect baby."
- The adoption process was not easy.
'The Bolenbaughs, residents of Butner,
adopted 1 l-month-pld Keri Michelle
'through Bethany. Tfiey spent about 2xi
years dealing with immigration papers,
FBI reports, inquiriesinto their finan
cial status and interviews. They com
piled a report describing their views on
parenting, foreign children and home
The home study was approved in
;North Carolina, then sent to Korea,
going through an agency that controlled
orphanages in Korea. Most of the
children in these orphanages, including
Keri, were born out of wedlock.
To help families like the Bolen
baughs, Judy Geyers started a support
group for adoptive parents, called Ours
for United Response, two years ago.
"A lot of people were interested in
adopting but didn't know how to go
about it," Geyers said. "They'd call me
for information because we had
adopted so many children. Local
adoption's just about impossible, so we
looked into the international adoption
Geyers and her husband have 13
children, seven of whom are adopted.
They adopted some Korean and bi
racial children to extend their family
because she loves raising children, she
said. "This is what I want to do in life."
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The group holds meetings with
discussions and speakers on topics of
interest to the adoptive families and
those interested in adopting. About 40
families from across North Carolina are
in the group, which also holds social
meetings during which the adopted
children can meet others like
"The people are just great, which is
w hat makes a good group," Geyers said.
"There were a lot of adoptions that may
have been at least a result of our group."
The Geyers and the support group
helped the Bolenbaughs.
"I was constantly frustrated," Bolen
haugh said. "It takes a long time to go
through the adoption process. We felt
it would never happen. We wanted a
child so bad for so long. ... I'd call
Judy a lot. The OURS support group
Many people are waiting to adopt
healthy infants, said Mary Smith, public
information specialist at the Children's
Home Society of North Carolina Inc.,
a private adoption agency of the United
Way. "For healthy, white infants we had
between 2,000 and 3,000 people who
called last year to adopt."
According to Jane Maske, a social
worker at Orange County Social Ser
vices, there are few adoptable children
for two reasons: "One, it is much more
acceptable today to be a single parent,
so women are choosing to keep their
babies. Another reason is the huge
number of abortions.
"Adoption has not had a good
image," she said. "One reason may be
that it's not easy to carry a child to term
and then release the child for adoption.
Often, abortion may look simpler.
"But it is never an 'unwanted' child,"
Maske said. "It is the role of 'parent'
by the biological parent that was not
wanted. The role of parent simply came
at the wrong time in the parent's life.
It's a very complex and emotional
Maske handles about 50-60 adop
tions a year. She is in charge of placing
children in foster homes and does
adoptive home studies.
When a mother is' going to give a
child away for adoption, Maske said,
"We get the mother to get good prenatal
care. Then the child is placed directly
into a foster home.
"In a recent court case, Stanley vs.
Illinois, it was decided that not only the
birth mother, but also the birth father
must be part of the adoption process,"
Maske said. "If he won't take custody
of the child, he must fill out and sign
a form stating so."
Smith said CHS brought only young
infants and toddlers into homes, some
times working with social services. Last
year they placed about 150 babies in
homes and followed through during the
temporary custody of the foster child
ren, she said.
"We ask one parent to quit his or
her job for the first year," Smith said.
"They must be N.C. residents. The
minimum age is 23. Maximum (age is)
35 for the mother and 39 for the father
. . . These are guidelines, not hard-and-fast
The final order of adoption is issued
after one year, Smith said. The child
is then placed under the parents'
"Foster parents are paid some
expenses," Smith said. "The agencies
public or private make certain
decisions, such as with medical prob
lems. The adoptive parents pay all bills
and leave property to the child upon
their deaths, just like natural parents."
For older children released for
adoption, Maske said, the protective
service social workers try to have the
child stay with the natural parents. If
this is unsuccessful, the court deter
mines the child must go to a foster
At Christmastime in Orange County,
CHS had 48 or 49 children in foster
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Franklin St., between Morehead and Spencer
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10:00 am The Holy Eucharist: Rite One
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12:00 Noon to 3:00 pm The Three Hours
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homes, said Maske, who added that the
number varied depending on the time
Those children not in a foster home
stay in homes such as the Janus House
Residence, Maske said. While there,
they attend regular public schools, she
"Presently, one child has been freed
for adoption in Chapel Hill, an older,
black little boy, waiting for a home,"
Maske said. "If you saw a list of waiting
A dopted stu
after 14 years;
By LIZ SAYLOR
"Adoptive parents are very sensitive,"
said Laura, a 19-year-old freshman
whose real name is being kept confi
dential. "I've always thought of them
as my real parents, though in the back
of my mind I've known they weren't.
She really is my mom, and my dad's
Laura's natural parents divorced
when she was very young. Her mother
died when Laura was 4 years old,
leaving her in the care of a boyfriend.
He put Laura up for adoption, despite
her pleas, "Can I stay, please, and play
with the little girl next door?" She, her
two sisters and two brothers thus were
Laura remembers staying in another
foster home before she came to her
present family's home under foster care.
Adopted when she was 5, Laura said:
"I felt out of place and scared. I was
so little. They were so big."
After 14 years with her adoptive
family, Laura said, "I don't talk to them
about adoption." She has one brother,
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children (such as the one put out by
area social services, PALS), most arc
black little boys. By 'waiting, we mean
they could move into an adoptive home
if we could find one. But most people
just want healthy infants, (newborn) to
5 years old.
"A number of children will probably
grow up in foster homes and never be
adopted," Maske said. "With the
special-needs older kids, foster parents
often become attached to them and then
adopt them. By 'special needs,' we mean
ent reunited with her family
TV ad brings
In July 1984, Laura's life changed
dramatically. Her two biological sisters
and one brother (the other was killed
in an accident) found her. They had
gone to a social service agency, Laura
said, but said they had been treated
rudely and were told Laura had to be
the one to initiate a reunion. Neverthe
less, they made a television appeal, only
knowing their sister's first name and her
Laura was on vacation with her
father. When she returned, her mother
told her about her real family's televi
"I felt an invasion of privacy," Laura
said. But her adopted mother asked her,
"Do you want to see them?" Laura
agreed, surprised at her adoptive
Her mother invited Laura's sisters
and brother to their house. Laura said
she was still amazed at the openness
and friendliness her mother showed to
her siblings. When they came to the
door, Laura said, her mother welcomed
them saying, "I'm glad this happened."
When Laura asked if everything was
all right, her mother said, "It's not going
to hurt me."
"Deep down she might be scared 111
go off to live with them someday, I
think," Laura said. She said her father
didn't mind the reunion.
One of Laura's sisters apologized for
the potentially embarrassing and threat-
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(concerns the discrimination
of racial groups and women)
anything that makes a child harder than
an infant to be adopted such factors
as medical conditions, race."
Alter unadopted children turn 18,
they are on their own unless they are
still in school, she said.
"We are very actively recruiting
homes for children with special needs,
working closely with social services,"
Smith said. "We try to put out enough
publicity to let people know how to
ening announcement they had made,
but said it was their "last measure" in
a long, desperate search.
"After they came, it really opened me
up," Laura said. She's considering
putting her story in Readers Digest.
"Now I have two families and lots of
brothers and sisters. It gets confusing
sometimes. But not everyone's that
lucky. It's all so smooth for us.
"They told me that nearly every single
day they thought of me," Laura said.
"It's not every day a reunion with your
real family happens. We were all at ease.
In just a few hours, that bond was re
established after a 14-year separation."
Laura's sister told her that once, when
they were still together, Laura had
called her "Mommy."
"She took care of me," Laura said.
"Even after 14 years I can still feel the
bond with her. Everything from my
early childhood was a blurred image,
like looking through a crystal ball."
Laura said the reunion had not really
affected her relationship with her
adoptive family. "I want to do every
thing I can, especially with my mother,
to make our relationship even better,"
she said. "That's kind of been bugging
"You don't want to hurt your adop
tive parents." Laura advised adoptees
who want to find their biological
families. "Either talk to them about
your decision to find your real family,
or don't let them know. Then later,
when you start living away from home,
Laura said she would adopt children
if she could. "Then I could relate to
them. I'd know what they'd be going
through. That could make us a lot
For any person debating between
abortion or giving their baby up for
adoption, Laura said: "There's always
a couple that wants a child. And if you
wished, you could always go back to
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