Rachel’s Story

img9BThroughout my entire pregnancy, Tom and Alyssa were great! I love the laid back down-to-earth nature of Tom’s practice that is also coupled with a very professional attitude.

Tom and Alyssa actually care about their clients. Everyone’s needs are met. The Sacramento Adoption Center makes sure that the birth mother is doing her part. Alyssa came to all my pre-natal care appointments; and she scheduled the ultrasound exams and all the prenatal tests for me, including the tests for genetic disorders, drugs use and STDs.

Alyssa and Tom also take the time to ask about a birth parent’s background so the adopting parents can understand why a birthmom is choosing adoption for her baby.

When it came time for me to begin looking through adopting family profiles, I was worried that someone with the unique characteristics that I was looking for would be hard to find. I wanted to match with “out of the box thinkers,” with artsy, peaceful, loving people who were level headed and grounded and open to having on-going contact.

Within about an hour, Alyssa called to tell me she thought she found the perfect couple! I was so excited after reading their profile. I remember knocking the phone over. I was in such a hurry to call Alyssa and tell her I wanted to meet them! I was afraid another Birthmom would call before I did, wanting to meet them also.

I met my baby’s adopting parents the very next day at the Adoption Center. Thanks to Tom and Alyssa, the meeting went very well. I wanted them to adopt my baby and they wanted me to be their Birthmom. It was a beautiful thing!

My baby was born three months later. Everyone was there! He went home from the hospital with his new family in 2 days. I’d be lying if I said this was easy, but it was what was for the best, and I got the benefit of knowing that I was able to place my baby with a family that I felt was a great fit for him, and to help out a couple that could not have their own biological children.

Some cases may be different than mine, but in my case the adopting parents are very much in favor of an open adoption. I have a chance to visit and to receive pictures via Facebook on a regular basis. My baby is doing very well!

I am so thankful to everyone who listened to me, reassured me and helped me find my baby’s parents. You don’t have to share the same blood to be family!!!

Robin’s Story

I never imagined you guys would help me change my life…


There I was, so scared, pregnant again, and not knowing what I was going to do. When I picked up the phone and called the Sacramento Adoption Center, you, Tom Volk were amazing, so kind and caring.

You never once judged me or made me feel any pressure. You stood by my side and made me feel like I finally had a friend that I could count on. You helped my whole family and so did your staff. You all went above and beyond the call of duty. I never imagined that adoption could be such a loving choice for my son.

The time you guys put into helping me pick just the right family for my son can never be replaced, and still to this day you make sure all the agreements are kept within the adoption. Your team is a family to me. You truly are amazing people and I just thank God that I found you!

~ Robin

Sarah’s Story

I was pregnant, frightened, completely confused and overwhelmed with guilt over my pregnancy. I had given a child up for adoption just a year earlier, and I was in no condition to have or parent another baby.

I remember feeling so guilty and stupid all at the same time. I kept thinking how could I let this happen again? How can I keep this baby after having just let go of his brother? I can not lie to you, it wasn’t easy and I didn’t choose adoption because I was lazy or because I just didn’t want to be a mom. I chose it because it was what was best for my child.

My innocent children deserved a fair chance at life – which, at the time I couldn’t have given them and I knew it. I was already raising one little boy on my own; and although I loved him dearly, I knew I wasn’t able to give him the love, emotional or financial support he deserved. I was just a kid myself and so was the father.

The day I called the adoption center, I was desperate to say the least. I had no interest in calling the agency that had done the first adoption for several reasons; but mostly because they were just not warm or caring enough for my taste. I decided if I was going to do this again, I was going to work with the best people I could find and I am happy to say I succeeded!

I called and talked with many lawyers and agencies that day and was grateful for the experience of the first adoption to assist me in asking all the right questions. When I called the Sacramento Adoption Center, Mary answered the phone and I liked her immediately.

She was very warm, genuine and knowledgeable. When I mentioned the prior adoption she was positive and encouraging. She told me she admired me for my first decision and admired me even more for doing it again. She and Tom were so supportive that day. I can’t put my finger on it, but I could just tell they were different, that they cared!

I finally realized that by giving my boys up for adoption I wasn’t abandoning them, but giving them the greatest gift I could. I felt at ease with my decision for the first time in a long time and I will never forget how much that one conversation changed my perspective.

The Sacramento Adoption Center was there for me. They gave me the support necessary to decide how I was going to move forward. Tom assured me that, if I was sincere about finding the right home for my baby, they would get me through this. And they did! There I was, less than two months from delivery without a game plan or parents for my little guy. I was terrified. Tom found a place for my family and me to stay and I was able to get my head straight. After a few days, I was ready to start meeting couples and eagerly begin the search for the perfect match.

I cannot express how important this is. The match is everything! At least it was to me. I needed to know my gift to the adoptive parents would be appreciated, loved and cherished. At night when I would wake up and feel my baby move inside of me, I had to know I was protecting him and his future with the best parents I could find. Tom and Mary have a unique sense for this and it makes all the difference.

I wish I could share all the wonderful details, which led up to finding my little guy’s mom and becoming friends, but there just isn’t enough time. All I can say, is that Tom, Mary and everyone else at the Sacramento Adoption Center immediately went to work to make our little miracle a reality. They consistently supported my decisions and provided me with the necessary tools to make some very hard choices. I never felt pressured and I always had a sense that they truly cared about my well-being and most importantly, my baby.

Looking back, I have no doubt that all these things happened for a reason. I can proudly say I’ve gone on to be a mother of 5 (all boys, three of whom I parent)! I am happily married to the man of my dreams. There is life after adoption. I truly believe that people’s actions during difficult and unexpected times give a window into who they really are. That being said, whether you are a birth mother or looking to adopt, welcome home! You have come to the right place and you have found great people.

Thanks for letting me share my experience with you.

~ Sarah

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Angela’s Story

Have you ever had to make a totally selfless decision…


…where you did the opposite of what you wanted because in your heart you knew it was for the best? For me, adoption has been a wonderful option to an unplanned pregnancy.

It was December and I was twenty-seven years old and living at home with my mother. I have a beautiful ten-year-old daughter and was receiving a minimal amount of welfare for her. I had just gotten clean from methamphetamines and wanted to go back to school. I wasn’t married and never had been. My daughter’s father was not in the picture. When I found out I was pregnant again (this time, a baby boy), I was already five months along. I was not sure who the father was — but I knew that neither of the possible fathers would want to be a dad.

When I learned of the pregnancy, I was terrified — because I knew that I couldn’t support a new baby. There was only one thing I had to give — my unconditional and eternal love. That simply wasn’t enough. I knew that this baby would have so many other needs that I couldn’t provide for — diapers, clothes, food (not to mention toys, school supplies and the benefits of life insurance or a college fund, all of which I was already struggling to supply my daughter).

The first thing I did was tell my mom. She was shocked and asked me what I planned to do. I told her I was confused because I knew I couldn’t care for the baby properly. We talked about adoption, and she agreed that it was probably the best for everyone. The next step was telling my daughter. This was hard to do because I wasn’t sure that she would understand why we couldn’t keep the baby. Happily, she not only understood but she agreed with my decision. Together, we all set out to find an adopting family for our baby boy.

The important part of adoption planning for me was that I wanted to be able, somehow, to remain a part of my son’s life. A friend, Roberta, referred me to the Sacramento Adoption Center. She had used the Center two years ago when she chose adoption for her daughter. She told me that she was able to pick the family for her daughter and make an adoption plan with them that satisfied everyone.

I called the Sacramento Adoption Center and was graciously greeted by Teresa. She has a wonderfully upbeat and positive attitude. I described my situation and was transferred to Tom Volk, the attorney who runs the Center. We talked briefly about my situation and he explained a little about the process. I liked what he told me. We agreed to meet at the Center the following Monday.

On Monday, I pulled up on J Street in Downtown Sacramento to a Victorian style house that had been converted into offices. I put some quarters in the parking meter and slowly climbed the stairs with a little fear and reluctance. When I got to Suite Three and entered the room, I was greeted by both Teresa and Tom with bright cheerful smiles. They instantly made me feel at ease. The office was warm and inviting with its cozy and comfortable armchairs. Tom ordered us lunch from a deli across the street and we started to discuss specifically how the process worked. I learned that an adoption can be open, or closed, or a mixture of both. If an adoption is closed, there usually isn’t any post-birth contact. With an open adoption, the choice is yours to design a plan that everyone feels comfortable with.

Tom clearly explained the legalities of the process and answered all of my questions. Will I be able to see my son again? How do I find a family that is right for my son? My mind was made up in one meeting. Tom was sincere and open and easy to talk with.

We moved on to the even harder decision — picking out the right family for my son. Tom asked me to review numerous profiles from prospective adoptive families, and I started to sift through them. I selected a few and decided to meet with one family. Tom and I and that family soon met (at the Center) and talked about everything — where they lived, how many children they already had, and so on. The family was great, but it just wasn’t a perfect fit. I knew that this was God’s way of steering me along the right path for my son.

So, I started sifting through profiles again. Before meeting with another family, however, Tom called me from out of the blue and said he had just discovered a family that seemed to fit. He didn’t have a profile from them because they had just registered with the Center. (They had been working with infertility doctors for ten years and, after serious complications, were ready to adopt.) They had been referred by friends who had just adopted a child from the Center. We set up a meeting.

From the first instant that they walked into the room, I knew that this was “the family.” It’s something I can’t explain. Of course, I would never really have a guarantee, but somehow I was sure that this was the family for my son. They felt the same. Tom started the legal process.

My son was born on April 12th. He weighed just 4 pounds but he was perfectly healthy. While I was in the hospital, I cried myself to sleep. (I was, after all, losing a part of myself.) Still, I never doubted my plan. A few days later, we all went home. (Before leaving for San Diego, my son and his mom and dad came over to my grandmother’s house for a brief good-bye party.) Since then, we have talked on the phone, exchanged pictures and my daughter has visited with the family in San Diego. So, really, we didn’t actually say good-bye at all.

This has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. But I know I made the best decision for my son and that’s what makes me feel so good. I cared most about him and put myself second. Often times, mothers and fathers have to make selfless decisions and put the needs of a child first. My son is happy, loved and safe with his mom and dad, and my family and I still get to be a part of his life. I could not have hoped for a better outcome.

Natalie and Jon’s Story

Hi Tom,

All is truly well here and we are so happy for Sammy and his new family. James and Kathryn really are the parents that Jon and I both dreamed about as kids. Jon asked me to email his letter, following, to you so you can read it to everyone when we all get back together on the 17th.

This is all good stuff for all of us. You were the first blessing to us in this process. Jon felt like you understood him and that he could trust you. That is a very big deal for him to feel trust at all. So thank you for that. Alyssa is also someone that he felt like he could trust and that you both had our best interest in mind the whole time.

Then, after meeting James and Kathryn, he could see that there was real compassion and love to be felt that he didn’t know existed before then.

I also am sending you this email so I can tell you and Alyssa what I need to say clearly and without being emotional over the phone. I only have tears of happiness and pride right now, but it gets a bit hard to get words out through sniffling. I’m only talking about positive emotions.

I know that this seems like it might be overwhelming for us and me especially, but I promise that I’ve got it together and Jon is figuring himself out as I write this to you. This is a healing time for him and it should be celebrated.

I know that he and I are going to be able to reach our goals together. Life really is good to us right now. One step at a time though. I am sure that you will have some questions for us or me, so write me back or call Thursday if you feel.

Thank you again for just being the reassuring and understanding guy that you are. You and Alyssa really are a great team. You have both changed our lives for the better by just being yourselves and listening without judging either of us. I will talk to you again soon.

~Natalie

 

Dear Tom, Alyssa, James and Kathryn,

I have the pleasure of explaining how giving James and Kathryn their dream has given me a dream.

Natalie and I spent a great deal of time searching for the perfect family for Sammy, and I was so nervous to make a mistake in adopting him to the wrong family. I obviously wanted to have a great family for Sammy, although I was blinded by my drive to find him a great father. My childhood, my family (outside of Natalie and our daughter, Angie) and first marriage had me so jaded that I was absolutely determined to find the perfect family for him.

I was abandoned the first time as a young child and from that moment on I have, without even realizing it, honed survival skills to protect myself and my two sisters. I believe deep down these defense mechanisms have saved my life on more than one occasion. These same skills later contributed to the personal success in my life, including my lovely wife.

I learned how to read people’s eyes and body language along with circling conversations for my own informational purposes. Without even thinking about it, I will control a conversation to find discrepancies to discredit the individual in question. I am programmed in this manner and have no ability to turn that off. I look back and know I have destroyed a lot of friendships before they could even start. I wonder now how much these so called skills, abilities, or curses have hurt myself and others but I will never know for sure.

I spent a lot of time researching James and Kathryn, driven solely by my wife’s love and my love for Sammy. I had a good feeling about them but was not in any way prepared to let him go that day. I wanted to talk to them, watch them talk to others, look for any sign of strange body language and assess the look in their eyes.

I walked with James and I found him to be very impressive in every way. I brought up subjects to get his point of view on them, and it took no time to know he was going to be the father many kids could only dream about. Very logical, honest, disclosed a very intelligent view on religion and most of all a concern for his wife being alone while he was talking to me.

I also felt Kathryn’s pain and was aware there was more to the story than I was being told about their path to parenthood. I waited for this information to be disclosed and James did so, contributing to the honesty I was seeking. As we walked back towards our lovely wives, I could see everything I needed to know in Kathryn’s eyes.

There were many other things that I noticed but they were all laid to rest very quickly. This felt too perfect and it was such a foreign feeling to wrap my head around, how something could fit so perfectly in my eyes.

I sat with Tom and could not keep my eyes off James, Kathryn and Sammy. I had no idea I had the ability to be that happy and proud at the same time. They looked so perfect together. I watched them to the point I felt rather self-conscious for staring in awe for so long.

While watching this miracle, if you will, I leaned over to Tom knowing he left criminal law to be involved in adoptions and asked him, “This is what it is all about right here?” There was no point in him answering because I could see it in his face.

Like a rogue wave crashing into me, I connected the dots and it was like plugging in a massive strand of Christmas lights in my mind and had an epiphany. I realized James and Kathryn’s trust in Tom and Alyssa and our trust in Tom and Alyssa had a great deal to do with this event. Granted, I was already aware of the connection but this was of a different caliber.

I am not sure the words exist in the English language to properly portray what I’m about to say. I knew what my purpose in life was then and there. The details were of no concern to me but the big picture was crystal clear. I was unable to stop smiling.

My childhood, my hardships, my trials and tribulations were a gift. Every scar, emotionally and physically, was for a reason and meant to be. Even the ones that I could never tell my beautiful wife about because I just simply know it’s in her best interest not to know what has ever happened to me because it would break her heart.

My purpose in life is to help troubled youth. Plain and simple. I heard Tom’s words ringing in my head from when I asked him about being a criminal lawyer and he said, “I was good at it”.

I have seen and felt so much that I know I would be great at helping kids that others have given up on. Like I said, I don’t know the details but they still are no concern to me at this point.

I also learned from James and Kathryn that people marry their best friend in life out of respect and admiration. Asking someone to marry you is a gift to your best friend. Even same sex couples are not an exclusion from this process. Same sex couples even fight for the right to marry their loved one.

We returned home and I could not even look at my wife and daughter the same way. I spent time with my daughter, carried her to bed, tucked her in and sat there and watched her sleep for a while. I found a whole new meaning for the word precious. I then sat with my wife as we shed tears of joy to be given a chance to have the opportunity to make a dream come true for people that beyond a shadow of a doubt deserved their dream. We were beside ourselves.

I told my wife about the series of events that led up to my epiphany and she was so happy to hear my words. I dropped to my knees and asked my wife to marry me. Even after the yes, I felt so comfortable kneeling before her that I continued to do so. I was so proud of myself to do this, but also to do something that felt normal. I hope that makes sense. It was an amazing experience and we plan to renew our vows at a point when we have the ability and can take Angie with us on our honeymoon.

I just wanted you all to know that I feel our selflessness has propelled my life in a direction that I couldn’t have ever imagined. I’m committed to taking whatever steps I need to take so I’ll be able to help the children and teens in the world who need me to listen to and understand them the way you have done for me. I am incredibly optimistic! This may take me some time but I realize I have so much to fight for now.

Tom, Alyssa, James and Kathryn, I am eternally grateful for your time, effort and compassion. James and Kathryn, I have no doubt in my mind that our son — “our,” as in “James/Kathryn/Natalie/Jon” — will be loved and cherished.

I would like to give a special thanks to James for his compassion and understanding while talking about my baby girl Angie. You will probably never know how much that talk meant to me. I will cherish it forever. I will cherish this whole experience ’til the end of time.

With all my respect and admiration, Jon