Today I had the privilege of attending a beautiful little boy's first birthday party! This was made even more special by the fact that I participated in this child's adoption. I was contacted and asked to facilitate placement. I had the joy of helping a couple become first-time parents. I also had the task of helping a young woman make sure she was making the right decision for her precious son.

This may sound so unusual to some, yet this same scenario has played over in my life more than a dozen times in as many years. First, 12 years ago with my own daughter, whom I adopted through an open process. It was a beautiful, though sometimes heart-wrenching,experience. I became so close to the birth mother, and I believe that this helped me to love my daughter even more. This also prepared me to deal with many events yet to come in my life.

When my little girl was only 3 years old, she began to pray for a sister, a brother and snow. My husband and I didn't think any of the 3 were likely to happen. We were so blessed with our first child, we never imagined that we would one day be the parents of 5! We brought our 2nd daughter home in January of 1993. It snowed in March of that same year. In October, you guessed it, we brought home our son! We were overwhelmed. It was at this point that other people began to call, asking that we help them adopt. I suppose they felt we had some special tricks ... after all, so many people try for years to adopt. And here we were, not yet thirty, the proud parents of 3 beautiful, healthy children.

Shortly after that, we did get our first opportunity to play a role that would eventually become so familiar, that of adoption facilitator. This was not a difficult transition for us, as all of our own adoptions had required this facilitation. It simply had not occurred to us that this could become a ministry. But I believe that it can only be done by someone who has been personally involved in an open adoption.

Our first experience, with a very brave young woman who wanted only the best for her baby, taught us that a successful open adoption requires the utmost respect for the monumental decisions involved. Someone must be there to support the birth parents, or as I often find, a young woman who is very much alone. She has to know that you are interested in the best for her baby, and for her. I have stayed in contact with many of these extraordinary young women. I have found that they often go on to do many other great things in their lives.

My husband and I have obviously adopted two more times. Our oldest daughter is now 12. We have an 8 year old son and daughter, and our youngest daughter is 4. Our youngest son has just turned 1 year old. He has Down Syndrome. When we were contacted to facilitate his adoption, we soon decided that he was meant to be ours. Our older children are the best little therapists! I'm sure that our special baby will do wonderful things with the help of his family.

And of course, as I said at the beginning of this article, I have recently finished another adoption. Again, I met some very extraordinary peolple; especially a little boy with beautiful eyes and a tendency to growl when he smiles at you.

Open adoption isn't for everyone. But for those courageous souls willing to weather the storm of human emotion involved, it can be the most rewarding option.