Whenever I see a table, I think of a gathering place. Whether it is a Sunday dinner meal after church with family, a table of children at school sharing legos, or a group of friends playing cards, you will find discussion of current topics, personal stories, and wisdom. The wisdom could be with sharing directions of the activity or just understanding of lessons learned through life. There could be sounds of laughter or sounds of tears. No matter the people around the table and the conversations, in my mind, a table should be open to all who want to dwell in a healthy community. For me, this is the heart of The Table DFW.
In the article What is Being a Birth Mother Like? Courtney Falk details her birth mother’s story as a birth parent. In the article, Courtney (an adoptee) shares the emotional roller coaster that her birth mother experienced and her grief with placing Courtney for adoption. With the grief and loss involved in adoption, it is vital to have support and remain in the community. The Table DFW, founded by birth mother Lacy Davis and birth mother and adoptee Katie Reisor, supports birth mothers walking through their journey. Their heart is that this support will allow space to have birth parents support each other and ultimately erase any stigma learned from the voices in or outside the adoption community. While it remains an organization for birth mothers, their heart is for events that include different members of the adoption triad too.
Who is Katie?
For Katie, “Adoption has always been the foundation of her identity.” Not only is she an adoptee, but she is a birth mother as well. Katie has two children:a 14-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. Katie works for a non-profit focused on helping children and families in difficult times. She specifically works in fundraising. Outside of work, Katie is on the worship team at her church. She enjoys traveling, listening to a good true-crime podcast, singing, and hanging out with her dog, Chloe.
Who is Lacy?
Lacy Davis is a birth mom who lives in Fort Worth. She enjoys educating and speaking about how adoption has shaped her life. She spent time connecting with other birth moms at local support groups and has spoken on panels educating prospective adoptive parents.
Lacy has four children. One of the children she placed for adoption in 2006 with her husband, the birth father. The couple has three additional children. In her spare time, she is an avid reader and enjoys watching Law and Order episodes on repeat and spending time outdoors with her family in her free time.
Myths of Birth Parents
“Birth parents are just normal. We are just like everyone else, except we placed a child for adoption”, Lacy said in our interview. I find myself agreeing with her wholeheartedly. Before I started interviewing birth mothers for Adoption.com, my idea of birth parents who place their children for adoption came from the media. I thought birth parents were poor teenagers from broken homes who could be on drugs, were irresponsible, and thoughtless. After interviewing countless birth families in the past eight months, I find myself reconsidering every myth that I learned about birth families. I’ve met birth parents who were married and unable to raise another child or birth parents who were teenagers but came from loving families. Also, I’ve met birth parents who were single and had successful careers. From these interviews, I’ve learned that there is no particular mold for someone placing a child for adoption. The only thing that all of these families have in common is that, for some reason, they’ve chosen to place their child for adoption. With placing their child for adoption, they have many decisions to make in the adoption process–the most crucial being whether to have an open or closed adoption with the adoptive family.
Open or Closed Adoption
Open adoption is an adoption in which the biological and adoptive families have an arrangement at varying degrees where there is a specified level of contact with the child. This contact can look different within different families. Katie and Lacy are both involved in open adoptions with the adoptive families, but at varying degrees.
Lacy shared that her adoption with her daughter was not fully open for 15 years. The last time she physically saw her was at nine months old. During those 15 years, there was the exchange of yearly photographs and emails. Then finally, after 15 years, she saw her daughter physically. This type of adoption is what is called a semi-open adoption. A semi-open adoption is when contact is through phone calls, emails, pictures, and letters mediated through an adoption professional. The adoption arrangement is made through the social worker at the placement agency or through a lawyer. There is fully open adoption and semi-open adoption.
Lacy and her husband started with an open adoption agreement, but it turned into a semi-open adoption. There was an agreement with the adoptive family that they would send yearly pictures and emails updating them about the daughter. Lacy shared the joy of seeing her biological daughter after summer vacation.
For Katie, she always knew she was adopted. She’s met her biological mother’s side of the family. As an adoptive mother, she has an open adoption with her children. She said that she has two kids: a teenage boy who is 14 and a daughter who is 11. Both adoptions are open and she sees them often.
Closed adoption is when the birth family chooses to have no contact with the adoptive child. The reasons for the birth family having a closed adoption vary from family to family. It is up to the birth family to change the closed adoption to open adoption. I’ve interviewed families that began with a closed adoption, and then it changed to open for various reasons. It is encouraged with the child to answer any questions and hopefully start to form a bond.
With a heart of understanding the adoption process and sharing their own story, the women came together to begin something different.
How did you two meet?
Photo provided by The Table DFW
Lacy shared that they both met through The Gladney Center for Adoption. The Gladney Center for Adoption is an adoption agency in Fort Worth, Texas that provides adoption and advocacy services. Gladney is involved in lobbying, international adoptions, counseling, maternity services, education, and philanthropy. Lacy and Katie are connected with Gladney because they placed their children for adoption through this agency. They would attend birth mother events through Gladney and sit on panels to share their stories. Typically, adoption agencies have workshops that allow hopeful adoptive parents to listen to various birth parents. It was through multiple panels and events that they started to become friends.
Lacy shared that she would see Katie, and they began to get to know each other more. One day Katie shared that she had this idea which eventually became The Table. Lacy shared that she had the same idea. Instead of acting alone, both ladies decided to team up and form The Table.
Support Groups are Beneficial
Trauma is real among birth parents. The act of placing a child for adoption is not an easy one. For some birth parents, it is the most difficult decision that they will ever make in their lives. It is typical for others not to understand what is going on in the heart of the birth parent. As Courtney Falk writes in her article about her birth mother giving birth and placing her, letting the body heal without holding the baby, and then missing out on the firsts after she parted with Courtney was a painful process.
In her article Birth Mother Support Groups, Leslie Bolin explains the importance of support groups with mothers. While the article addresses birth mothers, it is not uncommon to have a birth father join a support group. It is here that birth families can share their fears and hopes or anything about being a birth parent. There are different types of groups that are catered to meet birth parents where they are in availability. Bolin adds that no matter the support group style, it is essential for the birth parent to “remember that they are not alone.”
What is the Table DFW?
Many support groups are therapeutic or counseling sessions; Lacy says that The Table is more casual. Katie adds that they tried other support groups that “while well-intentioned- most were formal, structured, or run by an adoption agency.” Katie further explains that they “wanted to break that mold and have a casual, pressure-free, authentic setting that included birth fathers, too. While they have a bad rap, birth fathers need support too, and we felt that was important to include in our space”.
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At their last event, they met at a restaurant. There was live music, they sat around a table, and with drinks and food, they shared their stories. But not only did they share their story, but they also shared their everyday lives. “It was a casual social setting in which we can connect with other like-minded individuals.
The Message of The Table
Lacy said they loved the idea of a group of birth moms and others just sitting around the table and connecting. Lacy goes on to say that they initially started to form connections with birth parents. While the support of birth parents will still be their focus, they realize the importance of forming bonds with other members of the triad. Lacy adds, “We all have different perspectives, and it is beneficial to listen and hear from each other.”
For Katie, she had no idea that their idea would take off so quickly. “When Lacy and I dreamed this up, we had no idea it would take off so quickly,” she says. “The entire goal was to create a space where we could connect birth parents. We had an event the other night, and a birth mom shared that The Table has been life-changing. She never had that support and community until she found us. That’s what makes it all worth it, the connections”.
Events at The Table
At The Table, there are ongoing awareness messages on social media as well as events. Since they started, their Instagram has grown in popularity. They have birth parents who share their stories on the feed. For Lacy and Katie, the best birth parent experience comes from the birth parent. “The greatest healing that we’ve found is through other birth moms,” Lacy said. So from this place of healing and awareness, they invite other birth parents to share their stories as a hope for healing and understanding of the birth parent experience. “We just want to put a bit of power behind that voice,” she adds. Katie added that they have a support group on the third Thursday of the month. It is a virtual hangout and is open to birth parents as a means of support and encouragement. The ladies would love to meet more people looking for birth parent friends.
They foresee themselves continuing to share content online, and they want to continue with events in person. Lacy adds that one thing that they want to do is “morph The Table in different places.” Instead of just The Table DFW, there could be The Table Memphis or The Table Washington D.C., etc. Lacy sees groups of birth parents coming together connecting at The Table all over the country.
The Table Brings People Together and Offers Hope
In the adoption triad, every voice is essential; every voice is worth respect, and every voice shares something that we all can learn. Giving a voice to the birth parent is paramount through the healing and grieving journey. For me, The Table seeks to bring three groups together that typically hang out in their corners through their adoption journey to come together in understanding.
I think that Katie says it best when she adds that Adoption is “messy and complex, bittersweet but beautiful too.” The messy, complex, and bittersweet can only be navigated with open and honest communication. She continues that “so many in the community spin the positives, but it is simply not positives without negatives.” This platform helps birth parents navigate the waters together and also among the various members of the triad. “We want to create something that helps adoption to be better understood in the adoption community,” says Lacy. All forming one sound of understanding around the table can bring healing to hearts and minds and be an agent of hope.