We don't have to go to the moon and back
Jay Smith recently joined the Boys & Girls Aid Board of Ambassadors. He shared his personal story with us about being adopted as an infant and wanting to give back to children currently in need of a family. Our Board of Ambassadors is a group of emerging professionals who are passionate about the work of Boys & Girls Aid and figuring out ways to promote it within the business community. Below are words from Jay.
I was adopted through Boys & Girls Aid 38 years ago. My parents David and Connie lived in Bend and decided to adopt my older brother (not biologically related) Carlos from South America. They soon wanted to add another child to the family.
I was born in Portland and my birthmother was not in a position to provide appropriate care for me. My understanding is that she had contacted Boys & Girls Aid. My parents had already been working with Boys & Girls Aid and received a call from the case manager that they had a perfect match for them.
A few years back I decided to search for my birthmother. I requested a pre-adoption birth certificate so I had the name of my birthmother, but it was a standard name and I didn’t find a match. I contacted Boys & Girls Aid and talked with the staff. They said that they had a letter from my birth-mother for me that she wrote 10 years ago before moving to Saudi Arabia. It had baby photos with me and her. She has a unique name and I searched online and found a match in Beaverton, Oregon. I was able to send her a letter, she responded and we set a time to meet up. It was overwhelming, but in a good way. It was nice to finally have that missing piece.
About a year and half ago I made a significant career change. I was in a career for about 15 years and then shifted over to agency recruiting which is what I do now. I set a goal for myself that within about a year I wanted to be a part of an organization and I was not sure what that was going to be. The president of Boys & Girls Aid, Suzan Huntington, reached out to me because she and I had worked together previously. She was interested in me being a part of the organization. We set up a call and it was absolutely perfect timing, the perfect opportunity and the perfect organization.
Being adopted as an infant enhanced my life in every way. I don’t know if I would be where am without the support I received. I have so much appreciation for my parents and for my birthmother. I think it was really brave to have the courage to reflect and say "I don’t have the means to provide adequate care so let's find somebody who can." Everything happens for a reason which sounds very cliché, but I feel it is very true in my situation.
Boys & Girls Aid is very unique and very appropriate for where I am right now in my life, I am very excited to be part of a board because we as Ambassador Board members can really see the progress and be involved firsthand. I am looking forward to learning more about what Boys & Girls Aid does, provides, etc. and share that information with others.
Everybody around me is very excited for me and supportive for the work I will be doing. Quick example, I volunteered to be the table captain at Fostering Futures last April. I was really excited about it and I asked my small team at work, and a couple of people were interested in joining the event and that made me really happy. It is exciting to see the support that I'll receive down the road and then that would transfer to the efforts that Boys & Girls Aid is doing. It is important for me to support this organization because I believe that every child deserves a family, this is an opportunity to help children who need that support. It is important to inform people not only of the work that Boys & Girls Aid is doing but also what the needs are. I want to help progress the efforts of the organization. We get stuck in our little bubble and we lose prospective and we think that of course everybody has a family, everybody has support and everybody is in a loving environment. Unfortunately, not at all.
Adopting a child and fostering a child is huge but there are also micro things that can be done, and I think it is important to get that information in front of people. For example, there was an organization in the town where I live and its model was micro gifting, a construction worker needs to purchase boots for the job and does not have the funds to do that and cannot go to the job site and it snowballs into negative events; he loses the job, so somebody would donate boots. It does not have to be this huge thing; small acts can mitigate negative consequences. We don’t have to go to the moon and back.