Licensed professional counselor Loren Rae Grace specializes in adoption counseling. She talks about her own story and adoption during Adoption Awareness Month.
Q: You’re an adoption counselor but also an adoptive mother — can you start by talking about your own family?
A: I started as a foster parent not necessarily seeking to adopt. I had a respect for adoption but didn’t really have it in mind when I started.
Q: What was your family like at the time?
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A: I was single. I had the time, space and love to give and wanted to be a temporary, safe harbor for a child in transition, which is what foster care is supposed to be.
Q: How did fostering turn to adoption?
A: My first adopted daughter ...
Q: Your first? How many adopted children do you have?
A: Four. My first adoption was Juliet, who I fostered. She had no relatives to go to so I ended up adopting her. Her brother was born while I was fostering her and I took him in as well. Then two more siblings were born and we took them, so over time, all our adoptions are from one sibling group who came to us one at the time: Juliet, who is 7 now, Ransom, 5, Isabel, 2, and Ephraim, 10 months.
Q: You switched from saying “I” to “we.” Why?
A: I got married between the second and third adoption. My husband, Rusty, has a heart for adoption and fostering and we’re still foster parents though we don’t have any foster children right now.
Q: That dynamic must have put a twist on your dating?
A: One of our first dating conversations was about my being a single parent of two adopted children. But Rusty is committed to adoption and was all in from the start. I believe God created us for this.
Q: So you’re a mother of four with a counseling practice, what does he do?
A: We’ve been married three years. He’s a Warner Robins native who’s been on staff for four years at the church he grew up in, First Baptist Church of Warner Robins. But he’s just taken the role of pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Waycross.
Q: That’s not too far away, but you’ll be moving — how will it affect your practice?
A: The plan is to continue my practice there and continue serving a number of people here in Middle Georgia.
Q: What’s involved in counseling relative to adoption?
A: It covers a lot of ground, but generally speaking, specializing in a therapeutic setting related to adoption is being aware of all aspects of the adoption triad — birth parents, adoptee and adoptive parents — and their journey with common challenges and unique situations. Day-to-day, I may meet with an infertile couple struggling with whether to adopt or not, with foster parents and children and their situation or with those seeking to adopt and wondering if they want to foster then adopt or adopt internationally or some other way. Then there’s adoptive parents and children and their struggles, plus I deal with aspects of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Adoption is a wonderful thing but not everything every day is wonderful. A family might be dealing with racism for the first time after adopting a biracial child, or whether to or how to reach out to a birth parent. Then there are normal human relations but with the twist adoption has, so there’s a lot going on.
Q: What’s most rewarding for you?
A: All adoption begins with loss — all of it. It can be devastating but if handled well in a positive way there can be healing and a good outcome. People generally come to me with a foot in their loss but I get to help them walk toward restoration and healing in the context of adoption. People in their adoption journey tell me they’re hurting and I get to affirm them in that, support them, legitimize their loss and be part of their coming to a place of healing. That’s incredibly rewarding. And I get to offer free sessions to active foster parents. That’s very rewarding, to do.
Q: What’s the name of your practice? And how can you be contacted?
A: It’s Grace Journeys and our website has the information. It’s www.gracejourneyscounseling.com.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.