There's a new face on the Adoption Support Alliance team. Mary Kulp has stepped into the role of Program Manager and Content Creator for the ASA blog. She brings fresh energy and timely encouragement by providing support to director, Erin Nasmyth. From being on the receiving end of ASA services to now helping implement them, Mary has always been a cheerleader for Adoption Support Alliance.
How did you first get interested in adoption?
Mary: Growing up, I was aware that my parents struggled with infertility before my brother and I were born. They actually began the adoption process in the midst of that but eventually put it on pause after conceiving. However because of their experience, adoption was just a typical part of our family conversation growing up. We did have a few friends who were adopted and more over the years that added to their family through adoption.
Moving into adulthood, my heart broke more and more as I began to see the brokenness of families in our country and around the world. The number of children needing safe families was staggering. The courage of birth parents placing their children into adoptive families gripped my heart. The desire to get involved in some way was only increasing.
Tell us about your family.
After meeting at a summer camp in 2000, my husband Dave and I have now been married now for 17 years, and we have five children (4 girls and a boy). We have three bio daughters and decided to pursue adoption through foster care as dear friends of ours had added to their family through foster care. When the big girls were 6, 8, and 10, our littles came home and rounded out our family to completion. Now being parents to minority children, we work hard to make connections with other families that don't match. We continue to see that there is such a need for our family to be surrounded by families and friends of color. This is a community that we continue to seek for our family.
How did you first connect with Adoption Support Alliance?
Mary: It had been about two years since my husband and I brought home our youngest two children when I was just sinking. Despite having great friends, a church that supported us well, family that cared for us well, I was struggling. I could barely keep my head above water. After googling "Post Adoption Depression Disorder" for maybe the tenth time, I heard about a group in Charlotte that was hosting a support group. I remember sitting across the table from Erin and feeling like maybe someone was going to understand my everyday battle. Maybe there was a place I could find people who could speak the language of adoption, and I could be seen and known. It was a breath of fresh air to listen to other moms and dads share openly and vulnerably about how their family had stretched and grown to come around their little loves.
How did you begin working for ASA?
Mary: Over the past few years, I have participated in support groups, trainings, and attended the Adult Adoptee Panel a couple of times. I've watched ASA step into a space that was lacking for so many like me. Watching this group come around families on all sides of the adoption process--the before and the after---just meant so much to me. This winter, Erin reached out because she was needing to fill a space for support around the office. I was glad that this opportunity came during a season I had a little more margin to join the team.
What exactly do you do at ASA?
Mary: Well, I learn a lot for starters! Currently I'm working as Program Manager and also as the content creator for ASA's blog. I serve by connecting the adoption community through events and managing programs that are offered by ASA. I'm learning that there is a lot of room for growth as ASA continues to expand its offerings. Managing emails and creating a database for our services, I'm keeping busy learning many of the aspects of ASA.
What is one ASA program you are currently looking forward to?
Mary: Whenever I hear that someone is interested in adoption and don't know where to start, I always encourage them to attend the Adoption 101 class. This class breaks down the nuts and bolts of logistics with international and domestic adoption. The class provides framework for families to deeply consider grief and trauma, race, and birth family dynamics which are necessary to think through when deciding to add to family by adoption. One highlight is when an adoptive couple joins the group to share about their story. It's so encouraging to see someone who has been through the process and hear their input.
The next Adoption 101 class will be held THIS Saturday, March 9, from 2-5 pm at the ASA office in Elizabeth. This time, the class will focus on domestic infant adoption. The cost is $60/couple or $50 per person. It's definitely not to be missed. Click here for more information and to register. We'd love to have you.