SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KOLR) — Birth mother Kandace Rather placed her child for adoption when she was just 17-years-old.
32 years later, she’s overcome the pain of that decision and is sharing her story with other parents.
Earlier this week, Rather was part of a panel discussion about adoption.
Adoptive parents, or those considering adoption, were invited to the panel on Wednesday.
There, they heard stories from mothers like Rather, who placed her son, Tyler, for adoption.
Rather says she’ll remember that experience for the rest of her life.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because I have a really strong natural mother instinct anyway,” Rather said.
That instinct affected her decision.
“To be able to sit down and process not just what I wanted, but what was gonna be best for him at the time,” Rather said.
Luckily for Rather, she didn’t think this through alone.
“I had a birth mom advocate or social worker at the time that helped walked me through every step of that,” Rather said.
By making her write reasons for choosing adoption in a journal.
“After I gave birth I went over those reasons because everything in me at the time wanted to keep,” Rather said. “But I knew it wasn’t best at that time.”
Rather says receiving support made her decision easier.
She has advice for birth mothers in the same situation.
“Don’t do it alone,” Rather said. “You know, do it with someone that can help with you, walk with you, understand your pain, your grief, and just answer the questions you’re gonna have along the journey.”
Rather’s adoption was semi-open, meaning she keeps in touch with Tyler’s adoptive parents.
“We’ve actually been reunited,” Rather said. “So he’s 32 now.”
Amy Yen was at the panel, she says she learned a lesson from hearing Rather’s story.
“The importance of communication really was stressed,” Yen said. “It made me want to go and communicate more with our birth mom’s.”
She is the adoptive mother of two kids.
“I have a just-turned three-year-old and an eight-year-old daughter, Ester and Grace,” Yen said. “They are both thriving and wonderful kids. I love them just as much as if I biologically would’ve had them.”
Yen keeps in touch with their biological mothers.
“One of them we do twice a year,” Yen said. “And one of them we do once a year.”
But after attending the panel, she plans to change that.
“At least twice a year, even if they don’t respond back, they still want to get those letters and still get that correspondence,” Yen said.
Rather encourages birth mothers to reach out if they have any questions.
She runs the non-profit “Harrison Creek Retreat” in Neosho, Missouri.
And Rather says she can be contacted on the retreat’s Facebook page.