Spartanburg woman draws on adoption experience to help others
After giving birth at 19, Caeri Paige placed her first-born son for adoption, never expecting to see him again.
The Spartanburg native entered into a period of denial, never mentioning the baby to anyone and struggling daily with her anguish over her decision.
I was in a funk, and grave depression," she said. "I would say, 'I don't know what y'all are talking about. I never had a child.
More than 20 years later, Paige received a letter from her son, now 25, who lives happily in Knoxville, Tenn., with his adoptive parents. He contacted her after she put herself on the South Carolina Adoption Reunion Registry, and the two are now a part of each other's lives.
With her doubts and fears eased, Paige is now starting a new ministry to encourage women to choose adoption over abortion, and to help birth mothers with the emotional struggles that come in the months and years after an adoption.
She'll be taking part in a birth mothers dinner Nov. 1 at Cribb's Kitchen sponsored by Brave Love, a Texas-based nonprofit that seeks to change the perception of adoption. Brave Love this year selected five cities across the U.S. to hold events, which tie in with National Adoption Month in November. The Spartanburg event will be coordinated by Talk About Adoption, a Charlotte-based organization that has birth mom mentors across the U.S.
Paige said she's been in contact with Talk About Adoption founder Callie Jett to coordinate the Spartanburg dinner.
It's a get-together that brings unity and collaboration. We get to share stories with each other and share experiences," Jett said
Jett said adoptions decades ago were often kept secret, which is why many women struggled to cope with the choice. Today, she said, more birth mothers and adopted parents are able to connect with each other.
It's starting to evolve now. It's good for the child to know (they were adopted). It's healthy," she said
Paige's nonprofit, Renewed Spirit Ministry, is aimed at giving women who have placed a child for adoption a sense of confidence about their decision. Part of her background is in image consulting, so her ministry will include helping women redo their look to boost their confidence, she said.
About 136,000 children were adopted in 2008 in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Adoptions through private adoption agencies, adoption attorneys or through a stepparent accounted for 46 percent of all adoptions.
Paige recently took a training course with the Carolina Pregnancy Center to learn how to best communicate a message of hope and healing to those who have chosen adoption.
It's an ongoing process of healing," Paige said. "I've always wanted to start a birth mother ministry for women who are downtrodden from this void.
Alexia Newman, director at the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Boiling Springs, said the center's introductory seminar offers guidance on how to establish rapport and build trust with women who are going through or have gone through pregnancies.
Newman said Paige has "come a long way" and is excited for her ministry effort.
I think she's got more healing to do. This might be a good way to make that happen, to be starting a support group that she would know what their struggles are," Newman said
Paige said she's grateful she can use her past experiences to help others.
It was all God. It was definitely all God. Now that the puzzle pieces have finally come together, here we go," Paige said. "I want to tell women it's all in God's plan. No baby is ever a mistake. Maybe the circumstance is a mistake, but the little child, the entity, the cells that make up their little finger nail, is never a mistake. It's a grand plan that nobody else can administer.
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