San Antonio, TX, August 15, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- It's called Camp Abrazo, and like many family reunions, it's held each year to give kids and their kinfolk the opportunity to reconnect with each other.
Like any relatives, they all hug and holler, and marvel at how big the kids are getting.
But unlike other reunions, this one is extra-special, because it reunites children and the parents who adopted them with the birthparents who placed them through an open adoption agency called Abrazo.
This year's reunion is taking place at the Mayan Dude Ranch in Bandera, and participants are coming from all over Texas as well as New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, Minnesota, Arkansas, Indiana and Mississippi.
Cassie O'Toole, 15, of New Jersey was born in Killeen, Texas but adopted with two older birthsiblings when she was just a baby. The next time she saw her biological parents was at a Camp Abrazo in 2004. "As soon as we got there, we saw our birthparents were walking out of the main lobby. It was the first time that we had seen them in 10 years. We all were kind of shy for just a minute, then our mom said "go give your birthparents a hug!" so we did and then we weren't so shy anymore. We got to know our birthparents a little bit better and they got to see us in action! We asked them zillions of questions over the weekend, it was so much fun!"
For birthparents who have placed their children for adoption through Abrazo, continued contact afterwards can be an important tool for healing. Says Kristal, who has attended Camp with her birthson and his family, "the devotion of Colby's family to me really surprised me. Knowing that they love and care for not just Colby, but me, too, showed me that I really did choose a wonderful family for Colby to grow up with, and that they really do intend for me to be a part of Colby's life."
Many families, like Scott & Karen Stumbough of Sugar Land, Texas make camp attendance an annual tradition because it helps their children feel assured of the love and respect that birthparents and adoptive parents hold for each other. Karen's stepfather, Bruce Berger, was adopted in a closed adoption 65 years ago, and had gone through life wishing he knew why. It was as a result of his involvement in the Camp Abrazo weekends that he found the courage to search for his birthmother. She joined him at last year's Camp, at the age of 88, even mounting a longhorn steer with her grown son for a photo opportunity.
The event is just as beneficial for parents who adopt, says adoptive mom Martha Janosko of San Antonio. "So many adoption agencies are "done" with their clients after the adoption is finalized. We have friends who adopted through a different local agency, and they asked us if we had joined an adoption support group, because their agency is no longer involved with them. I said no, we hadn't found it necessary, because Abrazo holds this summer reunion where adoptive families formed through Abrazo come together to have fun and celebrate."
Abrazo Adoption Associates, a private, nonprofit child-placement agency, is licensed by the State of Texas and specializes in open adoptions. Headquartered in San Antonio, the agency has placed over a thousand children since its inception in 1994, and has been featured in documentaries by BBC, MSNBC, Discovery Health and Hallmark's Adoption Stories.