Q&A with Natalie Brenner on Motherhood, Foster Care, and Adoption 

We are honored to have Natalie Brenner share her heart here on our community blog, The Quilt of Life. Natalie is a mother-by- adoption, biology, and foster care, photographer, and best-selling author. She is a fierce believer in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. Welcome, Natalie. And thank you for sharing your voice!

What inspired you and Loren to become foster parents?

After we brought home our first two children, one through adoption and the next shortly after through biological birth, we knew we would eventually become foster parents. Our community was filled with foster families, the need in Portland is substantial, all we needed was a bigger home and for our babies to be a bit bigger. Essentially, the crisis was overwhelming: there are so many children who were ripped from their families and placed into hotels with DHS workers because the shortage of foster family resources is huge. These kids are the most vulnerable children of society, and they deserve a warm home, a stable routine, someone to call family in the most difficult time of their journey.
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Every November: The Joy and Grief of Adoption Awareness Month

Two more weeks until November; just a few more days until National Adoption Awareness Month officially begins.

November can be an emotionally loaded month for those of us in the adoption community. Feelings can run the gamut; a true testimony to just how deep and diverse the adoption experience is.

An experience ripe with joy, sorrow, loss, gain, blessing, and pain. There’s a coming together and a coming apart. There’s a shattering and a healing. There’s community and isolation. There’s calm and rage. Contrasting views and perspectives. That’s adoption.

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Championing for Adoptive Parents, by Alex Fittin

Almost four years ago, my husband Bryan and I sat in a classroom with several other terrified couples to complete our training to adopt through foster care. Unlike the other terrified couples, I was 7-months pregnant with our first biological child. It takes a special brand of crazy to pull off what we did, and apparently, Bryan and I fit the branding.

We had Grady in December of 2014, one month before our home officially opened for adoption. The two boys from the Heart Gallery we had our eyes on fell through, so we waited until the following August before getting our first adoptive placement. Clark had turned 14 the day before moving in with us, and he went by a different name back then. He moved in on a Sunday and started high school on Monday with a new school, new town, and new family. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, this was the calm before the storm.

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The Ones That Matter, The Times That Count, by Chris Vinzant

My life has been a seemingly endless road of change. Some of the changes were small, others were large. Some were for the better and others were for the worse. Through all the ups and downs though, there have always been two constants in my life: my mother, Amy, and my father, Mike.

I first met Mike and Amy in November of 1992. I was in the sixth grade at Sunnyslope Elementary School, where Amy was a social worker. At that time, I was living with my Aunt Cynthia where I had been for almost six months. Shortly after celebrating my twelfth birthday, my aunt decided she could no longer support me. She turned me over to Camelback Hospital for evaluation where I was examined and it was determined that my health, both physically and mentally, was too good to stay there.

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DNA and the Need for Adoptees to Know Their Truth


There is no experience or condition more isolating to the human spirit than a soul denied of its truth. 

I don’t think there is anything more lonely and confusing than not knowing who you are; not knowing where you’re from.

As a young adoptee, I would stare into the mirror and every time I did, I came face-to-face with a stranger. I knew that I was supposed to be familiar with this girl I saw. Yet, she was foreign to me. I didn’t know her.

I didn’t really know her story or the stories of who had come before her. I felt as if I was a girl all alone in the world. A tribe of one. No true understanding of a biological identity or a DNA history. Many around me said that it—the biology of who I was—really wasn’t important, anyway.

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Unconditional Love: Building a Stronger Sense of Self-Worth for the Children and Youth in Foster Care

Difficult to place…

These three words identified me, within my foster records, as a baby girl who would be hard to place due to my ambiguous ethnicity and questionable beginnings. My social worker, in England, listed the names of the potential adoptive parents who had looked me over with a “negative reaction.” There didn’t seem to be any surprise that I had been met with this kind of response. My earliest history had marked me as an unwanted child.

I was the product of an affair. Neither my birth mother nor my birth father wanted to raise me. I was secreted away into foster care and marked, labeled, and tagged as lesser than other babies born into loving homes with parents who adored and embraced them.

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Episode 8: The Power of We: Helping Others Reclaim Their Lives with Motivational Speaker, Loren Michaels Harris

On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Loren Michaels Harris.

Loren Michaels Harris is a survivor of the foster care system. He draws upon his upbringing to motivate and inspire others in overcoming their obstacles to success and achieving the life they want.

Loren is a motivational speaker and message discovery coach. He assists individuals in realizing what they can do with their own personal stories and messages—how their stories can be used to help others reclaim their lives.  It’s the “power of we” that Loren so eloquently shares with us. 

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Adoptees, Why Supporting Each Other Matters

I remember the day when I stood in the home of my birth mother and held her. We were in England and she had pulled me into her bedroom to “speak privately.”

Mum looked me in the eyes and said, “I never wanted to let you go. And, I need you to know that.” She then folded herself into my arms and we both began to cry.

It was just a few years ago, yet I recall the moment like it was yesterday. Mum handed me the original papers of my relinquishment. I had always possessed a copy. But, now I was staring at the actual document. Stained with her tears. The piece of paper that had been signed by my birth mother on the day she gave up her rights to parent me. How I hated that piece of paper.

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Episode 7: Zoe Johnson, A Former Foster’s Story of Reuniting with Her Birth Father

On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Zoe Johnson. She has an incredible story to share! She’s a former foster child, orphaned as a little girl. Today, Zoe is a wife and mother, and a woman on a journey of faith to sharing the amazing story of finding her bio father through ancestry.com

Anyone who is searching, on any level, for truth in their life will want to listen to Zoe’s insights as she walks the real and raw path of reunion. Zoe’s journey to truth and to her bio dad is inspirational. Her ability to forgive and to start right where she and her bio dad are, is something we all can learn from. To learn more about Zoe, you can find her on YouTube.

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Adoption: Helping Foster Children with the Transition, by Dr. John DeGarmo

Adoption?

It was never a thought or consideration for me, for many years. Yet, as it is in so many areas of life, plans change, and people change.

Through the years, my own family has been granted the blessing of the wonderful joy that is adoption. As recounted in the book, Love and Mayhem: One Big Family’s Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption, my family and I have had the opportunity to adopt three children from foster care. Sadly, we have also experienced the realities of four failed adoptions, as well. Without a doubt, these adoptions have changed our family and our lives in wonderful and unanticipated ways. Yet, there have also been times of great anxiety, too, when it appeared that the adoptions might not go through as first planned. Fortunately, three adoptions did take place, and my wife and I are now loving parents of six children. Three of these are biological, three are adopted. To be clear, there are no labels in our home: no adoptive, biological, or foster children. They are all family, and all our children, and we love each unconditionally.

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