Rockets share their adoption stories

In honor of November being National Adoption Month, some members of the McNick community have shared their own adoption stories.

During the 2006-2007 school year, theology teacher Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth and his wife hoped to expand their family, but couldn’t for medical reasons. They knew adoption was an option, but they didn’t know if that was God’s plan. They reached out to friends and asked for prayers in hopes they could decide what to do. “The relationship piece, knowing people with whom adoption was a part of their story, really gave us a sense that this was something we could do,” Hutchinson said.

After months of praying, some friends called them and told them they knew of a young couple eight months pregnant in Houston seeking an adoption plan. After a brief window of consideration and prayer, Hutchinson and his wife, Donna, decided to fly to Houston to meet the couple. After spending some time together and learning about each other, the couple decided the Hutchinsons were a perfect couple for the child. About a month later, Hutchinson got a call that the birth mother had gone into labor, so the two flew to Houston to meet their son. Quinn was born on May 3, 2008 and he was officially adopted on Nov. 20 of the same year. Hutchinson and his wife keep Quinn’s birth family updated on his life. “He has a lot of energy and keeps us on our toes most days. He is such a blessing to our immediate family and to our broader community of friends and family,” Hutchinson said.

Adoption also plays a major role in senior Ben Johnston’s life. He was born in Vietnam on Aug. 27, 1998 and was adopted on Nov. 27, 2001. His birth mother placed him in an orphanage after he was born because her husband had just died, and she couldn’t care for a child.

“My parents showed me my birth and adoption information when I was 12, which explained why I look different. It also opened my mind to the concept that I have actual biological brothers and sisters. I wished my parents would have told me earlier, because I have always wondered about my origin story and who I was,” Johnston said. When Johnston first got to his new home, he struggled adapting to his new family and was a little scared. He soon started to get used to his new life, however, and once he started school, he was able to make friends and get involved with sports. He sometimes still wonders about his birth family in Vietnam and if he will ever get to meet them, but is still very happy and loves his family here.

For Director of Student Life Mike Orlando, his adoption story began in Columbus, Ohio, on the day of his birth June 3, 1975. He was adopted twenty-one days later by his parents, Jim and Pam. Orlando has always known he was adopted, and has always been in a good place with it. He doesn’t know much about his birth parents, other than his birth mother’s name. “There’s always the questions; for me it’s the identity piece,” Orlando said. He mentioned that he sometimes thinks about the possibility of having siblings and other relatives somewhere, but has also made peace with it. “God doesn’t make mistakes,” Orlando said.

Orlando’s brother and daughter are also adopted. Reni, his daughter, was adopted on July 23, 2014. When she was born, she had many medical issues and only a 10% chance of living. She has overcome those odds with her family and will work through all of and live a normal life. “We feel that this is God’s plan and purpose in action, and we are just so happy to have her in our life,” Orlando said.

Sophomore Sarah Snyder’s life has also been affected by adoption. When her birth mother, Ramona, became pregnant, she knew she could not take care of another child and was caught up in her work. As a result, she decided to find another family to adopt her unborn child. Snyder’s parents were looking to expand their family, so they decided to start the process of adoption. When Snyder was born, her parents were invited to come to the hospital and meet her. They brought her home from the hospital July 23, 2001, and her adoption was officially sealed by the court on March 4, 2002. “It impacts my family in a positive way because they feel blessed that I was put into their lives,” Snyder said

“It does sort of stink to know that I have a birth family somewhere in the world that I may never meet,” sophomore Sarah Snyder said. “At the same time, I’m also thankful that my birth mom gave me to another loving family.”
“During high school and grade school, I went to a Vietnamese culture camp where kids from all over the country come to for a week to spend time with other people from the same ethnic background,” senior Ben Johnston said. “There, I made some of the most amazing friends that I’m still friends with now and keep in contact with. They share the same struggle as I do and the camp makes me feel at home.”

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