**This is a recording of our We the Experts Ally event on May 21, 2022.**
Adoption Mosaic’s 2022 second edition of We the Experts: Adoptee Ally Series will feature four birth/first parents sharing their lived experiences. Birth/first parents are often abstract or villainized figures in an adoptee’s mind. Because birth/first parent stories are commonly minimized, we fail to recognize them as complex people also living with the impact that adoption has on their lives.
Shanyce Henley is a Chicago Native HR professional who has recently moved to Washington state. Shanyce is a carefree, nerdy, creative, goofy, and kind person in a large box. She is a birth mother to fraternal twins in a very open interracial adoption. She currently has a blog with her twins’ adoptive mom. Please visit ouramazingforeverfamily.com to know more about her adoption and her story. Shanyce believes in advocating for birth moms by showing we are a diverse group of women with different experiences and a trauma that links us.
At 23, Lori Prashker-Thomas’s life was unraveling. Pregnant and alone, she felt abortion was her only option. When she couldn’t bring herself to go through with the abortion, she set out on a lifetime’s journey as a Jewish birth mother. Twenty-seven years later, she is a successful photographer and wedding officiant, birth parent advocate, in a wonderful marriage, and has a great relationship with both of her biological children, one she raised and one that she placed for adoption. Lori is excited to be on this panel to not only tell her story, but to help others who are or have been in the same position that she has been in.
Muthoni Gaciku Kittredge is a Birthmom of almost six years in an open adoption relationship with her daughter and daughter’s family that has evolved over the years. Muthoni is an enneagram 9, who enjoys a stiff dirty martini and binge watching The Office under a cozy blanket. She resides in Texas with her husband and their 6 month old son. Muthoni is passionate about advocating for birth parents AND adoptees, and believes in centering/amplifying the adoptee experience authentically within the adoption community and beyond. She is honored to be on this panel because sharing her experience as a birth mom is very important to her.
RIDGHAUS relinquished a son at age 19 and then later, at the age of 35, learned that he himself had been relinquished and adopted. He is the co-creator of the documentary film Six Word Adoption Memoirs, which has been shown to rave reviews and many tears at various adoption conferences nationwide. Ridghaus has a Master’s degree in English Composition and Literature and has taught university-level writing and media courses, including poetry, for the last 20 years. Ridghaus is looking forward to sharing his experience on this panel of the intersections of being both a Birthfather and an adoptee.
Laura Batt was adopted domestically as an infant. She has been in reunion with her biological mother since she was 19 years old, shortly after making an adoption plan for her eldest son. Her son, now 22 years old, was entrusted to a family in a semi-open infant adoption. They reunited when he was 16 years old and now have regular contact. Laura is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked as a professional in adoption, as a medical social worker, and as a therapist in community mental health. She is parenting her 12yo and 1.5yo sons. Laura testified in front of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees about the open records law that now allows people involved in an adoption to access adoption records in the state of Oregon.