CHICAGO (CBS) — Halloween is a few weeks away, but many people are already making Thanksgiving plans.

Gathered around that holiday table in about 1 in 25 households is a family with an adopted child. 

Morning Insider Lauren Victory shares a beautiful story that shatters adoption misconceptions ahead of National Adoption Month this November.

Watching playtime in full swing, they look like they could be sisters. Pauline Pearce and Maryellen Kandu are both brunettes, both wore black and beige by accident and both giggled simultaneously. Their bond: being mothers to Kendrick.

Pauline Pearce and Maryellen Kandu with baby Kendrick.

 

The four-year-old knows he has parents and a birth mom.

“What do you tell kids [at school]?” asks Pearce. “I came from Mimi’s belly,” the boy responds.

Mimi, or Maryellen, was 18 when she made a video announcing Kendrick’s birth and her decision to let another family raise him.

“I wasn’t able to give him the life he deserved,” Kandu said, explaining her tough choice.

In that 2017 social media post, she also revealed a special arrangement she made with the Pearces: an open adoption.

The Pearce family with Kendrick’s birthmother, Mimi.

“In general, you can be considered that you have an “open adoption” with a letter or picture a year,” said Pearce though she and her husband started more ambitiously: an agreement for once-a-month visits.

“Now we probably see each other three or four times a week and then we talk every day,” said Pearce.

The two women live about 10 minutes away from each other. Kandu is finishing up her senior year of college.

“Open adoption really allowed me to be in his life and still conquer my own goals,” said Kandu. “I’m just very, very thankful that I get to be in Kendrick’s life and watch him grow up.”

Pearce said smiling, “I don’t think we realized how open [the open adoption] it would be.”

She reached out to CBS 2 to share the unique family experience. Pearce and Kandu want to clear up adoption misconceptions like a birth mom will eventually be shutout from her child.

“I’m so thankful that we share so many great memories together,” said Kandu of the last four years.

There’s also the dramatic (and wrong) assumptions like the Pearces couldn’t conceive (not true, they just prefer adoption). Pearce says some (ignorant) people approach them with safety concerns, too.

“’What if she kidnaps him while you are out?’ and I’m like, ‘What?! That’s ridiculous. She placed him with us,” said Pearce.

Sure, it’s a complex relationship but it simply works for them. Both acknowledge an open adoption to their extent might not be an easy option for some but technology like FaceTime and texting makes it easier than ever before to communicate and perhaps expand a relationship like in the case of the Pearces’ younger son, Ari. His birth mom lives across the Country and COVID-19 has made visits difficult but the families stay in touch often.

Kandu is the face of “Adoption Support Now” and said the non-profit is a great resource for people facing decisions about adoption.

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