Alumni journey to open adoption
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 00:02
Trey Darnell and Matt Smith received a phone call in October 2012 that changed their lives forever.
The phone call informed the two ETSU graduates that they were approved by the Independent Adoption Center for open adoption. The news ended a four-month process.
“We both decided that, as kids, we ... wanted to be fathers, and then we decided how we could go about it,” Darnell said.
After deciding they wanted to become fathers, they also had a variety of options to choose from, including closed adoption, open adoption and surrogacy.
In an open adoption, the birth family has the ability to maintain contact with the child after the adoption process is complete. However, in a closed adoption, the birth family does not have the same contact with the child.
Darnell and Smith decided that open adoption was the way to go, because they want the child’s birth family to be a part of the child’s life.
“In open adoption, they [the birth family] get visits, phone calls, emails, video chats, pictures and eventually overnight stays with the child,” Darnell said.
The couple began the process toward open adoption August 2012 when they reached their pre-set goal to have a large enough house in the right neighborhood.
The couple started interviewing with agencies; however, many in Tennessee would have nothing to do with a same-sex couple, Darnell said.
That is when the couple decided to look at out-of-state agencies and found the Independent Adoption Center.
Once they chose IAC, they spent a weekend completing a required course.
The couple also had to find a social worker in the area who was qualified to evaluate them.
Even though they weren’t able to find a social worker in the immediate area, they were able to find someone in Nashville who was qualified and willing to handle their approval.
After extensive background checks and research on the couple, the social worker approved them in October 2012.
The remainder of the process involved working with the IAC to complete their brochure and profile.
The profile was approved and published by the IAC in December 2012.
The couple could receive a call within a day, or it could take two or three years for them to be chosen, Darnell said.
They are looking forward to the day they are chosen and already have plans about what life with a child will be like. Darnell currently works as an airline pilot, and Smith is a registered nurse at Holston Valley Medical Center.
Darnell said that their schedules work very well together and that they will be able to take turns working and taking care of the child.
They also plan on starting their family in Johnson City and hope that their child follows in their footsteps academically.
“We bought a house to be able to be in the Johnson City School System,” Darnell said. “We are both graduates of ETSU and hopefully, down the road, we would like to have a child that attends ETSU.”
Darnell also said that they look forward to teaching their child how to be an independent and well-rounded young adult.
Darnell graduated in 2005 with a professional studies degree. Smith graduated ETSU in 2009 with a major in biology and served as a residential adviser.