TAMPA — When Stacy Clark and Jayne Alfieri adopted their daughters more than a decade ago, they didn’t anticipate the emotional journey they would take.
Clark and Alfieri were both working at creative agencies at the time and each had biological children.
After adopting in 2004 and 2005, respectively, the two moms grew closer as friends. But they realized there was little out there for families going through similar situations.
Each of them had previously experienced parenthood with biological children. But the waiting, the anticipation, the potential of things not working out in the adoption process created a new canvas of emotions to navigate without much guidance.
“Even my family members didn’t know how to support me,” Clark said.
But they did try, she said.
Close friends and family sent birthday cards, crossing out birthday, to celebrate “Happy ‘Gotcha’ Day!” instead.
Last week, the two moms launched a greeting card company designed to fill that emotional void. Adoptionly Yours features 64 greeting cards and 100 assorted products designed to meet adoption-specific events, from “Gotcha days,” to sympathy cards for those dealing with the grief of an adoption that fell through or “Love Your Brave” products for those wanting to send appreciation to birth mothers.
Many times adoptive parents want to express gratitude toward the birth mother, Clark said, but they don’t know how to approach it. Adoptionly Yours offers blankets, tote bags, cards and other items to express it.
“We want to change the narrative on adoption,” Alfieri said.
She said she hopes the cards will speak to the moments of loss or of waiting, and make it easier.
Mary Wheatley, executive director of Heart of Adoptions, has ordered cards in bulk already.
Though more than 135,000 children are adopted in the U.S. each year, the lack of resources available to support families going through it is surprising, she said.
“It’s widely talked about in the field, but there are not a lot of resources to validate or commemorate or commiserate those moments,” Wheatley said. “We as practitioners need to remember these are the moments we need to reach out.”
Wheatley said receiving a child is only one small portion of the adoption journey.
“You are getting on a roller coaster, and I can’t guarantee the seatbelt will always be fastened,” she said. “Jayne and Stacy have taken those twists and turns and softened the impact with these cards.”
The cards sell for $4.99 each online. And for each “You are awesome” gratitude card sent to birth mothers, $1 will be donated to Together We Rise, a nonprofit for foster kids.
Clark said the new company will also allow her and Alfieri to spend more time with their families, now that their daughters are in their teens.
“As two moms, it was project work 80 hours a week in the business world,” Clark said. “We wanted to create a business that we can live with.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the price of the cards.