Incredible joy of adoption

FSA National Board Co-Chair Tom Nickell presents Adoption Hall of Fame Award to Dale and Jo Ann Trumbo July 26.
FSA National Board Co-Chair Tom Nickell presents Adoption Hall of Fame Award to Dale and Jo Ann Trumbo July 26. Photo: Photo by Eleah Boyd

PROVO, Utah — Dale and Jo Ann Trumbo know the joy of holding a new baby in their arms. They have endured sleepless nights with sick children. They have survived broken bones and stitches and teenage drivers, attended countless Little League games, and have even felt the sorrow of visiting a son in jail.

But after raising 12 adopted children they have only one thing to say: "We would do it all over again."

During the 2002 National Families Supporting Adoption Conference held in the BYU Wilkinson Center July 26 and 27, the Trumbos of the Orange 3rd Ward, Orange California Stake, reflected on their life and the family they built through adoption.

Recipients of this year's Adoption Hall of Fame Award, the Trumbos were lauded for their "positive voice for adoption."

Offering the conference's keynote address, Sister Trumbo looked out into the audience toward her children in attendance and spoke of the "incredible joy" adoption has brought her. "I couldn't have eliminated any one of them," she said.

"I'd rather have you than all the things money could buy," she told them.

During the two-day conference, the theme of which was "Born in our Hearts" and sponsored by LDS Family Services, hundreds gathered to celebrate adoption.

Couples, many who spent years dealing with infertility, held the babies they have recently adopted. Birth mothers explained why they had chosen adoption for their children. Grandparents shared thoughts about grandchildren being raised in adoptive homes. And adult adoptees reflected on their own life.

Photo: Photo by Bob Boyd

In short, families supporting adoption interacted with other families supporting adoption. They attended workshops on topics such as the adoption tax credit, infertility and loss, and international adoption. Panels included birth parents, birth grandparents and adult adoptees.

Families Supporting Adoption was established by LDS Family Services in 1996 and has 55 chapters throughout the United States. The guiding purpose of the organization is to advocate a positive view of adoption and provide support to birth parents, adoptive families and others through outreach, legislation, media and education. Past recipients of the Adoption Hall of Fame award include President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and Michael McLean, who has written several songs about adoption.

After receiving the award, the Trumbos thanked the organization for the honor. "Our children are the greatest joy of our lives and have been our greatest teachers," Sister Trumbo said.

However, she added, they have struggled just as all parents do. "Our home was filled with a great variety of little spirits. Some were obedient, some stubborn, some outgoing, some shy."

During the conference, Brother Trumbo said there are 11 people he thinks about often — his children's birth mothers. (Two of the 12 Trumbo children are twins.)

He recalled the day each of his children joined the family. One child, 9 years old when he was adopted, asked Brother Trumbo, "What should I call you?" Then immediately concluded, "I think I will call you Mom and Dad."

Photo: Photo by Bob Boyd

Married on Dec. 24, 1951, the Trumbos waited seven years for children. "We took every test that was available at that time," Sister Trumbo said. "Everything we did was good. We didn't know what was wrong. But now we know. All these little people were waiting to come to our house."

The Trumbos adopted 12 children in 12 years. They drove a 16-seat school bus, painted lime green and then white with orange and red racing stripes. They took annual vacations to the beach. They went camping. And they performed together in the matching outfits their mother sewed for them.

Often, because the Trumbo children represent numerous nationalities, people asked Sister Trumbo which of the children were hers.

"Quickly I would say, they all are," she recalled.

Some of the children have, with the Trumbos support, found their birth parents. "I can't say anything negative about adoption, because I don't feel anything negative," said Sister Trumbo. "[Our children] are the greatest things that could have ever happened to us."

Jan Lutz, the fifth-oldest Trumbo child, described her childhood as a big party with brothers and sisters that took the place of friends. Today, she said, 40 grandchildren keep the family close.

"It is not unusual," she said, "for someone who is not in the family to say, 'Will you adopt me?' "

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