Two Latter-day Saint families were honored Aug. 3 for their efforts to promote and support adoption.
Families Supporting Adoption a group sponsored by LDS Family Services recognized Nathan Gwilliam and Dale Gwilliam, the father and son founders of Adoption.com and Larry and Linda Thorpe, who have adopted or have guardianship for 30 children with special needs.
The recognitions were part of the the 2007 Families Supporting Adoption Hall of Fame Awards Banquet. Attended by more than 400 people, the banquet is part of an annual conference in which speakers address various aspects of adoption.
Sessions during the two-day conference, held in downtown Salt Lake City, addressed issues such as open adoption, advocating for adoption and positive adoption laws, post adoption depression, parenting difficult children, transracial adoption, raising adopted and biological children, living with infertility and coping with failed adoptions.
Families Supporting Adoption was established by LDS Family Services in 1996 and has dozens of 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.
Each year the organization inducts families or individuals into the adoption Hall of Fame. President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson received the honor in pervious years.
As a BYU student, Nathan Gwilliam wrote an honors thesis detailing ways the Internet could help children through adoption. His father, Dale Gwilliam, invested the money to purchase the domain name Adoption.com in October 1996. Then, with the help of other BYU students, Nathan launched the first version of the Web site from a BYU computer lab in February 1997.
Today the Gwilliams own several adoption-related media companies, including Adoption Media and Adoption Profiles, LLC. These companies encompass many Web sites including Parentprofiles, Adopting.org, Crisispregnancy.com and Fosterparenting.com. Adoption Media is the largest adoption organization in the world, measured by the number of people who use its services each month. Its Web sites receive about 1 million monthly visits.
After receiving the award, Nathan Gwilliams thanked LDS Family Services for its years of support, noting that a Family Services advertising contract helped the company get through early financial insecurity.
Larry and Linda Thorpe said they never planned on having such a large family. Today, they have three biological children, 25 adopted children, and five children for whom they have legal guardianship.
It started when they had a biological child with many health problems and they developed a reputation for being able to care for medically fragile children.
"They received one request after another to take these children into their home, and eventually they were faced with the choice to send their foster children on to a care facility or to adopt them," stated a video highlighting their accomplishments. "Many of the children were referred to them by the state after the children had nowhere else to go. Several of the children are on ventilators; some have challenges such as cerebral palsy, shaken baby syndrome, autism, and reactive attachment disorder."
The Thorpes live in a 5,000-square-foot home, where two nurses and eight mother's helpers assist in the children's care.
"We are so lucky because we get to do this wonderful job, and we get to have this wonderful life and we get to share it with these wonderful children," said Sister Thorpe.
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