When Scott Mars was adopted at 10 days old, neither he nor his parents could have anticipated how adoption would impact the rest of their lives. Not only did it bring his parents the child they had always wanted, but it would lead them to foster more than 100 babies — and eventually help build thousands of families in the decades to come.
Scott Mars recently shared his story with ConsideringAdoption.com to help spread awareness about the possibilities of adoption and other family-building options and to give an insight into one of the largest adoption agencies in the country. Read his story below:
The Beginnings of a Dream
Like many adoptive couples, Ted and Susan Mars had tried for years to have a biological child. But, six miscarriages in seven years led them to another path: infant adoption. They knew they both wanted to become parents — and that they could love a child the same whether or not they were genetically related.
So, after choosing a professional and waiting for their placement call, Ted and Susan adopted Scott when he was just 10 days old.
“It was the most exciting moment of our lives when our social worker brought him into the room,” Susan remembers. “I asked her to let his daddy hold him first. It was a moment I will never forget. There is no greater gift that can be given to someone.”
Although he had a closed adoption, Scott Mars grew up in a household that celebrated his adoption story, including his birth parents’ decision to place him for adoption. Although he didn’t know his birth mother’s name or what she looked like, his parents always told him what a wonderful woman she was for selflessly choosing adoption — giving him opportunities that she couldn’t provide at that time.
At the same time, Scott gave his parents a gift of parenthood that they were eternally grateful for.
“Every day I realize how important I am to my parents,” Mars says. “The fact that I was adopted doesn’t matter. It is simply another way to become a parent.”
For Mars, adoption was about more than just his own experience. During his childhood, Ted and Susan decided to become a temporary foster home for infants. Mars says his mother loved babies, and becoming a foster parent allowed them to provide temporary care for more than 140 infants during his childhood. Scott admits that he spent a great deal of his childhood hoping one of their temporary placements would become his sibling. Alas, it was not meant to be — but being a foster sibling provided him a beautiful experience helping those who truly needed it.
“It made my mom feel good, to be a part of that bridge — knowing that someone did that for me, so here’s a way to kind of pay it forward,” Mars said. “While this was a fantastic experience, we felt we had more to give.”
American Adoptions is Born
When Scott Mars was in college, his parents mentioned an idea they had: to start a private domestic infant adoption agency to help people who had experienced the same struggles as them. Scott was thrilled at the idea, but he had one request — that they wait until he graduated, so he could start the business with them.
After Scott graduated, he and his parents started work on what would eventually become American Adoptions. Small and family-run at first, the agency grew into one of the biggest adoption agencies in the country. Now, American Adoptions helps complete hundreds of adoption each year across the United States, matching hopeful adoptive parents with brave women choosing to give their children a better life through adoption.
From the beginning, Scott Mars and his family knew they wanted to create a new kind of adoption agency — one that provided as much support to prospective birth parents as it did to adoptive parents. Today, American Adoptions is an industry leader in open adoption relationships. All prospective birth mothers who contact the Mars’ adoption agency are given the opportunity for open and semi-open adoption. As a result, more than 90 percent of the women who place with American Adoptions choose some form of open adoption.
It’s something that Scott is proud of. While he has since made contact with his own birth mother and the two have fostered a positive, respectful relationship, he remembers the challenges of growing up in a closed adoption.
“Adoptees always have thoughts around their health history — ‘Where did my green eyes come from? How did I get my brown hair?’ I always wondered when I was little,” he says.
By starting American Adoptions with his and his family’s experiences in mind, Scott Mars sees American Adoptions as a way to “give back” for their own adoption story.
But, for Mars, adoption wasn’t the only way to do this.
Over American Adoptions 25-year history, Scott Mars and his team have worked with many hopeful parents — and not all of them ended up choosing adoption. As technology has advanced, so have the methods of assisted reproduction. The options for hopeful parents today are much more varied — and confusing — than ever before.
Scott had an idea: to become experienced in as many of these areas as possible to provide the best counseling to hopeful parents. Thus, Mars and his team started a new endeavor: a gestational surrogacy program, a sister agency called American Surrogacy.
“What happens right now is, individually, each person — whether that be an adoption agency or fertility specialist — is telling you everything about their practice. But, they don’t know everything about where you are truly at and all of the family-building methods,” Mars says. “We really believe that there has to be more ways to help people.”
When hopeful parents contact either American Adoptions or American Surrogacy, they are connected with a specialist who is experienced in both of these processes of family-building. Their questions are answered truthfully and in detail to help them determine which option is right for them. That being said, adoption or surrogacy may not be the best option for all hopeful parents, so Scott Mars and his team are focused on giving hopeful parents the information they need to move forward, whatever their chosen path ends up being.
“The reality in life is the toughest journeys allow us to appreciate things more fully,” Mars says. “Nothing significant in life is ever gained from cutting corners. In the end, all your pain and doubt will wash away the first moment your baby snuggles in your arms. It will not matter how you became parents; it will only matter that you did.”