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The Rogers Family Adoption Story: Forming a Family Through The Cradle

Learn how Mary and Tom Rogers formed their family through adoption and how their Cradle caseworker helped them adopt both their son and daughter from the agency over 50 years ago.  

Mary and Tom Rogers always knew they wanted children. After five years of marriage, they turned to adoption as a way to build their family. Even though they were living in Detroit at the time, Tom and Mary were familiar with The Cradle, as they knew two families who had adopted through the nonprofit adoption agency. (And, at this time in The Cradle’s history, the agency was working with adoptive parents in multiple states.)

The Rogers were also fortunate to have the support of their families as they began their adoption journey. “We knew our two sets of parents would be very accepting of us going to The Cradle rather than an unknown agency,” Mary says. 

The Start of the Adoption Journey

When they visited The Cradle for the first time in 1969, Mary and Tom were struck by the care put into making the space feel warm and welcoming. “To walk in the door, you just feel at home,” Mary says. 

During their meeting, the Rogers were surprised to discover that the adoption process was more complex and time-consuming than expected. “We were pretty naive in terms of what was involved,” Tom says. “In retrospect, now we’d say, ‘Well, of course… it’s a big deal.’”

Though initially overwhelmed, the Rogers eventually understood why The Cradle’s adoption process was so meticulous. “We were impressed with the professionalism and with the thoroughness of the process and staff,” Tom says. The Rogers were also thankful for their counselor, who from the start worked tirelessly with the couple throughout their adoption journey.

Adopting Their Son, Brad

About a year into the adoption process, the Rogers got a phone call from The Cradle telling them a baby was ready to be adopted. The couple was thrilled, but they had to prepare quickly.

“We got the call on Friday night and picked [up our son] on Monday,” Mary says. She remembers thinking, “Now, what do we do with a baby? We’ve never had a baby before.” Thankfully, the Rogers had friends with a one-year-old child who helped Mary and Tom get all the essential baby supplies ready over the weekend. 

Mary and Tom recall the overwhelming emotions they felt the first time they held their son: “You go into this little room and sit on the couch, and they bring you your baby,” Mary says. “Then they just give you some time.” 

The Rogers were instantly smitten with baby Brad—Tom jokes that there was no way to get Brad out of his hands once he began to hold him. They took their son back home to Detroit soon after.

Completing the Rogers Family: Maggie’s Adoption

The Rogers knew from the start that they wanted more children. “We did not want Brad to be an only child,” Mary says. After adopting Brad, they stayed in touch with their Cradle counselor and began the adoption process again a few years after bringing Brad home. 

Though not much time had passed, societal and cultural shifts had begun to impact the adoption process by the time the Rogers started working with The Cradle the second time. While The Cradle Nursery had been nearly full when they adopted Brad in 1970, there were just six babies in the Nursery three years later. The Rogers worried they wouldn’t have another child placed with them.

But then, in 1973, their counselor contacted the Rogers about a baby girl. When they went to meet their daughter Maggie for the first time, the couple was touched to see a photo of Brad on display at The Cradle. “That was so sweet,” Mary says. 

“We like to think it was there because he was perhaps the best-looking child that ever went through The Cradle,” Tom jokes. 

After Maggie’s adoption, the Rogers say their family felt complete, and they will never forget The Cradle’s role in their lives.

Adoptive Family Life

Mary and Tom recall how excited Brad was to meet his new baby sister when they brought her home for the first time. He was thrilled to have a sibling and even gave her the nickname “Muffin,” which the family still uses to this day. 

The Rogers moved to Colorado shortly after adopting Maggie in 1973. They enjoyed an idyllic family life, and Mary and Tom reflect on how grateful they are that their children got to grow up playing outside, camping and experiencing the natural beauty of the mountains. 

As the kids got older, the Rogers started traveling more. Mary still had family in Chicago, and she and Tom would take the kids to visit once each year. “One year, I decided the kids needed to experience a train ride,” Mary remembers, “so we took the train from Colorado to Chicago.” Later in their lives, they took the family on a special trip to Hawaii for Mary and Tom’s 20th wedding anniversary — the trip would become a much-loved family tradition. 

“I think when the kids were growing up, we were the happiest people we knew,” Mary says. “We just thought we had died and gone to heaven to have these kids,” she says.

An Unexpected Birth Family Connection

Brad and Maggie had closed adoptions, which was still the standard in the 1970s (open adoption became more the norm in the 1980s and 1990s across the United States). Neither child ever expressed a desire to meet their birth parents while growing up, but a DNA test Maggie received as a Christmas gift from her husband one year inadvertently led to one of Maggie’s birth relatives discovering their connection.

That eventually led to Maggie’s birth father reaching out to her through a letter in 2020. Shortly after he made contact with Maggie, Tom and Mary asked for permission to write to him, and he agreed.

“We wanted to tell him…[how they] had impacted our lives in a dramatic and very positive way,” Tom says. “He wrote us back a very nice letter, and I think he appreciated our expression of gratitude to him.”

While the Rogers were satisfied with their closed adoptions, they acknowledge that it would have been nice to update Brad and Maggie’s birth parents occasionally as the children grew up. “On the kids’ birthdays, I always wished I could let their birth parents know they were fine, and that they were well loved and well cared for,” Mary says.

Experiencing Loss and Reflecting on The Cradle’s Impact

Today, Maggie and her husband have three children. They live in Colorado not far from Mary and Tom, who are thrilled to spend so much time with their grandkids. My youngest grandson has just discovered golf,” Tom says with a laugh. “I’m having lots of fun playing and introducing him to it.”

Tragically, Brad passed away in 2017. “Our life has been idyllic with one major exception,” Tom says. “It’s been difficult — it still is difficult.” 

“That’s our big heartache,” Mary says. 

The couple spends plenty of time with Maggie and their grandchildren to brighten the darker days. “We have five other people that we love, and they depend on us,” Mary says. “So, luckily, we put one foot in front of the other and continue.” 

Despite their heartbreaking loss, the Rogers are grateful for the life they have been given. “We look back, and we say, ‘We did have a wonderful time,’” Mary says. “There are no regrets,” adds Tom.

Mary and Tom say they cannot overstate how much their decision to work with The Cradle shaped their lives. Forever grateful, the Rogers make a point to regularly support and donate to The Cradle whenever they can. 

They also acknowledge the bravery and love of birth parents who make the difficult decision to place their children through adoption. “I want to say to birth parents, ‘Thank you. What a selfless act,’” Mary says. “They gave us our life.”

For 100 years and counting, The Cradle has built nurturing families and provided lifelong support to people whose lives have been touched by adoption. Faces of The Cradle is a celebration of their stories. Meet more of the people who make what we do possible and all the more meaningful.

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