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Modern Families

Motherhood With a Twist



Molly Friedrich and her husband, Mark Carson-Selman, have made their Bedford Hills home into a sanctuary for children.

Photo by Rana Faure

 As an empty nester with my three daughters off the payroll and living on their own, I could have just rested on my laurels and drifted into retirement, awaiting the arrival of my future (I hope) grandchildren. But I needed a new challenge, and when I thought back on all my different work experiences, being a mom ranked the highest in job satisfaction. In January, a year after deciding to become a foster parent, I finally got the call: three sisters needed a home that very day. It seemed like fate, so without a moment’s hesitation, I said yes to the stress—and bliss of motherhood once again.

I love the idea of being a safe harbor for children until they can return home. In the meantime, I’m busy with my new family, baking cookies, reading stories, walking the dogs, and giggling. Lots of giggling. I couldn’t be happier.

Katonah resident Marlene Gallagher also felt the tug of motherhood long after her children had grown, and took in eight infants over a three-year period as an interim parent for the Spence Chapin adoption agency in New York City. “It was the most joyful experience I ever had, other than raising my own children,” she says. “People would tell me I was doing such a nice thing, but they didn’t understand that this was a dream come true for me. I was happy the whole time: all the delight of having a baby without going through pregnancy and childbirth!” 

The infants would stay with her between one and ten weeks, long enough for the birth mothers at the agency to make an informed decision on whether to keep their babies or not. “Sometimes, the birth mother hasn’t thought through what would be best for the child,” Gallagher says. “Spence Chapin has social workers to help guide the mothers through the decision-making process. If they choose to release their baby for adoption, the agency will help them find a family for their child.” 

And adoption is often the best solution, both for the birth mothers and adoptive ones. After years of failed pregnancy attempts, Fran Hauser received a life-changing piece of advice from a colleague. “She had adopted a child a few years before and pointed out that I didn’t have to get pregnant to have a family,” Hauser recalls. “After much soul searching, my husband and I decided to move forward with adoption.” They were matched with a birth mother within three months and there was an instant mutual connection. A year and a half later, they had similar good luck when adopting their second child.

“After going through this process twice, I love that I can now be a resource for other couples looking to adopt,” she says, noting that she has referred eight friends to her attorney, helping them all create families. Her interest in adoption also led her to become involved with Help Us Adopt, a nonprofit organization that has given out nearly $1 million in grants to help families defray the upfront costs of adoption, which averages $40,000.

Molly Friedrich and her husband Mark Carson-Selman had two biological children before deciding to adopt. “Our house was too big,” she says. “We decided it should be a sanctuary for kids.” A baby girl from Vietnam arrived first (she is now in college); a seven-month-old boy from Guatemala came later (he is now 14). Then, a homeless Liberian refugee spent his high school years with the family, who still had room in their hearts and home for more children.

When Friedrich received a call from an organization looking to find host families for foreign exchange students, not surprisingly, she was up for it. “I’m sure they get a lot of refusals, so they were stunned when I said I would take two! It was such a wonderful experience for all of us that the next year we got two more, and next year we are going to do it again,” Friedrich says. “I have been incredibly lucky in my career and want to share what I have—this big, bountiful life.”

In my experience, sharing a “big, bountiful life” with children—whether for a few weeks, years, or forever—sums up what parenthood and family are all about.

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