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An adoptee comes full circle

Adoption is a way of life for Abby Geotz. Adopted at 3 months old in Oak Harbor, Wash., Geotz, 33, finally met her biological mother again in Grand Forks over the Labor Day weekend in 2010. She also met her mother's youngest son Cody, then 4. Ten...

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Adoption is a way of life for Abby Geotz.

Adopted at 3 months old in Oak Harbor, Wash., Geotz, 33, finally met her biological mother again in Grand Forks over the Labor Day weekend in 2010.

She also met her mother's youngest son Cody, then 4.

Ten days later, Cody was in foster care.

Immediately and without hesitation, Geotz and her husband Mike Schmitt, 33, initiated a process that will conclude today at the Grand Forks County Courthouse.

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The couple will finalize their adoption of Cody at 10:30 a.m. in a ceremony marking National Adoption Day.

Seven children in all will be adopted by five different families in adoptions finalized today.

Joining those families will be Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and his wife Mikey.

"It's a very moving experience to attend," said Mikey Hoeven, who has attended the event for many years. "I can't think of a better way for a family to be united."

"National Adoption Day in the Grand Forks community is our biggest awareness aising day the whole year," said Andrea Olson of AASK adoptions, who is organizing the event. "It raises awareness for the kids who are still waiting and the need for more foster families and adoptive families."

'A great story'

"This has been such a great story," Geotz said. "What better way to go full circle than to come back to where it all started on National Adoption Day. When they presented this as an option, I was floored. I haven't been back here since we met."

Since late April, Cody, now 5, has lived with the couple and their children Stephen, 14, Tommy, 11, and Hailey, 5, in Crosby, Minn., near Brainerd. Today's finalization is not much more than a formality.

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"It'll just be a piece of paper," Geotz said, "but a piece of paper we'll be happy to have."

Biological parents

Geotz, who has always known the names of her biological parents, said she had been searching for her biological mother on and off since she was 19. "Every time I got an address or phone number, she had moved. I always just wanted to meet her, and let her know I was OK and had a good childhood."

That childhood was spent with her adoptive parents Charles and Peggy Geotz.

"My adoptive dad died when I was 14," she said. "That was really when I wanted to search for my biological family. I knew I had another father out there. I found him a year before my mother. He had died from cancer seven years before."

"It was kind of a bittersweet thing to find him only to find out he had passed away too," she said, "but I've spent time with his family and I'm very close with them."

Serendipitous trip

Finally fall 2010, Geotz located her mother on Facebook. On Sept. 3, Geotz called her mom, and, the next day, she and her family were on their way to Grand Forks.

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"I didn't want the chance to go by because I didn't know when I had another one," Geotz said. "Good thing I did because I wouldn't have had another chance."

About a week later, Geotz's biological mother went on vacation, leaving Cody with friends who she said mistreated him, forcing Cody into foster care. With six children and none of them now in her care, Geotz's biological mother had virtually no chance to regain custody.

Geotz's trip was serendipitous. If she hadn't met Cody, social workers seeking the nearest relative would not have found her.

Geotz and Schmitt immediately tried to adopt Cody, a move Geotz's biological mother supports.

"When I look back to when we first met him he's made an amazing transition and made a lot of progress," Geotz said. "I'm amazed at how well he's adjusted. The change of name has been a big thing. I think he likes the idea but it's confusing."

"It's kind of a unique situation," she said. "We didn't grow up together. He didn't ever think of me as a sister because of the age difference. From the beginning he asked if he could call us mom and dad and the social workers said he should. They felt like he wanted that permanent family connection."

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