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People from business, faith and civic groups attended the recent Children’s Home Society of North Carolina’s annual Place to Call Home fundraiser luncheon May 15 in Charlotte at the Westin ballroom.
The luncheon, attended by 575 people, benefits the adoption services and continuing family programs provided by the society.
The guest speaker was Dr. Eben Alexander, a neuroscientist and author of the best-selling book “Proof of Heaven.” The book recounts Alexander’s experience of being adopted and reuniting with his birth family later in life through the guidance of Children’s Home Society.
Alexander, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., with his wife and youngest son, was born at Charlotte Memorial Hospital in December 1953. Prior to his birth, his birth mother – who prefers to remain anonymous – lived temporarily at the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers. Now called the Florence Crittenton Services of North Carolina, the nonprofit organization opened in 1903 to provide a comprehensive residential program for at-risk and pregnant girls and women.
Shortly after Alexander’s birth, he was transported to the Children’s Home Society in Greensboro, where he was adopted by Dr. Eben and Betty Alexander at 4 months old.
While he was too young to remember living at what he calls the baby dormitory, a bluish-grey Victorian Home on Cyprus Street in Greensboro donated to CHS to house babies and children awaiting adoption, he has visited the home since.
That visit, and a visit to the Florence Crittenton Home and his continued relationship with CHS since the 1970s, helped him reunite with his birth family, piecing together part of his life that had left him feeling broken and unloved.
“I spent a large part of my life wrestling with the fact that I’d been left behind,” Alexander said. “I struggled to understand that I was truly loved and accepted.”
In October 2007, at 53 years old, Alexander met his birth family for the first time.
Alexander said that if it wasn’t for the continued support of CHS and his caseworker, Betty Goodwin, he never would have understood the unconditional love his birth parents had for him. He said he now knows his birth parents loved him but wanted him to have more than they were able to give due to their age and financial circumstances.
Eric Thomas, longtime meteorologist for Charlotte’s WBTV (Channel 3) also was given up for adoption, by his 18-year-old birth mother.
“Giving someone up for adoption is the ultimate expression of love – selfless, unconditional love that sacrifices their needs for the needs of the child,” Thomas said.
Frank Crawford, regional vice president of CHS, said 8,400 children in North Carolina are in foster care and 2,000 are waiting for a permanent home.
“CHS honors the connection of souls,” Alexander said. “We are all here as one. These children that need loving homes are our children.”