In today’s episode of About Your Mother, we have a poignant discussion on the meaning of the word Mother. Joining us is Jeff Forney, a photographer, visual story sharer, and a dear friend.
Prepare to be inspired by a touching dialogue on the meaning of the word mother, the journey to finding his birth mother, and the impact this experience had on him.
The Meaning of Mom
When asked about his definition of the word “Mom,” Jeff shares that the word means nurturing, supportive, and loving. As an adoptee, Jeff has various meanings of the word. For him, his mother is his spiritual support and guide.
“I remember probably about four or five years old asking, ‘what does it mean to be adopted?’ And my parents explained it to me well and said, ‘We chose you to be in our life.’ So I did feel special. My sister also was adopted, and we felt very much like a family unit. It was a very loving, wonderful childhood. I have a lot of great memories. I’m so grateful for the parents that I was given in this world.” – Jeff Forney
As Jeff matured in college, he started entertaining the idea of looking for his birth mother. He wanted to know out of curiosity. If nothing else, he wanted to know where he came from; yet there was a feeling of dread if his parents found out he was searching at all. As he describes it, it was almost like he was cheating on them.
“It is a little daunting telling your parents that you want to look. I was a little nervous about it because you feel like you’re cheating on your parents. You feel like, ‘Wow, I’ve had these wonderful humans that have done the best they can and they did a great job. How dare you look for your biological beginnings. You have a wonderful home.’ This is a story that adoptees tell themselves that we need to rid ourselves of.” – Jeff Forney
Though he did end up telling them about it, rather than the reaction he dreaded, his mom only voiced concern that it might not be an easy task. Nevertheless, they gave him the support he needed.
Jeff Forney and His Passion Project
As someone who has undergone the journey of meeting their birth parent, he knew that some people struggle with what to do next. It’s not like everything clicks into place once you meet them for the first time. At times, it can even leave either side feeling vulnerable.
This inspired Jeff to launch the Innocent People Project. He used photography as his medium at first, which turned into a passion for creating a media narrative on adoption and healing for those involved.
“Adoption exists out of necessity. If there were no need for adoption, that’d be fantastic. But it exists because there is a necessity so that it won’t go away. Though if we can improve it and make it so that it’s more open, and there’s more of a dialogue about it, we can hopefully limit the number of adoptions so that it’s only in those dire cases.” – Jeff Forney
To learn more about Jeff Forney and the meaning of the word “mom,” download and listen to this episode.
Jeff was adopted at birth. Raised in the Bay Area by two wonderfully loving parents, Jeff still felt a pull to know and uncover the mystery of his origin. Jeff eventually found his biological roots and has been in reunion with his birthmother for almost 30 years.
Now, a photographer living in Los Angeles, a chance photoshoot with Ray Liota and discovering he, too, is adopted, a project was ‘birthed’ to photograph and interview adoptees in reunion with their biological parents.
The project has been a transformative process, but Jeff now finds himself hosting adoptee meetings at his home twice a month. Through Jeff’s involvement with the adoption community and just so happening to be a close friend of Jennifer Griffith and her husband Mark, Jeff has lent his ‘adoption constellation membership’ to Jennifer when her podcast touches the subject of adoption and foster parenthood.
He is not claiming to be an expert on adoption but a mindful devotee to living open and vulnerable. Jeff is happy to help others identify with those who have dealt with adoption/foster care issues and create a community of nourishment.
Connect with Jeff!