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How Being Adopted Led to Becoming an Adoption Therapist: Kathy Mackecheny’s Story

Jul 11, 2019

In this incredible episode, we welcome Kathy Mackecheny to the studio to talk about her story as an adoptee and adoption-competent therapist to other adoptees. 

She shares the journey she took from being in foster care for two months to adoption, and then eventually becoming a therapist for adoptees. Her therapy services are done through Adoptee Therapy, for those who are interested!

To start from the very beginning, April asks Kathy why she thinks her parents adopted:

Kathy says that her parents chose to adopt because they had two biological sons but struggled to have a third child. Her mother had always wanted a girl, so adoption looked to be the most viable option for the couple. They soon decided it was worth pursuing!

It was an Oklahoma adoption, and one that was bolstered by the advice and guidance of their friends who had adopted through the state as well. 

When April asked what story they told her about her adoption, Kathy says it was kind of a funny story. She was sitting in her room during her time in college when she got a call from her mother wishing her a happy birthday -- on Good Friday! 

Kathy found that really strange because her birthday was February 4th, a date that was over two months past. But her mom wasn’t talking about Kathy’s birthday. She was talking about the day Karen came into their life. And that day just happened to be a Good Friday. 

With that knowledge, Kathy started looking deeper into her adoption story and she found the exact date that she was placed with her parents: April 12 was the date her parents drove to Oklahoma City to picked her up from the caseworker. She was 2 months old at the time and April asked her where she was before that.

Kathy said that she was in foster care for 2 months before being placed with her adoptive family. But besides that, she didn’t have any information regarding her story.

When April asked about her upbringing, Kathy said that it was good. She shares that the wisdom of the time was to treat adopted children as if they were biological. April then asks Kathy her current advice for adoptive parents. Kathy shares that she wished her mother had asked her how certain interactions made her feel in various situations. Just that communication and openness would have made a world of difference. But she does stress that her mom did everything else right!

Host April Fallon then asks for Kathy’s professional opinion as an adoption-competent therapist. She wonders if her emphasis on openness with her adopted children is the best approach, and Kathy says she’s absolutely on the right track. She also says to attend to your fear of communicating with your child because it can hold you back from that crucial openness. 

When asked when she started thinking about her own story in a serious manner, Kathy says that it was during her freshman year of college, when she had to write an autobiographical essay.

“Seemingly out of nowhere for me, the entire paper was about having been relinquished and adopted.”

Kathy then started asking her mom some non-identifying information about her birth parents: height, weight, hair color, and religious orientation. She then shares that after college, she was working as a journalist. It turns out that her supervisor at the time was adopted as well, so that opened up an important channel of communication and curiosity. 

As Kathy approached her late twenties, and she was thinking about having kids and making a career change into social work, she started to seriously consider searching for her birth parents.

Before determining if becoming a therapist for adoptees was the right fit, Kathy decided she needed to find all of the pieces of her story. She wrote to the State of Oklahoma first.

She soon found out that Oklahoma is a closed state, so that means no one has access to birth certificates. She then decided to petition the court in order to get the necessary documents. During that time she was worried how her parents would react. She didn’t want to hurt them.  Kathy just wanted their support during her search for the missing pieces. 

During her nerve-wracking talk with her parents where she shared her search, her father actually remembered the crucial bit of information that led to her finding her birth parents! She found her parents because her father remembered the name of the small town they lived in.

It was her mother-in-law, a retired middle school principal, who ultimately went to the small town high school and found out some information about Kathy’s birth mother after asking around. She found out that Kathy’s birth mother had burn marks on her legs that ultimately led to her identification. Her name was Linda Isabelle. 

So with her help of her dad -- a former FBI agent -- they got the relevant information! Then Kathy wrote her mother a letter.

Kathy said she prepared herself for every possible form of rejection. But one day, the minute she and her husband got back from hiking, their home phone rang. Her husband answered and then turned to her, mouthing: “it’s your mom!”. 

Her mother then allowed her to ask every question that she ever had about medical history, her family, you name it! Through talking with her birth mother, she also found out that her birth father had tried to contact her.

According to her mother’s story, Kathy’s birth father left for California and never came back to Oklahoma. His version of the story differs, but Kathy also shares that at the time, unwed mothers were not expected to keep their children and instead place them for adoption.

April then asks what it was like to meet her birth father! 

She said she hadn’t prepared for the best-case scenario. It was all overwhelming at first. She said she had to slow down and gather herself a little bit! 

When asked about the story that her birth father told her, he said that he didn’t know until later that Kathy’s birth mother was pregnant. He later found out from his mother. It seems that Kathy’s birth mother called his mother told her about the pregnancy. 

Although Kathy hasn’t met up with her birth family in 19 years, they are still in contact on a regular basis! To get in contact with Kathy, you can visit her website and get in contact through email: Also, check out a video version of this interview at our Youtube channel.