A mother’s choice for adoption

Moments before his life would have ended in abortion, an unborn child got a reprieve 

By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald

“The reality is David was seconds, literally, from not being here,” David Scotton’s biological mother Melissa is heard saying in the trailer to the pro-life documentary, “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” scheduled for viewing Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at Jesuit High School.

In the 31-minute video, audiences are introduced to one young man’s experience of almost being aborted, growing up knowing he was adopted and then traveling from Louisiana to Indiana to meet his birth parents for the first time.

“What’s really great about this film is that people who aren’t familiar with adoption or people who don’t really understand it, get a chance to see what adoption can really do,” said Scotton, now a 23-year-old law student. “It’s all real. It’s all live, and you sit there and feel what’s already going to happen. … We have an opportunity here to really change the culture of adoption.”

Several years in the making

Scotton said five years of his life have been devoted to “I Lived on Parker Avenue.” It was filmed and edited by Philip Braun Productions through the nonprofit Joie de Vivre Media, the educational committee of Louisiana Right to Life.

Braun used video he shot on the train to Indiana and interspersed it with Scotton’s thoughts and feelings, shots of his childhood with his New Orleans Scotton family, meeting his parents and comments from both sets of parents, including Scotton’s biological parents and their decision to place David for adoption instead of having an abortion.

“It has been almost surreal to see it come to fruition,” Scotton said. “In its first two weeks on Facebook, the documentary trailer has received 75,000 views.”

Scotton said even though his adoptive parents were transparent about his adoption from the beginning – even celebrating annual adoption day Aug. 19 as a second birthday – few outside of his family knew he was adopted.

“It never came up,” he said. “I never really wanted to share that … I felt a little different and didn’t feel I needed to open up and share that.”

He said every now and then as a child, he wondered about his biological parents, “but I pushed it out of my mind.” They had never contacted him.

Emboldened by oratory contest

It took participation in a Louisiana Pro-Life Oratory Contest in 2011 for Scotton, then a Jesuit High School junior, to first speak publicly about being adopted.

Scotton won the local competition and advanced to state, placing second. The following year, he won state, advanced to the national Right to Life competition and soon was immersed in the adoption world.

Coincidentally, a month after he first shared his story, the Kirsh and Kirsh law firm, which had facilitated his original adoption, contacted him saying his biological mother wanted to reach him. Scotton wrote a letter to her expressing an interest and gave his Facebook name as a means of contact.

He received his first Facebook message from her at a birthday party: “Hey David, I think this is who you are looking for. This is Melissa.”

“I was flabbergasted,” Scotton said. “It was a lot to handle. I called my dad to make sure he thought it was legitimate. It was definitely her, and I responded back and began to realize what their life was like, and then I just started to learn about them.”

Initially wary to make contact

Scotton said he was initially cautious with his birth parents, restricting contact to Facebook until he was ready to meet in person.

“It was a little overwhelming to me,” he said. “We had never spoken on the phone, but we decided to make a trip.”

The reunion in December 2012 with his birth parents included meeting his full sister Courtney (his birth parents had married, but divorced) and half-sister Presley from his father Brian. As he rode the train there, his adoptive parents, Susan and Jimmy Scotton, and grandparents, Gail and Roy Daigle, drove by car.

“I wouldn’t have gone if they weren’t OK with it,” he said. “They were more excited than I was” about meeting them.

What were his first words to Melissa and Brian?

“I thanked them for choosing adoption, with my parents and grandparents standing right behind me,” he said. “I found out what they were like and hung out, got to know them.”

Sidewalk counselor

He learned his biological parents were teens and not in a position to care for a child and initially chose abortion. On her way inside the clinic, Melissa was told by a woman on the sidewalk that her baby had 10 fingers and toes.

“When she heard that, it stuck out to her, but she still went inside anyway,” Scotton said. “She was on the table, and she realized that there was a better solution, and she chose adoption. I am grateful for that. She said it was a difficult decision but the right one.”

His story is tip of iceberg

The experience of sharing his adoption message and seeing how it positively resonates with others has awed Scotton.

“That’s almost been my favorite part of it – to meet people who have other adoption stories,” he said. “Adoption stories are remarkably similar to this one. It gives them an avenue to share their story and to be proud of being adopted.”

Scotton plans to contact adoption agencies to share the trailer, build the adoption network and promote the story of how adoption bestows life not just to the child but to the families who adopt.

“It’s definitely been a life-changing experience,” Scotton said about sharing how adoption changed his life. “I feel that God has called me in this avenue. This is what I’m supposed to do. I genuinely feel that this is my way to give back to the cause that gave me life.

“For me as an individual, there is no more important way to do that. That in itself, has been a life-changer. If we can give just one birth mother the chance to choose adoption, we have succeeded at the most important level. That’s why we’ve done this and invested so much resources and time.”

Scotton continues contact with his biological parents and siblings, and they have even visited New Orleans once, he said. But he’s busy now as a second-year law student at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

“Law school is another way for me to give back to the community,” Scotton said. “It’s what I’ve done with the adoption film. It’s what I want to keep doing.”

For details on the film, visit www.ILivedOnParkerAve.com. High schools can request a screening, and DVDs will be sold. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be at the Jesuit pre-release screening. For an invitation, email: info@ilivedonparkerave.com. The documentary’s public release will be March 8, 2018.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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