LAYTON The pathway that led to national recognition followed a trail of adversity for Krista Ralston Oakes.
Oakes recently received the 2008 Hall of Fame award from the Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) organization during its national conference. She joined a distinguished list of other recipients, which includes Gordon B. Hinckley, late president of the LDS Church; current LDS President Thomas S. Monson; and William Pierce, founding president of the National Council for Adoption.
FSA, which operates under LDS Family Services, a division of the church welfare department, held its national gathering at the Davis Conference Center in Layton earlier this month.
Oakes became a leader in infertility support in the LDS community after founding 2ofus4now.org, an online support group, eight years ago. She later wrote a book on the subject, "Fertile in Our Faith," published by Millennial Press in 2007.
Since founding 2ofus4now.org, Oakes has been a speaker, writer and mentor on issues of infertility, adoption and failed pregnancy.
Oakes is originally from Lindon and now lives in Plano, Texas. She graduated from Pleasant Grove High School in 1984. She and her husband, Jared, were unable to have children, so she went looking for a support group on the Internet.
She found a group with lists of e-mail addresses supporting a variety of issues in her religious community but none dealing with infertility, which is a unique challenge for LDS couples because of the church's strong emphasis on families.
Members of the group encouraged her to start an organization, which she did and continues to host as a Yahoo.com e-mail group. The name, Two of Us for Now, was inspired by an article Ardeth Kapp wrote in the LDS Church's Ensign magazine several years earlier. "The name stuck with me," Oakes said.
As co-chairwoman of the north Texas FSA chapter, she went on to lobby in Washington, D.C., for the support of the federal Hope for Children Act, which would extend adoption tax credits. Her efforts were successful.
Receiving the top FSA award was more the result of the willingness of the women in her group to share their challenges, she said.
Oakes' experiences supporting other women with infertility and related issues though her Web site led her to want to write her book, but she didn't get to it until another tragedy affected her life.
In 2005, she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and usually fatal brain tumor. She underwent surgery to remove it. A chemotherapy regimen followed. While recovering, she started her book.
She and her husband had adopted two children, Jacob in 2001 and Emma in 2005. Her cancer shows no evidence of progression.
For some, adoption has a negative connotation, she said. But she argues that adoption blesses the lives of the recipient, the birth parents and the adopted child. It gives a home to the child with parents who are willing to nurture them. The birth mother goes from a crisis situation to being able to move on with her life."It blesses the lives of everyone involved," she said.