Adoption, Golf and the Language of Love

A Note from Roberta Bowman, Chief Brand and Communications Officer: 

It’s the swing that caught our attention, a beautiful and powerful motion that golfers spend years trying to master. And here it was coming from an adorable little girl. We had to know more. As amazing as Autumn Solesbee’s golf swing is, the story of how she came to golf and to be part of the Solesbee family is even more remarkable. November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Here is their story.

Our daughter Autumn didn’t choose the circumstances of her birth or where she spent the first years of her life. She didn't get to decide how long she'd be in foster care or whether someone would adopt her. But she did make a decision that was all her own. She decided to let hope and joy define her.

Like millions of couples, our decision to adopt involved a lot of family discussion. It began with a woman we knew from work who casually mentioned that her children were adopted and that she had come to them through foster care. We had three dogs and no children at the time and began wondering if this was how we, too, were supposed to grow our family.

Our Drive On story is not about golf. If Autumn loved fly fishing or badminton or riding trail bikes through the woods, we’d be right there with her. The fact that talks of driving distances and 12-foot putts has become a part of our love language is not something we pushed. Our story is about the gift of adoption and what it means to be a family.

We started working through foster services and an adoption and family services organization in our state. As part of that process, we met Autumn on weekends for a while so that she would become comfortable with us and we with her. She was seven years old at the time and she struck our hearts right away. When it came time for her to meet the man who would be her paternal grandfather, we picked a spot close to his home in Greenville, SC. Topgolf seemed like a logical choice. It was a fun spot for three generations to hang out. Autumn’s grandfather is an avid golfer and golf had been a part of our family since we met while working at a golf course on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. From the moment she picked up a club at Topgolf, Autumn loved the game. We couldn’t get her to leave. She wanted to stay at Topgolf and hit balls long after it was time to go.

Golf was not part of our thinking when we decided to adopt. In fact, it was as far away from our thinking as you could get. As soon as she joined our family at age seven, Autumn knew that she would be loved unconditionally for the rest of our lives. What we didn’t expect, and what no adoptive parent can ever adequately explain, is the overwhelming blessing you feel from day one. Every new parent is awash with feelings they’ve never had before. In adoption, that feeling has a special meaning. Blood and biology make relations, but they do not make families. Like millions of other adoptive parents, we got our daughter through love and the legal system, a process that included a lot of prayers and conversations, as well as a mountain of paperwork and patience.

Like any life-changing decision, we had anxieties and questions. But we also had an overwhelming sense of purpose. Autumn has been a gift. Her grit and her grace have taught us as much as we have taught her.

Her enthusiasm for golf was also something we encouraged, but we have been careful not to push. To our joy and amazement, Autumn has continued to thrive, on the course and off. For a child less than two years into the game, she has progressed at a remarkable pace. She has won a number of junior golf events and finished in the top 10 in the US Kids World Championship at Pinehurst last summer. And, she qualified for the finals of the Drive, Chip & Putt event at Augusta National the Sunday before the start of the 2022 Masters in April.

Golf has given Autumn confidence. She is more confident at school and life in general as she has progressed in the game. We owe a lot of that to her achievements in golf. The game has become part of our family’s love language. Even if she chooses to do something else as a teenager or later in life, the confidence, poise and focus that she has gained will likely stick with her forever.

But as new parents, there is still anxiety. Every parent of an adopted child or any person considering adoption knows the feeling. We want to protect Autumn while giving her every opportunity to succeed and thrive regardless of the activity or the size of the stage. We will almost certainly make mistakes along the way. But those mistakes will always be made out of love and with the best interests of our child in mind.


Every day we grow together as a family. We have learned so much from Autumn’s strength, resilience, hope and joy. She personifies “grit and grace”.

As we celebrate adoption everywhere in November, we just want everyone to know that there is no greater gift than the love of a child. And know that there is no perfect time to adopt. There is only perfect love. And that is what makes a family.