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Our Journey to You – John, Anne and Daniel’s Adoption Story

By Ashleigh

John & AnneBy Anne (Mommy)

After being married for over three years and becoming settled into work and life in Georgia your Dad and I started to try for a family.  I had a long history of female problems and was concerned that I could not get pregnant.  This fear became a reality.  John, your Dad, had always talked about adoption and I was never against it but needed to feel in my heart that this was God’s plan for how I was to become a mom.  Once I was completely at peace and knew in my heart this was the way we were to become a family it was full steam ahead.

Once I was completely happy and focused on adoption, I started researching agencies, reviewing the process, reading blogs, and basically doing my homework on all things adoption.  After interviewing many agencies we whole-heartedly agreed on American Adoptions and in July 2014 we were ecstatic to sign the papers and start the process.

The next few months were filled with paperwork!!!  We had our kitchen table covered with computers, our printer, and mounds of papers.  I had checklists galore.  We completed our Home Study essays, took Ziggy and Zippo (your kitty brothers) to the vet, made physical appointments for your Dad and I at our doctor’s office, visited the county police office, and were finger printed at the Quik Ship many times.  During this time we also assembled our written portfolio and created our adoption video.  By April 1st, 2015 we had completed all the necessary paperwork and we were an active couple waiting for a birth mother to select us.

The next few months were the hardest part of this whole process for me.  During this time all we did was wait.  Especially June through July, when I was not teaching every day, I would think about you constantly.  I was praying daily for you and your birth mom, waiting to hear about your existence.  There were many tears shed and many phone calls to Kathy (our social worker at America Adoptions).  I wanted so much for you to be here at that moment.  I had to keep telling myself that it couldn’t be any baby, it had to be my baby.  I had to remember that God had a plan and that I had to wait for you.  God doesn’t work on my timeline and I had to be patient because his timeline is perfect.  It was also hard to return to school in August, having everyone ask about you and if we heard anything.  As I said it was the hardest part of this process for me, but you were totally worth the wait!!!

We were looking forward to October. Your Dad knew he would be traveling to the Philippines to help his Mom (your Lola) with his grandmother’s passing and to visit with his Dad (your Lolo) who he had not seen in 15 years.  We were also excited about your Grandma and Buddy (my parents) coming to visit for a weekend after their beach trip. Little did we know what was about to happen.

… Read More


Will My Child Hate Me? An Expectant Mother’s Fear

By Ashleigh

Will My Child Hate Me?“I chose adoption for my baby not because I didn’t want her, but because I love her.” – Sandra, American Adoptions Birth Mother

It is not uncommon when considering adoption to wonder if your child will resent you for choosing adoption. While not uncommon, the thought of your child one day hating you for placing them for adoption is a terrifying one – leaving you to wonder if adoption really is your best option.

It’s almost comical how, when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, everyone in your life suddenly becomes an expert, lecturing you about what you should do next. People unsupportive of adoption will tell you just that – that your child will hate you for “giving them up.” Perpetrated by fear of the unknown, of a lack of understanding about the modern adoption process, people often believe that an adopted child grows up lost and lonely, wondering who their birth parents are, never finding a sense of “self.”

However, that image couldn’t be more untrue.

Today’s adopted children are not only given the opportunity to grow up with a loving adoptive family, but they also know their birth parents. These children don’t grow up lost and lonely, rather they grow up secure in the knowledge that not only did their birth parents love them enough to choose adoption, but that they are – and always were – standing behind them, watching them grow and thrive.

Adoption was once a secretive world where children grew up knowing nothing about their birth parents and adoptive families didn’t talk about them. Some children grew up never knowing they had been adopted until they were adults. This secrecy naturally led to feelings of shame, abandonment and resentment by adopted children. Furthermore, adopted children were often blocked by laws and courts when they did attempt to find who their natural parents were, leading to more hurt feelings and unanswered questions.

However, today’s world of adoption is a very open one. Closed adoptions, where the child or adoptive family never knows the birth parents, are very rare. Instead, the majority of adoptions today are open or semi-open. Birth parents see their children grow up firsthand though pictures, letters and even phone calls or visits. They send birthday presents and holiday wishes. Adoptive families not only see this as a positive influence in their children’s lives, but they support it. This constant line of communication not only allows you to see how your child grows, but allows the child to grow up knowing you and how much you love them as well. Instead of growing up wondering where they came from, they know – and they know the truth about why you chose adoption.

“I keep a journal for my son. I write letters to him that I will hopefully be able to share with him one day,” said Michelle, a birth mother who stays in contact with her son through a semi-open adoption. “This not only helps me process my thoughts, but will explain to my son why I felt adoption was best for him.”

Birth parents that choose adoption do so out of love for their children. While this time of your life can be very emotional and confusing, you should instead picture your child laughing, smiling and living the childhood you dream for them – all the while knowing that not only do they have an adoptive family that cherishes them, but birth parents who loved them so greatly they choose this wonderful life for them.

Remember, our agency is here for you to help you through this process. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to speak to someone about your grief or how you may be feeling. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-ADOPTION.


Finding the Perfect Family: Erin’s Adoption Story

By Ashleigh

Pregnant women who work with us often wonder how to pick a family. There’s no exact science to it, and often a woman “just knows” when she’s found the right couple! Hear from Erin about how she knew she’d found the right family in Suzanne and Adam.

“As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I knew I wasn’t in a position to give my baby the life they deserved,” Erin writes. So Erin and her boyfriend decided on adoption and began to look at family profiles.

“My boyfriend and I decided on important qualities and keywords and our search became much more specific,” Erin writes. “We had a small pile of “maybes,” but as soon as I read about Adam and Suzanne, I knew they would be the perfect parents for my child. They seemed like a combination of all the best aspects of my boyfriend’s family and my family.”

Erin arranged for Adam and Suzanne to travel to her hometown during her pregnancy so they all could get to know each other.

Erin says of the weekend, “We spent the weekend talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. They were able to attend a doctor’s appointment with me on Monday before their flight left, and it was wonderful to see how emotional both Adam and Suzanne became upon hearing her heart beat for the first time and watching her squirm on the monitor. After we said very tearful goodbyes, I knew they were the parents I wanted for my child, and I felt very comfortable knowing my daughter would be loved immensely by these two wonderful people.”

Erin enjoyed more time with Adam and Suzanne when her daughter Vivian was born. She was even able to introduce them to her extended family. She says that saying goodbye was “very emotional, but I knew I made the right decision for my daughter.”

“She will have a life far better than any I could hope to provide, and she has loving, supportive parents who will nurture and guide her,” Erin writes. “It has been over a year since I placed my daughter with Adam and Suzanne, and the updates I receive reassure me that she is happy, healthy and well-loved.”

To read more of Erin’s adoption story and the stories of other women, visit birth mother adoption testimonials on our website. For pregnant women beginning the adoption process, read How to Choose an Adoptive Family to learn about how women who work with our agency select adoptive parents for their child!


National Foster Care Month: Looking Back at Our Roots

By Ashleigh

Did you know that there are more than 400,000 children and youth in the U.S. currently in foster care? Did you know that of these, more than 100,000 children are waiting to be connected with their forever families through adoption?

Each May, National Foster Care Month serves to raise awareness of the facts to encourage families to explore foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. During the month of May (and every other month of the year) we ask for your help in promoting these programs and celebrating the amazing foster parents, volunteers, mentors, child welfare professionals and others who help children in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

For American Adoptions, our connections to foster care run deep. So, to help celebrate National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing the story of how one family’s commitment to foster care grew into a passion for building loving families.

The Mars Family

It all started 35 years ago when Ted and Susan Mars came to their son, Scott, with an important question.

“My parents came to me and said, ‘Scott, what do you think about becoming a foster family for an adoption agency?’” Scott recalls.

Scott, being an adoptee, loved the idea of being able to give back to other children and families. The family knew that they wanted more than anything to help connect these children to their forever families.

Before they knew it they had opened up their home and their hearts to a beautiful baby girl named Heather. After Heather came another child, and another, and another. Over the years the Mars family fostered 157 babies who went on to live wonderful lives with their adoptive families.

“I got to experience giving that child love and being a part of that, of seeing a child go on to an awesome life like I had,” Scott said. “I got a feeling of what it was like to be a part of and making a small child’s life better, to be that bridge between adoption.”

Love and Opportunity

The beautiful act of fostering children planted a seed in the Mars family. A seed that could only grow by continuing to give back to children and the act of adoption.

As Scott finished up his Business and Psychology degrees, his mother, Susan, came to him with an idea: She wanted to start an adoption agency. Thus, Scott, Susan and Ted set about making this dream a reality.

In 1991, American Adoptions was founded.  And as the company grew, so too did the Mars family’s passion for adoption and helping to build families.

Now, 25 years later, American Adoptions is one of the largest, most successful adoption agencies in the U.S. and has completed over 5,000 adoptions since its doors opened.

“I think back to how we felt when we were foster parents. We knew that we were helping to do something that was important, to help someone else become a family. I have the same feelings for each adoption that we do,” Scott said. “We get to be a part of helping that child have a life of love and opportunity, just like I did.”


National Infertility Awareness Week

By Ashleigh

NAIWToday marks the beginning of National Infertility Awareness Week, a national movement designed to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and to encourage the public to understand their reproductive health. Many of our adoptive families have endured long struggles with infertility before turning to adoption, so the topic of infertility is one that is near and dear to our hearts.

More than 7  million people of childbearing age in the U.S. experience infertility. Infertility is a very painful struggle. One that is wrapped up in grief and longing. A couple may struggle for years with infertility, and while it is easy for friends and family to advise them to stop treatments or find an alternative way to parent, most couples aren’t willing to let go of their dreams. What these couples need most during this process is your emotional support. We would like to use this opportunity to support all of our families who have struggled or are struggling with infertility, as well as to educate those who have not experienced infertility.

Resolve, the National Infertility Association, has published an Infertility Etiquette Guide for anyone needing advice on how best to support your loved ones. Here is a brief overview of their advice:

  • Don’t Tell Them to Relax
  • Don’t Minimize the Problem
  • Don’t Say There Are Worse Things that Could Happen
  • Don’t Say They Aren’t Meant to be Parents
  • Don’t Ask Why They Aren’t Trying IVF
  • Don’t be Crude
  • Don’t Complain About Your Pregnancy
  • Don’t Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant
  • Don’t Gossip About Your Friend’s Condition
  • Don’t Push Adoption (Yet)
  • Let Them Know That You Care
  • Remember Them on Mother’s Day
  • Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

For those of you looking for ways to raise awareness, Resolve also published a list of 25 ways you can increase public understanding and participate in the movement. For more information on National Infertility Awareness Week, please visit


Fostering Positive Relationships with Birth Parents – The First Year

By Ashleigh

wellwood_michelleMy name is Michelle Downard and I am a birth mother working with American Adoptions. I chose adoption for my son Ryan who turned 18 this year (February 2016). I have been handling pictures and letters and providing support to women here at the agency for over a decade. I wanted to provide you with some guidance and things to think about when it comes to connecting and building a relationship with your birth mother over these next 18 years, but more importantly, this first year since that can be the most emotional time for all involved.

When a birth parent chooses adoption they are not only making the most difficult decision they will ever make in their life, but are also putting trust in another family to care for their precious child. As much as birth parents prepare for what this experience is going to look like and feel like, it is not possible to prepare them 100% for the real raw emotions that they can feel.

Everyone handles grief and loss differently, and this is a completely new type of grief and loss than most have ever experienced before. At one time or another birth parents will experience anger, sadness, jealousy, fear, happiness, try to bargain with themselves, and even struggle with forgiving themselves for getting in a situation where they even have to make an adoption plan.

For a lot of women their entire world has been turned upside down and, depending on their level of support at home, they may not have someone to reach out to. Your child’s birth mother may not experience or share with you any of these emotions and, thus, you may never see any of her feelings. However, your child’s birth mother may reach out to you during this time, whether that be via email, text, or mail through the agency, and say something that offends you. They may call the baby “my baby” or use the name they put on the birth certificate instead of the name that you are going to call him/her. They may even tell you they have feelings of doubt and extreme sadness. Please know this is not your burden to take on and this is normal. It will take time and healing before birth parents can move forward, it most certainly won’t happen overnight.

Sometimes, even when you have an ongoing relationship with the birth parents, one or both of them may take a step back and stop contact for a period of time. This is also normal and it is only expected that you continue with your promise to send updates, even if that means not hearing anything in return. When birth parents step back they are often doing so to allow themselves to grieve. This does not mean they are no longer interested in hearing updates about their child; they may simply need some space. There is no book out there for adoptive parents to know how to handle this situation, but sticking to your promises is key.

Often times adoptive parents want to continue contact with a birth parent, whether it be directly via email, texting, phone calls, etc., which is wonderful as that definitely builds a bond and relationship quickly. However, if not handled delicately in that first year it can also create resentment, distrust, and potentially negative feelings on either or both sides of the adoption. The good news is this can almost always be prevented if you, as the adoptive parents, stick to your contact agreement you make with the birth parents and allow them the time to grieve this loss without reacting negatively or reading too much into the words that are being used.

My position at the agency is to be a support person for the birth parent as well and connect with them from one birth parent to another, letting them know I do understand what they are experiencing. I also often times provide guidance and answer questions for adoptive parents when/if something comes up along the way that seems out of the ordinary or is hard to understand when it comes to a birth parents’ reaction to the adoption.

Over the years I have seen adoptions come full circle and birthparents, adoptive parents and the children connect at a really special level. They truly are a Triad and one that all parties treasure and feel is so important and valued. I have also seen birthparents and adoptive parents not get that opportunity to come full circle because that first year after placement emotions are running so high that it is hard to move forward and allow the relationship to grow. This has happened on both sides of the adoption.

I want to see your adoption remain positive and succeed at all levels. I want to see your adoption grow and blossom into nothing more than a wonderful experience for all involved. In order for this to happen communication is key and asking the agency questions when necessary, talking to your specialist and/or me when needed and always keeping an open mind that your birth parent is grieving a loss greater than she could have ever imagined. She has likely never experienced this level of grief before and does not know how to handle it which is why it often just takes some time.

I ask you to be patient, be understanding and most importantly be trustworthy with your words. I ask you to continue contact as promised so that your birthparent can rest assure that this child you all love dearly is taken care of and loved, as any parent would want for their child. I will always do my part to help and foster the best relationship possible. I want nothing more than to see you all grow together and share a positive, loving adoption experience.

Thank you and please do reach out to the agency anytime with questions, comments or concerns.


National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2016

By Ashleigh


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize that we each can play a part in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our communities. As part of this awareness month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages individuals and organizations to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention across the country.

Research shows that six important factors are present in healthy families. Promoting these factors is among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. They are:

  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports for parents
  • Social and emotional competence of children

As part of this awareness month, the U.S. Government’s Child Welfare Information Gateway has created an extensive collection of resources, including:


Preparing for Baby – How and When to Get Started

By Ashleigh

Preparing Baby's NurseryGoing into an adoption, unlike a pregnancy, you have no idea when your child will be born, what season it will be, what the child’s sex is, or even if there may be more than one baby. So how in the world do you prepare for baby when there are so many unknowns?

Do you prepare a nursery? Do you buy cute little clothes? What about diaper, wipes and bottles? Should you find a car seat and have it installed? What if baby comes sooner than expected? What if it takes months or even years?

The truth is there isn’t just one right answer to these questions.  The best practice is to only do what you feel comfortable with.

Let me explain.

Often times, after years of struggling with infertility, adoptive families can’t bring themselves to put the nursery together until they know they will be bringing a baby home. Some families “don’t want to get their hopes up,” others can’t bear the thought of walking past an empty nursery every day. Still others want to avoid the chances of coming home to an empty nursery after an expectant mother changed her mind.

Beyond the emotional reasons to delaying the preparations, there are practical reasons to put it off as well. Maybe you want to customize the nursery or clothing or toys to your child’s gender or name, which of course you don’t know yet. Maybe there is still some uncertainty over whether you’ll be taking home one baby or two – or even three!  Maybe there are simply too many unknowns for you to even know where to start. That’s ok!

What you really need to consider before making preparations is how you will handle it emotionally. If a fully prepared nursery will make you anxious or sad before you bring home your child, maybe delaying the preparations would be a good idea. However, if setting up a nursery fills you with hope and excitement, go for it! Preparing for baby is such an exciting time and can be a wonderful experience for you and your spouse.

All that being said, we’ve worked with adoptive families for many years now (25 years to be exact), and we’ve found that most families fall happily in the middle. Here’s our list of what you need before baby’s arrival, and what can wait until after he or she is born.

What to Buy Now:

Cloth and Disposable DiapersDiapers/wipes

Start off with just a couple packages of both newborn and size 1 diapers (who knows how big baby will be right?) and a couple packs of wipes. Buy a couple different brands to see which ones you like best.

If you’ll be using cloth diapers it will probably be best to start building your stock slowly to disperse the initial cost. Anywhere from about 16-20 newborn or one-size diapers should be good to start you off, and you can always buy more later.


Pick up a few 4-5 oz bottles with slow-flow nipples to get you started and buy more later. If you’re wanting to breastfeed it can be tricky to find the right time to induce lactation, but hopefully this article will help.

Burp cloths

Babies tend to spit up a lot, so you’re definitely going to want plenty of spit rags to save yourself and baby from major messes.


Newborns LOVE to be swaddled so you’ll want to have a few blankets on hand to keep baby nice and cozy. Plus, these are easy to find in adorable gender-neutral patterns.

Clothes (minimal)

Pick up a few gender-neutral outfits to get you through the first couple of days and stock up on the rest later. Some adoptive families buy a going home outfit for each gender just in case.

Diaper bag

Put all the above items in the diaper bag and you’re good ready to meet your baby!


This item is a bit more difficult to buy at the last minute, so we recommend buying one beforehand or at least finding a couple you like and can buy once you are matched. (Assembly is optional)

What Can Wait:

Car seat

As strange as it may seem, the car seat can actually be bought on your way to the hospital to bring your little one home.

Portable place to sleep

If you’re waiting out ICPC you’ll likely be sleeping in a hotel for a few days so baby will need some place that’s portable to sleep. This can be a co-sleeper, a pack-n-play, or any other portable place to sleep and it can be bought at the same time as the car seat.

Bathing necessities

Baby will get his or her first bath in the hospital, giving you ample time to get the bathing supplies gathered later.


The hospital will give you at least one of these and not all babies will take them, so wait to stock up until you bring baby home.


This can either be bought in combination with the car seat or separately, but it doesn’t need to be purchased right away.

Nursery furniture and decorations

Waiting until you’re matched or even until you bring baby home allows you to customize it to your child. Plus baby will be spending the first few days wrapped tight in your arms so you’ll have time to finish up the nursery.

Toys and clothes

Wait to get the majority of these items until you know the sex of your baby, then you can buy cute little dresses or polos for your little one. Plus, baby likely won’t be interested in any toys for a while anyway.

Keep in mind, this list is simply a suggested tool for preparing the bare necessities for baby. Some families want to have every last thing prepared beforehand while others prefer to wait. Prepare in whatever way you find most helpful for your family!

Click here for a full list of necessary baby items.


Announcing Your Adoption

By Ashleigh

Creative Ways to Announce Your Adoption JourneySo you’ve made the decision to adopt. You’re over-the-moon excited and you simply cannot wait to tell the world about the amazing journey you’re beginning. But it has to be perfect.

What is the perfect way to announce your adoption journey? Well we don’t just have one perfect way, we have several! (But really, any way you announce your adoption journey is perfect in our eyes.)

Here are a few of our favorite adoption announcement ideas:

Adoption Announcement - PetsGet the Pets Involved

Whether it’s the dog, cat, hamster or gold fish, getting your beloved pet involved in the announcement is a super cute way to spread the news. Who wouldn’t audibly aww at a sweet picture of your pup next to some baby shoes or a rattle?

Potential messages:

Mom and Dad are getting me a human!
Waiting for my new best friend
Hey, I’m adopted too!


Adoption Announcement - Globe,MapUse a Globe or Map

This idea would work great for an international adoption! If you know the country/state where you child was/will be born draw a heart around that part of the map or use your hands to make a heart shape around it.

Potential messages:

We’re on an adventure to find our baby
Searching for our missing piece
Growing in our hearts. We’re adopting!



Adoption Announcement - Shoes,ChairUse a Pair of Baby Shoes or an Empty Chair

The aww factor alone of a tiny chair or tiny little shoes is enough to make this one a winner. Plus, once you’ve received placement you can retake the photo with the child in the shoes or chair. How cute is that?

Potential messages:

Boy or girl we do not know, but in our hearts you will grow.
Parents to be…we just don’t know when
We’re expanding our family by two feet
Waiting for you


Adoption Announcement - CreativeGet Creative!

There are so many great ways that you can announce your adoption, so let the creative juices flow and you’ll find the perfect option for your family. Some of our favorite ideas include:

Getting older siblings involved
Using chalkboard signs
Using alphabet blocks
Fake ultrasounds where baby is replaced with a state/country
Blowing up balloons
Adoption children’s books


However you announce your adoption plans, expect an outpouring of love and support from family and friends. This is an exciting time and your loved ones will be so excited to watch your family grow!

Photos Via:
Canada Adopts
Folsom Photography


Thank You, Social Workers!

By Ashleigh

Social Work Month 2016

March is National Social Work Month and here at American Adoptions we want to take a minute to thank our wonderful social workers! These amazing people work tirelessly to help build families and we couldn’t be more proud of all they do. Thanks for making American Adoptions great!

The National Association of Social Workers’ goal during Social Work Month and throughout 2016 will be to “educate the public about how social workers and the association have brought about major positive social changes, improved the lives of individuals and families, and will continue to do so in the future.”

Our American Adoptions’ Adoption Specialists are each Licensed Social Workers or Professional Counselors. These men and women work tirelessly to support and educate our birth parents and adoptive family clients. Their commitment, experience and heart are some of the things that make American Adoptions special!

You can learn more about our amazing staff by visiting our website or here as we continue to add more posts to the “about our staff” section of the blog!

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