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22
May

Don’t Fry Day 2015 – Protect Your Family’s Skin

By Ashleigh

Don't Fry Day 2015As the hot summer temperatures climb, families are taking advantage of the warm weather to enjoy lazy afternoons at the pool, fun-filled family camping trips, frolics at the park and other outdoor adventures. However, parents should also take heed of a danger lurking above.

To kick off summer, today is designated “Don’t Fry Day” by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention! The day, scheduled on the Friday before Memorial Day hopes to help reduce rising rates of skin cancer from overexposure to the UV rays. The council encourages sun safety awareness and reminds everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. Because no single step can fully protect you and your family from overexposure to UV radiation, follow as many of the following tips as possible:

  • Do Not Burn or Tan
  • Seek Shade
  • Wear Sun-Protective Clothing
  • Generously Apply Sunscreen
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow, and Sand
  • Get Vitamin D Safely

The summer sun can pose a special risk to babies and young children. Medical professionals urge parents to pay careful attention to sun safety to protect their family now from sunburns and skin cancer later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to protect children from the sun:

  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella or the stroller canopy.
  • When possible, dress yourself and your kids in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, like lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats.
  • Select clothes made of a tight weave – they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better.
  • Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.
  • Limit your sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
  • Wear sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection (look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child).
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Set a good example. You can be the best teacher by practicing sun protection yourself. Teach all members of your family how to protect their skin and eyes.

To learn more about summer sun safety, visit www.healthychildren.org.

12
May

Families Always Needed for Current Available Situations!

By Ashleigh

Although American Adoptions works with families of all types, budgets, races, etc., there are times when our agency is unable to match a prospective birth mother with one of our current active families.

The reasons for this are varied and can be due to the living expense needs of the birth mother, the social or medical history of the birth parents or even because the birth parents are seeking a family meeting a specific criteria. Please watch the video below where Adoption Specialist Kathie shares more about these adoption situations, including:

  • What is the Adoption Resource Center?
  • Where do these Available Situations come from?
  • What requirements are needed to pursue an Adoption Situation?
  • What information will the adoptive family receive about the birth parents?
  • We are ready to pursue an Adoption Situation – what’s next?

When our agency is unable to match a birth mother with one of our active families, we reach out to adoptive families via our Available Situations webpage.

American Adoptions urges all adoptive families currently working with our agency to periodically check the Available Situations page and contact our agency if they would like their profile to be shown for a specific situation.

We are currently in need of adoptive families who are open to adopting African American children. We have many birth mothers in our Agency Assisted program who are in need of adoptive families for their babies. If you are willing to accept this type of situation we encourage you to contact your Adoptive Family Specialist about joining the Agency Assisted program or opening up your Adoption Planning Questionnaire.

Our Available Situations are an excellent opportunity for waiting families who are eager to become parents. If you are interested in learning more about any of these situations please visit our Available Situations page.

In order to be considered for an Available Situation, all families must have a current, approved home study and some form of profile we can show to the birth mother.

8
May

Wishing You a Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!

By Ashleigh

American Adoptions wants to wish all mothers a Happy Mother’s Day Weekend! Whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive mother, first mother, forever mother or expectant mother – waiting to adopt or pregnant – we want to thank you for considering and choosing adoption and impacting the life of a child.

We encourage everyone to honor their child’s birth mother this Saturday for Birth Mother’s Day and all mothers on Sunday.

Together We are Motherhood Quote Smaller

5
May

Remember Birth Mothers This Weekend

By Ashleigh

We all know Mother’s Day is this Sunday, but did you know that Birth Mother’s Day is also this weekend?

Every year Birth Mother’s Day is observed on the Saturday before Mother’s Day – May 9 this year. This is a special day set aside to honor the women who have placed their children in the arms of adoptive parents. Birth Mother’s Day is becoming more celebrated each year, but many birth mothers don’t know that such a day exists!

Printable Birth Mother's Day Card

Printable Birth Mother’s Day Card

Mother’s Day is a wonderful day for adoptive mothers, but for birth mothers it can be a difficult as she sees mothers around her celebrated. Just like with any other grief process, anniversaries and holidays can bring (sometimes painful) thoughts of the adoption to a birth mother’s mind. Some birth mothers find that this time of reflection or grief hits them hardest on the child’s birthday, others feel it during the holiday season, and some feel it around Mother’s Day. This is why we celebrate Birth Mother’s Day: to remind birth mothers how amazing they are for making an incredibly difficult decision.

If you have an ongoing relationship with your child’s birth mother (even if just through pictures and letters), think about sending her a Birth Mother’s Day card. Write a special message letting her know you are thinking of her on this special day, and tell her how grateful you are for the sacrifice she made. To help you honor your child’s birth mother this year we’ve made a printable Birth Mother’s Day card you can personalize with a special message.

The following links are full of information for women, no matter where they are in their adoption journey:

•  For birth moms: Birth Mother’s Day! & How to Celebrate It!
•  For adoptive moms: Tips for Sending Pictures and Letter to Birth Mothers
•  For waiting adoptive moms: How to Stay Upbeat This Mother’s Day
•  For all moms: A Great Keepsake for Adoptive Mothers and Birth Mothers Alike

Thank you for letting us share in your adoption journeys, and enjoy this holiday weekend!

Some people have different viewpoints and feel that Birth Mother’s Day does the exact opposite of what it was created to do. Some think that a birth mother should be recognized and celebrated on Mother’s Day, and there should not be a differentiation because an adopted child has two mothers with different roles. Whatever your specific beliefs or relationships are, we encourage you to take time to reflect on, celebrate and honor both mothers’ irreplaceable roles in your child’s life!

29
Apr

Q&A with Birth Parent Specialist Brighid Titus

By Ashleigh

Staff Photos Brighid TitusWe want to bring you, our readers, into the day-to-day of our agency by sharing more about the people you get to work with through each phase of the process! This month we’re featuring Brighid Titus, a Birth Parents Specialist who has been with American Adoptions for several years. Read on to learn more about her job at American Adoptions!

What is your name and position?

Brighid Titus, Birth Parent Specialist

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

7 years

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

I guide birth parents throughout their adoption plan from start to finish. I provide birth mothers with emotional support and guidance. I also set up all the logistics of the adoption: connecting a client with an adoptive family, helping birth parents have their needs met with safety and stability, working with our attorneys who set up the legal process, speaking with medical professionals to arrange medical care, preparing for the hospital time, and coordinating everything for the delivery of the baby.

What does a typical work day look like?

I spend most days making calls to birth parents to check in and help them through the next steps. I communicate with adoptive families, attorneys, medical providers, and team members. Some days I meet with clients, go to hospitals, or go to court. My favorite part of each day is speaking with the women I work with… whether it be about something big or small. I love learning all about them and supporting them any way I can. I love going above and beyond to make their day a little brighter or help them solve a problem.  I love that I get to be a part of something so colossal and impactful: making a family!

What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?

My favorite part of American Adoptions is the energy. We are a dynamic group of people who are always evolving to better serve our clients and provide the best possible experience for everyone we work with. American Adoptions has a positive, interactive vibe, with teammates who support each other. We get excited to reach and exceed goals, and we always push ourselves and each other to be better.

What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?

Summertime! Summer weather and summer fun seems to permeate into work and lighten the mood. We also always seem to be extra busy in summer, which makes it exciting.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories?

More than I can count!!! One of my most favorite things is when an adoptive family I worked with will send me a picture of the baby. And years later… they are not babies anymore! It has brought tears to my eyes when I see the sweet beautiful children growing up, and hearing about all their milestones and accomplishments. I know that their parents and their birth parents are overflowing with pride and joy of these children and how they have grown. And THAT is what this is all about!

How many adoptions have you been a part of?

So far, I have been the Birth Parent Specialist to 225 women that have fully completed their adoption plans and placed their child for adoption with an adoptive family. It blows my mind thinking about it!

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your position?

I feel accomplished when I try new things, learn new things, and go outside my comfort zone… When I am faced with a problem that feels so big and complicated that I don’t believe there could be a solution, but I work though it and somehow I come out the other end… When I hear kind words from the incredible clients I work with and they say I made a difference in their life…When brave women I have worked with contact me years later and let me know that they are going to school to be a social worker because they want to do what I do. WOW – sometimes this job fills my heart so heavy and full that it feels like it could burst. What a tremendous job I have!

22
Apr

American Adoptions Joins in Opposition of ICWA Guidelines

By Ashleigh

Last month on our blog, we posted an excerpt from an American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA) press release. This press release expresses the concerns of AAAA on recently issued guidelines from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that severely restrict available options for orphaned or fostered Native American children.

In response to these new guidelines, American Adoptions has joined AAAA and many other adoption organizations (including the National Council for Adoption, Florida Adoption Council, and Metropolitan Adoption Council of Greater Kansas City) in expressing their deep concern with the way in which these guidelines were promulgated and published by writing letters to the Department of Interior urging them to reconsider.

In its letter, American Adoptions says:

The new guidelines were drafted without adequate conversation with and representation of … adoption professionals and child advocates. Collectively, we feel we were misled about the opportunity for discussion on this topic, and that the new guidelines were issued by edict rather than collaboration. The federal government seems unwilling to hear from those groups who have been in the field for many years working directly with the families and children who will be negatively impacted by these guidelines. 

These guidelines were implemented to supplement the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); a federal law enacted in 1978 in an effort to keep fostered and orphaned Native American children from being removed from their tribes and to preserve Native American culture and tradition.

The BIA originally drafted the guidelines when the law was enacted and used them to serve as a guide for child welfare professionals in cases where Native American children were removed from their homes or placed for adoption. In these cases the child welfare professionals were advised to work in the best interest of the child while also preserving the rights of the tribes.

However, in response to the Baby Veronica Supreme Court case of 2013, the BIA has updated these guidelines adding stricter policies that the coalition believes put the rights of the tribes over the rights of Native American children and birth mothers wishing to place their children for adoption.

Among other things, the guidelines would:

  • Broaden the cases to which ICWA is applicable
  • Negate the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Baby Veronica case
  • Ignore the confidentiality rights of biological parents
  • Usurp the authority of Congress to amend ICWA
  • Change the definition of Qualified Expert as developed by the courts
  • Remove the “best interest of the child” and “attachment issues” from consideration by the courts

The guidelines state that “ordinary bonding or attachment that may have occurred as a result of a placement or the fact that a child has, for an extended amount of time, been in another placement that does not comply with ICWA” is not adequate reason to consider leaving a child in said placement. This is one of the primary concerns for many in the adoption and child welfare fields.

Many in the adoption community argue that the disruption of an attachment or bond with a foster or adoptive parent can cause great damage to the children. American Adoptions notes that this destruction can result in significant trauma to the child, including physical, emotional, and cognitive delays, which can be permanent and irreparable.

Beyond the rights of the children, adoption professionals also argue that the individual rights of the birth parents should not be ignored. This includes their right to choose an adoptive family for their child as well as their right to maintain their privacy throughout the process, both of which the American Adoptions believes are being cast aside in favor of the rights of the tribes.

Shawn Kane, executive director of American Adoptions and adoptive father of a Navaho daughter, says that his daughter’s birth mother’s privacy and confidentiality was of the utmost importance to her. Now, three years later, she still talks about the importance of these rights during the adoption process.

“These rights are not just a temporary decision,” Kane said. “These rights protect birth parent’s choice for what they think is the best interest of their children.”

While these guidelines do not, as of yet, have the authority of a federal law or regulation, adoption professionals fear that, if and when they are given weight by courts or child welfare agencies, children will surely be hurt.

“While I understand the need to preserve Native American culture, I do not believe that this preservation should come at the detriment of the children and parent’s innate rights,” Kane says, mirroring the press release from AAAA. “I am shocked that the BIA would issue guidelines that seem to blatantly sidestep legal protections for birth parents and children, particularly those in foster care.”

More Ways to Get Involved

If you oppose these strict new guidelines and want your voice to be heard, here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Send your comments to the government
    • Go to regulations.gov
    • Type “BIA-2015-0001” into the search box
    • Go to the “Comment Now” box
  2. Sign the National Council for Adoption’s letter to show your support
  3. Attend one of the BIA’s public meetings OR Send a letter to Jay McCarthy expressing your concerns to be submitted during a meeting on your behalf
  4. Sign the petition and spread the word on social media with this link
  5. Talk to your adoption professional. Make sure they’re aware of the issue and let them know your concerns.

American Adoptions is committed to following ICWA legal procedures in all of our adoptions and provides ongoing training for our staff members via ICWA and adoption experts. Of the adoptions at our agency, only about 5 percent involve a child with Native American heritage. Additionally, each time an adoptive family is presented with an adoption opportunity with a birth mother, they will be briefed on the financial, legal and birth father situation of the adoption, including any details related to ICWA. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION with any questions on this topic.

Related Posts:

17
Apr

Child Abuse Prevention Month 2015

By Ashleigh

Child Abuse Prevention MonthApril 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:

7
Apr

International Adoptions Hit Lowest Point Since 1982

By Ashleigh

International AdoptionThe total number of international adoptions by Americans fell by 9 percent in 2014 reaching its lowest point since 1982, according to State Department figures released last month.

The department reported a mere 6,441 foreign adoptions by Americans in 2014, down from 7,094 in 2013. After peaking in 2004 at 22,884 foreign adoptions, numbers have steadily declined, likely due to stricter adoption laws put in place by countries like Russia, China and Ethiopia.

After peaking at 7,903 international adoptions in 2005, China implemented stricter adoption laws as part of a nationalist sentiment against adoption. However, in recent years China has attempted to expand its domestic adoption program in an effort to curtail the rate of child abandonment in the country. Unfortunately, international adoptions in China remain strictly sanctioned causing hopeful adoptive families to wait many years before being matched with a child.

Russia, which in years past has seen high numbers of American adoptions, completed only two adoptions with the U.S. in 2014 after imposing an adoption ban in retaliation for a U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators.

Top 10 countries for 2014:

  1. China – 2,040
  2. Ethiopia – 716
  3. Ukraine – 521
  4. Haiti – 464
  5. South Korea – 370
  6. Democratic Republic of Congo – 230
  7. Uganda – 201
  8. Bulgaria – 183
  9. Colombia – 172
  10. Philippines – 172

Interestingly, numbers for Ukraine, Haiti, South Korea, Bulgaria and Colombia increased slightly from the previous year.

To compare these numbers to previous year, look back to last year’s blog post. You can read the report at the State Department website, or read the Associated Press’ analysis.

2
Apr

Today is International Children’s Book Day!

By Ashleigh

Celebrate by reading a book about adoption with your child

Family Reading

In honor of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday (April 2, 1805), the International Board on Books for Young People founded the annual International Children’s Book Day to promote reading among children. At American Adoptions we encourage parents to celebrate this day with their young ones!

Whether it’s a book before bed or an afternoon full of reading, inspire your children to read while also talking to them about adoption. There are hundreds of adoption-themed children’s books out there, so curl up with your child and read one together!

Some of our favorites include:

  • Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • The Best for You by Kelsey Steward
  • God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
  • How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole
  • We Belong Together: A book about adoption and families by Todd Parr
  • A Blessing from Above by Patti Henderson
  • I Wished for You: An adoption story by Marianne Richmond
  • A Sister for Matthew by Pamela Kennedy

And for our same-sex adoptive parents, here are a few additional books to try:

  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
  • Mommy, Mamma and Me by Leslea Newman
  • Daddy, Papa and Me by Leslea Newman
  • A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager
27
Mar

How Does Your Family Talk About Adoption?

By Annie

Adoption storylines can be found all throughout television and movies. However, adoption is not always as accurately or intricately portrayed as it appears in “real life.”

When you and your children watch movies like Paddington, Black and White, Annie or even Superman or catch up on shows like Glee or Modern Family, do you use these as conversations about adoption and what it means to be a family through adoption?

We want to hear from you! What are your tips for starting these conversations? Did any one TV show, book or movie help spark an adoption conversation? Email us at editors@americanadoptions.com.

Our staff, here at American Adoptions, highly recommends the documentary Closure (now available on Netflix) to jumpstart such a conversation. Last November, during National Adoption Month, our staff shared a private screening of the film and agreed that it helped to describe an adoptee’s experience searching for answers about their birth family and portraying the experience of a transracial adoptee.

Below are some other helpful links, which we hope will help you with the lifelong conversation every adoptive parent has with their child:

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