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22
Nov

Happy National Adoption Day!

By Annie

Today is National Adoption Day, which grew from the grassroots efforts of adoption professionals, adoptive families, law firms, state foster care agencies, child advocates and courts. Since it began in 2000, almost 50,000 children have had their adoptions finalized on National Adoption Day in courts across the United States.

We know we wouldn’t be able to impact the lives of the children, birth parents and adoptive families we work with without the expertise and support of these dedicated individuals all across the country. So from the American Adoptions Family to all of the adoption professionals we work with, we want to give you a sincere thank you for all you do. It takes a village to complete an adoption, and no doubt, we’ve got the best villagers!

This month, we reached out to some of the professionals that we’re blessed to work with – Judge Kathleen Lynch in Kansas and Attorneys Eric C. Freeby in Texas and Jean M. Cavaliere in New Jersey – to ask them about some of their favorite adoption memories as well as their personal adoption connections.

Enjoy the video and stories below, and don’t forget to visit our facebook page for photos of adoption finalizations!

Judge Kathleen Lynch

What is it like to walk adoptive parents or birth parents through an adoption?

Many times what I see is that parents find themselves in a position where they didn’t ever expect themselves to be parents and they’re not able to care for the child. And as much as they love the child, they know what’s best for the child is for the child to be placed for adoption. And they either contact an agency or an attorney. And that’s how things get started. There are lots of parents who want to be adoptive parents out there, and it’s amazing to see a family come together. When the mothers relinquish (under certain circumstances I have to preside of the relinquishment of parental rights for both fathers and mothers), it’s those moments that always stay with you. I’m getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it because I’m a mother myself. I can’t imagine being in a situation and knowing that I couldn’t take care of my children and how difficult that would be, but it’s one of the most selfless things that I see people do. They’re making the biggest sacrifice they can make for their child by placing them with someone who can care for them because, in present circumstances, they’re not able to.

Does anything stand out in particular about any adoptions that have occurred during National Adoption Month?

National Adoption Month is always fun because we try and set up the Friday before Thanksgiving and we always try to keep that open because it’s a fun day. I have presided over the adoption for a court personnel who was adopting their child through the foster care system. I have presided on National Adoption Day over a sibling group of six. I have seen little, tiny babies that were just a few days old. I have seen parents that have flown in from as far away as Israel to be adoptive parents here in the United States. So I can’t really say that I do have one particular favorite moment. But I do have a moment where one of the siblings of the infant that was being adopted was I think a little put out that he was not the focus of things. So I had him come up and sit on my lap and that seemed to soothe things over pretty well.

Attorney Info Eric. FreebyEric C. Freeby, P.C.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories or stories?

I was finalizing an adoption in court and the adoptive father was an imposing Marine sergeant in his dress blues. I am 6’1”, but this adoptive father towered over me, and he looked and acted like a stereotypical Marine drill sergeant. However, as I began to ask the adoptive father questions, he was so overcome with emotion that I had to ask the adoptive mother the rest of his questions. That man loved his daughter.

Does anything stand out in particular about any adoptions that have occurred during National Adoption Month?

Five siblings in foster care were about to be split apart so the young children could be adopted, but a family stepped up and adopted all five of the children. The children’s faces once I finalized the adoption are one of the reasons I love my job as an adoption attorney.

How has adoption impacted your own life?

Adoption has impacted both my personal and professional life. My father was adopted, and we recently discovered his birth family and are in the process of reaching out to my birth aunts, uncles and cousins. Also, adoption is the reason I love my job. Each day I come to work, I get to play a role in helping children and creating a family.

What is it like to walk adoptive parents or birth parents through an adoption?

The walk with both adoptive parents and birth parents is filled with love. The birth parents love the child enough to make the selfless and difficult decision of placing the child for adoption. On the other side, the adoptive parents always amaze me with their immediate unconditional love for their new child.

Attorney Info Jean CavaliereJean M. Cavaliere, Esq.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories or stories?

One of my favorite adoption memories involves a Nebraska couple who adopted a baby born to a New Jersey birth mother. I represented the New Jersey birth mother. The birth mother was discharged from the hospital prior to the baby and prior to the adoptive parents’ arrival in New Jersey. Before her discharge, the birth mother signed an authorization permitting me to take custody of the baby for the purpose of transferring custody to the adoptive couple. The hospital was very accommodating and agreed to discharge the baby in the evening to allow the couple time to get to New Jersey. By the time the couple arrived at the hospital, it was around 9:00 p.m. When I greeted the couple at the hospital, they were visibly distressed. The airline had lost their most valuable possession – the baby’s car seat! Of course, the baby could not be discharged without a car seat. I remained at the hospital with the adoptive mother and rallied my husband John to find an open Walmart with the adoptive father. That took several hours, but the trip was successful, and they arrived back at the hospital with a car seat. The hospital then discharged the baby to me, and I placed the baby in the adoptive mother’s arms. Her husband put his arms around her, and she looked up at him with tears in her eyes. They were a family. John told me how moved he was by that scene. He understood in that moment why I do what I do.

How has adoption impacted your own life?

I have two cousins who were adopted. Of my two closest childhood friends, one is an adoptee and the other became an adoptive mother. I am now an adoption attorney, so it is interesting how adoption has touched all of our lives.

What is it like to walk adoptive parents or birth parents through an adoption?

The most important thing is to be able to put yourself in their position. Placing a baby for adoption or bringing a child into your life through adoption is an incredibly emotional and life-changing event. The professionals involved in helping the parties through this process need to be patient and emotionally sensitive. I also try to be very clear and direct when explaining the practical and legal steps. That often requires explaining something more than once and putting it in writing for them. While the rewards are immeasurable, they are no guarantees in adoption, and it’s important for clients to have a realistic understanding of the risks involved.

21
Nov

Saturday is National Adoption Day!

By Annie

Kirk, Kristin and Benjamin - November 2014One of the highlights of National Adoption Month is National Adoption Day, which is tomorrow, Saturday, November 22nd!

Through the grassroots efforts of adoption professionals, adoptive families, law firms, state foster care agencies, child advocates and courts, National Adoption Day has become a special day in which courts open their doors and finalize the adoptions of children from foster care. National Adoption Day – which is always held the Saturday before Thanksgiving – makes a special push to get children into permanent homes before the holidays! Since it began in 2000, almost 50,000 children have had their adoptions finalized on National Adoption Day – 4,500 children in 2013 alone!

But National Adoption Day isn’t only for those who adopt through the foster care system. Families everywhere celebrate the blessing that adoption is in their lives on this day each year. This month we’ve asked our families to share their finalization photos, celebrating the moment they officially became a family. You can see the album on facebook, and if you still want to submit your own photo, email us at editors@americanadoptions.com.

Here are some other ideas for celebrating National Adoption Day and the rest of National Adoption Month in your community:

  • Ask your local library to create a display of adoption books in honor of National Adoption Month. If your library hosts a children’s story hour, ask that they read a children’s book about adoption this month – if you have a favorite story, suggest it to them!
  • Ask your local schools to recognize National Adoption Month. Have teachers read adoption-themed books during story time, or incorporate a lesson about adoption into their lesson plan. You may also wish to take the opportunity to educate the teachers about appropriate adoption language!
  • Write a letter to your local newspaper or television news station asking them to do an adoption story in honor of National Adoption Month. If you or someone you know has an inspiring adoption story to tell, share it with them.
  • Get together with other adoptive families, friends, neighbors, etc. and have an Adoption Day party. Blow up balloons, have a potluck dinner and celebrate your family and the thousands of other families across the U.S. who are touched by adoption.
  •  If you are an adoptive family that shares correspondence with your child’s birth parents, make a special card, send a heartfelt note or simply send them fun new photographs of your child(ren) enjoying fall. National Adoption Month is a time to recognize birth parents, as well.
  • Pick a day in November and take a family photo each year on that day. Keep the photos in a special photo album.
  • Create a scrapbook for your child or, if you are a waiting family, begin one for your future child. If available, include photos of your child the day they were born, photos of the birth parents, etc. As your child grows, they can help you add pages to their scrapbook. It will also help you share their adoption story with them as they grow.
  • Ask your church, synagogue or other religious institution to recognize National Adoption Month by speaking about adoption or recognizing adoptive families and waiting families during an upcoming service.
  •  If you have already adopted a child, send a recent family picture to your agency or attorney!
  • Attend or host a National Adoption Day event in your area! Find information at the National Adoption Day website.
  • Learn more about National Adoption Day in the infographic below.

If you’re doing something special for National Adoption Day, we’d love to hear about it! Email us at editors@americanadoptions.com.

14-3249 Infographic 2014 refresh v3

20
Nov

What’s Your Adoption Song?

By Annie

One way YOU can spread National Adoption Month awareness is to call a local radio station and ask them to play an adoption song in honor of national adoption month. What song would you request?

Just a few weeks ago, Adoptive Mom Stephanie shared how her adopted son, just six years old, was touched by Kip Moore’s song “Hey Pretty Girl.” Although her son had heard the song before, this particular listening resonated with him, especially as he realized that some day he might have a biological family of his own and someone who looked like him biologically. Read the excerpt of her letter below and have a listen to the song for yourself:

“But today was just an ordinary day, not one of the tough ones, and your song, Hey Pretty Girl, was on the minivan radio. When I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw Nicholas crying. I asked why he was sad and, in his infinite 6-year-old wisdom, my son told me that sometimes, people cry even when they’re not sad.

Wiping tears away he said, “I’m not sad, Mom. It’s just this song. It touched deep in my heart.”

He has heard your song before, but today he felt it.

He went on to explain as best he could, as he processed that one day, he could have a biological family of his very own.

“It makes my heart feel something, but I’m not sad. One day will I be married like the song man? And then I’ll really be in a family? My own family?”

I wanted to insist that he’s in a real family now, and I tried to remind him gently. But, no matter what I say or do, to him, it can never be the same. Kip Moore, today you gave my son the gift of hope: Hope that there will be belonging, and blood relation, and kinship in his future.”

Read Stephanie’s full post here.

While there are songs written specifically about adoption, many people feel adoption connections to other songs because of the mood they convey, the time they first heard it, etc. Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet reminds many adoptive couples of what they have to look forward to, even though it’s not a song specifically about adoption.

Meanwhile, Mark Schultz wrote “Everything to Me” about his birth mother. (Listen to the song or watch the story behind the song.) This list of Adoption Songs from Bethany Christian Services is a great collection of adoption-specific songs as well.

19
Nov

The Adult Birthday

By Annie

camila adoption day

One Adoptive Mom Shares How It Feels to Reach This Milestone

Each  year, Adoptive Mom Rebecca writes something about her adopted daughter, Camila, on her birthday to help mark the passing of time. This year Camila turned 18, and Rebecca asked us to share her short essay about her family during National Adoption Month. As with many mothers and fathers, sending a children off into the world is a stepping stone fraught with emotion. For Rebecca, as Camila’s adoptive mother, the emotions come with even more symbolism.

Thoughts on My Daughter’s Adult Birthday

My daughter was born 18 years ago today. But I wasn’t in the room. I wasn’t the first one to see her head and body wiggle its way from one universe to another. Not the first to hear her cry announcing to the world “I am here!”  Not the first to hold her to my breast. Not the first to smooth the mound of black hair on her head, or to tickle her perfect pink feet. Not the first to touch her cheek, to stare into her dark eyes, to take in the sweet newborn smell in the folds of her neck. I was not the first to kiss this perfect child and wonder what life would hold for her.

I was not privileged to share in any of those firsts until my daughter was two days old.  And on that day, the day I was able to experience all of those firsts with this perfect baby girl, I was overcome with emotion unlike any other I had ever experienced in my lifetime. I had never felt so inadequate, so unprepared, so unsure of who I was as a woman, as a mother-to-be, as a human being in this world. Because on that day, two days after my daughter was born, it was up to me to take this perfect child out of the hands of the young woman who did experience all those firsts, and cradle her into my own with a promise that I would take over from that day on and be this child’s mother.

Whole FamilyA vow unlike any other I’ve had to give or will ever give to another person in my life.

When you have a child by birth, you vow to yourself you will be the best parent you can be. And each time you break that vow, and there are many, you disappoint yourself. But when you adopt a child and make a vow to the birth parent that you will take care of that child and love that child and be the best parent you can be, each time you mess up, you wonder if you are in fact the best parent for that child. Would she have been better off being in the care of someone else?

So here I am, 18 years later, still wondering if I was the best parent for this perfect little girl. I know I have loved her and continue to love her to the core of my being every single day.  I know I have done everything in my power to guide her and help her grow into the strong young woman she is today. I am amazed at her beauty, inside and out, and more than anything else, her self-knowledge and confidence as she takes on whatever life puts in front of her with curiosity and zest. How did this happen? A little bit of biology, a little bit of environment, mixed with a whole lot of love.

Eighteen years ago I was not privileged to witness the miracle of my daughter’s birth. But today I AM in the room, as she emerges from childhood to adulthood.

And today it’s my turn, to let her go.

 

18
Nov

Best Adoption Month Stories

By Annie

Super Adoptive Family by Lexie EhrismanIt’s hard to believe that National Adoption Month is half over! Just like us, people across the country  have been celebrating National Adoption Month and creating extra awareness this month. So we’ve rounded up some of the best Adoption Month stories we’ve come across so far to share with you.

  • Many cities across the country have already celebrated National Adoption Day early, since Thanksgiving is so late this year. Look at this adorable family who dressed as superheroes for their little boy’s adoption. (Photo credit to photographer Lexie Ehrisman in Nebraska. See more from her shoot on her website.)
  • Read Can DNA Help You Find Your Birth Parents? Part I and Part II.

Did we miss any great adoption articles this month? Which ones are your favorites?

17
Nov

Highlighting Our Adoption Seminars and Events!

By Annie

Website PhotosLast weekend, we had our final Adoption 101 Seminar and Adoptive Family Picnic for the year! As we celebrate National Adoption Month and look toward next year, we wanted to highlight our different seminars and their benefits.

Adoption 101 Seminars

Our Adoption 101 Seminars are for adoptive families entering the adoption process who are looking for general information to help them decide between domestic adoption versus international or foster care adoption. An Adoptive Family Coordinator will also go over how much an adoption might cost and the advantages of using American Adoptions over another adoption professional. One of the highlights of our Adoption 101 Seminars is a Q&A session with an adoptive family and sometimes even an Adoptive Family Specialist. No matter where we travel across the country, we like to have this Q&A time for our families from folks who have been in their shoes! Our Adoptive Family Coordinators really enjoy the opportunity to connect with our families.

“I enjoy doing seminars because I like helping people. Some of the people that we meet at the seminars have been through a lot by the time they get to the point where they are learning about domestic adoption with a national agency. Sometimes its fertility treatments, sometimes its failed adoptions with other agencies, and a lot of times it’s a combination of emotional and financial loss that they have suffered. It’s good to know that you can help these people,” says Jason Tabuchi, Adoptive Family Coordinator

Watch the video below for more information and then see our projected seminar dates for 2015!

Below is a list of our 2015 projected Adoption 101 Seminars across the country:

  • January – Kansas (Date Confirmed: 1/17)
  • February – Virginia and Tennessee
  • March – Missouri and Northern California
  • April – Florida and Arizona
  • May – Southern California
  • June – Massachusetts and Kansas
  • July – North Carolina and Missouri
  • August – Wisconsin
  • September – Florida and Pennsylvania
  • October – Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado
  • November – Texas and Florida

Adoption Tele-Seminars

Our tele-seminars are just like our Adoption 101 seminars – except that you can dial in from the convenience of your home! Tele-seminars, which happen at least once monthly during the evening, allow you to ask questions of an Adoptive Family Coordinator. Should you have further questions, we can connect you with one of our adoptive families who can share their own experience of going through the adoption process.

Can’t find a tele-seminar date that works for you? Let us know! We can specially schedule a time to chat with you whenever is convenient! Just email AF.Coordinators@americanadoptions.com.

Adoptive Family Picnics

Ever wanted to meet up with other families who have adopted children? Our Adoptive Family Picnics, now in their second year, have been a great opportunity for adoptive parents and adoptees alike to share advice and connect with each other. After our October Picnic in Pennsylvania, Adoptive Family Coordinator Mike Aguilar shared how inspiring it was to see everyone come together:

“It’s amazing to not only put faces to the names that we interact with but also to see how grateful they are for our services,” he said. “And it’s so great to watch them interact with other adoptive families and bond over their shared experiences.”

But the highlight for everyone in attendance is definitely the kids. Adoptive Family Specialist Kathie Hoffmann overheard one girl say, Mommy, are all these other kids just like me? Another little girl’s main goal was to make new friends who were adopted. And when she did meet another girl around her age, they were instant friends!

“It was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced in the six years I’ve been working here,” Kathie says.

For 2015, our projected Adoptive Family Picnic dates are:

  • May – Southern California
  • June – Kansas
  • September – Pennsylvania
  • November – Florida

Watch the video below to see more from our Adoptive Family Picnic in Kansas this past June:

To find the most updated information on American Adoptions’ variety of seminars and events, subscribe to our newsletter or visit our seminar page!

14
Nov

Closure, a Documentary About Adoption

By Annie

IMG_7109--To help celebrate National Adoption Month, our staff purchased the rights to have a private viewing of the documentary, Closure.

Closure follows adult adoptee, Angela, as she seeks to find and connect with her birth parents and extended birth family. Although Angela was adopted transracially into a multi-racial family, she continues to grapple with who she is and where she comes from.

Angela is blessed by a supportive adoptive family and husband (the videographer) who are equally interested in helping her find her roots and are with her every step of the way. It’s impossible to watch the film without getting wrapped up in the story, and we hope many of you will have the opportunity to watch it yourselves!

Watch the trailer below or learn more at the Closure website!

13
Nov

Supporting Sibling Connections in Foster Care

By Annie

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For AdoptUsKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway, National Adoption Month is a special opportunity to raise awareness for more than 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system who are waiting for the love and stability of a safe, permanent home.

Each year, those entities select a theme to rally behind all month long. This year’s National Adoption Month theme – “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections” – pays tribute to the unique bond between siblings and highlights the role that strong sibling relationships play in children’s development and emotional well-being.

Reading stories from families who were able to keep siblings together or appeals from brothers and sisters who want to stay together really drives home the importance of these siblings bonds. Read a few of such stories below to see this for yourself:

Since 2002, nearly 10,000 siblings photolisted on adoptuskids.org have found families. For sibling groups in foster care that are available for adoption and don’t have an identified placement, the AdoptUSKids website can be a useful tool in finding prospective families. AdoptUSKids is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Administration for Children and Families. See the infographic below for more information.

Keep Siblings Together infographic

 

This afternoon (Thursday, November 13th) at 1 p.m. eastern time, AdoptUSKids National Project Director Kathy Ledesma will be responding to questions about foster care adoption during a one-hour live Q&A session on the AdoptUSKids Facebook page. Follow that link to participate or simply learn more about foster care.

12
Nov

Getting Adoption Benefits at Work

By Annie

DTFA_2014_100 Best AFW DTFA LogoBecome an adoption advocate in your workplace this National Adoption Month by asking your employer to extend employer-provided adoption benefits to you and your coworkers!

What are employer-provided adoption benefits?

It’s estimated that about 50 percent or more of firms across the country offer adoption benefits. But according to Adam Pertman’s book Adoption Nation, only about 0.1 percent of employees use adoption benefits when they are made available. So it’s a low-cost, good-will investment for employers.

Employer-provided adoption benefits can be broken into three big categories – information resources, financial assistance and parental leave – which mirror the same sort of benefits offered to couples having children biologically or with medical assistance. You can read more about the sorts of things included in employer-provided adoption benefits on our website.

Who are the most adoption-friendly companies?

Each year, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption invites companies to apply for recognition as an adoption-friendly workplace. The 2014 winners were announced this week. The list recognizes the top 100 companies with the best adoption benefits available to their employees in the United States. In addition to this list, the Foundation has developed other detailed lists of this year’s best in the nation by industry and size.

Rankings are based on the maximum amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave for employees who adopt. Companies are divided by industry and size (as seen below):

Top Adoption-friendly workplaces by size

Read more about the 2014 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces on the Dave Thomas Foundation Website.

Where can I learn more about adoption benefits provided by companies?

  • Find a comprehensive list of companies who have submitted their adoption benefits to DTFA surveys.
  • Order Adoption-Friendly Workplace tool kits for yourself, your employer and your peers.
11
Nov

Supporting Our Veterans!

By Annie

 

Military Adoption SmallerToday, Veterans Day, we want to issue a special thank you to the men and women who serve and protect us in our armed forces! We are honored to help support and grow military families through adoption during National Adoption Month and throughout the year.

While working with military families does come with special considerations, our staff is fully qualified to address any situations as they arise. Here are some FAQs and tips for military families:

What if a spouse is deployed during the adoption process?

The deployment of a spouse does not stop the adoption process. The spouse being deployed will simply need to grant a power of attorney to the other spouse, thus allowing them to make all legal decisions regarding the adoption for the other spouse while they are away.

What if we are transferred to another state during the adoption process?

Many families, both civilian and military, need to move during the adoption process due to job relocation or other reasons. The waiting family will need to get a home study update or a new home study, depending on the home study provider. This may postpone the adoption process, as a fully updated home study is required for all adoptions. Until your home study is completed or updated, we will be unable to present your profile to an expectant mother for an adoption opportunity. Once this step is completed, your profile will once again be shown to expectant mothers and your adoption process will continue forward.

Does American Adoptions offer services to Military Families Stationed Outside of the U.S.?

No matter where your family is stationed, American Adoptions can help you fulfill your dreams of parenthood. Our agency has worked with couples from across the globe. But there are some basic considerations for families stationed outside the US regarding an adoption home study, legal representation, variations to the adoption process, and placement/finalization (including travel, citizenship and post-placement visits). To learn more about how American Adoptions works with adoptive families who are stationed outside the U.S., please read our Military Adoption Information on our website.

What resources within the military are supportive of families in general and might assist military families in their adoption pursuit?

To learn more about resources available to support military families who are pursuing adoption and for other important things to know for military families overseas and in the U.S. please refer to the following links:

We thank you again for your service to our country and for the privilege of helping make your dreams of family come true!

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