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We Want to Hear from You!

By Emily

As National Adoption Month comes to a close, we want to take a moment to thank you, our readers, for celebrating adoption with us.

Adoption Month is a great time to share your adoption story, celebrate adoption in your life and spread adoption awareness among friends and family. At American Adoptions, we want to continue to share your positive adoption stories and educate others about adoption all year long.

We are committed to delivering the best adoption information to you through our blog, newsletter and social media accounts, so we want to know — what would you like to see on our blog?

Have a question you’d like to see answered by an adoption professional? Wishing there was a post about a certain adoption topic that you could share with friends and family? Want to share your own story with the adoption community? We want to hear from you!

If you have an adoption topic you’d like more information on, or if you have an adoption story you want to share, we would love to hear your ideas. Send your suggestions, stories and questions to us at and we will share them with our readers!


Keeping the Faith – Sean, Susanne and Dylan’s Adoption Story

By Ashleigh

As we wrap up National Adoption Month, we would like to leave you with a beautiful story of how one adoptive family survived the wait and made it to their happily ever after. Susanne and her husband Sean adopted their little boy, Dylan, through American Adoptions in 2012. Now, Susanne has shared with us the story of their amazing journey into parenthood. 

Sean, Susanne, Dylan By Susanne, adoptive mother

Having a family was something we considered to be an inevitability, a complete “given.”  Of course we’d have children, why wouldn’t we?  Don’t all people grow up, fall hopelessly in love, go forth and multiply?  But after several failed infertility procedures we started to wonder if a family was truly in the cards for us.  We started to question a lot of things in fact, wondering what mistakes we made along the way, why our bodies were failing us, and even whether we were failing each other.  But thankfully we didn’t languish very long in our sorrows. In fact, it was my husband Sean who was the one to pull us up by the bootstraps, dust us off, and made sure we acknowledged the pain but also looked toward the future.  “We’re going to have a family, I promise you that.  There’s a baby out there who needs us the way that we need them.  And I’ve got to say, there’s something really beautiful about people finding one another.”

Hindsight Is 20/20

I think back on those words now, and on that difficult period in general, as I watch my two-and-a-half-year-old son Dylan asleep in my arms, and I desperately wish that I could go back and comfort that sad couple.  I wish I could tell them “Stay strong.  Have faith.  It’s all going to work out just the way it was meant to be.”  I wish I could tell them not to be so hard on themselves, that these struggles are in fact fleeting and that in no time they’d be elbow deep in baby poop, toddler tantrums, and bargaining with their spirited son over eating his vegetables.  The hindsight we are graced with when the adoption process is complete can be very therapeutic, but we know full well that it’s not easy when you’re in the thick of it.  We know there are just some mountains that everyone has to climb, and there’s no right or wrong way to climb them, you just have to keep moving forward.  But what we can tell you is that on the other side of that mountain is a truly miraculous view.  Those of you who have been there know that view, and know it’s worth every moment it took to get there.  And we are here to tell you, you will get there.

We knew we were in good hands the moment we called American Adoptions, and were confident it was the solution we were looking for.  The wait wasn’t easy, as I’m sure many first-time parents will attest, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to calling my Adoption Specialist, Angie, quite often!  But not only was she patient, she was honest and she was correct. All along when she said it would all be worth it, and that it was just a matter of the right people picking us, she was right.  And in September 2012 when we got the Match Call it all made sense.  Every tear, every doubt, every “WHEN IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN?!” melted away in an instant.  During our first call with the Birthparents we learned about the things we had in common, about the dreams they had for this little boy, and why they picked us.  We had a chance to express our gratitude, and even shared a few laughs.  To hear afterwards that Jack felt strongly he made the right choice was an incredible relief, and we looked forward to keeping in touch as Haylie’s February due date approached.

When It Rains…

Naturally when a child is born, one is on a business trip.  It’s Murphy’s Law, or at least it’s our law!  I was awoken at about 2AM on February 6, 2013 in my hotel room in Boston, hurriedly packed my bags, and trekked two and half hours home to Connecticut in the snow.  Sean and I finished packing for our trip to St. Louis, and started making our way to LaGuardia Airport in NY.  Just as we arrived at the terminal, we received a message that the baby had been med-flighted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and if possible we should redirect our flight there.  We had very little information to go on as to why that happened, and all we could do was focus our energies on getting to where we needed to be.   We finally arrived at the hospital later on that afternoon and were escorted to our sweet baby boy in the NICU.  The doctors and nurses couldn’t tell us much as Haylie had delivered by C-section and hadn’t yet signed any documentation allowing us medical details, but they comforted us as best they could.  He was hooked up to so many wires and machines, frankly we had no idea what would lie ahead, and we just had to have faith that the story would end happily.

Once the necessary paperwork was signed, we were informed he had a very traumatic birth, and that he came out unresponsive.  He suffered a few seizures in the nursery, and the Regional hospital he was born in felt it was best to transport him to a hospital more equipped to handle his medical needs.  The doctors and nurses at Mercy were simply amazing, attending to his needs as well as ours.  The hospital social worker was able to get us into the Ronald McDonald house nearby, in case his stay ended up being long.  In typical Dylan fashion, he started to turn a corner very soon, and within a week was weaned off anti-seizure medications, was symptom free, and began devouring all of the infant formula in stock.  We were told that we had every reason to expect he’d have a full recovery and that he would lead a completely normal life.  What could have been a month’s stay was just a little over a week, and in no time, we were in our hotel room awaiting ICPC, snuggling our sweet boy and watching late night Rock-u-mentary’s on The Eagles as we began our first 2AM feedings.

The Road Home

Having avoided a major (20+feet) snowstorm on the way to Missouri, we were of course bound to hit another one on the way home.  We got the call that we were able to return to CT and made the split-second decision to pack our bags, book a flight, and get home before Kansas City got buried in a foot or more of snow.  Sean booked the flight online while I scurried around packing bags and checking us out of the room.  We flew over to the airport, Sean dropped Dylan and I off at the terminal with the bags and went to return the rental car.  I quickly scanned the Departures list and had a moment of sheer panic when I couldn’t find our flight.  Knowing we had no car and no hotel, I calmly called my husband and asked him to confirm the flight number.  At that moment, he realized he had booked our flight home, but it was for a MONTH LATER.  I scooped up my sleeping son, made my way to the ticketing agent and begged for mercy.  After paying a significant upgrade to get the last three tickets out of Missouri to an alternate airport, we were almost home.  Did I snarl at every person who sneezed on that flight?  Yes.  Did I care that we sat next to the smelly bathroom?  No (well, maybe).  But we were going home!  We left as two, but returned home as a family of three, and had quite the story to show for it!

DylanLife on the Other Side

These last two and a half years seem like a blur.  Dylan has met every milestone and is the happiest, most precocious toddler there ever was.  He’s smart, funny, curious, and knows exactly what he wants.  He makes us marvel every day at how lucky we are and how divine this process truly is.  We could brag on for pages to his birth parents whenever we send them pictures and letters. While we don’t hear back from them, I respect their need for privacy and have faith that they smile just a Iittle whenever they receive them.    There are no mistakes in this world, of that I’m sure.  Everything happens for a reason and we are led to exactly the things we are meant to have.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Keep the faith…


Happy Thanksgiving from American Adoptions!

By Ashleigh

Here at American Adoptions we are thankful for all of the adoptive families and birth parents who make our days so special. We hope you are celebrating today surrounded by loved ones!

Thanksgiving 2015


Q & A with Director of Social Services Jennifer Van Gundy

By Ashleigh

Staff PhotosWe 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! In honor of National Adoption Month, we will be featuring two of our wonderful staff members. This week we’re featuring Jennifer Van Gundy, our Director of Social Services who has been with American Adoptions for 10 years and is an adoptee herself. Read on to learn more about her job at American Adoptions!

What is your name and position?

Jennifer Van Gundy, Director of Social Services

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

10 years! Since April 2005

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

I supervise the team of adoption specialists that provide support to potential birth mothers as they contact American Adoptions for services.  I assist the adoption specialist to set up connections between pregnant women and potential adoptive couples as well as help figure out logistics.  I also manage the team of adoption specialist that complete home study and post placement services out in the field, as well as approve all home studies and post placements completed in several states that American Adoptions is licensed in.

What does a typical work day look like?

My typical day involves lots of people in and out of my office.  We often joke that my office is the most happening place as there is always someone asking a questions and trying to make a plan for clients.  I do spend time working on projects, reviewing documents and also reaching out to vendors to figure out tricky situations.

How has adoption impacted your life personally?

I was adopted as an infant.  My adoption story is much different than the current stories many children have who are placed with a family through American Adoptions. It was a very different time in the adoption world when I was placed with my family.  My birth mother worked with an agency along with the support of her family.  She made a very hard decision and I am so thankful she was able to think of what would be best for me as I grew up.  She was younger and was no longer in a relationship with my birth father.  She wanted me to have a stable two parent family that could provide all the extras she could not.  My parents share the story with me how they got a call one evening that they could come pick me up the next day!!!  They were so excited and quickly prepared to meet me.  Unfortunately my parents were not able to meet my birth mother.  Adoption was different during that time.  I am lucky that my birth mother provided a letter to me, I cherish this letter and all the great information she was able to share.

My parents have been wonderful!  I have always felt like they loved me and they provided me with so many opportunities.  I choose to work in the field of adoption so I could be a part of helping another little one find a forever family.  I am so thankful that adoption has given me so much and I love watching adoption affect so many people through my career.

What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?

My favorite part is supporting the adoptions specialists that work at American Adoptions.  Each of the adoption specialists gives so much of themselves to this job.  They all work 24/7 as needed and often times put their clients’ needs above their own even on nights and weekends.  I love being able to encourage this amazing group of social workers, counselors and therapists as they provide support to clients.  It is fun to see each of them have pride in their jobs and personally care for every family they help create!

What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?

Luckily all year long we get updates from families about how well they are doing and updates about how much their little ones have grown.  I also love the beginning of the year as we have lots of new families starting off the New Year with a goal to build a family through adoption!

Do you have any favorite adoption memories?

One of my favorite moments was being involved with an adoption that involved a special little one.  A baby was born with a heart condition and needed open heart surgery immediately after birth.  It was so awesome to help find a family that embraced the baby even with a very serious heart condition.  Several years later that baby is doing great and has a wonderful family.  The birth mother also has so much peace that she was able to find a great family to raise her baby.  It was an awesome experience helping that baby find an amazing family and providing comfort to a very courageous young woman.

How many adoptions have you been a part of?

Hundreds.  When I initially started at American Adoptions I was a birth parent specialist providing support to pregnant women.  I continued my career as an adoptive family specialist which allowed me to provide support to adoptive parents as they joined the agency, waited to be selected and then went through the process of being connected with a birth mother and receiving placement.  For the past several years I have been a supervisor which allows me to be a part of almost every adoption completed by the agency.  I love it!


Happy National Adoption Day!

By Samantha

National Adoption DayToday is National Adoption Day, which is a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on adoption in your family. Falling on the Saturday before Thanksgiving every year, National Adoption Day was created as an occasion for courts to finalize adoptions of children in foster care, joining them with their forever families just in time for the holidays. In 2014 alone, 4,500 children had their adoptions finalized on National Adoption Day; since its inception in 2000, over 50,000 children have been helped through this holiday.

However your family was built, National Adoption Day is a great time to open the doors to celebrate adoption at home, involve the community, and honor the birth parents in your lives.

National Adoption Day at Home

  • Take a family photo each year on National Adoption 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.
  • 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.

Raising Awareness in the Community

  • Ask your local library to create a display of adoption books in honor of National Adoption Day. If your library hosts a children’s story hour, ask that they read a children’s book about adoption– if you have a favorite story, suggest it to them!
  • Ask your church, synagogue or other religious institution to recognize National Adoption Day by speaking about adoption or recognizing adoptive families and waiting families during an upcoming service.
  • Ask your local schools to recognize National Adoption Day. 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!

Celebrating Birth Parents

  • 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 Day is a time to recognize birth parents, as well.
  • Make some holiday crafts that capture your child’s and the birth family’s heritage. Take the opportunity to talk about cultural diversity and the role it plays in your family.
  • Sit down with your child and write a letter to his or her birth family. If your child’s parents are involved in his or her life, you can send the letter as a special gesture.

View our previous year’s blog post to learn more about this special day, and have a happy National Adoption Day with your family!


Bad v Good Adoption Language [Infographic]

By Emily

As you may know, this Saturday is National Adoption Day, and to honor this special holiday, we will be posting a new, helpful infographic every day this week. We hope these graphics will help you understand more about the adoption process and adoption in general.

Many adoptive families struggle daily with those unfamiliar with adoption using insensitive adoption language. While it may seem innocent to an outsider, these negative adoption terms can have a lasting affect on adoptive families and especially adopted children.  

No matter how well-intentioned they may be, a stranger who approaches an adoptive family in the supermarket could potentially inflict pain on an adoptive parent or child with one simple statement or question. A simple phrase could cause a child to question the way he was brought into his family. One innocent word can cause a child to think she is strange or different or unwanted.

American Adoptions, along with others in the adoption community, promotes the use of positive adoption language that encourages a more accepting view of adoption. A few small changes in vocabulary can help promote adoption as a normal way to build a family.

Adoption Language Infographic


Make Adoptee Voices Heard: Support The Adopted Life Episodes Campaign!

By Ashleigh

theadoptedlifeOne of our favorite movies here at American Adoptions is Closure, a documentary that follows transracial adoptee Angela Tucker as she sets out to find her birth mother. Angela’s story brings to light many important issues in adoption, and addresses them from a lesser heard perspective: the adoptee’s.

To continue to shed light on the adoptee perspective, Angela and her husband, filmmaker Bryan Tucker, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their newest project, The Adopted Life Episodes.

The Adopted Life Episodes is a new series that will be hosted by Angela, who will sit down to speak one-on-one with transracially adopted youth to bring awareness to some of the complex issues adoptees face, from birth parent relationships to racial identity to forming friendships and a sense of belonging.

Bryan and Angela are more than halfway to their goal, but they need your support before their campaign ends on November 30.

Donations to the Kickstarter campaign will allow Bryan and Angela to create the first three episodes of The Adopted Life, which will allow viewers the rare opportunity to gain first-hand perspective from adoptees and let other young transracial adoptees know they are not alone.

Watch the trailer for Closure below to learn more about Angela and her story, and make a pledge to support The Adopted Life Episodes campaign before the end of National Adoption Month on November 30.



Open v Closed v Semi-Open Adoption [Infographic]

By Ashleigh

As you may know, this Saturday is National Adoption Day, and to honor this special holiday, we will be posting a new, helpful infographic every day this week. We hope these graphics will help you understand more about the adoption process and adoption in general.

“Open adoption” is a well-known and often-used term when talking about adoption, but what does open adoption really mean?

Because a birth mother has the freedom to choose so many aspects of an adoption, no two adoptions are ever quite the same. This is why it is so difficult to label whether an adoption is an “open adoption” or not. Would we call an adoption where the birth mother only receives pictures and letters an “open adoption?” If so, what do we call an adoption where the birth mother has a personal relationship with her child well into the future?

Thus, there are certainly many different types of open adoption, which is why it’s sometimes better to look at open adoption on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being fully closed and 10 being fully open. Most adoptions fall somewhere in the middle, with minimal contact shared between both parties, and picture and letter updates sent to the birth mother throughout the adoptee’s childhood. Some agencies refer to these adoption relationships as “semi-open adoptions,” with the exchange of non-identifying information and limited contact.

The infographic below further outlines this scale:

Open Adoption - Branded - Smaller

More than 9 out of every 10 women we work with would prefer some future contact with their child, so American Adoptions requires that its adoptive families be open to at least a semi-open adoption. To learn more about contact in adoptions, visit the following articles on our site.

For Adoptive Families:

For Birth Parents:


Adoption Process for Adoptive Families [Infographic]

By Ashleigh

As you may know, this Saturday is National Adoption Day, and to honor this special holiday, we will be posting a new, helpful infographic every day this week. We hope these graphics will help you understand more about the adoption process and adoption in general.

Many families who are just beginning the adoption process become overwhelmed by the many steps and legal aspects of the adoption process. It can be difficult for families to even understand where to start. 

The infographic below takes you through the adoption process step by step. From moving past your infertility to finalizing the adoption we have broken everything down to help you understand exactly how adoption works.



Birth Mother Myths v Realities [Infographic]

By Ashleigh

As you may know, this Saturday is National Adoption Day, and to honor this special holiday, we will be posting a new, helpful infographic every day this week. We hope these graphics will help you understand more about the adoption process and adoption in general.

It’s not uncommon for adoption newcomers to have preconceived notions about who a birth mom is, what her life is like and why she might be choosing adoptions.

But the truth is the brave and selfless women who choose to place their children for adoption come from a variety of ages, backgrounds and family types and also choose adoption for a variety of reasons.

Check out the infographic below for myths and realities about birth mothers. And then keep reading below to learn more about the sort of birth mothers who place their children with our agency.

MythvReality2.0 - smaller

The following statistics and information were collected from the women American Adoptions helped complete adoptions from October 2012 to October 2014. As you can see, only about one in five women could be categorized as “teen moms.” About four of five women have completed their high school education and/or pursued further education; four out of five women have other children before they choose adoption. Additionally, almost 10 percent of women who choose adoption are married.


  • 21% were under 20
  • 57% were between 20 and 30 years old
  • 15% were between 30 and 40 years old


Of the women who answered…

  • 22% have not graduated high school
  • 38% graduated high school and have no other secondary education
  • 69% graduated high school and have some college credit
  • 44% graduated high school and have completed college

Other Children

  • 40% did not have any other children
  • 21% had one other child
  • 20% had two other children
  • 11 % had three other children
  • 8% had four or more children


  • 7% were married
  • 93% were not married

To learn more about choosing adoption with American Adoptions, visit our website or call

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