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7
Dec

2016 Annual Holiday Photo Contest

By Ashleigh

TJ_4 monthsEach year, the American Adoptions family grows bigger as more and more families are created through the miracle of adoption. Over the years, our agency has had the sincere pleasure of assisting thousands of families along their adoption journey. We love to celebrate the season by sharing the beautiful faces of adoption through our Annual American Adoptions Holiday Photo Contest!

Submissions:

Our Holiday Photo Contest is open to all families who have adopted through our agency. Enter a photo of your child by Wednesday, December 14th at 5 PM CST!

To submit your photo, simply follow these easy steps:

  • Email your favorite photo of your child (or children) to editors@americanadoptions.com by Wednesday, December 16th.
  • In the email message body, be sure to include your name, your children’s name(s) and their ages. (Example: John Smith, Age 2 – Parents: Robert and Jane Smith)

* The American Adoptions Holiday Photo Contest is open to all families who have adopted through our agency. Please only submit one photo per child.

Voting:

Winners will be selected by YOU! We’ll be posting the photos (with first names and ages only) to our Facebook page, where we encourage you and your friends and family to vote for your favorite photos with a like! (Comments will not count.)

Voting will close on Wednesday, December 21st at 5 PM CST, and winners will be announced then. Winners will also appear on our blog and in an issue of our newsletter American Adoptions News!

Entries will be divided into three categories, with one winner in each category:

  • Children age 0-2
  • Children age 3 and up
  • Siblings – Multiple children adopted from American Adoptions
6
Dec

5 Lessons ‘This is Us’ Teaches Us About Adoption

By Ashleigh

“This is Us,” an NBC show about a blended family told in different timelines, is arguably this fall season’s breakout hit. Focusing on three siblings — two twins and their adopted brother — coping with different crises at the age of 36, it’s quickly become a favorite for its honest portrayal of race, class, gender and body size.

One of the biggest storylines revolves around Randall, who was adopted by his parents from the hospital in the 1980s after his adoptive parents lost one of their triplets during childbirth. As an African-American in a white, middle-class family, he struggles to find his identity after he reconnects with his long-lost birth father.

The show is a great resource for adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees alike, educating viewers about adoption and the struggles all parties experience during their lifelong adoption journey. Although Randall was adopted in the 1980s in a closed adoption (rare today), many of his and his parents’ challenges will resonate with those affected by adoption.

American Adoptions highly recommends adoptive families watch “This is Us” as another way to normalize adoption in your household. To catch you up before tonight’s midseason finale, we’ve compiled a list of what “This is Us” has addressed about adoption so far.

How Closed Adoptions Can Negatively Affect Adopted Children

Randall’s adoption is an example of a “safe haven” adoption, wherein his birth father (William) left him in the custody of firefighters after his mother died giving birth to him. Randall is then brought to the hospital, where Rebecca and Jack choose to adopt him after one of their triplets dies during birth.

William lingers at the hospital to make sure Randall is taken care of, and Rebecca realizes who he is. She speaks with him once shortly after she adopts Randall and then revisits him later in Randall’s childhood. However, she keeps the knowledge of Randall’s birth father a secret from both her husband and her son and eventually decides that William cannot have contact with his son.

Not knowing anything about his birth parents is hard on Randall, a black boy being raised in a white family. Although it’s revealed his birth parents both had substance abuse issues (which is why Rebecca chose to keep his history a secret), the “what ifs” and unknowns of his adoption cause him to search out his birth father through a private investigator — which leads to an eventual meeting filled with anger, guilt and confusion.

While closed adoptions like Randall’s are not as common today as they were in the 1980s, his story demonstrates how children can be affected if they don’t know the truth about their adoption. Of course, not all adopted children are the same, but the hurt and confusion about why adopted children were “abandoned” at birth are usually not feelings that disappear over time.

Closed adoptions may seem like the easiest choice for adopted parents who worry about how birth parents might affect their child, but it’s important to understand that when children know about their birth parents, it doesn’t decrease the amount of love for their adopted parents at all. In fact, it makes the adoption process easier and can create a stronger bond between adoptive parents and adopted children — one based on love and respect.

Adopted Children are Naturally Curious about their Birth Parents

While Rebecca and Jack provide a healthy, stable home where Randall has everything he could want, it doesn’t prevent him from wondering about his adoptive parents. Late in his childhood, he begins asking other black people if they can roll their tongues like him — a genetic trait that he thinks will help him track down his birth parents.

Rebecca, insecure about her ability to mother three children (one of them being adopted), takes this personally. She worries that in Randall seeking out his birth parents, she’s failed somehow to be “enough” of a mother for him. But, as many adopted children will say, the desire to know about birth parents is not a reflection on adoptive parents at all — just a natural curiosity to learn more about where they came from and their personal identity.

Because biological family plays a large role in that personal identity, many adopted children will ask questions about their adoptive parents at some point or another. You should prepare yourself to answer those questions honestly; an open adoption with the birth parents can help you do so. It will not make you any less of a parent to your child if you expose them to their birth parents, but your children will have a newfound appreciation for your strength in doing so.

Birth Parents Hurt Long After the Adoption, Too

Adoption can be a difficult journey for all involved, but the emotional plight birth parents go through even long after the adoption is complete can sometimes be overlooked. While they know their decision is the best one for their child, the grief and loss they feel may never completely disappear.

In several “This is Us” episodes, we see William struggling with the sadness he still feels from placing his son for adoption — especially after Rebecca decides he cannot be a part of Randall’s life. While he knows that he make the best decision for Randall, he’s also plagued with the “what ifs.” Not being in contact with his son for 36 years only makes his situation more difficult.

When we think about adoption today, it’s important to remember that birth parents are forever affected by their decision to place their child for adoption. It’s a long healing process for all involved, and this is just one of the situations where open adoption can be helpful. Even if William had not been able to meet Randall, periodic updates about his son would have been instrumental in his healing.

How a Transracial Adoption Requires Extra Work

As a black man growing up in a white, middle-class family, Randall needed things that his parents simply couldn’t provide on their own: education about his culture and race, role models who looked like him and even simple hygiene skills tailored to his race.

When his parents take Randall to the community pool, he finds a group of black children to hang out with, rather than his own siblings. When Rebecca scolds him for wandering off, a black mother approaches her, informing her that she needs to find Randall a proper barber. This mother serves as an invaluable resource for Rebecca and Jack, giving them the education they need about raising a black son and providing Randall a community of people who look like him.

Jack even seeks out a black male role model for his son in a dojo instructor. Although the instructor provides a black father authority that Randall is missing, he also includes Jack in the initiation rituals that all the other black fathers do.

If you’re an adoptive parent raising or looking to raise a child of another race, it’s important that you fully educate yourself on your child’s culture and race to help them develop their personal identity. You will need to reach out for resources, even if it makes you uncomfortable to do so. Remember, asking for help doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent — it just means you want to give your child the best chances possible.

Adoption is a Lifelong Journey

Every adoption story is different, but there will always be some unique challenges for the adopted child, the adoptive parents and the birth parents. No one can anticipate every problem that can arise during an adoption, so it’s a constant learning process.

While Randall’s closed adoption is uncommon nowadays, his story shows how even an adult adoptee can confront issues about his adoption later on in life. The identity of an adopted child, adoptive parents and birth parents are constantly changing — and it can be a messy process.

But, as long as there are open relationships between all involved in the adoption process, these issues can usually be resolved in healthy ways that will only make your connections deeper and more meaningful.

For anyone who has been affected by adoption, watching “This is Us” can be a helpful way to see your experiences normalized on screen. Whether you’re a birth parent, an adoptive parent or an adoptee, there’s something for everyone.

“This is Us” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC. You can catch up and watch “This is Us” online on Hulu.

5
Dec

What Does an Adoption Specialist Do?

By Ashleigh

Adoption SpecialistChoosing adoption is a big decision.  It doesn’t matter if you are looking to be the adoptive family, or if you are the birth family.  Both parties have a lot to consider when they choose adoption.  The support of loved ones is extremely important and necessary.  Also important is the support of an adoption specialist.

An adoption specialist’s role is vast.  They are educators, counselors, and advocates for both birth families and adoptive families.  Their services include (but are not limited to):

For birth families

  • educating birth parents on what it means to choose adoption
  • helping them create an adoption plan, choose a family, and form a hospital plan
  • providing education about the emotional experience birth parents will have, from being matched with a family to their hospital stay
  • providing advice about the financial aspects of adoption
  • answering all questions the birth family will have

For adoptive families

  • educating adoptive families on each step in their journey to growing their family
  • answering all questions from the adoptive family
  • providing advice about the financial aspects of adoption
  • facilitating communication between the birth family and adoptive family
  • helping adoptive families be prepared for when they get “the call.”

Another hat worn by an adoption specialist is that of “friend.”  The adoption process can be daunting, overwhelming, and confusing.  An adoption specialist can help navigate the path, ensure all needs are being met, and provide encouragement along the way.  They are a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  And most adoption specialists would probably say this is their most important role, one they are privileged to have.

30
Nov

Famous Adoptees – Infographic

By Ashleigh

To wrap up National Adoption Month, we want to leave you with an infographic that shows adoptees can be anything, do anything and go anywhere in life. We hope you’ve enjoyed our content throughout the month, and more importantly, that you’ve learned something about adoption. 

As they first think about creating an adoption plan, many expectant parents wonder if an adopted person can be as successful. But birth parents and adoptive parents alike know that adopted people go on to be just as successful as their peers. Just read the infographic below to learn about some famous adoptees!

famous-adoptions-infographic

29
Nov

Other Types of Adoption

By Ashleigh

grandparent adoptionWhen people hear about adoption, their first thought is that of a family adopting a newborn.  Or maybe they think of a family flying across the world to bring home a toddler in need of a loving home.  What people may not realize is that there are other types of adoption too, such as step-parent adoption, grandparent adoption and adult adoption.

Step-parent adoption is one of the most common forms of adoption in the United States.  A step-parent who adopts becomes the legal parent and fully responsible for their spouse’s child.  After the adoption takes place, the non-custodial parent has no rights for the child.  This includes child support.

Generally, most states make the adoption process easier for a step-parent.  There may not be a home visit, but there usually is a criminal background check.  Some states require the adopting step-parent to be living with and married to the child’s parent for at least a year.  Unless the child has been abandoned, the noncustodial parent must give consent to the adoption.  In nearly all states, an older child (minimum age 10-14) must give consent to the adoption as well.

Grandparent adoption is one of several legal options available to grandparents, and gives the grandparents full legal parental rights.  However, in order to gain legal custody of their grandchild, they have to bring a legal proceeding against the child’s parent(s), one of whom is their child.  The court must decide on the best situation for the child, and this process can be long and emotional.

The main reason grandparents may adopt their grandchild(ren) is if the parents have become incapacitated or deceased.  Unfortunately, other reasons a grandparent may seek legal custody is because the parents have been abusive or neglectful to the child, they have abandoned the child, or they have been incarcerated.  If the parents are alive, this could cause the relationship with the grandparents to be strained, as the judge has to decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Adult adoption is the legal process of adopting a person over the age of the majority, as determined by the state in which they reside.  The most common reason for adult adoption is to legalize a parent/child-like relationship.  The adopted person would then be legally able to inherit from the adoptive parent.

Another reason for adult adoption is to provide protection for a person with disabilities or cognitive delays.  Once adopted as a family member, that person is guaranteed a lifetime of care under the family insurance or through an inheritance.

One more reason for adult adoption is for a child exiting the foster care system to have a more “permanent” feeling of family.  If they have been living with a foster family and have established a close bond with them, they can be legally adopted by that foster family.

Like the more recognized types of adoptions, these adoptions are governed by the laws of the state.  And like all adoptions, the goal is to create forever families for all those needing one.

26
Nov

18 Ways to Fundraise for Your Adoption

By Ashleigh

adoptwithoutdebtAdmittedly, the cost of adoption is fairly high and it can be difficult for some adoptive families to pay for their adoption without going into debt. While tax credits, adoption grants and employee benefit programs can help alleviate some of the costs they don’t always cover everything.

In these cases, adoptive families often turn to fundraising to help pay for the cost of adoption. With the help of Julie Gumm’s Adopt Without Debt, we have complied a list of 18 adoption fundraiser ideas that can help pay for your adoption.

Search, Sort and Sell

Look around your house and garage for old/unused items (toys, clothes, exercise equipment, electronics, etc.). Sell what you can and donate the rest. Earn some extra cash while also decluttering your house!

Start by posting larger items, such as exercise equipment and electronics on sites like Ebay or Craigslist (note: anything too big to ship should be listed on Craigslist). Next, try consignment stores for name brand items. Whether it’s adult clothing, children’s clothing or even accessories or toys, there’s probably a re-run store near you who will buy items that are in good condition.

Or you could simply sell everything in a garage sale. Some families have had major garage sale success by asking for donations to their adoption fund instead of using set prices on items.

Sell Your Craft

Turn a hobby into a money maker! Etsy is a great place to sell handmade items such as artwork, jewelry, quilts, clothing, or anything else you can think of. If you’re skilled with a camera, consider booking photo sessions. This can be done on nights and weekends and is a great way to boost your adoption fund!

Puzzle Piece Sponsors

Buy or create a 200-500 piece puzzle and ask friends/family etc. to sponsor a piece for a certain dollar amount ($5-10). When someone buys a piece have them write their name on the back so their role in your adoption journey will always be remembered. When all the pieces are sold, assemble the puzzle and hang in the child’s room.

Some adoptive families have also done this with quilts. Buy enough fabric squares to assemble a quilt and sell each square for $5-10. Have permanent markers nearby so everyone can write a message to your family or the child on their square. When all the pieces are sold, sew them all together to make a beautiful and personalized quilt.

Baby Bottle Campaign 

Buy bottles in bulk and design a paper flyer to go in each bottle telling about your adoption. Then distribute them to friends, family, businesses, churches, schools, daycares- whoever is willing to put their spare change in the baby bottle. Give them one month to see if they can fill the bottle and then collect them. It’s amazing how quickly spare change can add up!

Bake Sale

Gather all of your close friends and family and bake like crazy! Bake pies, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, rice crispy treats, anything you want. When you’re done take all delicious goodies and host a bake sale in your neighborhood, at your church or your kids’ school. This is a great fundraiser that can be combined with another fundraising event, such as a 5k, movie night or benefit dinner!

T-Shirt Sale

Design a t-shirt that symbolizes your adoption journey and sell them to friends, family, and strangers. Do it yourself through a local printing shop or use a company like Create My Tee or TFund to process orders for you.

Not digging the t-shirts? You could also sell sweatshirts, tote bags, bracelets or water bottles. This is another great fundraising idea that could be combined with a larger fundraising event.

50/50 Raffle

A 50/50 raffle is best when paired with an event like a 5k, benefit dinner, or sporting tournament. The adoptive family sells raffle tickets for $2-5 per ticket. At the end of the event draw one ticket and split the collected money with the winner 50/50. This is a fun and easy way to boost your adoption fund!

Car Wash

Take a trip back to your childhood with this one! Gather all the kids and family members you can and host a car wash fundraiser. Choose a hot summer day and have fun playing in the water while you wash cars.

Movie Night

Find a spot where you can play a family-friendly movie for several people (outdoor spaces are perfect for this kind of event!). Pick a classic movie that everyone loves, or a new favorite, and invite everyone to attend. Ask for $10 per family and provide popcorn and drinks for them to enjoy during the movie.

Benefit Dinner

Benefit Dinner’s don’t have to be as fancy as they sound. Many adoptive families prefer to do these fundraisers in a more casual style – common meals include pancakes, spaghetti and chili. Ask for $3-5 for individual tickets (offering a discounted family rate) and give attendees the option to donate more if they’d like to.  Gather volunteers who can help prepare the food, serve food, collect money and clean up.

Give your dinner a boost by selling baked goods, t-shirts and/or raffle tickets!

Trivia Night

Host a fun-filled trivia night at home or at a local restaurant where guests can get into teams and let their competitive sides loose. Ask for a certain rate per team and have a variety of categories from kid’s shows to American history so everyone can participate!

Host a 5k Run/Walk

Hosting a 5k is a bigger commitment than many other fundraising ideas, but they can be so much fun and could potentially help you to raise thousands of dollars toward your adoption fund. Families will often charge anywhere from $25 to $50 per person (with a discounted rate for families). This generally includes a t-shirt, support and water during the run, and a healthy snack after.

Add giveaways to make it more fun for everyone! Ask for donation from friends and family and even local businesses that can be used in a raffle during the race. Sell raffle tickets before the race for $1-5 and draw names once everyone has crossed the finish line.

Bonus: Use the event to educate others on adoption by providing adoption information and facts.

Silent Auction

Like a 5k, a silent auction can be a major time commitment, but can help raise a lot of money toward your adoption. You’ll need to start by asking for donations. Friends and family who have special skills, such as photography or crafting, can donate their time or creations to be auctioned. Or you can ask local businesses to donate products or gift cards to be auctioned. However, many companies have regulations on donations and may not be able to donate.  If you don’t want to host a silent auction on its own, combine it with a benefit dinner!

Golf or Softball Tournament

Tournaments are another big commitment but can be so much fun for everyone involved! First you will need to find a location and set a date and time. Depending on the number of entering teams you may need to spread the event over two or three days. Or all-night tournaments can be added fun, when possible of course! You will also need to find volunteer score keepers and/or umpires to help with the event.  Ask for a base fee per team or individual, depending on the sport, and provide fun trophies and t-shirts for the winners.

Fundraising Letters

An old standby, fundraising letters can be sent to family, friends, neighbors and businesses. Many families find it difficult to ask for donations in this way, but instead of asking them to help you add a child to your family, ask them to help a child in need.

Go Fund Me

Go Fund Me is a great way for adoptive families to fund their adoptions. Any one from relatives, to neighbors, to strangers across the country can donate to help you reach your goals. Creating a page is simple and sharing your page and your story is easy through social media.

Just Love Coffee

Just Love Coffee is an amazing company that was founded by adoptive parents and sells fair trade coffee from around the world. The company offers a fundraising program where adoptive families can sell the coffee for up to 12 months and receive $5 for every bag of coffee sold.

Partner with Lifesong for Orphans for the Both Hands Project

This is an incredible, unique opportunity where you can work with your church or community to serve a local widow, as you fundraise for your adoption.

18 Ways to Fundraise for Your Adoption

Related Links:

http://adoptwithoutdebt.com/

http://americanblog.wpengine.com/adoption-fundraising-webinars/

http://americanblog.wpengine.com/adoption-tax-credit-2014-infographic/

http://resources4adoption.com/

http://americanblog.wpengine.com/getting-adoption-benefits-at-work/

23
Nov

Birth Mother Myths vs Realities – Infographics

By Ashleigh

As you know, November is National Adoption Month, and to honor this special holiday, we will be posting a new, helpful infographic every Wednesday 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

22
Nov

A Birth Parent Specialist’s Role in the Adoption Process

By Ashleigh

When a woman decides to place her baby for adoption, it’s a huge step — but it’s just the first of many. She will encounter countless important decisions along the way. It can be a daunting process, but a few special American Adoptions staff members are dedicated to helping her decide what’s right for herself and her child.

Haley Castrop, Brighid Titus and Katie House are Birth Parent Specialists at American Adoptions, which means they help birth parents through the adoption process from start to finish. Each of them sat down to help explain to you, our readers, just exactly what a Birth Parent Specialist does and why the position is so essential for everyone involved in an adoption.

Educating the Woman Considering Adoption

When a woman considering placing her baby for adoption contacts American Adoptions, she’ll be directed to a Birth Parent Specialist. This staff member will be her point of contact throughout the entire adoption. It’s essential, then, that the two individuals form a relationship.

It is, of course, a sensitive situation, and the amount of false information available about adoption doesn’t help. A Birth Parent Specialist’s first responsibility is to educate the woman considering adoption. The specialist gets to know her (as well as the expectant  ) and to understand her situation. At this point, the specialist can begin to help the birth parents understand what they might or might not be looking for in an adoptive family.

Choosing an Adoptive Family

Armed with more information, the expectant mother will now choose a family that she feels comfortable with to raise her baby. Birth Parent Specialists at American Adoptions do encourage at least some degree of openness in an adoption, so the woman has to decide what amount is right for her. Does she want regular contact? Does she want to be able to visit? If she wants no contact at all, that’s an option as well.

When the expectant mother has an idea what she’s looking for, the Birth Parent Specialist will show her the profiles of adoptive families that align with the qualities she’s searching for. If she finds a family that she feels may be right, it’s time for her to get back with the Birth Parent Specialist to move forward. If she’s having trouble finding an appealing family, the Birth Parent Specialist will help explore why that’s happening. Either she’s not fully committed to the idea of adoption, in which case the Birth Parent Specialist will help her decide if it’s really the right call for her, or she just may need to look at more profiles.

When a woman chooses a family that she thinks might be right, her specialist will call that adoptive family. They call it the “opportunity call.” If the adoptive family thinks it’s a good fit, it’s a match.

Taking Care of an Expectant Mother Before Adoption

Finding a match for a woman considering adoption in no way means a Birth Parent Specialist’s job is done. They’re now tasked with fostering communication between the expectant mother and adoptive family. A Birth Parent Specialist will set up opportunities for the two parties to get to know one another. The specialist will help the expectant mother to build the relationship, to get to know the family and to ask any questions she may have. Any doubts should be dealt with sooner rather than later if possible; those will only magnify once the baby arrives.

It’s not just the expectant mother’s relationship with the adoptive family that’s important, though. A Birth Parent Specialist will stay in touch with her to verify that everything is going smoothly with the pregnancy and her health. The specialist will keep track of appointments and make sure the expectant mother’s bills are being paid.

A Birth Parent Specialist is, first and foremost, in the expectant mother’s corner. The more comfortable and healthy she is, the more likely the adoption will be successful for everyone.

Hospital Plan

As with all pregnant women, it’s important to have a birth plan. This process is going to be more extensive, however, where adoption is concerned. Our specialists refer to it as a “hospital plan.” The general delivery options, such as whether the woman will have a vaginal or caesarean delivery, are covered, but it expands from there. The Birth Parent Specialist will help the expectant mother decide if she wants to feed the baby and how, if the baby should sleep in the room with her, and more.

The Birth Parent Specialist is the one responsible for all of the moving parts of the hospital plan. They’ll make sure the adoption attorney is on hand, and they’ll inform the hospital of the situation. They even get to call the adoptive family to tell them their new family member is making his or her debut!

Post Placement

A Birth Parent Specialist’s contact with a birth mother doesn’t stop as soon as everyone leaves the hospital. While it’s amazing to see a child join an adoptive family, it’s important to remember adoption is a lifelong journey for everyone — one that includes pain and grief for birth mothers.Her specialist will make sure to follow up with her to see how she’s doing

Neither Haley, Brighid nor Katie hesitates to say that they love their job.

“I love helping the birth mothers find the right family,” says Haley. “It’s always very cool to be able to find that family that fits everything she’s looking for… You have this family that’s so happy and had waited probably a long time to be able to have this baby, and that part’s awesome too.”

 

21
Nov

All About Foster-to-Adopt: What is it and How Does it Work?

By Ashleigh

Foster AdoptOn average, there are around 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, waiting for their permanent home.  They vary in age from infant to adult, although the average age is around 8 years old.  Some have siblings in the system as well.  Most of these children are perfectly healthy kids who just need a loving and supportive adult in their life.  When parents are looking to adopt a child, an option available to them is fostering to adopt.

Once a family has decided to adopt a child from foster care, they need to consider the costs involved.  Foster care adoption is not as expensive as many believe.  A child in the foster care system may be eligible for adoption assistance. Benefits differ from state to state, but generally, all states provide medical assistance, monthly cash payments, social services, and possibly a one-time payment for non-recurring adoption costs.  Loans and grants may be available, and the parents’ employers may also provide adoption benefits.

The next step is to choose an adoption agency.  Families working with a public agency typically will not incur many costs.  Using a private adoption agency or an attorney will carry additional costs.  Typically, though, these costs can be recouped through the federal adoption tax credit, once the adoption is finalized.

Once a family has chosen an agency, they begin to complete the requirements to be eligible to adopt.  This can take, on average, anywhere from nine to 18 months to complete.  Families must complete a home study and adoption preparation classes.  Even if these classes are not required by the agency, it is strongly recommended that parents complete these courses, so they can gain an understanding for what issues may arise when a foster child joins a family.  Once these requirements are complete, a family will be eligible to adopt a child.

When a family finds a child they are interested in adopting, it is obviously very important that they find out all they can about this child.  They can talk to past foster parents and social workers.  Families need to learn the basics, such as the child’s favorite games or toys, as well as their medical history and information about the birth parents.  Knowing everything about the child will make the transition from foster care much smoother.

When the child has been placed in the adoptive family’s home, the adoption agency will monitor the placement for about 6 months, to ensure everyone is adjusting.  The social worker may call or visit, to discuss how the placement is working for everyone.  After this time period has passed, the agency will recommend to the court to approve the adoption, and the adopting family will file a petition.  This petition includes statements from the child’s social worker that the adoption is in the child’s best interest, as well as from the adopting family, declaring their desire to adopt.

A finalization hearing legally completes the adoption process.  This usually takes place within 6 to 12 months after the child is placed in the family’s home.  The family will be asked open-ended questions about why they want to adopt, how will they care for the child, and how will the family adjust to a new child.  When the judge signs the adoption order, the family gains legal custody of the child, and their life with their forever family can begin!

18
Nov

Incorporate Birth Parents into Your National Adoption Day Celebrations

By Ashleigh

November is National Adoption Month, and one of its highlights is National Adoption Day. It’s a national effort to raise awareness for more than 100,000 kids in the foster care system, and thus far it’s helped almost 58,500 children find their forever families! In 2015, which was the 16th National Adoption Day, approximately 4,000 kids went to their permanent homes.

But National Adoption Day isn’t just a day to celebrate those associated with the foster care system. It’s a great chance for you and your child to work on your relationship with his or her birth parents. The selfless decision they made in placing their child in your care is certainly something to be celebrated!

The ways in which you celebrate National Adoption Day with birth parents depend, of course, on the type of relationship you have. But no matter the degree of contact, we’ve got some suggestions to help you honor the holiday.

  1. Meet up with the birth parents. If you have a relationship that includes in-person visits, it’s a great chance for everyone to catch up. If the weather’s nice enough, a picnic in the park followed by playing in piles of leaves is always a pleasant afternoon. If it’s chilly, you can always grab dinner or some hot chocolate. Giving them the chance to see the family you’ve built and the happy environment they placed their child in may be the best gift you can give to them.
  2. Schedule a phone call or Skype chat. If your child’s birth parents live far away, or if in-person visits aren’t part of your adoption plan, try scheduling a Skype session or a phone call. Letting the birth parents hear your child’s voice (whether he or she is speaking or just cooing) is an excellent way to let them know they’re on your mind.
  3. Send a care package. If your relationship with your child’s birth parents consists of updates in the forms of pictures and letters, now is a great chance to send a special one! Maybe include an extra picture or two, and update them on how your child is doing. Homemade cards are always an adorable idea if your child is old enough to draw!
  4. Start a journal. Having no contact with the birth parents doesn’t mean you can’t think of them on this special day. Try starting a journal and write a letter to them. You can tell them what is going on in your child’s life, how you’re feeling and how appreciative you are of the immense gift they gave you. You don’t have to send it. Hang on to the journal and make it a National Adoption Day tradition! It could be a nice gift for your child one day, or just a therapeutic exercise for yourself.

No matter what method you choose to honor National Adoption Day, make sure you do celebrate it! Adoption and the process that brought your family together is special, and it’s a great chance to show your child how proud you are of that. Enjoy!

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