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27
Nov

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Annie

We hope you’re all surrounded by the ones you love (and maybe some pie and mashed potatoes too) on this special holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving Smaller

26
Nov

Incorporate Adoption into Your Thanksgiving Traditions

By Annie

Thanksgiving DinnerNational Adoption Month and the holiday weekend around Thanksgiving can be a great time to start an annual adoption tradition. No need to stress over planning something big or elaborate, but both adoption month and Thanksgiving are times for recognizing family and celebrate the different ways that they’ve impacted our lives.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • At Thanksgiving dinner, go around the table and share what you’re thankful for. As adoptive parents, be sure to include your child’s birth parents and remind your children that they have so much to be thankful for too.
  • As an alternative to going around the table, you can also write out what you’re thankful for. Buy a cheap tablecloth and some wash-resistant pens, and each year, you’ll be able to write “your thankfuls” as well as look back on the ones from years past. Follow this link to learn more about this tablecloth idea.
  • Take a picture each year in front of the same background, holding the same item (like a gift from your child’s birth mother) or wearing the same outfit. This little girl’s parents have a cute idea along this line by taking a picture of her in the same over-sized t-shirt every year.
  • Play hooky for a day with your spouse and child(ren). You could use this time to take a family outing, have a special meal or treat or meet up with your child’s birth parents if you have an open relationship.

Researchers say that the fastest way to a life of happiness is to take on an attitude of gratitude. We’ve been trying to do that all week on the blog, and here are some ways to do that at home:

  • Send letters to people in your life who have been touched by adoption to thank them for their example and support and to celebrate adoption in their lives. Write thank-you notes to people who have helped you through the adoption process or who have been with you on your infertility or adoption journey.
  • Mentor a couple in the process of adopting – it can be really reassuring to hear from someone else who’s been there too. Consider adding yourself to our adoptive family reference list. Families on this list help to answer questions for prospective adoptive couples who want to learn more about American Adoptions and the domestic adoption process for families. Join this list by emailing us at AF.Coordinators@americanadoptions.com and letting us know you’re interested!
  • Waiting families can get in on this too! Ask your friends and family to help you spread the adoption love too and have them write letters to your future child about their excitement about the adoption, welcoming a new baby into the family. You can tuck these letters into a scrapbook for your child so that he or she will always know how anticipated and beloved they are!
  • Send an annual picture to your adoption professional or attorney. Our staff really enjoys hearing updates on your families and circulating your sweet photos to each other over email! We’re already looking forward to a wave of mail over the next month or two!

We’ve gotten so many holiday cards this season! It’s so great to hear from you and see your growing families!

A photo posted by American Adoptions (@americanadoptions) on

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate National Adoption Month, enjoy some family togetherness!

25
Nov

Honoring Birth Parents During National Adoption Month

By Annie

Playtime with mum and dadIt’s especially important to celebrate birth parents during National Adoption Month! These courageous women and men made your adoption dreams come true and are an important part of your child’s identity.

If you have a closed adoption, consider starting an annual tradition to honor your child’s birth mother. You could light a candle or have a bouquet at dinner, say a special prayer before bed, make a donation to an organization in her honor, or just spend an evening talking about the respect your family has for her.

For families who have a more open relationship, you could send a special National Adoption Month pictures and letters package. As Michelle shared with us in the blog post Tips for Sending Pictures and Letters, you CAN send packages more often than your agreement. For many women, the holidays are the hardest part of the year because it holds so many reminders of family togetherness.

For information about open adoption relationships, check out the following articles:

National Adoption Month and the holidays could be the perfect time to send another package – even if it’s not part of your regular schedule!

Sit down and help your child write a note or send one yourself. You can also include fun and timely fall and holiday crafts. A handprint turkey or homemade Christmas ornament could be great!

Check out the following links for craft ideas:

No matter what you do, just make sure to take time during National Adoption Month and other times of the year to talk about and honor your child’s birth parents.

What are some ways that you celebrate your child’s birth parents?

24
Nov

What Actress Connie Britton Is Thankful For

By Annie

Connie BrittonAs National Adoption Month comes closer to its end and the Holiday Season picks up steam, this message from Actress Connie Britton (best known for her roles on TV shows like Nashville and Friday Night Lights) is a great way to kick off Thanksgiving week!

Just last week, Connie wrote her “What I’m Thankful For,” a recurring column for TIME Magazine. The focus of her column was her experience as an adoptive mom, which she describes as:

“This child, my son, is the greatest, most hard won gift of my life. And yes, I think that even when he is screaming NO in the most impressively pitched tone which sends the dogs outside, or is fighting me with a strength that I can’t match even though I am 5 times his size. In those moments where I am so challenged by him, I am still thankful. He provides a learning curve I could never find anywhere else.”

Time with her son also reminds him of who and what brought him to her:

“These are qualities that I know any parent can recognize and connect to. But my son happens to be adopted. So what is miraculous about the parent/child relationship somehow still leaves a catch in my throat when I think about both of our journeys to find each other. I am grateful to my son for finding me. I am grateful to his birth mother for her fortitude in bearing him and her suffering in letting him go. I am grateful for my life as a mother.”

Read the rest of Connie’s column at TIME.com, and learn more about famous adoptions on our website!

 

23
Nov

Adoption Memories from Our Staff

By Annie

In the spirit of National Adoption Month and Thanksgiving, we encouraged our staff to reflect on some of their favorite adoption memories. Here are a few that stood out!

Staff Photos“I will never forget the one adoption we did back in 1996 at Christmas time where the birth mother thought she was having one baby boy and ended up having twins. This was not discovered until the family was on an airplane on their way to the hospital and their birth mother was in labor. The adoption took place on Christmas Eve, and the birth mother surprised the family when they got to the hospital with a boy and girl instead of just a boy. This particular adoption happened very early on at the agency, but I still think about it. It was a super surprise, everyone cried for joy, and it was great to be part of such a journey for this couple!”  – Wade Morris, Director of Community Resources

Staff Photos“One of my favorite things about sitting at the front desk of the office is when a local adoptive family comes in to drop off their pictures and letters. The parents are always so happy, and their kids are really happy too. It is so awesome to actually get to see the kids and how their moms interact with them, even just for a few minutes. It’s a small thing, but it really warms my heart and makes my day when I see the babies/children with their adoptive parents.”  – Elexx, Project Coordinator

Staff Stories Angie Small“I have worked for American Adoptions for over 14 years, so it is safe to say I have seen thousands of adoptions. Therefore, it is very hard for me to single out one or two favorite adoption moments.

“I have worked with countless families who, by the time they got to me, were heartbroken through years of infertility. The feel good memories which stand out to me are the families who are so taken with the birth mother that they incorporate her name into the child’s. These are almost always the families who secretly hope for a closed adoption because they had fears about the birth mother and the ongoing relationship they might have to keep up; they were afraid to get to close to her for fear she would want the child back and break their hearts all over again.

However, soon after the baby was born, they witnessed the incredible sacrifice that this woman was making for them to become parents and realized that she is not a threat to them. I remember baby “Eric” and baby “Cooper,” named because of their birth mother’s last names. I remember baby “Stephen,” named because his birth mother’s name was Stephanie. I will always hold a special place in my heart for these adoptions because of the bond that is forever formed between these families.

One specific adoption story that touched my soul was the couple who had miscarried twin girls pretty late in their pregnancy. As they mourned the loss and started through the journey of adoption with us, they understood that the chance of adopting twins was pretty rare. We only see maybe five sets of twins a year between both programs, so the likelihood that this would happen to them was slim to none at best. However, that was not the case. They were matched with a birth mother who was carrying twin boys! In my 14 years, that is a story I will never forget. It confirms the cliché I say to my families all of the time (and I almost sure they get sick of hearing), but everyone ends up with the baby (or babies!) they are supposed to!” – Angie Newkirk, Adoptive Family Specialist

And look back on what National Adoption Month means to Adoptive Family Specialist Kelli!

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?

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