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20
Feb

10 Ways to Fundraise for Adoption

It’s no secret that adoption is expensive. Depending on the type of adoption you pursue, you could be looking at spending as much as $50,000. And while you’ll want to look into loans, grants, employer benefits and the adoption tax credit, it’s likely that you’ll still have to come up with a large sum before you can adopt.

There are reasons that adoption is so expensive, and you can read about those here. This post, though, is going to focus on ways to raise that money. We understand that not all families have $50,000 lying around. (Wouldn’t it be nice if you did, though?! Sigh.) This doesn’t necessarily bar you from adoption. It just means you may have to get creative.

Families have funded their adoption in so many ways; it would be impossible to include every method in one post (although Fund Your Adoption did a pretty decent job). Instead, we’ve picked some of our favorites. You can certainly get creative with your adoption fundraisers—some families make things like jewelry in order to store away extra cash — but these 10 are tried and true. Sometimes, sticking to the classics can yield some of the best results.

1. Have a yard sale. There’s no way you don’t have a few possessions lying around that you don’t really need. And hey, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Get realistic about what you do and don’t need, and try to declutter your home a little. You’ll need that extra space for a new child anyway! If you live in an area where this would work in the traditional sense, and the weather will accommodate you, go for it. If not, it’s fairly easy to sell things online these days. Thank you, Craigslist and eBay.

2. Sell some food. Maybe this is a bake sale, maybe it’s an ice cream social, or maybe it’s a chili cook-off. It really doesn’t matter; people love their food. Think about what your strengths are kitchen-wise, and what would be the most cost-effective route in your community. Obviously, season factors in as well. Don’t have a chili cook-off in July, and an ice cream social probably isn’t a great idea in February. Otherwise, though, go crazy. Ask for people to donate food (or turn it into some type of competition), and ask for people to pay a small fee, maybe $10, at the door to come in and eat. (Hint: Sometimes it might work better to ask people to donate whatever they can instead of assigning a dollar amount per plate.)

3. Design a T-shirt. Chances are, your family and friends are going to be eager to spread the word of this fundraiser to their family and friends. A great way to help them do that is to turn them into walking billboards! Just kidding — kind of. Designing a t-shirt and selling it will not only raise some fairly immediate cash, but it’ll help to let other people know just exactly what you’re trying to do. Even if they don’t necessarily want to purchase a shirt, they may be more likely to follow your journey and participate in other fundraisers.

4. Hold a sporting event/tournament. Never underestimate the power of healthy competition. The exact event may depend on weather and location, but a day of games is always a safe bet. If it’s summer, try to find a park with a sand volleyball court or a softball field for some slow pitch. People who don’t know you will attend just for the sporting aspect, and people who do know you will most likely be willing to participate even if sports aren’t necessarily their thing.

5. Try adoption crowdfunding. We’ve all seen people using GoFundMe for various reasons on our Facebook feeds. This is an option for adoption, too. We recommend skipping GoFundMe, which takes five percent of every donation you receive. Instead, try a site like YouCaring, AdoptTogether or Pure Charity.

6. Send out letters announcing your adoption decision. Sometimes all it takes to get people excited about your cause is just letting them know about. Sending a letter to your family and friends is a way to personally let everyone know what’s happening and what you’re hoping for in terms of donations and fundraising. Some people will help you out and some may not, but if your letter is written well, this can be a tasteful way to ask for help without pressuring anyone too much.

7. Have a silent auction. This can either take place online or in person. Have people from your community donate goods and services, and then auction them off to the highest bidder. If you choose to do this in person, it may be wise to combine this one with a food-related fundraiser as well. People are going to want to have something to eat or drink while the bidding takes place.

8. Have an online raffle. This follows the same principle as an online auction. Have people donate goods or services, and then raffle them off. Set up a Paypal account or a similar method of receiving money to sell the raffle tickets. Just make sure you’re prepared to deliver those goods and services quickly!

9. Host a 5K. It seems like there’s a 5K for everything these days, but that’s because they work. People seem to love exercising in the name of a good cause.

10. Have a cookbook fundraiser. Everyone has that favorite family recipe they just know is better than everyone else’s. Have your family and friends submit their favorite recipes, and then compile them into one cookbook for sale. Everyone will love knowing that others are trying their recipes, and they’ll get the chance to get their hands on some new ones as well.

If the idea of paying for an adoption is intimidating to you, we hope these suggestions help you in terms of figuring out how to fund that life change. Remember, you really aren’t alone! To learn more about other ways to pay for adoption, click here.

14
Feb

“Love at First Sight” 2017 Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to American Adoptions’ top 3 winners of this year’s Love at First Sight photo contest, as chosen by all of you!

Sara (mom) seeing Asher (son) for the first time.
Parents: Shawn and Sara

Mitchell (also adopted through American Adoptions) meeting baby sister Aubrey.
Parents: Rich and Michelle

“The look of awe and love on his face melts my heart every time I see this picture! He is such an amazing big brother. Still looks at her this way and she thinks he hung the moon.” -Michelle

First family photo session with Maricela.
Parents: Louis and Andrea


Thanks to everyone who participated! We love seeing American Adoptions “alum” grow up so loved. You can always tag us on social media with the hashtag #AmericanAdoptions if you want to share your family photos with other American Adoptions families.

Be sure to follow this blog, sign up for the bi-monthly American Adoptions newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to hear about upcoming photo contests and more.

13
Feb

26 Years of Creating Families with American Adoptions

It’s our 26th Anniversary at American Adoptions!

To celebrate, we wanted to share with you something we put together over the past year:

10
Feb

8 Adopted Children’s Characters

Who are your favorite adopted characters?

Share and let us know!

6
Feb

A Birth Mother’s Love Letter to Her Baby Girl

Valentine’s Day is set aside for reminding the people in your life how much you love them. Adoptive families are able to show their child the depths of their love every day.

But for a birth parent, there aren’t as many opportunities to express to your adopted child how much you love them and the hopes you have for them.

It was because of a birth mother’s love that families are created through adoption. You’ll always be connected by that act of love.

One birth mother writes a letter to her daughter to remind her that she’s in her thoughts, on Valentine’s Day and every day.

Dear Baby Girl,

The most important thing for you to know is that you are loved beyond anything you can possibly imagine. Take a moment to look at the faces of your parents. These two wonderful people have given you a life that I never would have been able to provide for you. Out of all the children in the world, they chose you, chose to love you, chose to make you a part of their family. They will always be there to support you and guide you as you grow up to be the amazing young woman I know you will become.

When I found out I was going to have a daughter, I was overwhelmed. Petrified, even. I didn’t have the financial means or the emotional maturity to raise a child. Yet I was also secretly excited. I had always told myself that if I ever had children I’d want a little girl. And suddenly you were here in this world, crying as the doctors counted 10 fingers and 10 toes, asking me for a name. Yet as I looked at you I knew God had different plans for us.

Selfishly I considered keeping you to myself, but God guided me to your parents instead. I could see parts of myself reflected in them, and I knew that Amanda and Brian would be the best parents I could ever ask for to raise you. I will never regret the day I handed you over to them because I know that you are a part of an amazing family with an infinite number of doors open to you.

Just know that you will never be far from my thoughts, and that regardless of your life choices you will always have people in the world who support you and care about you.

Love,

Your Birth Mother

3
Feb

Top 12 Adoption Social Media Accounts to Follow

At American Adoptions, we like to remind our adoptive families that they’re not alone. No matter what phase of the process you’re in, there are other families out there who are experiencing something similar. But you don’t just have to take our word for it.

The internet is full of information about adoption, some of it helpful and true and some of it a little less so. To help you on your quest for adoption information as well as an online community, we’ve compiled Facebook, Twitter and blog links to helpful accounts. Some of these, like Considering Adoption’s Facebook and Twitter, are more informational. Others, like Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, provide a glimpse into an adoptive family’s life — and all of the unique experiences that come along with it.

These represent only a small sampling of the adoption-related social media accounts out there, but it’s a list of solid accounts to get you started.

  1. American Adoptions, Twitter: @adoptions, Instagram: americanadoptions
  2. Considering Adoption, @consideradopt
  3. Adoption.com, @adoption
  4. AdoptUSKids, @AdoptUSKids
  5. National Adoption Center, @NatAdoptCenter
  6. Ripped Jeans and Bifocals
  7. Adoptive Families
  8. Show Hope, @ShowHope
  9. Confessions of an Adoptive Parent
  10. Lifesong for Orphans, @LifesongOrphans
  11. Creating a Family, @CreatingaFamily
  12. No Hands But Ours
30
Jan

Why You’re Waiting

You may have already dealt with infertility, disrupted adoption opportunities, or other heartbreaks and obstacles in your journey to become a parent. But waiting is often the hardest part for hopeful adoptive families.

In the beginning stage of the adoption process, there’s so much to do; filing paperwork, completing background checks, coordinating with home study professionals and more. Then, once all of that is done, you’re left to just — wait.

Everyone’s Wait Time Will Be Different

One of the first questions that couples considering adoption ask is, “How long does it take to adopt a child?”

For some, the wait is a short one. They’re placed with a child within a few months or even weeks for a number of reasons, which could include openness to all possible situations on their APQ or accepting an already available adoption opportunity.

For others, it can take years. This is not uncommon for couples who choose to adopt internationally, are adopting through a smaller local agency that is only able to manage a few clients at a time, or for those who want to foster to adopt.

For those who adopt through American Adoptions, the average wait time until placement is 1-12 months.

Your wait time will be determined by the type of adoption you pursue, your openness to different kinds of adoption opportunities (being open to any kind of gender, race, or medical history) and more.

It’s frustrating to see others adopt quickly while you’re still waiting. Try to remind yourself not to compare your adoption experience with others’. You’re going to become a parent on your individual timeline, not someone else’s. Keep hanging on!

Why a Birth Mother Hasn’t Chosen You Yet

“Why haven’t we been picked yet?”

“Is there something wrong with our profile?”

“Are we doing enough?”

If you’re still waiting to be placed into an adoption opportunity with a potential birth mother, you may be fighting to push aside some of these questions and fears. You’ll worry that you don’t look “young enough,” or that birth mothers don’t think your home is “nice enough,” or that you don’t seem “fun enough” in your pictures.

You are absolutely enough.

Someone is going to choose you to raise her child. That’s the biggest decision that a pregnant woman can make. It’s an honor to be chosen for that monumental task, but it also means that these pregnant women have a lot to consider. Most importantly, something will just click when they see the right family for their baby.

Just because that hasn’t happened yet for you doesn’t mean that it won’t, or that you’re doing anything wrong.

How did you know that your spouse was the person that you wanted to marry? How do you know when you make a major decision? You probably just had a sensing of “knowing” that this was the right choice for you.

Pregnant women considering adoption are waiting to experience that same sense with a prospective adoptive family. Trust that there will be a potential birth mother who sees your family profile and just knows that you’re the family for her baby.

Why You’ll Be Chosen by a Birth Mother

It’s important to represent yourself accurately in your family profile because a pregnant women considering adoption will look at a family’s profile and feel a little rush of excitement when she finds something that she connects with.

She may see a family who has a strong relationship with their extended family members and be thrilled because that’s something she wants for her baby, too.

She may see a family who loves spending time outdoors, and that’s exactly the future she envisioned for her child.

She may see a family who has a quirky sense of humor and whose favorite activity is playing games together at home. She just knows that this is where she wants her child to grow up.

Pregnant women considering adoption are looking for married couples with no children, committed couples with several older siblings for their child and everything in between — there’s no way to be the “right” family for every potential birth mother. You can only be the right family for the right birth mother.

The Real Reason Why You Keep Waiting

The wait time of your adoption will vary from other adoptions. There a number of factors that can affect your wait time.

But the reason you keep waiting, despite the emotional toll that this inactive phase of the adoption process can have on you, is your desire to become a family.

When you feel like you can’t stand to wait another second, remember the child that you’re waiting for. When you’re tempted to call your Adoptive Family Specialist and cry and scream and beg, remember who you’re waiting for.

This time spent simply waiting for a phone call is one of the most difficult parts of adoption. But you’re waiting because of the years you’ll get to spend with your child.

Remember:

  • You are enough.
  • The right birth mother for you will choose you.
  • Everything that can be done is already being done.

The waiting is the hardest part. Here are some tips to help you through your adoption wait as a family, and here are a few things you can do to help minimize your wait time. In the meantime, stay strong!

27
Jan

Adoption Reunions – What to Expect

What Is An Adoption Reunion?

An adoption reunion takes place between members of an adoption, typically done by people involved in a closed adoption situation. The reunion is usually the first time these biological family members will have met or talked since the adoption.

Who Reunites After Adoption?

  • Adult adoptees
  • Birth parents
  • Birth siblings
  • Occasionally, other members of the birth or adoptive families

Sometimes, if birth parents are no longer living, adoptees may reunite with birth siblings or other biological relatives. Adoptive parents and birth parents may be excited to meet each other, too. Spouses, children, or even grandchildren may meet biological family members after an adoption, but only after the initial reunion occurs and both parties are comfortable with introducing their families to one another.

The first adoption reunion should be private and taken slowly. But many adoptees have adoption reunion stories that ultimately include their entire family; both birth and adoptive!

Why Would You Want an Adoption Reunion?

Adoption is a wonderful way to create a family, but there is always pain and loss involved, as well. Reuniting an adult adoptee with their birth family can be a healing experience for everyone involved in the adoption.

For birth parents and birth siblings, it can be reassuring to know that the child placed for adoption grew up loved and happy, and that they don’t hold a grudge against their birth family for the choice they made. For adoptees, it can fill the void left in their personal histories by the biological family they never knew.

Adoption reunions are a way to reconnect, talk about the adoption many years removed from the early, sometimes painful emotions, and learn more about each other as individuals.

Should You Reunite with Your Birth Mother or an Adult Adopted Child?

Not everyone wants an adoption reunion.

Sometimes birth parents or adult adoptees simply have no strong desire to reconnect after the adoption. Other times, they don’t feel emotionally ready for such a step. Some people harbor negative feelings about the closed adoption and haven’t been able to resolve those feelings.

An adoption reunion may not be the best choice for yourself or for the person you’re trying to reconnect with.

Adoption reunions can bring complicated, long-buried emotions back to the surface. Not everyone is willing to, ready to, or able to process these feelings. So an adoption reunion should be very carefully considered before you take any action to reunite.

How to Approach an Adoption Reunion with Biological Family Members

This is where things can get even trickier.

If you’ve successful managed to find your birth mother or an adult adoptee through your adoption search (which can sometimes be difficult, depending on how much information you start with), initiating contact with them might be even more difficult.

It’s scary to contact someone who you’re biologically related to, but who is essentially a stranger to you. Several things can happen, including scenarios like these:

  • You may find that this is the wrong person (often with the same name)
  • They may not respond to your message, either by choice or because they didn’t receive it
  • They may be uninterested in an adoption reunion
  • They may initially express interest in reuniting, but later back out after their emotions and fears become too much for them
  • They may have been searching for you, too and they may be equally excited about reuniting
  • They may have been waiting to see if you were interested in finding them and requesting contact, but are happy that you’re willing to reconnect

You’ll need to be prepared for any of these possibilities before you decide whether or not to request a reunion after adoption.

Consider how you plan on introducing yourself via confidential phone/letter/online message and how to bring up the possibility of an adoption reunion with your birth parents or adopted child. Read the message to the closest member of your personal support group before sending it.

Approaching the subject of an adoption reunion is a delicate matter that can be an emotionally-complex step for you.

Have someone you trust to support you! Talk to other adoptees or birth family members who’ve reunited after adoption to hear their adoption reunion stories.

Some Final Advice about Adoption Reunions

A few things to consider:

Some Do’s and Don’ts for Reaching Out

When initiating contact with your birth parents or adopted child, keep it private and simple.

Do:

  • introduce yourself
  • state your intentions in reaching out to them and what you hope will come of it
  • describe your emotional state
  • let them know that you’ll understand if they aren’t ready to take this step with you

Don’t:

  • fire off lots of questions
  • make accusations
  • pressure them into a reunion too quickly
  • assume that they’ll feel the same way about the adoption as you do
  • involve other family members until/unless you both feel ready to do so
  • make your introduction public

Keep your message for them brief and to the point. Empathize and respect their right to their feelings, even if it hurts yours. Put yourself in their shoes! Sometimes the way we feel isn’t always rational or fair, so it’s important to take time to sort out those thoughts.

Children and Adoption Reunions

As a general rule, children of closed adoptions should wait until they’re adults before initiating an adoption reunion. Unless the child already has some kind of relationship with their birth family through an open adoption, suddenly introducing a birth parent may be too overwhelming. It’s also too important of a decision to make on behalf of a child, or to ask a child to make before they’re old enough to fully understand their own adoption experience. An adoption reunion is usually a decision best left for an adult to make for themselves.

Eliminating the Need for Adoption Reunions

If you’re considering adoption, an open adoption is always recommended whenever possible. This will remove the need for an adoption search and reunion later in life because the birth and adoptive families can maintain contact throughout the child’s life.Open adoptions allow for better communication and relationships between adoptive and birth families as well as making for happier adoptees and birth mothers who are satisfied with the amount of contact they have post-adoption.

How to Begin Your Search if You’re Interested in an Adoption Reunion

If you feel that you may be ready to pursue an adoption reunion but haven’t located your birth parents or adopted child yet, here’s what you’ll need to know to begin your adoption search.

23
Jan

Adoption Searches – What They Are and How to Start One

What Is An Adoption Search?

An adoption search is a search for information regarding members of the adoption triad, typically done by people involved in a closed adoption situation. Thankfully, open adoptions such as the adoptions conducted through American Adoptions have nearly eliminated the need for adoption searches by providing an opportunity for birth parents and adoptive families to stay in touch after the adoption is finalized.

Who Searches?

  • Adult adoptees
  • Birth parents
  • Birth siblings
  • Genealogy enthusiasts

…or anyone who is interested to learn more about the people involved in their closed adoption.

Why Would You Want to Conduct an Adoption Search?

For adoptees and birth parents that entered into an adoption before open adoption became the norm, they may have little to no information about their adoption roots.

Birth parents of the closed adoption era sometimes spend decades not knowing if the child they placed for adoption grew up happy, healthy, or even if they’re alive. Adoptees of outdated closed adoptions grow up not knowing who their birth parents were or why they were placed for adoption and feeling a disconnect between their biological history and their adopted present.

On the other hand, many birth parents and adoptees decide not to search for their biological family members. You might not feel emotionally ready to take that step, or maybe you simply don’t feel compelled to seek out that adoption connection. Not every adoptee or birth parent experiences a desire to reconnect with that part of their history.

Whatever you decide, your adoption search (or decision to not search) should be emotionally satisfying for you — not draining. Deciding whether or not to search for biological family members should done in an effort to achieve a sense of peace with your adoption and your personal adoption story. It’s 100 percent your choice to search or not; nobody else’s.

Should You Search for Your Birth Mother or an Adult Adoptee?

An adoption search isn’t the right path for everyone. Carefully research how to find your birth parents or how to find an adopted child before you begin your search, and be prepared for laws regarding adoption records in your state. Talk to others who’ve searched, are searching, or who’ve had a successful adoption reunion for tips, support and advice.

How to Search for Biological Family Members

There are five steps to finding your birth parents or the person that you placed for adoption as a child.

To find your birth parents, you’ll need to:

  1. Talk about your decision to begin an adoption search with your parents (if living) to gather any helpful information they may have
  2. Check with your state’s adoption reunion registry
  3. Request your adoption records from the county where you were born
  4. Get in touch with the person or agency who arranged your adoption, if possible
  5. Determine your adoption search strategy

To find an adult adoptee, you’ll need to:

  1. Talk to the person or agency who completed your adoption, if possible, to gather any helpful information they may have
  2. Request access to your adoption records
  3. Talk to the County Court Clerk where your adoption took place
  4. Check with your state’s adoption reunion registry
  5. Determine your adoption search strategy

Some Final Advice about Adoption Searches

Searching for birth parents or an adult adoptee is a major undertaking on both a practical and emotional level. You should be very sure that this is something that you want and that you’re ready for any outcome before you begin.

Having a support system in place can help you through what is often a difficult process for adoptees and birth parents alike. An adoption search can be an incredibly rewarding and emotionally fulfilling experience for those involved in an adoption, but it can also be a complex journey; having people you can talk to about what you’re experiencing will be important.

For many, the goal of their adoption search is to achieve an adoption reunion — reconnecting with a birth family member or an adult adoptee, often decades after their adoption.

Learn more about Adoption Reunions!

20
Jan

Maintaining a Relationship with Your Child’s Birth Family

At American Adoptions, we promote open adoptions whenever possible. An open adoption is an adoption situation in which the adoptive family and birth parents share identifying information and maintain some degree of contact.

This can look different for different families, and we’ll get to some suggestions about exactly how to maintain communication with your child’s birth family later in this post. First, though, let’s talk about the benefits.

The Benefits of Staying in Touch with Your Child’s Birth Family

  • An open adoption helps an adopted child understand where they came from. The child should always come first in any adoption scenario, so the good they receive from contact with their birth parents is the most important benefit of an open adoption. It’s common for an adopted child to feel that something is missing when they don’t know their birth parents. And while their adoptive parents will, of course, always be their parents, that doesn’t mean an adopted child won’t have questions.These questions may range in emotional depth. Your child may want to know where their hair color came from or if they have any biological siblings, or they may feel the need to know why their birth parents placed them for adoption. Maybe your child just wants to be able to check up on their birth parents to make sure they’re doing okay. None of this takes away from adoptive parents; giving your child access to their birth parents will generally only help them to understand who they are and where they came from.
  • Open adoption helps the birth parents to feel confident in their adoption decision. Remember, your child’s birth parents gave you the greatest gift imaginable. The sense of loss they feel won’t end quickly or easily after placement; they’re never going to stop thinking about the child they placed. You may be able to ease the pain and the fear they might feel by simply keeping them updated on your child’s life and how well they’re doing.
  • Open adoption gives you access to medical information. Don’t assume that getting all the information you can at the time of your child’s birth is going to cover you in this department for the rest of his or her life. If health issues arise, either with your child or with the birth parents, you may want to have an avenue of communication to talk about family medical history.

All of this is well and good, but we also understand that your relationship with your child’s birth parents may be delicate. It can be tough to know how to reach out and how often to do so, and the simple truth is that the exact degree and method of communication is going to vary on a case-by-case basis.

It may be helpful to you to read our earlier post, “Tips for Bonding with Your Child’s Birth Parents,” for advice on the emotional aspects of this process. Also check out “Fostering Positive Relationships with Birth Parents — The First Year.” In terms of the method of communication, though, here are some ways to keep in touch with your child’s birth parents:

  • Email exchanges. This is a really simple way to keep your child’s birth parents updated on how things are going. You can work out an agreement with them for how often these emails should be sent. They may even decide that, for a while at least, they want to receive weekly or monthly emails without responding, and that’s okay too. Keep in mind that communication may be difficult for them as well, especially at first. The same principle applies to letters.
  • Phone calls. These can either be scheduled, or you can have the kind of relationship where one party calls the other whenever the mood strikes. Some birth parents may prefer not to be surprised, while others may love it.
  • Skype sessions. If your child’s birth parents don’t live close by but you’d still like your child to be able to see them face to face, technology makes that doable.
  • Inperson visits. If visiting with your child’s parents in person is an option, this could be amazing for everyone involved. A good way to start this out is by meeting for coffee or a meal periodically.

Remember, maintaining a relationship with your child’s birth family doesn’t mean you’re co-parenting. Your child is yours. Nothing can change that. Maintaining a relationship with their birth family is just another way in which you can provide your child with the best life possible.

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