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5 Things Not to Say to a Couple Grieving Infertility

By Ashleigh

Many people in the adoption world understand the emotional impact infertility can have on a hopeful family. But everybody who faces infertility copes and manages their emotions in a different way, so it may be difficult to know how to talk about it.

To shed some light on the subject, we’ve provided 5 noteworthy examples of things you should never, ever say to people dealing with infertility:

1. Well, it could be worse.

Most of the time, people who say this are well-intentioned, but it minimizes the emotional challenges caused by infertility. Do not invalidate the feelings of someone grieving infertility – just let them cope in their own way, and on their own time.

2. Maybe you should try…

Most of the time, couples dealing with infertility don’t need suggestions from anyone other than a doctor. And if they have already decided to stop trying to get pregnant, unsolicited advice is even less helpful. If someone is grieving infertility, it’s more than likely that they’ve looked into every possibility – and it’s frustrating when others assume they haven’t.

3. You’re trying too hard. You just have to relax.

This implies that a person’s infertility is his or her fault in some way. Infertility is never a result of trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Statements like these only serve to make hopeful families feel guilty over something that they can’t control.

4. Now you won’t have to deal with being pregnant!

So many hopeful parents would do anything for the opportunity to be pregnant and give birth to a child. Those who are facing infertility don’t want to hear other people talk about how bothersome or inconvenient pregnancy is.

5. You should just adopt.

Adoption is not a replacement for having biological children, and it doesn’t erase the grief of infertility. More importantly, there is no such thing as “just” adopting – the process can take years for some families and is a huge financial and emotional investment.

Infertility can be a challenging subject to talk about – but instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t say, focus on what you can do to support hopeful families in this position. The most valuable thing you can do is be there for them and listen.


Halloween Costume Ideas for Every Age

By Ashleigh

I love Halloween.  I think it is amazing to see how big it’s gotten over the years, and my family has bought into the hype.  We currently have orange lights decorating a tree in front of our house.  There’s a light-up ghost on our porch, and orange bulbs have been put into our exterior lights.  The kitchen towels are embroidered with witches, our candy has been purchased, and our pumpkins are waiting to be carved.

But my one Achilles’ heel is the costumes.  I have not a one creative bone when it comes to coming up with a Halloween costume.  When my kids voice their final costume choice, I silently pray it is something that can be bought at a store.  DIY is not my strength.  I proudly admit this.

However, I do love scrolling through Pinterest for costume ideas, be it homemade or store-bought.  There is no end to people’s creativity! Here are some of my favorites for this Halloween season.


  • Animal one-piece outfits – Baby clothes manufacturers were smart about these. What’s easier than zipping up your infant in a darling, warm cat/duck/elephant one-piece?  And they are so cute.  My daughter was a cat when she was 5 months old.
  • Sushi
  • Rosie the Riveter




halloween-elementaryElementary School Children



halloween-middle-schoolMiddle Schoolers



halloween-high-schoolHigh Schoolers

My husband teaches high school, and he says when kids dress up, they tend to do group outfits.  Here are some great options for high schoolers:










We Want to See Your Finalization Photos!

By Ashleigh

Do you have an adoption finalization photo you’d like to share? We want to see it and share it with our followers!

Our staff here at American Adoptions loves to see how our families are doing after placement. And we especially love seeing photos from finalizations! An adoption finalization is such a joyous occasion and photos from this special day capture great emotion from adoptive families. As you all know, waiting for an adoption placement is brutal. Time moves at a glacial pace and it’s hard to remain hopeful. Seeing happy families in finalization photos can help encourage waiting families to remain strong as they wait for their dreams to come true.

If you have a photo from your adoption finalization that you want to share please email them to Please include the names of everyone pictured and the year of your finalization in the message.

We can’t wait to see your beautiful families! Thank you for sharing.


The Importance of Being Involved in Your Child’s Education

By Ashleigh

Fall has begun, Halloween is looming, and most students are finishing their first quarter of school.  In my house, that means we are preparing for parent-teacher conferences, both as the parent AND the teacher.  My husband and I wear both hats.  Between our own school’s conference schedule, and our kids’ conference schedule, we are going full speed.

But it is also one of the most important weeks of the school year, in my opinion.  I truly enjoy having dedicated time to sit with my students’ parents and discuss their performance – the highs and lows.  I also like hearing how things are going at home with practicing sight words and reading.

Conversely, I like having time to sit with my children’s teachers and find out what is happening in their classroom.  When I ask how my children’s days were, I’m often met with the one-word answer of “fine.”  This is my chance to find out if “fine” truly means “fine.”  Is there more I can be doing to help my kids be successful in the classroom?

So, as both a parent and a teacher, I strongly encourage you to make time to attend these conferences, whenever they may be. It shows the teacher(s) that you view education as a priority and want to be involved in your child(ren)’s schooling.  You can find out what you can do at home to help your child be a successful student.  Please don’t take advantage of the non-school days and turn it into a 4-day mini vacation, asking the teacher to reschedule your conference.

Being involved in your child’s education doesn’t have to be extensive or time-consuming, and the benefits are amazing!  Here are some simple, yet effective suggestions:

  • Make homework a priority and establish an after-school routine
  • Foster a discussion about their day instead of peppering them with questions – sharing something you liked/disliked about your day will encourage them to tell you about theirs
  • Monitor the work that comes home – ask them which assignment they liked the most
  • Get to know the teacher(s)
  • Attend back-to-school nights, open houses, and conferences
  • Volunteer in the classroom if allowed

A student who has an involved parent is more likely to have higher grades, attend class regularly, have fewer behavior problems, and exhibit more positive self-esteem.  And really, isn’t that what we all want for our kids?


What Makes My Open Adoption Work – Thoughts from a Birth Mother

By Ashleigh

My Unique Situation

My situation is rather unique. I had my son for six months before choosing adoption and placing him with his parents. I had a very rough six months and when I finally got honest with myself about my situation, it was apparent that adoption was the best option for my son and I. My son deserved to have things that I wasn’t able to provide, and I felt strongly that I wanted him to have two parents in the household. I wanted him to have opportunities and his own home with a healthy family.

The adoption agency that I choose set me up with four profiles, and I soon as I saw the smiles of the couple I choose, I just felt in my heart as if they were always meant to be his parents. My adoption agent set up a meeting the next day and it was amazing. I didn’t know my son’s parents before placing him up for adoption. I had offers from friends and family members to take him, but it was crucial to me that he have his own life separate from myself and his birth family. I wanted adoption to mean more love for my son, not more drama. If I had chosen a family member to take my son, I knew that it would have created chaos within his life as there is just too much dysfunction in my family.


From the start, I was open with my son’s parents about wanting the adoption to be open, and while the openness agreement is not legally binding, I knew it needed to be respected for the sake of my son. I was also transparent about wanting to slowly transition from a custodial parent to more of a birth parent role. Therefore, I had frequent contact with my son that lessened over the first two years of placement. I saw him every couple of months until I was comfortable not seeing my son as frequently. My son’s parents also communicated a need with me around the same time that they really needed more space.

Transitional Challenge

It was very difficult for me to transition from being a custodial parent to a birth parent. I had breastfed my son for the six months that I had him and our bond was incredibly strong. Of course, he now has a phenomenal bond with his parents and I am a much more mature and healthy woman. While the transition was difficult, our ability to adapt, change and grow is stunning regardless of what we go through as human beings.

My openness agreement includes pictures and updates every six months, and I speak with my son on holidays. In reality, we keep to the openness agreement as much as we are able to, but sometimes other needs arise. For example, some holidays are rough for me, as they can be with anyone, and I may need to postpone a phone call because I want to protect my son. When those events occur, my son’s parents absolutely understand and we usually wait a few days to a week for a quick phone call. There are also situations in which I find myself really missing my son, and I just need to hear his voice. When I’m really finding it difficult to have peace within my spirit regarding this, I let my son’s parents know and they schedule a phone call. This happens less and less frequently these days, as my adoption went through six years ago and it is much easier now.

Healing is for Everyone

Healing goes all ways. For a birth mother, healing is about transition from a role as a parent to the role of a birth parent. For adoptive parents, I’m sure there are struggles with bonding with the child, balancing becoming new parents, and learning how to navigate the relationship with a birth parent. I don’t think adoption is the easy choice. There are milestones for everyone to overcome. Most importantly though is the well-being of the child.

Everything I do and everything my son’s parents do in our relationship is ultimately to benefit our son. That beautiful boy deserves the best he can have and love beyond words. Of course, I am biased in this statement. The truth is, I believe that every child deserves the best and that it is up to parents to make sure they are providing everything in their power to sow into the spirit, heart, and life of a child.

I focus on healing and trying to achieve balance within the realm of being a birth mother. My son’s parents want me to have contact with our son as well. They also navigate the waters and sometimes we all tread lightly as we grow and learn about the needs of one another.

This brings me to the reason my open adoption works so smoothly: My son’s parents and I respect one another.

It’s all about respect.

  • Respecting boundaries.
    • About four years ago, my son’s parents communicated a need to start working on more of a transition with me into less contact. We had been having frequent contact via phone and email, and they were starting to feel overwhelmed. Upon first hearing this, I was incredibly upset. I felt like they were trying to take something away from me. After some time went by, and I reflected upon their request, I realized that it was perfectly reasonable. Ultimately, they had to set a boundary regarding their own needs so that they could be better parents. Parenting doesn’t mean sacrificing your own well-being at the expense of a child’s life, but learning your own limits and taking care of yourself so that you can give that child everything that you are able to. My son’s parents needed to take care of themselves, and they were asking me to respect that.
  • Respecting their ways of parenting.
    • I have what I would consider a fairy tale adoption. I agree with the way that my son is being parented for as much as I am privy to know about. They teach him good manners, help him to perform well in school, practice discipline, and love him immensely. Most importantly, he is being raised with faith. Yet, when I signed over my right to be a custodial parent, I also signed over my right to act as a custodial parent. Even if my son’s parents make decisions that I don’t necessarily agree with, it is not my place to try and correct them. Respecting the decision I made means respecting how they choose to parent. As long as my son is being taken care of and his needs are provided for, the rest is their business, not mine.
  • Respecting my needs.
    • As I stated earlier, there are times outside of holidays when I just need to hear my son’s voice, or send him a gift package, or touch base with his mother. When these times arise, and I am sure that I can handle it, I communicate that need. Every time, and it is not often, that this has happened my son’s parents have respected the request.
  • Respecting communication.
    • The way that I communicate with my son’s parents is email, phone, and text message. Sometimes they only text me short messages and other times my son’s mother will send me an email. This goes both ways. The way that communication is handled is dependent upon the open adoption arrangement and the relationships that have been built. While our relationship is always changing and growing, we respect the way that we communicate with each other. Not only that, but we make sure that we keep the lines of communication open. Whether one of us needs more space or less space, this must be communicated and then it must be respected.
  • Respecting the openness agreement.
    • The bond that keeps our relationship growing is the openness agreement. No matter what I am going through in my life, or how busy they might be as well, my son’s parents always send me pictures and updates every six months. This way, even when life happens and gets crazy, we all can have peace of mind that there is communication.
  • Respecting each individual.
    • The most important form of respect in open adoption, in my opinion, is just having a general respect for people. My son’s parents are not saints and neither am I. We all make mistakes, we all learn as we develop and mature, and people have a tendency to change over time. As long as there is respect for the individuals involved in an open adoption, then it will make everything flow in a wonderful way.

We All Play a Role

My role is to be a birth mother. I am here for my son and his parents if they ever need anything. In the meantime, I live my life and walk a path of healing. My son’s role is to just enjoy his childhood and he has parents who love him and guide him every step of the way. We are all people navigating our way through this thing called life. As long as we treat each other with respect, my open adoption remains strong and beautiful.

~Lindsay Arielle

Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.



Fun Fall Activities for the Family

By Ashleigh

Now that fall is officially here, the time for swimming and other summer activities is behind us. But parents don’t need to worry about their kids getting bored – there are plenty of fun things to do in the fall, as well.

Here, you can find our suggestions for fall activities the whole family will love.

Go to the Pumpkin Patch

Even if it’s not quite Halloween, it’s never too early to go searching for pumpkins. Once you’ve picked one out, you can go home and carve it in whatever way you want – just make sure your little ones aren’t playing with knives.

Not only is it a great activity to do outside, but you can use pumpkins to cook much more than pie. Check out some of these recipes that use fresh pumpkin. Plus, roasted pumpkin seeds are a timeless snack that both you and your kids will love.

Pick Apples

If you’re not a fan of pumpkins, why not try something a little sweeter? Apple orchards are a popular place to go in the fall, and you can fill up a whole bag and have snacks for days. You can usually find products like fresh apple cider, as well.

Another benefit of a trip to the apple orchard is that it makes a great photo opportunity – so don’t forget to snap some pictures while you’re there!

Make Leaf-Raking Fun

Every kid should get to jump into a big pile of leaves at least once. If you live in an area with lots of big trees, you’ll probably have a lot of yardwork to do – so involve the whole family and make it into a fun bonding experience.

You can also use leaves to make all kinds of fun crafts with your kids. Check out this list of ideas, and don’t be afraid to come up with some new art projects of your own!

Go for a Hayride

If you’re just looking to relax and enjoy the weather, you might enjoy a hayride. Some just allow you to take a nice cruise through a scenic area, while others are spooky and Halloween-themed. Just be careful if you are taking little ones along for the ride – there are usually no seatbelts or restraints.

These are just a few of the things you can do with kids of any age this fall. We hope this season brings lots of family fun!


Great Resources for Adoption Information

By Ashleigh

When it comes to researching adoption and trying to find out how everything works, it’s hard to distinguish between the good sources and the not so good sources. There are plenty of websites out there ready to dump loads of information on you…but not all of those websites are kept up to date, and in the world of adoption, being up to date on laws and regulations is absolutely key.

Fortunately, we can help you sort through the good, the bad and the ugly. Below is a list of our trusted, tried and true adoption resources.

You now hold the key to the best adoption information there is out there. Use it wisely.


It’s World Teacher Day

By Ashleigh

Today is World Teacher’s Day!  This day was created in 1994 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is devoted to making time to address issues pertaining to teachers.

Teachers in some countries face problems that, us, as Americans, can’t fathom.  But the United States has shown deep ambivalence toward the profession – we value teachers’ work, but sometimes don’t give them their due in salary or respect.  So, while you may not be able to affect global change in one day, there are things you can do on October 5 (or every day) to help support teachers:

  • Celebrate the profession – Talk to your kids about how hard their teachers work, and how they deserve respect, no matter how much they disagree with them. Find books that portray teachers in a positive light, and read them together.  Dear Mr. Henshaw, Teachers Rock!, and Thank You, Mr. Falker immediately come to mind.
  • Show your appreciation – Send a note, write an email, have your kids draw a picture, give a flower, give a coffee, give a soda, give a cookie…the list goes on and on. Speaking from experience, it is the little things that make my day.  It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture.  The pictures my students make for me are displayed front and center in my room.  And when a parent says I’m doing a good job, it’s music to my ears.
  • Have a conversation with a teacher – To be fair, many people may not know what issues teachers face. Ask them.  Odds are, their positives will outweigh the negatives.  We aren’t in this job for the money, but we do like to be heard.
  • Ask how you can help – I love when a parent asks what they can do to help me out in the classroom, whether by buying me little supplies, or volunteering their time. Sometimes I send home projects for parents to do – cut out items for a project, file papers, staple papers, whatever.  It is a TREMENDOUS help for me, as it saves me time in the classroom, and allows me to have more time with my family in the evenings.

UNESCO brings awareness to the struggles teachers face.  It is up to countless other people to make change.  You can be part of the change.  Tell a teacher that you appreciate all they do for your child, and they do a lot.  After all, we want to make this world a better place for our kids.  Supporting teachers who work hard to positively influence our youth is a good start.


Happy Pizza Month!

By Ashleigh

October is the one month of the year that we dedicate to the truly superior food group – pizza! We didn’t know National Pizza Month was a real thing either, but we’re not complaining.

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pizza recipes that family members of all ages will love. Check them out!

  • Mini Bagel Pizzas – These bite-sized treats are perfect for little ones, and they are healthier than the frozen ones you’ll find at the store. The best part? Only three ingredients needed!
  • Gluten-Free Pizza – This healthy recipe is a good alternative for the gluten-free or health-conscious family. On top of that, you can find lots of other yummy gluten-free recipes online.
  • Easy Pizza Roll-Ups – These are the perfect pizza alternative that can fit in a lunch box. Just roll your ingredients into a tortilla, cut it into smaller pieces, and call it a day.
  • Breakfast Pizza – Now you can have a slice of pizza for every meal. Eggs, bacon and two kinds of cheese come together on top of a crust to pizza-fy a classic breakfast.
  • Pizza Pinwheels – This is pizza in a whole new shape. You can use them as an appetizer, pack them for a picnic, or whip them up for a late-night snack.
  • Pizza Casserole – Okay, so it’s not technically pizza. But all the flavors are there, and it’s incredibly easy to make! While there isn’t a pizza crust, the pasta is just as filling.

Or if you’re not feeling too ambitious, you can just order out – after all, it is a national holiday.


4 Topics to Address as a Transracial Family

By Ashleigh

Mother and daughterOver the years, transracial adoption has become increasingly common, largely because people are much more open about their adoption stories today. Still, transracial adoption has its own unique challenges – but so does every type of family. The key is understanding, preparing for, and talking about those challenges.

If you are thinking about transracial adoption, here are some subjects you will need to think about as your child grows.

Race and Identity

Your child’s race is a part of who he or she is, and it is important to feel comfortable talking about it from an early age. Race and adoption will both play a part in how your child grows up, and it is your job to dispel the common stereotypes surrounding them.

Lay the foundation for open conversation from the very beginning. Start a dialog with your child and keep the lines of communication open as he or she grows and asks questions. At the same time, do not force conversations about race – let your child come to you.

Culture and Community

As a transracial adoptive family, your child’s culture will play a role in your own lives. Whether it’s through specific holidays, other traditions, or simply educating your child, you will have many opportunities to talk about and embrace your child’s culture at home.

You can also benefit greatly from finding other transracial parents. Not only will they understand some of the same challenges you face, but they will offer your child a diverse community in which to grow. Consider looking for support groups where you can connect with other adoptive parents.


You can also bring diversity in your child’s life through the books, movies, and other forms of media you choose. For example, this list of multiracial diversity books features stories for young children about families of all kinds. It can take a little digging to find material that authentically captures diversity, but you have many resources available to you.

Handling Insensitive Comments

Transracial families may encounter inappropriate comments related to adoption, particularly because their adoption is more visible. Often, the people who make these remarks mean well but do not understand what is acceptable to ask or say to adoptive parents.

All families deal with these kinds of comments in their own way – some might lighten the tone with a flippant response, others might take the opportunity to educate the person, and others still might choose not to answer an inappropriate question. However you handle insensitive comments will have an impact on your child, so it’s important to be honest, empathetic, and proud of your adoption story.

By tackling these four topics, you will be well on your way to understanding the complexities of transracial adoption. As the number of transracial adoptions continues to grow, take some time to consider if this route might be the right fit for your family, as well.

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