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24
Jul

Calling All Adoptive Dads: We Want Your Opinions!

By Ashleigh

Father and BabyIt seems that no matter where you look you can find advice for adoptive mothers, or advice from adoptive mothers; but what about the adoptive fathers? The nature of adoption involves a wide variety of emotions, which causes many people to focus on the women involved. However, men are just as involved (emotionally and physically) in adoption as their partners.

Adoptive fathers – whether veterans, newcomers, or those just beginning to research adoption – have just as many questions and concerns about the adoption process and life post-placement, and who better to answer these questions than fellow adoptive fathers?

Here at American Adoptions we want to give our adoptive dad’s a chance for their voices to be heard. We want to know your perspective on adoption! Help us share the adoptive dad’s perspective by emailing your answers to the following questions to editors@americanadoptions.com.

- What is your adoption story? 

- What were your biggest fears or concerns about the adoption process? How did you address those fears or concerns? 

- What was the hardest part about your adoption journey?

- What has been the most rewarding part of becoming a father through adoption? 

- What advice can you give to fellow adoptive dads about the adoption process and life with your adopted child? 

We will collect all answers and feature your responses in a future American Adoptions blog post to help adoptive fathers navigate the adoption process!

From an adoptive father’s perspective: Read what American Adoptions Founder Scott Mars’ father, Ted, has to say about his adoption experience as well as Executive Director Shawn Kane’s adoption story or watch his adoption video here.

15
Jul

2015 Adoption Tax Credit Info: How does it work?

By Ashleigh

Adoption Tax Credit 2015 - small teaserLast month, the IRS released updated figures for the 2015 Adoption Tax Credit. Below we have provided a brief explanation of the Adoption Tax Credit, the updated amount available to families for the 2015 tax season, and an infographic to help families understand how the Adoption Tax Credit works.

What is the Federal Adoption Tax Credit?

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit can help families offset the costs of qualifying adoption expenses, making adoption possible for some families who could not otherwise afford it. Families who adopted a child, or tried to adopt a child, and paid qualifying expenses may be eligible for the credit.

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 the Adoption Tax Credit became a permanent part of the tax code. However, the tax credit is not refundable, which means that only those individuals with tax liability (taxes owed) will benefit.

The maximum adoption tax credit for 2015 is $13,400. The Adoption Tax Credit limit is based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and is recalculated each year based on current cost of living. For the 2015 Adoption Tax Credit, the maximum amount available will begin to phase out for families with MAGI above $201,010 and will be unavailable to families with incomes around $242,010 or above.

The infographic below further outlines how the federal adoption tax credit operates:

Adoption Tax Credit 2015 - smaller

 

For more information on the adoption tax credit and exclusion, read 2015 Adoption Tax Credit or visit www.irs.gov. American Adoptions recommends that you contact a local accountant or qualified tax professional for more specific information for your family.

Visit our Financing on Adoption section for other ideas for paying for adoption, or read how American Adoptions helps you adopt within your budget. You can also speak with an Adoption Specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION with any questions about cost and financing.

4
Jul

Happy 4th of July from American Adoptions!

By Ashleigh

We hope each of you is celebrating Independence Day today with the ones you love. Have a happy 4th of July, from the entire American Adoptions family! Have fun and stay safe!

4th of July

2
Jul

Love at First Sight Contest Winners – As Voted by You

By Ashleigh

The votes are in and these are your top three winners!

Katie and her son Kevin (born 2014)

Katie and Kevin

Derek and Tiffany meet their daughter Larkyn (born 2014)

Larkyn, Derek & Tiffany - 2014

Peyton meets little brother Maddux (born 2015)

Maddux with Big Sister Peyton - 2015

To view the other entries in the contest, visit our Facebook page.

Thanks so much to everyone who voted! And thanks to those of you who shared your first family photos with us this year! It’s so fun to see how the American Adoptions Family grows and expands each year, and judging by the Facebook likes and comments, these American Adoptions kids have great support and love from their friends and family!

24
Jun

The Sibling Bond: Love makes a family, not biology

By Ashleigh

By Kelley, adoptive mother

In 2011, Kelley and Matt adopted their daughter, Emma, through American Adoptions, now their family has grown to four with the addition of their biological son, Luke. Kelley has shared with us the amazing bond that these two siblings have with each other. Though they may not be connected through biology they share a bond that is beyond explanation. 

ATT_1428604983218_image-2Two different beginnings. Two different sets of genes.  One amazing bond.

Emma made her debut in Galveston, Texas on a brutally hot August day. My husband Matt and I met our beautiful daughter two days later and it was love at first sight- a heart wrenching unconditional love that we had waited for for what seemed like an eternity.  Renee, Emma’s birth mom was a beautiful, strong and selfless woman.  Our hearts ached for her and yet we couldn’t have possibly felt more grateful to her for her selfless decision in choosing Matt and I to be Emma’s parents. Nay Nay, as Emma calls her, will forever hold a piece of our hearts and as Emma so innocently tells us “you ‘dopted me and I ‘dopted you”.

Sweet Luke arrived in your more typical fashion, as our biological child, on a cold November day a mere three hours before my own birthday. He was a beautiful baby and we couldn’t have been happier to meet him and hold our sweet baby in our arms after a long and difficult pregnancy.

An adopted child and a biological child, each an amazing miracle and gift to our family.  “I grew in  Nay Nay’s tummy and Luke grew in your tummy,” as Emma puts it very straightforwardly.  Each with their own unique story and beginning to life.

The sibling bond was amazing from the start… No genetic connection and yet a bond like no other.  Right from the beginning Luke only had eyes for his big sister. As he grew no one could make him smile and laugh the way Emma could.  And Emma had patience for a colicky baby like nobody’s business. One particularly difficult, tearful and endless day with a screaming baby,  Emma (my wise-beyond-her-years little one) comforted me by saying “it’s ok mom-mom he’s only a baby and babies cry a lot, you know.”

An innocent, unconditional love for each other that I hope lasts a lifetime. They have a deep understanding of each other that one could not possibly expect from a 3 1/2 year old and a 7 month old. And yet it does.

Luke’s first word was “Emma”. Granted it’s an easy name to say and sounds a bit like “mama,” but nonetheless it was his first word. He watches her every move like a hawk and is her number one fan out there. He looks for her attention even more so than from Matt and myself and delights in it when he gets it. When we go to pick Emma up at school she runs right to Luke and he all but leaps out of my arms to snuggle her.

I can only hope their bond continues to grow, they will always love and support each other and that they will always have each other’s backs through each chapter of their lives.

Two different beginnings. Two different sets of genes. One beautiful bond. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to watch, much like watching all the beautifully unique flowers in the flowerbed grow and bloom.

18
Jun

Wishing You a Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

By Ashleigh

American Adoptions wishes you and yours a happy Father’s Day weekend! We hope you are surrounded by loved ones on this special day. No matter where you are in the adoption process, we want to thank you for choosing adoption.

And for those of you mothers and kids out there looking for a last-minute Father’s Day gift, we’ve got just the thing: printable coloring pages!

I Love My DaddyFathers-Day-Coloring-Pages-Free-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can download these printable coloring pages here!

If you’re waiting to adopt and struggling to be cheery this weekend, revisit our post on How to Stay Upbeat This Mother’s Day.

From the American Adoptions family to yours, happy Father’s Day to all the men out there who make a difference in our lives!

5
Jun

Second Annual Love at First Sight Photo Contest

By Ashleigh

Love at First Sight 2014 EntryIt’s time for our Second Annual Love at First Sight Photo Contest!

For our Love at First Sight Photo Contest, please send us the first photo you took with your child together as a family. If you have a more open relationship with your child’s birth parents and have a special photo with them as well, we’d love to see that, too.

Photo submissions are due Sunday, June 21st!

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, July 1st at 11:59 PM CST, and winners will be announced Thursday morning. Winners will also appear on our blog and in an issue of our newsletter American Adoptions News!

To submit your photo, simply follow these easy steps:

  • Email your favorite photo of your child (or children) to editors@americanadoptions.com.
  • In the email message body, include your name, your children’s name(s) and their ages. Example: John Smith, Age 2 – Parents: Robert and Jane Smith
28
May

18 Ways to Fundraise for your Adoption

By Ashleigh

Adopt Without Debt

Admittedly, 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://blog.americanadoptions.com/adoption-fundraising-webinars/

http://blog.americanadoptions.com/adoption-tax-credit-2014-infographic/

http://resources4adoption.com/

http://blog.americanadoptions.com/getting-adoption-benefits-at-work/

22
May

Don’t Fry Day 2015 – Protect Your Family’s Skin

By Ashleigh

Don't Fry Day 2015As the hot summer temperatures climb, families are taking advantage of the warm weather to enjoy lazy afternoons at the pool, fun-filled family camping trips, frolics at the park and other outdoor adventures. However, parents should also take heed of a danger lurking above.

To kick off summer, today is designated “Don’t Fry Day” by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention! The day, scheduled on the Friday before Memorial Day hopes to help reduce rising rates of skin cancer from overexposure to the UV rays. The council encourages sun safety awareness and reminds everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. Because no single step can fully protect you and your family from overexposure to UV radiation, follow as many of the following tips as possible:

  • Do Not Burn or Tan
  • Seek Shade
  • Wear Sun-Protective Clothing
  • Generously Apply Sunscreen
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow, and Sand
  • Get Vitamin D Safely

The summer sun can pose a special risk to babies and young children. Medical professionals urge parents to pay careful attention to sun safety to protect their family now from sunburns and skin cancer later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to protect children from the sun:

  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella or the stroller canopy.
  • When possible, dress yourself and your kids in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, like lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats.
  • Select clothes made of a tight weave – they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better.
  • Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.
  • Limit your sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
  • Wear sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection (look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child).
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Set a good example. You can be the best teacher by practicing sun protection yourself. Teach all members of your family how to protect their skin and eyes.

To learn more about summer sun safety, visit www.healthychildren.org.

12
May

Families Always Needed for Current Available Situations!

By Ashleigh

Although American Adoptions works with families of all types, budgets, races, etc., there are times when our agency is unable to match a prospective birth mother with one of our current active families.

The reasons for this are varied and can be due to the living expense needs of the birth mother, the social or medical history of the birth parents or even because the birth parents are seeking a family meeting a specific criteria. Please watch the video below where Adoption Specialist Kathie shares more about these adoption situations, including:

  • What is the Adoption Resource Center?
  • Where do these Available Situations come from?
  • What requirements are needed to pursue an Adoption Situation?
  • What information will the adoptive family receive about the birth parents?
  • We are ready to pursue an Adoption Situation – what’s next?

When our agency is unable to match a birth mother with one of our active families, we reach out to adoptive families via our Available Situations webpage.

American Adoptions urges all adoptive families currently working with our agency to periodically check the Available Situations page and contact our agency if they would like their profile to be shown for a specific situation.

We are currently in need of adoptive families who are open to adopting African American children. We have many birth mothers in our Agency Assisted program who are in need of adoptive families for their babies. If you are willing to accept this type of situation we encourage you to contact your Adoptive Family Specialist about joining the Agency Assisted program or opening up your Adoption Planning Questionnaire.

Our Available Situations are an excellent opportunity for waiting families who are eager to become parents. If you are interested in learning more about any of these situations please visit our Available Situations page.

In order to be considered for an Available Situation, all families must have a current, approved home study and some form of profile we can show to the birth mother.

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