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13
Feb

Our Founders – Ted, Susan and Scott’s Adoption Story

By Ashleigh

Today is our 25th birthday and to celebrate we want to share with you our founders’ adoption story. Watch the video below or read Susan’s story. 

By Susan Mars, Co-Founder of American Adoptions

When I was growing up, all I really wanted to do was marry the man of my dreams and start a family. I married the man of my dreams but the family part was not able to be, at least not biologically the way most people plan. After many failed pregnancies, we made the decision to adopt an infant. We knew we both wanted to be parents and we knew we could love a child the same regardless if we gave birth to him or her.

We began the adoption process. We quickly learned adoption is not as predictable as having a child biologically.  When you give birth to a child you know a due date and there is a set timeline. With adoption, it started by completing tons of paperwork.  We then had a social worker come to our home, so she could approve us to be parents.

We were scared to death that we would not be approved for something as minor as having a disorganized sock drawer that wasn’t clean enough. When the social worker came to our home, she never looked in them. Of course our sock drawers were perfectly organized.

Once we were approved to adopt, we knew at some point we would be called to come to the office to receive our baby. We waited for what seemed like forever and even had a baby shower and fixed a nursery. We waited and waited some more.  We finally got the call that our son was born and waiting for us to come and get him.

We named him Scott and it was the most exciting moment of our lives when our social worker brought him into the room. I asked her to let his Daddy hold him first. It was a moment I will never forget. There is no greater gift that can be given to someone. I was in awe of Scott but also thought a lot about the wonderful woman who was brave enough and loved Scott enough to let him go. What a hard decision she had made.

Scott felt great about being adopted and grew up knowing his birth family placed him for adoption out of love. He decided he wanted to give back to adoption for all that he had been given. He graduated college and wanted to start an adoption agency. We had been a foster home for babies waiting to be placed with their adoptive family and he got to see firsthand how excited these couples were about receiving their child. It doesn’t matter if a child is born to you or given to you with love through adoption. They are so loved.

I still marvel at Scott and the fact that I was allowed to be his parent. I love him beyond words. From all of this, we started an adoption agency that has grown with a lot of love to be American Adoptions.

Read Susan’s full story here. You can also visit our website to read Scott’s personal story as well as an account from his father, Ted.

11
Feb

American Adoptions Turns 25!

By Ashleigh

25yr Anniversary

In 1991, after recently graduating from college, a young Scott Mars was in search of a way to give back to the world. Having been adopted as an infant, and having watched his parents foster around 140 babies, he felt that giving back through adoption would be a wonderful way to honor his unique history.

Thus, Scott, never having been one to back down from a challenge, founded American Adoptions out of the basement of his parents’ home.   With the support of his parents, he worked tirelessly to grow this one-man-show into the national agency it is now.

After 25 years of serving adoptive families and birth parents across the country (and beyond), American Adoptions has completed well over 3,000 adoptions. We boast a dedicated and passionate staff that helps us to assist in over 300 adoptions each year and who provide valuable support to both birth parents and adoptive families 24/7. Though we are so excited to have made it to 25 years, we know we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the amazing families and birth parents who come to us each day. We are so grateful to all of you who have allowed us to be a part of your adoption journey. We’re looking forward to the next 25 years!

Help us celebrate our birthday by sending us your favorite American Adoptions stories! Share them via our Facebook page or email your stories to editors@americanadoptions.com.

10
Feb

Dear Baby Girl – A Birth Mother’s Letter to Her Daughter

By Ashleigh

Love. It’s a powerful emotion. And between adoptive families, birth parents and adoptees, there is a lot of love going around here at American Adoptions. As Valentine’s Day draws nearer we start to think about the ones we love and wonder if they truly know the depth of our love for them.  

As a parent you shower you child with love every day. But as a birth parent distance makes it difficult to show your child just how much you love them. For one birth mother she hopes to show her daughter the strength of her love through a letter, in the hopes that one day she will understand.

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

 

 

8
Feb

Finding an Adoption Mentor for Your Child

By Ashleigh

Adoption Mentor

As adopted children develop their identity and self-esteem, it’s especially important for them to grow in their understanding of adoption through you, their adoptive parents – and others.

Adoptive parents know that the way they talk about adoption with their children will change and grow over time as age-appropriate conversations evolve. Additionally an adoptee’s understanding of his or her own adoption story will also change. While you – and your child’s birth family (if they’re available) – can help to answer your child’s questions, he or she may also benefit from having an adoption mentor.

An adoption mentor could be someone who is also adopted or, for a transracial adoption, could be someone of the same race as your child. An adoption mentor can help your child to process emotions about being adopted, connect with others with similar cultural or racial backgrounds, feel acceptance and belonging on common ground, share issues related to adoption and develop a meaningful relationship with a positive role model.

While there are a few programs that facilitate adoption mentors (like Adoption Mentoring PartnershipAFC and Connect-a-Kid), finding an adoption mentor for your child may require you to network in your church or community.

And although some adoptees benefit from an adoption mentor, others may find a special and fulfilling bond through an adopted sibling, relative or friend instead!

29
Jan

Tyra Banks Welcomes Baby via Surrogate

By Ashleigh

Former model Tyra Banks and her boyfriend, Norwegian photographer Erik Asla, welcomed their first son, York, via surrogate in late January, reports People. Banks, who has struggled with infertility in the past, took to Instagram to make the announcement and thank the surrogate who carried her baby.

“As we thank the angel of a woman that carried our miracle baby boy for us, we pray for everyone who struggles to reach this joyous milestone,” Banks posted. The caption accompanied a photo of a newborn hat and described York as having “[Banks’] fingers and big eyes and his daddy Erik’s mouth and chin.”

Banks initially delayed starting her family as she focused on her career as a model, TV personality and entrepreneur. When she was ready to start a family at age 41, she began IVF procedures, but the fertility treatments were unsuccessful.

Banks joins a growing list of celebrities who have achieved their dreams of parenthood through surrogacy, including Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, and Elizabeth Banks.

Surrogacy is becoming an increasingly common option for non-celebrities as well. As assisted reproductive technology (ART) has advanced, more and more hopeful parents have worked with gestational carriers to successfully add to their families.

If you are interested in the possibility of growing your family through surrogacy, learn how our sister agency, American Surrogacy, can help you on your path to parenthood.

26
Jan

Adoption Tax Credit 2015 [Infographic]

By Ashleigh

Adoption Tax Credit 2015 - small teaserNow that 2015 has come to a close – and we’re finally getting used to writing 2016 on our dates – many families will begin to prepare their finances for tax season. As you do so, don’t forget to look into the Federal Adoption Tax Credit.

For 2015, the maximum adoption tax credit is $13,400 for all qualifying adoption expenses. The adoption tax credit is not refundable, which means that only those individuals with tax liability (taxes owed) will benefit. The credit will remain flat for special needs adoptions (those involving children who are deemed hard to place by a child welfare agency), allowing those families to claim the maximum credit regardless of expenses.

The adoption tax credit income limit is based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and is recalculated each year. In January 2013, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was made permanent, although the credit could change or be eliminated in the event  of future tax code reform. See the infographic at the bottom of this post for more information on how the tax credit can help your family.

If your family also lives in a state that offers an adoption tax credit (amounts vary by state), you may receive credit for additional expenses as well.

Read more about the Adoption Tax Credit, qualifying expenses and how employer reimbursements could affect your tax credit status on our website. And follow the American Adoptions’ blog for any new updates on the adoption tax credit.

Haven’t Yet Finalized Your Adoption Placement?

Learn How to Seek the Adoption Tax Credit Before Finalization

Every year, adoptive families ask if they can file taxes without their child’s social security number, which is typically received after the adoption is finalized.

Your adoption attorney should apply for a SSN along with the final amended birth certificate after the finalization court hearing. If you do not have these items yet, you our your accountant and/or tax representative can apply for a temporary tax identification number for the baby. You can file your taxes with that number.  Here is a link to Form W-7A for information aboutobtaining a temporary tax ID number. You can also search the IRS website for Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number information.

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

Adoption Tax Credit 2015 - smaller

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit needs your help!

Currently the Federal Adoption Tax Credit is nonrefundable, so it can only help certain families. Because of this, the Save the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group is currently working with members of Congress in an effort to preserve the tax credit and make it a refundable credit. As a refundable credit, every adoptive family within the MAGI range would benefit, making adoption a more affordable option for our families. Learn more about how you can help advocate for a refundable credit.

18
Jan

Q & A with Adoptive Family Coordinator, Mike Aguilar

By Ashleigh

Adoptive Family Coordinator, Mike AguilarWhat is your name and position?

Michael Aguilar, Adoptive Family Coordinator

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

8 years

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

Educating adoptive families about domestic adoption, and I also provide support services for potential adoptive families that start the adoption process with our agency.

What does a typical work day look like?

A typical day would be corresponding with families at various stages in the adoption process either by phone or email to see how things are progressing with adoption plans or need any support regarding their next steps

What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?

I love our staff here at American Adoptions and the closeness we have as a staff. In addition to that, I enjoy being on the phone with different types of adoptive families that I correspond with on a daily basis, because every family is unique in their own way.

What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?

I like the holiday seasons because I enjoy the post cards that we get from adoptive families that I may have personally worked with that thank me for the service I provided them and the help I provided with completing their family. I also enjoy doing seminars throughout the year. It’s great to travel and experience new cities, and I also like the opportunity to meet potential adoptive families because it is definitely a more personal connection.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories?

I enjoy the adoptive family get-togethers because you are able to meet the families that you have helped to complete their families but also their little ones as well. The picnics just make things more real for me knowing that I had a part in completing their family.

How many adoptions have you been a part of? 

200 plus? I am not sure.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your position?

My biggest accomplishment to date has been scheduling our adoptive family picnics and having it expand, not only here in Kansas but also on the West and East Coast as well. :)

Website PhotosIs there anything else you want to share?

I never thought I would be working in the adoption field when I got out of college because I knew absolutely nothing about adoption whatsoever, and now 8 years later, I am educating potential adoptive families about domestic adoption and travelling the country trying to teach these families how to make an educated decision when choosing an adoption professional… Crazy!!!

14
Jan

Is Transracial Adoption Right for Your Family?

By Ashleigh

Transracial AdoptionParenting children across racial lines brings with it new challenges and joys. Parents must educate and immerse themselves in their child’s culture. They must be prepared to respond to prying questions from friends, family, and even strangers. But, all in all, parenting a child of a different race than your own is no different than parenting a child who shares your racial makeup.

Regardless of the race of the child, a parent’s worries will be the same: Is my child eating healthy? Is he or she growing/developing properly? How are they doing socially? Should they be involved in more activities? How many more times can I watch this episode of Doc McStuffins before I go completely insane?

For parents of children with different backgrounds than their own, race is not a burden or challenge, but an undercurrent that remains in the back of their minds. Race is something that they rarely think about, but that is always influencing their decisions.

The biggest concern voiced by prospective adoptive families who are considering transracial adoption is the fact that they won’t be able to relate to their child’s specific needs based on his or her race. How can parents teach children how to interact with the world as black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or white adults without having been there themselves?

While it may be difficult for you to do alone, you CAN surround your child with friends, neighbors, peers and mentors who share their race or ethnicity. You can provide your child with access to cultural events where he or she can meet other people like them. Allow them to explore their roots and support their efforts to embrace their birth culture. You may not know what it’s like to grow up being black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or white, but you can provide your child with relationships with people who do.

As couples continue to open their arms to children of all backgrounds, transracial adoption is becoming increasingly common in the U.S. All across the country parents can find support or play groups that allow children to interact with other children of the same race or ethnicity. You can also find books, movies and T.V. shows that address transracial adoption. There are plenty of resources out there that can help transracial families address their cultural differences.

Transracial Adoption with American Adoptions

While it is ultimately up to the expectant mother to choose a family for her child, American Adoptions works with hundreds of expectant mothers each year who choose to place their babies with waiting families of a different race.

In fact, there is a strong need for families seeking to adopt children of African-American decent. This need lead American Adoptions to create our Agency-Assisted Program to aid in placing African-American children with loving families of any race.

If you and your family are considering transracial adoption, please speak with your Adoptive Family Specialist about joining our Agency Assisted program. You can also visit our Available Situations page to learn more about expectant mothers still in need of loving families for their children.

4
Jan

New Year, New Agency

By Ashleigh

Since 1992 American Adoptions has helped create thousands of families through adoption. Every day our dedicated staff helps adoptive parents and expectant mothers find each other and facilitate the perfect adoption relationship. We are so passionate about creating families that we wanted to find a way to help even more couples realize their dreams of becoming parents.

A few years ago, we began to hear a recurring idea from our adoption attorneys who also practice surrogacy law:  As surrogacy continued to increase in popularity, so too did the need for a more child-focused and surrogate-supportive approach. What was missing from modern surrogacies was an agency like American Adoptions.

Thus, our sister company, American Surrogacy, was founded and developed with their Child-Centered Surrogacy Program at the forefront of everything they do.

USE THIS LOGO

For any of our families would like to learn more about surrogacy, we invite you to visit American Surrogacy’s website at www.americansurrogacy.com or call them directly at 1-800-875-BABY.

American Surrogacy is currently accepting intended parents and surrogates.

4
Jan

Families Needed for 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. 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. Many times, these birth parents begin an adoption opportunity with an adoptive family who, after discussion and research, become open to a situation they may not have considered before.

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?

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 and children with some drug exposure. We have many birth mothers in both our Agency Assisted and Traditional programs who are in need of adoptive families for their babies. If you are willing to accept either 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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