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6
Mar

Happy National Social Work Month 2017!

March is National Social Work Month, so American Adoptions has a lot to celebrate!

We currently have 20 full-time social workers on staff and over 75 contract social workers working with birth and adoptive families “in the field” throughout the U.S. who dedicate their time and talents to helping pregnant women considering adoption, birth mothers, adoptive families and adoptees.

These amazing people take on the role of friend, confidant, educator, advocate, mentor and guide throughout the adoption process. They’re the reason that hundreds of families have been created and we have so much to thank them for.

This year, the National Association of Social Workers has dedicated the month of March to “educate the public about the contributions of social workers and give social workers and their allies tools they can use to elevate the profession” through the “Social Workers Stand Up!” campaign. The goal is to remind the public about the social workers who stand up for millions of people on a daily basis.

At American Adoptions, our social workers stand up for the happiness and rights of women, children and families. Their love for our clients is truly amazing.

Thank you to our social workers at American Adoptions and social workers everywhere!

  • Megan Kautio
  • Jennifer Van Gundy
  • Jenna Howard
  • Lara Sandusky
  • Brighid Titus
  • Kathie Hoffmann
  • Hayley Castrop
  • Katie House
  • Emily Droge
  • Emily Manning
  • Erin Frazier
  • Angie Newkirk
  • Kelli Cox
  • Dacia Peterson
  • Ashley Johnson
  • Rachel Marcy
  • Melanie Leal
  • Shannon Jesberg
  • Laci Leiker
  • Sara Dippel

Are you thankful for a social worker? Share this to let them know you appreciate all that they do!

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:

9
Jan

Our Open Adoption Story – Diana

Hey there. I’m Diana. I’m a writer and social media manager at American Adoptions. I was adopted as an infant in 1991 through an open adoption.

I Always Knew I Was Adopted

There was never a time when I didn’t know that I was adopted. My older brother was also adopted through an open adoption, so I remember assuming that this was the norm. I do remember a moment when I was about 4 that I realized other children came from their mom’s tummies and that my brother and I did not. That was the first time I realized what being adopted actually meant.

For most of my early childhood, being adopted meant that when either of our birth parents came to visit, we cleaned the house even beyond its normal spotlessness. I had special chores like dusting and making the lemonade, and more importantly, my brother and I got presents. We understood that these visitors were special and I did feel an odd back-of-the-brain kind of connection to them, but beyond that, it felt a bit like close family friends coming to visit.

Yes, Sometimes Being Adopted Was Frustrating

As I got older, I had common adoptee thoughts and experiences. I didn’t look much like my family, but in the sociable milling around that followed church, people would “compliment” my parents on how much their children looked like them. It bothered me that this was something that people seemed to value.

I experienced momentary feelings of rejection, insecurity and abandonment, despite being absolute in the knowledge of my family and my birth family’s love for me. Sometimes the things that you know and the things that you feel are two very different things. These feelings crop up in most adolescents; adoptees are no exception.

We were inevitably assigned the dreaded “Family Tree” school projects or assignments where we talked about where we were from or who we got our hair and eye color from. When it came up in school that I was adopted, there were ignorant questions and teasing. “Why didn’t your real parents want you?” “What was it like in the orphanage?”  “They must have hated you.”

It didn’t faze me too much. I parroted what my parents had always told me: “My parents are my real parents. I have birth parents and they placed me for adoption because they wanted me but couldn’t keep me.”

My Relationship with My Birth Parents

When I was a baby, my birth parents and birth grandparents visited often. As I grew up (and they grew up) they visited less and less. My family moved around frequently, and my birth parents were busy building their own lives.

My Birth Mother

I remember my birth mother making a trip that took several hours with her fiancé to visit us. He gave my brother and I stacks and stacks of Pokémon cards, so naturally he received our solemn approval. It was only as an adult that I realized how important that trip must’ve been for my birth mother and her soon-to-be-husband; introducing him to the child she placed for adoption several years earlier. That was the last time I saw her until she was my sponsor at my Catholic Confirmation when I was 17.

When she came for my Confirmation, her husband and their two young boys stayed at our house for the event. Meeting my half-siblings was surreal. Sleeping under the same roof as someone I was biologically related to for the first time was even weirder. Her youngest son held my hand and I think I stopped breathing. It’s one of those things that only other adoptees can understand. I haven’t seen her since then.

My birth mother has since had two little girls and teaches pre-school (if you’re wondering why the visits stopped)! I always love seeing photos and updates of her kids on Facebook.

My Birth Father

I don’t remember my birth father visiting much when I was young, but he and his wife visited more often as I grew older. They were probably mildly terrified of me — I certainly wouldn’t blame them for that! As an adult, I’ve grown much closer to my birth father, in part because we live relatively near to each other and also partly because he doesn’t have any additional children of his own to tangle up his schedule!

It surprises people to learn that we hang out; I’ve cat-sat for him, I helped his family with their annual Halloween haunted house this year, we regularly email and have grabbed lunch a few times.

My Birth Grandparents

I rarely see my birth grandparents on either side as they get older, but in true grandparent form, they Like just about everything I put on Facebook. My parents still sends our birth families letters, gifts and photos every Christmas, which I know they appreciate receiving, just as we love receiving their annual letters to us.

Some Final Thoughts on My Birth Parent/Adoptee Relationship

My relationship with my birth family was a bit more formal than I think most people would imagine a birth parent/adoptee relationship to be. There’s this strange animal sense of being connected. My birth father and I hold a pen the same weird way. My birth mother is passionate about the same things I am. Little things that people who aren’t adopted take for granted. To an adoptee, it’s astonishing. But of course it doesn’t feel like a parent-child relationship.

My adoption has become more informal now that I’m an adult, which has opened up my relationship with my birth family to a flexible level that makes me happy.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my birth parents. I received more than just my name and my genes from them. They gave me my family.

I like them as people and I love them as birth parents and I think that’s a rare thing. My heart aches for the fear and pain they must’ve gone through when they became pregnant at a young age and the difficult decision they made for me.

I’m sure that decision still weighs on them. But I’ll say what I’m pretty sure they already know: they made the right choice.

My Family

I haven’t mentioned them too much up until now, because I was saving up for the gush of gratefulness you’re about to be subjected to. My family is the best.

My parents are great. They never set out with any intention of being a role model for adoptive parents, but they absolutely are. If you’re thinking about adoption, look to my parents for how to do it right; with an open adoption.

I’m very close with my extended family. My brother and I do stand out a bit from them personality and temperament-wise, but don’t worry — that’s never mattered for a minute. They’ve always accepted us as we are. There wasn’t an inch of difference between us and our many cousins in the way we were treated and loved. In their minds, our adoptions simply meant that there were two new people to love.

Several years ago, my cousins went through the same infertility heartbreak that my parents once did. My parents stepped in to offer their support. This led to my cousins adopting their now-5-year-old son from (of all places) American Adoptions, where they also chose an open adoption with my parents as godparents.

The whole family met him at his Baptism. Once again, his being adopted didn’t matter for a millisecond; he could’ve dropped from the sky… it wouldn’t make him any less ours.

I have an amazing family who provided me with opportunities and experiences that my young birth family couldn’t have. My parents worked so hard for the privilege to become a family, when for others it’s so easy that it happens by accident! I often wonder if that’s why their love is so fierce. Or maybe that’s just parents, right?

Working with American Adoptions

For the majority of my life, my adoption was something that I kept pretty tightly to myself. But as I got older and my feelings about my adoption began to sort themselves out, I realized the intense need for better education about adoption.

I watched couples sticking themselves with needles, taking pills and taking their temperature in an effort to have a baby. I watched young friends get pregnant and struggle between parenting or abortion.

Why were all of these people so resistant every time I mentioned that I was adopted? Yes, everyone’s situation is different. Adoption isn’t right for everyone. But they just didn’t know enough about adoption to even consider it as an option, and it seemed so tragically limiting.

I felt that I had a responsibility to sort of “pass on” the goodness of my own adopted life. I wanted to use my experience as a writer to be an advocate for pregnant women who weren’t ready to become parents, hopeful couples who were ready to become parents and fellow adoptees.

When I saw a new writing position at American Adoptions, the adoption agency that helped bring my baby cousin into my family, and it was located only a few hours away from my family, it felt so “meant to be” that I had to laugh. I packed up and moved from Chicago to Kansas City a few weeks later.

It’s strange to have adoption go from this half-forgotten backseat role in my life to the forefront of my days. But this is the best job I’ve ever had. Everyone here at American Adoptions is so caring and passionate about helping pregnant women and adoptive parents become families together.

It’s as an adoptee and not as an employee that I say what a fantastic adoption agency American Adoptions is. They can help you. I promise.

The Truth About Open Adoption

Since starting at American Adoptions, I’m surprised at the number of potential adoptive parents who balk at the idea of an open adoption. I understand where their fears are coming from. But I can be the grown-up voice of the baby they hope to adopt: Don’t be afraid of an open adoption.

I’m a happy, well-adjusted adult (or at least as much as any of us are!) because I grew up with an open adoption.

My friends who had closed adoptions or who grew up with little to no contact with their birth parents harbor understandably negative feelings about their adoptions. I can’t imagine living with such a huge hole in my heart and my history. With a closed adoption, the questions can consume you.

Closed adoptions are sometimes necessary for the safety and stability of a child. But I’m here to tell you, whether you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption or a prospective adoptive parent — always choose an open adoption when you can.

I’m so lucky to have such a fantastic relationship with both my birth and adoptive families. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without both of those sides of me. Open adoption gave me that.

I hope you’ll give that to your child, too.


You can read Diana’s parents’ side of the story here.

Share this to reach those who may be considering adoption or who’ve been touched by adoption!

6
Jan

Our Open Adoption Story – Harry & Sherry

American Adoptions writer, Diana, is an adoptee. Her parents, Harry & Sherry, share their story:


Sherry:

Our adoption story began in the summer of 1988. My husband and I had been married nine years and spent five of the nine years in infertility treatment. My husband, frustrated with our progress, suggested we visit an adoption agency. I was very hesitant. Although I was frustrated as well, I was optimistic that “next month” we would be pregnant. Finally, in the fall of that year I agreed we would visit with a social worker at the agency, but still thought of adoption as “Plan B.”

One of the reasons I was reluctant to adopt was my worry that as my child grew up and asked questions about birth parents I could not answer, they would begin to fantasize about the life they could have had and not be happy with their life in our family. Those worries were dispelled when the social worker told us that the agency only did open adoptions.

She described how the profiles, pictures and letters we would compile would be shared with birth parents, and after viewing profiles from several potential adoptive parents, the birth parents would choose who to meet with and potentially place their child with. The birth parents and adoptive parents would then stay in touch (deciding among themselves exactly what that meant to them) and the adopted child would grow up knowing who their birth parents were and have health history and the ability to ask questions of birth parents when necessary.

All of the sudden I was “all in.” Open adoption made perfect sense to me. I could see how important it was for the physical and mental health of my child and also for the mental health of the birth parents. Learning about open adoption took away my fear of the adoption process.

In February of 1989, our son was born. His paternal grandmother placed him in our arms three days later. In the 27 years since his birth, we have maintained a close relationship with his birth parents and birth-grandparents, and by close I mean visits over the years and frequent phone calls and letters. My son, as an adult, now determines how much contact he wishes to have, but my husband and I always stay in contact with the birth families because they are part of our extended family.

I could go into more detail about our son’s adoption, but this blog post is meant to highlight our daughter, Diana’s, adoption, which took place 27 months later.

When our son was around 20 months old, my husband and I knew we would like to adopt another child. Our worry was: how could a second adoption possibly go as wonderfully as the adoption of our son? Would we always compare the two processes? What if we don’t feel as bonded to this birth family as we do to our son’s? Good advice from my sister propelled us forward. She said, “Why shouldn’t the second adoption be a miraculous as the first? Have faith. Don’t be afraid.”

We contacted the same agency and, once again, our profile was sent out to birth parents. We were selected by a couple who were college students at the time. My first impression of these two young people was — “they are so smart!” They were very interesting as well — people who I could have imagined myself being friends with when I was in college. It was also obvious that they loved their baby. Birth Father was so gentle and considerate with Birth Mother. Birth Mother was very careful of what she chose to eat for lunch to make sure it was healthy and would not upset the baby. Needless to say, we admired and respected these two courageous people who wanted the best for their child.

Diana’s birth parents wanted to place her with us at the birth father’s home. Her placement is such a lovely memory. We had chocolate cake and strawberries. Both sets of birth grandparents were in attendance. Birth Mother’s older brother spent time entertaining our son, so much so, it was hard to get him to leave when the time came. One of the most vivid memories I have of that day is Diana fussing while I was holding her and thinking, “She hears her birth mother’s voice and wants to be held by her.”

I cherish that memory as it reminds me of the sacrifice that the birth parents had to make to provide me with a family. My love and respect for them is overwhelming.

We were happy to send letters and pictures of Diana to her birth families. It was never a burden because we were so proud of this beautiful child and couldn’t wait to share every milestone in her life. Their letters to us were always so positive, and when they expressed gratitude to us for being such good parents, I was humbled beyond what I can express.

I have many wonderful memories of letters, gifts and visits with Diana’s birth families; here are two of my favorites:

When Diana was about 2 ½ years old, we met her paternal birth family at a hotel as we traveled through Kansas on our way home for Christmas. This was the first time her paternal grandparents had seen her since her birth. Diana was quite precocious and articulate for her age. She was cute as can be all dressed up in her poinsettia dress for the special occasion. I could not wait for her birth family to meet her. She was a delight, and entertained everyone. Her birth family was so complementary of her and our family. I was reassured by the visit that her birth father was confident of the decision he made to place this precious girl with us.

The second memory is when Diana’s birth mother was her Confirmation sponsor at our Catholic Church. We had such a great family celebration afterward. Diana’s birth family — grandparents, birth mother and her husband’s precious children, my parents and siblings with their children — all in our home together celebrating this incredible young woman we all loved and supported. I remember looking around my very full home with such joy in my heart.

Diana now is in control of the contact she has with her birth family. We still keep in touch with them by Facebook and are happy when Diana meets with her birth father or hears from one of her birth grandparents. We love seeing pictures of her birth mother’s beautiful children and have felt honored to be able to attend her birth father’s music performances.

I know this story sounds a bit idyllic, but I can honestly say the only downside we have experienced of the open adoption process is — we wish we could have spent MORE time with our children’s birth families but distance and time have not allowed us to do so. We genuinely care for them and enjoy their company. We wish they could have attended more of Diana’s piano and dance recitals, seen how beautiful she was for prom, and experienced her extraordinary talent when she acted in plays in college.

If I can, from our experience, give one piece of advice to prospective adoptive parents, it is DO NOT BE AFRAID! Do not let fear invade your relationship with the birth parents of your child.  Remember always, love is never divided, only multiplied. I wish each and every one of you the joy that can only come when you are called “Mom” or “Dad.”

Harry:

Sherry and I were married in August of 1979 and we spent several years focusing on our professional lives, but knew that we would eventually want to start a family. After many months of trying to conceive and additional fertility testing, we decided to meet with a fertility specialist. We spent several months following their advice and unfortunately, we simply were not able to get pregnant. This was a very stressful time in our lives as we watched month after month pass without a pregnancy, wondering if we were simply not going to be able to have children.

During that time, I started thinking about other options to bring children into our family. I have always been fascinated with the adoption process having known others who decided that this might be the best option for them.

I presented the idea to Sherry, and at first she was not ready to even consider this option. With a great deal of additional discussion and prayer, we both decided that we would approach an adoption agency to seek their advice and counsel. After visiting with the agency about their adoption process, they encouraged us to consider an open adoption. Both of us really liked the idea and decided that we would work with the agency to seek a child through an open adoption.

The degree of openness to open adoptions seemed natural and welcoming. I liked the idea that an open adoption was simply a way to expand our current family by including birth parents and their family into ours. I wanted the birth parents to be totally committed to Sherry and me – feeling at peace with their decision. This gave them a chance to know that they made the right decision picking us and looked forward to continue being involved with the child’s life in some way. The greatest value in open adoption is that the child has nothing hidden from them… they know the families they came from and the family that raised them.

Both of our two children have been adopted through open adoptions, and even after 25+ years, I’m absolutely convinced that it was the right decision.  

Sherry and I spent weeks preparing a profile of our family that included information about our open adoption with our son. We knew that it was critical to try to tell our story through the family profile so that potential birth parents would feel like they knew us. We knew it was important for them to understand the unique opportunity of open adoption like the one we had with our son. It wasn’t about trying to sell ourselves, it was about letting potential birth parents know all there was to know about us, and to open the door for a face-to-face meeting – which I believe is the critical part of the process. It wasn’t long after we completed the biography that we got a call from the social worker at the agency to tell us they had a couple who really wanted to meet with us. After getting that call, I knew in my heart that God was involved in this decision (as he was in our son’s adoption) and we were in the process of getting our second child.

Our second adopted child, Diana, was born to a teenage couple from western Kansas, who made the courageous decision to place their child for adoption.

Meeting with Diana’s birth parents was simply a delight. Once we started our visit with them, it became clear to me that we wanted to welcome them into our family. They kept us up-to-date about the pregnancy, and we wanted to make sure that they had everything that they needed. There was even some discussion about being in the delivery room with them during the birth. The total commitment to their decision to place this child for adoption was evident during all our conversations with them throughout the pregnancy. Sherry and I felt it was important that the birth parents give the baby her name. They liked the name “Diana” and we agreed: our daughter would be called Diana.

Both Sherry and I were totally committed to the birth parents. Our door to them was always open; we welcomed visits in our home, we would talk with their families by phone whenever they wanted to chat, we would send letters to them on a regular basis and at least once a year we would provide them with pictures from all the kids’ activities during that year…to this day, we still send them a Christmas letter with photos.

After Diana’s birth, we met with the entire birth family in Dodge City, where they hosted a reception with their extended family to meet us. With a great deal of love, they handed Diana over to us.

It was a true celebration and to this day, we call them our family.

Read Diana’s side of the story here.

Share this to reach those who may be considering adoption or who’ve been touched by adoption!

5
Dec

What Does an Adoption Specialist Do?

Adoption SpecialistChoosing adoption is a big decision.  It doesn’t matter if you are looking to be the adoptive family, or if you are the birth family.  Both parties have a lot to consider when they choose adoption.  The support of loved ones is extremely important and necessary.  Also important is the support of an adoption specialist.

An adoption specialist’s role is vast.  They are educators, counselors, and advocates for both birth families and adoptive families.  Their services include (but are not limited to):

For birth families

  • educating birth parents on what it means to choose adoption
  • helping them create an adoption plan, choose a family, and form a hospital plan
  • providing education about the emotional experience birth parents will have, from being matched with a family to their hospital stay
  • providing advice about the financial aspects of adoption
  • answering all questions the birth family will have

For adoptive families

  • educating adoptive families on each step in their journey to growing their family
  • answering all questions from the adoptive family
  • providing advice about the financial aspects of adoption
  • facilitating communication between the birth family and adoptive family
  • helping adoptive families be prepared for when they get “the call.”

Another hat worn by an adoption specialist is that of “friend.”  The adoption process can be daunting, overwhelming, and confusing.  An adoption specialist can help navigate the path, ensure all needs are being met, and provide encouragement along the way.  They are a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  And most adoption specialists would probably say this is their most important role, one they are privileged to have.

22
Nov

A Birth Parent Specialist’s Role in the Adoption Process

When a woman decides to place her baby for adoption, it’s a huge step — but it’s just the first of many. She will encounter countless important decisions along the way. It can be a daunting process, but a few special American Adoptions staff members are dedicated to helping her decide what’s right for herself and her child.

Haley Castrop, Brighid Titus and Katie House are Birth Parent Specialists at American Adoptions, which means they help birth parents through the adoption process from start to finish. Each of them sat down to help explain to you, our readers, just exactly what a Birth Parent Specialist does and why the position is so essential for everyone involved in an adoption.

Educating the Woman Considering Adoption

When a woman considering placing her baby for adoption contacts American Adoptions, she’ll be directed to a Birth Parent Specialist. This staff member will be her point of contact throughout the entire adoption. It’s essential, then, that the two individuals form a relationship.

It is, of course, a sensitive situation, and the amount of false information available about adoption doesn’t help. A Birth Parent Specialist’s first responsibility is to educate the woman considering adoption. The specialist gets to know her (as well as the expectant  ) and to understand her situation. At this point, the specialist can begin to help the birth parents understand what they might or might not be looking for in an adoptive family.

Choosing an Adoptive Family

Armed with more information, the expectant mother will now choose a family that she feels comfortable with to raise her baby. Birth Parent Specialists at American Adoptions do encourage at least some degree of openness in an adoption, so the woman has to decide what amount is right for her. Does she want regular contact? Does she want to be able to visit? If she wants no contact at all, that’s an option as well.

When the expectant mother has an idea what she’s looking for, the Birth Parent Specialist will show her the profiles of adoptive families that align with the qualities she’s searching for. If she finds a family that she feels may be right, it’s time for her to get back with the Birth Parent Specialist to move forward. If she’s having trouble finding an appealing family, the Birth Parent Specialist will help explore why that’s happening. Either she’s not fully committed to the idea of adoption, in which case the Birth Parent Specialist will help her decide if it’s really the right call for her, or she just may need to look at more profiles.

When a woman chooses a family that she thinks might be right, her specialist will call that adoptive family. They call it the “opportunity call.” If the adoptive family thinks it’s a good fit, it’s a match.

Taking Care of an Expectant Mother Before Adoption

Finding a match for a woman considering adoption in no way means a Birth Parent Specialist’s job is done. They’re now tasked with fostering communication between the expectant mother and adoptive family. A Birth Parent Specialist will set up opportunities for the two parties to get to know one another. The specialist will help the expectant mother to build the relationship, to get to know the family and to ask any questions she may have. Any doubts should be dealt with sooner rather than later if possible; those will only magnify once the baby arrives.

It’s not just the expectant mother’s relationship with the adoptive family that’s important, though. A Birth Parent Specialist will stay in touch with her to verify that everything is going smoothly with the pregnancy and her health. The specialist will keep track of appointments and make sure the expectant mother’s bills are being paid.

A Birth Parent Specialist is, first and foremost, in the expectant mother’s corner. The more comfortable and healthy she is, the more likely the adoption will be successful for everyone.

Hospital Plan

As with all pregnant women, it’s important to have a birth plan. This process is going to be more extensive, however, where adoption is concerned. Our specialists refer to it as a “hospital plan.” The general delivery options, such as whether the woman will have a vaginal or caesarean delivery, are covered, but it expands from there. The Birth Parent Specialist will help the expectant mother decide if she wants to feed the baby and how, if the baby should sleep in the room with her, and more.

The Birth Parent Specialist is the one responsible for all of the moving parts of the hospital plan. They’ll make sure the adoption attorney is on hand, and they’ll inform the hospital of the situation. They even get to call the adoptive family to tell them their new family member is making his or her debut!

Post Placement

A Birth Parent Specialist’s contact with a birth mother doesn’t stop as soon as everyone leaves the hospital. While it’s amazing to see a child join an adoptive family, it’s important to remember adoption is a lifelong journey for everyone — one that includes pain and grief for birth mothers.Her specialist will make sure to follow up with her to see how she’s doing

Neither Haley, Brighid nor Katie hesitates to say that they love their job.

“I love helping the birth mothers find the right family,” says Haley. “It’s always very cool to be able to find that family that fits everything she’s looking for… You have this family that’s so happy and had waited probably a long time to be able to have this baby, and that part’s awesome too.”

 

8
Nov

My Life as an Adoptee and an Adoption Specialist

American Adoptions’ Director of Social Services, Jennifer Van Gundy, shares her experience of being adopted as an infant and how it has impacted her life as a mother and a professional. 

Staff PhotosThirty years ago I was given the most awesome gift: my family. I know it sounds odd, but my birth mother decided that placing me for adoption was the best choice for both of us. I still can’t imagine all she went through to come to that selfless decision.

My mom was working as a nurse at a local hospital, so my dad was home alone with my brother when he got the call. It was happening. My parents could come to the agency the next day to meet their baby girl. (That was me!) They had been waiting three years for that call, and they were frantic, pulling cribs out of the attic to get ready for my arrival. My brother, who was 9, was pretty psyched too.My brother is my parents’ biological son, but my mom had complications from his birth that rendered her unable to have any more biological children.

Within four months, I became very sick and had to go to the hospital, where they discovered I had been born with a congenital heart defect. How ironic is it that I was adopted by a nurse?! My family went through so much with me that year, but it was all worth it.

People often ask if there is a difference between the way my parents treated my brother and I, since he was biologically their child. I always tell them the same thing: “No! My parents actually liked me better!” We were honestly treated the same. I was daddy’s little girl and he was a momma’s boy. He treated me just like any other annoying younger sister. Now that we are older we are very close, and I have enjoyed being a part of his new family!

I don’t know much about my birth mother. I was adopted in a time when adoptions were closed. She was able to hold me briefly at the hospital, and then she left without having met the adoptive family. She didn’t get to have that communication with my parents to know what they were like or what my life would be like with them. She got no closure.

Read More…

 

10
Sep

Q&A with Adoptive Family Specialist Dacia Peterson

Staff PhotosWe want to bring you, our readers, into the day-to-day of our agency by sharing more about the people you get to work with through each phase of the process!

As an Adoptive Family Specialist, Dacia works closely with people looking to begin or expand their family through adoption. She is there to inform and counsel prospective families through every step of their journey; she has been extensively involved in the work that American Adoptions does, and her knowledge and support help families have a positive and fulfilling adoption experience. Keep reading to learn more about Dacia and the life of an Adoptive Family Specialist!

What is your name and position?

I am Dacia Peterson, and I am an Adoptive Family Specialist.

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

I don’t know exactly. I started off doing contract work for home studies and post-placements. I had been doing that for several years, and then I filled in part-time doing birth mom callbacks. Then I moved into a full-time position as the post-placement coordinator, and I only did that for maybe a month or two. Then I moved into the Adoptive Family Specialist role, and I’ve been doing this for almost a year.

How did you education/work background lead you to working in adoption?

I switched from psychology to social work in college. I always knew I wanted to work with people, especially with children. Out of school, I did foster care and adoption work for many years, and then I transferred over to an adoption agency that worked with mostly foster kids, and then I took the newborn route at American Adoptions.

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

My role is to help provide support and education for adoptive families going through this process. With that, there’s lots of information with adoption, and it can be a little overwhelming for families. We get them prepared for each new step along the way. Our role comes in first with reviewing the APQ (Adoption Planning Questionnaire), and then once they go active, I become the main point of contact for them. I provide support and guidance throughout the adoption opportunity, the first conference call, the hospital plan, and placement.

What does a typical work day look like?

We are returning a lot of emails. Some families do call just to check in, and then there are APQ review calls, adoption opportunity calls, hospital preparation calls. Then, if a family has been waiting six months or a year, we try to schedule a call with them, see how they’re doing, and maybe review their APQ again.

What is your favorite part about working at American Adoptions?

As far as the company goes, I love the support that we get here. There’s always somebody that is happy to sit down and help you work through a tough situation or just provide support. I love everybody I work with. As far as my role goes, I just really enjoy working with the families and getting to be part of that adoption journey with them. Most of them have had such a long road to get to this point, and even though there are a lot of hard times, I love being there to see it through to the end and watch them get their baby.

What is one of your favorite memories of working with American Adoptions?

I’ve got a lot of families that are just good memories. I had a family that had a really rocky road through everything, but I got really close with them during that time. Being able to share in that excitement with them in the end was neat. And there have been some situations where I’ve been able to observe the family and the birth mom develop a great relationship that they didn’t expect. That’s always really neat to see.

How has adoption impacted you personally?

I don’t have any adoption in my family, but I’ve always worked in adoption and foster care. I’ve been in the field for over 10 years, so it’s just become a part of my life. I was talking with another family specialist one day, and we were talking about how I have a 2-and a half year old, and how our young kids already know the word “adoption.”

How many adoptions have you been a part of?

When I did home study and post placement stuff, I got to do a lot. In this position, I think it might be 34.

What advice would you want to give to families considering adoption?

Do a lot of research—about adoption and everything that goes with that, but also agencies and what would be the best fit for their family. It’s important that families trust the agency they are working with. There is so much in the process that is out of their control, and that’s a very hard thing for a lot of families. The more comfort and trust they have in us, the easier that can be for them.

What’s one thing about adoption that you didn’t know before working for American Adoptions?

There’s so much that you learn—I’m still learning. I think after switching over from the foster care side to here, I’ve learned a lot more about the birth parents’ side of things. I’ve learned how this process is for them and what they need during that time. When you don’t have the birth parents involved, you don’t consider that as much.

13
Aug

Q&A with Executive Director Jennifer Kittredge

Staff PhotosWe want to bring you, our readers, into the day-to-day of our agency by sharing more about the people you get to work with through each phase of the process!

As an Executive Director, Jennifer works closely with our adoptive family and birth parent specialists as well as local attorneys in Florida. She is there to build relationships and help expand American Adoptions of Florida; she has been extensively involved in the work that American Adoptions does, and her knowledge and support help families have a positive and fulfilling adoption experience. Keep reading to learn more about Jennifer and the life of an Executive Director!

What is your name and position?

Jennifer Kittredge, Executive Director, American Adoptions of Florida

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

2 years

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

Support and supervision for our Florida staff, growing the Florida office and the number of adoptions Florida handles, building relationships in Florida with local resources and attorneys, scheduling consent singing, training our local contract workers, Liaison with our licensing representative, carry a small case load of birth parents, approval of Florida Home Studies as well as post placements, yearly reviews of employees. (So a little bit of everything!)

What does a typical work day look like?

Supporting Florida staff with their case load, reviewing and approving home studies, reviewing post placements, scheduling local workers to meet with prospective birth parents, reading and reviewing cases notes, scheduling consent signings, meeting with local resources in the community to build relationships, call back prospective birth parents from online submission forms, and meetings…lots of meetings.

How has adoption impacted your life personally?

I am an adoptive mom. Our daughter, Emma is ten and came home from China in March of 2007 when she was 16 months old. We could not imagine our lives without Emma. She brings us so much joy and laughter every day!

What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?

Working with such an amazing, passionate team.

What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?

The holidays. It’s so fun to catch up with our Adoptive families and see how much all the children have grown.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories?

One of my favorite adoption memories is a sweet birth mom who placed her 2.5 year old twins. As difficult as this was for her, she felt in her heart that they needed a stable two parent home. Through many tears, I walked with her through her adoption journey. I am happy to say almost a year later she is doing amazing! She just visited the boys and has a wonderful open adoption. These are the adoptions that make my heart so happy.

How many adoptions have you been a part of?

I’m a part of all of the Florida adoptions since I staff and schedule our workers so I’m not quite sure.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your position?

Growing the Florida office. It’s been a great accomplishment and I can’t wait to grow even more!

1
May

National Foster Care Month: Looking Back at Our Roots

Did you know that there are more than 400,000 children and youth in the U.S. currently in foster care? Did you know that of these, more than 100,000 children are waiting to be connected with their forever families through adoption?

Each May, National Foster Care Month serves to raise awareness of the facts to encourage families to explore foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. During the month of May (and every other month of the year) we ask for your help in promoting these programs and celebrating the amazing foster parents, volunteers, mentors, child welfare professionals and others who help children in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

For American Adoptions, our connections to foster care run deep. So, to help celebrate National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing the story of how one family’s commitment to foster care grew into a passion for building loving families.

The Mars Family

It all started 35 years ago when Ted and Susan Mars came to their son, Scott, with an important question.

“My parents came to me and said, ‘Scott, what do you think about becoming a foster family for an adoption agency?’” Scott recalls.

Scott, being an adoptee, loved the idea of being able to give back to other children and families. The family knew that they wanted more than anything to help connect these children to their forever families.

Before they knew it they had opened up their home and their hearts to a beautiful baby girl named Heather. After Heather came another child, and another, and another. Over the years the Mars family fostered 157 babies who went on to live wonderful lives with their adoptive families.

“I got to experience giving that child love and being a part of that, of seeing a child go on to an awesome life like I had,” Scott said. “I got a feeling of what it was like to be a part of and making a small child’s life better, to be that bridge between adoption.”

Love and Opportunity

The beautiful act of fostering children planted a seed in the Mars family. A seed that could only grow by continuing to give back to children and the act of adoption.

As Scott finished up his Business and Psychology degrees, his mother, Susan, came to him with an idea: She wanted to start an adoption agency. Thus, Scott, Susan and Ted set about making this dream a reality.

In 1991, American Adoptions was founded.  And as the company grew, so too did the Mars family’s passion for adoption and helping to build families.

Now, 25 years later, American Adoptions is one of the largest, most successful adoption agencies in the U.S. and has completed over 5,000 adoptions since its doors opened.

“I think back to how we felt when we were foster parents. We knew that we were helping to do something that was important, to help someone else become a family. I have the same feelings for each adoption that we do,” Scott said. “We get to be a part of helping that child have a life of love and opportunity, just like I did.”

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