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3
Feb

Top 12 Adoption Social Media Accounts to Follow

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

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

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

  1. American Adoptions, Twitter: @adoptions, Instagram: americanadoptions
  2. Considering Adoption, @consideradopt
  3. Adoption.com, @adoption
  4. AdoptUSKids, @AdoptUSKids
  5. National Adoption Center, @NatAdoptCenter
  6. Ripped Jeans and Bifocals
  7. Adoptive Families
  8. Show Hope, @ShowHope
  9. Confessions of an Adoptive Parent
  10. Lifesong for Orphans, @LifesongOrphans
  11. Creating a Family, @CreatingaFamily
  12. No Hands But Ours
20
Jan

Maintaining a Relationship with Your Child’s Birth Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

30
Dec

2016 Adoption Tax Credit

With tax season around the corner many of our families are wondering what the Adoption Tax Credit is and how it works. Below we have provided a brief explanation of the Adoption Tax Credit, the updated amount available to families for the 2016 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 2016 is $13,460. 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 2016 Adoption Tax Credit, the maximum amount available will begin to phase out for families with MAGI above $201,920 and will be unavailable to families with incomes around $241,9200 or above.

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

adoption-tax-credit-2016

6
Dec

5 Lessons ‘This is Us’ Teaches Us About Adoption

“This is Us,” an NBC show about a blended family told in different timelines, is arguably this fall season’s breakout hit. Focusing on three siblings — two twins and their adopted brother — coping with different crises at the age of 36, it’s quickly become a favorite for its honest portrayal of race, class, gender and body size.

One of the biggest storylines revolves around Randall, who was adopted by his parents from the hospital in the 1980s after his adoptive parents lost one of their triplets during childbirth. As an African-American in a white, middle-class family, he struggles to find his identity after he reconnects with his long-lost birth father.

The show is a great resource for adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees alike, educating viewers about adoption and the struggles all parties experience during their lifelong adoption journey. Although Randall was adopted in the 1980s in a closed adoption (rare today), many of his and his parents’ challenges will resonate with those affected by adoption.

American Adoptions highly recommends adoptive families watch “This is Us” as another way to normalize adoption in your household. To catch you up before tonight’s midseason finale, we’ve compiled a list of what “This is Us” has addressed about adoption so far.

How Closed Adoptions Can Negatively Affect Adopted Children

Randall’s adoption is an example of a “safe haven” adoption, wherein his birth father (William) left him in the custody of firefighters after his mother died giving birth to him. Randall is then brought to the hospital, where Rebecca and Jack choose to adopt him after one of their triplets dies during birth.

William lingers at the hospital to make sure Randall is taken care of, and Rebecca realizes who he is. She speaks with him once shortly after she adopts Randall and then revisits him later in Randall’s childhood. However, she keeps the knowledge of Randall’s birth father a secret from both her husband and her son and eventually decides that William cannot have contact with his son.

Not knowing anything about his birth parents is hard on Randall, a black boy being raised in a white family. Although it’s revealed his birth parents both had substance abuse issues (which is why Rebecca chose to keep his history a secret), the “what ifs” and unknowns of his adoption cause him to search out his birth father through a private investigator — which leads to an eventual meeting filled with anger, guilt and confusion.

While closed adoptions like Randall’s are not as common today as they were in the 1980s, his story demonstrates how children can be affected if they don’t know the truth about their adoption. Of course, not all adopted children are the same, but the hurt and confusion about why adopted children were “abandoned” at birth are usually not feelings that disappear over time.

Closed adoptions may seem like the easiest choice for adopted parents who worry about how birth parents might affect their child, but it’s important to understand that when children know about their birth parents, it doesn’t decrease the amount of love for their adopted parents at all. In fact, it makes the adoption process easier and can create a stronger bond between adoptive parents and adopted children — one based on love and respect.

Adopted Children are Naturally Curious about their Birth Parents

While Rebecca and Jack provide a healthy, stable home where Randall has everything he could want, it doesn’t prevent him from wondering about his adoptive parents. Late in his childhood, he begins asking other black people if they can roll their tongues like him — a genetic trait that he thinks will help him track down his birth parents.

Rebecca, insecure about her ability to mother three children (one of them being adopted), takes this personally. She worries that in Randall seeking out his birth parents, she’s failed somehow to be “enough” of a mother for him. But, as many adopted children will say, the desire to know about birth parents is not a reflection on adoptive parents at all — just a natural curiosity to learn more about where they came from and their personal identity.

Because biological family plays a large role in that personal identity, many adopted children will ask questions about their adoptive parents at some point or another. You should prepare yourself to answer those questions honestly; an open adoption with the birth parents can help you do so. It will not make you any less of a parent to your child if you expose them to their birth parents, but your children will have a newfound appreciation for your strength in doing so.

Birth Parents Hurt Long After the Adoption, Too

Adoption can be a difficult journey for all involved, but the emotional plight birth parents go through even long after the adoption is complete can sometimes be overlooked. While they know their decision is the best one for their child, the grief and loss they feel may never completely disappear.

In several “This is Us” episodes, we see William struggling with the sadness he still feels from placing his son for adoption — especially after Rebecca decides he cannot be a part of Randall’s life. While he knows that he make the best decision for Randall, he’s also plagued with the “what ifs.” Not being in contact with his son for 36 years only makes his situation more difficult.

When we think about adoption today, it’s important to remember that birth parents are forever affected by their decision to place their child for adoption. It’s a long healing process for all involved, and this is just one of the situations where open adoption can be helpful. Even if William had not been able to meet Randall, periodic updates about his son would have been instrumental in his healing.

How a Transracial Adoption Requires Extra Work

As a black man growing up in a white, middle-class family, Randall needed things that his parents simply couldn’t provide on their own: education about his culture and race, role models who looked like him and even simple hygiene skills tailored to his race.

When his parents take Randall to the community pool, he finds a group of black children to hang out with, rather than his own siblings. When Rebecca scolds him for wandering off, a black mother approaches her, informing her that she needs to find Randall a proper barber. This mother serves as an invaluable resource for Rebecca and Jack, giving them the education they need about raising a black son and providing Randall a community of people who look like him.

Jack even seeks out a black male role model for his son in a dojo instructor. Although the instructor provides a black father authority that Randall is missing, he also includes Jack in the initiation rituals that all the other black fathers do.

If you’re an adoptive parent raising or looking to raise a child of another race, it’s important that you fully educate yourself on your child’s culture and race to help them develop their personal identity. You will need to reach out for resources, even if it makes you uncomfortable to do so. Remember, asking for help doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent — it just means you want to give your child the best chances possible.

Adoption is a Lifelong Journey

Every adoption story is different, but there will always be some unique challenges for the adopted child, the adoptive parents and the birth parents. No one can anticipate every problem that can arise during an adoption, so it’s a constant learning process.

While Randall’s closed adoption is uncommon nowadays, his story shows how even an adult adoptee can confront issues about his adoption later on in life. The identity of an adopted child, adoptive parents and birth parents are constantly changing — and it can be a messy process.

But, as long as there are open relationships between all involved in the adoption process, these issues can usually be resolved in healthy ways that will only make your connections deeper and more meaningful.

For anyone who has been affected by adoption, watching “This is Us” can be a helpful way to see your experiences normalized on screen. Whether you’re a birth parent, an adoptive parent or an adoptee, there’s something for everyone.

“This is Us” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC. You can catch up and watch “This is Us” online on Hulu.

26
Nov

18 Ways to Fundraise for Your Adoption

adoptwithoutdebtAdmittedly, 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://americanblog.wpengine.com/adoption-fundraising-webinars/

http://americanblog.wpengine.com/adoption-tax-credit-2014-infographic/

http://resources4adoption.com/

http://americanblog.wpengine.com/getting-adoption-benefits-at-work/

17
Nov

How One Mom Talks to Her Kids about Her Adoption

img_0010Jennifer Van Gundy is an Adoption Specialist at American Adoptions who is an adoptee herself. She’s also a mom to two kids, an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old who weren’t adopted, and a wife to a man who wasn’t adopted. So it’s natural, then, that tough questions sometimes arise about the adoption process.

Jennifer had a closed adoption and doesn’t know her birth mother, so her sons haven’t been faced with trying to understand a birth mother relationship. Like all kids, though, they wonder where babies come from — but it’s not so easy as citing the stork theory when you’re an Adoption Specialist! Jennifer explains that some kids come from their mom’s bodies and some don’t, but it really makes no difference.

“We talk about the difference of, ‘I wasn’t in Mimi’s tummy, but you were in my tummy. But it doesn’t matter if you were in my tummy or you weren’t. It doesn’t matter if I was in Mimi’s tummy or if I wasn’t. We’re still a family.’”

It’s been interesting to share her adoption story with them, Jennifer says. She’ll tell them, “Oh yeah, mom’s adopted. It’s just a part of how I joined this family.”

It gets trickier when questions about her work arise. Jennifer is the Director of Social Services, so when she gets calls at home, it generally means there’s a question or that someone needs help working through a problem. And while she tries to take these calls in privacy, it’s natural that curious children will occasionally overhear bits and pieces.

She explains to her kids that she’s helping a family or a birth mom, which brings up the question, “Oh, somebody doesn’t want their baby?”

“No, it’s not that they don’t want their baby,” Jennifer tells them. “Somebody loves their kiddo so much that they want the best for that baby. And they can’t give the best for that baby right now, so they’re picking another family who maybe doesn’t get to have a baby on their own.”

Teaching kids about adoption is an ongoing process, especially as they grow older, but it’s an important conversation to have — whether adoption is as prevalent in your family as it is in Jennifer’s or not. The specifics can be tough depending on your child’s age, but letting him or her know there’s more than one way to grow or join a family can be done at any age!

10
Nov

Budgeting Tips for Hopeful Adoptive Parents

Adoption is not just a huge emotional investment, but a financial one as well – and if you’re a family just learning about adoption, you’re probably wondering how to start budgeting.

Here, we’ve offered some information about adoption costs and how to plan for them accordingly.

Breakdown of Adoption Costs

The costs of adoption will be different depending on what type of adoption and program you choose. At American Adoptions, costs can usually be broken down into the following categories:

  • Agency fees
  • Home study
  • Advertising
  • Birth mother expenses
  • Travel
  • Legal fees

These fees will come up over the course of your adoption. While it might seem like a lot of information to take in, there are some things you can do to make budgeting easier.

Ways to Plan Your Budget

It’s never too early to start creating a budget. If you’re just beginning to prepare for your adoption journey, here are some tips that can help you plan for the journey ahead:

  • Learn about your adoption program – Every adoption program has different fees and payment arrangements, and that information will help you prepare.
  • Write it down – Put all of your costs and financial information into a computer application, like Microsoft Excel, to keep everything organized.
  • Check out your financial aid options – There are many loans, grants, and financial aid options for hopeful adoptive parents.
  • Try fundraising – Parents in the past have thrown bake sales, raffles, and other community events to raise money for adoption.
  • Leave some wiggle room – when you are setting a budget, choose a range rather than an exact number.

Our Adoption Specialists can also work with you to help you know what to expect and make sure there are as few surprises as possible. Wherever you are in your adoption journey, American Adoptions is always available to help you achieve your dream!

14
Oct

We Want to See Your Finalization Photos!

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 editors@americanadoptions.com. 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.

11
Oct

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

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.

Transparency

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.

 

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