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10
Mar

How to Build an Adoption Support System

Adoption is an extremely emotional experience for everyone involved. Whether you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption or a couple hoping to adopt, there are going to be times when you have to turn to someone for emotional support. Not only is that okay, it’s encouraged. Having people you can talk to about your struggles can make all the difference.

The struggles you’re going through, of course, are going to be very different depending on which side of the adoption triad you represent. With this in mind, we’ve split this post up into two sections: advice for pregnant women and advice for adoptive families.

How to build a support system as a pregnant woman considering adoption

If you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant and unsure of what to do, it’s so crucial that you have people in your corner. You’re faced with one of the toughest decisions of your lifetime, and having a good support system can make all the difference.

You need people around who are going to support you emotionally, help you throughout your pregnancy and help you with decisions. This does not mean you need people to make your decisions for you. You and you alone have the right to decide what to do about your unplanned pregnancy. But hearing different opinions and perspectives may be able to help you consider points you hadn’t thought about before, and this could be extremely helpful.

Who your support system consists of depends on the people you have in your life. This is going to be different for everyone, and there’s no specific number of people you need surrounding you. Sometimes one really good person is enough, and sometimes you’ll want to surround yourself with a variety of family and friends. Some people you can turn to may include:

  • The baby’s father
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Friends
  • Extended family members
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Pastors or other religious figures

If you don’t have these people in your life, or if they aren’t capable of providing the support you need, that doesn’t mean you’re alone. It might be as simple as trying a new church or calling to speak with an adoption specialist. Just make sure that whoever you’re turning to for support and advice is always focused on your best interests.

Regardless of who makes up your support system, you’ll need to establish good communication techniques. This may include telling them what you need; sometimes you’ll just need the space to be alone. Other times you’ll need someone to run an errand for you or to discuss everything that’s changing in your life. Remember to not only ask for patience but to give it to those around you. This may be new territory for everyone.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and need support, or if you need help telling your friends and family members that you are considering adoption, you can contact an adoption specialist any time at 1-800-ADOPTION. Your call is free, confidential, and does not obligate you to choose adoption.

How to build a support system as a family pursuing adoption

Coming to the decision to grow your family through adoption isn’t always an easy process. Maybe you’ve encountered infertility issues; many couples who pursue adoption have already poured time, money and emotions into trying to conceive. This can be exhausting in every way imaginable.

It’s also possible that you’re worried about coming up with the money for adoption. It’s not a cheap process, and there’s a lot that goes into it. Then there’s the fear that you won’t match with a birth mother, or that something will happen during the pregnancy, or that she’ll change her mind. It’s okay to be stressed, even as you’re so thrilled about the child you’ll eventually bring home.

It’s also okay to admit that you’re overwhelmed. You’re being put through your emotional paces, and you’re going to need people in your corner just as a prospective birth mom does. Your list of potential support team members is, for the most part, the same as a pregnant woman’s.

  • Your spouse
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Friends
  • Extended family members
  • Other families who have adopted
  • Counselors
  • Pastors or other religious figures
  • Your adoption specialist

You may also need to be vocal about what you need from your support system. It’s not always easy for people to imagine what a family waiting to adopt is going through. They may not know about the financial aspect, or the paperwork leading up to it, or the matching process itself. They may not understand your feelings about a relationship with the birth parents. In other words, there may be a lot you have to explain, which can feel even more stressful when you’re already exhausted.

Remember to be patient with those around you. They love you, and they’re doing their best. But also remember it’s okay to take some time for yourself. It’s not your responsibility to educate people about adoption 24/7. Find your balance.

If you feel that your support system is lacking, don’t underestimate how helpful an adoption specialist can be. To speak with an adoption specialist at American Adoptions, call 1-800-ADOPTION today.

27
Feb

Your Stories of “The Call”

We sent out a request to our adoptive parent social media followers, asking for your stories about the moment when you got “The Call”- that phone call from your American Adoptions specialist, informing you that you were about to become parents through adoption.

You delivered! Here are your stories:

(*Editor’s Note- Some stories have been edited for grammar or clarity.)

“Hi, American Adoptions!

We love you guys so much- shout out to Angie and Justin!!!!

October of 2011, we were in the process of giving our profile a re-vamp. I was very busy in meetings and my husband did a lot of local travel.  Apparently, American Adoptions called me 5 or 6 times, and I left my cell phone on my desk, so they couldn’t get ahold of me.  They reached my husband who was in the car and he pulled over to the side of the road he was in such disbelief.  He then called me 5 or 6 more times, so I came back to 10 missed calls.  I finally called my husband back, and he screamed at me, ‘They called, there’s a match for us, they called!’  We both rushed home to talk to Angie, made an emergency trip to Target because [the expectant mom’s] due date was 2 days later. Our baby boy was born 2 weeks later.  He is a happy, loving, amazingly awesome 5 year old now.

The second call- we called you!  Our first’s birthmother texted us that she was pregnant again and asked us if we would parent Cayden’s sibling.  Of course this was a dream come true because we just started all our paperwork to begin a search for number 2 with American Adoptions again.

Our little Kyler was born 6.5 months later and we are so extremely blessed to have biologic siblings.   He is now 2.5 years old and so funny, affectionate and as amazing as his brother.

As always, all our best to you,

Melissa, Lee, Cayden, Kyler and Millie.”


Jean and Kevin also adopted two sons through American Adoptions. Here’s how they heard the news:

“Kyle:

On Wednesday, June 8, my Mother’s birthday, I (Jean) was in New York.  I planned a surprise visit for my mom while Kevin was away for work in New Mexico, doing a conference presentation.  My mom and I were shopping at Kohl’s when I heard that I had a voice mail on my phone.  I saw it was from American Adoptions and when I listened, heard that it was about a match!  I found my mom, told her, and went outside to call our adoption specialist. I was so excited and flustered that I couldn’t figure out where the car was so I found a patch of grass in the parking lot and looked for a piece of paper to take notes.  All I had was a train ticket stub so on that stub I prepared to take notes about our son-to-be.  I found out that our son Kyle’s birth mom chose us to be his parents, was scheduled to be induced in Nebraska the following Tuesday, and wanted me in the delivery room.  I cried when I heard this, called Kevin about the news and made one more stopping shop with my mom, buying baby clothes, before heading to my parent’s home.  Over the next few days there was a whirlwind of activity, mostly adoption paperwork, trying to find a place to stay, and organizing our lives since due to the legal processes involved we would need to be away from our home for 3 weeks to a month (turned out to be 6 weeks)! Kyle’s birth mother actually was not induced so we arrived in plenty of time to get settled, explore the area, and be present for his birth! We fell in love immediately with our beautiful boy.

Christian:

In the afternoon on April 24 as our son Kyle was returning from preschool, we received an email from our adoption specialist presenting us with information about an expectant mother and asking us if we wanted to be considered as the baby’s, whose gender was unknown, parents. Our second son, Christian’s birth mother asked American Adoptions to choose parents for her baby. Kevin and I read the email and felt, ‘Yes, this is IT, this is our child!’ We were thrilled knowing we would be parents again soon and anticipated the journey to and stay in South Dakota. We reached our adoption specialist and told her that we wanted to accept the match. The match would become official soon after when Christian’s birth mother reviewed our profile and felt that the agency picked a wonderful family for her baby. Christian ended up being born early, on June 8, my mom’s birthday and the day we got “The Call” about Kyle. We traveled across the country arriving the day after his birth. We were filled with so much love and joy when he was placed in our arms.”


“I was at a conference sitting in the front row during the keynote speaker. I screamed, “OH my God!” and ran out of the room (in front of about 500 people). I was 3 hours from home and drove as fast as I could when about an hour and a half later I realized I was going the WRONG direction! After a tearful conversation with our specialist and my husband, I got my head on straight, went the right direction, and still made it in time to jump on a plane and make the birth.” -Jenna

“It seems crude but it isn’t a joke. I was in the middle of performing a PAP smear on one of my patients! My wonderful patient knew I was waiting and she heard my phone ring in my pocket and sat straight up and said, ‘Answer that!!!’ She tells me to this day that was the best PAP she has ever gotten! That will be 9 years ago in March.” -Cammy

“[I was] in our kitchen with my hubby! It was on our answering machine so we both heard it at the same time. One of the best moments of my life. It has been over 2 years since that day and the message still lives in our machine!” -Alicia

“I was at work as acting Chief and preparing for a major presentation the next day when I got the call. My husband was on the golf course and didn’t have any reception. There was major rushing that day, because we flew out the next day and got our one in a million!” -Sara

“We were at work; I had just started my new job. It was only my second day. Two hours in, I dropped everything and drove 16 hrs to meet our sweet boy. Almost 4 years ago!” -Sharon

“I got the call about the birth when I was on a shuttle at work (going from the parking lot to the front door). The social worker called and said, ‘Your son is here, come see him!’ I squealed and announced to the whole shuttle bus that my son had just been born and that I was a mommy again! I got a lot of confused stares (they were wondering how I was a mom again if I was standing in front of them). I took the shuttle right back to my car, called everyone I knew and my hubby and I caught a plane to meet our son!” -Lisa

“I was at work in a meeting and had just prayed and told God I was losing hope and really needed this to happen. We had just hit our Year mark. I walked out of the meeting and had the message. 3 years later I still have it on my phone.” -Krista

“[I was] washing dishes from lunch on Labor Day when we got the call that we were chosen and our daughter was born that morning! Best phone call ever!” -Jennifer

“I was at work. I ran into a conference room and wrote down everything she said as fast as I could. Most of it didn’t make sense later. I called my husband who had just gotten off work and he came by. We shared the biggest hug and one of my co-workers got a picture of it. The cool thing about that day was that it was the day before the due date of our previous match that disrupted.” -Kellie

“[I was] working in a classroom full of 6th graders! I ran out the door without telling my co-teacher (also in the room) and jumped up and down in the hallway and cried! I had to keep it a secret from my students for about 2 weeks. Hardest secret to keep ever! Our son was born about 3 weeks after that call.” -Colleen

“I remember sitting at the restaurant the night of Valentine’s Day, as a couple without kids, discussing how much we were looking forward to a match… the next day, the phone rang at work… the caller ID stated ‘American Adoptions.’  I screamed and cried…” -Julie

“My husband and I had just pulled up to a gas station and as he was getting out my phone rang. He just sat back down because he could tell it was ‘The Call.’ Best day ever.” -Heather

“For our first adoption, I got the call right as I walked in the door from work. I was so shocked. I could hardly focus on what our social worker was saying. I got to tell Hubby the news which was so special. For our second, I had secretly hoped he would get the call. As it worked out, I was at a craft fair and didn’t hear the phone because it was noisy and so they called Hubby. I checked my phone an hour later and my husband had called 20 times. I heard him say, ‘They have a baby for us!’ I sat down and cried right there on a picnic bench in the center of a busy, loud crowd.” -Jessica

“We missed the call and didn’t notice that my cell phone had a VM. I was at work 2 days later when American Adoptions called and asked if I had gotten the VM from 2 days earlier!!! I said no, so they told me about the match!! I was so excited I started jumping up and down!! As soon as I got of the phone I checked my VM. Yup. I had a VM about a match! I called my husband and he was in shock. Our son was born 2.5 weeks later!” -Jennifer

“We were asleep! They called, and it took us a second to register what was happening!” -Rachel

“[I was] in the shower!” -Ashley

“We got The Call two years ago today!!” -Samantha

“I was at my knitting club, knitting a baby blanket!” -Brenda


Thanks to everyone who shared their stories about how their family began! We love hearing from you.

Share your story about the moment when you received “The Call” in the comments!

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!

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