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9
Jan

Our Open Adoption Story – Diana

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

I Always Knew I Was Adopted

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

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

Yes, Sometimes Being Adopted Was Frustrating

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

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

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

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

My Relationship with My Birth Parents

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

My Birth Mother

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

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

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

My Birth Father

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

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

My Birth Grandparents

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

Some Final Thoughts on My Birth Parent/Adoptee Relationship

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

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

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

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

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

My Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working with American Adoptions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth About Open Adoption

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

6
Jan

Our Open Adoption Story – Harry & Sherry

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


Sherry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Diana’s side of the story here.

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

14
Sep

Have Faith in Your Child’s Birth Mother

Have Faith in Your Child's Birth MotherI made a conscious, thought out choice to put my son up for adoption. I also made sure that I chose his parents wisely. That’s right, I chose my son’s parents. The family was not forced upon me, the decision was not made for me, I was actively engaged along every step of the way. I have an open adoption, and voluntarily placed my son up for adoption. My son’s parents know that I chose them. I know that they value that gift. I want to share some insight into that relationship and encourage adoptive parents to know they are valued, and respected for the gift that adoptive parents give to a birth mother.

Side Note

I want to mention a few things about my son’s parents:

  • They face stigma as well, and I believe that we should all be sensitive to that. Yet, we have had open conversations about the stigma that I face as well.
  • We have a very open communication style and that was established at the beginning of our relationship.
  • Our level of communication has been adjusted as time has gone by, and while they maintain openness with me, we still have boundaries set up. This has been a learning process on both ends. What works for one open relationship may not work for another.

In general, I have found many similar lessons that have been learned to be present in other open adoption relationships between birth parents and adoptive parents.

I Made a Choice

I know that there are many emotions tied to adoption, especially in the beginning of the process and the transition of a new life for all parties involved. However, no matter how hard it was for me, I never wanted my son “back”. I say this because I have heard that people ask these questions, and have experienced them personally. I have never seen my son as a piece of property that I was transferring in exchange for something else. In my eyes, his life is a blessing and a gift, and I never have nor will I ever take that lightly.

I know that there are insecurities about birth mothers until the adoption process is finalized, but please try not to feel insecure. If you have a bad experience with a mother who changed her mind, remember, the right child is out there for you and the right birth mother is out there for you too. Trust me when I tell you, once a birth mother, or any mother, has made up her mind for what is best for her child, nothing will stand in her way of taking care of it.

Reciprocated Transparency

My son’s parents know this because we established transparency of all parties at the beginning of our relationship. I think this is so crucial in a birth mother choosing a family, and that family responding to that birth mother. Transparency will allow for a trust to be built in an open adoption relationship. Don’t hold anything back from that birth mother, and once she see’s who you really are, and has fallen in love with you, you have nothing to feel insecure about.

In my situation, I transferred custody of my son to his parents before the adoption was even close to being finalized. We had a transparent relationship that allowed for them to trust that I was firm in my decision. While I’m sure they were scared and felt insecure, they took a leap of faith, and it was worth it for all parties involved, especially for my son.

Listen to Your Heart

If you have concerns about the birth parent you are working with, please bring those concerns to the attention of the adoption agent that you are working with. They work closely with the birth mother, and will be able to help you. If your gut instinct tells you that something isn’t right about the situation, then don’t ignore it. While you may want to be parents, you may find that the fit you are in isn’t the best. And trust me when I tell you that waiting a little longer to find the perfect fit is better in the long run for all parties involved, especially that beautiful child.

~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.

19
Aug

Ask an Adoption Veteran: Surviving the Wait Time

Shawn KaneIn Ask an Adoption Veteran, we offer you advice, tips, and insight from people who have been through the adoption process before. Today, we talked with American Adoptions executive director, Shawn Kane, who is an adoptive father himself. We got his input on a challenge that all adoptive parents can understand: making it through the wait time.

Q: How long did you wait for an adoption opportunity?

Shawn: We waited about a year. We started the process, and then we had three disruptions before we were able to adopt.

Q: What were you feeling during that time?             

Shawn: The wait time is frustrating. Before that, you’ve got a flurry of paperwork and then the profile, so you’re nervous but excited at the same time. You have something to do. Looking back, that part was comparatively easy to when we were waiting. It’s hard. You have triggers throughout the day – other people and their kids, friends getting pregnant – things that remind you of what you’re going through.

Q: What did you do to stay sane during that time?

Shawn: Well, in our situation, we had a son, so that kept us busy. Tips for other people might be just sticking with your routines, volunteering your time, and spending time with your family and friends.

Q: Did you and your wife handle the wait differently?

Shawn: Definitely. I probably internalized things and didn’t talk as much. Amy had some stress and guilt that came from the fact that we’d had miscarriages before. I think she felt some regret – like she had failed the family – but I never felt that way. She probably talked more about it and confided in me.

Q: How did you feel after finding your adoption opportunity?

Shawn: Initially, we got excited. But then the level of anticipation increases and intensifies as you wait for the due date. It’s on your mind even more. You would think that it would get better, but now it’s more tangible. Then there’s more stress when the baby’s born, because there’s a revocation period and birth father issues to sort out. It’s not until you get to finalization day that you really feel that sense of relief and completion. You finally got to the finish line.

Stay tuned for future “Ask an Adoption Veteran” segments, where we will cover topics like home studies, parenting adopted children, and more.

15
Nov

Adoption Month Memories – Part 2

30 Days of Adoption ReflectionsA couple weeks ago, we sent out a call to families for special Adoption Month Memories and Reflections. We keep getting great stories and memories! So we’ll keep sharing them throughout the month!

“When I chose adoption for my son, I had no idea the impact it would have on me or his adoptive parents. I just knew it was the best choice for the both of us. Every wish, hope and dream I had for him has come true. He has grown up in a loving household, has completed high school and graduated from college. I’ve felt the love and gratitude in every letter and picture Mike and Jodi shared with me. Dan agreed to a reunion when he was 19 year old – the greatest gift he could ever have given me.  His words of thanks and confirmation of a happy life will remain with me forever. This year our son will celebrate his 25th birthday on November 25. I do not regret that choice for one minute.” – Sue, a Teen Birth Mother

“We became active with American Adoptions in July of 2008. We got the call about a match on September 29, 2008. We were matched with our birth mom who gave birth to our amazing, beautiful Alexandra on November 12, 2008. Our match call came exactly eight years to the date from when we found out we were pregnant with our son Jeremy. September 29 has become one of my favorite days of the year! It also happened that in both of those years Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, fell on September 29, and both times the phone call came while my husband, who is Jewish, was at Temple for High Holiday Services. A truly amazing way to start a new year indeed! Thank you American Adoptions for helping us complete our family!!” – Kate, Adoptive Mom

“Perfect Timing: My husband and I found out October 19th, 2010 that we could not have children, and that it was time for us to think of an alternative plan for a family. We had already discussed the idea of adoption, so it was just a matter of deciding what agency we were going to use to help us with our journey. We officially signed with American Adoptions in early 2011, and by mid-March our profile was active. We got “the call” in mid-June and were beyond excited that it was all happening so fast. While reading through all of the paperwork about the birth mother and the baby due July 23rd, 2011, I got chills when I saw that the estimated date of conception was October 19th, 2010. This goes to show you that “the right baby will find you” if you are patient and have faith. Our son was meant for us, and thanks to the gift of adoption we get to have our “happily ever after” as a family of 3.” – Stacie and Mike, Adoptive Parents of Nathan

Read other adoption memories in Part 1. It’s not too late to share an Adoption Reflection or Memory with us! Just send an email to editors@americanadoptions.com!

 

6
Nov

Adoption Month Memories

30 Days of Adoption ReflectionsA couple weeks ago, we sent out a call to families for special Adoption Month Memories and Reflections. A number of families sent us special memories, and we wanted to share a couple of them now and throughout the rest of the month.

“We met our sweet boy on Halloween and brought him home on November 1st. We called him ‘pumpkin’ for about a year.” – Nicole, Adoptive Mom

“November is the month our sweet baby boy was born! We got to bring him home on Thanksgiving Day 2011! So for us, it’s an extra special ‘National Adoption Month!!'” – Tracy, Adoptive Mom

“November is when we adopted our baby girl- the week after Thanksgiving! I’ll never forget walking into the hospital nursery, and the nurse said “Hi, are you here to be the Mom?” I was overwhelmed.” – Kelli, Adoptive Mom

“Everyone always said that the right baby will find you and that it will feel truly meant to be. After a three-year long wait, I was starting to lose faith until we got ‘the call.’ It didn’t occur to me until we signed and dated the agreement that the day was September 24, 2012 – what would have been my Aunt’s birthday. She had passed away the December prior and one of the last things she said to me was ‘I’m going to go and help find your baby’ – and boy did she keep that promise! Dylan was born on February 6, 2013, on my Mom’s birthday! All of this reminds me that there are no coincidences in this life; we’re all cosmically connected, and these children really do find their way to the families they are meant to be with.” -Sean and Susanne, Adoptive Parents

It’s not too late to share an Adoption Reflection or Memory with us! Just send an email to editors@americanadoptions.com!

18
Sep

Contact with Birth Parents

Advice from Adoption VeteransAdvice From Adoption Veterans

Initially, couples can be hesitant about ongoing contact with their child’s birth parents after the adoption. But studies show that ongoing contact through a semi-open or open adoption is a growing trend as well as beneficial for birth parents to heal and for adopted children as they grow up.

American Adoptions requires that our families be open to a semi-open adoption at minimum, and the vast majority of our adoptions are semi-open. Read further to hear from adoption veterans with tips and insight on contact with birth parents after the adoption, and check out the links below for more information about openness and contact in adoption.

“I’ll tell you, nobody will understand – who hasn’t gone through this yet – how easy it is to be in touch with these people. You think before you go into an adoption, well, I don’t think I want the birth parents in our lives… For us anyway, we found that the more open we were, the better it was. All of those fears were unfounded, completely unfounded.” – Silke

“I just feel so indebted. And I feel like I have everything, and the least I can do is give her a relationship that is as healing and hopeful and happy as possible.” – Kathryn

“They had a professional photography service that comes and does infant photography there in the hospital. We bought a package for us and let her pick out a package too. We paid for that and considered that part of the pictures agreement. The advice we would give is – whether it’s semi-open or open – to do whatever you can do (especially when it comes to pictures and communication) to reinforce that you’re actually going to follow through with that.” – Bill

“Our idea the whole time was that they’ve already made a fantastic decision that we really respect, and they can’t do anything wrong. Whether it’s deciding to be a part of this forever or not – or in and out – it didn’t matter… We feel like they’re our friends… They know that our door is always open. I think that we’ll try to see them several times throughout the year. And again, they know our feeling that there are no wrong answers. There’s no obligation to come see us every time they’re in town or vice versa. But I think that they will be a part of [our son’s life], and they want to continue to be. And I think it’s just going to be a lot of fun.” – Tony

“When you adopt, that’s part of your child, their history. I know people who had adopted and not told the child and pretended that the child is biological. I just don’t know how you can do that. I think of their birth family every day. It’s part of them, and I think it can be scary at first because it’s unknown, but it’s just such a healing and healthy thing once you’ve gone through it… It was really the start or a new type of relationship… as opposed to all ties being severed. ” – Kathryn

“I had a great experience adopting. I was able to be in the birth… And that night my son’s birth mom and I roomed together. I was able to bond with both her and the baby. We have become close friends over these past four years. She’s even on my Facebook… She sees everything about our life, and she is aware of the kind of life that our son has. I know this isn’t a typical situation, but it’s the best decision I’ve made to keep our adoption real open. My son has siblings, and maybe one day, they will have a relationship, and he won’t have to look for them. Good luck to all of you who are in the process of adoption. It changed our lives, and we are so blessed to have been given the opportunity to become parents.” – Holly

“Open adoption is healing. It’s because adoption is not just a rosy, rosy picture. I mean there’s pain involved and yes, it’s chosen because it’s a choice made out of love, and it’s the best thing for the baby. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not pain and loss. A lot of times, there’s even loss in the family adoption, whether it’s from miscarriage or infertility or disrupted adoptions, and it’s just very, very healing for the birth family. I’ve seen that. I’ve seen how helpful it is.” – Kathryn

“I mean, there’s nothing wrong with more people loving them.” – Mike

“I found that the pictures and letters come naturally. You look at this amazing, wonderful child and you want to share that. I type out their letters on the computer, and then I print a second copy for their baby book. Because I’m recording all the firsts and anecdotes, I’ll save them, and I think it’s neat for them to see that wow, we’ve kept that connection open. I feel like most of the fear comes before there’s that relationship with the baby. Because when there’s not baby, it’s like your brain has all this room, and at least for me, I obsess. And I feel like once you have that baby and you love her, you want what’s best for her. And you know that as a mom, that what’s best for her is to have these connections open. So they’re going to see that nothing was hidden, nothing was lied about, things were open and honest and shared.” – Kathryn

“Be patient, honest and just be yourself. We have adopted two children through American Adoptions [with the] same birth mother. Our son is 4, and our daughter is 20 months. No matter the emotions, the uncertainty, the ups and downs, everything is so worth it, and it will become the best decision you have ever made in your life. Thank you will never be enough for our birth mother who gave us the best gifts on the planet. We have a semi-open adoption, and it has helped everyone involved. A child cannot ever have enough love in their life, and our birth mother is a very important part of our family. Be open-minded! Be open with your children with age-appropriate conversations about their adoption. They will look to you for security, support and understanding!” – Jodi

To read more about openness and contact in adoption, visit the following links:

 

11
Sep

Bonding with Birth Parents

Advice from Adoption VeteransAdvice From Adoption Veterans

As discussed in yesterday’s post about the first meeting or conversation with a birth mother, you may not know what to say or how to act when you begin contact with the woman who selects you and your spouse. It can feel like an awkward first date, but that’s ok!

Over time, the better you get to know one another and the more you bond, the better you all will likely feel. She’ll feel more sure about choosing your family, and you’ll feel more confident in her adoption plan. Read on for advice about bonding with birth parents from adoption veterans.

“I would say that you can’t go into this with your heart unopen. You can’t go into it closed off with the birth parents. They can feel it. It turns them off and scares them as if we’re hiding something.” – Silke

“The birth mom and birth dad are absolutely making the hardest decision of their life ever. They’re not in a situation because they’re terrible people. They are usually very good people in unfortunate situations and some sort of issue. And they want the absolute best for these kids and their baby. If they don’t get the feel from the prospective parents that they were willing to give every last thing to this child, I think that can rub them off a little.” – Mike

“We ended up bringing [our older daughter], which was really neat because we’re a family. And so she got to see all of us. And I think it was neat too because she got to see how we parent, the good and the bad.” – Kathryn

“She was very open to sharing information with us. She was very happy that she picked us. Overall, if other adoptive parents have the chance to meet their child’s birth parents, I think they should. It’s kind of a glimpse into where he’s coming from and gives some more insight and more information.” – Mike

“We were able to get pictures taken with her… I think that’s important. We want to make sure that we share that with him… I asked if there is anything special she wants us to do with him, if there’s special things that they do at holidays and birthdays, so that we can make sure that we’re able to share that with him as well.” – Ashley

“Two things: First, just to be yourself. You aren’t going to be able to sell somebody that you are not. Secondly, just put yourselves in their place. It is much harder for them. They have to get to know you and trust you in a very short amount of time.” – Nikki

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there with the birth parents. We went in with a semi-open adoption. You build that bond; you want to have that contact. The more info you share about yourself, the more comfortable they will feel about their decision. The birth parents told us that – had we not been as open as we were – they weren’t sure if they could have gone through with the adoption. Always try to be as open and honest as you feel comfortable with. The more trust you give them, the more trust they have in you.” – Jason

“The best advice I can give is to be flexible and go with the flow. Things may change. Our birth mother didn’t want to meet us or see our son and then changed her mind when she went into labor. Take your cues from your [child’s] birth parents. Ask questions, talk and try to find where you have common ground. Ask what hopes and dreams they have for the baby. Ask questions about what your birth mother liked as a child and talk about what she would like to see her baby do.” – Susan

“I think if we would have met them at the hospital for the first time, it would have been more nerve-wracking. Everyone is more tense at the hospital any way because there is a lot of emotional stuff going on. So it was nice to be outside of that environment, to kind of talk and to be a little bit more relaxed.” – Daphne

“The first conference call really went quickly to developing that friendship, talking more personally about each other than about the adoption itself. The birth father always wanted to work and live on a farm, so we talked about our farm and a lot of other personal things. The adoption part was a very minor portion of the call – maybe 15 minutes out of the hour and a half.” – Bruce

“It was really neat to see how much we had in common, why they chose us, how the pregnancy was going, and just to get to know them a little better with each call. It made things a lot more comfortable at the hospital.” – Shannon

“At first the relationship was, ‘let’s get through this together.’ But then we connected, and a lot of similarities in our personalities would come out. It was just a natural progression to a friendship.” – Donna

“We emailed each other on occasion, every couple of weeks. As the birthday got closer, we actually emailed each other more and more. About four days before she went into labor, she emailed us and said it’s getting close – get ready. We emailed each other up until the day she gave birth. The last email she sent said ‘I’m on the way to the hospital right now. Get down here.’ We heard from her before we heard from anybody else. We knew when it was coming, and he was actually born right on his predicted birthday.” – Craig

 “We were apprehensive in the beginning and didn’t want to meet them. But, it ended up being the best thing we ever did. They were such nice people that on Mothers Day, which was a few weeks after we met them, they sent us an email that read: ‘To the new parents to be, Happy Mother’s Day, Cheryl.’ It was really touching and special.” -Cheryl 

“She put in her paperwork that she was up for a pre-placement visit if we were. We thought that would be so much nicer than going to a hospital and meeting someone at their worst, so we agreed. Plus, we thought we could start having a relationship with her to calm fears on both sides. We were nervous, and driving out there felt like it took forever. But once we started talking, we ended up visiting for eight hours, and all of our nerves subsided.” – Jason

“It was a very easy, flowing conversation and much easier than I anticipated. We actually had a lot in common. We just absolutely loved it. We loved them. We had no expectations, we didn’t know what it was going to be like, so it made it a lot easier as far as getting to know them.” – Nikki

To read more about bonding with birth parents, look over these other links: 

21
Aug

Moving on From a Disruption

Advice from Adoption VeteransAdvice from Adoption Veterans

Although American Adoptions has some of the lowest adoption disruption rates among adoption professionals, some families have still experienced the unfortunate and heartbreaking feelings that come with a disrupted adoption. And some couples experience disrupted identified adoptions (adoptions that they arrange themselves) or disruptions with other adoption professionals before they come to our agency.

After a disrupted adoption, adoptive families may run the gamut of emotions: shock, anger, sadness and disappointment. We encourage most of our families to take a step back to grieve, but the majority return to our active list and complete a successful adoption!

“Probably the scariest thing was to go ahead after what we had been through. I think that was always on our minds, always. But we knew that the only way we’d have a chance was if we tried again. Otherwise, we’d have to close that door again. And I don’t think we were ready to do that. We just knew that we couldn’t get what we have now, if we weren’t willing to take that risk, so we both just decided that we’re willing. We know what we’re getting ourselves into. We talked about that a lot too- if we were really ready for that- and we just said, I think we would just always wonder if we hadn’t tried.”  -Karin

“We had a little bit of a philosophy with our (older) son. If he falls of his bike, you tell him to get back on. And it was a little bit of the same. It was not ideal, but waiting didn’t make it any better. So we signed up again.” -Dan

“It sure felt like the world was ending when (the first adoption) didn’t work out. But our girls were so meant to be ours. And even though the first time, I would have told you the same thin– you have to go through and kind of put your heart out there again. I had friend tell me right after we got the girls, ‘Well just hold a little part back, Dawn. Don’t got all in. You went all in with your emotions last time.’ And I’m just like, ‘You can’t do that. That’s not fair to them. It will work out.’ And it did!” -Dawn

“Our excitement was really different this (the second) time around. The first time around, we were just really excited. Nothing seemed to really matter. We kind of knew that a disruption could happen, but that wasn’t ever really on our minds, and then this time it was.” -Karin

“Stay focused on the positive outcome. It’s a setback, but it’s not the end.” -Dan

“Going through infertility- it’s hard to say it’s a loss because it’s not specific like losing a child- but it’s a loss of something that you’d hoped for and wished for. And then to go through a disrupted adoption, I think I was like, ‘God, please don’t take anything else away.'” -Kathryn

“After a disruption and moving on to another match, both adoptive parents must be on the same page. You can’t let a previous disruption affect another match you are about to go into. It is OK to talk about it, but it shouldn’t come out to the birth parents. You have to be open to it as much as you were the first time. I know I would do those disruptions a million times over. They were tough, but I am so happy they happened because I ended up with the right baby. I know that in my heart.” -Mary

“As much as we both felt that ‘If it is meant to be then it is mean to be,’ it is just horribly difficult to then get yourself excited for the next match. But you can’t help it. I think for at least the next month, we didn’t go out; we didn’t want to see anybody. We didn’t take our names off or say we needed more time because I wondered, ‘Would we ever get back in the saddle?’ We knew we had to keep going for it, and luckily we did.” -Tristen

“I think God was really clearing a path for us to have Ali (our daughter). We learned so much from the first one, and we were really much better prepared for Ali because of our experience with the first baby.” -Karin

For further reading on disrupted adoptions, have a look at the following articles:

  • Coping with a Disrupted Adoption This blog post covers the steps of the grieving process and includes tips for supporting your spouse and for finding support in family and friends.
  • How We Minimize Financial Loss This article details how American Adoptions’ Financial-Risk Policy helps to protect you in the event of a disruption.
31
Jul

Coping with the Wait

Advice from Adoption VeteransAdvice from Adoption Veterans

For many adoptive couples, the wait between their activation and an adoption opportunity can be nerve-wracking and stressful. This is totally normal, and every couple will handle their wait differently. Refer back to our What to Do After Activation post for tips on this stage of the adoption process, or read on for encouragement and first-hand advice from people who have been in your shoes.

“Don’t let people’s own opinions or encouragement or stereotypes dissuade you.” -Linda

“The wait time is really, really, really hard. And what a lot of people don’t understand unless they’ve gone through it, is it’s not like a pregnancy where you have a set amount of time and then there’s a specific baby. A lot of times we had to trust that fate, that God does have a specific child out there for you.” -Kathryn

“The three months of putting all the paperwork together really kept my mind occupied. It really kept me going and then all of a sudden when we had nothing else to do, and we were both done, it was completely out of our hands. That was definitely hard.” -Diane

“I think it was hard knowing—well not knowing—when we had situations that we agreed to send our profile to. That was really hard because then you knew there was a baby right there and that the birth mom was going to choose.” -Kelly

“The biggest thing is to take life as it comes and just know that there is a plan for you. And to never give up hope. You just have to stay with it and stay strong. Keep the faith. I guess when we look back on it and all the things that you have to go through the adoption process, all the paperwork, all the appointments, all the meetings, all the classes, you kinda think, my gosh, there’s biological parents that should have to go through this, and they don’t have to go through anything. I think the biggest thing is to just get busy with your life. And also, in your heart, just plan to have a baby. There’s going to be a baby in the future, but don’t stop your life just waiting for that baby because it just makes it too hard.” -Karin

“As frustrating as it can be sometimes, you just have to keep living your life and have faith that it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to.” -Bill

“The adoption process taught us a lot of patience, and that you have to accept that certain things are out of your control. Bruce and I believe in God’s plan in this, and it was a huge reminder that we are not in control of this process. There was just so many other people and factors that played into it.” -Shannon

“We have learned that everything happens for a reason. Our advice to parents going through this tough process is to be calm, go about your daily life, pray about what you want to happen, trust your instincts, trust American Adoptions, and know that whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen.” -Carlie

“I felt good up until about nine months, but our wait ended up being 22 months long. I really struggled a lot with it. Even my friends who have adopted from American Adoptions had no idea how we felt because they all adopted in six months or less. I probably sent an email once a month asking how things were going. I felt that despite a lot of people doing all they could, nobody could really help us as it is ultimately a pregnant woman’s decision. However, it was helpful to know that we were very similar to many other families who adopted successfully, so we knew it would eventually happen for us.” -Elizabeth

“We had our whole summer planned to remodel one of our bathrooms, and we were going to do it really slowly, just so there was always something going on to keep our minds occupied. We were at the crux of total demolition when they called and said there was a baby coming in a few weeks. And then we had to hurry and put the bathroom back together before we left!” -Sara

 “Patience. My baby was going to come home with me when she was ready, and there is no force on Earth that is going to change that. Every point was just a twist and turn on the path that was leading us straight to our daughter.” -Heidi

“Do not to take all the criticism personally. You are scrutinized to prepare a family for a little one with no defenses- think of it as keeping your child safe from those who would harm it!” -Shannon

“Go on with your life and be positive; try not to be too anxious. Forget the in-between stuff and just know that somehow, someway, I’m going to have a family. It is so worth it.” -Nancy

“Patience, whether it’s dealing with the adoption process or the child himself. When he starts crying, you have to be patient, but more so with the adoption process itself. We were fortunate– we were selected within a couple of months– but the years leading up to the adoption, you just have to be patient, and when the time is right, it is going to happen. Lucky for us, it did. We have the greatest kid in the world.” -Craig

“Be patient. Keep your heart open. All the steps and jumping through hoops is well worth it in the end. God will bring you the child that’s meant for your family.” -Jessica

“Don’t get caught up in the wait time because every situation is different and it will happen when your child is ready… It’s not a bluelight special at K-Mart. It’s your child, and it’s a lifelong relationship. And you want that to be the perfect situation for you, for your child and for the birth mother. It’s a lifelong relationship for everybody involved.” -Kelly

“Pray, have faith, trust the process and embrace the wait. As others have said, God’s hand is absolutely in this and he will bring the child that is meant to be a part of your family. And sleep.” -Jennifer

“Try not to stress about the process. The process of bringing home your baby is just a small blip in the great adventure that is parenting. Your baby will come home to you at just the right time. Relax and enjoy the ride!” -Heidi

“It’s a roller coaster: talk to your social workers if you need support!! They are there to help you! You’re one in a million experience is their everyday.” -Rebecca

“Have Faith! Once you are active, let it go and enjoy life again! It will happen! Once you hold your little one all the pain will disappear!” -Elizabeth

“We tried to not think about waiting as much as possible and to just let the match happen. When we got the call, it was a surprise and the time we waited didn’t seem that long at that point.” -Andy

“I think the one interesting thing about this whole process, and it comes back to faith, is that our marriage is incredibly stronger because of everything. I suspect other adoptive families will learn this as well. We had those four years of time in order to strengthen our marriage, build our faith, volunteer more at church, improve at our jobs, and just do more together. It’s as though it was all a master plan, that we were going to be at this point in our lives and that everything was meant to be all along.” -Jim

To learn how to American Adoptions monitors our wait times, read How We Minimize Adoption Wait Times!

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