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20
Mar

12 Adoption Myths Everyone Is Sick Of

You see it on TV, in books and movies and all over people’s faces when they don’t know anything about adoption.

Here’s the truth behind twelve common adoption myths:

1. “I can’t adopt because…”

  • “We’re not married.”
  • “I’m/we’re gay.”
  • “I’m too old.”
  • “I don’t own my home.”

The purpose of adoption is to provide children with safe and loving homes, so the approval process for prospective adoptive parents is a rigorous one. We consider adoption-ready families to be:

  • 100 percent committed to adoption
  • Able to financially, emotionally and physically provide for the needs of their child
  • Safe and stable people who can raise a child in a safe and stable environment
  • Ready and excited to love and care for a child

That’s what really determines whether or not you can adopt and that’s what all the paperwork and background checks exist to find out. Renting your home, your spouse being the same sex as you, or your age has nothing to do with your ability to be a good parent!

2. “Adopting an infant takes away from needy international/foster care children.”

Absolutely not. The goal is to create families through adoption — how you do that is entirely up to you.

Private domestic adoption agencies like American Adoptions are thrilled to promote adoption of all kinds. We just happen to specialize in the process of one type of adoption.

There are many ways to become a family. International adoption and foster care adoptions are fantastic ways to achieve that dream. There’s no wrong way to become a parent through adoption; there’s only the path that’s right for you.

3. “Adopting transracially is too socially complicated.”

Race is a socially complex issue and transracial adoptions do pose unique challenges. But being a family feels simple.

If you adopt a child of a race other than your own, your family will be asked questions and may occasionally receive ignorant comments. This is an opportunity to educate others about racial sensitivity and adoption.

You may have to learn about caring for different types of hair and skin and provide your child with positive roles models of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. This is an opportunity to learn more about your child’s heritage and include that heritage in your family life.

Adoption and multi-racial, multi-ethnic families are becoming increasingly common in America, bringing a greater awareness and appreciation of cultural and racial diversity within our families. The physical differences between you and your child are small compared to the overwhelming love that a parent has for their child.

4. “Adoptions occur locally.”

Adopting within your community or state is one way to adopt. But working with a national adoption agency tends to have lower wait times and is more regulated than local adoption agencies.

National adoption agencies work with more potential birth mothers and more adoptive families across the U.S. This means more adoptions are completed in less time, and more families are created regardless of state lines.

5. “Most birth mothers are teenagers.”

While some prospective birth mothers are teenagers, the majority of pregnant women considering adoption are actually about 25–35 years old, and many are raising older children. There are a number of reasons why these women choose adoption for their babies:

  • Some are single mothers who want their child to grow up in a two-parent home.
  • They can’t afford another child at this point in their lives without sacrificing the well-being of the children they’re currently raising.
  • They simply may not be ready to be a parent right now, and they want their baby to be raised by someone who is ready for this step.

Whatever a birth mother’s background, she chose adoption for her child because she felt this was the best thing she could do for her baby.

6. “Most adoptions are closed, and adoptees don’t know their birth parents.”

Most adoptions are open or semi-open adoptions. In fact, 90 percent of birth mothers want some level of open adoption with the adoptive family. Research on closed adoptions revealed them to often be detrimental to the well-being of both the adoptee and the birth parents, while open adoptions provided a positive experience for everyone involved.

This allows for lines of communication to remain open through letters, photos, phone calls, or even arranged visits. Open adoptions are not synonymous with co-parenting. They simply mean that you’ll continue to maintain a connection between each other’s lives through adoption. Open adoptions exist on a scale, and the level of openness is determined by what each adoption triad feels best with.

Adoptees who grow up feeling satisfied with the level of contact they have with their birth family throughout their lives are reportedly more happy overall.

7. “It takes years to adopt.”

70 percent of parents who adopt a child through American Adoptions are able to do so within 1–12 months after becoming active.

There may be stages of the adoption process that can feel endless (the home study, for example), but generally the adoption process is usually complete within a year at American Adoptions.

8. “The birth mother will want her baby back.”

The myth that a birth mother will dramatically show up at your house someday to “take back her baby” is one that is horrifyingly persistent. No — the birth family can’t just “take the baby back” after adoption. Nor would they really want to.

Placing a child for adoption is an intense source of grief and loss for a birth mother. But those who choose adoption do so because they feel it’s what’s best for their baby in their situation, no matter how much it pains them.

Additionally, the legal reality is that after the birth parents have signed their consent forms following the state-mandated waiting period, they’ve terminated their parental rights. Once the final adoption decree has been issued about six months later, the adoptive parents are officially granted parental rights and the adoption decision is permanent.

9. “Most people don’t know they’re adopted.”

Again, most adoptions are open adoptions, and so most adoptees these days know their birth parents.

Most children grow up always knowing that they’re adopted. They don’t remember the first time they were told about their adoption because that part of their family’s story has always been celebrated since the day they arrived home.

Dramatic adoption reveals and secrecy are best reserved for the entertainment industry. And there’s a good reason why, which leads us to…

10. “I should wait to tell them about their adoption until they’re older.”

No way.

Although you should discuss adoption in age-appropriate terms, the recommended course of action is to begin telling your child their adoption story from the day you bring them into your home. Even “uncomfortable” details about their adoption should be disclosed to them. Adoptees at any age have a right to their own story; even the complicated parts.

Will they fully understand? Not necessarily. But they will understand that adoption is a positive part of who they are, not something that they should hide away because their parents never talk about it. They will understand that it’s ok to have feelings and questions about their adoption, and they will understand that they can come to you about it if you continue to introduce the discussion when an opportunity arises.

As an adoptee ages, they’ll continue to understand their adoption in new ways. By making their adoption a safe and cherished topic from day one, they won’t harbor any unspoken feelings or thoughts about their adoption. They’ll understand that adoption is a normal part of their life and that they have a right to their own thoughts and feelings about it.

11. “Open adoptions confuse the child about who their real parents are.”

Once again; no way.

Someday your child will be able to tell you him or herself that he or she was never confused about who their “real” parents are. A child’s parents are the people who help them with their homework, take time to listen to them and love them above all else. “Real parents” are just parents, so ditch the term altogether.

Open adoption allows the child to have a special relationship with their birth family and to stay connected to their biological heritage. But while the relationship between a birth parent and an adoptee is a unique and valuable one, it’s not comparable to the parent-child relationship they share with the parents who adopted and raised them.

12. “There are no healthy babies available for adoption in the U.S.”

Of course there are!

But international adoptions, domestic special needs adoptions and the adoptions of older children or sibling groups are always needed to ensure that wonderful homes are available to all children, including healthy newborns.

Share this to educate others and help dispel the adoption myths!

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.

6
Mar

Happy National Social Work Month 2017!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24
Feb

6 Times When Adoption Sucks

Let’s get one thing straight: adoption is wonderful.

Birth parents can rest easier knowing the child they aren’t able to care for is being raised in a safe and loving home. Adoptees are given opportunities they may not have been able to have otherwise. Adoptive parents get to raise and love a child. Everyone in the adoption triad can benefit when adoptions are open, honest and loving.

The majority of our readers are adoptive parents. For them, nothing will ever compare to meeting their child for the first time.

But even something as beautiful as being a parent has its ups and downs, as every parent will affirm. Adoption is no different. Not every single second of the adoption process is full of butterflies and rainbows, and it’s alright to admit it!

So excuse the childish language. But sometimes there’s just no other word for it. Here are six moments when adoption can really suck for those who’re in the process of adopting a child*:

(**Stay tuned for our articles on “Times When Adoption Can Suck for Birth Parents” and “Times When Adoption Can Suck for Adoptees.”)

1. Paperwork

Of course it’s all for a greater purpose. Of course it’ll all be worth it in the end. But filling out the forms, filing the requests and checking the boxes takes hours and hours. There always seems to be one more document to send in. It seems silly but… it’s so tedious.

2. Cost

Adoption can be costly. Good adoption agencies will show you where the fees are going so you can see how each dime is directly helping your adoption process. But that doesn’t make it sting any less when you look at your budget. American Adoptions works hard to minimize costs and help every adoptive parent to adopt within their budget. There are financing resources that hopeful adoptive parents can utilize. But the cost of adoption can really suck.

3. Waiting

For many hopeful parents, they feel like they’ve already waited forever to become parents, especially if they’ve had to deal with the heartbreak of infertility. Once you’ve completed all the preliminary steps of the early adoption process, all that’s left to do is wait to be selected for an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother considering adoption. This can take a few weeks or a few months. Regardless, it’s often frustrating and nerve-wracking to relinquish control of the process.

4. Disruptions

It’s rare, but it can happen. A woman who was previously committed to adoption ultimately decides to parent her child. You understand, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. She feels guilty for changing her decision, even though she knows she’s perfectly within her rights to do so. You feel grief and disappointment, even though you know another adoption opportunity will present itself. It still sucks all around.

5. Ignorance

It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. A kid in your child’s class will make some offhanded joke about adoption. Someone will “compliment” you on how much you and your child look alike. Someone will reveal their ignorance about transracial or foster care adoption in front of your child with a misguided comment. This is an opportunity to educate others about adoption. But it hurts a bit; for your child and on behalf of your child’s birth family.

6. Misrepresentation

Throughout your child’s life, there will be moments when they see adoption misrepresented in books, TV, film or everyday references. You’ll both feel a bit frustrated and a little hurt. They’ll see orphans used as plot devices or the classic adopted-by-an-evil-family-member storyline and so on. It’s a great chance to talk about adoption and reinforce adoption-positive attitudes. It can still suck.

For Every 1 Moment that Adoption Sucks, There Are 100 Moments that Adoption is Beautiful

Raising children has its moments that make you want to scream. The same is true for the adoption process and raising adopted children. But for every time that being a parent sucks, there are so many more moments that remind you it’s the best job in the world.

It’s ok to acknowledge that there are pieces of adoption (and parenting in general) that are less-than-sunshine and daisies. Anyone whose life has been touched by adoption knows that the benefits are so much greater than any of the fleeting moments of struggle that come with being a parent.


Adoptive parents certainly aren’t the only members of the adoption triad to experience their fair share of ups and downs during the adoption process! Stay tuned for our articles on “Times When Adoption Can Suck for Birth Parents” and “Time When Adoption Can Sucks for Adoptees.”

20
Feb

10 Ways to Fundraise for Adoption

It’s no secret that adoption is expensive. Depending on the type of adoption you pursue, you could be looking at spending as much as $50,000. And while you’ll want to look into loans, grants, employer benefits and the adoption tax credit, it’s likely that you’ll still have to come up with a large sum before you can adopt.

There are reasons that adoption is so expensive, and you can read about those here. This post, though, is going to focus on ways to raise that money. We understand that not all families have $50,000 lying around. (Wouldn’t it be nice if you did, though?! Sigh.) This doesn’t necessarily bar you from adoption. It just means you may have to get creative.

Families have funded their adoption in so many ways; it would be impossible to include every method in one post (although Fund Your Adoption did a pretty decent job). Instead, we’ve picked some of our favorites. You can certainly get creative with your adoption fundraisers—some families make things like jewelry in order to store away extra cash — but these 10 are tried and true. Sometimes, sticking to the classics can yield some of the best results.

1. Have a yard sale. There’s no way you don’t have a few possessions lying around that you don’t really need. And hey, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Get realistic about what you do and don’t need, and try to declutter your home a little. You’ll need that extra space for a new child anyway! If you live in an area where this would work in the traditional sense, and the weather will accommodate you, go for it. If not, it’s fairly easy to sell things online these days. Thank you, Craigslist and eBay.

2. Sell some food. Maybe this is a bake sale, maybe it’s an ice cream social, or maybe it’s a chili cook-off. It really doesn’t matter; people love their food. Think about what your strengths are kitchen-wise, and what would be the most cost-effective route in your community. Obviously, season factors in as well. Don’t have a chili cook-off in July, and an ice cream social probably isn’t a great idea in February. Otherwise, though, go crazy. Ask for people to donate food (or turn it into some type of competition), and ask for people to pay a small fee, maybe $10, at the door to come in and eat. (Hint: Sometimes it might work better to ask people to donate whatever they can instead of assigning a dollar amount per plate.)

3. Design a T-shirt. Chances are, your family and friends are going to be eager to spread the word of this fundraiser to their family and friends. A great way to help them do that is to turn them into walking billboards! Just kidding — kind of. Designing a t-shirt and selling it will not only raise some fairly immediate cash, but it’ll help to let other people know just exactly what you’re trying to do. Even if they don’t necessarily want to purchase a shirt, they may be more likely to follow your journey and participate in other fundraisers.

4. Hold a sporting event/tournament. Never underestimate the power of healthy competition. The exact event may depend on weather and location, but a day of games is always a safe bet. If it’s summer, try to find a park with a sand volleyball court or a softball field for some slow pitch. People who don’t know you will attend just for the sporting aspect, and people who do know you will most likely be willing to participate even if sports aren’t necessarily their thing.

5. Try adoption crowdfunding. We’ve all seen people using GoFundMe for various reasons on our Facebook feeds. This is an option for adoption, too. We recommend skipping GoFundMe, which takes five percent of every donation you receive. Instead, try a site like YouCaring, AdoptTogether or Pure Charity.

6. Send out letters announcing your adoption decision. Sometimes all it takes to get people excited about your cause is just letting them know about. Sending a letter to your family and friends is a way to personally let everyone know what’s happening and what you’re hoping for in terms of donations and fundraising. Some people will help you out and some may not, but if your letter is written well, this can be a tasteful way to ask for help without pressuring anyone too much.

7. Have a silent auction. This can either take place online or in person. Have people from your community donate goods and services, and then auction them off to the highest bidder. If you choose to do this in person, it may be wise to combine this one with a food-related fundraiser as well. People are going to want to have something to eat or drink while the bidding takes place.

8. Have an online raffle. This follows the same principle as an online auction. Have people donate goods or services, and then raffle them off. Set up a Paypal account or a similar method of receiving money to sell the raffle tickets. Just make sure you’re prepared to deliver those goods and services quickly!

9. Host a 5K. It seems like there’s a 5K for everything these days, but that’s because they work. People seem to love exercising in the name of a good cause.

10. Have a cookbook fundraiser. Everyone has that favorite family recipe they just know is better than everyone else’s. Have your family and friends submit their favorite recipes, and then compile them into one cookbook for sale. Everyone will love knowing that others are trying their recipes, and they’ll get the chance to get their hands on some new ones as well.

If the idea of paying for an adoption is intimidating to you, we hope these suggestions help you in terms of figuring out how to fund that life change. Remember, you really aren’t alone! To learn more about other ways to pay for adoption, click here.

6
Feb

A Birth Mother’s Love Letter to Her Baby Girl

Valentine’s Day is set aside for reminding the people in your life how much you love them. Adoptive families are able to show their child the depths of their love every day.

But for a birth parent, there aren’t as many opportunities to express to your adopted child how much you love them and the hopes you have for them.

It was because of a birth mother’s love that families are created through adoption. You’ll always be connected by that act of love.

One birth mother writes a letter to her daughter to remind her that she’s in her thoughts, on Valentine’s Day and every day.

Dear Baby Girl,

The most important thing for you to know is that you are loved beyond anything you can possibly imagine. Take a moment to look at the faces of your parents. These two wonderful people have given you a life that I never would have been able to provide for you. Out of all the children in the world, they chose you, chose to love you, chose to make you a part of their family. They will always be there to support you and guide you as you grow up to be the amazing young woman I know you will become.

When I found out I was going to have a daughter, I was overwhelmed. Petrified, even. I didn’t have the financial means or the emotional maturity to raise a child. Yet I was also secretly excited. I had always told myself that if I ever had children I’d want a little girl. And suddenly you were here in this world, crying as the doctors counted 10 fingers and 10 toes, asking me for a name. Yet as I looked at you I knew God had different plans for us.

Selfishly I considered keeping you to myself, but God guided me to your parents instead. I could see parts of myself reflected in them, and I knew that Amanda and Brian would be the best parents I could ever ask for to raise you. I will never regret the day I handed you over to them because I know that you are a part of an amazing family with an infinite number of doors open to you.

Just know that you will never be far from my thoughts, and that regardless of your life choices you will always have people in the world who support you and care about you.

Love,

Your Birth Mother

27
Jan

Adoption Reunions – What to Expect

What Is An Adoption Reunion?

An adoption reunion takes place between members of an adoption, typically done by people involved in a closed adoption situation. The reunion is usually the first time these biological family members will have met or talked since the adoption.

Who Reunites After Adoption?

  • Adult adoptees
  • Birth parents
  • Birth siblings
  • Occasionally, other members of the birth or adoptive families

Sometimes, if birth parents are no longer living, adoptees may reunite with birth siblings or other biological relatives. Adoptive parents and birth parents may be excited to meet each other, too. Spouses, children, or even grandchildren may meet biological family members after an adoption, but only after the initial reunion occurs and both parties are comfortable with introducing their families to one another.

The first adoption reunion should be private and taken slowly. But many adoptees have adoption reunion stories that ultimately include their entire family; both birth and adoptive!

Why Would You Want an Adoption Reunion?

Adoption is a wonderful way to create a family, but there is always pain and loss involved, as well. Reuniting an adult adoptee with their birth family can be a healing experience for everyone involved in the adoption.

For birth parents and birth siblings, it can be reassuring to know that the child placed for adoption grew up loved and happy, and that they don’t hold a grudge against their birth family for the choice they made. For adoptees, it can fill the void left in their personal histories by the biological family they never knew.

Adoption reunions are a way to reconnect, talk about the adoption many years removed from the early, sometimes painful emotions, and learn more about each other as individuals.

Should You Reunite with Your Birth Mother or an Adult Adopted Child?

Not everyone wants an adoption reunion.

Sometimes birth parents or adult adoptees simply have no strong desire to reconnect after the adoption. Other times, they don’t feel emotionally ready for such a step. Some people harbor negative feelings about the closed adoption and haven’t been able to resolve those feelings.

An adoption reunion may not be the best choice for yourself or for the person you’re trying to reconnect with.

Adoption reunions can bring complicated, long-buried emotions back to the surface. Not everyone is willing to, ready to, or able to process these feelings. So an adoption reunion should be very carefully considered before you take any action to reunite.

How to Approach an Adoption Reunion with Biological Family Members

This is where things can get even trickier.

If you’ve successful managed to find your birth mother or an adult adoptee through your adoption search (which can sometimes be difficult, depending on how much information you start with), initiating contact with them might be even more difficult.

It’s scary to contact someone who you’re biologically related to, but who is essentially a stranger to you. Several things can happen, including scenarios like these:

  • You may find that this is the wrong person (often with the same name)
  • They may not respond to your message, either by choice or because they didn’t receive it
  • They may be uninterested in an adoption reunion
  • They may initially express interest in reuniting, but later back out after their emotions and fears become too much for them
  • They may have been searching for you, too and they may be equally excited about reuniting
  • They may have been waiting to see if you were interested in finding them and requesting contact, but are happy that you’re willing to reconnect

You’ll need to be prepared for any of these possibilities before you decide whether or not to request a reunion after adoption.

Consider how you plan on introducing yourself via confidential phone/letter/online message and how to bring up the possibility of an adoption reunion with your birth parents or adopted child. Read the message to the closest member of your personal support group before sending it.

Approaching the subject of an adoption reunion is a delicate matter that can be an emotionally-complex step for you.

Have someone you trust to support you! Talk to other adoptees or birth family members who’ve reunited after adoption to hear their adoption reunion stories.

Some Final Advice about Adoption Reunions

A few things to consider:

Some Do’s and Don’ts for Reaching Out

When initiating contact with your birth parents or adopted child, keep it private and simple.

Do:

  • introduce yourself
  • state your intentions in reaching out to them and what you hope will come of it
  • describe your emotional state
  • let them know that you’ll understand if they aren’t ready to take this step with you

Don’t:

  • fire off lots of questions
  • make accusations
  • pressure them into a reunion too quickly
  • assume that they’ll feel the same way about the adoption as you do
  • involve other family members until/unless you both feel ready to do so
  • make your introduction public

Keep your message for them brief and to the point. Empathize and respect their right to their feelings, even if it hurts yours. Put yourself in their shoes! Sometimes the way we feel isn’t always rational or fair, so it’s important to take time to sort out those thoughts.

Children and Adoption Reunions

As a general rule, children of closed adoptions should wait until they’re adults before initiating an adoption reunion. Unless the child already has some kind of relationship with their birth family through an open adoption, suddenly introducing a birth parent may be too overwhelming. It’s also too important of a decision to make on behalf of a child, or to ask a child to make before they’re old enough to fully understand their own adoption experience. An adoption reunion is usually a decision best left for an adult to make for themselves.

Eliminating the Need for Adoption Reunions

If you’re considering adoption, an open adoption is always recommended whenever possible. This will remove the need for an adoption search and reunion later in life because the birth and adoptive families can maintain contact throughout the child’s life.Open adoptions allow for better communication and relationships between adoptive and birth families as well as making for happier adoptees and birth mothers who are satisfied with the amount of contact they have post-adoption.

How to Begin Your Search if You’re Interested in an Adoption Reunion

If you feel that you may be ready to pursue an adoption reunion but haven’t located your birth parents or adopted child yet, here’s what you’ll need to know to begin your adoption search.

23
Jan

Adoption Searches – What They Are and How to Start One

What Is An Adoption Search?

An adoption search is a search for information regarding members of the adoption triad, typically done by people involved in a closed adoption situation. Thankfully, open adoptions such as the adoptions conducted through American Adoptions have nearly eliminated the need for adoption searches by providing an opportunity for birth parents and adoptive families to stay in touch after the adoption is finalized.

Who Searches?

  • Adult adoptees
  • Birth parents
  • Birth siblings
  • Genealogy enthusiasts

…or anyone who is interested to learn more about the people involved in their closed adoption.

Why Would You Want to Conduct an Adoption Search?

For adoptees and birth parents that entered into an adoption before open adoption became the norm, they may have little to no information about their adoption roots.

Birth parents of the closed adoption era sometimes spend decades not knowing if the child they placed for adoption grew up happy, healthy, or even if they’re alive. Adoptees of outdated closed adoptions grow up not knowing who their birth parents were or why they were placed for adoption and feeling a disconnect between their biological history and their adopted present.

On the other hand, many birth parents and adoptees decide not to search for their biological family members. You might not feel emotionally ready to take that step, or maybe you simply don’t feel compelled to seek out that adoption connection. Not every adoptee or birth parent experiences a desire to reconnect with that part of their history.

Whatever you decide, your adoption search (or decision to not search) should be emotionally satisfying for you — not draining. Deciding whether or not to search for biological family members should done in an effort to achieve a sense of peace with your adoption and your personal adoption story. It’s 100 percent your choice to search or not; nobody else’s.

Should You Search for Your Birth Mother or an Adult Adoptee?

An adoption search isn’t the right path for everyone. Carefully research how to find your birth parents or how to find an adopted child before you begin your search, and be prepared for laws regarding adoption records in your state. Talk to others who’ve searched, are searching, or who’ve had a successful adoption reunion for tips, support and advice.

How to Search for Biological Family Members

There are five steps to finding your birth parents or the person that you placed for adoption as a child.

To find your birth parents, you’ll need to:

  1. Talk about your decision to begin an adoption search with your parents (if living) to gather any helpful information they may have
  2. Check with your state’s adoption reunion registry
  3. Request your adoption records from the county where you were born
  4. Get in touch with the person or agency who arranged your adoption, if possible
  5. Determine your adoption search strategy

To find an adult adoptee, you’ll need to:

  1. Talk to the person or agency who completed your adoption, if possible, to gather any helpful information they may have
  2. Request access to your adoption records
  3. Talk to the County Court Clerk where your adoption took place
  4. Check with your state’s adoption reunion registry
  5. Determine your adoption search strategy

Some Final Advice about Adoption Searches

Searching for birth parents or an adult adoptee is a major undertaking on both a practical and emotional level. You should be very sure that this is something that you want and that you’re ready for any outcome before you begin.

Having a support system in place can help you through what is often a difficult process for adoptees and birth parents alike. An adoption search can be an incredibly rewarding and emotionally fulfilling experience for those involved in an adoption, but it can also be a complex journey; having people you can talk to about what you’re experiencing will be important.

For many, the goal of their adoption search is to achieve an adoption reunion — reconnecting with a birth family member or an adult adoptee, often decades after their adoption.

Learn more about Adoption Reunions!

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.

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!

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