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13
Jun

Zika Virus – Will it Affect Your Adoption?

Some adoptive families have come to us with questions and concerns about the recent outbreak that has affected newborn babies in other countries – the Zika virus. To help you understand the Zika virus and whether it has an impact on American Adoptions, we have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

If you have any questions that are not addressed here, contact us at any time for assistance.

What is Zika virus?

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which has led to birth defects in the children of affected women. While it was first discovered in Africa several decades ago, in the last year it was spotted in Brazil. From there, it has spread to several countries.  To date, no person has contracted Zika virus from a mosquito bite within the Continental United States.

How is the virus spread?

Zika is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites from Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitos that are infected with the virus.  For the virus to spread within the United States, an Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus would need to bite an infected person during the first week of the infection when the virus can be found in the infected person’s blood.  The mosquito then bites another person and this cycle continues causing an outbreak.  Zika virus can also be spread sexually if one person is infected.

What are the effects of the virus?

The symptoms of Zika virus are mild, and they only occur in about 20 percent of cases. These can include joint pain, rashes, fever, and redness of the eyes.

The most pressing concern of the virus is the effect it has on the babies of infected mothers. Numerous cases of microcephaly and other serious birth defects have been reported in infants as a result of Zika.

How can you tell if someone has Zika virus?

Because the symptoms are not common or severe, the virus can often go unnoticed. The only way to confirm that someone is infected is to test him or her for it.

How many cases of Zika have there been in the United States?

While there have been United States residents infected, all of the cases have been caused by travelling to a country where Zika is prevalent, such as Brazil. U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico have experienced an outbreak.

How can Zika be prevented?  

People travelling to affected areas should protect themselves from mosquitos at all times of the day. Because people may not know they have Zika, it is recommended that travelers practice safe sex and not attempt to conceive for at least eight weeks after traveling. Men who experience symptoms may need to do so for six months.

What measures does American Adoptions take to prevent illnesses in newborns?

American Adoptions cannot prevent the spread of Zika virus or regulate the behaviors of prospective birth mothers.   We will however continue to monitor the spread of the virus to ensure that we can inform the families and birth parents who work with us and take further action if necessary. We strongly encourage all of the birth mothers who work with us to receive timely and proper prenatal care.

What if a baby were born with Zika at American Adoptions?

Because of the effects of the virus, we would treat such an occurrence the same as any special-needs situation. We know that not all families can provide the necessary care for children with significant medical needs. If you are unable to move forward with an adoption plan for this reason, it will not affect your ability to adopt in the future.

How can I learn more about Zika virus?

For current information on the virus, visit the World Health Organization.

22
May

Don’t Fry Day 2015 – Protect Your Family’s Skin

Don't Fry Day 2015As the hot summer temperatures climb, families are taking advantage of the warm weather to enjoy lazy afternoons at the pool, fun-filled family camping trips, frolics at the park and other outdoor adventures. However, parents should also take heed of a danger lurking above.

To kick off summer, today is designated “Don’t Fry Day” by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention! The day, scheduled on the Friday before Memorial Day hopes to help reduce rising rates of skin cancer from overexposure to the UV rays. The council encourages sun safety awareness and reminds everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. Because no single step can fully protect you and your family from overexposure to UV radiation, follow as many of the following tips as possible:

  • Do Not Burn or Tan
  • Seek Shade
  • Wear Sun-Protective Clothing
  • Generously Apply Sunscreen
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow, and Sand
  • Get Vitamin D Safely

The summer sun can pose a special risk to babies and young children. Medical professionals urge parents to pay careful attention to sun safety to protect their family now from sunburns and skin cancer later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to protect children from the sun:

  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella or the stroller canopy.
  • When possible, dress yourself and your kids in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, like lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats.
  • Select clothes made of a tight weave – they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better.
  • Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.
  • Limit your sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
  • Wear sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection (look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child).
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Set a good example. You can be the best teacher by practicing sun protection yourself. Teach all members of your family how to protect their skin and eyes.

To learn more about summer sun safety, visit www.healthychildren.org.

9
Nov

Promoting Adoption Through Media and Social Media

Adoption Social MediaSocial Media and Adoption

Social media has quickly become one of the most important ways to promote a cause or share something important – like National Adoption Month or adoption in general!

American Adoptions is always trying to expand our social media reach. Doing so is a benefit to our waiting adoptive families as well as to adoption in general. Every time you or someone else writes or shares something about adoption, others take notice!

Here are some of the ways you can use social media to promote adoption and American Adoptions: 

  • Follow American Adoptions on Vine at @Adoptions. 
  • Write a post about adoption for your own blog or website! And be sure to link back to our blog or website – you can even include a link to your online profile or video profile – so that birth mothers and other adoptive families can find us!
  • Update your status. And mention American Adoptions.
  • Retweet an American Adoptions tweet. Or include us in a tweet. We love getting shout-outs!

Get Adoption in the Local Media

Your local media can help to promote and create awareness for a wealth of things. Adoption should be no exception! Utilize your local newspapers, TV stations or websites to spread awareness for adoption during National Adoption Month by sending requests for coverage or press releases. Here are some pointers:

  • First, make a list of local print, broadcast and online media outlets.
  • Compile your information in a letter – including your request for an adoption-related story or awareness piece during National Adoption Month – to be emailed to the media outlets or reporters. Consider including a press release or fact sheet, as well as a touching personal story.
  • Do not attach files – put everything in the body of the email. This makes it easier for a media person to read and process your information, and it will also keep your message from being marked as SPAM.
  • If you’re planning an awareness event, see if you can invite a local celebrity like a local media person, athlete or public servant. Create photo opportunities and share them in the letter as well.
  • Reach out as early as possible. If you feel like it’s too late for this year, begin brainstorming an event for next year and start your inquiries in October.
  • Call or follow up for a commitment, and be persistent!

For more tips for promoting adoption, check out Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Raise Awareness page on their website or visit ChildWelfare.gov’s Spread the Word page!

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