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17
Mar

10 St. Patrick’s Day Recipes to Try with Little Ones

Happy St. Patty’s day! This holiday, for many anyway, tends to involve more adult-friendly activities. (Read: green beer, green cocktails, etc.) But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to celebrate with your kids, too.

If you’re anything like us, you probably enjoy celebrating holidays with special variations of our favorite thing — food. With that in mind, then, we’ve gone through and selected some of the tastiest, kid-friendly, St. Patrick’s-themed dishes for you to try with your little ones.

1.Irish beef stew. While most Irish stews tend to include lamb, this may be a safer bet for picky eaters. This recipe does include alcohol, but it should cook off enough to be safe for kids to consume. The author has some good suggestions in the comments if you’re worried about including alcohol for any reason.

2. DIY pot of gold. This one really involves no culinary skills at all, unless you consider opening a pack of Rolo candies to be a culinary skill.

3. Rainbow Jello mold. If you’re capable of making Jello, you’ll be equipped to make this rainbow masterpiece. It will, however, be something of a time commitment. If you want your kids to be able to eat this one on St. Patrick’s Day, it might work better to do a little work on this one the night before.

4. S’more leprechaun hats. These might be the cutest item on the list, although it’s a pretty close call. With chocolate-coated fudge stripe cookies and marshmallows, it requires fairly few materials, and your kids should be able to help you construct the hats.

5. Golden Oreo coins. Take some Oreos. Spray edible gold paint on them. Done.

6. Shamrock pretzels. Pretzels and candy — you can’t go wrong here. If you’re a perfectionist, this recipe may not be for you. These pretzels need to be placed pretty accurately so the candy coating will harden and bond them together. It might be difficult for smaller fingers, but it’s sure to be a good time.

7. Twizzler rainbows. Again, an option that requires no culinary skills. Throw in some Rolos as gold, and these will make perfect treats for your kids to pass out to friends or classmates.

8. Lucky Charms pancakes. Can’t decide between green pancakes or Lucky Charms? Easy. Do both.

9. Shamrock shakes. You could, of course, hit up the McDonald’s drive thru for these, but where’s the fun in that? Making festive milkshakes should be relatively easy, and it’s a memory your kids will have forever.

10. Irish potato soup. This is pretty much just your classic potato soup to follow up your day of sweet treats. But hey, add some green food coloring if you’d like it to be more festive!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from American Adoptions!

22
Feb

Reconnecting with Adoption Stories, as told by “This Is Us”

At one point or another, adoptees will become curious about their history, including how they came to be adopted and what their birth parents are like. Open adoptions like those encouraged by American Adoptions makes answering their questions easier than ever — but figuring out how to do so can be challenging.

For adoptees, knowing where they came from can play an integral role in developing their sense of identity. Whether it involves meeting their birth parents or simply learning about their adoption process, reconnecting with adoption stories is a life-changing opportunity.

We saw this process in last night’s episode of “This is Us” (spoilers ahead). Randall, a black adopted child, travels to Memphis, Tennessee (his birth father’s hometown) to learn more about his birth family history. His terminally ill birth father accompanies Randall, showing him the important places that shaped his father’s youth and reconnecting with long-lost family members before his father’s death at the end of the episode.

Their journey is a great example of how adoptees can learn more about their adoption story and birth family in a positive manner. For many adoptees, being able to meet their extended birth family and see where they came from plays a pivotal role in their self-identity as an adoptee.

So, how can you create a positive experience for adoptees like Randall who wish to learn more about their history? Each adoption is unique, and what works for some adoptees and adoptive parents may not work for others. However, if you’re ready to begin the reconnection process, here are some tips to successfully do so:

If the Adoptee is a Child

It’s normal for children to start asking questions about their adoption when they’re younger; particularly if they have little to no openness in their adoption. However, some birth parents and adoptive parents may not think that a reconnection with birth family is appropriate at a young age.

If this is the case, you still have the opportunity for an adoptee to learn more about their adoption story — specifically, the process their parents went through.

To make an adoption story more tangible, adoptive parents and adopted children can visit the adoption agency where it all started. Adopted children may enjoy speaking with their parents’ adoption specialist to learn more about their adoption in an age-appropriate manner (many social workers are familiar with how to answer these kinds of questions from a child). Adoptive parents may also take their child to the hospital where they were born and the courthouse where the adoption was finalized. Because parents likely have photos from when the adoption was finalized, it can be fun to recreate those photos, as they’ll be something an adoptee will enjoy looking back on when they’re older.

For children adopted internationally, visiting these places may be difficult. Instead, to help adoptees reconnect with their culture and history, adoptive parents may want to look into cultural camps specifically designed for international adoptees. These camps educate adoptees about their native country and culture while they’re surrounded by adopted children just like them. Check out some international adoption camps here. If it’s a possibility, visiting their native country can be very informative for adopted children.

If the Adoptee is Ready to Meet their Birth Family

When an adoptee, adoptive parents and birth parents deem it appropriate (and the adoptee is old enough), they may take steps to reconnect the adoptee with their birth family. Like Randall and William do in “This is Us,” adoptees can visit their birth parent’s hometown and see the places that shaped their parents’ lives. While many adoptive parents are interested in accompanying their child on this journey, whether or not they go with their child will depend on their individual situation and their child’s wishes.

For adoptees, seeing their birth parents’ history and meeting relatives can be life-changing. The process can be healing for both adoptees and birth parents, so if possible, it’s highly recommended.

It’s important to recognize, however, that different birth family relatives will respond to the adoption in different ways. In “This is Us,” William has to reconcile with his own family before Randall can get to know them — which, for an excited adoptee, can be a tough waiting period. Many birth relatives will be overjoyed to meet the adopted child but, depending on the adoption situation and how well they’re prepared for the reunion, things may not go as planned. If possible, it’s best to prepare all members of the birth family for the reunion.

For adoptive families and adoptees who are interested in reconnecting with their birth family, the documentary “Closure” is a great story of how one adoptee found her birth family and got to know them. It also shows how different birth family members may react to a reunion. You can watch the documentary on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and IndieFlix.

If the Birth Parent isn’t in the Picture

Sometimes when an adoptee is ready to reconnect with their birth family, it’s not a possibility. Birth parents may not be prepared to make that reconnection, their location may be unknown or they may not be alive anymore. It can be hard for a child to accept this news, especially if they’re excited about meeting their birth family.

One way they can handle this is by writing letters to their birth parents and birth family detailing their feelings and asking any questions they have. They may also want to start a journal they can look back on when they finally are able to reconnect with their birth parents.

On the same note, adoptive parents may want to utilize any pictures or letters they already have from their child’s birth parents, as this gives their child a different way to form a connection with their birth parents. Adoptive parents should request these letters and pictures from the beginning of their open adoption so they have materials in case an adopted child wants answers before a birth parent is ready.

If the Reunion is Unexpected

Sometimes, a birth parent who previously wanted no contact will reach out to their adopted child unexpectedly. If a birth parent is terminally ill, like William in “This is Us,” they may feel a sense of urgency to tell their child about their history before it’s too late.

How you proceed with this kind of reunion will depend on many factors: the adoptee’s age, whether they’re prepared for the reunion, why the birth parent is reaching out, etc. As with any reunion, adoptive parents and adoptees will need to consider what will happen if the birth parent disappears from their life again (whether due to death or lack of commitment) after their child bonds with them. It’s a difficult situation, so make sure you reach out to your adoption specialist for advice.

If the adopted child is not quite ready for a reunion, adoptive parents may suggest the birth parent write letters and gather pictures for the child. That way, the child can view them whenever he or she is ready, even if the birth parent is no longer around at that time.

No matter how they proceed, reunions with birth parents and reconnecting with adoption stories can be difficult — but many times are well worth the challenges. As Randall says about reconnecting with his birth father: “He changed me. I love him.”

If you’re wondering how to proceed with an adoption reunion (whether you’re a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee), please reach out to your adoption specialist, family and friends to discuss your feelings and options. Our professionals at American Adoptions can always help if you call us at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Follow the links to learn more about Adoption Searches and Adoption Reunions.

2
Jan

10 Ways to Entertain your Kids on a Snow Day

As a kid, snow days are magical. You get the day off from school, and there’s a blanket of white stuff that has completely transformed your world. As an adult, they can be a little less so. You know the realities of driving in that white stuff, and you’re now faced with the task of entertaining little ones who are going to be stuck inside (and probably very distracted) for the majority of the day.

We know that our American Adoptions blog readers are no strangers to putting kids first, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your snow day at home, too. Try any of these snow day activities to guarantee a fun family day for all involved.

1.Build an indoor campsite. If you have a tent somewhere in the depths of your basement or garage, bust that out for the living room floor. If not, everyone loves a good blanket fort. Have your kids wear pajamas, and let them help make a campfire snack, like s’mores, in the kitchen. Bust out a flashlight and pass it around; whoever can tell the best campfire story get an extra piece of chocolate!

2. Make maple syrup candy. Boil real maple syrup, and have your kids carefully pour it onto a patch of clean snow. If they can, let them be creative and try to form shapes or letters with the syrup. Once it’s cool, it’s ready to eat!

3. Bake, bake, bake. Snow days make everyone hungry, right? Thanks to Pinterest, there’s always a wealth of tasty recipes at your fingertips no matter what ingredients you have in the house. You can stick to a staple, like chocolate chip cookies, or branch out with simple recipes, like these for apple pie chips and homemade donuts. They’re much easier than you might imagine.

4. Skype Grandma and Grandpa — or your child’s birth parents. A snow day is a great time to let your children visit with loved ones. Let your kids complete a few other snow day activities first, and then they’ll have plenty of stories to share. If you have open communication with your child’s birth parents, this is a great time to build that relationship.

5. Feed the birds. A quick, simple outdoor activity is to feed the birds in your backyard. This serves multiple purposes. Your kids get to help the birds find food in the snow, they’ll burn off a little energy with the process of bundling up and scattering the food, and you’ll have some indoor entertainment for later in the day. Make sure you choose a location that’s visible from a window, so you can watch the birds benefit from this task throughout the day.

6. Read a book. This one is kind of a no-brainer. What better way to make reading fun than by giving your kids an afternoon to read as many books as they want? It’s also a great time to learn more about adoption. For a list of good children’s books that cover the subject, click here.

7. Indoor bowling. If your kids are starting to get rambunctious, set up a homemade bowling lane. All you need is a soccer ball or volleyball and 10 empty water bottles. Clear a lane, set up the bottles in bowling pin formation, and voila! You’ve got entertainment for hours. If the water bottles are knocking down and scattering too easily, trying filling them partially with water.

8. Make ice lanterns. Yes, these are exactly as pretty as they sound. This post from Mommy Poppins outlines exactly how to make them. Basically, you’re freezing water in a balloon, peeling off the balloon, and placing a candle inside the orb you’re left with. You’ll have pretty, dancing lights until the ice melts!

9. Make a masking tape maze. Okay, so this one is going to take a little more effort on your part. We recommend making this a maze that your child could guide an action figure or other small toy through. Anywhere you’ve got a few square feet of floor is a good spot. Younger kiddos will enjoy guiding their toys through your maze; how long it takes is dependent on your maze-creating skills.

10. Recreate Mission Impossible. One ball of red string, and your kids are entertained for hours. Use painter’s tape to string up “laser beams” in a hallway in your house. You can encourage your kids to pretend they’re in the heat of a Mission Impossible-style plot, or just let them treat the string as an obstacle course they can’t touch. Either way, they’ll put a painstaking amount of effort into it.

What’s your favorite snow day activity? Share and let us know!

1
Nov

Happy National Adoption Month!

November has finally arrived, which means it’s once again National Adoption Month! Many of our readers already know how special National Adoption Month is to members of the adoption triad – but if you’re new to the world of adoption, you can start learning about it right here.

Each year, National Adoption Month, sponsored by the Children’s Bureau, spreads adoption awareness, honors adoptive families and highlights newborns and children who are still waiting for permanent homes. Adoption Month is a great time for adoptive families, adopted children and birth parents to share their stories and celebrate the role adoption has played in their lives.

The ways you can celebrate throughout the month of November are endless. Whether you’re an adoptive parent, a birth parent, an adoptee, or just someone interested in adoption, here are some of the things you can do this month:

  • Learn about adoption – There are many places you can go to learn about the adoption process and adoption-positive language – including our website!
  • Start a conversation – By reaching out to those you know, you can be the one to begin the discussion about adoption in your local school, work, or church community.
  • Set up a donation – Many people like to donate books related to adoption to their local libraries.
  • Send a gift – Know someone who has been touched by adoption? Send them a small gift to let them know you’re celebrating this month with them!
  • Use social media – Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media are a great way to spread awareness about National Adoption Month.

If you’re interested in learning more about National Adoption Month, you can also see some of the following pages:

Check out the American Adoptions Facebook and Twitter pages to see how we’re celebrating this month!

28
Oct

Halloween Safety at Home and in the Neighborhood

Now that Halloween is just around the corner, you’re probably getting into the spooky spirit with family and friends. But whatever your plans are this year, it’s important to keep some basic safety tips in mind.

Check out these suggestions for helping to make Halloween safe and fun for all the little trick-or-treaters out there.

If you’re at home…

For the parents who are holding down the fort at home to greet other trick-or-treaters, the following tips will help you keep things safe around the house:

  • Be careful with fire – While fire is great for haunting decorations, it can also be a hazard if you aren’t careful. Any flames should be monitored closely and kept out of reach of small children.
  • Keep pets inside – Some kids might get a little spooked by your pets, and your pet might be on edge with all the activity going on outside.
  • Clear out the lawn – Halloween decorations on the lawn might lead kids to trip and fall once it’s dark outside. Decorating is part of the fun, but try to keep it de-cluttered.
  • Carve with caution – Carving pumpkins is potentially dangerous for adults, not to mention small children. Do not let your young children handle knives, and always supervise older kids.

If you’re trick-or-treating…

If your child is old enough to go on the hunt for candy, here are some things you can do to ensure he or she stays safe:

  • Tag along – Join in on the Halloween fun! If your child is under 12, it is recommended that he or she has supervision while trick-or-treating.
  • Dress up safely – Avoid oversized clothes that could make your child trip, and make sure that masks or fake beards don’t affect his or her breathing.
  • Watch out for traffic – Make sure your kids look before crossing the street or passing through a driveway. You may want to bring a flashlight to make things easier to see.
  • Check out your child’s treats – Before you let your child dive into the candy, take the time to inspect everything in the bag.

Have a safe and spooky Halloween, families!

26
Oct

How to Answer Your Child’s Toughest Adoption Questions

father and daughter “Why is the sky blue?”  “Why do giraffes have long necks?”  “Why do I have to brush my teeth?”  “Why do I have blue eyes?”  If you are a parent, you’ve heard these and a million other “why” questions before.  Children ask questions to figure out the world they live in.  Some questions are easier to answer than others.

For children whose families were created by adoption, their questions may be tricky to answer.  Their understanding of adoption is an ongoing process.  Here is a list of common questions that adopted children ask, ranging from the basic preschooler inquiries to the more complex adolescent interrogations.

Did I grow in your tummy?

Actually, you grew in your birth mother’s tummy.  When your birth mother and birth father found out they were expecting you, they knew they couldn’t take care of you on their own.  Your birth parents loved you so much that they found us and we became your parents.  This is called adoption.

Why didn’t my birth parents keep me?

Sometimes a man and woman know they can’t take care of the baby they’re expecting.  Babies need a lot of care, like food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live.  Your birth parents knew they couldn’t give this to you, so they looked for parents who could.

Why don’t I look like everyone else in the family?

Your birth parents have the same beautiful skin color/curly hair/brown eyes as you.  I was born to Grandma and Grandpa, and I have the same skin color/blond hair/blue eyes as they do.  We usually get our looks from our birth parents.  That’s why we look the way we do. Just because you have different skin/hair/eyes, doesn’t mean we love you any less.

Do I have other brothers and sisters somewhere?

Yes, you do have birth siblings.  Your birth mom has older children, and she knew that even with their help, she couldn’t give you everything you needed.  Your birth mom made a very hard decision to find a family that could take care of you.

Will I go back to my birth parents someday?

Your birth parents made an adult decision to give you a family that could take care of you forever.  You will always be our son/daughter, and we will love you and take care of you forever.

What happened the day I was born?

Describe the situation as you know it.  If you were there for the birth, tell them.  Share a picture if you have one.  If you don’t have any information about your child’s birth, explain what it was probably like when they were born – in a hospital, with doctors and nurses, who gave them the best care.  Talk about the day you brought them home.

Is it okay to think about my birth parents?

Of course, it’s ok to think about your birth parents! I always think of your birth parents on this day (child’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day).  I hope they are happy and healthy.  I thank them for giving me the gift of you.

5
Oct

It’s World Teacher Day

Today is World Teacher’s Day!  This day was created in 1994 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is devoted to making time to address issues pertaining to teachers.

Teachers in some countries face problems that, us, as Americans, can’t fathom.  But the United States has shown deep ambivalence toward the profession – we value teachers’ work, but sometimes don’t give them their due in salary or respect.  So, while you may not be able to affect global change in one day, there are things you can do on October 5 (or every day) to help support teachers:

  • Celebrate the profession – Talk to your kids about how hard their teachers work, and how they deserve respect, no matter how much they disagree with them. Find books that portray teachers in a positive light, and read them together.  Dear Mr. Henshaw, Teachers Rock!, and Thank You, Mr. Falker immediately come to mind.
  • Show your appreciation – Send a note, write an email, have your kids draw a picture, give a flower, give a coffee, give a soda, give a cookie…the list goes on and on. Speaking from experience, it is the little things that make my day.  It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture.  The pictures my students make for me are displayed front and center in my room.  And when a parent says I’m doing a good job, it’s music to my ears.
  • Have a conversation with a teacher – To be fair, many people may not know what issues teachers face. Ask them.  Odds are, their positives will outweigh the negatives.  We aren’t in this job for the money, but we do like to be heard.
  • Ask how you can help – I love when a parent asks what they can do to help me out in the classroom, whether by buying me little supplies, or volunteering their time. Sometimes I send home projects for parents to do – cut out items for a project, file papers, staple papers, whatever.  It is a TREMENDOUS help for me, as it saves me time in the classroom, and allows me to have more time with my family in the evenings.

UNESCO brings awareness to the struggles teachers face.  It is up to countless other people to make change.  You can be part of the change.  Tell a teacher that you appreciate all they do for your child, and they do a lot.  After all, we want to make this world a better place for our kids.  Supporting teachers who work hard to positively influence our youth is a good start.

3
Oct

Happy Pizza Month!

October is the one month of the year that we dedicate to the truly superior food group – pizza! We didn’t know National Pizza Month was a real thing either, but we’re not complaining.

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pizza recipes that family members of all ages will love. Check them out!

  • Mini Bagel Pizzas – These bite-sized treats are perfect for little ones, and they are healthier than the frozen ones you’ll find at the store. The best part? Only three ingredients needed!
  • Gluten-Free Pizza – This healthy recipe is a good alternative for the gluten-free or health-conscious family. On top of that, you can find lots of other yummy gluten-free recipes online.
  • Easy Pizza Roll-Ups – These are the perfect pizza alternative that can fit in a lunch box. Just roll your ingredients into a tortilla, cut it into smaller pieces, and call it a day.
  • Breakfast Pizza – Now you can have a slice of pizza for every meal. Eggs, bacon and two kinds of cheese come together on top of a crust to pizza-fy a classic breakfast.
  • Pizza Pinwheels – This is pizza in a whole new shape. You can use them as an appetizer, pack them for a picnic, or whip them up for a late-night snack.
  • Pizza Casserole – Okay, so it’s not technically pizza. But all the flavors are there, and it’s incredibly easy to make! While there isn’t a pizza crust, the pasta is just as filling.

Or if you’re not feeling too ambitious, you can just order out – after all, it is a national holiday.

30
Aug

8 Healthy Lunches to Pack for Your Kids

Healthy School LunchesAs you and your kids gear up for the new school year, you can also take the opportunity to reinvent your lunch routine – after all, the standard PB&J can get old after a while. But where can you find tasty new ideas that are also convenient for mornings and good for your child?

To help you out, we have rounded up some of the best healthy lunch ideas that your youngsters are sure to love. Plus, they’re easy enough that the kids can help you prepare them!

  • The Cafeteria ClubThis easy lunch has all of the components of your standard sandwich wrapped into a tortilla. The addition of guacamole gives it a creamy kick, but you can use other condiments for kids who don’t like the green stuff.
  • Pretzel Kabobs – If you’re looking for the main parts of a sandwich without the bread, this one’s for you. Pair it up with some fruits or veggies and a little sweet treat for a rounded lunch.
  • Lunchbox Pizza Quesadilla – Tortillas come to the rescue once again for these portable pizzas.
  • Ham and Cheese MuffinsWho doesn’t love breakfast for lunch? These muffins have all of the best parts of an omelet in an easy, portable form.
  • Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Ups – For the lovers of peanut butter and jelly, this wrap offers a new twist and is incredibly easy. The granola gives it an added crunch.
  • Veggie Mac & Cheese – This is a great meal to take in a thermos. Just make a box of mac, add the vegetables of your choice, and you’ve got yourself an easy lunch.
  • Healthy Homemade Chicken Nuggets – A popular choice with plenty of kids, this healthier chicken nugget recipe will fit the bill for taste and nutrition. You could even make oven-baked “fries” to go with them.
  • Veggie Black Bean Burger – This savory patty will satisfy any non-meat eaters in the family, kids and adults alike! There are three different ways to cook it, and you can treat it like any other burger and add whatever toppings you like.

Additional Healthy Lunch Tips

These recipes can be just the beginning of a new healthy lunch repertoire. If you want to come up with options that fit your child’s tastes, keep some of these things in mind:

  • Always try to include a fruit or vegetable with the meal. Apples and oranges are good, portable options.
  • If brown-bagging is getting boring, consider a bento box. Not only are they cute, but they open up your options for the kind of foods you can pack.
  • Kids are often more willing to try a food that they helped make. Turn meal prep into a fun activity for the whole family!

With these tips and recipes, you can make sure your child starts off the school year the healthy way. Bon appetit!

30
Jul

International Day of Friendship

– What it Means for Adoptive Families

International Day of Friendship

Since 1958, July 30 has been the International Day of Friendship for countries around the world. What better time to send a nice gesture to the birth parents in your life?

“Friendship” may not be a powerful enough word to describe your relationship to your child’s birth parents. You share something unique, cherished, and irreplaceable – your child – and that is a bond to be celebrated at any occasion. This year, take a moment to learn a little bit more about International Day of Friendship and how you can add to the fun.

What is International Day of Friendship?

Although the holiday has been informally celebrated for decades, it was not officially accepted by the UN until 2011. The goal is to promote cultural acceptance and diversity, bring communities together, and advocate for peace.

In addition, the UN page for the holiday states: “The International Day of Friendship is also based on the recognition of the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world.”

The International Day of Friendship is an occasion to celebrate not just friends, but all of the important people in your life.

Share the Love with Birth Parents

When it comes to spreading friendship and love, the best place to start is with family – and your child’s birth parents are a part of your unique family. To show them you are thinking about them, consider some of the following ideas:

  • Work with your child on matching friendship bracelets for you, your child, and the birth mother.
  • Arrange for a visit filled with fun activities. Take advantage of the summer weather!
  • Send a care package to the birth mother. You can also give the package a theme.

So take this opportunity to share gifts, letters, or even a few words – not only to birth parents, but to everyone around you. Kindness is a gift you can give to anyone!

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