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13
Feb

26 Years of Creating Families with American Adoptions

It’s our 26th Anniversary at American Adoptions!

To celebrate, we wanted to share with you something we put together over the past year:

6
Dec

5 Lessons ‘This is Us’ Teaches Us About Adoption

“This is Us,” an NBC show about a blended family told in different timelines, is arguably this fall season’s breakout hit. Focusing on three siblings — two twins and their adopted brother — coping with different crises at the age of 36, it’s quickly become a favorite for its honest portrayal of race, class, gender and body size.

One of the biggest storylines revolves around Randall, who was adopted by his parents from the hospital in the 1980s after his adoptive parents lost one of their triplets during childbirth. As an African-American in a white, middle-class family, he struggles to find his identity after he reconnects with his long-lost birth father.

The show is a great resource for adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees alike, educating viewers about adoption and the struggles all parties experience during their lifelong adoption journey. Although Randall was adopted in the 1980s in a closed adoption (rare today), many of his and his parents’ challenges will resonate with those affected by adoption.

American Adoptions highly recommends adoptive families watch “This is Us” as another way to normalize adoption in your household. To catch you up before tonight’s midseason finale, we’ve compiled a list of what “This is Us” has addressed about adoption so far.

How Closed Adoptions Can Negatively Affect Adopted Children

Randall’s adoption is an example of a “safe haven” adoption, wherein his birth father (William) left him in the custody of firefighters after his mother died giving birth to him. Randall is then brought to the hospital, where Rebecca and Jack choose to adopt him after one of their triplets dies during birth.

William lingers at the hospital to make sure Randall is taken care of, and Rebecca realizes who he is. She speaks with him once shortly after she adopts Randall and then revisits him later in Randall’s childhood. However, she keeps the knowledge of Randall’s birth father a secret from both her husband and her son and eventually decides that William cannot have contact with his son.

Not knowing anything about his birth parents is hard on Randall, a black boy being raised in a white family. Although it’s revealed his birth parents both had substance abuse issues (which is why Rebecca chose to keep his history a secret), the “what ifs” and unknowns of his adoption cause him to search out his birth father through a private investigator — which leads to an eventual meeting filled with anger, guilt and confusion.

While closed adoptions like Randall’s are not as common today as they were in the 1980s, his story demonstrates how children can be affected if they don’t know the truth about their adoption. Of course, not all adopted children are the same, but the hurt and confusion about why adopted children were “abandoned” at birth are usually not feelings that disappear over time.

Closed adoptions may seem like the easiest choice for adopted parents who worry about how birth parents might affect their child, but it’s important to understand that when children know about their birth parents, it doesn’t decrease the amount of love for their adopted parents at all. In fact, it makes the adoption process easier and can create a stronger bond between adoptive parents and adopted children — one based on love and respect.

Adopted Children are Naturally Curious about their Birth Parents

While Rebecca and Jack provide a healthy, stable home where Randall has everything he could want, it doesn’t prevent him from wondering about his adoptive parents. Late in his childhood, he begins asking other black people if they can roll their tongues like him — a genetic trait that he thinks will help him track down his birth parents.

Rebecca, insecure about her ability to mother three children (one of them being adopted), takes this personally. She worries that in Randall seeking out his birth parents, she’s failed somehow to be “enough” of a mother for him. But, as many adopted children will say, the desire to know about birth parents is not a reflection on adoptive parents at all — just a natural curiosity to learn more about where they came from and their personal identity.

Because biological family plays a large role in that personal identity, many adopted children will ask questions about their adoptive parents at some point or another. You should prepare yourself to answer those questions honestly; an open adoption with the birth parents can help you do so. It will not make you any less of a parent to your child if you expose them to their birth parents, but your children will have a newfound appreciation for your strength in doing so.

Birth Parents Hurt Long After the Adoption, Too

Adoption can be a difficult journey for all involved, but the emotional plight birth parents go through even long after the adoption is complete can sometimes be overlooked. While they know their decision is the best one for their child, the grief and loss they feel may never completely disappear.

In several “This is Us” episodes, we see William struggling with the sadness he still feels from placing his son for adoption — especially after Rebecca decides he cannot be a part of Randall’s life. While he knows that he make the best decision for Randall, he’s also plagued with the “what ifs.” Not being in contact with his son for 36 years only makes his situation more difficult.

When we think about adoption today, it’s important to remember that birth parents are forever affected by their decision to place their child for adoption. It’s a long healing process for all involved, and this is just one of the situations where open adoption can be helpful. Even if William had not been able to meet Randall, periodic updates about his son would have been instrumental in his healing.

How a Transracial Adoption Requires Extra Work

As a black man growing up in a white, middle-class family, Randall needed things that his parents simply couldn’t provide on their own: education about his culture and race, role models who looked like him and even simple hygiene skills tailored to his race.

When his parents take Randall to the community pool, he finds a group of black children to hang out with, rather than his own siblings. When Rebecca scolds him for wandering off, a black mother approaches her, informing her that she needs to find Randall a proper barber. This mother serves as an invaluable resource for Rebecca and Jack, giving them the education they need about raising a black son and providing Randall a community of people who look like him.

Jack even seeks out a black male role model for his son in a dojo instructor. Although the instructor provides a black father authority that Randall is missing, he also includes Jack in the initiation rituals that all the other black fathers do.

If you’re an adoptive parent raising or looking to raise a child of another race, it’s important that you fully educate yourself on your child’s culture and race to help them develop their personal identity. You will need to reach out for resources, even if it makes you uncomfortable to do so. Remember, asking for help doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent — it just means you want to give your child the best chances possible.

Adoption is a Lifelong Journey

Every adoption story is different, but there will always be some unique challenges for the adopted child, the adoptive parents and the birth parents. No one can anticipate every problem that can arise during an adoption, so it’s a constant learning process.

While Randall’s closed adoption is uncommon nowadays, his story shows how even an adult adoptee can confront issues about his adoption later on in life. The identity of an adopted child, adoptive parents and birth parents are constantly changing — and it can be a messy process.

But, as long as there are open relationships between all involved in the adoption process, these issues can usually be resolved in healthy ways that will only make your connections deeper and more meaningful.

For anyone who has been affected by adoption, watching “This is Us” can be a helpful way to see your experiences normalized on screen. Whether you’re a birth parent, an adoptive parent or an adoptee, there’s something for everyone.

“This is Us” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC. You can catch up and watch “This is Us” online on Hulu.

19
Dec

Watch “Home for the Holidays” Tonight!

Tune in tonight, December 19th at 9 p.m. ET to catch the 16th Annual “A Home for the Holidays” TV special on CBS! The special features uplifting stories about families who have adopted from foster care in order to raise awareness of this important social issue, as well as several moving musical performances from musical guests like Train, Jennifer Hudson, Katharine McPhee and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Watch the video below for more information:

Learn more about foster care adoption from Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

 

8
Dec

ShowPro Media Wins Awards

ShowPro LogoShowPro Media, with whom we’ve had a longtime relationship for adoptive family video profiles and educational videos, won several awards for its work last month.

The video team was awarded four 2014 Philly Awards (given to nonprofits in the Kansas City area) for Best Video, Award of Distinction, Peoples Voice and Best in Show for their work with PACES, a children’s shelter. Watch the video below:

PACES Shelter from SP Media on Vimeo.

We’ve long known how talented their video staff is and are thrilled they are receiving recognition for their work! You can learn more about the award-winning video on SP Media’s website or by visiting their facebook page.

2
Dec

Giving Tuesday and Holiday Gifts with Heart

Giving TuesdayNow that Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and passed, it’s time to recognize a season of giving starting with Giving Tuesday!

This time of year, many organizations make a push to create awareness, fundraising and volunteerism for their cause. Keep reading for a holiday gift ideas that give back and a Giving Tuesday cause that’s near and dear to our hearts here at American Adoptions!

Holiday Gift Ideas

The following gift guides do double-duty. You’ll be giving a great and meaningful gift while also promoting adoption and a variety of other causes:

American Adoptions Scholarship Fund

Like many of you, each year American Adoptions staff members look for ways to give back during the holidays. One way our organization is doing that this year is through a canned food drive for our local food bank, Harvesters. Annually, American Adoptions staff also supports and promotes the American Adoptions Scholarship Fund for Birth Parents. Since its founding in 2001, the Scholarship Fund has helped many women who have placed with us to continue their education.

Interest in continued education is often a reason that the women we work with choose adoption. The impact and hope a scholarship can create is amazing, and it can change the life of a birth mother, giving her a more positive overall adoption experience.

Please visit our scholarship page to learn more about the wonderful women this fund helps. Or watch the following video to hear the story of birth mother Samantha and the opportunities the scholarship has made available to her:

If you’d like to make a donation to the American Adoptions Birth Mother Scholarship Fund, please send your donation check to:

The American Adoptions Scholarship Fund
C/O: American Adoptions
9101 West 110th Street Suite 200
Overland Park, KS 66210

Please Note: At this time, we cannot ensure that you will receive a tax deduction for your donation, but we can give you a receipt with which to consult your accountant or tax professional. 

For more information about our scholarship fund, call 1-800-ADOPTION, or email us at adoptions@americanadoptions.com. Thanks for your interest and support!

22
Nov

Happy National Adoption Day!

Today is National Adoption Day, which grew from the grassroots efforts of adoption professionals, adoptive families, law firms, state foster care agencies, child advocates and courts. Since it began in 2000, almost 50,000 children have had their adoptions finalized on National Adoption Day in courts across the United States.

We know we wouldn’t be able to impact the lives of the children, birth parents and adoptive families we work with without the expertise and support of these dedicated individuals all across the country. So from the American Adoptions Family to all of the adoption professionals we work with, we want to give you a sincere thank you for all you do. It takes a village to complete an adoption, and no doubt, we’ve got the best villagers!

This month, we reached out to some of the professionals that we’re blessed to work with – Judge Kathleen Lynch in Kansas and Attorneys Eric C. Freeby in Texas and Jean M. Cavaliere in New Jersey – to ask them about some of their favorite adoption memories as well as their personal adoption connections.

Enjoy the video and stories below, and don’t forget to visit our facebook page for photos of adoption finalizations!

Judge Kathleen Lynch

What is it like to walk adoptive parents or birth parents through an adoption?

Many times what I see is that parents find themselves in a position where they didn’t ever expect themselves to be parents and they’re not able to care for the child. And as much as they love the child, they know what’s best for the child is for the child to be placed for adoption. And they either contact an agency or an attorney. And that’s how things get started. There are lots of parents who want to be adoptive parents out there, and it’s amazing to see a family come together. When the mothers relinquish (under certain circumstances I have to preside of the relinquishment of parental rights for both fathers and mothers), it’s those moments that always stay with you. I’m getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it because I’m a mother myself. I can’t imagine being in a situation and knowing that I couldn’t take care of my children and how difficult that would be, but it’s one of the most selfless things that I see people do. They’re making the biggest sacrifice they can make for their child by placing them with someone who can care for them because, in present circumstances, they’re not able to.

Does anything stand out in particular about any adoptions that have occurred during National Adoption Month?

National Adoption Month is always fun because we try and set up the Friday before Thanksgiving and we always try to keep that open because it’s a fun day. I have presided over the adoption for a court personnel who was adopting their child through the foster care system. I have presided on National Adoption Day over a sibling group of six. I have seen little, tiny babies that were just a few days old. I have seen parents that have flown in from as far away as Israel to be adoptive parents here in the United States. So I can’t really say that I do have one particular favorite moment. But I do have a moment where one of the siblings of the infant that was being adopted was I think a little put out that he was not the focus of things. So I had him come up and sit on my lap and that seemed to soothe things over pretty well.

Attorney Info Eric. FreebyEric C. Freeby, P.C.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories or stories?

I was finalizing an adoption in court and the adoptive father was an imposing Marine sergeant in his dress blues. I am 6’1”, but this adoptive father towered over me, and he looked and acted like a stereotypical Marine drill sergeant. However, as I began to ask the adoptive father questions, he was so overcome with emotion that I had to ask the adoptive mother the rest of his questions. That man loved his daughter.

Does anything stand out in particular about any adoptions that have occurred during National Adoption Month?

Five siblings in foster care were about to be split apart so the young children could be adopted, but a family stepped up and adopted all five of the children. The children’s faces once I finalized the adoption are one of the reasons I love my job as an adoption attorney.

How has adoption impacted your own life?

Adoption has impacted both my personal and professional life. My father was adopted, and we recently discovered his birth family and are in the process of reaching out to my birth aunts, uncles and cousins. Also, adoption is the reason I love my job. Each day I come to work, I get to play a role in helping children and creating a family.

What is it like to walk adoptive parents or birth parents through an adoption?

The walk with both adoptive parents and birth parents is filled with love. The birth parents love the child enough to make the selfless and difficult decision of placing the child for adoption. On the other side, the adoptive parents always amaze me with their immediate unconditional love for their new child.

Attorney Info Jean CavaliereJean M. Cavaliere, Esq.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories or stories?

One of my favorite adoption memories involves a Nebraska couple who adopted a baby born to a New Jersey birth mother. I represented the New Jersey birth mother. The birth mother was discharged from the hospital prior to the baby and prior to the adoptive parents’ arrival in New Jersey. Before her discharge, the birth mother signed an authorization permitting me to take custody of the baby for the purpose of transferring custody to the adoptive couple. The hospital was very accommodating and agreed to discharge the baby in the evening to allow the couple time to get to New Jersey. By the time the couple arrived at the hospital, it was around 9:00 p.m. When I greeted the couple at the hospital, they were visibly distressed. The airline had lost their most valuable possession – the baby’s car seat! Of course, the baby could not be discharged without a car seat. I remained at the hospital with the adoptive mother and rallied my husband John to find an open Walmart with the adoptive father. That took several hours, but the trip was successful, and they arrived back at the hospital with a car seat. The hospital then discharged the baby to me, and I placed the baby in the adoptive mother’s arms. Her husband put his arms around her, and she looked up at him with tears in her eyes. They were a family. John told me how moved he was by that scene. He understood in that moment why I do what I do.

How has adoption impacted your own life?

I have two cousins who were adopted. Of my two closest childhood friends, one is an adoptee and the other became an adoptive mother. I am now an adoption attorney, so it is interesting how adoption has touched all of our lives.

What is it like to walk adoptive parents or birth parents through an adoption?

The most important thing is to be able to put yourself in their position. Placing a baby for adoption or bringing a child into your life through adoption is an incredibly emotional and life-changing event. The professionals involved in helping the parties through this process need to be patient and emotionally sensitive. I also try to be very clear and direct when explaining the practical and legal steps. That often requires explaining something more than once and putting it in writing for them. While the rewards are immeasurable, they are no guarantees in adoption, and it’s important for clients to have a realistic understanding of the risks involved.

20
Nov

What’s Your Adoption Song?

One way YOU can spread National Adoption Month awareness is to call a local radio station and ask them to play an adoption song in honor of national adoption month. What song would you request?

Just a few weeks ago, Adoptive Mom Stephanie shared how her adopted son, just six years old, was touched by Kip Moore’s song “Hey Pretty Girl.” Although her son had heard the song before, this particular listening resonated with him, especially as he realized that some day he might have a biological family of his own and someone who looked like him biologically. Read the excerpt of her letter below and have a listen to the song for yourself:

“But today was just an ordinary day, not one of the tough ones, and your song, Hey Pretty Girl, was on the minivan radio. When I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw Nicholas crying. I asked why he was sad and, in his infinite 6-year-old wisdom, my son told me that sometimes, people cry even when they’re not sad.

Wiping tears away he said, “I’m not sad, Mom. It’s just this song. It touched deep in my heart.”

He has heard your song before, but today he felt it.

He went on to explain as best he could, as he processed that one day, he could have a biological family of his very own.

“It makes my heart feel something, but I’m not sad. One day will I be married like the song man? And then I’ll really be in a family? My own family?”

I wanted to insist that he’s in a real family now, and I tried to remind him gently. But, no matter what I say or do, to him, it can never be the same. Kip Moore, today you gave my son the gift of hope: Hope that there will be belonging, and blood relation, and kinship in his future.”

Read Stephanie’s full post here.

While there are songs written specifically about adoption, many people feel adoption connections to other songs because of the mood they convey, the time they first heard it, etc. Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet reminds many adoptive couples of what they have to look forward to, even though it’s not a song specifically about adoption.

Meanwhile, Mark Schultz wrote “Everything to Me” about his birth mother. (Listen to the song or watch the story behind the song.) This list of Adoption Songs from Bethany Christian Services is a great collection of adoption-specific songs as well.

14
Nov

Closure, a Documentary About Adoption

IMG_7109--To help celebrate National Adoption Month, our staff purchased the rights to have a private viewing of the documentary, Closure.

Closure follows adult adoptee, Angela, as she seeks to find and connect with her birth parents and extended birth family. Although Angela was adopted transracially into a multi-racial family, she continues to grapple with who she is and where she comes from.

Angela is blessed by a supportive adoptive family and husband (the videographer) who are equally interested in helping her find her roots and are with her every step of the way. It’s impossible to watch the film without getting wrapped up in the story, and we hope many of you will have the opportunity to watch it yourselves!

Watch the trailer below or learn more at the Closure website!

17
Feb

Adoptive Family Video Profile FAQs

Questions about Adoptive Family Video ProfilesEvery adoptive family we work with will make an Adoptive Family Video Profile with Show Pro Media. Below are some frequently asked questions about Adoptive Family Video Profiles.

What is an Adoptive Family Video Profile?

For most adoptive families, Adoptive Family Print Profiles are their first opportunity to connect with birth parents. Print profiles usually include information about the adoptive family’s home, neighborhood, family members, motivations to adopt, hobbies and much more.

But what if these profiles were watched instead of read? What if birth parents could actually see a couple interact? What if they could witness the couple’s personalities, instead of just reading that they have good personalities? What if they could actually hear and feel their desire to become parents?

By showcasing the qualities that can only translate to video, Adoptive Family Video Profiles allow prospective birth mothers to better envision their child’s life while growing up in your family.

So, how does this process work?

You will receive a Show Pro Video Kit and an easy-to-use instruction booklet in the mail. You will then have 15 days to film the necessary footage and return the video kit back to Show Pro Media.

Using the various interviews with you, family members and friends, additional footage to supplement the interviews, and original music composed by Show Pro, our Video Specialists will edit your footage into an emotive story for prospective birth mothers to watch.

What are the benefits of doing an Adoptive Family Video Profile?

Adoptive Family Video Profiles benefit the birth mother by helping her choose the best adoptive family for her adoption plan. Consequently, there are also many benefits for adoptive families and benefits for adoption professionals:

  • Video Profiles Show Your Family – Imagine picking your spouse with only photographs and a few pages of written information. Now imagine picking a family to raise your child by only using that same information. Adoptive Family Video Profiles allow a birth mother to learn more about you so that she can feel more secure about the family she has chosen.
  • Video Profiles Showcase Personality – Print profiles are a great way to connect with birth parents, but they are only able to present so much. They cannot express how compassionate, funny or outgoing you are in person. In video, your personality and everyday lives can be easily seen.
  • Video Profiles Help Lower Chances of a Disruption – After a birth mother selects a family, she often watches their video multiple times throughout her pregnancy, which helps her stay committed to the family and remind her why she has chosen adoption for her child. While Adoptive Family Video Profiles don’t eliminate disruptions altogether, they give birth parents a stronger sense of knowing the family, which helps them remain dedicated to their adoption plans. Videos are also often used as an “icebreaker” when talking on the phone or meeting in person for the first time.
  • Video Profiles Reach More Prospective Birth Parents – Every year, more and more birth mothers are searching for prospective adoption families on the Web, and an increasing amount search for them on YouTube, the world’s second highest trafficked search engine.

How does the filming process work?

You will receive a Show Pro Video Kit in the mail via FedEx, including some easy-to-use instruction booklets to help you film. You will receive more details on how the filming process works once you register with Show Pro.

We are afraid of the filming process and how we will come across on video. Are we alone?

This is a common concern. The main thing to remember is the goal of the video – to help prospective birth parents get a better understanding of what life would be like as a part of your family. The camera is easy to operate, and you will receive detailed instructions on what to film and how to make it look professional. So be yourself, have fun, and we will take care of the rest!

Show Pro Media created the following video for American Adoptions, which helps address some of these concerns:

How Long Are Adoptive Family Video Profiles?

Each adoptive family’s footage is edited by one of our Video Specialists into a short movie that highlights your family’s personality. Footage quality determines the video’s length, but most profiles are two to four minutes long.

Will we get to approve the video once it is edited, and can we request changes?

Once your video is edited, you will be able to view in your Show Pro Account. You can then either approve it, or request a revision with specific changes that you would like made.

Does Show Pro Media film and edit other video projects?

Yes, Show Pro films and edits a variety of other video project. Visit the following page to watch some of our other video projects.

*Once you register with Show Pro, you will receive a more in-depth FAQ and access to a Video Specialist to help guide you through the filming process. If you have any questions about the video profile process, you can contact a Media Specialist at video.specialist@showpromedia.com!

30
Nov

Wrapping Up Adoption Month 2013

As National Adoption Month 2013 comes to a close, we wanted to share this another short video from Olympian and Adoptee Aaron Parchem on the impact adoption has had on his life. You can more about Aaron’s adoption story in our post Opportunities of Adopted Children.

We hope we’ve been able to give you some ideas, food for thought and reason to celebrate this National Adoption Month! We’ve really enjoyed getting to hear from many of you about how adoption has touched your lives, and we love getting pictures like this one showing families getting together to celebrate!

2013 National Adoption Day

Below is a round-up of our posts from the month:

 

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