Adoption Is…

I am so blessed to have such a huge support network of other adoptive parents.  So when I reached out to them, telling them I’d love to share the beauty of adoption through pictures of our children and quotes that touch our hearts, I got a great response!  Thank you everyone who sent me pictures and quotes!

0 Ezra

1 Oliver And Amelia

2 Suzy

3 MaryRae

4 Ezra

5 Patricia

6 Adria

7 Candice

8 Jessica

9 Andi

10 Eithen

11 Thresa

12 Julianne

12 Julie

13 Christina

13 Jessica

14 Ezra

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Spreading My Wings

adoptionI am sooooo excited!  A few months ago, I was asked to be a part of an ebook that adoption.com is publishing.  It is a collection of short stories from adoptive parents about advice they can give or lessons they have learned in their adoption process.  Each chapter is a story from a different adoptive parent.  I can’t wait til it is released! (Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it is. Stay Tuned.)

Anyhow, they are almost done with editing and formatting the book and the editor of adoption.com wrote to me with an update and asked me to join adoption.com as a Staff Writer (Storyteller).  Their reach between adoption.com and adoption.org is over 2.5 million monthly viewers! That’s a lot of eyes!  I will be writing a short piece every week on adoption.  It will include personal accounts, navigating adoption, tips, pictures and advice.  They will be thought provoking, educational, touch on real world news, celebrity adoptions, etc.

I am so excited about this opportunity and I hope you will check me out on adoption.com soon!

PS. Don’t worry, this blog isn’t going anywhere, I am just adding this gig to my adoption advocating!  I’ll still be writing for Cincinnati Parent and Indy’s Child too.

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The Right Foot

open adoption

Open Adoption, Open Heart

If I can give one piece of advice, it is that in all the training you will receive, you may not be taught that starting off the relationship on the right foot can never begin too early. When I say that, it means learning positive adoption language is a big deal. You may learn a few things like to use “created an adoption plan” over the dated version of “giving up for adoption”. There are many other situations though that choosing your words carefully can go a long way. But it really isn’t about just being politically correct, it’s about respect.  It’s about understanding people’s feelings.  It’s about willingness to learn.

Today with open adoption being the more normal route domestic adoptions are taking, starting that relationship off with respect is so important. As adoptive parents we are gaining something that we could not achieve on our own; a child. Imagine the heart ache and loss the expecting mother goes through every day leading up to placing her child and will likely feel every day after the placement. Respecting her as a human and the parent of that child shows you love not just her baby, but her as well. And don’t forget about the father, he may or may not be involved, but until you know otherwise, assume he is.

Remember, positive adoption language is not just about being politically correct, but respecting her. Moving forward in an open adoption requires respect. Respecting her for her decision and not just going after her baby and saying “all the right things” will create a lasting relationship that your future child can respect you for. There are many resources out there to ensure you understand positive adoption language. If it is not offered in your adoption training, seek it out for yourself, you’ll be happy you did.

Part of respecting her, is also respecting her story. Respecting that her story is also your future child’s story. People can be nosey when it comes to adoption. Some are genuinely curious about adoption, some just want to the juicy details. So decide how much you want to share with people and stick to it. People will ask all sorts of questions that you never dreamed of. IE. “Why is she giving him up?” “Is she on drugs?” “Does she know who the father is?” “Why doesn’t she want to keep him?” Etc. Keep in mind that what you share with people now, may get back to your child or give the inquisitive people less respect for the birth mother in the future. While you may have the best intentions of sharing the story with people, they may repeat it back at inconvenient times. If your open adoption ends up being like mine, we invite our son’s birth parents and other biological family over a few times a year for family gatherings. We want everyone to feel comfortable. They are all part of our extended family now. While a person may be at a low moment in life at the time of placement, often the reason for them creating an adoption plan is to not to just give their child a better life, but to also give them the ability to improve their own life.

I think that letting the expecting mother know that you will support her in any decision she makes is very important. It shows a great deal of respect. Yes, of course you want to be a parent and adoption is your goal in having this relationship with her, but her knowing that you will be ok if she decides to parent or picks another family over you, goes a long way in her trust in you as good people. But don’t just say it, MEAN IT! Get yourself in the right frame of mind before entering the relationship.  She is not there to make you a parent.  You are there to parent her child.

Starting off on the right foot with the expecting parents will help you in a lifelong respectful relationship that will be cherished by your child and all members of the adoption triad for years to come.

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Adoption.Net

adoption.netA few days ago I got an email from Luke, Outreach Coordinator at Adoption.Net.  I have followed adoption.net on Facebook for a bit, but I was unaware of some of the changes they were making until he messaged me and suggested I browse the site to see the online community they are building.

Luke is an adoptee and clearly very passionate about the outreach program.  He stated that this is “a new site and have started with blog stories, an adoption agency directory and a Q & A area, but we are working on some innovative ways for people interested in adopting or children who are adopted to build an online community.  Right now we are trying to get the word out about our site so that people can take advantage of it. ”

Obviously, I love a good adoption resource, so I was eager to check it out!  The website is easy to navigate and has clearly marked sections for adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.  It has links to waiting parent profiles, blogs, news, community and a directory. I could spend all day long looking through the directory.  The resources listed are endless!

I went to the heading titled “Pregnant”, because I was curious how they addressed women considering adoption.  The first thing you come to after clicking is a list of steps to help a women who thinks she is pregnant, when she may be terrified and not thinking clearly.  It tells her to take a test, call a doctor, contact the father, reach out to a counselor and talk to her family.  It’s not a glaring “place your baby for adoption” page.  It provides all available options a woman has for her pregnancy and IF she chooses adoption, there is a link to waiting families and other resources, but it’s not pushy.

The next section of the site I browsed was “Adopting”.  It was well laid out with information for several avenues of adopting.  It had a lot of valuable information and sections dedicated to more in depth topics.  I liked that it and other sections have a Q&A heading as well as a guide to resources which includes articles.

I am glad Luke messaged me and hopefully you find the site helpful.

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Advertising For Adoption

Lately it seems a lot of my blogs spark from things I’ve seen on adoption forums.  It’s nice to have a supportive outlet, but with many people in different stages of infertility or from different backgrounds in adoption, these forums can often become heated debates with strong willed people.  I try so hard to see both sides of every situation and inject my opinion as just that, my opinion.  If I give more than the 2 cents they asked for, I do it so as the “voice of reason”.  I try not to belittle anyone, but when emotions are involved, defenses come up and people don’t always want a differing opinion or “extra advice”.

Networking and Advertising your adoption plans can be one of those subjects that is a hot topic.  It is a topic that I am interested in for many reasons.  I work in marketing; networking is what I do.  So, for me, where does the line need to be drawn in what is ethical and what is not?  First starting with what is legal is good.  People often claim they have talked to their lawyer and know it’s legal already, but I question how often that is true.  Not that I assume people are liars, I just know that from my own research there are a lot of legal caveats with adoption advertising.  When you tell someone it might night be legal, they get defensive and may say they have talked to their lawyer already, just to feel better to the stranger they are talking to.  No one wants to look like an ass.

Billboard taken out in New Jersey in order to market to expecting mothers that would only have a 72 hour period to change their mind instead of the Maryland 28 days where the couple lives. Neither state has laws against advertising. But is this ethical?

Billboard taken out in New Jersey in order to market to expecting mothers that would only have a 72 hour period to change their mind instead of the Maryland 28 days where the couple lives. Neither state has laws against advertising. But is this ethical?

What type of networking or advertising do you feel is OK and what is too much?  For instance, when my husband and I were first looking into expanding our family via adoption, I created a Facebook page.  I invited all my friends and family to like the page.  I posted on there that our desire was to adopt and I would periodically post cute sayings/memes as well as updates of where we were in our journey.  We weren’t with an agency, we weren’t home study approved, we were just expressing our want and sharing our journey.  Once we were home study ready, I got a little eager and since I work in marketing, I took out one of those ads you see on the side of the page asking people to “like” our page.  After 2 days, I took the ad down.  It seemed a little over the top for me.  I didn’t know if there were laws against it or not.  I didn’t know if there was any official faux pas I was making, I just didn’t feel comfortable anymore having an ad out there promoting such a delicate want to strangers.  Many people I know have those types of Facebook pages.  We still have ours up and running actually.

The debate that ensued on the adoption forum stemmed from a woman asking who she should pass out fliers and networking cards to to promote her adoption journey and website to reach more people.  My advice was just to be careful; that it might not be legal and that in the adoption community there is a fine line between what is ethical in networking and advertising. I also told her to tell her church members, coworkers, friends, family etc.  But that she should also talk about it frequently to anyone she got in a conversation with; make the natural segway that she is hoping to adopt and that talking about it is often much more well received than physically handing someone a card or flier.  She did not take my advice well.  She was offended by my input.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Networking and/or Advertising: Is it Ethical?

Pro’s:

1.  Being proactive.  It helps the “wait” if you are doing something.  If you are working toward the end goal of expanding your family, you pass time quicker and feel like you have done everything you can do.

2.  Possibly reducing the wait time by connecting yourself with a match faster than the agency or facilitator you are working with may be able to do.

3.  Find the right match for you.  If you are looking on your own terms, you may find that perfect person that will be a beautiful extension to your family.  The expecting mother and you may have a lot in common and connect easily, allowing the open adoption to be a beautiful relationship.

4.  It helps you connect to other families in your area also touched by adoption.  You may network at church, school, work and other places just by sharing your adoption journey.  This can not only offer you support, but possibly lead to a match.

Con’s

1.  When does networking become advertising and portrayed as distasteful?  Often people that market themselves for adoption are not as heavily trained as those going through an agency and therefore may use incorrect terminology in their advertisement as well as come across as “trolling” for a baby.

2.  Taking out an ad (We’ve all seen Juno and how they advertised in the Penny Saver), you are opening yourself up to it looking like you are buying a baby.  Think about it, you advertise a product that you want people to buy.  How is this different?

3.  Not everyone will agree with adoption.  You may receive backlash from people against adoption or just think you should either not have children or try a different route to grow your family.  So prepare yourself to be open to criticism.

4.  You may attract scammers.

5.  If you are embarrassed to tell your child how he/she came to your family, it may not be the right way to do it.  It can connote a feeling of “purchased” when ads are placed.

6.  It might not be legal.

So The Legal Aspects:

Some (not all) states have laws against advertising.  While some flat out ban any form of advertising, others have laws that allow agencies, lawyers facilitators, social workers to advertise.  Some states allow those professionals to advertise, but place stipulations on the situations in which they can advertise.  Other states have laws as to what type of media can be used in advertising when the adoptive couple or expecting mother is the one doing the advertising.  Do you know the laws of your state?

These are the states that have some sort of law defining advertising or banning advertising:

Alabama

California

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Massachusetts

Mississippi

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Washingon

Wisconsin

To see what laws/stipulations your state has, you can find more information hereThis link also provides information on if your state allows the use of facilitators in adoption.

For more information on adoption laws, training and resources visit my Adoption Information page.

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Adoption Backlash

Borrowed from "Adoption Hate"

Borrowed from “Adoption Hate

Before starting the adoption process, did you have any idea that some people were negative toward adoption and assume all adoptions are unethical? I didn’t have a clue. I was in for an awakening when the more I tried to learn and advocate, it seemed the more flack I caught from the protesters. At first it really bothered me, now it inspires me to keep going forward in my journey. It is still hard to not take their comments, especially when directed at me, personal.

Yesterday on Twitter someone tagged me in two posts. The first one they said I was a baby snatcher or something along those lines and the second post, they said I lied to our son’s first mother about open adoptions not being legally enforceable and said I SHOULD feel guilt (referencing my recent blog entry). Obviously, this person was just trying to strike a nerve with me and has no clue what actually goes on in my adoption triad.

What things like this have you seen or been under attack for? How can we prepare ourselves for this and how can we respond in a positive manner that shows we are not baby hungry vultures?

These are questions I asked my online adoption forum.  The forum I moderate is composed of men and women across the globe that are either adoptive parents or hopeful adoptive parents.  They represent people from many types of adoption and are in different stages of their adoption process.  It is nice to get a variety of views and come together for insight and solutions.  It is also just a great place to know that we can talk freely and not be judged for asking questions and wanting to learn more.

Examples of how people have been attacked for their role in adoption were then brought up.  One such example is that we should take the money we have saved for adoption and give it to the expecting mother in order to keep the family intact.  This is unrealistic.  Good in theory, but if a baby only needed a little money and the rest is history, I am sure far less women would consider adoption.  The $15,000 we paid in adoption fees would not last long.  Surely not 18+ years to raise that child.

The people who speak out against adoption may come across poorly.  They may be hurt and angry.  And although they are offensive, we can still  learn from these people. Wading through the bitter words and attacks on our humanity can be difficult.  Setting our ego aside and listening to the injustice they have faced in their adoption story can help us reform adoption.  Do I think abolishing adoption is the answer? No.  And not just because I benefited from infant adoption myself.  But, because things aren’t black and white.  The downside of learning from these nay sayers, is whenever I have tried to reach out to them for clarity and have a sensible conversation with them, their repeated attacks to my family are so harsh, that I give up. I have so many times told them that more people would listen if they approached the subject with more respect, instead of scare tactics. They go for the shock value in their message instead of reasoning and solutions to the problems.

So while I choose to not engage them if they are not willing to have a healthy and productive conversation, I will not dismiss their concerns either as just angry rants from bitter people.  We can continue our education and fight for preservation of first families as well as rights for birth fathers, access to original birth certificates, open adoption and more.