7 Considerations for Communicating with Your Birth Child – Adoption.com

Protecting our children from unnecessary confusion by setting boundaries with birth parents.

CommunicatingWithYourBirthChildOpen adoptions can be full of complex emotions. I have heard of many of different types of open adoption relationships. Some are smooth sailing while many have bumps in the road. “Boundaries” is a familiar topic when adoptive parents get together and discuss issues that arise in their relationship with their child’s first family. Most of us adoptive parents don’t like to set rules because we feel so honored to have this child entrusted to us. But when you look at boundaries as rule setting, you can set yourself up for failure. Instead, boundaries should be viewed as a method for maintaining a healthy relationship. Just as my family knows not to call too early in the morning or too late at night unless it’s an emergency, birth parents should know the limits of what we strive for to maintain normalcy. Setting the boundaries with the people in our lives means we can live comfortably, avoid unnecessary surprises, and not be annoyed because we didn’t let people know how we’d like our family to work.

Navigating an open adoption and the surprising emotions that come along with it mean that sometimes we say things before thinking.  Communicating with the child as well as with each other is so important.  To find out some tips on how to best communicate with your child placed for adoption, follow this link to adoption.com for more.  You will find tips with communicating with the child, but that when in doubt having a conversation with the adoptive parents is always a good idea too.  Together you can make sure the child’s best interests are always put first.

Positive Vs. Honest Adoption Language – Adoption.com

PositivevsHonestLanguage-28 In this crazy journey through life, we are in a constant frenzy of education in how the ways of the world work. Adoption language receives no escape in this evolution. Adoption has been a part of history from the earliest days. Adoption of family members through death or other reasons was common. In tribes, parenting as a village was normal. As adoption became a more formal practice, guardianship took on new roles. From the recent history of closed adoptions being the norm, we have now replaced it with open adoptions. Open adoptions favor the child and have had many studies showing the benefits in helping birth parents and people who were adopted gain insight, healing, and acceptance.

One thing that also evolves in adoption is the language used.  To read the rest of the article, visit adoption.com.

Top 15 Things to Look for in an Adoption Agency – Adoption.com

Top15Agency-10-300x150Learning about adoption was overwhelming for me. You are not alone in feeling that way!  Looking for an adoption agency is not any exception. In our journey we contacted at least half a dozen agencies and read countless articles online trying to figure out where to start and what to expect. We were not just in distress about how long we had been trying for a baby, but then we learned that we could have anywhere from days to several years on the “waiting list” for a baby, too. Factor in the cost associated with agency adoption, and we were bewildered. We had no idea how to select the best adoption agency that would meet our needs. Looking at the fact that there are tons of adoption agencies that can put on a great advertising front, but operate very unethically, we were scared we would be out time and money that we wouldn’t be able to ever get back and could potentially stop us from adopting if we suffered any loss.

While there are many other things, including the gut feelings you get when talking to them, these are a great starting point for fielding your options.  For the rest of this article, please click here to read it at Adoption.com.

Closing an Open Adoption – Adoption.com

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Some people may think that closing an open adoption is okay. They may think that promising an open adoption is just a means to becoming parents and that closing it has no effect on the child. After all, closed adoptions used to be the norm, and open adoption agreements often aren’t even legally enforceable. I often hear people state that they would only close the adoption if the environment for an open adoption became unhealthy. And while I too am guilty of making this statement, I think the phrase “closing the adoption” needs to be looked at closer.

Here are some ways to look at your open adoption and get through the struggles that may be plaguing your relationship with the birth family before just writing off the relationship with them.  To read the rest of the article, please click here to visit Adoption.com.

 

 

“Orphan Crisis” Strikes Again

articlenew_ehow_images_a06_ss_o3_orphanage800x800I hear two things when I tell people we adopted: 

1. You are so wonderful.

2. That is so wonderful.

Or some variation of the two.  Maybe something like “Oh, God bless you. You are such an angel to adopt. He is a lucky boy!”  What? I mean What?

I wrote a short blog about this last year and I have been thinking about expanding on it for some time now, as I see other adoptive parents encountering the same thing.  Then I learned about the “Orphan Crisis” and that some church congregations or sects of people are actually patting themselves on the back for adopting.  These people are fertile and have been blessed with biological children and adopt because they feel they need to save an orphan.  So where are they finding these orphans?  Sure some people, like Angelina Jolie spend time in other countries on movies or doing missionary work and learn about the problems that plague the area and fall in love with a sweet child they decide they’d like to adopt.  This is not the case for most though.  People are not plucking malnourished, homeless kids off the streets and bringing them home.  They are adopting infants and going through agencies that people that just want children also go through. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that people with biological children can’t adopt.  I have a biological son!  So that surely isn’t what I am saying.  I am also not saying that saying “God called me to adopt” is not a valid reason for expanding your family through adoption.  What I am saying is, don’t talk about “saving your child” and bragging about how terrible his life was and how you are his savior.  All “do you want a cookie?” or “pat yourself on the back” mentality stuff.  We don’t adopt children to make ourselves feel like we did a good deed.  We adopt them to make them part of our family.  If you want to do a good deed, send money and food or volunteer.  I am sure the child feels so great being made to feel like they owe their parents instead of just being loved by their parents.  (sarcasm) Some kids really do come from bad situations and wanting to help them is not a bad thing.  But, be honest with yourself and don’t make them feel like every step may lead them back to the original status. 

The Orphan Crisis has nothing to do with domestic infant adoptions.  Some articles I read stated how domestic infant adoptions are on the decline and they must figure out a way to change that.  Seriously?  Yes, I adopted a domestic infant, but do I wish to separate more children from their first mothers?  Do I wish to use coercion tactics to get more women to make an adoption plan?  No and NO!

Let me make this clear, To the first statement that people often say to me: I am not wonderful. I do not work with orphans, I am not a social worker or a missionary, I am not scooping up children without homes. I adopted because I wanted a child. My son wasn’t saved by me. He would have been just fine had his birth mother chosen to parent. He would have been adopted by someone else if I wasn’t there to adopt him. 

Secondly, it is not wonderful to adopt. It is stressful, expensive, heart wrenching, confusing and time consuming. Then add in how my son will cope with his identity and emotions and he navigates life. Or how about the the loss he and his birth parents feel every day?

What part of any of it other than ME getting to be this boys mommy is wonderful?

What have you experienced and how do you handle it?

Did you miss our giveaway?  Click this picture to enter!  Random drawing will be held Friday 6/13/14

Did you miss our giveaway? Click this picture to enter! Random drawing will be held Friday 6/13/14

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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A Look Back: Why were families so afraid to talk about adoption?

Cat-CatInBirthdayCakeYoureAdoptedI participated in a radio interview today and this question was one we weren’t able to get to, since we ran out of time.  I thought I would take it to the blog and address it here. I was a little worried about fumbling over my words in the interview on this question anyhow.

So, we’ve all seen the stories or had a friend or family member that didn’t know he/she was adopted until teen or adult years.  So the question is, why was the topic of adoption taboo?  I think this stems from a time of more closed adoptions. Adoption was a taboo subject for several reasons.

  • One of which is with infertility there is a bit of a stigma that is attached to it. Women have been placed in a role by society to have children. Men have a need to carry on the family name and lineage. With adoption their, so called, failure to do so is brought to attention.
  • Some people have the mindset that if God wanted someone to have children, He would grant that to them naturally, making it against God’s wishes.
  • Then there is the stigma of the child’s background. In closed adoptions, the adoptive parents were given very little to no information about the birth parents.  This lead to confusion or an inability to discuss the unknown.
  • Another reason adoption used to not be commonly talked about, was also the parent’s own insecurities of losing their status as “parents” to the child.  If their child ever questioned their biological roots, this may have made the adoptive parents feel inadequate or insecure and fear they may lose their child.  They may not have had many answers about the birth parents, so they avoided the subject all together. If or when the child learned of their adoption, then it was often awkward for all parties to discuss.
  • Often parents in closed adoptions also feared there was no “right time” to tell the child.  If the adoption wasn’t open, knowledge of the birth parents or a relationship with them wasn’t present, some parents may not have felt equipped to tell their child and answer the difficult questions, so they put it off.
  • Sometimes families adopted children from within the same family.  The adoption was kept a secret so there was not any confusion as to who the parent was.  The biological parent may have been a sister or close aunt or cousin.  So, while a relationship with the biological parent may have existed, the knowledge was withheld.

What other reasons can you think of that made the topic of adoption taboo or reasons why parents may have kept the adoptive status of their child a secret?

Authors Needed

logo-theme1Hey guys, I wanted to let you know about a project I am helping a friend with.  Russell Elkins, author of Open Adoption, Open Heart and Open Arms, was asked by Adoption.com to gather stories from domestic adoptive parents for a book they are putting together.  This book will feature about 25 chapters, each telling a story and giving one piece of advice about adoption that you would give someone just entering adoption.  Each author’s submission will be a stand alone chapter.  If this is something you’d be interested in doing, please see the criteria below:

  • Must be an adoptive parent or potential adoptive parent through domestic adoption.
  • The entry cannot have previously (or if selected, in the future) posted to any blog, article or book.
  • Must be approximately 1500 words.
  • Must lend “one piece of advice”.
  • Can submit using real name, pseudonym or anonymous.
  • Permission from anyone named in the submission, otherwise change names or use generic terms like “my son, birth mom, husband, wife” etc.
  • Due ASAP, we are behind schedule.

This is an unpaid project that will serve as an educational piece to help future adoptive families through Adoption.com.  Time is of the essence for this project.  It is behind schedule and we are looking for 5 additional entries to quickly complete this project.  Please email me your submissions to 1grewinmyheart@gmail.com

If you are interested in Russell’s books about adoption, please visit my book review’s page to see a description and a link to purchase his books.  Thanks!