Published 5/11/15 on adoption.com Choosing to place your child for adoption is an enormous decision that you surely won’t take lightly. Are you considering making an adoption plan? If you are, these ten tips will help you select the right adoption agency for you. Having a good agency to work with will help your journey go a lot smoother. Emotional support as well as help along the way and in the future is a vital part of the process. Are you considering making an adoption plan?
It was a brisk afternoon, and we had just returned from the outlet mall where we had bought the boys new gym shoes. Our youngest son, Ezra, was running around the yard and chasing after a football. As I fondly watched on, snapping a few adorable pictures on my phone, one of my first thoughts was to share a photo with his birth mom. I remembered she had recently asked if he has started to run yet, so I switched over to video and recorded a short clip of him running across the yard. Her response was quick and full of joy. “Look at him run. I love it. It almost looks like he’s been running and walking for years!” I typed back “He’s a pro!” and her next message was when it hit me… she said “I’m so proud.”
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.
I am so excited! I am in Chicago this week visiting my husband with the kids while he works here for one of his clients. He has been coming home on weekends, but since it’s Spring Break for Isaac, we decided to come to him and take in some of the city and things to do. I have been trying to work on the blog here and there, but with also working and my boys coming down with colds, I haven’t posted.
A couple days ago I woke up and was checking my email, as I do every morning upon waking up, and I had an email from Rodney Lear at Q102 (WKRQ Cincinnati). Mr. Lear was inviting me to be a guest on his radio show to talk about adoption! After I read the email like 4 times, forwarded it to my husband, texted my husband saying READ YOUR EMAIL NOW, I responded that I would love to participate!
The interview segment is prerecorded, so I’ll be going into the studio on Thursday, April 10th. He said he expects the interview will air on Sunday, April 13th. I am sooooo nervous and yet, so excited! Obviously adoption is something I am passionate about and I hope that this will really open some doors for people to understand adoption more!
For all you out-of-towners, don’t worry, the show is also streamed online.
Here’s the schedule for Sunday Morning Magazine with Rodney Lear
Airs Sunday April 13th: (times are EST)
7:00 a.m. on WKRQ-FM (101.9)
7:00 a.m. on WYGY-FM (97.3)
6:00 a.m. on WUBE-FM (105.1)
6 :00 a.m. on WREW-FM (94.9)
For everyone that can’t listen, I will do my best to get a link or file to upload to the blog as soon as I can after it airs. Thank you so much for your support!
It is really easy to get caught up in our own pity party when we face infertility or have set backs in adoption. We see women getting pregnant on accident, we stop watching the news because we can’t handle watching stories about abused children, we lash out at family members who are expecting a baby or complain about their kids being bad, and we cry at the sight of pregnant strangers in the grocery store. Experiencing that grief makes us desperate and sometimes with desperation we lack reasoning skills.
Adoption is an emotional roller coaster all on it’s own, but then factor in the reasons you may have come to adoption; infertility, health, relationship status, sexuality, etc, and you may have extra emotions tied to the adoption journey. While I have seen this many times lately in the adoption forums I go to, I am not going to claim I too wasn’t guilty of all the emotions that this entry is about.
Adoption isn’t easy for the expecting mother who made an adoption plan to place her child. She is doing it for her own reasons. She may struggle every day with her decision. She may feel guilt that she cannot provide her child with the life she wants. She may change her mind every day in the things she wants her child to have. She may waiver on what she wants out of the adoption relationship. But, let’s face it, it is her child. It is her decision. We have to just be willing recipients of the child with open arms. And we need to know when it’s time to walk away from a match that is not going to work.
I know it’s really hard to do, but keep in mind this isn’t about what you are or are not deserving of… but it is about her and HER child. (Of course you deserve a child, it just might not be her child!) This is a super stressful situation for you when she begins questioning things in her adoption plan or her match with you. I experienced a disrupted match because the expecting mom second guessed all her choices when it came to us. We were matched very early on and as our friendship grew, so did her need to know things about me on a personal level and on a parenting level. When an expecting mom chooses and adoptive family, she often romanticizes a life she envisions for her child as well as her future in your and her child’s life. I could not live up to her expectations and the match dissolved. It was devastating. The expecting mother may be freaking out and the emotions she is going through are no less valid than yours. Even if she is second guessing some of the choices. She may have people in her other ear telling her she should have picked a stay at home mom or someone that lives closer or in a bigger house. It my experience, the earlier in the pregnancy that she makes decisions, it seems the closer the time gets those decision start to waiver. (Obviously this isn’t the case for every early match.) I would much rather have a woman come to me with adoption as her choice and feel fully at peace, than trying to make the match happen because she thinks she’ll eventually be OK with it.
It’s really scary for us adoptive parents to go through, but we just have to accept what God gives us and remember that it isn’t another woman’s job to make us mothers. She is giving us to her child… not her child to us.
On the adoption forums I frequent, one of the big questions I often see is “What is a birth mother looking for in the letter we are writing?”. The simple answer is, everyone is different. There is no way of saying your letter is the perfect letter to be chosen by everyone. Your letter, however, may be the perfect letter for a specific expecting mother.
So let’s start of with the must haves.
First, no matter what your agency says, do not address your letter with Dear Birth Mother or Birth Parent(s). This is simply an inaccurate term to use for the woman or parents who have created an adoption plan. The correct term is Expecting Mother or Expecting Parent(s). She has not given birth yet and to call her a birth mother is reducing her to a role she may feel obligated to fulfill. Please respect that until she has given birth and placed the child, she is still an expecting mother. If you don’t want to write Dear Expecting Parent(s) as your salutation, you can always chose a simple Hi, Hello, or Howdy. She may not see the difference consciously, but starting off the relationship in a place of respect goes a long way.
Some things to include:
- Introduction: Thank her for considering you. Tell her your names and immediate information, like age and about any other children in your household.
- Body: Express your lack of understanding on how difficult her decision must be. Tell her you hope to meet her.
- Body: Elaborate on who you are. Tell her about your family, what brought you to adoption, and what your goals are in raising a child. Be positive and be yourself.
- Conclusion: Thank her again for her time, wish her luck in her journey and sign off with something positive.
- Include pictures that tell a story of your life.
- Get creative. It doesn’t have to look like a formal letter. It can include graphics, colors, pictures, bullet points, fun (yet easy to read) fonts, etc. Stick to a 8.5×11 letter, but you can use front and back.
- Proof read multiple times.
Some things to avoid:
- Salutation, as mentioned above, do not address her as birth mother or birth parent.
- Avoid any terms that are negative to adoption or imply you expect her to place her baby for adoption.
- Don’t try to appeal to every expecting mother, appeal to the one that is the right fit for you. This is a long term, open relationship, you want it to work.
- While being positive, don’t be overly flowery. Be normal.
- Don’t assume she considered abortion by thanking her for choosing life. Abortion may have crossed her mind, abortion may have been her first plan, but abortion may have never even been an option.
- Don’t be more religious than you actually are. Talk about God or religion the way you would with any day to day person. If it’s a huge part of your life, include it, otherwise, just give the basics.
- Don’t talk about your infertility in a lengthy depressing way. You can mention it in your introduction as why you came to adoption, if that is the reason, but this letter is not the time for a pity party. She has a big decision to make, don’t make her feel like she owes you a child.
- Don’t over promise and under deliver. Stick to honesty.
- Don’t pretend to know what she is going through unless you have personally placed a child for adoption.
- Don’t include out of focus, under/overexposed, low resolution, or inappropriate pictures.
Use Positive Adoption Language:
This is not just about being politically correct or sugar coating terms to make the adoption sound more romantic, it is about respecting all members of the adoption triad and having a successful relationship in an open adoption.
- Birth Mother – instead use “Expecting Mother” or “Expecting Parent(s)”.
- Give up for adoption – instead use “Place for adoption” or “Create an adoption plan”.
- Closed adoption – instead educate yourself on open adoption.
- Thank you for choosing life – instead use “Thank you for considering adoption”.
- If you reference possibly keeping their child – instead use “parent your child”.
A few days ago, on an adoption Facebook page, a moderator asked the question: “If you could change one adoption law, what would it be?”. Wow, where would I start, how could I choose just one?!?!?! I went with a general answer of “federal adoption reform laws” and then added in a few examples of lowering/standardizing adoption fees and making birth father part of the process and not a burden. This spiraled out of control by people in the “anti-adoption camp”. They accused me of saying that the birth father posed a burden to me getting my baby via adoption. This is NOT at all what I meant and luckily before I saw it a friend came to my rescue. Although the nay sayers still questioned my intent. So here it is…
In many states birth fathers have very little rights when it comes to the baby they helped create. Utah is the worst of all the states. Adoption agencies in Utah actually will pull expecting mothers from their home state to Utah and house them there (at the expense of the potential adoptive parents) to hide them away from birth fathers who are seen as someone that can interfere with the adoption plan. The right for these men to have a say in the adoption or parent their child is stripped of them. In states like mine, Ohio, things work a little differently, but recent proposed adoption laws seem to be getting more and more like Utah in my opinion.
When we matched with our first expecting mother, she lived in Indiana which is a state that allows expecting fathers to sign their rights to the child away prior to the birth. Although the father of the baby did so prior to birth, he later regretted it very much. This was a constant source of heartache and stress in our adoption match and was one of the reasons the match was not fruitful. With our second match, the one that resulted in the placement of our son, it was in Ohio and done differently. The expecting father had rights. He was involved. He was a part of the process and agreed 72 hours after birth, just like the mother. It’s not always the case in Ohio though. Ohio has something called a Putative Father Registry. In Ohio a woman is not obligated to tell a man she has become pregnant. It is said to be the man’s duty to inquire if a pregnancy resulted from intercourse. After birth in Ohio, a father has up to 30 days to register that he thinks he MAY be the father of a child born. This can disrupt the adoption and that’s not what this blog is about… this blog is about the fact that he is not required to be notified or given any opportunity to fight for his child before birth. He has to KNOW the registry even exists in order to register. Did you know about this registry?
Ohio’s new bill passed the House in January and it takes the ability for a father to register with the Putative Father Registry from 30 days down to 7 days. They are also stating that it “Establishes a pre-birth notification process modeled after the one used in Indiana to provide a mother the option to notify a putative father prior to giving birth”. I’m sorry, but why is this a legal matter? The expecting mother CAN ALREADY NOTIFY him. What this is actually saying though is that now she can ask him to sign away his rights or be forced to sign away his rights by serving him a court order as they are able to do in Indiana and other states. Don’t mistake the verbiage they are using in the bill for being pro-woman or pro-family. It solely serves the purpose of diminishing the man’s role in the adoption process because agencies see him as an obstacle to overcome so they can place the baby in a paying clients hands.
As an adoptive mother, I am NOT ok with any form of coercion when it comes to becoming a mother. If a father is not involved in the adoption plan, I don’t want it to be because he was tricked, manipulated or lied to. I am part of an adoption triad that is VERY open and is open with all family members. Not only are Ezra’s birth parents involved regularly in his life, but extended family members as well. Adoption doesn’t have to be ugly like these laws are trying to make it.
Here is more information on the Ohio Putative Father Registry Law:
A man who has sexual intercourse with a woman is on notice that if a child is born as a result and the man is the putative father, the child may be adopted without his consent pursuant to division (B) of section 3107.07 of the Revised Code.
Effective Date: 06-20-1996
The department of job and family services shall establish a putative father registry. To register, a putative father must complete a registration form prescribed under section 3107.065 of the Revised Code and submit it to the department. The registration form shall include the putative father’s name; the name of the mother of the person he claims as his child; and the address or telephone number at which he wishes to receive, pursuant to section 3107.11 of the Revised Code, notice of any petition that may be filed to adopt a minor he claims as his child.
A putative father may register at any time. For the purpose of preserving the requirement of his consent to an adoption, a putative father shall register before or not later than thirty days after the birth of the child. No fee shall be charged for registration.
On receipt of a completed registration form, the department shall indicate on the form the date of receipt and file it in the putative father registry. The department shall maintain registration forms in a manner that enables it to access a registration form using either the name of the putative father or of the mother.
Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.180,HB 279, §1, eff. 3/20/2013.
Effective Date: 07-01-2000
An attorney arranging a minor’s adoption, a mother , a public children services agency, a private noncustodial agency, or a private child placing agency may request at any time that the department of job and family services search the putative father registry to determine whether a man is registered as the minor’s putative father. The request shall include the mother’s name. On receipt of the request, the department shall search the registry. If the department determines that a man is registered as the minor’s putative father, it shall provide the attorney, mother, or agency a certified copy of the man’s registration form. If the department determines that no man is registered as the minor’s putative father, it shall provide the attorney, mother, or agency a certified written statement to that effect. The department shall specify in the statement the date the search request was submitted. No fee shall be charged for searching the registry.
Division (B) of section 3107.17 of the Revised Code does not apply to this section.
Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.180,HB 279, §1, eff. 3/20/2013.
Learning about adoption was overwhelming for me. You are not alone in feeling that way! 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 only in distress about how long we had been trying for a baby, but then we learned that we could have anywhere from three months to several years on the waiting list for an adopted baby too. Then factor in the enormous price tag associated with agency adoption and we were dazed. As we began to verbalize we were considering adoption to others; we got all kinds of input. Some of it was amazing and helpful. Others only shared horror stories of adoptions gone wrong or questions of why we weren’t doing IVF like their friend, sister, cousin, neighbor did. We had to take some time and process this. Was it really what we wanted?
Fast forward several months of just setting all the agencies paperwork aside and living life… we hopped back on the train to adoption and settled down and found the right agency for us. But how do you pick the right agency for you? The agency we picked was a small agency located in Ohio that only dealt with Ohio birth mothers and Ohio adoptive families. Their cost was much lower than the national agencies and they had high placement rates with a wait time that averaged 18 months. They were very upfront about their outlooks and what we could expect. They made us feel like we COULD do this and we WOULD be parents again.
One of the top questions I get asked by people considering adoption is: “what agency did you use?” People like to know that they can trust the agency with the task of giving them the family they have dreamed of. So that’s the first place to start. If you know anyone who has adopted, ask them what agency they used. Ask them if they liked the experience. Ask them if there was anything they wish they would have known going in. Some agencies are very commutative with their families while others don’t relay every bite of information as it comes in. You need to decide what you are looking for.
Things you may want to look for in an agency:
- What services do they provide expectant mothers?
- Do they offer ongoing support to all members of the adoption triad?
- Do they discriminate against single, transracial or homosexual families?
- How long is their average wait?
- How many families do they work with at any given time?
- How many placements do they do a year?
- What is their fee structure?
- When are the fees due?
- How do they handle expecting mother living expenses?
- Do they have “waiting” support groups or resources for you?
- Do they charge different rates for non-Caucasian children? (I know, it sounds weird, but some do!)
- How do they advertise? Check their website for how they talk to expecting women considering adoption. Are they guiding her in her decision or supporting her no matter what her decision?
- Do they support open adoption?
- How well do they communicate if you email or call with questions?
Go with your gut and don’t sign anything too quickly.
- How do they handle birth fathers? Do they see them as an obstacle or include them in the process?
You are looking for a few things by asking these questions. You need to know how they operate and what will be expected from you so there are no surprises, but you also will be able to learn if they are ethical in their practices. You may be thinking something like, “well I am not gay, so that doesn’t apply to me.” Or “I was planning to adopt an African American child anyhow, so that’s great that the fees are reduced.” But these things do nothing to promote ethical adoption or getting children to their forever families.
All this information can be overwhelming. Hopefully you have found some recommendations from friends or support groups that can help you narrow down your search to a few agencies. Once you start collecting information, you may want to start some file folders to keep each agency separate and you can then go through your own personal checklist of things you like and dislike about each agency. Ultimately, go with your gut. If something feels off, don’t ignore that. Remember they have marketing to keep them afloat and in the business of facilitating adoptions. You have to see through their glitter and make sure they are ethical for everyone involved.
Good luck in your journey!
Sarah Baker | November 01, 2013 | 12:18 PM
Every November we now celebrate National Adoption Month. The history of National Adoption Month is relatively new. As we learn more about adoption and the need for forever homes and advocating for ethical adoptions, the awareness continues to spread.
History: In 1976, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week. In 1995, as an adoptee himself, President Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November. Then in 1998, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. (childwelfare.gov)
Activities and celebrations are kicked off with a Presidential Proclamation, and while efforts made at the national level certainly help build awareness of adoption, participation in local programs, events, and activities by those of us with a direct connection to adoption can often be the most effective way to promote positive perceptions, debunk the myths, and draw attention to the tens of thousands of children in foster care who wait and hope for permanent families. (adoption.com)
Adoption Awareness is needed in many areas. First, helping find waiting children from foster care their forever homes is a huge priority. Every child deserves a permanent home and a loving family. There are many situations that can lead to their orphan status, but that does not make them unwanted or unadoptable. While foster adoptions are vastly needed, there are all types of adoptions that this month celebrates: Kinship adoptions, step parent adoptions, domestic infant adoptions, international adoptions, etc.
This month isn’t just about celebrating the beauty of adoption or bringing awareness to the thousands of children waiting to be adopted. Adoption advocacy is also an important part of National Adoption Month. Working hard to learn about adoption and the long term effects it has on everyone involved is necessary. Helping expecting mothers find and develop the tools they need to parent when they are considering adoption is also a huge step. Advocating for adoptees rights to their original birth certificates and birth certificate reform, as well as promoting open adoptions is beneficial for their self-identity.
Each day this month, I plan to post on our social media outlets, giving thanks or bringing awareness to adoption. You can follow our adoption at www.facebook.com/OurAdoption
Here is a link to a calendar of unique ways to celebrate adoption and spread awareness. http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/pdf/2013calendar.pdf
Birth Certificate Reform
Sarah Baker | October 10, 2013 | 02:17 PM
The Kardashians are always making headlines, whether we like it or not. The most recent hot topic, aside from loving or hating Baby North’s name, is Khloe’s fertility problems and news about visiting an adoption lawyer.
There are so many topics that can be addressed with this segment of “Keeping of with the Kardashians” Kim pushed Khloe into meeting with an adoption attorney, one for her own need to gain knowledge of adoption, but also because she felt Khloe needed to start weighing her options. Another hot topic that revolves Khloe’s meeting with the adoption attorney is that in the initial questions to the lawyer, she seemed most concerned with asking about how to NOT know the birth family and can she proceed with medical information but in a closed adoption. Of course you know, I am an advocate of open adoption, so that portion of the episode probably deserves its own attention for a later entry. (If anyone is interested)
So… back to the clip that I want to touch on today. I feel this one is a very interesting topic actually. In this deleted scene clip (http://www.eonline.com/shows/keeping_up_with_the_kardashians/videos/213572/khloe-kardashian-questions-birth-certificate), Khloe tells her mother about an interesting birth certificate fact she found out during the meeting with the adoption attorney. An adopted child’s birth certificate is edited to reflect the adoptive parents as the parents of the child. It is not altered to ADD the adoptive parents, it is changed. The birth parents are removed and the adoptive parents are added. The child’s birth name is also deleted (if it differs from what it is at adoption) and the new name is put in its place. While Kris, Khloe’s mom, seems shocked by this news, she quickly realizes that the reason Khloe is bringing it up is another reference to the fact that Khloe doesn’t believe she is biologically a Kardashian.
The whole scene made me wonder how many people out there do not know that an adopted child’s birth certificate is permanently altered with their birth information deleted, even in open adoptions? I suppose there are two sides of this, that one it protects the birth parents who don’t want to be found or, I don’t know, are in protective custody or something? But, seriously, why in the world, with all the changes that have happened in adoption in the last several decades, is THIS still happening?
My thoughts are that by altering a birth certificate it is striping the identity from a person. Just because they are adopted, does not mean that their original identity should be hidden from them. Ezra’s revised birth certificate actually just came in the mail about a week ago. I thought that when I got that new birth certificate, showing his last name the same as ours and reflecting us as his parents, I would be really happy. Instead, I was oddly saddened. With my open adoption, we are lucky enough to have his birth parents in our lives. We even have a copy from our adoption lawyer of his original birth certificate for his records, since now the original is sealed. But, receiving that document raised a lot of questions and concerns by me, for my son. I knew there were groups and activist out there that spoke out on adoption reform and “birth certificate identity theft”, but it wasn’t until I saw my son’s “new” birth certificate that I felt I really understood the stance these adoptees take.
How hard would it be to reform this practice?
1. Keep the original given name of the child on the certificate and amend it to state new legal name.
2. Keep the birth parents name(s) on the certificate with adoptive legal parent’s names added to reflect the adoption.
3. In cases where the birth parents personally request to remain anonymous or there is a danger to gaining that access, then maybe “seal” that information for the first 18 years, but don’t make it difficult to obtain after the child is no longer a minor.
4. If the child, as an adult, would like the birth information removed, then they can request to do so.
Nothing should ever be used to keep a child in the dark about their adoption though. Going through life feeling out of place and then finding out you are adopted only to hit dead ends in your search is cruel. Which is one of the reasons open adoption and talking about Ezra’s adoption to him with age appropriate information is important to us. Everyone says that adoption is about giving the child a better chance in life. So if we are truly doing this for the children… then don’t strip them of their identity. Let them be proud of who they are. There are many ways to reform adoption and birth certificate reform is just one of the many injustices adoptees deal with.
So while the present reform groups focus a lot on making sure original birth certificates are unsealed and made available to them as well as not being sealed in the future for new adoptions, I think we can go one step further and change the way we handle what is ON a birth certificate to begin with.
I would love your experience or feedback on this. Please comment below.