Should Education Classes Be a Required Part of the Adoption Home Study? – Adoption.com

Should-education-classes-be-required-as-part-of-the-adoption-home-study-Published 7/10/15

Depending on the type of adoption you are pursing, various training will likely be a part of completing your home study. You may question the reasoning behind the time-consuming classes, books, tests, group meetings, etc. You may wonder why adoptive parents are subjected to education when people who have children biologically aren’t required to have training. Each state and each agency has different requirements as to what counts as training and how much training or hours of classes are required.

I look at every chance to learn something new as a blessed opportunity. I personally LOVE to learn. I even would go as far to say that your training in adoption shouldn’t stop at the finishing the home study. Continued education in adoption, changing studies, and helping your child through the emotions of adoption is all something we can learn more about.

So what can you take away from those classes, books, magazines, and movies?

Read the things you can expect to learn through adoption training by reading the rest of my article at adoption.com.

I Want to Adopt. Now What?

Published 5/26/15 on adoption.com

i-want-to-adopt.1Are you hoping to grow your family through adoption? You have decided to adopt, but now what? Where does a person start?  It can be overwhelming, but very exciting! There are many different avenues for adoption, the three main categories being private domestic adoption; international adoption; and public/foster adoption. Determining which of these routes is best suited for you and your family is the first place to start. Once you have determined the type of adoption you wish to pursue, there are a few tips that will help you get things moving.

Follow through to adoption.com to read more about each category and other areas you will want to consider while you select the right type of adoption for your family.

Top 10 Questions to Ask an Agency if You are Pregnant and Considering Adoption

ask if pregnant 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?

Read this list of things to ask an adoption agency before committing to them. Follow the link to adoption.com for more information.

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.

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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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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Creating a “Dear Birthmother” Letter

birth motherOn 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”.

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Adoption Day Celebrating? – “Gotcha Day”

One of the things that has recently been on my mind is celebrating something called “Gotcha Day”.  While I think this often pertains to children from international or foster care adoptions, it is becoming more and more a thing to celebrate in the adoption community by all (or more) adoptive families.  In my understanding, the celebration started because in some situations the exact birthdate is unknown for the child and a celebration of when the child came into their family became the day to give gifts and celebrate their child’s life.  The new “holiday” has evolved and taken on this name “Gotcha Day”.  It is commonly celebrated by gifts, special treats, trips to the zoo or other outings by many more adoptive families than the origins intended.  This is where it seems to confuse and confound me.

The term in itself, “Gotcha Day”, while I think it is intended to be a funny little play on words that kids understand, I think it also stoops to sound like our children are commodities. Like celebrating the day I bought my first house or got my first car. I know not all my adoptive parent friends see it that way, I apologize if this post offends you.  I just don’t understand the logic behind celebrating this day.  Granted, my adoption was a domestic infant adoption.  I “got” my son the day he was born.  I “got” to hold him in my arms seconds after his birth.  I “got” to spend the days at the hospital with his birth family and we all rejoiced his entrance to the world as we ALL loved him dearly. I “got” to bring him home when he was released from the hospital.  I “got” to formally give him our last name 6 months later in a formal court hearing when our adoption was finalized.  While I put the word “got” in quotations… the key to each of those sentences is actually the word “I”.

I was the one who benefited from “getting” Ezra.  I gained a child.  He lost the parents he had known from the womb.  They lost him.  Celebrating “getting” him and calling it “Gotcha Day” seems to belittle the loss that surrounds adoption to me.  While Joe and I may always smile and acknowledge the day we brought him home from the hospital and how surreal it was and we will also always smile at the thought of him being forever “ours” after that emotional day in court. That celebration will not be as our new property, but that we welcomed a child into our home to love, raise and be our own.  I see him no different than our biological son.  I didn’t “get” Isaac.  He was born into the world and he was mine, a human being to love and cherish forever.   Not to mention, for Isaac, would it be fair if Ezra got essentially two birthdays (a Birthday and a Gotcha Day), while Isaac only got one?

The idea of parenting an adoptive child is to raise him as my own, while recognizing he WILL have differences that need addressed as he gets older and has questions.  But, for me to single him out and celebrate his being adopted, seems to me, to be insensitive.  While other parents may argue it makes their children feel special to have a day dedicated to them, I worry about the implications it will have on them as they get older and may see the day as pointing out their non-biological ties to the family they are raised in.

So, if I feel so inclined to celebrate a Gotcha Day, I’ll do so with my pets.  For my son, we’ll find other ways to celebrate his life and our family together.