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

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

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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Did You Feel Adoption Guilt?

guiltAdoptions come with complex emotions.  One of those emotions that most birth parents and many adoptive feel is guilt.  I think it is completely understandable (yet unnecessary) for a birth parent to feel guilt.  They may feel guilty for making the adoption plan, for not being in a better place in their life, to wanting more for their child and themselves.  But, at the same time, it is my hope that they also see the all the positives of why they are making that choice.  It can come as a surprise when people outside of adoption learn that adoptive parents may also suffer from feelings of guilt.

Guilt is a loaded word.  The definition of guilt to many people is that you have done something “wrong”.  However, I think these people are just looking at the word guilt differently.  While some may use the term “guilty” to describe the feelings they have for feeling joy with their adopted child, other words could easily be used in its place.  Empathy, Compassion, Appreciation, Affinity, Pity, Sympathy, etc.  It really is about the person feeling the emotion and to what degree they perceive the situation.  Some people just tend to beat themselves up more than others.  Some people rely on the good in a situation to thrive or survive through it. (Some people just lack understanding and feel entitled.  Let’s hope none of my readers are of that variety.)

When we were in the process of adopting, I went through a variety of emotions.  Guilt was one of them.  Guilt came in many forms:  Guilt that I couldn’t provide my husband with a biological child (or that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to).  Guilt that I wanted to adopt a newborn.  Guilt that I questioned my ability to parent outside my race.  Guilt that I was going to “sell” myself as someone with more resources for parenting a child, to an expecting mother.  Guilt that I would get to be called “mommy” by a child she loved so much.  Guilt that I would experience all the firsts.  Guilt that I would never understand how tough her decision was.  Guilt that I may not be a perfect parent either.

While Ezra’s birth mother is an incredibly strong woman, I know this hasn’t been easy for her.  She seems at peace and very proud of Ezra as well as her decision, but still, I am sure there are times that she wishes she could have parented him instead of placing him for adoption.  Ezra’s birth father has always shown more emotion when it comes to the struggles he faces with adoption.  He has always been extremely kind to us and never showed us any resentment.  He is always smiling when we are together and he is very affectionate toward Ezra.  These things just show me how much he cares.  Watching the yearning in his eyes gives me guilt.  It gives me guilt to know that we have the ability to give “more” and because of that we were chosen to parent their child.  It is very normal to celebrate success, but when it contributes to someone else’s pain it is more guilt producing.

Guilt in adoption hopefully fades with time as the open adoption relationship blossoms into a healthy, loving extension of your family. Understanding that these people chose you to parent their perfect little creation is something you should not feel guilt over.  But just because it is OK to not feel guilt, does not mean it is OK to feel indifferent or not want to help ease their pain.  Sharing an open adoption and open communication is good for all members of the adoption triad.  However, if you allow guilt to consume you, you may begin to suffer in other areas and your child will also suffer.

Have you experienced any of these emotions?

Adoption and Holidays

family treeI hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  We were able to go see Ezra’s birth parents and siblings on Good Friday since Joe was home from Chicago and we all had some free time.  We all had our own things going on for Easter, so it was nice to spend a couple hours hanging out and catching up, plus we got to see their new house! We are all getting together again on Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate and I had a little gift picked out for T for Birth Mother’s Day to celebrate all 3 of her children, but of course, I couldn’t wait that long and gave it to her when we visited.  (She knows I am terrible at waiting!)

A year and a half into our adoption, new things are constantly coming up.  I am starting to think a lot more about how I will talk about Ezra’s adoption with him as he begins to understand what it means.  Holidays bring the unique relationship forefront.  Having an open adoption and often celebrating holidays together with all our extended family, brings a different dynamic to adoption.  Also, things come up between us and his birth parents now as we all try to navigate this process.  I LOVE how open J (Ezra’s first father) is with us about his feelings on the adoption. He is so honest and addresses things so respectfully.  He asked us on Friday what we would like for Ezra to call him and T moving forward.  Obviously Mommy and Daddy are reserved for me and Joe, and although J obviously longs for that title a little with Ezra, he also knows that it would be very confusing.  We tossed around a couple ideas and landed on just using first names for how Ezra will address them, but Joe and I will still talk to him about who they are.  Ezra also has biological siblings.  Isaac is Ezra’s brother as far as Ezra currently understands, but there will be a time where Ezra learns more about his biological siblings.  They are a couple years older than Ezra, so they already have a slightly better understanding of who he is to them.

With holidays, there is also the involvement of extended family and friends.  Whether it is on the child’s biological side of the family or the adoptive, when everyone get’s together, especially the first few times, it can be awkward.  The beauty is everyone is so in love with the child, there is that as an instant connection and bond.  Sometimes it can be a little strange though for people like me, who are ultra aware of other people’s feelings.  I am constantly over thinking, protecting, being cautious, and trying to stay politically correct or comforting.  So, I may fumble over the introduction when introducing Ezra’s birth parents to people.  Or I may feel uneasy saying “Come to mommy” to Ezra with his first parents right by me.  I may keep a watchful eye on conversations and interactions with different members of the family. With time, these fears are easing as our relationship grows.  We all love him so much and we just have to show Ezra that we are all willing to do EVERYTHING it takes to make his life the best we can.

This year’s Mother’s Day weekend cookout will be our third full family gathering.  A few people from my family that weren’t able to make it to the first events will be attending, so I am not out of the woods yet with my watchful monitoring, but I am sure it will go great.  I know new things will continually come up as we learn to navigate and understand open adoption, but I am glad I have support and amazing people in our journey to help us along.

So, there are a few things I would love your feedback on? Comment below.

1. What holidays are your favorites to celebrate with you child’s birth family (or adoptive, if you are a birth parent)?

2.  Have you ever had any hiccups between your family and the birth family at events? If so, what happened and how did you handle it?

3. What does your child call his/her first parents?

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