February 13 was our 25th birthday and to celebrate we want to share with you our founders’ adoption story. Watch the video below or read Susan’s story.
By Susan Mars, Co-Founder of American Adoptions
When I was growing up, all I really wanted to do was marry the man of my dreams and start a family. I married the man of my dreams but the family part was not able to be, at least not biologically the way most people plan. After many failed pregnancies, we made the decision to adopt an infant. We knew we both wanted to be parents and we knew we could love a child the same regardless if we gave birth to him or her.
When Shelby Jenkins was only months old, her birth mother left her at a caretaker’s house — and never returned.
Luckily, after more than a year in the foster care system, Jenkins found herself adopted by two loving parents. Despite her rocky start in life, Jenkins became a skilled dancer, graduated from high school and college and even cinched a Miss Texas US International title. Today, she’s teamed up with Adoption Share and Adoption is Beautiful as an adoption ambassador, sharing her story across the country and spreading awareness about the realities of adoption.
Each year, the American Adoptions family grows bigger as more and more families are created through the miracle of adoption. Over the years, our agency has had the sincere pleasure of assisting thousands of families along their adoption journey. We love to celebrate the season by sharing the beautiful faces of adoption through our Annual American Adoptions Holiday Photo Contest!
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American Adoptions is a fully licensed national adoption agency that specializes in infant domestic adoptions and provides full adoption services to prospective birth mothers and adoptive families alike. In the past several decades, adoption has dramatically improved in a number of areas, and American Adoptions has played a direct role in this trend ever since its founding in 1991. For example:
A woman considering adoption may select the best adoptive family for her and her child from our diverse list of adoptive families, all who've been fully screened and are ready for adoption. Furthermore, each adoptive family has their own Adoptive Family Video Profile, which an expecting mother may watch to learn more about what life would be like growing up in their family. If a woman decides to ultimately pursue adoption, she will have one-on-one support throughout this process, and an adoption specialist will be available to her 24/7 throughout this emotional time in her life.
Hopeful parents considering growing their families through adoption receive comprehensive adoption services as well, as American Adoptions provides some of the lowest wait times and failed adoption rates in the country. Also, our Risk-Sharing Program protects our adoptive families' adoption budgets in the event of a failed adoption, meaning an emotional disappointment doesn't also result in a financial disappointment.
With 25 years experience of completing intrastate adoptions, we understand what is required to legally and emotionally complete an adoption, to ensure each party's adoption goals are satisfied and that the adopted child is bound to have the most amazing childhood possible.
If you are new to adoption, you are likely wondering exactly what adoption is, what it means for both adoptive families and birth parents, and exactly how an adoption is completed. The following is a breakdown of how adoption works today.
What is domestic infant adoption?
Domestic infant adoption is a form of adoption in which a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy decides she is not ready or able to parent that child. She then finds adoptive parents, either through an adoption professional or her own networking, and an adoption process then begins involving attorneys, social workers, and more, to help complete both party's adoption goals. Upon the birth of the child, the adoptive family receives physical custody of the child, and the birth parents' rights are legally terminated and assumed by the adoptive family in a finalization hearing several months later.
Why is an adoption agency necessary in modern day adoptions?
At its core, adoption is simply the legal transfer of a child's rights to an adoptive parent or parents; however, in reality, adoption requires much, much more than just legal work.
American Adoptions oversees every detail of the adoption process, including finding the right adoption opportunity for the birth mother; advertising families to help them find the right birth mother; screening birth parents and adoptive families to ensure they are legally and emotionally prepared for adoption; providing 24/7 support to the birth mother throughout the adoption process; setting up an escrow account in which to provide birth mother living expenses; receiving picture and letter updates of the adopted child to confidentially forward to his or her birth mother; overseeing the entire legal process to ensure every step is conducted in accordance with state and federal adoption laws and complies with ICPC and ICWA; and more.
These services are only a fraction of everything a national adoption agency like American Adoption provides to its clients. While an adoption attorney is the only professional legally required to be involved in an adoption, in many circumstances and adoption agency is required for each party to effectively reach their adoption goals.
How do an adoptive family and expecting mother find one another?
One of the top reasons expecting mothers and adoptive families contact American Adoptions is to help them find that perfect adoption situation. When either a prospective birth mother or adoptive family begins the adoption process with our agency, an adoption specialist will work with them to understand the type of adoption situation they are looking for.
For birth mothers, the perfect situation may include the type of family they want to place their child with based on location, race, family size and family traditions, and the type of contact they wish to share with the family and child once the adoption is completed.
For adoptive families, they may also decide the situations they are and are not comfortable with, and their adoption specialist will only present their profile to birth mothers who match their preferences. These preferences may include the race of the baby, the medical background of the birth mother, the budget they have available to spend, and the level of openness they are willing to share in their adoption with the birth mother. While adoptive families may select the exact adoption situation they are looking for, this may limit the number of adoption situations they are open to, theoretically increasing their average wait time.
Once an expecting mother determines she is ready to take that next step and pursue adoption with American Adoptions, she will be presented a number of adoptive family profiles and video profiles, whose preferences match hers as well, until she finds the best family for her and her child.
Finally, the two parties will likely engage in a mediated conference call with an adoption specialist so they may both get to know one another and ensure they are ready to follow the same adoption plan together.
What is open adoption?
When most people hear the term "open adoption," they think of an adoption relationship in which the birth mother has periodic visits with the adoptive family and adopted child. While these situations do exist, they occur in less than 10 percent of the adoptions completed by American Adoptions.
In modern day adoptions, the type of open adoption that is much more prevalent is known as a "semi-open" adoption, and these relationships can look a number of different ways. A semi-open adoption is a relationship in which the birth parents and adoptive families may exchange contact with each other before the birth of the baby, perhaps through a mediated conference call, emails or even a pre-placement visit, in which little or no identifying information is shared (last names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.); and after the adoption, often through picture and letter updates or emails.
Semi-open adoptions are requested by over 80 percent of our birth mothers because it allows her to get to know the adoptive family to ensure they match the future she has envisioned her child, and it allows her to see her child grow up through pictures and that he or she is happy.
One of the best things about semi-open adoption is it can involve as many or as little types and amounts of contact as both the birth mother and adoptive family are comfortable with. Our adoption specialist will help find adoption opportunities in which both parties are looking for a similar relationship.
Why should I contact American Adoptions?
If you are a young woman or a married couple facing an unplanned pregnancy and aren't prepared to raise a child, or you are a married couple experiencing difficulties in having a child biologically, American Adoptions can help.
Women facing an unplanned pregnancy contact us because they know they can talk to us about adoption confidentially and with no obligation to proceed with an adoption plan. And if they do decide to take the next step, they will receive unrivaled one-on-one support throughout this process, and beyond.
Hopeful parents contact us because they know American Adoptions has a reputation of doing adoptions the right way. In the field of adoption, surprises are bound to occur, and our experienced staff has literally seen it all. We are proactive in our adoptions, from screening birth parents to preparing the hospital staff about the birth of the baby, to ensure an adoption situation is as secure as possible. Furthermore, our adoptive families find adoption situations quicker than most other adoption professionals because we work with pregnant mothers across the country, and we invest heavily in our online marketing and networking with professionals nationwide.
Whether you are just beginning your research on adoption or you are prepared to take that next step, we invite you to read more about our adoption agency throughout our comprehensive website. If you have a specific question or simply want to learn more about how adoption works, please contact us today to learn how we can help you reach your adoption goals.
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