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21
Aug

5 Birth Family Visit Ideas

Whether you’re an adoptive family planning a visit to see birth family, or a birth family brainstorming fun activities for everyone to do during an upcoming visit, you may feel a little nervous about your open adoption visit. Emotions are sometimes a little heightened for everyone during visits, especially early on, but there’s no need to be anxious!

Having a couple ideas for fun things to do during your visit will ensure that the kid(s) aren’t too restless, but that you’ll all still have some quality time to catch up and relax together.

Remember not to over-plan. It’s good to have some loose structure. Aim for activities that can work as an ice-breaker, but not a distraction! The point of these visits is for everyone to spend some time with one another, and most importantly, with the child that you all love.

These five ideas for birth family visits will get you planning for your next get-together:

1. Visit the zoo:

Who doesn’t love the zoo? You can walk around and take your time looking at the animals, allowing birth and adoptive families some time to catch up without having to feel like you’re stuck sitting around. Chances are your kids will be educating everyone with plenty of zoological facts by the end of the day!

You can find local zoos and aquariums here.

2. Take a picnic to the park:

Pack up a special-occasion meal that your kids love (check in with the birth or adoptive family ahead of time in case there are allergies or dietary needs to consider) or one of these fun picnic snacks and head to a park with a playground! The grown-ups can sit and chat, or get in on the games, too.

This can be a great option if there’s an infant who needs to be held and fed while older kids play.

3. Go out to eat (bonus points if it has a play area):

Never underestimate the appeal of a McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese to the younger crowd. Everyone can eat, talk, and play. It may seem a little loud or chaotic, but that’s kids for you, right? If the kids are having fun, everyone will have fun! Plus, there’s one of these types of restaurants just about everywhere, which makes planning for travel a breeze.

4. Have a board game session:

Break out your family’s favorite game or test out some of these. Not everyone loves certain types of games like trivia or charades games, so try to play something light and fun that everyone can enjoy the leaves plenty of time to talk before and after your game.

5. Take on a project together:

Let your child’s interests be your guide! Build a new Lego set together, decorate your own birdhouses, put together a puzzle, or bake and decorate something delicious.

Helping your child with a project together gets everyone involved and talking, but it’s also fun for kids. Keep it simple — no need to tackle something overly complicated or time-consuming.

Have Fun!

Sure, birth family visits are important and beneficial for your child. But they’re also just a great opportunity for birth and adoptive parents to get to know each other better and have fun together with your child. Life is busy, especially with a child! Enjoy these moments together.

18
Aug

5 Birth Mothers Share How an Adoption Scholarship Changed Their Lives

American Adoptions prides itself on the support it offers to prospective birth parents as they go through the adoption process — but our support doesn’t end there. In addition to providing counseling and mediation for years after a birth mother places her child for adoption, our agency also provides something unique to help birth parents start a new chapter in their lives.

This is our birth parent scholarship, through which we’ve helped birth parents fulfill their educational goals and dreams. Every birth mother who works with our agency receives a scholarship application for the chance to receive assistance with the costs of further education (birth fathers are also welcome to apply). Twice a year, we award scholarships to eligible birth parents to help them make their education dreams come true.

American Adoptions started this scholarship program in 2001. We checked in on some of our previous scholarship recipients to celebrate the successes they’ve achieved since they received their scholarships:

Carly

Carly was 18 years old and already attending a local college for her general education requirements when she found out that she was pregnant. As an adoptee herself who wasn’t ready to raise a child, she knew that adoption was the right choice for her and her son.

“I just wasn’t at a place in my life where I knew I could give my son what I wanted him to have,” Carly says. “I knew what adoption did for me, and I decided to give him a better life.”

Carly knew she wanted to become a physical therapist but, right after placing her son for adoption, she also knew she wasn’t at the right place in her life to start going back to school. That was eight years ago and, this fall, she will graduate from a 20-month program with a physical therapist’s assistant degree, otherwise known as an occupational associate’s degree, from the Pima Medical Institute.

The support from American Adoptions — financial and emotional — has been instrumental in getting her to where she is today, she says.

“I never imagined how hard it was going to be when I was going to place my son for adoption,” she says. “It’s great to have kind of a sounding board, because I’ve never been through it, obviously, and I’m in the middle of it. But it’s nice to be able to talk to people about their story and what happened to them.

“I just think, overall, it’s changed my life so much because I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t chosen adoption,” she says.

Julia

When Julia unexpectedly became pregnant in 2013, she had no idea what she was going to do. But, knowing that abortion wasn’t an option and that she didn’t have the support from her child’s father, she decided that adoption was right for her.

“I knew I wanted my daughter to have a stable home as well as two parents that could love and nurture her into the young woman that I hope she will become,” she says.

Less than eight months after she placed her daughter for adoption, Julia applied for American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship. Already enrolled in a bachelor’s program and expecting to graduate just a year and half after placing her child for adoption, she hoped for financial assistance to help her pay off the remainder of her career at the private college she attended. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she recently gained admission to a master’s of public administration program, as well.

“I knew my life did not stop after adoption,” she says. “It gave me a second chance to pursue my goals and dreams so that I can be a better version of myself and help people along the way. I wanted to show my daughter that I didn’t give up on myself and, more importantly, her.”

Julia plans to use her degree to work in the higher education system, perhaps through career counseling or student affairs. In the meantime, she’s also created a support group for birth mothers like her.

“I want to help young women who have gone through the adoption process to help them live out their dreams, goals, and ambitions and help them not feel that their life has ended after adoption but rather begins,” she says.

Trillian

Trillian was 19 and preparing to go to college after saving up full-time for a year when she found herself unexpectedly pregnant. She knew that she didn’t want to compromise her higher education plans (which she’d been dreaming of since starting high school) to raise a son she wasn’t ready for yet, so she chose American Adoptions to give herself and her child a better life.

“I was really excited to read the birth mothers’ stories on how the agency provides financial assistance for college,” she says. “I applied for the scholarship because I wanted to use every resource available to me from the agency.”

Unlike financial aid, the American Adoptions scholarship was provided to Trillian before school started, allowing her to purchase her books before her first class and already be up to date on her first reading assignments. This allowed her to actively participate in class discussions from the start at her state university, from which she graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in social work and gerontology.

Today, she works at an agency through which she originally had an internship, has recently been accepted into another state university’s master’s program and is considering either a social work or public health concentration — all because of her experience with American Adoptions.

“Before I started college, I was very lost as to what I wanted to study and which field I wanted to work in,” she says. “The support I received from the Birth Mother Peer Support helped me to really find my niche in the helping field…I couldn’t have done it without the help and support from American Adoptions.”

Julie

Julie was working full time in a busy emergency room and was one year into her master’s program when she found out she was pregnant. With her boyfriend just about to move out of state for a job relocation and herself remaining in town to finish her degree, they both knew they couldn’t raise their baby the way they wanted to — and knew adoption was their only option.

“We came to describe the decision for adoption as both the most selfish and selfless thing we have ever done — selfish in the sense that we both were adults, had good-paying jobs, homes, educations, and the ability to raise a child, but we chose not to because we knew we still had more personal goals to accomplish and it was not what was best for us,” she said. “Selfless because the baby was ours, we loved her, but we also wanted more for her.”

Julie still had two and a half years left in her master’s of nursing program when she became pregnant. Even though she was working full time, she was still taking out loans to cover her education. With the goals of completing her training on time with her classmates with the least amount of debt possible, she applied for American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship.

With the financial assistance from the agency, she ended up graduating in December of 2016 with her Master’s of Science in Nursing and works full time as a nurse practitioner. While she’s done with school for now, she’s still considering a doctorate degree or post-master’s certification.

Amanda*

At the age of 22, this birth mother had recently dropped out of college when she became pregnant with twins. Because she was homeless and living in her car for the majority of her pregnancy, she choose to place her children for adoption knowing that she couldn’t financially, emotionally and mentally care for them the way they deserved.

“By the time the adoption process was over, I was already back on my feet contemplating what to do with my life,” she says. “When it was all said and done, I felt I owed it to myself to improve my lot in life.”

Her adoption process changed her life in more ways than she expected. Soon after, she realized that her own experience with adoption could offer something unique to those going through the same process in their lives.

“I have always thought of my adoption experience as an experience that I didn’t go through in order to be in the same position I was in before I got pregnant,” she says. “I feel that as humans, we go through things for a reason. For me, I feel that I went through that experience in order to figure out what my purpose in life was. As cliché as this sounds, I feel that my purpose in life is to help others who may be facing an adoption or who may just be down on their luck.”

By receiving American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship, she was able to cover her cost for tuition and decrease her need for student loans. She ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She is currently in her second year of law school, from which she hopes to find a career in the area of family law.

*Name has been changed to protect birth mother’s identity.

Congratulations!

We’re incredibly proud of what these five women have achieved. We know that they’ll continue to do amazing things in their lives, and we’re honored that they’re a part of the American Adoptions Family. Thank you to Carly, Julia, Trillian, Julie and Amanda* for sharing your stories!

To learn more about American Adoptions’ birth mother scholarship, please contact your adoption specialist today.

Please share and consider donating to the American Adoptions birth mother scholarship fund!

You can send donations in check form to:

The American Adoptions Scholarship Fund
C/O: American Adoptions
9101 West 110th Street Suite 200
Overland Park, KS 66210

Or call 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more about how to help the birth parent scholarship program.

14
Aug

10 Things that Scientific Research Says about Open Adoption

Whether you are considering adoption, know someone who recently adopted or have gone through the adoption process yourself, you likely know that open adoption is the standard today. In the vast majority of modern adoptions, birth and adoptive parents share contact during and after the process, exchanging picture and letter updates, text messages, emails and phone calls and even arranging in-person visits.

American Adoptions, like many adoption professionals, encourages this contact because we have seen firsthand the benefits it has for everyone involved — and the science backs it up.

When it comes to the advantages of openness in adoption, the research speaks for itself. Here are 10 important facts and statistics about open adoption and its benefits for everyone in the adoption triad:

1. Today, closed adoptions are all but extinct; it’s estimated that only 5 percent of modern adoptions are closed.

2. That means that 95 percent of today’s adoptions involve some level of openness, whether they are mediated, fully open or somewhere in between.

3. In a 2012 survey of adoption professionals conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the overwhelming majority of agencies reported that between 76–100 percent of expectant parents chose their babies’ adoptive parents.

4. With American Adoptions, 100 percent of prospective birth mothers have the right to choose the perfect adoptive parents for their child, get to know them before placement and decide what type of relationship they want to have with their baby and the adoptive family after birth.

5. Most birth and adoptive families in open adoptions report positive experiences, and those with more openness tend to be more satisfied with the adoption process.

6. Open adoption can help birth parents process their grief after placement. Birth mothers who have ongoing contact with their children report greater peace of mind and less grief, worry and regret than those who do not have contact.

7. Openness is especially beneficial for those at the center of the adoption – the adoptees. Research shows that adolescents who have ongoing contact with their birth parents are more satisfied with their adoptions than those without contact. Openness allows them to better understand the reasons for their adoption, promotes more positive feelings toward their birth mother, provides them with information that aids in identity formation, and more.

8. Adoptive parents are becoming increasingly interested in and excited about open adoption. The California Long-Range Adoption Study found that the majority (73 percent) of adoptive parents are very comfortable with contact in their open adoptions. Other studies have found that openness in adoption reduces adoptive parents’ fear and increases their empathy toward birth parents, and also leads to benefits in their relationships with their adopted children.

9. In addition to “structural openness” (open adoption relationships with their birth parents), studies show that adopted children benefit from “communicative openness” within their families — meaning they are free to discuss adoption and express their feelings about their adoption with their parents. Children who experience more open adoption communication within their families have higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, more trust for their parents, fewer feelings of alienation and better overall family functioning.

10. Fortunately, because of the overwhelming benefits of openly discussing adoption within the family, almost all adopted children (97 percent) know about their adoption stories.

With so many benefits of open adoption, it’s no wonder that nearly every prospective birth mother chooses to have some openness in her adoption plan — nor is it surprising that adoptive parents are increasingly excited about developing a relationship with their children’s birth families.

To learn more about the benefits of open adoption and how it works with American Adoptions, call 1-800-ADOPTION now to speak with an adoption specialist.

Read about an American Adoptions writer who was adopted through an open adoption, and her parents’ thoughts on open adoption.

11
Aug

Infant Abandoned in Plastic Bag —There Are Other Options

Earlier this week, concerned residents in Elmira, N.Y. heard what they thought was a cat crying. When they approached the source of the sound, however, they instead found an 8-month-old girl, whose feet were sticking out of the white garbage bag she had been stuffed in 72 hours prior.

The baby was dehydrated, filthy and covered in waste, but she was alive. The neighbors who found her immediately called the police and rushed the girl inside to clean her and keep her safe while they waited for authorities to arrive.

The infant was transported to a hospital to be evaluated and treated. Fortunately, she is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. But her mother, 17-year-old Harriette M. Hoyt of Sayre, Pa., now faces charges of second-degree attempted murder.

“I Don’t Want My Baby”

Stories like these are all too common — and often have tragic endings. Overwhelmed, exhausted and desperate, some new mothers find themselves thinking, I don’t want this baby.”  Unsure of where to turn, and likely ashamed of having these thoughts, young mothers like Harriette may take drastic measures: abandoning their infants in unsafe conditions.

There are many reasons why a new mother might feel trapped in her situation. These are just a few:

  • She is a teenage mother who is overwhelmed by her circumstances and afraid for her parents or others to find out
  • She is facing personal struggles like addiction, homelessness or other instability and feels she cannot care for a baby
  • She is facing postpartum depression or other mental health issues

What these struggling mothers may not realize is that there are many other, safer options, including private adoption, Safe Haven laws and services available to struggling parents. Stories like Harriette’s highlight the need for increased awareness of these alternatives.

What are Safe Haven Laws?

In 1999, a staggering number of infants were abandoned. According to the Baby Safe Haven website, “never before in a single year had so many mothers decided that they couldn’t care for their children — and then disposed of their newborn infants in an unsafe and tragic way.”

That’s when Safe Haven Infant Protection Laws were enacted to protect these “unwanted” babies — and to protect their mothers from charges of child abandonment. Now, every state has Safe Haven laws that allow mothers to relinquish custody of their infants safely, anonymously and without facing legal repercussions. Since these laws were enacted, it’s estimated that more than 2,000 babies have benefitted.

If you are struggling with thoughts of not wanting your baby, or if you feel you cannot care for your infant at this time in your life, here’s how Safe Haven could work for you:

  • You must leave your baby with an on-duty staff member at an approved Safe Haven location. These locations vary by state but often include hospitals, police departments, fire stations and other emergency service providers. You can find safe haven locations in your state here, or call the confidential, toll-free hotline at 1-888-510-BABY to get directions to the closest Safe Haven drop off.
  • Your baby must be within your state’s Safe Haven age limit. Each state has different age limits for Safe Haven laws, ranging from three days to one year. You should carefully review your state’s Safe Haven program to ensure your infant is eligible based on his or her age.
  • You can leave your unharmed baby at the Safe Haven location. As long as your baby has not been harmed, you can leave him or her with a staff member at the Safe Haven location anonymously and with no legal consequences. However, if you are willing to provide some background information about the infant, such as his or her medical history, that will help ensure that he or she is properly cared for.

Safe Haven Laws are incredibly beneficial for overwhelmed mothers and their babies, and they have helped to save thousands of lives. But what if your baby is older and is not eligible for Safe Haven? What if, like Harriette, you’ve tried parenting, and have since decided that you are not ready to care for your baby?

Adoption is Always an Option

Regardless of your baby’s age, and regardless of your circumstances, adoption is always an option for you. Whether you are currently pregnant, have just given birth or your baby is weeks or even months old, it is never too late to start making an adoption plan. You can always contact American Adoptions to start the process, no matter if:

  • you have used alcohol or drugs in the past or during your pregnancy
  • your baby’s father is supportive or unsupportive of your adoption plan
  • this is your first baby or you have multiple other children
  • you are a teenager, an older mother or any age in between
  • you have a complicated medical background or family medical history
  • your baby is sick or has special needs

Regardless of your circumstances, you can always contact American Adoptions, 24/7, to talk about your options — even if you’re not sure adoption is right for you. Adoption specialists are available to answer your questions and can help you understand your options in your circumstances.

They can also help you understand the benefits of adoption, which include:

When you work with an agency like American Adoptions, you can still relinquish your baby safely, legally and confidentially, and you also have more choices and support in the process. Unlike with Safe Haven, an adoption plan with American Adoptions allows you to get the emotional support you need. It is an option regardless of how old your baby is, and it ensures your infant is quickly placed with a waiting family, rather than entering the foster care system for an unknown amount of time.

If you are a struggling new mother, seek help right away. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t want my baby,” know that you are not alone, and you have options. No baby should ever be harmed or abandoned.

Adoption specialists are available 24/7 to provide the support and information you need. Contact American Adoptions now at 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free adoption information online. Your information is strictly confidential, and contacting us does not obligate you to choose adoption.

Please share to help spread awareness of safer options for mothers who can no longer care for their children!

11
Aug

13 Meaningful Ideas for Birth Parent Gifts

Having a prospective birth mother choose you to raise her child is a priceless gift that you can never repay. Even so, many adoptive parents choose to express their feelings for a birth parent by giving them a meaningful gift at the hospital when the baby is born.

While there are many different possibilities when it comes to gifts for birth parents, most adoptive parents choose something small and personal — something a birth parent can treasure for the rest of their life.

Because giving birth parents gifts can be a sensitive topic, it’s important that you talk to your adoption specialist about what gift is appropriate in your situation. They will be able to give you advice on which kind of gift is best for the birth parent’s emotions at that time, as well as legal advice based on your state’s living expenses laws. When in doubt, always consult your adoption specialist when it comes to birth parent gifts.

Each birth parent is different, so you’ll want to decide on a gift based on their personality and your relationship with them. That being said, here are some ideas for birth mothers and birth fathers, whether for the hospital meeting, the adoption finalization or another important time in the adoption process:

Birth Mothers

  1. A commemorative piece of jewelry: Many adoptive parents choose to give their child’s birth mother a piece of jewelry she can wear as a reminder of the child she placed for adoption. It may be engraved with her baby’s initials or feature the baby’s gemstone. Whatever personalization you choose to give it, make sure it’s subtle, so a birth mother is not constantly asked about what it means and won’t feel uncomfortable about explaining it.
  2. A postpartum recovery basket: Recovering from giving birth can be a long process, especially for a birth mother who is also dealing with the emotions of placing her child for adoption. You can make that process easier by creating a spa, self-care basket (lotions, bath items, etc.) so she can pamper herself during this time. You may wish to look at www.birthmotherbaskets.org.
  3. Flowers: Flowers are always a cheery sight for birth mothers, whether it’s in their hospital room or when they arrive back home post-partum. While it is a simple gift, it’s one that can go a long way when they are dealing with complicated emotions of grief and loss.
  4. Stuffed Animals: Birth mothers will likely be looking for comfort after placing their child for adoption. You may choose to get a stuffed animal that matches one your child will grow up with — as a reminder of her child and as something that she can embrace when she’s feeling alone.

Birth Fathers

  1. An engraved watch: Like jewelry for birth mothers, an engraved watch is a great way for a birth father to carry around the memory of his child and your relationship with him. As you would with jewelry, make sure the engraving is subtle (perhaps on the inside of the wrist) so he doesn’t have to answer unwelcome questions about what it means.
  2. A matching keychain: Similarly, you may choose to engrave a keychain or purchase a keychain that matches a piece of jewelry you’ve given to the birth mother. That way, they can both feel connected to your baby, even if they end up going their separate ways after the adoption.
  3. A meaningful book: If you know the birth father has a particular interest in something, consider buying him a book about that subject. Like a birth mother, a birth father will go through some difficult emotions post-adoption, and a book can provide an escape and distraction, should he need it.
  4. Photo frame: A birth father may appreciate a memorable, engraved frame and a photo of his child, especially if he and the birth mother are not in a relationship together and can’t share a photo gift. This way, he can switch out photos he receives from you or the agency over the years as his baby grows up.

For Both Birth Parents

Sometimes, both birth parents are involved and supportive in the adoption process. In these cases, you may choose to give them a mutual (or separate if they’re not in a relationship), non-gender-specific keepsake. These can include:

  1. A photo album: A leather-bound photo album can be a beautiful gift. You may choose to include a few photos from the hospital stay in the front pages, leaving empty spots for the photos and letters they will receive over the years from you.
  2. An adoption memory book: Similarly, you may create a more involved memory book. In addition to photos, it can also include mementos from the adoption process, like your original adoptive family profile, emails and texts sent back and forth and things from the hospital stay. Like a photo album, you can leave blank pages for the memories still to come.
  3. A recovery gift basket: Recovering from giving birth is not solely a physical act; some birth parents may have needed to take time off work and may need some extra help getting back on their feet after the adoption process. If approved by your lawyer and adoption specialist, you may wish to send a gift basket of meal preparation, gift cards and other practical help.
  4. A quilt or a blanket: If you’re crafty, you may make a personalized quilt or blanket representing the child they placed for adoption and the appreciation you have for their selfless sacrifice.
  5. Professional photos: If the birth parents are comfortable doing so, you all might choose to take professional photos during the hospital stay, shortly after or during the finalization hearing. These photos can be invaluable to birth parents and will likely be something they treasure forever. This should be discussed prior to the hospital stay with the birth parents and your adoption specialist.

Remember, each adoption relationship is different, and it may not always be the right thing to give a gift to the birth parents. If you’re ever in doubt of what’s appropriate, consult with your adoption specialist. However, if you do choose to give your child’s birth parents a meaningful gift, it can be an important step in solidifying a strong relationship between you all for many years to come.

7
Aug

25 Helpful Resources for Transracial Adoptive Families

When hopeful parents decide on adoption, many of them are ready to add to their family regardless of race or physical similarities. It’s true that, in many ways, adopting a child of another race is no different than raising a child who shares your ethnic and cultural background. However, while the color of your child’s skin won’t change your family bond, it will have an impact on his or her life.

It’s important to be culturally aware and prepared for the realities of transracial adoption. With the right preparation, transracial adoption can be an immensely rewarding experience. Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best resources to help prospective and current adoptive parents successfully navigate transracial adoption and parenting.

Transracial Adoption Blogs & Websites

Many transracial families document their adoption and parenting journeys through personal blogs and websites. These blogs offer honest, detailed, first-person accounts of transracial adoption and can be a wonderful way for adoptive families and those considering adoption to learn more about the joys and challenges of adopting transracially.

  • The Adopted Life: Angela Tucker is a nationally-recognized thought leader on transracial adoption and an advocate for adoptee rights. In 2013, Angela’s own story of adoption and search for her birth parents was featured in the documentary “Closure.”
  • Rage Against the Minivan: Kristen is the mom of four children, biological and adoptive (foster care and international), all within four years of age. She has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan since 2006.
  • Jen Hatmaker: Jen Hatmaker is a New York Times bestselling author, blogger, speaker and podcast host who is a mom by birth and international adoption.
  • White Sugar Brown Sugar: Rachel is a four-time adoptive mom, book author, freelance writer and speaker. All of her family’s adoptions are domestic, transracial and open.
  • My Real Kid: Allie Ferguson is a white adoptive mother to an African-American son named Miles. She started her blog in 2013 when she and her husband started the adoption process.
  • The Full Plate: Full Plate Mom (FPM) is mom to 11 kids through private domestic (transracial) adoption and international adoption.
  • Foster Moms: Two moms who adopted a sibling group through foster care blog about transracial adoption, foster care, LGBT parenting and much more.
  • Natalie Brenner Writes: Natalie is a mom to virtual twins not quite five months apart, one through transracial adoption.
  • Confessions of an Adoptive Parent: Mike and Kristen Berry are the parents of eight children, all of whom were adopted. They are also speakers, podcasts hosts and authors of “The Adoptive Parent Toolbox.”

Books about Transracial Adoption

Many new parents stock their bookshelves with resources about what to expect when they bring their child home. Here are a few to add to your collection if you are adopting a child of another race:

If you are adopting transracially, it’s also important to equip your child with plenty of books that celebrate diversity and adoption. These children’s books on adoption can help normalize your child’s adoption story from the start. You can also find more books for transracial adoptive parents and transracially adopted children here.

Transracial Adoption Facebook Groups

There are many online groups for families of transracial adoption. These online forums and support groups can help you connect with other transracial adoptive families, share your personal experiences and participate in discussions about adoption and race. Here are a few commonly recommended Facebook groups to get started:

Before joining a social media group, however, note that not all online forums and discussions are well-monitored. Anyone — even those who aren’t very educated about adoption or have inaccurate information — can jump in and comment, so keep that in mind.

Information for Non-White Parents Adopting Transracially

Most discussions about transracial adoption focus on white parents adopting African American, Hispanic, Asian or biracial children. But transracial adoption refers to any adoption in which parents of one race adopt a child of another — and not all transracial adoptive parents are white.

However, for non-white adoptive parents, resources on transracial adoption can be more difficult to come by. While many of the other resources on this list will be useful for families of any racial or cultural background, here are a few additional articles and resources offering insight for non-white parents:

Other Resources for Transracial Families

As transracial adoption becomes more common, the number of tools and resources available to transracial adoptive parents and adoptees continues to grow. Here are a few more trusted sources for transracial adoption information and support:

Your adoption specialist is another resource who is always available to answer your questions, offer support and provide additional recommendations. Get in touch now by calling 1-800-ADOPTION, or learn more about transracial adoption with our agency by requesting free information online.

4
Aug

5 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Their Adoption

Most adoptive parents understand the importance of talking to their adopted child about their adoption story and adoption identity. However, no matter how much preparation they do, some adoptive parents still wonder exactly how to talk to their child about adoption in a positive way that they can understand.

At American Adoptions, your adoption specialist is always available for support as you’re adjusting to your new life with an adopted child and looking for advice on talking to them about their adoption. Your adopted child may not be the only child you want to talk to about their adoption; you’ll also want to make sure that any biological child or other adopted child that you have in your home also understands this adoption process and what it means to you as a family. Above all else, you’ll want to make sure that any discussion you have about your child’s adoption is positive and a great experience for everyone.

To help you out, we’ve offered some tips for successful conversations with your child about their adoption story:

1. Start discussing their adoption from the moment you bring them home.

Many adoptive parents will ask, “When do I tell my child that they’re adopted?” While it’s understandable that parents may not see the point in talking about adoption to a baby that can’t understand them yet, it’s important to get into the habit of making an adoption discussion open and available from the very beginning. When you constantly discuss your child’s adoption with them, it will become a normal part of their life. They’ll never have a moment when they “learned” they were adopted; it will just be an identity that they’ve had since before they could remember.

2. Be age-appropriate.

While it’s important to talk about your child’s adoption at every stage of their life, how detailed you are with their adoption story may change as they get older. For example, if a child’s birth parents have a tragic backstory, there’s no reason to tell your child until they are slightly older and can fully understand. Instead, tell younger children that their birth mother could not give them the care she needed to and instead choose to place them with a loving family who could. Parents.com has a great guide for discussing adoption as your child grows up in terms they can grasp.

3. Always be open and honest.

As an adoptive parent, it’s normal to feel hurt when your child starts asking about their birth parents. But, while it may come off to you as their desire for their “other” parents, remember that this is a natural curiosity that children have about where they came from. Rather than brush off the topics that make you uncomfortable, take the effort to answer your child’s questions as honestly as you can at their age. Being honest and open about all parts of your child’s adoption story will be immensely beneficial for them in creating an adoption identity that they can be proud of. Secrets, no matter what the reasoning behind them, have the potential to backfire with a child’s young self-esteem. Remember that your child will one day grow up, and they’ll be hurt if you withheld information about their life, even if you meant to “protect” them.

4. Express your excitement and gratitude about the way they came into your life.

As children grow up, they may be faced with negative connotations about adoption. They may be teased at school or overhear other misconceptions about how adoption works. As the source of information on your child’s adoption story, it’s important that you always express positivity when speaking to them about their adoption. Sure, adoption is a bittersweet experience, and you can acknowledge that, but also make sure your child understands how wonderful the adoption process was — because it brought him or her to you. When your child senses your happiness about their adoption story, they’ll start to internalize the same feelings.

5. Recognize that talking about adoption is not a one-time thing.

When parents ask, “When do I talk to my child about adoption?” the answer is “Always.” Talking about adoption is not simply having one conversation and moving on; it’s a lifelong conversation as your child thinks of more questions, wants different answers and develops their identity as an adoptee. It can be difficult at times, but it’s important that you are always open to talking with a child about their adoption, no matter when they ask you. After all, this is an important part of your family story and should be treated as a first priority.

These are just a few of the tips you should keep in mind when you’re discussing adoption with your child. You may have specific questions and concerns about your child’s own adoption story and how to explain it, so we recommend you reach out to your adoption specialist for more ideas on how to have a successful conversation with your child about their adoption. You may also wish to turn to resources like books and movies to better explain adoption to your children, whether they’re biological or adopted. However you decide to talk to your child about adoption, remember that American Adoptions is always here to help.

31
Jul

Terri’s Story: What It’s Like to Be a Birth Mom

What It’s Like to Be a Birth Mom 

By Terri Rimmer

It was 16 years ago when I placed my only child for adoption, the hardest and smartest thing I ever did.

I was 34, and for 14 years, I didn’t think I could get pregnant. So when I got the positive dollar store test, I was shocked, to say the least.

I went to Planned Parenthood to confirm the test several weeks later. A few weeks later, I moved into a maternity home in Fort Worth, Texas on January 31, 2000.

An Unselfish Decision

On February 28, I got an ultrasound, which showed I was having a daughter. Though I slipped into a deep period of depression while I was pregnant, I knew I had finally grown up because I was making the first unselfish decision of my life. I knew that as badly as I wanted to have a child, I could not parent her for emotional, financial, mental, and physical reasons that had plagued me all my life.

Shortly after I moved into the dorm at the maternity home, I started an adoption journal, and in my regular therapy sessions I would cry from grief about my decision, even though I knew it was the right thing.

Throughout my pregnancy, there were times I thought that if one more person asked me why I was placing my child for adoption, I’d choke them. I didn’t know if the pregnancy was making me stronger, but I found myself standing up to people, which I’d never been able to do.

Two months before I had my birth daughter, McKenna, I met the people who would become her adoptive parents. One month later, I met her adoptive brother, who had also been adopted two years earlier.

Meeting McKenna

McKenna was born on Aug. 15, 2000, and this is what I wrote in the journal to her after my emergency C-Section: “I want to remember your smile, dimple in your chin, all the pictures we took, your dreams, good nature, cooing, feeling like you motivate me to go on, how you love to nap and stretch.”

The nights were so hard at the dorm after having given birth since I had had my child and the other residents were still pregnant and had no idea what to expect. Once, I cried until my incision hurt, and another time I even cried in the presence of a houseparent who naively asked, “Why are you depressed?”

Then on August 24, I placed my daughter with her new family on what is known as Placement Day. Pictures are taken, videos are made, gifts/cards are exchanged, and it is a total ceremonial setting.

I have a semi-open adoption, which means I get letters, videos, pictures, cards, gifts, emails, and I send the same. I made a scrapbook over a four-month period for McKenna before she was born about my life, and I write her letters on significant holidays and birthdays every year.

I also get to see her two or three times a year. It is as if a picture that I have in my bedroom of McKenna and I has been freeze-framed in my mind and soul and comes to life during our visits.

The Long Road to Healing

It used to be that the sound of a bunch of girls’ laughter would echo as I left a store, and I would wonder if I’d ever get through a day when the sound or the sight of a girl didn’t jerk at my numb heart or threaten to stir up tears. Now, when I hear a girl’s laughter or voice that is the same age as McKenna, I smile inside and wonder what she’s doing today.

The first holiday season, McKenna’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas, was brutal for me. I cried in the bathroom on Christmas Day as my family prepared to eat while I was visiting my sister in Florida.

Then one day, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel a little and focus on how happy McKenna was.

If I had kept her, I would have been on welfare, but being bipolar with a lot of other emotional problems, my lack of financial resources would have been the least my problems.

Shortly after I had McKenna, I wished I could hold her for at least a minute or even a day, but I knew as soon as she got fussy I’d panic and look for her adoptive mom to take her.

My sister, who’s a therapist, once told me that it is mature to admit that you know you’re immature.

I got so much grief at work for my painful adoption decision that when I changed jobs, and when someone asked if I had custody of McKenna, I told them I did, only later admitting the truth.

Then on April 15, 2001, almost eight months after Placement Day, the adoptive mom asked me if I’d like to see McKenna on the day they were scheduled to go to court and have her adoption finalized. For the first time since Placement Day, I got to see and hold McKenna, and we took pictures in which I looked my happiest ever in my life.

I started talking to others about the adoption more, and I was not ashamed.

Fast forward to 2009, and in July, I was invited to my birth daughter’s house by her adoptive mom. To be in McKenna’s home where she lives with her family, to see how she lived and how she was, was a gift, and I cannot adequately put into words how much it meant to my heart, mind, and spirit.

I can’t imagine my life without McKenna now.


Terri Rimmer has 33 years of journalism experience, having worked for ten newspapers and some magazines. She wrote for associatedcontent.com, later bought out by Yahoo Voices from 2005-2012. Ms. Rimmer published her e-book “MacKenzie’s Hope” on booklocker.com under the family heading. It’s also listed on adopting.com.  On July 6, 2017, her story “The Birth Mom With No Regrets” was published by New York Magazine (The Cut) and in March 2017, her foster care story was published on “Foster Kids, Tell Me Your Story’s” Facebook page.

28
Jul

Pregnant & Considering Adoption? 6 Questions to Ask an Adoption Professional

If you are considering adoption for your baby, you likely have a lot of questions — from the basic adoption process to the type of relationship you will have with your child and his or her adoptive family after placement.

Contacting an adoption expert is often the best way to get the information you need, but choosing an adoption professional to work with can be overwhelming in itself. Here are some questions to ask potential adoption professionals to help you make important decisions about your adoption plan:

  • What services do you offer? Are you talking to a full-service agency, or will you be responsible for finding additional professionals on your own to help with legal work, insurance issues, matching or other necessary adoption services? Get a full list of the services each adoption professional will provide, and carefully consider the type of support and resources you will need throughout the process.
  • What kind of support will be available to me? Adoption is an emotional journey, and you will likely experience a range of emotions throughout the process. It is important to have support available as you process your feelings and make big decisions for yourself and your baby. Ask potential adoption professionals whether their support staff will be available to you throughout the entire adoption process, on evenings and weekends and following the adoption. It’s important that you choose an adoption professional that has your best interest at heart and can help prepare you for what to expect at every point in the process.
  • Do you support open adoption? Adoptions are increasingly open, meaning birth parents have more opportunities than ever to maintain a relationship with their child and the child’s adoptive family for years after the child is placed for adoption. If you are interested in keeping in regular contact with your baby and his or her adoptive family, ask about your opportunities to continue communication through pictures, letters, phone calls and visits. Find out whether you will get to choose the level of openness you’d like with your child’s adoptive family.
  • What kinds of adoptive families do you work with? Choosing an adoptive family is one of the most important steps in the adoption process. Ask about the process adoptive families must go through to work with your adoption professional. How are they screened? What requirements do they have to meet? Find out if the adoption professional works with families that can provide the type of life you envision for your baby. Ask how you will be matched with families and how your relationship with these families will develop — will the adoption professional mediate contact if needed? Will you be able to meet the family yourself? If you need help determining what qualities you’re looking for in an adoptive family, ask if the adoption professional can work with you to help you better understand the life you want for your child.

As you begin the adoption process, it’s important to make sure you choose a professional that you are comfortable with and that can meet your individual needs. Working with the right adoption professional can help ensure all of your wishes are met and your child is given the life you want him or her to have.

24
Jul

3 Topics to Research Before You Adopt

Deciding to adopt is the first in a series of many decisions hopeful adoptive parents need to make. It’s often the first step in a long decision-making process to determine the type of adoption you’re interested in, the adoption professional you will work with, what you’d like to include in your adoption plan and more.

As you prepare to begin the adoption process, studying up on a few adoption topics can help you make some of those early decisions.

Here are three big issues to explore before you get started:

  1. Types of adoption. Adoptions come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of adoption to know which one is right for you. If you want to work with an agency to find an adoption opportunity with an infant born in the United States, you may want to pursue a private or domestic adoption. If you want to adopt from someone you already know with the help of an attorney, that’s an independent adoption. International adoption, foster care adoption and stepparent or relative adoptions are all options as well — so do your homework to determine which type of adoption is right for you.
  2. As you begin the adoption process, you will need to consider your adoption budget. Research adoption costs, grants, taxes, fundraising options and financial assistance, and plan for the expense of adoption accordingly. Compare costs of the different types of adoption, adoption professionals and programs — it pays to know all of your options!
  3. The impact of adoption. Adoption can be powerful — in countless ways, it has a positive impact on the lives of adopted children, adoptive families and birth parents. But adoption is not without its challenges, from the sometimes long adoption process to the unique challenges of parenting adopted children. Talk with other adoptive families about their experiences, reach out to your adoption professional for support and read books or blogs from other members of the adoption community. Prepare yourself for the difficulties of adoption, as well as the joys you will experience with your new child.

There is no shortage of adoption information pertaining to these topics and more. As you begin your research, look for upcoming informational meetings and adoptive family events, join an online community or forum, and speak to adoption professionals or other families who have adopted — these are all great resources that can help make your important adoption decisions informed ones.

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