Call anytime, an adoption professional is here to help.
23
Jun

7 Summer Activities for Kids

Memorial Day is just around the corner, marking the unofficial start to summer. Swimming pools open, school wraps up and long daylight hours allow for extra time outside. Your kids probably have a long list of things they want to do this summer. And while they are so excited to be away from school for a few months, odds are their wish list will soon be replaced by these two words — “I’m bored!”

So, before they can even utter those words, here’s a list of fun summer activities to have on hand. Some require adult supervision, but others are perfect to keep your kids entertained on their own.

Visit a farmer’s market – About this time of year, farmer’s markets pop up and are open during the week, as well as the weekend. Take advantage of the weekday hours, as it may not be as crowded as the weekend. Select some produce and find a recipe you can make with it.

Backyard camping – This is a quintessential summer activity. Set up a tent in the backyard, throw in your sleeping bags and flashlights, and enjoy a night under the stars. If you have a fire pit, or even a grill, make s’mores. Don’t forget the bug spray!

Have a lemonade stand – Another activity that epitomizes summer. Instead of pocketing the cash, consider giving the money to an organization like Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a national childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research into new treatments and cures for all children battling cancer.

Play in the water – There are so many things you can do with the backyard hose! Play in the sprinkler, as you probably did when you were a kid. Have a water balloon fight. Make a homemade slip and slide. Give little ones paintbrushes and let them “paint” the house (patio, swing set, fence) with water.

Read – Most local libraries have a summer reading program for kids that lets them earn prizes for completing reading logs. Check your library for details, or create your own incentive program to encourage summer reading. Make a trip to the library a weekly to-do.

Make popsicles or homemade ice cream – There are hundreds of recipes on the internet for both sweet treats. Search Pinterest for either one, and you’ll have ideas to keep you busy for the next five summers. Share your goodies with the neighbors.

Do random acts of kindness – Help a neighbor pick weeds, volunteer to watch a neighbor’s pet, pick up trash at the neighborhood pool, recycle bottles, clean out closets and donate clothes, donate books to the library, spread kindness with kindness rocks…the list can go on and on.

No matter what you do this summer, relax and enjoy a laid-back schedule! Make a summer bucket list if you have some “must-dos.” Before you know it, school will be starting and you’ll wonder where the summer went.

18
Jun

Father’s Day Photo Contest Winners

Happy Father’s Day to birth and adoptive dads alike!

We loved seeing your sweet photos of dads and their kids. Thank you to everyone who participated. Congrats to the winners of the 2017 American Adoptions Father’s Day Photo Contest!

Matt and his daughter, Madeline (1).

Ben meeting his son, Samuel.
“Daddy in the delivery room holding his son for the first time, tears streaming down. Proud daddy!”

Marc and his daughter, Everly.
“This picture was taken as my husband held our daughter for the first time. I love the look of pure joy on his face!”

You can always tag us on social media with the hashtag #AmericanAdoptions if you want to share your family photos with other American Adoptions families.

Be sure to follow this blog, sign up for the bi-monthly American Adoptions newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to hear about upcoming photo contests and more.

16
Jun

How You Can Make an Adoption Plan in Prison

Pregnant women in prison may be rare — only 3.5 percent of women entering all prisons were pregnant upon arrival — but it’s still important for these women to understand their rights and options. If you’re a woman finding yourself pregnant in jail or you’re about to enter jail knowing that you’ll be giving birth in prison, you may wonder whether a prison adoption is a possibility for you.

The answer is yes. Like any other pregnant woman, you have the right to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your baby’s future — including making an adoption plan that you’re comfortable with. While some of your adoption options may be limited while you’re in prison, you can always choose a prison infant adoption if you think it’s the best path.

But, how exactly does a prison baby adoption work? Each adoption is unique, but here are some general steps you will likely take in this process.

  1. Decide that adoption is right for you.

If you know that you will be giving birth in prison, you’ll need to consider how you will provide for your baby. Not all prisons will allow you to keep your child in your custody, especially if you’re serving a long sentence. It’s important that you make a plan for your baby before they’re born, because if you don’t, your child will likely be placed in the foster care system to await your release from prison or a future adoption opportunity.

One option is to place your baby with a friend or family member in a temporary guardianship until you’re released from prison. But, what if you don’t have any friends or family members who can provide a safe, stable environment for a baby? You should seriously consider the well-being of your baby and only choose the option that can provide him or her the best future possible.

In many cases, this may be a prison adoption. When you place your child for adoption, you know that they will live with a family that is prepared and excited to raise an adopted child — and willing to give them all the opportunities possible in life. If you’re curious about placing your baby for adoption while you’re in jail, talk to your prison caseworker; they can provide you advice and counsel to help you make this important decision.

  1. Choose an Adoption Professional.

Because prison regulations and restrictions vary, an adoption professional may or may not be able to interact with you directly. Therefore, your point of contact will likely be your prison caseworker, who will help you through every step of your prison adoption process.

Because prisons tend to work with the same adoption agencies and lawyers for each adoption, your caseworker will likely recommend certain adoption professionals. But, as a prospective birth mother, you always have the right to choose which professional is right for you. If you’re not yet in prison, take the time to research and talk to potential adoption professionals. If you’re in prison and deciding on adoption (or know someone who is), ask your caseworker if you can do research or enlist a friend or family member to research for you.

American Adoptions is always here to answer any questions you have and help you decide whether adoption is right for you. We will provide support to you, gather background information from you, assist you with selecting a family and help with any pregnancy related needs not met at your jail.

  1. Choose an Adoptive Family.

Like any other pregnant woman considering adoption, if you’re pregnant in prison, you will have the opportunity to pick the family that you want to adopt your child. While you likely won’t be able to meet the family ahead of time or ask them your questions directly, your caseworker and your adoption professional representative will work closely together to find a family that matches your preferences (like where the family lives, what their family makeup is and more). From there, you will receive adoptive family profiles that you can look at.

  1. Sharing Contact with the Adoptive Family

Many pregnant women considering adoption choose to share contact with the adoptive family before, during and after the adoption process. If you’re pregnant and in jail, your options may be a bit limited — but contact is certainly still a possibility.

One of the most common ways that birth mothers in jail can contact an adoptive family is through letters but, depending on your prison rules and level of comfort, you may be able to share phone calls with the family. As part of your financial assistance, the adoptive family may pay for your phone calls, as well as mailing materials like stamps and paper. American Adoptions will work with you, the jail and the adoptive family you choose to get you connected in any way possible so you can create a relationship with the potential adoptive couple.

After you’re released from prison, stay in touch with your caseworker and adoption professional to keep receiving contact from your baby’s adoptive family and to receive any updates about the adoptive family’s desire to increase contact.

  1. Giving Birth and Signing Adoption Consent

What happens when you give birth to a baby in jail? That’s a good question. First, know that you will likely be moved to a nearby hospital when it’s time to have your baby. Your hospital stay will be arranged by you, your caseworker and your adoption professional. While your options may be limited because you’re incarcerated, you may still get to choose how long you want to hold your baby, whether you meet the adoptive family and more. American Adoptions will work with you and the adoptive couple to create a transition plan that’s in the best interest of all of you.

While you’re at the hospital, you’ll sign your final adoption consent paperwork. Most of your paperwork will have been completed earlier in your adoption process, but a lawyer will be there to walk you through what you’re signing and inform you of your legal rights in a prison adoption. Your state laws will determine when you can sign your consent for the adoption, but know that waiting too long may jeopardize your adoption process and lead to your baby being placed in state custody.

After you sign your adoption consent and are discharged from the hospital, you will return to prison, where your adoption caseworker will continue to work with you for post-placement contact and counseling through any difficult emotions you may encounter.

As you can see, a prison baby adoption is not much different than any other private domestic infant adoption. American Adoptions and your prison caseworker will be there with you every step of the way. Most importantly, you can know that your baby that you gave birth to while pregnant in prison will live a happy life with a loving adoptive family.

Sometimes, women ask us, “Can you go to jail for giving a child up for adoption?” Whether it’s because they’re worried about the legal repercussions of adoption or are afraid that placing a child for adoption might increase their sentence, there’s no need to worry — as long as it’s completed with the assistance of the proper professionals, your adoption is completely legal. In fact, choosing adoption will protect you from charges of child abandonment or neglect if you find care for your child in an illegal or ill-advised way.

You may also be asking, “Can someone adopt my child if I am in jail?’ It’s not uncommon for women with children already born to enter prison, realize that they want a better life for their child back at home (especially if they are serving a long sentence) and want to place the child for adoption with or transfer guardianship to someone who can provide the proper care their child needs. This is entirely possible; if you are wishing to place a child who is already born, American Adoptions can assist you, depending on who currently has custody of your child and your child’s age.

At American Adoptions, our social workers are happy to work with pregnant women in prison or about to enter prison. We can help you decide if adoption is right for you and, if so, help you set up an adoption plan that you’re happy with. To talk to an adoption specialist for free (and with absolutely no obligation to choose adoption), please call 1-800-ADOPTION today.

12
Jun

What You Need to Know About Finding Birth Mothers Online

You can find anything on the internet (literally anything), including a woman looking to place her child for adoption. But you probably shouldn’t try.

Don’t get us wrong, there have been many successful adoptions facilitated online. But you could be setting yourself up for a scam.

To help make sure your adoption journey is a successful one, we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts of searching for expectant mothers online.

Don’t do it on your own

Let’s just address this right now. Because of the complexity and legalities of adoption, it is best to have an adoption professional involved in the process. They will make sure the adoption is legally sound and that all requirements have been met.  An adoption professional can also talk to a potential birth mother to make sure she isn’t trying to scam you and ensure that she is emotionally prepared for the adoption process through counseling services. Expectant mothers can rest easy knowing that adoptive parents working with an adoption professional have met all the necessary requirements, rather than feeling she needs to trust a couple she met online.

Working with a professional is safest for the birth mother, safest for you and safest for the baby.

Do share your story across various social media platforms

The more you share your story, the more people will see it. The more people who see it, the higher your chances of finding a woman who wants to place her child for adoption.

When sharing your story, you should be honest about who you are, don’t sugar coat things or exaggerate things in the hopes of making yourself seem more “appealing.” Pregnant women considering adoption can often see through this façade. Show your true self and you will find the child who was meant to be in your arms.

Don’t seek out birth mothers using hashtags, forums or support groups

Many hopeful adoptive families will “stalk” various forums, support groups or hashtags, looking for a woman considering adoption. They may then bombard her with uninvited offers to adopt her child. Besides being insensitive, this method is just plain creepy.

If a pregnant woman is specifically asking for adoptive families to reach out to her, then, by all means, do so. But don’t contact a woman who isn’t asking to be contacted. Instead, ask the admin of the forum or support group if you can post your story to the group. This way a potential birth mother can come to you if she thinks you might be the right fit for her child.

Do offer support to pregnant women who may want you to adopt their child

If a pregnant woman reaches out to you, be kind and courteous. Offer her your support without being judgmental of her current circumstances. Maybe suggest a support group she can join or an unplanned pregnancy hotline where she can ask questions and get information on the adoption process.

Don’t send money or gifts to a woman whose child you wish to adopt

Besides being illegal in many states, sending money directly to a pregnant woman whose child you wish to adopt could be part of scam. Many adoption scammers will act as though they want to place their child with you in the hopes that you will send them money. After doing so, many hopeful adoptive families never hear from the woman again.

If a pregnant woman asks you to send a money order, check, cash or any other form of money, please contact an adoption professional before proceeding.

The adoption process can be long and stressful. The last thing you want to do is add the stress of an adoption scam. Doing your due diligence in the beginning can save you headache and heartache in the future.

9
Jun

Boundaries in an Open Adoption

Open adoptions have become increasingly popular over the years. In fact, at American Adoptions nearly all of the adoptions we complete are open or semi-open in nature; meaning nearly all of our adoptive families maintain some form of contact with their child(ren)’s birth parents.

However, like any relationship, the relationship between adoptive family, adoptee, and birth parents can be difficult to navigate at times. We believe that the key to a successful open adoption is a healthy set of boundaries.

Some open adoption relationships seem to flow together easily without the need to formally set specific boundaries, while others need more structure to be successful. Below are a few examples of fair and healthy boundaries for all members of the adoption triad.

Remember, no two adoptions are the same, so what works in one open adoption relationship may not work in another.

For Adoptive Families

Respecting a birth mother’s right to privacy

If you and your child’s birth mother are connected on social media or you have in-person visits, please consider her privacy before sharing any photos or information with friends and family. Tagging your child’s birth mother in a photo or status update could unintentionally share her adoption story with those she did not wish to tell. Before you share any photos or details be sure to talk with her about how she would like to handle social media.

Respecting a birth mother’s wishes

Not all birth mothers are comfortable with beginning frequent communication right off the bat. Be careful not to push her into an intimate relationship before she is ready. Talk with her as soon as possible about the type of communication she wants and how much privacy she would like to maintain. Follow her lead and allow her to open up at a pace that she is comfortable with. Occasionally reminding her that you’ll abide by her wishes regarding communication will reassure her that she’ll be able to open up if she feels comfortable with that at some point in the future.

Keeping your promises

If you and the birth parents initially agreed to send pictures and letters every 6 months, you should stick to that promise. If you make a plan to meet, don’t cancel the plans last minute. Don’t tell them you were “too busy” or send the photos weeks later. Make birth parents a priority. Be at your meeting on time. Make the time to put together a few cute photos and a heartfelt letter letting them know how the child is doing. It means more to a birth mother than you will ever know.

For Birth Parents

Respecting the adoptive family’s right to privacy

In the age of social media, it is all too tempting to share the adorable photos you just received from your child’s adoptive parents. But before you hit “share” it’s best to have a conversation with the adoptive parents about how they would like to handle social media. Some parents are completely fine with you sharing a couple photos on Facebook or Instagram. But others may want to keep their child’s life private and off of the internet. You should always respect this decision.

Knowing your role in the relationship

For some birth parents, it can be difficult to remember that they are no longer in the “parent” role. Your child’s adoptive parents are the ones making the parenting decisions. No matter what you think of their parenting style, don’t try to insert your own parenting opinions. Of course, you should still ask how they are doing and offer support when it is needed.

Keeping your promises

When it comes to keeping in contact with an adoptive family, there are a lot of logistics to work out. You probably have different schedules and you may even live in different time zones. This is why it is so important to plan meetings, photo calls and Skype sessions ahead of time. If you set a time for a phone call or make plans to meet, don’t be late and don’t cancel. Make the adoptee the priority. If you do have to cancel or if you are running late, give them a call to let them know.

For Adoptees

Respecting your right to privacy

You’re never under any obligation to share your adoption story unless you feel comfortable doing so. If you do, remember to respect the privacy of your parents and birth parents.

Keeping balance in your life

For adoptees in open adoptions, take care of your needs in the adoption relationship. If you feel that you’d like to increase or decrease the amount of contact with your birth family, communicate that desire and the emotions behind it.

Keeping your promises

Adult adoptees of open adoptions who maintain communication with their birth family should try to follow through on promises to keep in touch just as their parents once did. This, of course, is now your choice. But it’s a small kindness that can go a long way.

Creating boundaries in an open adoption is a lot like creating boundaries in a romantic relationship or in a friendship. It takes some time, patience and a lot of communication to find what boundaries work best for each party, but once everyone is on the same page, the relationship can continue to grow without any major bumps in the road. The results are worth the effort!

5
Jun

Is Your Adoption Agency the Right Fit for You?

Like any other professional you seek out, the first adoption agency or professional you choose to work with may not be the right fit for your family. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine if you and your agency are a good fit for each other:

“Do our values align with the values of the agency?”

If your religious values are very important to you on this journey, you might want to consider using a religion-based adoption agency. If you are uncomfortable using an agency with no religious affiliation, there are many adoption agencies out there that cater specifically to Christian, Jewish, or Muslim adoptive families.

Maybe it isn’t the religious aspects that are important to you, but you do value the philanthropic aspects of an adoption agency. In this case you would want to find a non-profit agency or one that participates in other philanthropic endeavors like birth parent scholarships or 24-hour counseling services.  If your core values clash with those of the agency or professional, you may begin to lose faith in your agency, which can make the adoption journey that much more difficult.

“Are we willing to adjust our preferences to shorten our wait time?”

Every adoptive family that chooses to work with American Adoptions fills out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire, or APQ. The APQ lists all your preferences for your adoption from your budget to the desired race of your child. Those with less flexibility on their APQ tend to experience longer wait times while those with more flexibility tend to experience shorter wait times. We don’t want any of our families to wait any longer than necessary, so we encourage families to be more flexible in their APQ preferences.

Things that can shorten your wait time include: opening up to more races, expanding your medical history preferences, and increasing your overall adoption budget. If you are unwilling to make any changes to shorten your wait time, you may want to consider a different adoption professional or another type of adoption.

“What level of contact do we want to have with our agency?”

Depending on the size and location of your agency, it may not be feasible for you to have a sit-down meeting with your adoption specialist, so you may instead do your communicating via phone or email. Because American Adoptions is a national adoption agency that works with families across the country it is not often possible for our families to visit the office. Our adoption specialists communicate with families mainly via phone and email. If it is important for you to meet your adoption professional face-to-face, a smaller, local agency will probably be a better fit for you.

Are You Uncomfortable with Your Adoption Professional or Are You Uncomfortable with an Aspect of Adoption?

At the end of the day, you should feel as though you and your adoption professional “click.”

You should also feel comfortable with the aspects of the type of adoption that you’re pursuing, otherwise you might want to reconsider your family-building options. Prospective adoptive parents should feel comfortable with the idea of having a relationship with their child’s birth family if the expectant parents request an open adoption, as most do. Adoption requires adoptive parents to become comfortable with their child not looking like them, and to forego many of the traditional experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.

Is there something about the adoption professional that doesn’t feel right to you? Is there something about adoption that you haven’t quite been able to make peace with?

Deciding whether or not to pursue adoption or a particular adoption professional is a major decision and demands introspection and honesty.

Is adoption right for you?

Are you and this adoption professional a good fit for each other?

2
Jun

Adoption Shaming

With the power of social media, parents are able to share every aspect of their lives with the click of a button. You can share cute photos of your children, parenting hacks, or stories of your daily life. It’s a great way to keep family and friends up-to-date on your life, but it has also opened the door for a troubling new trend: parent shaming.

As peoples’ lives have become public via social media, other parents, friends, relatives and even strangers have taken to shaming parents for the choices they make in raising their kids. From breastfeeding vs. formula feeding to private vs. public school and everything in between.

Unfortunately, for those in the adoption community, it doesn’t stop there. Lately, we’ve heard from several of our adoptive families that have experienced adoption shaming. We’ve heard stories of families being criticized for not trying IVF or other fertility treatments. We’ve heard of families being shamed for adopting from foster care or internationally, or for adopting domestically. We’ve even heard from families who were criticized for adopting a child outside their race or ethnicity.

At American Adoptions, we believe there is no “right” way to build a family; and it’s time we stop shaming others for the way they become parents.

One of the most beautiful things about the human race is that no two beings are the same. We are all free to think different thoughts and make different decisions. And yes, we are also free to make judgements toward others. But where is the good in that? Who is it helping?

Dealing with the Haters

For those of you who have been a victim of adoption shaming here is our advice for handling the negativity.

  1. Think before you respond

Before you hit send on that ranting reply, take a minute to think about what you’re saying. It’s all too easy to respond to the haters by shaming them for their own parenting/adoption decisions. But this just turns into a vicious circle of shaming.  Instead, take a moment to calm down before responding. Take this opportunity to support their parenting decisions, even if you don’t entirely agree with them.

  1. Respond…with kindness

Thank them for their input/concern/advice. Tell him or her that you are glad that option worked for them, but that’s not what was best for your family.

  1. Educate

In some cases, adoption shaming stems from a lack of knowledge. Maybe your well-intentioned family doesn’t realize the high cost of the fertility treatments they are suggesting. Our best advice for these situations is to share the realities of fertility treatments. If possible, let them know that these treatments aren’t the best option for everyone.

  1. Tell them to butt out

In a nice way, of course. The truth of the matter is that the reasons you chose to grow your family the way you did is no one’s business but your own. If you’re not comfortable broaching the topic, or if they’re just being rude, it’s ok to tell them you’d rather not talk about it.

Stopping the Trend

To stop adoption shaming, you have to start with yourself. If you find yourself being critical of another parent, take a minute to remember that they are coming from a different place than you are. Their journey to adoption was different than yours. They may have different values, priorities or preferences than you.

Remember, there is no “right” way to become parents. And it is never your place to tell another adoptive family that they are doing it “wrong”. Instead, be supportive of other families and reassure them that they are doing the best they can. We’re all on a journey and we can use all the support we can get.

Share to help stop the hate within the adoption community, and promote supportive attitudes!

29
May

Surrogacy vs. Adoption

For hopeful parents who can’t conceive on their own, the question of surrogacy vs. adoption is a pretty common one. Both offer different benefits and challenges, so it’s important to fully understand both processes before you decide which one is best for your family.

The best way to learn more about surrogacy and adoption is to talk to the professionals — in this case, American Adoptions and American Surrogacy. They can answer your questions in full detail and help you determine what might be right for you.

Every family is different, and there’s no “right” way to create your family — just the right way for you. Here are some of the basics you should know when you’re considering surrogacy and adoption, including the differences and similarities between the two options.

  1. Genetic Relationship

Many intended parents have dreams of children who are biologically related to them, and surrogacy provides that opportunity. With gestational surrogacy, a heterosexual couple can use their sperm and egg to create an embryo that’s related to both of them (same-sex couples or single parents can use donor gametes). Adoption does not provide this opportunity, unless you complete a relative adoption.

In adoption, the baby is related to the woman who is carrying him or her but, in surrogacy, the surrogate is not. Therefore, both processes require different legal steps and have different emotional complications for those involved.

  1. Cost

Both surrogacy and adoption are expensive processes, although surrogacy is the more expensive of the two. While individual circumstances play a large role in determining these costs, adoption costs an average of $40,000 and surrogacy costs an average of $75,000. Both in surrogacy and in adoption, intended parents pay for the prospective birth mother or surrogate’s pregnancy-related expenses, but in surrogacy, intended parents must also provide additional base compensation for the surrogate (usually around $25,000).

Both adoption and surrogacy require intended parents to think hard about how they can finance their parenthood processes. While there are certain tax credits available for adoption, surrogacy does not offer as much — only potential tax deductions for IVF processes.

  1. Planning and Control

One of the biggest differences between surrogacy and adoption is the amount of control involved for the intended parents. A surrogate pregnancy is always planned, while usually a prospective birth mother’s pregnancy is unplanned — so how intended parents are involved in their child’s in-utero development greatly varies.

In surrogacy, intended parents are involved every step of the way — through the IVF medical processes, at their surrogate’s doctor’s appointments and at the birth of their child. A surrogacy contract outlines each party’s expectations throughout the process, and there is never any doubt about who will take the baby home after they’re born.

In adoption, intended parents must be prepared for uncertainty. A prospective birth mother can always change her mind at any point in the process and, while she will receive all the prenatal care she needs once she connects with an adoption professional, she may not have received the proper care beforehand. A prospective birth mother is the one that choose a waiting family, and intended parents must be prepared for circumstances that are beyond their control.

While both surrogacy and adoption come with unique challenges, they are also both viable ways for intended parents to grow their family. These are just some of the basics you should know about the processes, but there’s a lot more to understand before you decide what’s best for you. We recommend calling the professionals at American Adoptions (1-800-ADOPTION) and American Surrogacy (1-800-874-BABY) to talk to a specialist in detail about your personal situation. While you are ultimately the only one who can decide what process is right for you and your family, gathering all the information you can will be immensely helpful in this decision process.

26
May

An Adoptee’s Perspective on Anger in Adoption

My adoption had always been a minor footnote in my ongoing story. My birth and adoptive families have always shared a very open relationship. My own experiences with adoption and the adoptions of my family members had pretty much been filled with sunshine and rainbows. That’s not everyone’s story. But it’s mine.

When I started writing for American Adoptions, I was genuinely shocked to discover that not everyone maintained the kind of positive relationship with adoption that my family had.

During a recent visit with my birth grandmother, I cautiously mentioned, “You know, not everyone really likes adoption.”

She gasped, “You’re kidding! But I don’t understand. Why not? Who feels that way?”

Other Adoptees

Some of the most common expressions of anger among adoptees include:

“We didn’t get a choice or say in our adoption.”

True. But I guess I always figured that nobody gets a say in being born or choosing biological parents, either.

“Our feelings are rarely talked about. The conversation is dominated by birth and adoptive parents.”

This, too, can be true. But not all adoptees have a strong desire to contribute to the conversation. Voices filled with strong emotions always speak the loudest— be it birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.

Whenever I’ve felt diminished by one-sidedness in adoption, I’ve tried to remember that my story is not everyone’s. Everyone needs to express themselves in their own way and in their own time.

“I was torn away from my real family and I’m still grieving the loss. I have no obligation to feel grateful for my adoption.”

I agree that it’s unfair to ask anyone to feel indebted to their adoptive parents — or their birth parents, for that matter. But I personally feel like I should respect and trust my birth parents’ decision to place me with my parents.

Many adoptees grieve the loss of biological family and celebrate their adoptive family — that’s ok, too! Sadness and joy and love and loss all mushed together are a part of adoption. Life is weird and messy sometimes.

Every adoptee’s experience is different and valid.

Note: I won’t touch on anger towards the unfair lack of information access that adoptees of closed adoptions struggle with, because it’s not something I’ve had to deal with, given my own adoption’s openness. 

Birth Parents

Birth parent anti-adoption sentiments I’ve heard include:

“I was coerced into giving my child up for adoption. Adoption agencies are money-making monsters.”

While I have no doubt that coercion tactics have been used on birth mothers, I have never seen anything like that at American Adoptions. As an adoptee of an open adoption, I feel sort of protective of both birth and adoptive parents that work with American Adoptions, so I’ve always been proud of how much the Adoption Specialists here care for and honor birth parent rights.

 “Adoptive parents see me as a means to an end and won’t follow through on promises.”

This is sadly the case sometimes. But not always.

A few years ago, I read a letter that my parents had written to expectant parents while they were waiting to adopt. They promised all sorts of things for this child-to-be — road trips across America, national parks, sporting events, art and exploring the world. We did every single thing that they’d promised in that letter. To this day, they send our birth families annual letters, gifts and photos, even though we’re all connected through social media and email.

My birth parents’ story isn’t mine to tell, nor can I speak for them — but I know that my parents love them and would be devastated to think they’d let them down in any way.

Waiting Adoptive Parents

Even from those who are actively pursuing adoption, I’ve heard hurtful comments about adoption, such as:

“I don’t want a baby of *this* race or *this* gender or *this* genetic medical history.”

As an adoptee, it concerns me when parents get specific about their child. When you adopt, you will not be genetically related to your child. Why try to pretend otherwise? I’m not ashamed of adoption or looking different from my family — are you?

When having a child through biological means, you don’t get to choose your family’s medical history any more than you choose the shape of the nose you’re born with, nor do you get to choose your gender or skin pigmentation when you’re born.

“I want to help a child, so I’m adopting.”

This is a well-meaning comment that many adoptees bristle at. That’s because the desire to do good in the world is not a very good reason to adopt. Do you want to raise a child or a moral superiority trophy?

“I’m not so sure about open adoption.”

I can only speak from what I know, but I firmly believe that open adoption is the reason why I’m not an “angry adoptee.” Open adoption is the reason why I defend modern adoptions. Read up. Get comfortable maintaining an open adoption relationship, keep your promises to birth parents and be forthright about adoption — always.

When I hear these thoughts from hopeful adoptive parents, I question if they really love or understand adoption. I wonder if they’ve thought enough about the feelings of expectant parents and adoptees in the midst of their own whirlwind pre-adoption feelings.

An “Un-Angry” Adoptee

I come across more anti-adoption blogs, websites and social media accounts than I previously would’ve thought possible, given my own positive adoption experiences. Each time, I feel my heart drop through the floor.

Seeing phrases like “natural family,” “family preservation,” and “reasons why you shouldn’t adopt” sting about as much as those cutesy viral videos that gloss over feelings of loss in adoption and hone in on “rescuing” a child by adopting them. Gross and gross. Both ends of the spectrum leave a bad taste in my mouth.

For myself, I feel shut down by adoption-haters just as much as anyone who fails to acknowledge the sacrifices that are bound to adoption. Adoption is neither inherently good nor bad; I think it takes effort from everyone involved to make it either.

Many of the “angry adoptees” that spill their hurt onto their blogs and in forums sadly know very little about their birth family and their adoption, if anything. Maybe I’d feel similarly if I didn’t have such an open adoption. As a relatively young adult adoptee of a very open adoption, I’m part of a new era of adoption that I do believe is catching on.

I love that American Adoptions advocates for open adoptions whenever possible, and I echo that sentiment at every opportunity. I think it offers the peace that so many are looking for in adoption. I hope others can find what they’re looking for.

23
May

Your State Adoption Tax Credit — and How You Can Protect It

As the continued existence of the Federal Adoption Tax Credit comes into doubt during Congress’ upcoming tax reform legislative sessions, many adoptive families and adoption professionals are worried — and rightly so. Adoption tax credits are a huge factor in making the adoption process more affordable for families across the United States, creating more prospective homes for waiting children.

But, while you may be aware of and support the federal adoption tax credit, you may not know about a smaller, more local resource available to you — your state adoption tax credit or refund. Like the federal tax credit, your state adoption tax credit deserves your attention and support, too.

But, first, it’s important to understand exactly which states offer adoption tax credits. Here’s a list of them:

  • Alabama: $1,000 per child for a private intrastate adoption or adoption of a qualified foster child
  • Arkansas: 20 percent of the federal adoption tax credit
  • Georgia: $2,000 per child for children who were adopted from state foster care
  • Iowa: $2,500 tax credit
  • Kansas: Up to 75 percent of your federal adoption tax credit
  • Michigan: $1,200 refundable tax credit
  • Ohio: Up to $10,000 tax credit
  • Utah: $1,000 tax credit

Unfortunately, as you can see, not all states offer additional tax credits or deductions for families who adopt. Some states, like Wisconsin, are actively undergoing legislative discussions to update their tax codes — but not all support the existence of adoption tax credits. Those legislators who are unaffected by adoption may not understand the whole aspect of the adoption tax credit — which is why it’s so important for you to let your local representative hear your voice!

Whether or not your state is actively debating your adoption tax credit or deduction, it’s always a good idea to show your representatives your support at any time. When you make clear how much your current adoption tax credit means to you (or how much your state should implement one), it emphasizes to your representative the importance of this resource — and will let them know what their constituents value in case the adoption tax credit is ever brought to the table for discussion.

You can contact an adoption attorney for more information on the state adoption tax credit and any upcoming legislation here.

To get involved and make your voice heard, contact your state representative by finding them on your state legislative website, please share to spread awareness of the importance of adoption tax credits, and fight to keep as many adoption resources available to American families as possible.

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