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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.

13
Feb

26 Years of Creating Families with American Adoptions

It’s our 26th Anniversary at American Adoptions!

To celebrate, we wanted to share with you something we put together over the past year:

5
Dec

What Does an Adoption Specialist Do?

Adoption SpecialistChoosing adoption is a big decision.  It doesn’t matter if you are looking to be the adoptive family, or if you are the birth family.  Both parties have a lot to consider when they choose adoption.  The support of loved ones is extremely important and necessary.  Also important is the support of an adoption specialist.

An adoption specialist’s role is vast.  They are educators, counselors, and advocates for both birth families and adoptive families.  Their services include (but are not limited to):

For birth families

  • educating birth parents on what it means to choose adoption
  • helping them create an adoption plan, choose a family, and form a hospital plan
  • providing education about the emotional experience birth parents will have, from being matched with a family to their hospital stay
  • providing advice about the financial aspects of adoption
  • answering all questions the birth family will have

For adoptive families

  • educating adoptive families on each step in their journey to growing their family
  • answering all questions from the adoptive family
  • providing advice about the financial aspects of adoption
  • facilitating communication between the birth family and adoptive family
  • helping adoptive families be prepared for when they get “the call.”

Another hat worn by an adoption specialist is that of “friend.”  The adoption process can be daunting, overwhelming, and confusing.  An adoption specialist can help navigate the path, ensure all needs are being met, and provide encouragement along the way.  They are a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  And most adoption specialists would probably say this is their most important role, one they are privileged to have.

13
Aug

Q&A with Executive Director Jennifer Kittredge

Staff PhotosWe want to bring you, our readers, into the day-to-day of our agency by sharing more about the people you get to work with through each phase of the process!

As an Executive Director, Jennifer works closely with our adoptive family and birth parent specialists as well as local attorneys in Florida. She is there to build relationships and help expand American Adoptions of Florida; she has been extensively involved in the work that American Adoptions does, and her knowledge and support help families have a positive and fulfilling adoption experience. Keep reading to learn more about Jennifer and the life of an Executive Director!

What is your name and position?

Jennifer Kittredge, Executive Director, American Adoptions of Florida

How long have you been working for American Adoptions?

2 years

What are your tasks at American Adoptions?

Support and supervision for our Florida staff, growing the Florida office and the number of adoptions Florida handles, building relationships in Florida with local resources and attorneys, scheduling consent singing, training our local contract workers, Liaison with our licensing representative, carry a small case load of birth parents, approval of Florida Home Studies as well as post placements, yearly reviews of employees. (So a little bit of everything!)

What does a typical work day look like?

Supporting Florida staff with their case load, reviewing and approving home studies, reviewing post placements, scheduling local workers to meet with prospective birth parents, reading and reviewing cases notes, scheduling consent signings, meeting with local resources in the community to build relationships, call back prospective birth parents from online submission forms, and meetings…lots of meetings.

How has adoption impacted your life personally?

I am an adoptive mom. Our daughter, Emma is ten and came home from China in March of 2007 when she was 16 months old. We could not imagine our lives without Emma. She brings us so much joy and laughter every day!

What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?

Working with such an amazing, passionate team.

What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?

The holidays. It’s so fun to catch up with our Adoptive families and see how much all the children have grown.

Do you have any favorite adoption memories?

One of my favorite adoption memories is a sweet birth mom who placed her 2.5 year old twins. As difficult as this was for her, she felt in her heart that they needed a stable two parent home. Through many tears, I walked with her through her adoption journey. I am happy to say almost a year later she is doing amazing! She just visited the boys and has a wonderful open adoption. These are the adoptions that make my heart so happy.

How many adoptions have you been a part of?

I’m a part of all of the Florida adoptions since I staff and schedule our workers so I’m not quite sure.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your position?

Growing the Florida office. It’s been a great accomplishment and I can’t wait to grow even more!

1
May

National Foster Care Month: Looking Back at Our Roots

Did you know that there are more than 400,000 children and youth in the U.S. currently in foster care? Did you know that of these, more than 100,000 children are waiting to be connected with their forever families through adoption?

Each May, National Foster Care Month serves to raise awareness of the facts to encourage families to explore foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. During the month of May (and every other month of the year) we ask for your help in promoting these programs and celebrating the amazing foster parents, volunteers, mentors, child welfare professionals and others who help children in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

For American Adoptions, our connections to foster care run deep. So, to help celebrate National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing the story of how one family’s commitment to foster care grew into a passion for building loving families.

The Mars Family

It all started 35 years ago when Ted and Susan Mars came to their son, Scott, with an important question.

“My parents came to me and said, ‘Scott, what do you think about becoming a foster family for an adoption agency?’” Scott recalls.

Scott, being an adoptee, loved the idea of being able to give back to other children and families. The family knew that they wanted more than anything to help connect these children to their forever families.

Before they knew it they had opened up their home and their hearts to a beautiful baby girl named Heather. After Heather came another child, and another, and another. Over the years the Mars family fostered 157 babies who went on to live wonderful lives with their adoptive families.

“I got to experience giving that child love and being a part of that, of seeing a child go on to an awesome life like I had,” Scott said. “I got a feeling of what it was like to be a part of and making a small child’s life better, to be that bridge between adoption.”

Love and Opportunity

The beautiful act of fostering children planted a seed in the Mars family. A seed that could only grow by continuing to give back to children and the act of adoption.

As Scott finished up his Business and Psychology degrees, his mother, Susan, came to him with an idea: She wanted to start an adoption agency. Thus, Scott, Susan and Ted set about making this dream a reality.

In 1991, American Adoptions was founded.  And as the company grew, so too did the Mars family’s passion for adoption and helping to build families.

Now, 25 years later, American Adoptions is one of the largest, most successful adoption agencies in the U.S. and has completed over 5,000 adoptions since its doors opened.

“I think back to how we felt when we were foster parents. We knew that we were helping to do something that was important, to help someone else become a family. I have the same feelings for each adoption that we do,” Scott said. “We get to be a part of helping that child have a life of love and opportunity, just like I did.”

13
Mar

Thank You, Social Workers!

Social Work Month 2016

March is National Social Work Month and here at American Adoptions we want to take a minute to thank our wonderful social workers! These amazing people work tirelessly to help build families and we couldn’t be more proud of all they do. Thanks for making American Adoptions great!

The National Association of Social Workers’ goal during Social Work Month and throughout 2016 will be to “educate the public about how social workers and the association have brought about major positive social changes, improved the lives of individuals and families, and will continue to do so in the future.”

Our American Adoptions’ Adoption Specialists are each Licensed Social Workers or Professional Counselors. These men and women work tirelessly to support and educate our birth parents and adoptive family clients. Their commitment, experience and heart are some of the things that make American Adoptions special!

You can learn more about our amazing staff by visiting our website or here as we continue to add more posts to the “about our staff” section of the blog!

13
Feb

Our Founders – Ted, Susan and Scott’s Adoption Story

February 13 was our 25th birthday and to celebrate we want to share with you our founders’ adoption story. Watch the video below or read Susan’s story. 

By Susan Mars, Co-Founder of American Adoptions

When I was growing up, all I really wanted to do was marry the man of my dreams and start a family. I married the man of my dreams but the family part was not able to be, at least not biologically the way most people plan. After many failed pregnancies, we made the decision to adopt an infant. We knew we both wanted to be parents and we knew we could love a child the same regardless if we gave birth to him or her.

We began the adoption process. We quickly learned adoption is not as predictable as having a child biologically.  When you give birth to a child you know a due date and there is a set timeline. With adoption, it started by completing tons of paperwork.  We then had a social worker come to our home, so she could approve us to be parents.

We were scared to death that we would not be approved for something as minor as having a disorganized sock drawer that wasn’t clean enough. When the social worker came to our home, she never looked in them. Of course our sock drawers were perfectly organized.

Once we were approved to adopt, we knew at some point we would be called to come to the office to receive our baby. We waited for what seemed like forever and even had a baby shower and fixed a nursery. We waited and waited some more.  We finally got the call that our son was born and waiting for us to come and get him.

We named him Scott and it was the most exciting moment of our lives when our social worker brought him into the room. I asked her to let his Daddy hold him first. It was a moment I will never forget. There is no greater gift that can be given to someone. I was in awe of Scott but also thought a lot about the wonderful woman who was brave enough and loved Scott enough to let him go. What a hard decision she had made.

Scott felt great about being adopted and grew up knowing his birth family placed him for adoption out of love. He decided he wanted to give back to adoption for all that he had been given. He graduated college and wanted to start an adoption agency. We had been a foster home for babies waiting to be placed with their adoptive family and he got to see firsthand how excited these couples were about receiving their child. It doesn’t matter if a child is born to you or given to you with love through adoption. They are so loved.

I still marvel at Scott and the fact that I was allowed to be his parent. I love him beyond words. From all of this, we started an adoption agency that has grown with a lot of love to be American Adoptions.

Read Susan’s full story here. You can also visit our website to read Scott’s personal story as well as an account from his father, Ted.

11
Feb

American Adoptions Turns 25!

25yr Anniversary

In 1991, after recently graduating from college, a young Scott Mars was in search of a way to give back to the world. Having been adopted as an infant, and having watched his parents foster around 140 babies, he felt that giving back through adoption would be a wonderful way to honor his unique history.

Thus, Scott, never having been one to back down from a challenge, founded American Adoptions out of the basement of his parents’ home.   With the support of his parents, he worked tirelessly to grow this one-man-show into the national agency it is now.

After 25 years of serving adoptive families and birth parents across the country (and beyond), American Adoptions has completed well over 3,000 adoptions. We boast a dedicated and passionate staff that helps us to assist in over 300 adoptions each year and who provide valuable support to both birth parents and adoptive families 24/7. Though we are so excited to have made it to 25 years, we know we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the amazing families and birth parents who come to us each day. We are so grateful to all of you who have allowed us to be a part of your adoption journey. We’re looking forward to the next 25 years!

Help us celebrate our birthday by sending us your favorite American Adoptions stories! Share them via our Facebook page or email your stories to editors@americanadoptions.com.

4
Jan

New Year, New Agency

Since 1992 American Adoptions has helped create thousands of families through adoption. Every day our dedicated staff helps adoptive parents and expectant mothers find each other and facilitate the perfect adoption relationship. We are so passionate about creating families that we wanted to find a way to help even more couples realize their dreams of becoming parents.

A few years ago, we began to hear a recurring idea from our adoption attorneys who also practice surrogacy law:  As surrogacy continued to increase in popularity, so too did the need for a more child-focused and surrogate-supportive approach. What was missing from modern surrogacies was an agency like American Adoptions.

Thus, our sister company, American Surrogacy, was founded and developed with their Child-Centered Surrogacy Program at the forefront of everything they do.

USE THIS LOGO

For any of our families would like to learn more about surrogacy, we invite you to visit American Surrogacy’s website at www.americansurrogacy.com or call them directly at 1-800-875-BABY.

American Surrogacy is currently accepting intended parents and surrogates.

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