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What Every Parent Should Teach Their Kids About Adoption

When you are a parent, you are responsible for teaching your children many things — how to use a spoon, how to get dressed, how to brush your teeth, how to ride a bike. The list goes on. But along with teaching them hundreds of day-to-day skills, you also need to teach them social skills as well — how to use kind words, how to show compassion, how to help others. This list goes on, too.

Social skills can be more difficult to teach. As a parent, one of the biggest worries is whether or not your child is kind toward others. We often forget that children aren’t born with a built-in sense of respect for others. We have to nurture their deference for people from all different walks of life, including families who are formed through adoption.

Odds are high that your child will meet an adopted child at school, sports practices, or church at some point. Children are naturally curious, and that is fine. Parents can avoid the awkward (although innocent) questions that may pop out of their child’s mouth by teaching them how to be accepting and more understanding of different types of families.

Here are some talking points:

  • Adoption is one of the many ways in which a family is made. A child is not an “adopted child”; she or he is a child, who came home to her or his family through the legal means of adoption.
  • Adopted children do not always look the same as their parents. The love they have for each other makes them feel the same. They are still real families.
  • Adoptive parents love their children the same way as biological parents. Because a child was placed for adoption doesn’t mean their birth parents didn’t love them. They loved their child so much that they made sure they had parents who could give them a better life than they could provide at the time.
  • Being adopted is not something that is shameful or wrong. No child should be teased for being adopted. Some questions can be seen as nosey, so suggest your child ask an adult first, and they may be able to provide an answer.
  • Siblings are “real” because they are part of the same family.
  • Adoptive parents are “mom and dad.” The person who gave birth to a child is the birth mom.
  • When in doubt, books are a fantastic resource to help explain adoption to children.

No matter how you explain adoption to your children, it is a step toward raising compassionate and tolerant kids. Adoptive parents and young adoptees will appreciate it.

Share to let every parent know that they should teach their children about adoption before they meet a child who was adopted!


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!


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!


How to Make an Adoption Memory Book

You’ve probably heard of a baby book — that special blend of scrapbook and journal that allows parents to document every important step of their child’s first year or so of life. It’s a great idea, and they’re available for purchase at a variety of stores and, of course, all over the internet.

The problem with baby books, though, is that they don’t often include space for moments that are special to adoption. Adoption is no less special than growing your family the “traditional” way, and you deserve to commemorate the experience just as you would the birth of a biological child.

There are a few places to buy adoption memory books, or adoption “lifebooks.” But at American Adoptions, we occasionally like to get crafty; why not make your own? One of the special things about adoption is that the experience can vary so much from family to family. Creating your own adoption memory book allows you to tailor it to your own child. Plus, it’s a fun little project!

If you decide to create your own adoption memory book, here are some steps of the adoption process (chapters, if you will) you may want to include.

Before adoption. Start with some photos of your family before the adoption process. Write about why you decided to pursue adoption. You’ll want to keep the text simple, so your child will be able to go through and appreciate it as soon as he or she is old enough to read. For example, if you struggled with infertility, try something like: “Mommy and Daddy wanted you so much for such a long time, but nothing we tried was working. And then we decided to search for you through adoption.”

Meeting the birth parents. This one depends on your relationship with your child’s birth parents, of course. If you were able to meet them before placement, include any photos or memories you have from that time period. If not, see if you can get photos of the birth parents to include in this section. Talk about them as much as you feel comfortable. Write about how much they loved your child — enough to make sure they placed him or her with the right family, which was yours!

Hospital visit. If you were able to be there for your child’s birth, you’ll definitely want to include this in the adoption memory book. Use photos from the hospital, not only of you and your child, but of the birth parents as well. Include any special memories. Maybe there was a nurse that really went above and beyond, or maybe your child got to spend a few precious minutes with his or her biological mom right after birth.

After placement. This section should include all of the excitement you encountered when bringing your baby home. You might want to add photos of extended family members and friends meeting your child; you probably weren’t the only ones excited about his or her arrival! If you have older children, pictures of them meeting their new sibling are a must.

Finalization hearing. If you brought a camera along to the court hearing that finalized your child’s adoption, this is a great opportunity to showcase those pictures. “This is when you officially became stuck with us, kid!”

Birth parent relationship. If you have an open adoption, you’ll want to continue to include birth parent memories. Maybe this is photos of visits after placement, or maybe it’s snippets of letters or emails. If your child has other biological siblings, try to make sure they’re included as well.

At this point, your book is probably completely full.  You now have a story that documents all phases of your child’s adoption, and all of the important people in his or her life. As you continue to take pictures and keep memories from his or her childhood, try to continue to include your child’s birth parents whenever possible. They don’t suddenly stop being important after placement; this is a relationship that will continue to enrich your child’s life as he or she grows. Remember, the more people that love your kid, the better!


5 Children’s Shows with Adoption Themes

Too often, family movies and TV shows have an unrealistic or negative depiction of adoption. There’s always some tragic orphan who is being raised by an exploitative villain! But these five kid-friendly movies and TV shows feature characters and experiences that young adoptees can actually relate to.

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Despicable Me 2

Although the first Despicable Me movie had an adoption storyline that’s far from being either accurate or positive, the sequel centers on the family’s post-adoption life. Gru, gentle “super-villain” and loving single dad, raises three adopted girls in an unconventional but nurturing home.

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Kung Fu Panda 2

In the sequel to Kung Fu Panda, the movie’s main character, Po, talks about his adoption story with his father, a goose named Mr. Ping. Po forms a special relationship with his panda birth family while still regarding Mr. Ping as his father. Po discovers that both his birth and adoptive families have played an important role in his identity.

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This Disney sitcom focuses on a young nanny in New York City who cares for four children, three of whom are adopted. They celebrate the children’s “Gotcha” Days, recognize the birth cultures of the children who were adopted internationally, showcase the sibling relationships throughout the show, and establish the importance of being very open about a child’s adoption from the beginning.

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Earth to Echo

A little alien tries to get back home with the help of a group of pre-teen friends. The movie centers on a character living with a loving foster family. He struggles with fears of abandonment, grief and loss — all common experiences for foster children. He longs for a sense of home, just like Echo the alien. But the message of the film is clear: despite negative past experiences, change can mean an end but also a beginning.

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Doc McStuffins

Disney Junior consulted with adoption experts to write a multi-episode storyline about the McStuffins family’s adoption of a baby. The show progresses through the different emotions that children can feel when adding a new sibling to the family through adoption, all while using adoption-positive terms and realistic experiences that even young audiences can understand.


10 Easter Activities for Your Little Ones

Happy Easter from American Adoptions! If you have younger kids, it’s probably fair to say that the chances you’ll be participating in an Easter egg hunt are pretty high. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, there’s only so long you can keep the kiddos entertained by having them search for eggs.

With that in mind, then, we’ve thrown together a few other ideas to captivate your little ones this Easter. From science experiments to sweet treats, there’s sure to be at least a few activities your family will want to add to the list of annual Easter traditions.

1. Time machine – This one is fairly simple. Have your children write letters to themselves to be placed in eggs and opened up next year.

2. Glow-in-the-dark eggs – Okay, we know this is technically just a twist on the classic Easter egg hunt. But come on, putting glow sticks in eggs and making it a nighttime activity? That’s brilliant. Your kids will think so, too.

3. Egg carton lunch – To get your kids excited for Easter, try packing their school lunches in egg cartons. Just make sure you choose finger foods!

4. Easter egg math – Why not put an educational twist on the traditional egg hunt? Try adding pieces of paper with numbers written on them along with candy. Whoever gets the numbers that add up to the highest total wins an additional prize.

5. Easter egg rockets – Fill the bottom half of an Easter egg with water. Add an Alka-Seltzer tablet, pop the top half of the egg on, and step back to watch your little seasonal rocket take off. (This should only go about six inches off the ground, but you may want to try it before your kids just so you know what to expect.)

6. Shaving cream dye – When the time comes to dye your eggs, why not switch it up a little this year? Evenly spread white shaving cream onto a cookie sheet, and swirl different neon shades of food coloring into the cream. The goal here is a tie dye effect. Now all you have to do is roll the egg in the shaving cream, let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse it off. Voila!

7. Canvas egg art – If it’s nice outside, this might be a good time to foster a little creativity. Take empty egg shells, squirt paint into the insides, and let your kids throw them at a blank canvas. They’ll love the combination of throwing and breaking things, and you’ll get a new piece of modern art for their bedrooms.

8. Oreo chicks and bunnies – What’s a holiday without a little sweet treat? These Oreos dipped in candy coating and decorated like chicks and rabbits will be a hit with children and adults alike.

9. Bunny trail – Before the kids get up on Easter morning (or maybe after they go to bed the night before), make a little bunny trail outside your house. All you need for this one is some sidewalk chalk and Easter eggs. This could also be incorporated into your egg hunt.

10. Pom pom bunny – This has to be one of the cutest Easter craft ideas out there. The necessary glue job may mean you end up doing most of the work, but your kids will enjoy playing with these pom pom bunnies even after Easter is over.

What’s your favorite Easter activity with your kids? Share and let us know!


National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Do you know how severe the problem of child abuse is in the U.S? Learn about the warning signs of child abuse and what you can do to prevent the abuse of children:

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Understanding the Prevalence of Child Abuse

Abuse isn’t just about physical harm. All types of abuse are damaging. Child abuse can come in many forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse

More than five children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect, and up to 15 million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year.

Child protective service agencies report that approximately 702,000 children were substantiated victims of child abuse or neglect in 2014.

1 in 10 children have experienced some kind of child abuse or neglect in the past year, according to self-reported statistics.

In 2014, more than 1,500 children died in the U.S. due to abuse or neglect. Parents acting alone or with another parent were responsible for 79.3 percent of those child abuse or neglect fatalities.

The Effects of Abuse on Children

Whether they are the victims of abuse or a member of their family is being abused, children suffer more than just physical symptoms of abuse. Neglect and abuse can cause stress that disrupts early brain development and growth, as well as damage to the nervous and immune systems.

As an adult, victims of child abuse are at higher risk for physical, mental and emotional health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse and dependency, depression, PTSD, obesity and more.

Children who were victims of abuse or who witnessed abuse within their home are more likely to grow up and abuse family members themselves or once again become victims of abuse.

How to Combat Child Abuse

Prevention is, of course, key. The best ways to combat child abuse are to:

  • Create public service announcements to encourage positive parenting practices
  • Finance and support parent education programs and emotional support groups that discuss child development, age-appropriate expectations for children and the responsibilities of parents
  • Develop family strengthening programs and initiatives that provide families with better access to existing services and resources to help support positive family interactions
  • Create and fund widespread awareness campaigns providing info on how and where to report suspected child abuse and neglect
  • Create, finance and advertise parent education programs directed towards teen parents or those within substance abuse treatment programs, both of whom are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect fatalities
  • Provide in-home visiting support programs that focus on new and expecting mothers, providing education and resources for the prevention of child abuse and neglect as well as positive parenting techniques
  • Provide respite care for families with special needs children
  • Develop and fund family resource centers that offer information and referral services to families in low-income neighborhoods
  • Provide better access to mental health services, health care and child care programs for low-income families and single parent families
  • Provide a support system of role models for new parents

Want to learn more about what you can do to help prevent child abuse and neglect in your own community? National Child Abuse Prevention Month is the perfect opportunity to educate others about child abuse prevention while you’re educating yourself! Click here to learn more.

Share this information to help raise awareness of child abuse prevention tactics.


Where to Find Adoption Support Groups

Everyone can benefit from being a part of a community of peers where you can talk about similar experiences, discuss topics you’re all interested in and learn from each other. Adoption support groups can provide you with that community of peers, whether you’re an adoptee, a birth parent or an adoptive parent.

The Benefits of Finding Adoption Support

Even if you’re not the one who needs support right now, maybe you can provide that support for others who do need it.

The adoption process can feel lonely for adoptive parents and birth parents alike. It helps to talk to other people who have experienced similar situations.

Even after the adoption is finalized, it can be nice to connect with people who’ve been in your shoes. It’s good to have a place where you can talk about this part of your life that not everyone is going to fully understand unless they’ve been touched by adoption.

Joining a support group for adoption doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re experiencing a problem of some kind. It just provides you with a friendly adoption community!

How to Find Local Adoption Support Groups

Chances are there’s an adoption support group near you. A quick Google search can narrow it down pretty easily.

For Adoptive Parents

The National Infertility Association, RESOLVE, allows you to search for their support groups by zip code, or you can join in one of their online support groups.

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACA) has a database of almost 900 adoption-related support groups that you can search by state or province, or by the type of group you’re looking for. Some of the types of groups they have in their database include:

  • Pre-Adoption
  • Post-Adoption
  • Foster Care
  • African American/Canadian
  • Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Latino/Hispanic
  • Native American/Canadian
  • Transracial/Transcultural
  • International Adoption
  • Single Parent Adoption
  • Gay/Lesbian Adoption
  • Kinship Care
  • Guardianship
  • Search and Reunion
  • Special Needs
  • Agency
  • Infertility

For Birth Mothers

The On Your Feet Foundation offers retreats, mentoring, counseling and educational grants to birth mothers post-adoption.

BirthMom Buds also offers retreats, forums, a newsletter, a blog and even poetry to connect birth moms to each other. They support pregnant women considering adoption as well as birth mothers post-adoption.

Blessings in a Basket (BIBTM) also offers birth mother support and resources.

If your area doesn’t have an adoption support group, this may be an opportunity for you to start one up to provide and receive support from others in your local community!

Online Support Groups

If you find that the nearest local meetings are a bit too far for you, online adoption support groups and forums can be a good way to discuss adoption with others. Remember that many online forums and discussions aren’t very well monitored, so anyone (even those who aren’t very educated about adoption or who have inaccurate information) can jump in and comment, so be wary.

But the nice thing about adoption forums is that they’re highly specific to groups of people. For example, there are forums for pregnant women considering adoption, forums for parents who’ve adopted internationally, forums for foster care parents, special needs adoption, adult adoptees and more. If you’re looking for a specific type of adoption support group, here are some resources to help you get started:

  • You can find foster care and adoption support forums by state, which could also help you find local, in-person meetings with members in your area.
  • National Adoption Center has online forums for adoptive families of every kind, adult adoptees and birth parents.
  • Adoption Knowledge Affiliates has monthly meetings in Texas, as well as helpful resources for adopteesadoptive parents and birth families.
  • Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption offer resources, forums and support to adoptive families and adoptees of Eastern European adoption.
  • The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E) offers webinars, workshops, publications and free resources for adoptive families, adoptees and foster care families. They can also connect you with local adoption professionals who specialize in therapy and counseling in your area.
  • Families with Children from China (FCC) boast a network of parent support groups through the U.S, Canada and the U.K. for adoptive families who’ve adopted children from China. There are hundreds of local chapters that you can join. You can also learn more about starting your own local chapter.
  • Search adoption support groups by state at American Adoption Congress, where you can narrow results down to your area and learn how to start your own adoption support group.
  • DailyStrength provides online support groups for adoptive families, particularly those in the early adoption process.
  • Gay Parent Magazine has a great resource of parent support groups within the LGBTQ community.
  • The Guatemala Adoptive Families Network offers support to families who’ve adopted their children from Guatemala.
  • National Adoption Center has resources, educational seminars and support specializing in special needs adoptions and the adoption of children from minority cultures.
  • The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides information and resources for birth parents, adoptive families and adoptees of all types.
  • 211 is helpful for finding local support groups and adoption-related resources for you to utilize.

You can also subscribe to receive news and information on adoption from Adoptive Family Magazine or the American Adoptions Newsletter.

A Word of Caution About Adoption and Social Media Support Groups

In the age of social media, we’ve all seen the benefits and drawbacks to constant contact and the overwhelming availability of information; not all of it truthful. Online support groups and forums through social media can turn from supportive to hateful quickly for some members. Use caution, and DO NOT go to social media for a primary source of accurate information on adoption.

We hope that you will hear these as strong suggestions and recommendations based on both personal and professional experiences over the years. We feel strongly about the benefit of healthy support and the detriments of unhealthy outlets. This is what we have found to be helpful and unhelpful.

Here are some basic do’s and don’ts of participating in social media adoption support groups:

  • DON’T… try to count how many families are “ahead of you in line” to adopt; that’s not how adoption works— expectant mothers will choose you on their own timeline, not yours.
  • DO… know when to step away from social media if you feel staying involved is causing you more stress rather than relieving your stress.
  • DON’T… compare yourself and your adoption journey to those of others; you’re unaware of all the facts and the full scope of the situation at hand.
  • DO… use common sense and empathy when sharing photos of your successfully adopted children; other members are still waiting or grieving.
  • DON’T… spread gossip, rumors, or unverified facts if you are not an adoption professional.
  • DO… share your experiences AS your experiences, and remind others that every adoption journey will be different; there’s no one “truest” experience when all are valid.
  • DON’T… express negativity towards adoption in a space where others are seeking comfort, refuge and positivity— take argumentative anti-adoption rhetoric elsewhere.
  • DO… trust your adoption professional over someone on Facebook; adoption professionals want to help!

If you feel like you just aren’t able to emotionally connect with anyone through a support group, call your adoption specialist and ask if they can match you with someone who’s gone through a similar experience, or is currently going through something similar. It can help to talk one-on-one with someone who’s been in (or maybe still is) in your shoes to support one another through your adoption experiences! Don’t forget– you don’t have to go through it alone.


How to Build an Adoption Support System

Adoption is an extremely emotional experience for everyone involved. Whether you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption or a couple hoping to adopt, there are going to be times when you have to turn to someone for emotional support. Not only is that okay, it’s encouraged. Having people you can talk to about your struggles can make all the difference.

The struggles you’re going through, of course, are going to be very different depending on which side of the adoption triad you represent. With this in mind, we’ve split this post up into two sections: advice for pregnant women and advice for adoptive families.

How to build a support system as a pregnant woman considering adoption

If you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant and unsure of what to do, it’s so crucial that you have people in your corner. You’re faced with one of the toughest decisions of your lifetime, and having a good support system can make all the difference.

You need people around who are going to support you emotionally, help you throughout your pregnancy and help you with decisions. This does not mean you need people to make your decisions for you. You and you alone have the right to decide what to do about your unplanned pregnancy. But hearing different opinions and perspectives may be able to help you consider points you hadn’t thought about before, and this could be extremely helpful.

Who your support system consists of depends on the people you have in your life. This is going to be different for everyone, and there’s no specific number of people you need surrounding you. Sometimes one really good person is enough, and sometimes you’ll want to surround yourself with a variety of family and friends. Some people you can turn to may include:

  • The baby’s father
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Friends
  • Extended family members
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Pastors or other religious figures

If you don’t have these people in your life, or if they aren’t capable of providing the support you need, that doesn’t mean you’re alone. It might be as simple as trying a new church or calling to speak with an adoption specialist. Just make sure that whoever you’re turning to for support and advice is always focused on your best interests.

Regardless of who makes up your support system, you’ll need to establish good communication techniques. This may include telling them what you need; sometimes you’ll just need the space to be alone. Other times you’ll need someone to run an errand for you or to discuss everything that’s changing in your life. Remember to not only ask for patience but to give it to those around you. This may be new territory for everyone.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and need support, or if you need help telling your friends and family members that you are considering adoption, you can contact an adoption specialist any time at 1-800-ADOPTION. Your call is free, confidential, and does not obligate you to choose adoption.

How to build a support system as a family pursuing adoption

Coming to the decision to grow your family through adoption isn’t always an easy process. Maybe you’ve encountered infertility issues; many couples who pursue adoption have already poured time, money and emotions into trying to conceive. This can be exhausting in every way imaginable.

It’s also possible that you’re worried about coming up with the money for adoption. It’s not a cheap process, and there’s a lot that goes into it. Then there’s the fear that you won’t match with a birth mother, or that something will happen during the pregnancy, or that she’ll change her mind. It’s okay to be stressed, even as you’re so thrilled about the child you’ll eventually bring home.

It’s also okay to admit that you’re overwhelmed. You’re being put through your emotional paces, and you’re going to need people in your corner just as a prospective birth mom does. Your list of potential support team members is, for the most part, the same as a pregnant woman’s.

  • Your spouse
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Friends
  • Extended family members
  • Other families who have adopted
  • Counselors
  • Pastors or other religious figures
  • Your adoption specialist

You may also need to be vocal about what you need from your support system. It’s not always easy for people to imagine what a family waiting to adopt is going through. They may not know about the financial aspect, or the paperwork leading up to it, or the matching process itself. They may not understand your feelings about a relationship with the birth parents. In other words, there may be a lot you have to explain, which can feel even more stressful when you’re already exhausted.

Remember to be patient with those around you. They love you, and they’re doing their best. But also remember it’s okay to take some time for yourself. It’s not your responsibility to educate people about adoption 24/7. Find your balance.

If you feel that your support system is lacking, don’t underestimate how helpful an adoption specialist can be. To speak with an adoption specialist at American Adoptions, call 1-800-ADOPTION today.


Your Stories of “The Call”

We sent out a request to our adoptive parent social media followers, asking for your stories about the moment when you got “The Call”- that phone call from your American Adoptions specialist, informing you that you were about to become parents through adoption.

You delivered! Here are your stories:

(*Editor’s Note- Some stories have been edited for grammar or clarity.)

“Hi, American Adoptions!

We love you guys so much- shout out to Angie and Justin!!!!

October of 2011, we were in the process of giving our profile a re-vamp. I was very busy in meetings and my husband did a lot of local travel.  Apparently, American Adoptions called me 5 or 6 times, and I left my cell phone on my desk, so they couldn’t get ahold of me.  They reached my husband who was in the car and he pulled over to the side of the road he was in such disbelief.  He then called me 5 or 6 more times, so I came back to 10 missed calls.  I finally called my husband back, and he screamed at me, ‘They called, there’s a match for us, they called!’  We both rushed home to talk to Angie, made an emergency trip to Target because [the expectant mom’s] due date was 2 days later. Our baby boy was born 2 weeks later.  He is a happy, loving, amazingly awesome 5 year old now.

The second call- we called you!  Our first’s birthmother texted us that she was pregnant again and asked us if we would parent Cayden’s sibling.  Of course this was a dream come true because we just started all our paperwork to begin a search for number 2 with American Adoptions again.

Our little Kyler was born 6.5 months later and we are so extremely blessed to have biologic siblings.   He is now 2.5 years old and so funny, affectionate and as amazing as his brother.

As always, all our best to you,

Melissa, Lee, Cayden, Kyler and Millie.”

Jean and Kevin also adopted two sons through American Adoptions. Here’s how they heard the news:


On Wednesday, June 8, my Mother’s birthday, I (Jean) was in New York.  I planned a surprise visit for my mom while Kevin was away for work in New Mexico, doing a conference presentation.  My mom and I were shopping at Kohl’s when I heard that I had a voice mail on my phone.  I saw it was from American Adoptions and when I listened, heard that it was about a match!  I found my mom, told her, and went outside to call our adoption specialist. I was so excited and flustered that I couldn’t figure out where the car was so I found a patch of grass in the parking lot and looked for a piece of paper to take notes.  All I had was a train ticket stub so on that stub I prepared to take notes about our son-to-be.  I found out that our son Kyle’s birth mom chose us to be his parents, was scheduled to be induced in Nebraska the following Tuesday, and wanted me in the delivery room.  I cried when I heard this, called Kevin about the news and made one more stopping shop with my mom, buying baby clothes, before heading to my parent’s home.  Over the next few days there was a whirlwind of activity, mostly adoption paperwork, trying to find a place to stay, and organizing our lives since due to the legal processes involved we would need to be away from our home for 3 weeks to a month (turned out to be 6 weeks)! Kyle’s birth mother actually was not induced so we arrived in plenty of time to get settled, explore the area, and be present for his birth! We fell in love immediately with our beautiful boy.


In the afternoon on April 24 as our son Kyle was returning from preschool, we received an email from our adoption specialist presenting us with information about an expectant mother and asking us if we wanted to be considered as the baby’s, whose gender was unknown, parents. Our second son, Christian’s birth mother asked American Adoptions to choose parents for her baby. Kevin and I read the email and felt, ‘Yes, this is IT, this is our child!’ We were thrilled knowing we would be parents again soon and anticipated the journey to and stay in South Dakota. We reached our adoption specialist and told her that we wanted to accept the match. The match would become official soon after when Christian’s birth mother reviewed our profile and felt that the agency picked a wonderful family for her baby. Christian ended up being born early, on June 8, my mom’s birthday and the day we got “The Call” about Kyle. We traveled across the country arriving the day after his birth. We were filled with so much love and joy when he was placed in our arms.”

“I was at a conference sitting in the front row during the keynote speaker. I screamed, “OH my God!” and ran out of the room (in front of about 500 people). I was 3 hours from home and drove as fast as I could when about an hour and a half later I realized I was going the WRONG direction! After a tearful conversation with our specialist and my husband, I got my head on straight, went the right direction, and still made it in time to jump on a plane and make the birth.” -Jenna

“It seems crude but it isn’t a joke. I was in the middle of performing a PAP smear on one of my patients! My wonderful patient knew I was waiting and she heard my phone ring in my pocket and sat straight up and said, ‘Answer that!!!’ She tells me to this day that was the best PAP she has ever gotten! That will be 9 years ago in March.” -Cammy

“[I was] in our kitchen with my hubby! It was on our answering machine so we both heard it at the same time. One of the best moments of my life. It has been over 2 years since that day and the message still lives in our machine!” -Alicia

“I was at work as acting Chief and preparing for a major presentation the next day when I got the call. My husband was on the golf course and didn’t have any reception. There was major rushing that day, because we flew out the next day and got our one in a million!” -Sara

“We were at work; I had just started my new job. It was only my second day. Two hours in, I dropped everything and drove 16 hrs to meet our sweet boy. Almost 4 years ago!” -Sharon

“I got the call about the birth when I was on a shuttle at work (going from the parking lot to the front door). The social worker called and said, ‘Your son is here, come see him!’ I squealed and announced to the whole shuttle bus that my son had just been born and that I was a mommy again! I got a lot of confused stares (they were wondering how I was a mom again if I was standing in front of them). I took the shuttle right back to my car, called everyone I knew and my hubby and I caught a plane to meet our son!” -Lisa

“I was at work in a meeting and had just prayed and told God I was losing hope and really needed this to happen. We had just hit our Year mark. I walked out of the meeting and had the message. 3 years later I still have it on my phone.” -Krista

“[I was] washing dishes from lunch on Labor Day when we got the call that we were chosen and our daughter was born that morning! Best phone call ever!” -Jennifer

“I was at work. I ran into a conference room and wrote down everything she said as fast as I could. Most of it didn’t make sense later. I called my husband who had just gotten off work and he came by. We shared the biggest hug and one of my co-workers got a picture of it. The cool thing about that day was that it was the day before the due date of our previous match that disrupted.” -Kellie

“[I was] working in a classroom full of 6th graders! I ran out the door without telling my co-teacher (also in the room) and jumped up and down in the hallway and cried! I had to keep it a secret from my students for about 2 weeks. Hardest secret to keep ever! Our son was born about 3 weeks after that call.” -Colleen

“I remember sitting at the restaurant the night of Valentine’s Day, as a couple without kids, discussing how much we were looking forward to a match… the next day, the phone rang at work… the caller ID stated ‘American Adoptions.’  I screamed and cried…” -Julie

“My husband and I had just pulled up to a gas station and as he was getting out my phone rang. He just sat back down because he could tell it was ‘The Call.’ Best day ever.” -Heather

“For our first adoption, I got the call right as I walked in the door from work. I was so shocked. I could hardly focus on what our social worker was saying. I got to tell Hubby the news which was so special. For our second, I had secretly hoped he would get the call. As it worked out, I was at a craft fair and didn’t hear the phone because it was noisy and so they called Hubby. I checked my phone an hour later and my husband had called 20 times. I heard him say, ‘They have a baby for us!’ I sat down and cried right there on a picnic bench in the center of a busy, loud crowd.” -Jessica

“We missed the call and didn’t notice that my cell phone had a VM. I was at work 2 days later when American Adoptions called and asked if I had gotten the VM from 2 days earlier!!! I said no, so they told me about the match!! I was so excited I started jumping up and down!! As soon as I got of the phone I checked my VM. Yup. I had a VM about a match! I called my husband and he was in shock. Our son was born 2.5 weeks later!” -Jennifer

“We were asleep! They called, and it took us a second to register what was happening!” -Rachel

“[I was] in the shower!” -Ashley

“We got The Call two years ago today!!” -Samantha

“I was at my knitting club, knitting a baby blanket!” -Brenda

Thanks to everyone who shared their stories about how their family began! We love hearing from you.

Share your story about the moment when you received “The Call” in the comments!

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