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15
Sep

Siblings and Adoption: What it Means to Your Child

If you’re a birth or adoptive parent, your child may have a lot of questions about siblings and adoption. Your child may be trying to sort through their emotional connection to biological siblings, half siblings, and/or siblings they aren’t genetically related to.

This can seem understandably complex for them and for you. But a person’s siblings are some of the most important relationships they can have in their lifetime, and studies show that blending biological and non-biological siblings has no effect on children.

Talking with your child through their thoughts and feelings about sibling relationships and adoption can help solidify sibling bonds as well as strengthen their own self-confidence. The following scenarios may be common for birth and adoptive parents when talking to children about siblings and adoption:

For Birth Parents

It can be hard at first for the child(ren) you’re raising to understand why their biological sibling or half-sibling is being raised by a different family.

Every child processes their thoughts and feelings differently. Common situations may include:

  • They ask “why” their adopted sibling was placed for adoption, and they ask many times.
  • They worry about how their adopted sibling is doing.
  • They grow silent and sullen when the topic of their adopted sibling comes up.
  • They draw pictures for their adopted sibling or talk about him or her often.
  • They beg for a visit if the adoption is open.
  • They create a fantasy vision of their adopted sibling’s life if the adoption is more closed.

These responses can weigh on your own thoughts and feelings regarding adoption, or can bring back up old emotions.

Try to remember that your child is coming to terms with adoption in their own way; which may be different from your own process, and that you’ll need to stay patient, positive, and supportive of them while they do so.

When talking to your child about a sibling who was placed for adoption, the following tips can be helpful:

  • Begin talking to your child about their sibling’s adoption as early as possible to avoid an emotionally shocking and painful surprise, which can damage their trust in you.
  • Remind your child that their adopted sibling is happy and loved by both you and their adoptive family.
  • Be honest, but age-appropriate, about why their birth sibling was placed for adoption.
  • Answer their questions honestly, and ask follow-up questions about their own feelings.
  • Speak positively about adoption and the adoptive family, and explain that many families grow through adoption.
  • Remind your child that it’s ok to talk about their adopted sibling, to ask questions, and to talk about their feelings.

If you have questions about how to talk to your child about their sibling’s adoption, or if you need additional support and resources for talking to your child about their adopted sibling, you can always ask an Adoption Specialist by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.

For Adoptive Parents

You may have children who’ve come into your family through different ways, be it biologically, through surrogacy, foster care, adoption, or any other path. While siblings will love each other no matter how they came to be in the same family, the differences in their personal stories often need to be talked about.

For example, if you have two children who were both adopted but have different birth families, consider how your child may feel if:

  • Their sibling has a more open relationship with their birth family, while they have little to no communication with their own birth family.

Or, if you have a child biologically and another child through adoption, remember:

  • Your biological child may feel hurt by common adoption language like “chosen,” or “special,” and feel that they were not “selected” by you.
  • Your adopted child may feel alienated by shared genetic characteristics in the family that they don’t share, or as if they’re an “outsider.”

If your adopted child has birth siblings that their birth parents didn’t place for adoption, consider:

  • They’ll likely question why they were placed for adoption, but not their biological sibling.
  • They’ll wonder what it would’ve been like to be raised with their biological siblings.
  • They may feel jealous that their birth siblings know what it’s like to be raised by their birth parent(s) but they themselves will never know.
  • They may feel “replaced” if their birth parent has another child after placing them for adoption.

Every child’s personal adoption story and relationship with their birth family (including birth siblings) will be unique. So the best tip when talking with your adopted child about siblings: keep the dialogue open and keep listening.

Your child’s feelings about adoption will continue to evolve as they grow up. Reminding them that it’s ok to talk about their ever-changing thoughts and feelings about adoption and siblings will be important for them to feel secure enough to come to you if they have questions or worries. It may be up to you to introduce the topic!

Keep Listening

Siblings are an important part of a child’s life. Biological connections certainly aren’t required for children to be siblings. But that doesn’t mean we should overlook the emotional significance of biological siblings in adoption.

For both birth and adoptive parents, if your child has siblings — biological siblings, half siblings, or siblings that they aren’t genetically related to, remember:

  • Always be honest with your child about adoption and siblings.
  • Start talking about your child’s siblings as part of your family’s adoption story from Day 1.
  • Let your child know that it’s ok to talk about adoption and siblings, and that they can talk about how they feel.
  • It’s ok to ask questions.

Every child will have different feelings regarding their adoption and siblings, so keep listening to what your child has to say! You can always ask an Adoption Specialist about how to talk to your child about siblings and adoption by calling 1-800-ADOPTION.

 

11
Sep

Adopciones en español

Si inglés no es su primer idioma, pero usted está considerando la adopción para su niño, usted todavía puede elegir la adopción con American Adoptions.

American Adoptions trabaja con un servicio de traducción certificado cuando se trabaja con futuros padres que hablan a español como su primera lengua. Mientras que a veces tenemos miembros del personal que se pueden traducir directamente, o futuros padres tengan un amigo o familiar que puede traducir, nos gusta tener un traductor externo para reuniones y llamadas telefónicas para asegurarse de que nada es mal entendida o traducido incorrectamente, para la protección de todos.

Es importante que los padres expectantes entender todas sus opciones, así como la pasos del proceso de adopción y su derechos como los padres biológicos. American Adoptions utiliza servicios de traductor para que los padres biológicos hispanohablantes tengan toda la información que necesitan para tomar las decisiones que son mejores para ellos y para sus hijos.

Estos servicios de traductor son proporcionados sin costo a la familia bilógico. American Adoptions tiene experiencia trabajando con padres biológicos hispanohablantes y está feliz de trabajar con cualquier hispanohablante futuros padres que desean hacer un plan de adopción para sus hijos.

Sin importar el idioma que hables, mereces apoyo durante todo el proceso de adopción y más allá . La elección de adopción para su hijo es una decisión difícil que implica muchas opciones en beneficio de usted y su hijo, y buscamos para proporcionarle los recursos que usted necesita para tomar decisiones informadas acerca de su plan de adopción; en inglés o en español.

Para los futuros padres adoptivos

Si entras en una oportunidad de adopción con un American Adoptions padre expectante que habla español como su primera lengua, vamos a seguir para proveerle con servicios de traducción para ayudarle a comunicarse a través del proceso de adopción.

La relación entre la familia biológico y la familia adoptiva es importante, y American Adoptions no permitirá que el lenguaje se convierta en una barrera en la relación. Tener una relación de adopción abierto o semi abierto con la familia bilógico de su futuro hijo es posible, incluso si no hablas el mismo idioma. Somos capaces de mediar comunicación para cualquiera que trabaje con American Adoptions hasta 18 años después de la adopción, y siempre alentamos adopciones abiertas cuando situaciones permiten.

Otro beneficio de una adopción abierta o semiabierta con la familia bilógico de su hijo es la capacidad de su hijo a mantener un vínculo a su patrimonio cultural, incluyendo el lenguaje primario de la familia bilógico, algo que se ha demostrado que beneficio de los adoptados .

American adopciones ofrece servicios de traducción si los necesitas

Si usted es un padre expectante que está pensando en colocar a un niño en adopción o un padre esperanzado que está considerando adoptar a un niño, American Adoptions puede ayudar a ofrecerle un traductor cuando sea necesario para una adopción exitosa.

Para más información sobre adopción, llame 1-800-ADOPTION ahora para hablar con un especialista en adopción en inglés, o póngase en contacto con nosotros en línea  para solicitar un traductor de español a Inglés.

American Adoptions Offers Translation Services

*Translated from above

If English isn’t your first language, but you’re considering adoption for your child, you can still choose adoption with American Adoptions.

American Adoptions works with a third-party certified translation service when working with expectant parents who speak Spanish as their first language. While we sometimes have staff members who can translate directly, or expectant parents may have a friend or family member who can translate, we keep a third-party translator present for phone calls and meetings to ensure that nothing is misunderstood or translated improperly, for everyone’s protection.

It’s important for expectant parents to fully understand all the choices available to them, as well as the steps of the adoption process, and their rights as birth parents. American Adoptions utilizes translator services so that Spanish-speaking birth parents have all the information that they need to make the choices that are right for them and for their child.

These translator services are provided at no cost to the birth family. American Adoptions has experience working with Spanish-speaking birth parents, and is happy to work with any Spanish-speaking expectant parents who wish to make an adoption plan for their child.

Regardless of the language you speak, you deserve support throughout the adoption process and beyond. Choosing adoption for your child is a difficult decision that involves many choices to benefit you and your child, and we seek to provide you with the resources that you need to make informed decisions about your adoption plan; in English or in Spanish.

For Prospective Adoptive Parents

If you enter into an adoption opportunity with an American Adoptions expectant parent who speaks Spanish as their first language, we’ll continue to provide you both with translation services to help you communicate throughout the adoption process.

The relationship between birth and adoptive families is an important one, and American Adoptions won’t let language become a barrier in that relationship. Having an open or semi-open adoption relationship with your future child’s birth family is still possible, even if you don’t speak the same language. We’re able to mediate communication for anyone working with American Adoptions for up to 18 years after an adoption, and we always encourage open adoptions whenever situations allow.

Another benefit of an open or semi-open adoption with your child’s birth family is the ability for your child to maintain a link to their cultural heritage, including their birth family’s primary language; something that has been shown to benefit adoptees.

American Adoptions Offers Translation Services if You Need Them

Whether you’re a expectant parent who’s thinking about placing a child for adoption or a hopeful parent who is considering adopting a child, American Adoptions can help provide you with a translator whenever needed for a successful adoption.

To learn more about adoption, call 1-800-ADOPTION now to speak to an Adoption Specialist in English, or contact us online to request a Spanish-to-English translator.

8
Sep

Local vs. National Adoption Agencies: 3 Factors to Consider

Once you’ve decided to grow your family through domestic infant adoption, one of the first — and most important — decisions you’ll make is choosing a professional to help you through the process.

Most prospective adoptive parents know that they want the support of an agency through the adoption process. But they may find themselves debating between a local professional and a national agency like American Adoptions.

There are a lot of factors that could influence your decision. Below, we’ve outlined three of the big ones you should consider as you make your choice.

1. Costs

Naturally, the costs of adoption is one of the factors many prospective adoptive parents take into account when choosing an adoption professional. While adoption can be expensive regardless of the professional you choose, different agencies have different fees — largely because they offer different levels and qualities of services.

National Agencies:

National agencies tend to have higher agency fees. This is because they tend to have higher overhead costs — they typically employ larger staffs, provide more adoption services and do more extensive advertising to reach prospective birth parents across the country. However, they may also be more likely to offer financial protection in the case of an adoption disruption.

Local Agencies:

Because local or regional agencies typically have small staffs and work in a more limited geographical area, they tend to have slightly lower overhead costs. In some cases, this means they may charge less for their adoption services.

The Takeaway:

When examining agency fees, it’s important to carefully compare not only the costs of each organization but also the services they offer in exchange for those costs. Remember that every expense in the adoption process has a purpose; an agency that doesn’t charge as much for advertising, for example, may reach fewer prospective birth mothers, leading to a longer adoption wait times. Similarly, an agency that spends more on birth parent support services may be more responsive to an expectant mother’s needs, thereby decreasing the risks of an adoption disruption.

2. Services

If you are looking for a professional to guide you through the adoption process from start to finish, an agency — whether local or national — is typically the best choice. But while most agencies generally can complete the entire adoption process, some do provide more expansive services than others.

National Agencies:

While local and national agencies often offer many of the same adoption services, national agencies have several advantages when it comes to the quality of those services, including:

  • More established advertising networks and marketing capabilities, which means greater outreach to prospective birth mothers and national exposure for waiting adoptive families
  • Large, qualified social services departments, which means better screening and support for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families
  • More precise matching services that connect prospective birth mothers and waiting families based on common adoption goals and preferences
  • 24/7 counselor availability for prospective birth parents, which leads to lower disruption rates and more successful adoption placements

In addition to the other services necessary for a successful adoption — adoption planning, coordination of legal services and contact mediation — larger national agencies may offer additional services that smaller local agencies cannot, including financial protection, profile design, post-adoption services and more.

Local Agencies:

Local agencies offer many of the same services as larger, national ones, but often on a smaller (and less effective) scale. For example:

  • Advertising reach may be limited to prospective birth mothers in a particular state or region, leading to a smaller pool of potential adoption opportunities and potentially longer adoption wait times
  • Local agencies usually do not have the established networking platforms, marketing teams or advertising budgets used by national agencies, which means their advertising efforts may be less effective
  • Because they tend to work with fewer prospective birth mothers, adoptive families may need to be more flexible and willing to accept an adoption opportunity that doesn’t perfectly match their preferences

Like national agencies, most local agencies can also provide the adoption planning and case management services necessary for a smooth adoption process. However, some services — like creating an adoption profile — may need to be completed independently or outsourced to another professional.

The Takeaway:

Local and national agencies can both provide the necessary services to complete an adoption, though some may be more “full-service” than others. Ultimately, it is up to each adoptive family to decide which services are most important to them and to choose an adoption professional who can meet those needs.

3. Process

Whether you work with a national adoption agency or a local one, the process to adopt a baby will largely be the same. However, there are a few ways in which the process may differ depending on the professional you choose to work with.

National Agencies:

With a national agency, your adoption process will likely involve:

  • Working with one professional. Nearly all services will be completed in-house or coordinated by your adoption specialist.
  • A shorter wait time. Because they work with a larger pool of prospective birth mothers, your adoption process may be completed more quickly.
  • Because your baby could be born in any state, you will likely have to travel outside of your state and stay there for a few weeks to satisfy the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
  • More requirements. You may need to meet additional requirements to ensure you’re approved to adopt anywhere in the U.S.
  • More responsiveness. With a larger staff, most agencies are able to respond to adoptive families’ questions and concerns in a quick, effective manner.

Local Agencies:

Depending on the local agency you choose, your adoption process might involve:

  • Coordinating some services on your own. Your adoption agency can likely provide most of the services you need, but you may need to complete some steps of the process on your own or with another professional.
  • In-person meetings. Because of your physical proximity, you may be able to meet with your adoption professional in person.
  • A longer wait time. Because they work with a smaller pool of prospective birth mothers, it may take longer for you to be chosen and to complete the adoption process.
  • Adopting close to home. Because your baby will be born in your state or region, you will likely not have to travel out of your geographic area or meet ICPC requirements.
  • Increased risk. Because many local agencies cannot match the quality of counseling and support offered by national agencies, you may be more likely to experience a disruption.

The Takeaway:

While the overall adoption process will be similar whether you work with a local or national agency, your choice of professional can make a significant difference in your overall adoption experience. It’s important to do careful research and compare the adoption process, costs and services of each professional you are considering before moving forward.

If you would like to learn more about working with a national agency like American Adoptions, request free information online or contact an adoption specialist now at 1-800-ADOPTION.

4
Sep

Why Adopting a Child Has So Many Steps and Requirements

When you’re considering growing your family through adoption, the process can seem overwhelming at the beginning. There’s a lot you need to learn about adoption before starting the process and, fortunately, our adoption specialists are available at 1-800-ADOPTION to answer whatever questions you may have.

However, many people ask, “Why do adoption agencies have such an intensive list of requirements before someone is cleared to adopt?”

We understand that the process to become active with an agency can be a long and involved one. But American Adoptions and all adoption agencies require all of these processes for a reason — they protect everyone involved (especially the children at the center of the adoption) from physical, mental and emotional harm before and after an adoption is complete.

At American Adoptions, our priority is making sure that all members of the adoption triad are protected throughout the adoption process. Therefore, we require certain standards to be met in order to reach this goal. While these requirements can sometimes lead to a lengthy process for prospective adoptive families, our adoption specialists will help them through every step of the adoption clearance process so they have the support and guidance they need.

Here’s why prospective adoptive parents have to take certain steps before they can adopt a child:

Home Studies:

Home studies are not just an American Adoptions requirement; state laws require that all prospective adoptive families go through this same process. While the home study process can be lengthy, it’s because there are so many aspects that a social worker must explore before deeming a prospective family fit to adopt. Not only will a social worker need to confirm prospective parents’ basic mental, physical and emotional ability to raise a child, she also must confirm adoption-specific parenting requirements (like addressing adoption as a child grows up, preparation for a transracial placement, etc.).

Pregnant women who consider adoption want to make sure that the home they’re placing their baby with is safe and supportive — and the rigorous requirements of a home study help ensure them of that. But a home study isn’t just an investigation; it’s also an opportunity for prospective parents to ask questions and learn how they can continue to prepare for bringing an adopted child home.

A Minimum Adoption Budget:

One of the questions those who are unfamiliar with adoption frequently ask is, “Why is adoption so expensive?”

Although the total cost of adoption may seem extensive when it’s first presented, minimum budget requirements are important to creating an adoption process that’s completed safely and efficiently. By setting a minimum adoption budget, we can provide prospective adoptive parents the emotional and practical support they need. Rather than completing complicated bureaucratic requirements on their own, adoptive parents can trust their adoption specialists to take care of these instead.

Another reason why adoption can be expensive is because of the needs of the prospective birth mother. When a woman chooses adoption for her unborn baby, we want to make the process as easy as possible for her so she feels confident in her adoption decision. This means providing her financial assistance with living expenses, 24/7 counseling and more. The more safe and supported a prospective birth mother feels, the less likely she will be to change her mind about adoption — and the more likely you’ll be placed with the perfect baby for you.

Adoption Planning Questionnaire:

To make sure that your adoption process is completed smoothly and we meet your adoption goals, we require you to fill out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ). This form details your adoption preferences, including cultural background of the child you adopt, the amount of contact you want to share with birth parents and more. By determining these preferences ahead of time, we can reduce your wait time and only present to you adoption opportunities that meet your desires. This is an important step to protecting everyone’s rights in the adoption process and ensuring all members of the adoption triad end up in an adoption situation they’re comfortable with.

The more open and flexible your APQ is, the shorter your adoption wait typically lasts.

Adoption Profiles:

American Adoptions also requires that prospective adoptive parents complete a paper and video adoptive family profile. This can seem like an extensive process, but it’s instrumental in helping prospective birth mothers find your family. By seeing photos and videos of you, a woman considering adoption can determine whether you might be the right fit. These profiles make it more likely that you will be selected by a prospective birth mother quicker than through an agency without these profile requirements. In the end, it’s a requirement we have that directly benefits you.

Even after a placement is made with an adoptive family, there are still some additional requirements to be met. Like with your pre-adoption requirements, your adoption specialist will help guide you through these processes so you can focus on what’s important — bonding with your new baby.

There are very good reasons that these post-adoption requirements exist.

ICPC:

The Interstate Compact on the Adoption of Children is another requirement that is set by the government, not just American Adoptions. Babies and children are more frequently than ever adopted across state lines but, because each state has different adoption requirements and laws, ICPC is the legal process that makes sure the laws of both states involved are met. ICPC can be one of the more frustrating parts of the adoption process because it requires adoptive parents to remain within the birth mother’s home state for up to several weeks post-placement, but it’s immensely important in protecting the safety of the baby involved. This way, adoption professionals can be sure that an adoption process has been completed with all the safety requirements met, reducing the chance that an adoption will not be approved after a child has already been placed.

Finalization:

The last requirement before your adoption can be completed is the legal process known as finalization. While it may seem extraneous to go through another legal requirement about six months after your baby has been placed with you, the finalization process is another step to making sure the completed adoption is in the best interest of all involved. A judge will ask you questions about the legal steps you took to adopt your baby, as well as how you are all adjusting to your new life together. (You may also need to complete post-placement visits, depending on your adoption situation.) Finalization is the last step to ensuring that an adoption was completed safely and legally to protect the interests of you, your child and your child’s birth mother.

We understand that the process to becoming an active prospective adoptive family can seem extensive, but it’s important to understand that these requirements are in place for a reason — to create a safe and smooth adoption process for all involved. Adding a child to your family is not a decision to be made lightly, and we know how much hope you set in this process. That’s why we take these extra steps to make sure that your adoption process is not only tailored to you but is handled efficiently and comes with the happy ending you’ve been dreaming of.

For more information about our requirements and why we’ve set these standards, please contact our adoption specialists today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

Share this to help explain why adoptive parents often have to jump through so many hoops!

24
Aug

Study Reveals Transracial Adoption is More Popular Than Ever

For many adoptive parents, adoption has never been about finding a child who looks like them. Instead, it’s a family-building process that adds a child in need of a home to a family who will love and support them, no matter what they look like.

Today, this is truer than ever. A recent study from the Institute of Family Studies reveals that transracial adoptions have increased by 50 percent over the last decade. Specifically, the proportion of adopted kindergartners being raised by a mother of a different race or ethnic group has increased 50 percent between 1999 and 2011 — a great step in the right direction for U.S. adoptions.

Here’s the study’s breakdown of how many adopted children are raised by a parent of a different race:

  • 90 percent of Asian adoptees
  • 64 percent of multiracial adoptees
  • 62 percent of Hispanic adoptees
  • 55 percent of black adoptees

In total, about 44 percent of adopted kindergartners were being raised by adoptive parents of a different race or ethnicity — a number that many expect to continue growing as the United States becomes more multicultural than ever.

Why These Results are Important

Transracial adoption has always had a complicated history. When adoption was less common back in the middle of the 20th century, prospective adoptive parents were much less likely to adopt a child of a different race, due to stigma and inaccurate understandings of what it takes to raise a child of a different race. In fact, the first recorded transracial adoption didn’t even occur until 1948.

For many years afterward, adoption agencies only recommended “race-matching” with adoptive parents — that is, same-race placement of adopted children. Those against transracial adoption argued that parents of a different race could not raise a child with a certain racial and cultural heritage, as it would lead to confusion and “unnatural” relationships.

Thankfully, popular opinion of transracial adoptions has changed dramatically since then. This new study highlights the modern view of transracial adoption today — as a beautiful way to build a family, no matter what races and cultures the family includes. With proper preparation, education and dedication, any adoptive parent can successfully raise a child of a different race with accurate knowledge of their cultural and racial heritage.

However, despite the positive view of transracial adoption among many, there are still challenges that will occur in any kind of multiracial or transracial adoption. We’re in a new age of complicated race relations, and not all Americans are comfortable with the idea of transracial adoptions and multiracial families. One only has to look at the violence in Charlottesville to see that racism still exists in the U.S. The challenges of adopting children of African-American or other multiracial descent and raising them in this kind of society likely have turned certain prospective adoptive parents away from this path.

But, as this study shows, there are still plenty of prospective adoptive parents who are embracing the opportunity to adopt a child of a different race, as well as all any unique challenges this process may bring.

American Adoptions is proud to have helped many adoptive parents adopt children of a different race, preparing them with the proper training and knowledge to successfully incorporate their child’s racial identity into their own life. If you think transracial adoption might be right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more and start the process whenever you’re ready.

18
Aug

5 Birth Mothers Share How an Adoption Scholarship Changed Their Lives

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

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

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

Carly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trillian

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

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

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

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

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

Julie

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

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

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

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

Amanda*

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations!

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

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

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

You can send donations in check form to:

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

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

14
Aug

10 Things that Scientific Research Says about Open Adoption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11
Aug

Infant Abandoned in Plastic Bag —There Are Other Options

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

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

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

“I Don’t Want My Baby”

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

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

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

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

What are Safe Haven Laws?

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

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

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

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

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

Adoption is Always an Option

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24
Jul

3 Topics to Research Before You Adopt

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

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

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

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

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

14
Jul

Birth Grandparents and Adoption

Becoming a grandparent is a status many parents hope to achieve someday. You long to see your child look at their child like you’ve looked at them for years. You pray you raised them right, so they can teach their children all you’ve taught them. You look forward to watching your children become the parents you knew they could be.

But what happens when your child makes the decision to choose adoption for their child?

This may be your first grandchild. Adoption is emotional and can be overwhelming for everyone involved. Birth grandparents often feel conflicted — their support and love for their child may be at odds with the fear of the unknown of the adoption process. This is normal.

Before you can help your child during the adoption process, you need to come to terms with your own feelings. It is okay to be sad and to grieve the upcoming changes in your child’s life, as well as your own.

One way to help you manage your emotions during this confusing time is to seek counseling. There are many support groups dedicated to families going through the adoption process, including birth grandparents. Find a group or individual counselor who can help you work through the potential feeling of loss you may have for your grandchild. After you have come to terms with your emotions, you can begin to focus on helping your child during this time.

Take time to educate yourself on modern open adoption. Rarely are domestic infant adoptions closed. Your child’s adoption agency can walk you through the entire process so you know what to expect; the adoption specialists at American Adoptions are always available at 1-800-ADOPTION. Go with your child when they visit the adoptive family. Get to know them so you can feel comfortable knowing your grandchild will be with a very loving and grateful family. Nurturing this relationship will allow you to keep in touch and be in your grandchild’s life for as long as you like.

Watching your child choose adoption for your grandchild can be difficult. But you should also take solace in the fact that they are showing such bravery and love in choosing a wonderful home for their child. With open adoption, this is not where your birth grandchild’s story ends. It is only the beginning.

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