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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.


Dealing with Distance in Open Adoption

You have found the perfect family for your baby, and you know they’ll give your child everything you want for him or her. But what if that perfect family happens to live on the opposite side of the country?

If you choose to work with a national adoption agency, there’s a chance that the family you choose for your child won’t live in your immediate area. Long-distance relationships are never easy, but being far away from your child and the family with whom you want an open adoption relationship can be even harder.

Here are five guidelines for making long-distance open adoption relationships work:

  1. Communicate before placement.

When you create your adoption plan, you will get to determine the type of relationship you want to have with your child’s adoptive parents, regardless of where they live. As you get to know prospective adoptive parents for your baby, you’ll be able to talk with them in more detail about your hopes for an open adoption. Your adoption specialist can help mediate these conversations as you outline each party’s expectations for your future relationship. Some topics you might want to discuss include:

  • How often you can expect pictures and updates
  • How often you will visit each other, if you’re interested in post-adoption visits
  • Phone calls, video chats, social media, and other forms of communication
  • How you will address concerns and miscommunication

Remember that adoption relationships, like all relationships, change and grow over time. Try to be flexible as your relationship evolves, and always keep communication open, especially if you have concerns.

  1. Use social media.

Depending on the openness in your adoption and the relationship you have with your child’s parents, social media can be a great way to stay in touch, regardless of the physical distance between you. Posts from the adoptive parents can offer a quick glimpse into daily life for your child, even outside of scheduled phone calls and visits.

Talk about social media with your prospective adoptive parents ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page. Your adoption specialist can also help you work out some guidelines for what is appropriate and acceptable when talking about adoption online. Talk about how photos should be shared, what kind of privacy settings adoption-related posts should have, and more. You and the adoptive parents may even choose to set up private, adoption-specific pages just to share these updates.

  1. Make plans to visit.

If visits are an option in your relationship, make plans to visit your child or to have the adoptive family visit you. These visits will not only give you an opportunity to interact with your child, they will also give you and the adoptive family something to look forward to and talk about it as the trip approaches. Plan some of the things you want to do during your visit ahead of time so you can make the most of your time together.

  1. Send mail and packages.

Most adoption relationships involve the exchange of periodic pictures and letter updates. Mailing handwritten letters and small packages, especially around family members’ birthdays or holidays, can be a great way to remain present in each other’s lives, even when the miles separate you. It can be fun to send and receive “snail mail,” and handwritten notes and physical photographs can be even more meaningful than text messages and email updates.

  1. Look for the positive.

Distance can be challenging, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your open adoption relationship: you have the opportunity to remain an important part of your child’s life, while also having the space to adjust to life after placement, take care of yourself, and pursue your goals and passions. Your child will see that you and his or her adoptive parents are all going the extra mile to make your relationship survive the added distance — and that makes their adoption story even more special.


How You Can Make an Adoption Plan in Prison

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

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

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

  1. Decide that adoption is right for you.

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

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

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

  1. Choose an Adoption Professional.

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

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

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

  1. Choose an Adoptive Family.

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

  1. Sharing Contact with the Adoptive Family

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

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

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

  1. Giving Birth and Signing Adoption Consent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How to Talk to Your Family About Your Adoption Decision

When a pregnant woman chooses adoption for her child, it’s never an easy decision. It’s one that she has to come to on her own, but that doesn’t mean she has to go through it on her own. If you’re a pregnant woman who’s chosen adoption for your child, it’s going to be important that you have a support system in place.

The first step in assembling that support system, then, is to choose who to tell about your adoption plan. Some women prefer to tell only a few close friends or family members. Others aren’t as concerned with keeping it a secret. It’s completely up to you who you do or don’t tell about your decision. If you’re having qualms about how to do it, though, that’s where we can help.

If you’ve chosen to pursue adoption for your baby, you’ve probably spoken with an adoption specialist. This can be a great resource when you’re deciding how to tell those close to you about your choice. By talking with you about your specific situation and family dynamic, your adoption specialist can help you come up with a plan for communicating with the people in your life about what’s going on.

Your adoption specialist will probably suggest that you first tell those who you think will be supportive of your decision. It’s entirely possible that not everyone will be, and it’s going to be much easier to handle those discussions when you have someone in your corner already. You may even want someone to accompany you when you go to tell those whom you feel might not understand your choice.

With that in mind, though, know that people might not react in the way that you anticipate. If people still don’t know about your pregnancy, you might consider telling them about that before bringing up adoption. Telling someone that you’re unexpectedly pregnant and have decided on adoption in the same conversation could be a little overwhelming for the recipient, and that may affect the response you receive.

If that response is a negative one, try not to take it personally. First, give them some time to digest the news. It may be that they’ll come around as soon as they’ve had time to process what’s happening. If that’s not the case, it might be necessary to tell them what you know about today’s adoptions. Sometimes people have preconceived notions about adoptions that are based on the way adoptions used to take place. When they understand what today’s adoptions look like, they may be able to better understand and support your adoption plan.

When telling them about your adoption decision and why you made it, make sure you explain that:

  • You are in charge of the entire process.
  • You get to choose the adoptive family.
  • You’ll receive financial assistance for pregnancy-related expenses.
  • You’ll be able to achieve goals that you wouldn’t be able to pursue while raising a child at this point.
  • You get to choose the amount of contact you have with your child and their adoptive family.

Even if whoever you’re talking to still can’t get on board with your adoption plan, make sure they know you’re still going through with it. Just as you should never let those close to you talk you into adoption against your wishes, you should also never let them talk you out of it. Adoption is your decision and your decision alone.

If you’re having trouble with unsupportive friends or family members, or if you aren’t sure how to begin the adoption conversation, remember that our adoption specialists are available to you 24/7. To speak with one, call 1-800-ADOPTION.


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.


What Does an Adoption Specialist Do?

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

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

For birth families

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

For adoptive families

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

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


Why Open Adoption is Important to Birth Mothers

Open Adoption “Open adoption is an opportunity to build enormous bridges to families beyond your reach.” – Kristen Gerald

Open adoption is so important to me. It’s just as important to me now, six years after my son’s adoption, as it was in the beginning of the adoptive relationship. The question is: why is having an open adoption important to me? Having an open adoption means I stay connected with my child. Just because I made a decision not to parent every day doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a relationship with my child. I also believe that us having a relationship is better for him as well in the long run.

Open for All of Us

The main reason that I chose an open adoption was because I didn’t want my child to have questions as he was growing up that would go unanswered. I didn’t want him to be confused about where he came from, or why he ended up where he did. I wanted him to be able to grow up in an environment that fully supported him being able to develop an identity based on security, trust and love. Having an open adoption means I can help offer him and his parents clarity as he grows up and has questions. There is more than enough love between all of us to satisfy his needs, and I haven’t disappeared from his life. I didn’t abandon him; I just play a different role in his life than his parents do.

“Adoptive parents, child, birth mother, siblings, extended adoptive family, extended birth family—the more love we give, the more we receive.” – Jeanette Green

Open Comfort

I’ll be honest, open adoption brings me comfort knowing that my son is doing well where he is now. When I get to talk to him and hear how happy he is, it gives me peace of mind and continues to encourage me to live my life. It’s a way for me to know that my son is safe and well taken care of, which was all I ever wanted for him. I love the pictures and the updates. I am proud of my son and who he is turning into. I also am proud of his parents for raising such a precious child. He wouldn’t be doing so exceptionally well if it weren’t for them.

More importantly though is my main reason for choosing openness: my son. I have heard too many stories about children feeling abandoned by their parents because they were in a closed adoption. I knew people who were adopted and went searching for their birth parents, only to find them many years later. I desire to be accessible at any time for my son. Whenever he needs me, I am here. I am not his adoptive parents, but I am his birth mother and I take that role very seriously.

*Closed Adoption Note

I want to mention that sometimes closed adoptions are the best option. When a child’s safety is at risk, or it is just the wishes of the adoptive and birth parents, then closed adoption may be the wisest choice. I mention this because I believe in what’s best ultimately for the child, whether it is open or closed adoption. My experience is with open adoption, and when it is an option, I advocate for it.

What Openness Really Does

I see adoption as a way to change roles and extend a family. I did not place my child up for adoption so I could get out of my responsibilities associated with becoming pregnant. It wasn’t a decision I made out of maturity or grief. I genuinely made the decision for open adoption because I love my son, and I want him to have the best he is able to out of life. So doesn’t that mean knowing where he came from as well and having access to his entire family instead of being cut off from me?

“Our family is like a big beautiful patchwork quilt. Each of us different yet stitched together by love!” – Unknown Author

I have learned my boundaries over time. There are times when I need more contact, and times when my son’s parents need less contact. He isn’t at the age yet in which he fully comprehends where he came from. Interacting with me from time to time will make it much easier when it’s time for him to truly understand the role that I play in his life. I believe fully that his parents will do an incredible job explaining to him how he was birthed out of love, and given to them because of even more love than is almost possible.

I believe that an open adoption is a way to teach a child more about how much love they actually have in their lives. Don’t we all want that for our children?

Benefits of Open Adoption for the Triad

  • Adoptive Parents
    • You will know the medical history and other history that you may be interested in for your child. In a closed adoption, this information is not always made available. In open adoption, as the child grows and you have questions about genetics, your questions with be answered.
    • You have an extension of family for your child. Your child will benefit from having so much love in his or her life as you express that love.
    • You can be open with your child about where he or she came from, and how that child was chosen twice: by their birth parent and by you. You made a choice to love that child and you can express that openly as well as expressing that the choice the birth parent made was out of love as well.
    • There is so much more love to give to your child with open adoption!
  • Adoptee
    • The child will have all of his or her questions answered, especially the big ones. The child won’t be left confused, wondering where he or she came from and where their birth parent/s is/are.
    • The child will have so much love from so many family members that they will grow up nourished and appreciated. Feeling loved will provide self-esteem, security, and a greater faith in their spirituality as they grow up.
    • What child doesn’t like to show off pictures of themselves and know that there are others outside of the immediate home who truly value what and how they are doing in life?
    • There is so much more love available to the child with open adoption!
  • Birth Mother/Birth Father
    • The grief process will be much easier, as what will be grieved is a specific role rather than a relationship. A mother changing her relationship with her child is a transition. A mother saying goodbye to her child is a loss.
    • Having an impact of love and being able to provide important history information will make a birth parent feel special and like they are still a crucial part of the child’s life, even if it is a different role than what the adoptive parents play.
    • There is still an outlet for a birth mother to love her child through an open adoption by giving gifts, receiving pictures and updates, and whatever else the open agreement entails.
    • There is somewhere to pour out all of that motherly and instinctual love!

Open adoption provides something incredibly special: Love.

~Lindsay Arielle


Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.


5 Ways to Help a Birth Mother Heal After Placement

  1. Together We are Motherhood Quote SmallerCommunicate with Me

Let me know how the child is doing after placement. Keep me updated on his emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental status with updates when agreed upon. I not only want to know WHAT he is doing, but HOW he is doing.

“Making an open adoption work requires commitment to ongoing relationships, despite their ups and downs. While adoptive family and birth family relationships may seem awkward at first, over time the involved individuals typically become more comfortable.” – Child Welfare Information Gateway

  1. Keep Your Original Openness Agreement

Don’t shut me out when things get hard. We can communicate and work together by staying open with each other.

“Ultimately, open adoption is in the best interests of the child. Maintaining a relationship with a child’s birth family can be immensely rewarding for adoptive parents, although it can also be challenging sometimes—like parenting, it may be the hardest, best job you will ever have. Birth parents often live in complicated circumstances. Some are leading happy, full lives; some are struggling with the grim realities of living in poverty or other difficult issues. Sometimes adoptive parents are afraid that younger children will be frightened or harmed by the complexity of their birth parents’ lives, but in fact the children are more likely to learn acceptance of a complex situation if they can see their adoptive parents model it, instead of being left to figure out a “taboo” subject on their own. Open adoption works best for adoptive parents if they always return to the central belief that what matters is what is best for their child, not only in the present but in the future—and it is likely that will always involve as much information and knowledge as possible.” –

  1. Tell Me You Love Me and Appreciate Me

Loneliness is something that can be curbed by knowing that you appreciate me and love me for the sacrifice that I have made and the gift that I have given.

“By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being. Great expectations are good; great experiences are better.” – Richard Fischer

  1. Focus on The Child

Take care of that child with all of your spirit and soul. Ultimately, that’s what I need in order to be able to heal. My decision to place that beautiful child and your decision to care for that beautiful child is what binds us. That is our first priority, no matter what.

  1. My Healing is My Responsibility

Understand that while I may have needs and desires, it is not your responsibility to heal me, only to help me at times feel connected.

“Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” – Ephesians 3:17

~Lindsay Arielle


Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.


Drug Usage During Pregnancy: How it Affects Baby

Drug Usage Effects on BabyWhen adoptive families are asked what kinds of prenatal drug exposure they are open to in their child, their main concern is the health of their future child. In a perfect world, an adoptive family’s child will have had no drug exposure and will be born perfectly healthy.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that many babies placed for adoption have been exposed to some type of drug in utero.  Exposure can vary from very little to multiple times per day, and effects on the child can vary just as greatly. However, each of these babies has something in common: they’re in need of a loving family to care for and nurture them.

Before making any decisions regarding drug exposure, it is important that adoptive families understand the possible effects on the child. Below, we have identified the most commonly used drugs and the possible effects they may have on an unborn child.


Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke in utero are more likely to be born premature, have low birth weight, and have weaker lungs than babies whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy. They are also more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Low birth weight can lead to a variety of other health issues such as: Respiratory distress syndrome, increased risk of infection, low blood sugar, problems with feeding, and difficulty regulating body temperature.


When pregnant mothers drink, so do their babies, which can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). FASDs include a variety of physical and mental disabilities as well as emotional and behavioral problems.


There are very few studies that examine the effects of marijuana on developing fetuses making it difficult to say with any certainty what those effects may be.  There is little evidence of birth defects in children whose mothers smoked marijuana. However, marijuana use during pregnancy may be linked to low birth weight, hyperactivity, and some memory deficiencies.


Though many antidepressants have been deemed ok to use during pregnancy, none have been proven safe without question. Certain brands of antidepressants have been associated with rare lung problems in newborns, and others have associated with a small increase in fetal heart defects. However, the overall risks of birth defects remain extremely low.

Antidepressant usage, particularly in the last trimester of pregnancy, can cause discontinuation or withdraw symptoms in newborns – such as jitters or irritability. Though these symptoms can be difficult for a parent to witness, they are usually short-lived.

Anti-Convulsants/Seizure Medications

While there are risks to a developing baby whose mother is taking seizure medications, there is also a risk to babies whose mothers go through pregnancy with untreated seizures.

Pregnant women who experience seizures are at risk for trauma from falls or burns, premature labor, miscarriages, and low fetal heart rate due to lack of oxygen.  These risks are generally seen as greater than the risks associated with seizure medications.

Effects of seizure medications on babies are generally limited to congenital malformations. In women who take seizure medications, the risk of congenital malformations in babies is 4-6 percent. The most common malformations include cleft lip and clef palate, as well as problems with the heart, urinary or genital systems.


Knowledge of the effects of methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy is incredibly limited. However, some research points to increased rates of premature delivery, still birth, and placental abruption, as well as low birth weight, lethargy, heart and brain abnormalities, and lasting neurological deficits.

Methadone (OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine, etc.)

Though few studies have been done, methadone use during pregnancy is thought to increase the risk of smaller than normal head size and low birth weight. However, the biggest concern with fetuses exposed to methadone in utero is withdrawal symptoms after birth.


Heroin use during pregnancy has been said to cause placental abruption, premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), still birth, and birth defects, as well as an increased risk of SIDS.  The most common effect on babies whose mothers used heroin during pregnancy is NAS or withdrawal symptoms after birth.

In addition, mothers who injected heroin into their system during pregnancy are at a much higher risk for contracting HIV and other diseases via needle sharing. These diseases can potentially be passed from mother to child.


While there have been very few studies done to evaluate the effects of ecstasy on unborn babies, it is thought to increase the risks of premature birth and low birth weight. Babies exposed to ecstasy in utero are more likely to suffer from NAS or withdrawal symptoms as well as a variety of cognitive impairments.

Cocaine/Crack Cocaine

The use of cocaine during pregnancy can have a variety of effects on babies, and it appears that the effects worsen when exposure is higher. When used early in pregnancy, cocaine is thought to affect the structure and function of the brain, which may predispose children to developmental, behavioral or cognitive problems. Additionally, babies exposed to cocaine in utero are at greater risk for premature birth, low birth weight and small size.

Amphetamines (Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, etc.)

Research on the effects of amphetamine use during pregnancy is extremely limited. However, there have been many adverse outcomes reported alongside amphetamine use. These include: premature birth, stillbirth, low birth weight, small size (including head circumference), cleft lip, heart defects, biliary atresia, hyperbilirubinemia (Jaundice), cerebral hemorrhage, systolic murmur and undescended testes.

Because the effects of many of these drugs have not been adequately studied, the above risks likely do not show the whole picture. Some of these effects may have been falsely attributed to the drug, and other possible effects may not have been listed.

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how any one drug may affect a child. Variables such as, amount/length of drug exposure, time of exposure, use of more than one drug, and other environmental factors can drastically change the outcome of each pregnancy. The best thing adoptive families can to do is to learn as much as they can about the possible effects of these drugs, consult a physician or pediatrician, and decide what outcomes they fell comfortable accepting.


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Tips for Bonding with Your Child’s Birth Parents

Bonding with Birth ParentsBonding with my son’s mother has come more naturally to me at certain times, and felt more difficult at other times. There were times that I felt insecure about bonding with her because I was afraid of what she might think of me. I think I realized that she was fearful of the same thing. You see, people are people, no matter what role they play in life. Whether you are a birth mother or an adoptive parent, you are still human. Human beings get fearful and insecure about what others might think of them. We may second guess actions that we take or words that we speak. Confidence doesn’t come easy for the fallible human being. Therefore, bonding with a birth parent may feel like a challenge.


What do I say? How do I act? What do I share? What do I keep to myself? These are questions rooted in insecurity that I have experienced in different relationships. These questions are not specific to the birth mother and adoptive mother relationship. In my experience, these questions and insecurities arise in many relationships I have been involved in. It’s not about who you are talking to though. I believe it is where you are talking from.

My son’s mother spoke from her heart, and I spoke form my heart and that is how we bonded. There was no façade or dance regarding how we would act towards one another. I wasn’t looking for a woman to put on a show for me. I was looking for a woman who would share her heart with me. I knew that I needed someone who could love my son as much as I did, and the only way I would be able to identify that was by looking at her heart.

Even though bonding has been challenging at times, I never felt as if I was forcing a relationship with my son’s mother. I think that forcing a relationship may be an indicator that the relationship isn’t meant to be. We should never have to force a personal and intimate relationship with another person.

Be Yourself

My suggestion to adoptive parents who are trying to bond with their child’s birth parents is this: Be yourself. Joining a family together through adoption isn’t about swooping the child up and walking away from his or her parents. It’s about creating an extension of family where you can all come together through one common bond: your love for that child.

If you are looking for some topics to discuss with your child’s birth parent, here are some suggestions:

  • What are some activities that you see that child getting involved with and how will you help that child by encouraging him or her to try those activities? Sports? Dance? Mathletes?
  • When was it first put on your heart that adoption was the way to go for you and how can you express a knowing that this is the right child for your family?
  • What are your dreams, hopes, and aspirations as an individual and as a parent?
  • What are your core belief systems and how do you try to carry those beliefs out on your daily life?

If you begin to discuss these topics from your heart with the birth parents you are looking to connect with, my prayer is that they will be receptive and open up with you as well. My relationship as a birth mother with my son’s parents is very intimate and special. That relationship has developed and adapted over time to become a closer connection. We have learned about each other’s hearts, boundaries, and desires.

Don’t Give Up

If you find that the birth parents or birth mother cannot seem to bond with you, but you are confident that the child was meant to be with you, be sensitive to why that bonding isn’t occurring. Consider that birth parents experience tremendous amounts of grief, guilt, and shame at times. They also may be feeling insecure about how they should interact with you. I know that there have been times I second-guessed myself with my son’s parents because I was feeling insecure.

I think that the desire to bond with your child’s birth parents is admirable, honorable, and crucial in the success of such a relationship. If bonding isn’t happening, perhaps it is one of two things. Either this isn’t the relationship you may be looking for, or the birth parents are feeling incredibly insecure and are not at a place where they are able to express intimacy through bonding. My suggestion is to not give up on creating that bond. If your heart truly desires a bond, and birth parents see that, there is always hope.

~Lindsay Arielle


Lindsay Rambo VerticalLindsay is a guest blogger for American Adoptions. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.

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