National Adoption Month – 30 Days of Celebration

National Adoption Month is almost here!! To get you ready for November, we’ve created a calendar for 30 Days of Celebration! Click the link to print your copy today!

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Celebrating The Fall Season With Fun Family Activities

Host a Pumpkin Decorating Party for family and friends!

Image from Artful Parent

Image from Artful Parent

Autumn has arrived and Halloween is right around the corner, have you and your family chosen a costume yet? Spending time with family and friends is what the holiday seasons are all about so why not kick it off with a great activity for all ages! When you think about October, what is one of the first things that come to mind? PUMPKINS! Host a pumpkin decorating party and keep it simple because carving can be difficult for younger kids, decorating them is a great alternative.

Gather a few simple supplies and some small pumpkins and you can assure that the kiddos will have a fantastic time! First, you need to get some smaller pie pumpkins rather than the big ones because they are a lot easier for small hands to handle. On the plus side, they are also relatively inexpensive and you can get a variety of colors at some retail locations. Next, try and supply some fun things that can easily be glued to the pumpkins, like large sequins, rhinestone gems, buttons, and little spiders. Be careful, some items might require hot glue and a parent, be sure to have Mod, Podge, glue and glitter glue available for other options. If you have ever been to a craft store this time of year, you know there are also a lot of fun seasonal scrapbook pages and paper punches that would be great add-ons for the pumpkins as well. Other supplies you might want to set out could include paint markers, acrylic paints and brushes (for the super artsy youngsters).

For the grown up in attendance, put together some seasonal treats. Our personal favorites are apple cider doughnuts from any local farm or orchard, candy corn and some delicious pumpkin spice coffee because you deserve a treat too! If you need some inspiration to get you in the spirit, check out some of these links to get the juices flowing!

These shadow puppets from One Perfect Day blog would be great add-ons for the pumpkins, printed or traced on to colored or patterned paper. http://www.oneperfectdayblog.net/2013/10/03/halloween-craft-for-kids-shadow-puppets/

Reader’s Digest has free pumpkin carving patterns that could easily be used as add-on’s as well, you could even mix and match the faces and designs! http://www.rd.com/slideshows/pumpkin-carving-patterns-ideas/

Or if you are feeling extra fancy and creative check out this post from the Artful Parent with some ideas and tutorials that might need a little more parent supervision. http://artfulparent.com/2014/09/best-pumpkin-decorating-ideas-for-kids.html

Happy pumpkin decorating!

October Book Reviews 2014

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

137759-287559-396x448-MySisterAbbyCoverMy Sister Abby by Allison Barberi – Simple story of a young girl whose family adopts another child of a different race and culture. It briefly touches on how siblings don’t always look alike and that people of different cultures celebrate holidays or birthdays in different ways. It didn’t touch on race, which given the age range this book is intended for is okay but I did feel was a missing piece. The focus of the story seemed to focus on being happy to have a sister to share things with. amazon.com price $8.97 kindle price $5.99

blogger-image--1813170225Yes, I’m Adopted! by Sharlie Zinniger –  I really enjoyed this book right up to the end until the Authors threw in God. I feel this was just an unnecessary addition but probably won’t bother most people.  This is a sweet story with an en empowering message to help adopted children who may feel that different is bad to realize different is just different and different can in fact be very good. I loved the subtle nod to Superman and his being different and adopted – I think that this book would really speak to boys but girls would certainly enjoy it as well. amazon.com price $8.99 Kindle price $1.99

ThisisaBookFor-Parents-01a-thumb-307x448-86229This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life by Danielle Owens-Reid & Kristin RussoThis is a great book to help parents of lgbt kids and also for lgbt kids or adults to read.  While the questions are directed to parents the answers may help lgbt youth feel better about the reactions they may receive or questions that people ask.  This is all new to many people and while it may have taken a long time to come to the conclusion that you needed to come out as lgbt you need to give others the space to ask questions and come to terms with it as well.  Sometimes what sounds like a negative question is just that a question with no malice attached to it more of a information gathering to help the other person process the information.  Each chapter focuses on different aspect of coming out and at the end of each chapter there is a short summary of what was talked about. There are real life stories and scenarios scattered throughout the book that also help make this book more accessible and not just feel like a textbook. amazon  price $15.99 Kindle edition $9.99 

51w1TO5YHYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Family Medical History: Unknown/Adopted: How a Routine Inquiry Led to Unexpected Answers for an Adopted Woman by Nancy Kacirek Feldman & Rebecca Crofoot –  Many adult adoptees know the pain of not knowing their family medical history and the awkward conversations that can be had at doctors offices when trying to explain that they were adopted.  In fact medical history is a big reason why many adoptees search for their birth parents.

While this is not a particularly well written book it does describe the process and the roller coaster of emotions that are involved with searching for your roots. Nancy tells most of the story from her perspective through narrative, letters, and emails.  Becky, the social worker for the agency that Nancy was adopted through helps fill in some of the legal gaps and letting readers know what is normal and expected along the way.  I thought this book was very well balanced and honest.  amazon price $13.41 Kindle price 3.95

Choosing An Adoption Agency

If you are considering building your family through adoption, you’ve probably done some research. This post is all about how to choose an adoption agency that meets your needs.tips

To begin, we would suggest searching on websites such as BuildingYourFamily.com, Adoption.com, or RainbowKids.com for a list of agencies that are licensed in your state. Read through the descriptions of the agency and make a list of all of the agencies that have a program you are interested in and that you’d like to learn more information about.

Now that you have created a list of possible agencies, go to their websites. You can get some of your questions answered through research on their website as well as making phone calls. It’s important to look at the agencies expectant parent page as well as their adoptive parent page to see the services they provide to pregnant women.

Below are a list of questions that we would recommend researching on and asking when you talk to a representative of the agency. These questions will help you narrow your search of an agency.

  • What services do they provide for expectant parents?
  • Do they offer ongoing support to all members of the adoption triad?
  • Do they have restrictions for adoptive families? For example: single, LGBT, etc.
  • How long is their average wait?
  • How many families do they work with compared to the placements per year?
  • What is their fee structure?
  • When are the fees due?
  • What type of support do they provide while you wait?
  • Do they support open adoption?
  • How often do they communicate with families during each step of the process?
  • If Domestic: How does the agency locate pregnant women?
  • If International: Which in country facilitators or attorneys do they use?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • How soon after you apply will your home study begin?

 

You should attend a meeting at any agency that you are interested in getting more information on. Many adoption agencies hold monthly meetings or individual meetings in which you can ask more questions and get information on the program, the process, and even meet the staff. This can be very helpful in selecting the agency that is the right fit for your family. You may also meet other prospective adoptive parents who you can share experiences with and get support along the way.

Pay attention to any red flags while researching an agency. Be aware that some agencies promise a child before a family assessment or assure you that the birth parents will relinquish a baby before birth or require no home study fee. These are huge red flags as no agency can legally do this. Any agency that does not mention the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, a uniformed law, you should stay away from. In international adoptions you should stay away from agencies that promise faster placements or an inside track to ease paperwork or that guarantees a certain child. Doing research on the agency will help you find these red flags before it is too late.

You can expect a month or two of investigating alternatives before you find the agency that is right for you. We hope that by going through the list of questions provided that your search will be easier and go smoothly.

The Paper Heart Project

Those of us in the adoption community know that November is National Adoption Month and here at Adoptions From The Heart we have been preparing! This year we are bringing back one of our favorite fundraisers, The Paper Heart Project, to help spread adoption awareness throughout local communities during the month of November.

Project2:Layout 1.qxdAny business or organization can join AFTH and the Paper Heart Project. Starting November 1st, participating companies and organizations can offer their customers or audience the opportunity to “show their hearts” in support of adoption by donating as little as $1 and then proudly signing their name to a heart to then be displayed.

By promoting your support of National Adoption Month and AFTH, you will also be supporting The Birthmother Fund and pregnant women in need. The Birthmother Fund supports women who have worked with Adoptions From The Heart, both during and after pregnancy. AFTH has worked with thousands of pregnant women considering adoption. Each woman is facing unique challenges and many find themselves in need of a little additional financial support to help with housing, food, transportation etc. in order to regain their footing.

Join us in celebrating beautiful families created through adoption and participate in the Paper Heart Project! Here is how:

Step 1: Register
Register online at http://www.afth.org/events through our National Adoption Month page and complete the registration form. You will be asked to provide contact info, a company or organization logo (so we can promote what you do!) and the amount of paper hearts you wish for us to send you.

Step 2: Promote
Show your support of National Adoption Month and AFTH’s Paper Heart Project any way you can think of. We can help you come up with ideas, two brains are better than one! We will be promoting your business as a Paper Heart sponsor through our social media channels, reaching 70,000+ people each week and in all press generated by the Paper Heart Project.

Step 3: Accept Donations
Request a minimum donation of $1 per heart. Donors can write their names on a heart to show support for adoption. You can display the hearts anyway you want; they will definitely bring a pop of color to any wall! We will be checking in all month long to see how you are doing. Additional donations from your own company are tax deductible and we can provide a Tax ID upon request.

Step 4: Return Donations
We ask that all donations be sent by cash or check along with unused hearts by the return date of Friday, December 5th.

If you have any questions about our fundraiser please don’t hesitate to ask Jessica at JessicaA@afth.org! How do you raise awareness for adoption in your community? Share your stories and ideas with us!

Stages of Waiting

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We’ve all heard of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross model for the stages of grief, but what about the Adoption stages of waiting? We all know how difficult and frustrating the process can be – we also know how joyous and amazing it can be as well. Sometimes the frustration gets overwhelming and you need a break. Well when you do, read our lighthearted list of stages of waiting – we hope it makes you smile as you embark on your own roller coaster ride of emotions.

 1. Relief. You have finally decided that you are going to adopt. No ifs, ands, or buts! You feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders, you finally know what you are going to do!

2. Overwhelm. You just got stuck with all this paperwork to do for adoption and you are trying to continue with your everyday life at the same time and it just doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to get done.

3. Joy. Your paperwork is finally done and your classes are completed – you’re ready to be matched! You’ve hurried up to this point and now… You must wait.

4. Doubt in yourself. Why hasn’t any expectant parents picked you yet? Is it your profile key? Did you say something wrong on your profile? Are there not enough pictures of yourself in there? Are there too many pictures? Do you come off as a nerd? Do you come off as conceded? What don’t they see in us?

5. Doubt it will ever happen. It’s been a lifetime, ok its been three months, and you haven’t been picked. Other couples who applied after you are getting picked. No one will ever pick you and you might as well just get on with your life knowing you’ll never have a baby through adoption.

6. Exhilaration. YOU’VE BEEN PICKED! The phone rang and you picked it up and you’ve been picked by an expectant couple and they want to meet you!

7. Insecurity. Will they not like you when you finally meet them? What if they don’t like the color shirt that you’re wearing? What if they decide you’re too (insert any adjective here) to parent their baby? What if you don’t click? What if they don’t get your husband’s humor?

8. Overwhelming Excitement. The meeting went so well and the baby is due in a month! You and the expectant parents have came up with an agreement for everyone and everything looks like a perfect match and connection!

9. Fear of parenthood. Are you ready to be a parent? What if the baby crys every time you hold her? What if the mother decides to parent? Do you have enough diapers? What about wipes? How many bottles will we need? How will you EVER get through this next month?!

10. Joyful, uneasy anticipation. She’s gone into labor. She sounds like she’s in pain. It’s been 10 hours since her water broke.. is something wrong? Is everything okay? Is she okay? Where’s the baby? Is the baby okay?

11. Exhilaration. The baby is finally here! The paperwork has been signed and you’re ready to go home. You’re ready for all of the challenges and joys of being a parent — Your happy ending. :)

Adoption in the Classroom: Back to School Edition

Summer has ended and it’s time to send the kiddos back to school. Sometimes discussing adoption can be tricky when speaking with school aged children who don’t have a personal connection to adoption, so we compiled some ways for teachers and parents to incorporate conversations about adoption into the classroom and household.

Courtesy of Livewellmagazine.orgA good place to start when talking to youngsters about adoption is to ask them to tell you some of the things they already know about adoption and if they know someone close to them that was adopted. When they start to volunteer questions, theories, ideas and facts, just let them talk and don’t challenge what they have to say. Let them know they did a terrific job with coming up with some of the right ideas and that some of them were not quite exact. Explain all that adoption can involve, and that it is a loving but difficult choice for birth parents to make.

Anticipate that you will be asked lots of questions after your discussion about adoption and there is no shame in being stumped or not knowing how to give an adequate answer. Just let the child know you will check back after doing some research of your own! As a parent it is up to you to decide at what age you want to talk about adoption with your child at home or in the classroom, but know that by the ages of nine or ten children will understand enough to ask fairly sophisticated questions and contribute ideas about adoption to the conversation.

Here are some helpful hints to share with your child’s teacher or to use at home!

Preschool
• Mention the words “adopted” or “adoption” every now and again when you talk about babies, families, or when you are telling stories.
• Choose stories to read or movies to watch that mention or incorporate the theme of adoption. “Dinosaur Train” on PBS is a great show that kids will love.
• Make sure that the pictures and books in your classroom reflect the diversity in the world.

Early Elementary
• As you discuss different kinds of families, always mention adoptive families.
• If a student in the class has a baby born into their family, use this as an opportunity to mention that some children join families through adoption.
• Consider a class activity for National Adoption Awareness Month (November), such as having an adoptive parent visit.

Later Elementary
• Be sensitive to the fact that children in this stage generally want to fit in and be the same as their classmates. They are very unlikely to want to be singled out because they are adopted, or for any reason for that matter.
• Present the Family Tree exercise with several alternatives for the whole class, describing how the exercise can be adopted for adopted children or other situations such as being raised in other non-traditional families.
• Mention that many famous people are adoptees: Former President Gerald Ford, Stephen Jobs, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, even Superman.

Middle and High School
• Suggest adoption as one of the themes for essay or journal writing, allow students to explore their feelings.
• Introduce family history assignments sensitively, mentioning alternatives and noting that some students may not have access to their birth relatives because of divorce, death, adoption or various other reasons.
• Mention adoption in science class in connection with genetic studies, noting those traits, skills, and characteristics which are inherited and those which are acquired.
• In family life and sex education classes, discuss families formed by adoption. Explain adoption as a choice for people who face an unplanned pregnancy.

Talking about adoption with a classroom of children or with your child one-on-one can help provide them with information that they may not have had access to before. As a result of adoption education you can also connect with many other adoptive families that you may not have known where adoptive families—expanding the network of support for all of your adopted children.