Another Perspective of Open Adoption: How Birth Grandparents Stay Involved and Build a Relationship

The popular news column, “Dear Abby,” featured a post by a caring grandmother that read:

Dear Abby: My teenage daughter will be giving birth soon, and she has decided to place her baby for adoption. I have told her that whatever she decides, I will support her decision. Here is the difficult part: This will still be my biological grandchild. When this beautiful child is lovingly handed over to the adoptive parents, I will be losing a grandchild. I am already in mourning. Are there other grandparents out there who are going — or have gone — through this and how are they coping? I already see a therapist, but I would still like to know how others are coping. — Un-grandparent in Ohio

Dear Un-grandparent: I wish you had told me more about the kind of adoption your daughter has chosen for her baby. If it is an open adoption in which she will be kept informed about the child’s milestones and progress, ask the adoptive couple if they would welcome you as an “extra” grandparent for the child. If I hear from others who have gone through this process, I will let you know, because I’m sure they will write to help you through your heartache.

This exchange inspired the following blog post about open adoption, adoptive families and birth grandparent’s involvement in life post placement.

Birth Grandparents and Open Adoption

The Early Stages of the Adoption Plan

Answers to Some of the Tough Questions

Learning of your child’s choice to make an adoption plan might leave you wanting to ask a lot of questions, here are some common questions and answers that other people in a similar position had about what adoption meant for them as grandparents.

Will I still be a grandparent if my child creates an adoption plan?

• What does being a grandparent mean to you?
• Does this vision fit with your child and the adoptive family’s vision?
• How do you see yourself being involved in an ongoing relationship with your birth grandchild?

Your grandchild will always be a part of your life regardless of whether your child chooses to parent or place the child with an adoptive family and open adoption gives you the option to send updates and be updated on their life.

Can my child handle the emotional strain of making an adoption plan?

• How has your child coped with grief and loss in the past?
• How have you managed loss in your own life?
• Are you in some ways blaming yourself for your child’s current circumstances?
• What family rituals are in place to commemorate losses?

The life experiences of your child may be very different from your own. It is important to step back and realize that this will be one of the biggest and most difficult first decisions as a parent that your child will make. They need to decide what the best thing will be for their child.

How can I best demonstrate my love and understanding for my child?

• How can you support your child no matter their decision?
• What can you do to prepare yourself for this life change?
• What role does your child want you to play while they are contemplating their decision?
• What expectations does your child have of you should they choose to parent or plan an adoption?

Give yourself permission to grieve the upcoming changes in the life of your child, no matter their choice. Ask for help if you need it and if you don’t know what to say sometimes just being there shows you care. Birth grandparents usually have some kind of influence the birth parents’ decision to parent, abort or place the child for adoption. It is important to not to have your wishes pressure or sway your child during the decision making process. They might be make a different choice than you believe to be right, but in the end it is their decision and having you, the grandparent, as a support system for them is what they need most.

How can I stay involved with my birth grandchild and their adoptive parents after placement?

“We have experienced parenting, so we know what we’ll miss, whereas a young birth mom doesn’t always realize this,” said Janice Widner, whose daughter placed a child for adoption years ago, in a Chicago Tribune article. “So for birth grandparents, adoption can be harder emotionally.” It is not uncommon for birth grandparents to feel less important in the adoption process because the birthparent’s have the final say when it comes to open adoption. Keep in mind that this is your grandchild and that is different than being a parent again, help and support your child make the best decision for their life.

Birth Grandmother with grandchildren
If your child is placing through open adoption, it might be a good idea to have a conversation with your child about your desire to be a part of your grandchild’s life after placement. You and your child could approach the adoptive parents and ask them how they feel about grandparent involvement in the child’s life as well and agree upon something that works for everyone involved. One grateful birth grandmother responded to the Dear Abby post explaining that each summer the adoption agency her daughter and son-in-law placed through sponsors a picnic that is attended by birth and adoptive parents as well as grandparents, other family members and of course the adopted child. Adoptions From The Heart hosts a picnic just like this one in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Connecticut.

Other ideas of ways to stay involved and connected from actual adoptive parents who have maintained relationships with their child’s birth grandparents include:
• Crochet a baby blanket, sew a quilt or if you aren’t crafty head to a nearby store and purchase a baby blanket.
• A photo album, collage, or just pictures of the baby’s birth parents as they were growing up. It will be wonderful for your grandchild to see themselves in their birthparent’s at different ages and adoptive parents like to have photos of other members of their child’s birth family!
• A family tree and compete medical history from your perspective would be an invaluable gift because birth parents don’t always know as many ins and outs as you might.
• Write letters. Some adoptive parents keep scrapbooks or binders with letters, cards and items from birth families for their children
• We keep in touch via email and visits; sometimes we meet halfway in between our homes to go to the zoo or aquarium.

Building a Relationship to Last a Lifetime

Having a relationship with a grandchild is a desire for some birth grandparents and building that relationship through honest communication with birth parents and adoptive parents can help make that possible. Whether it is letting the adoptive family know of your love and support through letters and visits, or establishing a valued friendship by going the extra mile, it might just make all the difference.

Similar Building Beautiful Families Blog Posts:

Outside Resources:

Adopting as an LGBT, The Growth of Change From Past to Present

family is a family quote

There is always a lot of controversy and different opinions that get riled up when talking about LGBT couples and singles adopting.  Although society does form their own opinions, statistics show we have made a huge jump in progress from where our country was decades ago in allowing LGBT couples to adopt. Did you know that every state except Florida permits SINGLE gay and lesbian parents to adopt? And although the other states permit the LGBT community to adopt as singles, many of those same states ban LGBT couples from adopting. Confusing right?  In this article, we hope to better clarify the different state-to-state laws and demonstrate the progress we have made as a nation opening up the world of adoption to the LGBT community.

 The Change of Laws from Past to Present

Historically, gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual persons have been marginalized and punished by the judicial systems for expressing their sexuality. Within the past several decades, there has been a global movement toward greater visibility and increased civil rights for those considered sexual minorities. One of the most controversial issues around gay and lesbian parenthood has been the fight for equal adoption rights. Did you know in the past decade the number of LGBT individuals adopting children has nearly TRIPLED?

Statistics and Facts about LGBT Adoption and Parenting

Lesbian and Gay Parenting, a publication of the American Psychological Association (APA) reports that there is no credible research suggesting that lesbians or gay men are any less adept at parenting than heterosexuals. Research studies from the APA’s 2004 Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation, Parents and Children reported that lesbians and gay men may have superior parenting skills to their matched heterosexual peers, and that they are just as likely as non-homosexual parents to meet the emotional, physical, and psychological needs of their children. So why does a large portion of a society frown upon LGBT couples parenting? The beliefs held generally in society about the LGBT community and parenthood are often not based in personal experience but are frequently culturally transmitted based on stereotypes of what a family should look like.

Below are just a few more positive facts about LGBT adoptions and parenting taken from

  • Approximately 2 million LGBT people are interested in adopting.
  • An estimated 65k adopted children are living with same sex / gay parents.
  • LGBT adoptive parents represent 1 in 6 single parents raising children.
  • There are 5 states that represent the top percentages of LGBT parents
    • Washington DC: 28.6%,
    • Massachusetts 16.4%,
    • California 9.8%
    • New Mexico 9%,
    • Alaska 8.6%.
  • LGBT are raising 4% of all adopted children in the United States.
  • Gays and Lesbians adopt at a slightly higher rate than married heterosexual couples. The racial/ethnic breakdown of children adopting by same-sex couples is 53% White, 14% African-American, 18% Hispanic/Latino, and 11% Asian/Pacific Islander.
  • Gallup poll from May 2014 found 63% of respondents believed same-sex couples should have the legal right to adopt a child!

Different Types of LGBT adoption

LGBT couple

Joint LGBT Adoption

69% of the LGBT population lives in states where LGBT parents can petition for joint adoption statewide. A joint adoption is when a LGBT couple adopts a child who was not previously the legal child of either member of the couple.  After the adoption, the child has two legal parents. Joint adoptions by LGBT couples are tied to whether the couple has a legal status like a civil union or marriage.

Second Parent/ Stepparent Adoption

Second parent adoption, also known as co-parent adoptions, refer to a legal process in which a child who is already the child of one member of an unmarried LGBT couple is adopted either through a joint petition by both members of the couple or through an individual petition by the member of the couple who is not yet the child’s parent. After the adoption, the child has two legal parents.

Courts allow the same principles to apply to same-sex couples: just as in a stepparent adoption, the non-legal parent would petition to be a parent, and when that petition was granted, the child had two legal parents — the birth parent or initial adoptive parent, and the second adopting parent.

 Support Groups

 Getting support from a group of like-minded individuals can be very beneficial for same-sex couples looking to adopt. The adoption process and post-adoption placement can be overwhelming. Having a support system made up of individuals who have been through the process before can be very helpful. You can check for support groups run by local adoption agencies, LGBT advocacy groups, and fertility clinics. Support groups and events for your children when they get older can also be very beneficial. You should also consider joining a support group that includes same-sex couples with children so that your child knows that he or she is not the only one who has two moms or two dads and has other families to identify with.

To view a complete list of organizations providing social activities, meeting groups, events and gatherings for LGBT parents and children click here.

See below for just a few of the many organizations that are working hard to end discrimination against LGBT marriage and adoption all together.

Birthmother Support Quote

Last Minute Thought

Just keep in mind, whether you are a member of the LGBT who is looking to adopt or an expecting parent looking for that “perfect” family, there are not statistics out there that show that LGBT parents are any less suited to parent that their heterosexual counterparts. Sexual orientation does not affect one’s ability to parent.

Looking to adopt? Read more about some of our LGBT singles and couples that are waiting to adopt, check out our website where you can read more into their profile books and learn about their journey and how they ended up deciding to adopt.

A teacher’s Guide to Introducing Adoption in to the Classroom in 4 Easy Steps!

2 different kinds of strengthThe start of a new school year means many different things for families, like new classmates, new teachers, lunches, hectic schedules, homework assignments and school projects. With all of these changes, some adoptive parents can also experience a little concern when sending their child off to school. Sometimes children are given assignments that require personal information, such as family tree projects, tracing your family heritage, bringing in baby pictures, or timeline projects. For an adopted child, many of these common school assignments may cause them to feel left out and uncomfortable. Many adoptive parents have given their children the tools at home to answer difficult questions about adoption, but as teachers it is equally as important to educate the entire class on adoption.

Before you start: 

Before you start introducing adoption into the classroom, it is important that you, as a teacher, understand positive adoption language. As many of us know, while words not only convey facts, they can transmit negative feelings as well.

Here are 3 positive adoption language terms:

  • Birthparent, Birthmother or Birthfather – rather than “real mom or dad”
  • Adoption plan- instead of “give up” or “put up for adoption”
  • Was adopted – rather than “is adopted”

For more information on Positive Adoption Language visit the AFTH Blog !

Now that you understand adoption language, here are some easy steps to incorporating adoption into your classroom! November is National Adoption Month, making this a great way to incorporate adoption discussions into the beginning of your school-year!


 1). Give a presentation:

One of the easiest ways to educate your students on the topic of adoption is to give a presentation. There are many different avenues that you can explore when creating an adoption presentation. You can bring in a guest speaker such as a birthmother or father that you may know, adoptive parents, someone that was adopted, or even a social worker that specializes in adoption. For younger children, use props, such as puppets, to create a story relating to adoption.

2). Read Adoption Books to the Class:

A book is always a great way to engage children of all ages. You can even use a book to kick off an adoption presentation! Make sure that you choose books that incorporate adoption. For middle school to high school aged students, you can assign journal entries, or  essays relating to the theme of adoption, in correlation with the book that the class just read.  Read about recommended publications relating to adoption!

3). Educate the Parents:

Not only is it important to educated the classroom on the topic of adoption, but it is equally as important that the parents understand as well. When you teach a lesson on adoption in the classroom, or show a video, send home a flyer with the students to give to their parents that have a simple Q & A on them. It’s a great way to show the parents what topics you covered, and what the students learned about in class. Parent involvement is really important at any age in the school system. To educate the parents you could also invite them to sit in on presentations, or hold and after school presentations with the same speaker you used for your classroom.

4). Start a Community Service Project

A really great way to educate not only students, but the community on the topic of adoption is by involving people with a community service project related to adoption. This can be something as simple as finding your local adoption agency to see what fundraisers they have going on, and how you can set up volunteers for their events. Another great way to involve students in the community is through National Adoption Month, which happens every November. To read more about what AFTH did for National Adoption Month visit our blog!

When teaching adoption in the classroom, be sure to make lesson plans that are grade level appropriate. The way in which you present the topic of adoption to a preschooler it will be very different than teaching it to a high school student. You can also read about how to teach adoption at different educational levels.

Teaching adoption in the classroom can provide students with useful information that they may not have had access to before. By educating our children on adoption they can open their eyes to the many different and beautiful ways to build a family.

March Book Reviews 2015


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

tummy mummyThe Tummy Mummy by Michelle Madrid Branch -This is a gentle introduction into adoption and birth parents that many families may enjoy.  It has a very calm and relaxed feeling to it that I’m not sure I can attribute to the illustrations or the writing. The story isn’t one of my favorite and I think there are better books our there for children explaining adoption but given that there seem to be so few books that involve birth parents this could be a nice addition to your library. price $11.67 (HC)

breakwater_bay.jpgBreakwater Bay: A Novel by Shelley Noble –  This is a fiction book that focuses on adoption and a mystery surrounding a woman who learns that her mother isn’t her biological mother and that a pregnant teen washed up on a beach and begged her family to care for her daughter. Its a story of what does family mean? Is it who gives birth to you? Who raises you? Or maybe a combination of both. This was an engaging story but it is fiction. Unlike most of the other books reviewed here this book is purely for enjoyment purposes and not meant to really teach anything or help raise an adopted child however it does do a good job of allowing adoption to shine and not be made to seem less than.  It is definitely adoption positive even though the legal issues in the book made me want to scream. If you are looking for a good beach read that will engage you and speak to your adoption heart than this is a good chick lit book. I doubt many men would find this an engaging read but I am always happy to be wrong. price $11.97 (PB) kindle edition: $3.99

bird _crystal_chanBird by Crystal Chan – Bird is a middle school grade novel by first time author Crystal Chan.  Jewel was born on the day her brother, Bird died. His real name was John but Jewel’s grandfather called him Bird and after he jumped to his death from a cliff pretending to fly Jewels grandfather hasn’t spoken and her family is steeped in grief and despair.

On the eve of her 12th birthday Jewel leaves the house late at night to climb a tree and look at the stars.  In the tree she meets John, a young African-American boy who was adopted by a white family.  Jewel thinks it’s weird that she met a boy with her brother’s name in a spot out near where he died but the two become good friends. Jewel’s father doesn’t trust him though.  He believes that John is an a duppy (spirits trapped on earth who cause trouble) who has come to cause more trouble in their family. He goes out of his way to keep John away from his family.

John is visiting his Uncle while his parents get ready to have a baby.  Which brings up many feelings of abandonment, his adoption, and anger in John. While the drama going on in both children’s lives at first appear the same by the end you see how very similar their concerns are.  Jewel lives in a house that hasn’t let go of the grief and sadness of losing their son, and John believes his parents don’t really want him now that they are having their “own” child.

This is a beautifully written book and a well thought out story that really touches on what it means to feel different, how children view the world around them and how we are all connected and can help each other to be whole.  Many books deal with identity and parent and child relationships but Bird is on a completely different level. Bird is a compelling story about values, traditions and relationships that redefines what it means to be a family, I loved this book.  amazon  price $7.99 Kindle edition $10.99

Birth Parents in Open Adoptions and the Importance of Ongoing Support

There are many important conversations to be had when discussing open adoption, including that of the wellbeing of the individuals creating an adoption plan for their child—birthparents. With Birthmother’s Day (the day before Mother’s Day) quickly approaching it was time to delve deeper into this topic. By hearing from actual birthparents about their experiences with their adoption plan and support groups, as well as a scientific exploration of why a strong support system is crucial in an open adoption we are doing just that.

Birth Parents in Open Adoption

Birthmother’s Share Their First Hand Experiences with Open Adoption

Heather, an AFTH birthmother, on her open adoption

I was pregnant and because of the situation I was in I couldn’t handle another baby and I turned to the AFTH Chesapeake office. Because of the laws in Virginia, I ended up disappointing an adoptive family when the birthfather wouldn’t sign away his rights at first. After some time and some hard situations, I was able to choose another family, a same-sex couple this time, and place my son with them. I am so grateful for open adoption. At first I experienced some guilt about placing, but overall I am grateful that my son has such a full life and that I can still be a part of it. It was the best and hardest decision I have ever made.

Tabitha, an AFTH birthmother, on Birthmother’s Day and her support group experience

Being a mother prior to placing, I had never known about Birth Mother’s Day. And so the first year after placement, I really wanted to be validated in my choice and to be recognized that day.
The support groups are amazing for me! They let me know that I am NOT alone in this process and everyone has different ways of dealing and healing from the grief. More often, I am the one who has the longest placement and the other ladies are pretty new to the process or are still in a raw state of emotion. I get it, I’ve been there (sometimes I’m still there) and I cherish that I am able to be there for someone to lean on during those moments, making them aware that they are NOT alone. I truly enjoy these times with these special, beautiful and courageous women.

Stephanie, an AFTH birthmother, on attending her first support group

When I was first told that an ongoing support group would be offered to me after placing my daughter for adoption, I pushed the idea away. I felt like it was something I could never do. The adoption was hard enough to come to terms with myself, or to even discuss with people who knew me. How could I sit in a room full of strangers and try to explain myself and my decision? I knew I wanted some kind of therapy after the adoption took place, but I wasn’t sure that a group setting was right for me. I was dealing with a lot of guilt and embarrassment and couldn’t fathom putting that out there for other people, other women to hear and see and judge. I was very skeptical about whether or not it was the right thing for me and how soon I would be ready.

Then I had my daughter and placed with her new family. I received an invitation in the mail a month after I placed her, inviting me to a meeting that was only a month away. I didn’t want to go at all, but I knew deep down that I needed to go. I reluctantly RSVP’d. I dreaded it and looked forward to it at the same time, knowing it was out of my comfort zone. My feet and heart were heavy when I walked into my first meeting, which was only 2 months after I placed my daughter. I was a ball of nerves with a pocket full of tissues. I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to talk, but I thought hearing other stories could be helpful. I teared up as soon as I walked in the room and saw the other women who had done the same thing I did. It made adoption even more real for me, if that’s possible. It helped me realize that it affects many women from all walks of life and that I wasn’t the only one struggling with it.

Birthmother Support Quote

The meeting ended up going very smoothly, but I did use all my tissues and then some. I told my whole story at my first meeting, teary eyes, trembles and all. And now, I actually find myself looking forward to them very much, to the point of wishing they were more often. I know that if I didn’t force myself to that first meeting, I wouldn’t be attending them today. I have come to realize that nothing helps more than telling my story from start to finish, over and over again. There are always new girls at the meetings, and it makes me feel good to know that they might pull some strength or hope from my story. The support groups force me to address my emotions, recognize my progress, and come to terms with making the best decision for my daughter. I hold my support group friends very dear to me. I trust them with a big part of my heart, and they trust me with theirs. I love that my support group isn’t just for receiving support, but also giving it. Showing up to my group is just as much for the other women, as it is for me.

Adoption Agencies Find Ways to Celebrate and Support Their Birthmothers

Support Groups that Provide an Outlet for Birth Parents Yearlong

Adoptions From The Heart is an agency that is dedicated to everyone involved in the adoption process and their Virginia office has been holding a birth mother support group quarterly. Gathered around pizza, the women open up and share their stories with one another in a space where they feel safe. Sometimes the stories are repeated, but the focus shifts to highlight something significant that had not touched them before. Being able to decompress after events or visits and being able to share after the Annual Picnic or the Holiday Party has really brought the group of women together.
One birth mom explained, “I was really nervous about coming to the first meeting, it took everything I had to not back out. As soon as I was able to tell my story with women who understand me, I felt great. Everyone is so supportive and it’s nice to be able to be there for others too. This is something that I look forward to now, being with people who know how I feel.”
The group continues to expand with new attendees joining every meeting, encouraging and supporting from the moment they sit down. With Birth Mother’s Day on the horizon, the group is hoping to plan a fun event to celebrate, they may even go roller skating! This combination of discussion and fun group activities has provided a perfect balance for the women of this particular support group.

Birthmother’s Day: A Celebration of Strength and Love

Birthmother’s Day, the day before Mother’s Day every year, is a very special day at Adoptions From The Heart. They have the pleasure of working with amazing birthmom’s who are beautiful on the inside and out and at their Cherry Hill office, they have been taking time to celebrate their adoption journeys by hosting an annual Birthmother’s Day Brunch.

AFTH Birthmother's Day Balloons
Women came and enjoyed light refreshments while fostering conversations about placement and what open adoption has meant to them. At the brunch, the birthmom’s took time to release balloons and tied to each balloon was a hope, dream or wish they had written for their child. Are there ways that you celebrate on Birthmother’s Day or adoption all year long?

Why is Support and Counseling Important for Those in an Open Adoption?

Pre placement counseling and support is commonplace for both adoptive parents and birth parents, most times it is required by law.
Here are some statements pulled from the National Council for Adoption and The Counseling Psychologist in support of birthparent counseling to consider:
• Quality adoption counseling is an essential service that enables birthparents to make pregnancy decisions in an informed manner, after personal reflection, with all the facts on the table.
• The best birthparent/adoptive parent relationships are respectful, flexible, and built on trust. With trust, they can weather the normal ups and downs that occur in most relationships – counseling can help to build that trust.
• When a birthmother faces the reality and pain of her decision, she often feels a need to talk through all of her emotions. Eventually, if the grieving process is healthy, she will begin to withdraw energy from grieving and focus on moving beyond it.
• Through working with a therapist and/or a birth mother support group, more women are able to express their feelings. They are also given the opportunity to accept and own their decisions, get past blaming others for their circumstances, and become able to share their story and defend their decision.

Together We Can Support Each Other

Birthmother’s deserve to be celebrated and supported and that is what Birthmother’s Day, and every day is all about. As an adoption community we can dispel the stereotypes and judgment of open adoptions and birthmother’s. Share with us your stories and your photos and together we can support each other!

For other blogs on similar topics visit the links below:

Adopting As a Single Parent by Choice, Making Dreams into Reality!

Mother and Son, Single Parent Adoption

Raising a child as a single parent might be viewed by others as an “unconventional” life choice but to mothers and fathers who choose to do it on their own; they just want to make their dream into reality. Single men and women want to adopt a child for many of the same reasons that couples want to. They want to be a parent, have a child to love, want to give a child a home, pregnancy might not be an option, and the list could go on. There has been an increasing in single adoptive parents over the past few years and whatever the reasons leading them to adoption, their journey is something to be celebrated.

Many people hear the word “single parent” and automatically think that a tragedy or divorce caused their single status but that not always the case. There are many singles who make the choice to enter the world of parenthood.

The past few decades have seen an incredible increase in the number of families headed by single mothers. Unlike the stereotypical images of an un-wed, poverty-stricken, uneducated, and young teen or woman facing parenthood alone, an increasing number of successful, single well-educated professional women in their 30’s and 40’s are arriving at motherhood through adoption by choice. AFTH has quite a few singles, both men and women, who are looking to adopt.

“I am so excited to become a mother-something I knew I wanted from when I was just a little girl. Although having a biological child has not been a possibility for me, I decided that should not stop me from making my dreams into reality of becoming a parent.”-Hopeful single adoptive parent at AFTH

To read more about some of our single’s that are waiting to adopt, check out our website where you can read more into their profile books and learn about their journey and how they ended up deciding to adopt.

 Statistics of Single Parent Households in the US

Single parenthood is very common in the United States. Even today when 50% of U.S. children will spend some part of their childhoods in a single parent family, there is still contempt for single moms and dads. Did you know that more than 22 million children under the age of 21 are being raised in a single parent household? Here are just a few more appealing statistics.

  • About 28% of children worldwide live in a single-parent household.
  • In the United States, 80.6% of single parents are mothers. Among this percentage of single mothers: 45% of single mothers are currently divorced or separated, 1.7% are widowed, and 34% of single mothers never have been married.
  • 76% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed and 85.1% of custodial single fathers are gainfully employed

 Even today when 50% of U.S. children will spend some part of their childhood in a single parent family, there are still often many misperceptions about single parenthood however times are changing and society is beginning to embrace the many different ways a family can be formed.

Adopting as a single father

 Statistics of Single Parent Adoption

Unfortunately years ago, if you had gone to an adoption agency as a single person and applied for a child, you would have been turned down. Now, thousands of children in the United States and other countries are living with single men and women who have chosen to become parents and who have been given the opportunity to provide a loving home for a child. Below are just some statistics about adoption and adopting as a single parent.

  •  Every state in the country currently allows single adults to adopt children.
  • Approximately 25 percent of adoptions of children with special needs are by single people.
  • In 2011 nearly 1/3 of adoptions from foster care we completed by unmarried individuals. This number includes adoptions from more than 13,000 single women and 1,400 single men.

Controversy of Single Parent Adoption

 Most single parents agree that the joy of bringing a child into your life far outweighs the challenges added as being a single parent. Single parents, whether through adoption or circumstance, do face unique aspects to parenting solely due to the fact that there is one of them as opposed to two. There can also be some benefits of single parenthood such as having less people to coordinate parenting decisions with. One of the biggest obstacles many single parents may face are the opinions and objections society might have. Sadly, there are some people who still believe that singles should not be allowed to adopt children. Here are just some arguments and opinions many single parents by choice have heard along the way.

  • A child needs two parents so that one can fill in for the other when one is too tired, sick, and so on.
  • A child needs to be raised by both a male and female parent
  • If a single parent becomes ill or dies, the child will be orphaned.
  • Due to the need to work to provide for the child, they cannot be an at-home parent and give the child the attention he/or she will need.
  • Single parents often live under poverty line and receive government assistance

 Finding a good support system through the way

With all of the opinions, arguments and judgments you will surely hear along the way during you adoption process as a single parent know that it is important to be strong in the decision you make and know that you can make your dream of parenthood true. To help, it is important to find a good support system, a network of people who care about you and who will be there for you both emotionally and physically when you need it.

We find that many of the prospective adoptive parents working with AFTH say that they often find additional support as they go through the adoption process. Adoption is a thread that can pull many people together throughout the journey. You may find friends and neighbors as well as other hopeful adoptive parents you meet through the agency classes and events that have a connection to adoption that you will gain as resources for support along the way.

Below are just some helpful organizations geared to single parents that can be there for you whether you have a question or just need someone to talk to that can relate to your situation.

One Step at a Time

All you need for a family is love, commitment and a sense of humor!

Whether you are thinking about adopting as a single parent or you know someone that is a single parent, remember that millions of children are growing up healthy and happy in single-parent households. And that single hopeful adoptive parents are just trying to pursue their dream of parenthood just as any other parent. Like all worthwhile journeys, the path of single adoptive parenthood is easiest when taken one step at a time. To read more about single parent households and how less than a quarter of American families fit the old “Leave It To Beaver” model of a married, two-parent, opposite-sex household with children, check out our Families Are Changing post from 2009.

How to talk to your child about racism: from starting the conversation to maintaining a continued conversation throughout childhood

In society we often look to teachers, politicians, or religious leaders to eliminate racism. Racism is all around us. It exists whether we consciously see it or not. Racism can been seen on the television, in the media, in our neighborhood and in our everyday life. We have learned about it in school, and grew up being taught that racism is bad. For many, even talking about race makes them uncomfortable. Saying the word “racism” its self sounds racist. It is an ugly word that leaves many avoiding the topic all together, or in the opposite extreme believe that being colorblind is the answer. It is important for all parents to talk about race and racism especially in families formed through transracial adoption.

The truth is racism exists, even in today’s society. Your child will unfortunately at some point be exposed to it. While you may not be able to stop that from happening, you can ease them in to the subject, and prepare them for tough situations that they may face.

Some parents believe that if they practice “colorblindness” their child will grow up accepting the differences between their peers automatically. When most parents use that term, what they mean is that their love and actions are not defined by the race however by not seeing race, transracial adoptive parents are not seeing a piece of who their child, and now their family is. Here is a link to an article stating why the practice of colorblindness is no longer a way to teach your child about racism. Children notice race. It is a physical characteristic, only one of many, that helps to make up who a person is and so teaching children to be colorblind in essence ignoring race and the issues surrounding race can actually be harmful.

Your child should hear about racism, before they are directly exposed to it. If parents neglect to speak on this issue, the child could fill in the blanks with their own naive meaning of racism. This could later lead to negative self-esteem, with a loss sense of belonging.

The first step is starting the conversation. It may seem like a sensitive, intimidating subject (like the birds and the bees talk) but, like many things, the more you talk about racism with your child, the easier the conversation becomes.

So, let’s get started!

Here are some tips to help you get the conversation started:

  • Don’t ignore the difference. For example, you can tell your child that “you are athletic just like mommy” or “your good at math just like daddy” to help them see the similarities between you. As well as sharing the similarities between you, let your child see the differences too. You can point out that she has beautiful brown skin, while yours is lighter in color. You can extend the differences outside of your family and take a look at members of your church or community. Have dolls of all types of races and ethnicities not just the ones representing your family. It is important to show your child how beautiful your differences are and celebrate them. It could be something as simple as a food that you love, but your child doesn’t. Make the differences as accepting and normal as the similarities that your family shares.
  • Give words their meaning. It is important in the beginning stages of your conversations about racism to put meaning behind words. Describe family members and friends as White, Asian, or African American. Also explain words like stereotypes and prejudice. This will help introduce these complicated concepts to your child.
  • Teach them positive racial concepts. Society & the media paint many pictures of race and racism. It is important for you to teach your child positive racial concepts at an early age, when race begins to register.
  • Visit our blog to learn how to handle different forms of stereotypes
  • Responding to differences. It is important to also teach your child how to respond to the differences that some may point out to him/her. If a classmate points out a difference and she is prepared with an answer, it will eliminate some self consciousness that they may feel. Role-playing different scenarios is a great way to give your child the tools to respond to classmates questions of difference.
  • Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If your child experiences insensitive racial comments don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Take time to give your child a calm, mature, and informative response. This will show your child how to handle these kinds of situations.

So, now that the hard part is over…..

Here are 4 ways to talk to your child about racism

  • Don’t be too direct. Coming right out and asking your child if they have experienced racism could cause your child to pull back and feel uncomfortable. Instead of outwardly asking, bring up a race related topic in the news, and discuss it. This opens up a conversation and allows your child to come to you with questions or issues.
  • Talk about other families. It is important for your child to understand that not all families have the same values as yours. Not every family that your child meets will be accepting of your family dynamic. Talking about this and pointing out that “some children grow up being afraid of people who are different” and using phrases like “isn’t that sad” or “I’m glad our family isn’t like that” will help him/her understand this concept.
  • Racism isn’t their fault. To a child, being teased of differences such as skin color, hair style, or the difference of your family compared to others could leave them asking “what is wrong with me.” If this occurs, emphasize that it is in no way shape or form your child’s fault. Point out that the person doing the teasing is just one person’s bad behavior – not all people think that way.
  • Be a role model. Most importantly, be an advocate and a role model. Show your child that you have family, friends, even role models of your own from all different backgrounds. Show them that you accept the differences in people and reassure your child of their place in this world. Give them the tools to overcome racism and not let it define them, teach your children to challenge racism and lead by example.
  • Help your child be an advocate. Differences come in all shapes and sizes and are not limited to race. Helping to establish a trait of acceptance in your child may help them be an advocate for others who may be treated unfairly because of their differences. For example a child being bullied or the man down the block who is in a wheelchair or the Asian student who is new in class.

AA ISTOCK -  AA girl and C girl hugging

Now that you have the tools to start the conversation and keep the conversations going, visit our website and blog to read more on how to help school aged children deal with racism.