National Foster Care Month

National Foster Care Month 1

What is Foster Care? How is fostering a child different from adopting?

May is National Foster Care Month. This post will discuss more about foster care and how it differs from adoption to honor this special month.

Foster care and adoption are two different scenarios for supporting a child who needs to be loved and provided for because, for whatever reason, their birth parents cannot continue to take care of them. Understanding foster care and adoption and the negative misconceptions about each is important to then learning the differences between them. Basic definitions, which are not complete descriptions, and a few common misconceptions impertinent to understanding foster care and/or adoption, are provided below.

What is foster care?family

Fostering is when a family opens their home to a child who the state deemed it necessary to remove from the home of their biological parents. And while the foster parents are responsible for the day-to-day needs of raising the child, the main goal of foster care is reunification the state remains the child’s legal guardian as it is intended to be a temporary situation. There are however many children in foster care whose parental rights have been relinquished and are available to be officially adopted.

Foster Care Misconceptions:

  1. Foster care is where “bad” or “unwanted” kids go

The stigma that older children who have caused their parents distress are sent into foster care is just not true. It has nothing to do with the child’s actions and is a decision the courts have made in the best interest of the child because their biological parents are unable to provide a healthy environment for the child at that time.

  1. The foster care system is abusive and harmful

Many people view foster care as a system run by foster parents who are just in it for the money and uncaring social workers who shuffle children from one home to another. While the system falls short of ideal, the fact is that the majority of foster families are loving and kind and devote their lives to helping children who, for whatever reason, are in need of a safe and loving home whether temporarily or permanently. Because of the large number of children in and out of the foster care system every day, social workers do their best to help as many children and families as possible. While there are children in the system for long periods of time, the goal of the social workers is to work towards reunification with a child’s biological parents. However in the cases where reunification is not an option or in the best interest of the child, adoption is then an option to find a permanent forever family.

  1. All foster care facilities are institutions or group homes

There are situations where children in foster care may be in a group home, however the overwhelming majority of children in foster care are placed in individual families who provide for the child’s day to day needs as a part of their own family while the child is living with them.

What is adoption?AA ISTOCK -  AA mother, father, and 2 daughters

Adoption is the act of an adult, other than a birth parent, voluntarily and legally assuming all the parental rights and obligations for another person, in this case a child, with a legal and permanently binding arrangement made through the courts. Additionally, because there can only be two legal parents, a biological parent’s rights must first be terminated either voluntarily or by judgment of the court before an adoption can be finalized.

Adoption Misconceptions:

  1. Adoption is “buying” a child

Fees for adoption have nothing to do with purchasing the child. Adoptive parents do not pay birth parents for a child. These costs are in place to pay for agency fees, attorney fees, travel, medical expenses, advertising, and many more elements that do not correlate to the parental rights for a child. Read more here on the financial side of adoption.

  1. Adoption is a last resort or final option for adoptive parents

While many families do turn to adoption due to infertility, there are also families who choose to grow through adoption regardless of their ability to conceive. And for families who have tried infertility treatments other options prior to adoption, that does not mean that adoption is any less meaningful because they came to their decision as a result of infertility. Adoption is not an afterthought to do “just because” nothing else worked. Take a look at this insightful piece on the difference between second choice and second best.

  1. Adoption comes with too many unknowns and risks

It is true that the adoption process comes along with many unknowns (time frame, biological factors, medical issues, birth parent situation etc.) and the potential for disruptions and financial risks. However it’s important to remember that all paths to parenthood are filled with unknowns and risks and for those considering adoption it helps to dive deeper into those fears and concerns and break them down by learning more about the process.

 

By understanding a little bit more about what foster care and adoption “are” and what they “are not,” prospective families can begin to learn more about the differences and similarities between the two situations and choose what would work best for their family.

 

Differences between Foster Care and Adoption:

  1. Rights

When in foster care, the parental rights belong to the biological parents, not the foster parents. This means any important decisions, such as medial decisions, are made by the birth parents, even if they are not directly caring for the child. In some extreme cases, parental rights may be terminated, in which case the decisions would be made by the foster care parents or agency in direct care of the child. In adoption, the birth parents parental rights have been terminated either voluntarily or by the courts. The adoptive parents assume parental rights and make all the decisions for the child. Open adoption allows birth parents to be involved and updated on their child’s life to varying degrees, despite not having these parental rights.

  1. Permanency

Foster care is meant to be a temporary situation, often with the goal of reuniting the child with their biological parent(s). This is not always a possible outcome, in which case the hope is for the foster child to be adopted by a loving family. Adoption is a permanent situation that is legally binding where a child become a part of a forever family. Read this woman’s journey as a foster mother to see one perspective on how the rights and permanency elements play a role in taking care of the child.

Similarities between Foster Care and Adoption:

  1. Providing for a child

Whether permanent or temporary, supporting the child in your care is of the utmost importance. While significant decision making belongs to different people depending on situation, it is always necessary to provide the child with food, clothing, and shelter in a safe and loving environment. No matter what, the child’s best interest always comes first.

  1. Importance of education and support

If you are considering adoption, becoming a foster parent, or adopting through the foster care system, it’s important to be educated about the entire process and find a great support system. Research and self-searching are important to fully understanding what will be needed from you. Social workers and/or attorneys are necessary in all situations, and can help you understand your options.

 

Whether a child is in foster care or being placed for adoption, their health and emotional needs should be the first concern. While foster care and adoption are very different, they are both in place to find forever loving homes and families for children. To find more information on different options and what is right for you, check out www.afth.org!

CHILDREN ISTOCK -000004107146Medium

Feel the Love: How to Bond with Your Adopted Child

Smith & Sons (2)

The best things in life are unseen, that’s why we close our eyes during a kiss, a laugh and a dream and bonding is no exception- you can’t see it, but you can feel it. Bonding with your child is important and becomes almost critical if the child was adopted. Although we know adoption isn’t a birth mothers rejection, oftentime’s to adoptee’s it can feel that way. Is it important to reassure your child that they can depend on you and are safe and loved. Bonding is a process that cannot be rushed. A deep meaningful relationship can only develop through shared experiences, trust, and time. It’s essential for children to feel accepted, cherished, and loved in the purest form- unconditional and true. Remember, a family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.

“A family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.”

The Science Behind Bonding

Attachment is a strong, affectionate bond we have with special people in our lives that lead us to experience pleasure when we interact with them. We often feel comforted by those we have an attachment to in the times of stress. The beginning stages of bonding starts earlier and simpler than many think. According to famous Psychologist Bowlby, babies are born equipped with behaviors like crying, babbling and smiling to ensure adult attention and adults are actually biologically programmed to respond to infant signals. When a parent performs small steps such as holding their children close, singing sweetly to them, comforting them and rocking them softly to sleep, their child knows that their parent is dependable which creates a secure base for the child to begin exploring the world and feel loved while doing so. These things along with keeping a calm voice, skin-to-skin contact, and carrying your child are the beginning steps to making your adoptive baby feel safe, secure, loved and cherished beyond belief.

Vera Falhberg, pediatrician and specialist in the field of adoption attachments, categorizes the following as long-term effects from positive attachment:

  • Helps a child to sort out perceptions of the world in which he lives
  • Encourages the development of logical thinking
  • Develops social emotions in a child
  • Cultivates the formation of a conscience
  • Helps an individual cope with stress, frustration, worries, and fears
  • Fashions an appropriate balance between dependence and independence
  • Sets the stage for the unfolding of healthy future relationshipsUntitled design

The Importance of Comfort

Making sure your child has comfort is a nurturing, everyday desire all parents have. Comfort increases productivity and boosts self-esteem in children and who doesn’t want that? Contact-Comfort takes it a step further and examines the relationship between physical and emotional comfort with love and security. For example, we’ve all seen the reaction that a crying baby can have due to being picked up by its mother; the child relaxes and stops crying. This is believed to be a result of its first feeling of safety and security derived from this close contact. A famous experiment that is a true testimony of the importance of comfort was conducted by Harry Harlow in 1959. The experiment focused around baby monkeys that were separated from their birth mothers and reared to two mother-like figures; one terry cloth covered doll and one wire meshed doll. The babies held on tightly to the terry cloth covered dolls for security and comfort despite the fact that the wire meshed doll had a bottle attached to it. This experiment demonstrated the importance of a warm and comfortable environment to help a child thrive rather than a cold, uncomforting one.

Building Comfort for your Child

We suggest having an age-appropriate crib or bed, warm sheets and blankets, a few pieces of child size furniture and some toys they might enjoy. You may feel the need to over-indulge with bold prints and glitter, but decorating with too many bright colors may be too overwhelming. Decorating with soft, warm colors will put your child at ease and displaying few attractive toys that are soft and fuzzy will calm your child and help them feel right at home. Another tip we suggest is carrying you child in the front of your body, closest to your heart. The Moby wrap can help you keep your child close and aid in bonding while also freeing your hands.

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Ready, Set, Bond!

True bonding is not measured by time spent together or the favors done for each other but by the comfort you find when you realize you have each other. Now that you have some background knowledge on the importance of bonding, let’s put our theories and science to work. Here are some tips we offer to help promote a healthy bond between you and your child.

Be Sensitive and Empathetic

Empathy is all about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with someone else’s heart, and seeing through someone else eyes. Be sensitive to the needs of your child and handle with care and compassion. If your infant is crying, take time to rock them gently and sing to them softly.

Sit and Play

Playfulness decreases any feelings of threat and harm. Sit alongside your child and follow their lead. Find activities that will interest your child and stimulate them emotionally and intellectually. “I see you” is a great game to play that promotes eye contact and helps the child become familiar with your facial features and laugh.

Be Predictable

Keeping rituals and routines help let the child let him know what’s expected of them as well as what they can expect from you. Try to keep feeding times the same; the earlier your child realizes that when they’re hungry you will feed them the better it is for all. As soon as your baby shows signs of hunger, sit in a cozy spot with a drink of water, a nursing pillow and soft music playing. If your baby is easily distracted when feeding, you might try going in a quiet room with the lights low, says Jim Sears, M.D., author of The Baby Book.

Skin-to-Skin Connection

Child or infant massages are a way for you to gently nurture and spend time with your baby. They promote parent – to child interact and are often soothing and calming to your child.

Relax and Enjoy It!

Bonding is not like instant glue which suddenly and irrevocable cements the parent-child relationship together forever. Bonding is a life-long process of parent-child interaction. Take a deep breath and enjoy bonding with you child; not only will this make you feel better, but also help your child relax.

What are some rituals your family does to promote healthy relationships?

 

Adopting When Your Partner is Reluctant

So you are 100% on board with the adoption process, you are ready to submit your application and get started creating your profile, but your partner isn’t as enthusiastic as you are. What do you do?

Reluctnat Adoption

“It is common for people to be in different places about adoption, yet it is something we do not often talk about,” says Jill Smolowe, an adoptive parent and author of an adoption memoir, An Empty Lap. “That makes the person suffering through it feel alone. I thought my marriage was flawed in some fundamental way when my husband and I couldn’t agree, and yet I struggled in isolation.” In this blog post we will explore some tactics to handle adopting with a partner who is reluctant about the process.

Reluctant Partner v. Reluctant Relatives

 

Reluctant Parent-To-Be

Imbalance can be frustrating when you are ready to have a baby in your arms, but your partner continues to raise concerns about parenthood. As Adoptive Families explains, reluctance to become a parent often centers around what must be given up, or anxiety about meeting expectations. Ask yourself and your spouse these hard questions, knowing that some may be unanswerable until you’re living with the changes a child brings. Many spouses aren’t reluctant about parenthood but parenthood through adoption – maybe it’s all the infertility treatments that have taken a toll emotionally, financially and physically that adds to a partner’s reluctance. Bottom line, really try to get down past the symptoms and to the root of the fears and concerns where they can then be understood better and addressed.

Questions to Ask

  • Age: Will my age negatively affect my ability to parent?  Will I have enough energy? Enough patience? Enough love?
  • Money: How can I save for a college education when I need to save for retirement? Will we ever get to take a vacation again?
  • Time: Will a child be too disruptive? Will I have to curb my work hours? Do I want to?
  • Family: Will my parents reject a child who comes into the family through adoption? Will my children from a prior marriage resent me for starting a new family? Will I repeat my parenting mistakes?
  • The unknown: Who will the child be? What genetic surprises might be in store? Will I be able to love an adopted child as much as a biological one?

The key is to acknowledge your spouse’s concerns and fears, and take them seriously. Join a support group for couples considering adoption. Hearing other’s reservations may help both of you consider different angles and explore what’s fueling the reluctance. Speak with your social worker to find ways to balance out the concerns – for example if your spouse is mostly concerned with openness or how to fill out the profile key, don’t push them to accept a situation they might ultimately be uncomfortable with, there needs to be a balance of both partners’ needs and wants.

Reluctant Relatives

Announcing to your family members that you will be growing your family through adoption, sometimes you will be faced with hesitant or unenthusiastic reactions to the news. It can be a shock to have loved ones question your adoption decision and it is important to remember that they most likely are coming from a place of caring and have the best intentions.

The Power of Education

  • Share the research you’ve completed for yourself about adoption and educate your loved ones on the steps in the process.
  • Gift your family members books about adoption.
  • Suggest that your relatives attend a support group or meeting with your adoption social worker so they can ask questions and learn more about adoption.

Waiting for your relatives to come around might be a tactic you will have to implement if your family isn’t supportive during your waiting period. Many families find that if there were doubts in the minds of their family prior to placement, once their child finally comes home those doubts are erased.

Communication is Key

There are no magic answers as one adoptive mother explained.

What worked for us, may not work for you.  We kept the lines of communication open; talking about it more than he wanted, but less than I wanted.  I asked his permission to share my research with him.  I tried to understand his concerns more than I tried to convince him.  After about a year, he became more comfortable with the time and financial commitment.  He loved me enough and valued my happiness enough to take the risk.  We compromised on what special needs or disabilities we were willing to consider.  And we slowly moved forward.  For what it’s worth, our daughter has been the apple of his eye from the moment he first held her, and he says he has never regretted his decision for one minute.”

Resources

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/store/audio/expert-audio-reluctant-spouse-partners-relatives-randolph

 

 

 

Top 10 Inspirational Birthparent Quotes

Placing a baby for an adoption takes someone extremely strong with a lot of love and courage. If you are an expectant parent and trying to make a decision on which way to go, please read some of these inspirational quotes that came from experienced birthparents. Whatever you decide to do, we hope these words of real life experience can give you comfort and peace. What are your favorite birthparent inspirational adoption quotes? Share with us!

Red Thread

 

 

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.Ancient Chinese Belief

Entrust to Us

 

 

 

 

All things parents do, our child’s birthmother is giving us to experience with her child as our child. The weight of that can make it hard to breath but it also makes me want to be a better person, a better momma, a better wife, daughter, sister and friend. For someone to entrust so much to us…there are no words.– Kristy, AFTH Adoptive Mother

Adoption isn't a birthmother's rejection

Adoption isn’t a birthmother’s rejection but an unconditional love that inspires her to put herself last and do all can for her baby.– Mary Hines, BM

 

 

 

2 different kinds of strength

 

“There are two different kinds of strength. There’s the strength to make a parenting plan and then there’s the strength to give that plan to another.”

world quote

 

Having a child means a piece of your heart is walking around in the world.

“Like any good mother, I chose a path for you. It was a path that would give you the best shot at reaching your%

Like any good mother, I chose a path for you. It was a path that would give you the best shot at reaching your goals, even if it meant someone else would be walking the path with you.”Quote.jpg

“No one else will ever know the strength of my LOVE for YOU. After all, you’re the ONLY ONE who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.”

_ He is mine in a way that he will never be hers , yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, a

He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood. -Desha Woodall

 

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“In adoption, a child not GIVEN UP. A birthmother GIVES life, a child a family, unconditional love. She GIVES a part of her heart that will never feel whole. She GIVES another mother a part of her heart that was always missing. An adoptive mother GIVES life and a family to this child. She GIVES unconditional love. She GIVES a part of her heart to another mother. You GIVE a lot-just never GIVE UP.”
-Terra Cooper

roots & wings

 “Children need two things. One is roots and the other is wings.”- Unknown

Adoptive Parents: Experiencing the Adoption Journey with Support

Support helps to build a strong foundation in every relationship, including those surrounding adoption. We will be focusing on the importance of support for prospective adoptive parents during each stage of the adoption journey. The Child Welfare Information Gateway created a very informative fact sheet that will be referenced through this post, if you wish to read it in its entirety, you can find it here.

Adoptive Parent Support

Before Starting the Adoption Journey

The decision to adopt is emotionally charged and there are lots of factors that need to be considered and addressed by the prospective adoptive parent(s).

Questions to Consider (from Child Welfare Information Gateway)

  • How will a new child fit into your life and relationship?
  • How will a new child affect family dynamics—especially if your family already has children?
  • What changes are you willing to make to ease the child’s transition?
  • How do you feel about open adoption—contact with the child’s birth family?
  • How do you feel about welcoming a child from foster care or an institution who may have experienced abuse or neglect?
  • How have you addressed your own past trauma or losses? Have you considered how adopting a child with a similar history might affect you emotionally?
  • Is there anything in a child’s history that you feel you would not be equipped to cope with, emotionally or financially (e.g., past trauma, sexual abuse, fragile medical condition)?
  • Are there any behaviors that a child could manifest that would make it too hard to maintain him or her in your family?
  • In cases of transracial or transcultural adoption, how do you feel about accommodating, helping, and promoting your child’s positive cultural and racial identity?
  • How will you inform family members and friends, and how will you deal with questions from family, friends, and strangers about adoption?
  • How will you answer your child’s questions about adoption, his or her background and history, birth family, and your reasons for adopting?
  • What are your dreams, fantasies, and expectations for your child and family’s future? How do you typically respond when reality does not match your expectations?
  • How willing are you to learn new parenting strategies that work better for children who have experienced loss and trauma?
  • How willing and able are you to seek help for yourself or your child when necessary?

During the Adoption Process

The life changing decisions that are made during the adoption process are exciting and also stressful. The home study process can feel invasive and might bring up emotional issues that have not fully been explored as a couple or individually. There are long wait periods that you might experience and uncertainty that comes along with that, so it is not uncommon for it to become difficult to go about your routines and to feel anxious.

Waiting Support

One survey showed that the majority of adoptive families identified some ongoing issues that made daily life challenging—including emotional, behavioral, and school concerns (Stevens, 2011).

A good agency and social worker will be there by your side throughout the adoption process to help manage stress, worries and to provide insight in the decision making and learning processes along the way. So, one place to start is with your adoption agency. Many agencies offer some kind of post adoption support and services. Adoptions from the Heart offers extensive support for all members of the adoption community as well as support groups for adoptive and birth parents.

Other services that adoptive families have found beneficial include the following as outlined by CWIG:

  • Support groups, whether online or in person, provide parents an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations, vent their feelings in a safe environment, receive supportive feedback, and learn new strategies from more experienced adoptive parents.
  • Adoption-competent counselors or therapists can provide targeted therapeutic services to children, parents, and the family as a whole to address adoption-related issues.
  • Adoption subsidies are available for some families who adopt from the child welfare system to help with the costs of caring for children with special needs.
  • Educational advocates help parents of children with special needs to understand their child’s educational rights and to work effectively with the school system to identify and access accommodations, programs, and services to help their child succeed

You can find more support groups in your area here: http://www.americaadopts.com/adoptive-parent-support-groups/

After Placement

Many think that completing their adoption placement means that the most difficult and trying time is behind them, but settling into parenthood or the “post adoption period” can mean a different set of obstacles for parents. Here is what the Child Welfare Information Gateway had to say about some of the issues that arise for adoptive parents post placement:

Parents may have difficulty attaching to the new child and may question their parenting capabilities. They also may be hesitant to admit that there are any problems after a long-awaited adoption.

In some cases, these feelings resolve on their own as parents adjust to their new life. If these feelings last for more than a few weeks or interfere with your ability to parent, peer support or professional help (with a therapist skilled in adoption issues) may help you to address the issues causing the depression and assume your parenting role with greater confidence.

If you have adopted from foster care, you may have had visits with the child, or the child may have actually lived with you before the adoption. Even so, the finalization creates a permanent family situation, and you and your child may take some time to develop a bond and evolve into your new identities, just as a couple adjusts to marriage after dating for a long time.

If you have adopted an infant, received a child in an emergency placement, or adopted through an inter country adoption, the suddenness of the child’s arrival may leave little time for becoming accustomed to your new identity.

 

Strategies for Adjustment

There are a lot of different things that can be down to help a family adjust after an adoption. Whether you need the support right after placement, or years down the road, it is important to address identity and adoption issues throughout the life of your adopted child. Some things you can do include:

  • Establish family traditions or rituals
  • Create a family story
  • Connect with your child’s birth culture
  • Prepare to respond to outsiders including relatives, friends and strangers about the adoption

Perhaps the most important thing is to connect with parents who have completed a similar adoption. Learning firsthand how other parents have made the adjustment and have dealt with challenges can be reassuring. More experienced adoptive parents can serve as role models to newer parents as well. Parent support groups, like the ones explained above, are meant for just that—supporting and lending a hand and an understanding ear to parents who need it. Reach out to your adoption social worker or agency for the contact information of other adoptive parents who would be willing to help you through your journey. The adoption community is tight knit and surrounded by love, there are resources available and people who want to support and see you succeed in parenthood!

 

Getting Through Adoption Disappointments and Disruptions

Below is a guest post from Kristy, an AFTH adoption professional and new adoptive mother. AFTH staff were recently asked to share any thoughts from their own experiences that might help families facing disappointments and disruptions to provide encouragement at an upcoming support group.

adoption mourning“My name is Kristy. Despite being in the field of adoption for over 11 years, it wasn’t until my very personal experience facing a disruption that I came face to face with a depth of pain and sadness unlike any other. To be clear, it wasn’t just a sadness and aching for myself and the loss we might experience but it brought me face to face with the very real loss for birthparents.

I had every feeling imaginable running through my head for 4 months while we waited for the final outcome to be decided. Through my heartache, it brought me so much closer (though not anywhere near) the intense loss that birthparents experience when choosing adoption. And although that sounds like it wouldn’t have helped me cope during the potential disruption, it truly did. I had to remind myself in the beginning that I was chosen to care for her one day at a time while her biological parents were given time to weigh the heavy decision they had made.

When were in the state of a potential disruption, I heard all those things that people say to try to provide comfort. And even though they are often true, such as, ‘the right baby will find you’ it didn’t ease the pain I was experiencing. I let myself have time to weep and mourn.

Instead of pitting myself and my husband against the birthparents, it actually brought me closer because they were experiencing even more pain and a much heavier decision. Instead of feeling angry, I felt honored to be chosen to love on this little baby and be entrusted to care for her while intense life-long decisions were being grappled with. I often had to check myself in the grief. It was coming from my laying claim on a child who was not mine alone to claim. I needed to remind myself over and over that I wanted to be chosen to be a child’s mother and not feel as though I had ‘taken’ a child from their biological parents. I didn’t want my success to be running down the clock on the revocation period. I wanted to know that my child’s birthparents were as certain as they could be about their decision.

In the end, the disruption didn’t happen however in those moment of fear and sadness that stretched on for 4 months, I didn’t know what the final outcome was going to be. Adoption is hardly ever smooth sailing. It stems from a loss and sadness is a part of the adoptee and birthparent experience and disruptions/disappointments bring that sadness to prospective adoptive parents as well. My journey has truly given me so much more appreciation for birthparents who choose to break their own hearts for the sake of their children and for biological parents who in the end change their mind and decide to parent because of that same pain.

For families who have or will experienced disruptions or disappointments, know that they will become a part of your story, your journey to your child. And in the end, it will give you an increased empathy for your child’s birthparents as well as a deeper level of understanding of all the feelings involved by all the members of the adoption triad.”

Kristy is also a blogger for Adoptive Families Circle. Here are two additional blogs that she has written on the topic of adoption disruptions and disappointment:

 

 

March 2016 Book/Film Reviews

2016-AFTH-book-reviews

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.

Catwalk-Kids-Master-Poster-1484414_200x300Catwalk Kids Documentary – Is the marketing of children in foster care a good thing or a bad thing? Spanning several countries this film focuses on the new trend of holding fashion shows, adoption event, Wednesday’s Child video segments and Heart Gallery’s to showcase children in Foster care in the hope of getting them permanent homes.

Adam Pertman from the Evan B. Donaldson Institutes reminds people that informed people make better decisions so these expo’s and adoption events actually help families who don’t know their options to get better acquainted with the adoption process and the children that are available.

These strategies in America have worked and many children are finding permanent homes.  The video’s and photos bring the children to light, bringing them out of the dark, secrecy of foster care and into the light so that people can see them.  When people see these children and hear their stories they are more likely to want to help. Will these same campaigns work in other countries? Maybe not but if they use strategies that would work in their culture, strategies that help the children in care find homes isn’t that a good thing? Foster children are often out of sight, so people don’t see them, therefore they don’t exist in many people’s minds, when the issues are raised and the children are showcased people find compassion for them and want to help.  I don’t agree with all of the strategies employed in this video but there is no doubt that marketing is helping children find permanent homes. Free on amazon.com with Prime membership

adoption beyond bordersAdoption Beyond Borders: How International Adoption Benefits Children by Rebecca Compton – Rebecca Compton is a mother and psychologist who on her journey to adopt from Kazakhstan wound up staying in-country for almost a year and got to see firsthand the effects of institutionalization on children.   I appreciated the way Compton wove together her adoption story with the studies and observations she made as well as the research she has done. It was a nice balance of personal and educational.  While you may find this book to be more like a dissertation the information is worth your time and her writing style makes it interesting and enjoyable.

International adoptions have dropped significantly since 2008 when the Hague Convention was implemented in the United States.  The Hague looks great on paper and has very altruistic goals but the reality is that many of the organizations that had their hands in creating it were either anti-adoption or had a political agenda.  This has left thousands of children waiting in orphanages for families that may never come. The wait time of international adoption has increased as well leaving these children vulnerable. Research proves that the earlier a child is placed with a family the better the long term results.

Compton looks at the cognitive abilities, socio-economic functioning, attachment and identity issues facing parentless children and the results are staggering.  The policies in place today are not in the best interest of children and are in fact doing more harm.  Having children languish in orphan homes waiting for in-country placements when families are lining up from outside their borders to adopt is a travesty. I highly recommend reading this book and writing your congressmen to try to change the international adoption policies. amazon.com price $27.95 (HC)

dear adoptive parentsDear Adoptive Parents: Things You Need to Know Right Now – from an Adoptee by Madeleine Melcher – Written as a series of letter to parents who have adopted Madeleine Melcher offers positive encouragement and advice.  There are several important take aways I received from this book.  1. Don’t live your child’s adoption. It does not have to be the most important thing in the room.  They are a child, you are their parent.  I’m not saying ignore that they came to your family through adoption but by living and breathing adoption is not allowing the child to live and grow as anything else but adopted.  2. Your tone regarding adoption sets the tone that they will carry with them about adoption, how they will view it how they perceive it.  If you have complaints or negative things to say about adoption they will know and they will internalize it.  3. Listen to your child.  You are the parent of a very special person that has a very special bond with you.  Make sure you are listening to them and their needs and not just what you perceive their needs to be.  4 Listen to yourself. Don’t focus on how that child came to be in your life remember that you are their mother and/or father. How they became yours doesn’t matter when you are sitting by their bedside while they are sick or taking them to their first day of school.  Its all the little moments that add up to you being there for them and doing what is in their best interest.

Very positive book that is empowering to parents who have formed their families through adoption. I would definitely recommend it.  amazon.com price $12.06 (pb)