Surviving the Wait During the Holidays

surviving-the-wait-during-theThe holidays are a time for celebration, happy moments, and spending time with loved ones. But for those who are waiting to adopt, the holidays may become a source of stress or a reminder of what is missing, and friends and family may not be able to understand. Waiting to adopt can be hard at any time during the year, but it is particularly difficult during the holiday season. Here are some helpful tips for navigating the holidays while you wait.

Avoid Things That Are Triggering

If you know that being around pregnant women and small children makes you upset, limit your time around them. The holidays are filled with social events, but you don’t have to show up to every one of them. Yes, you should attend your office party at work. But, it’s okay to skip the party hosted by your friend with a newborn baby if you don’t feel up to it.

Prepare Yourself for Uncomfortable conversation

Holiday parties are filled with small talk. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself engaged in a conversation with someone you’ve never met before and are met with questions such as “how many children do you have?” Don’t let these conversations catch you off guard. Understand that these questions are bound to come up and prepare your responses ahead of time.

Be Honest

Sharing your feelings regarding your adoption process with family and friends can help to take some of the weight of your shoulders. If you haven’t shared with your friends and family that you are struggling to start a family or that you are trying to adopt, now is a good time to do so. Letting them know now will help them to be more sensitive towards your feelings and to avoid making remarks that may make you upset.

Get Support from Other Waiting Parents

Being surrounded by children and families during the holiday season may make you feel alone. Reaching out to other parents who are also waiting to adopt can help you to realize that you are not the only one experiencing these feelings. Your family and friends may not be able to understand your emotions, but other parents who are waiting to adopt will. Look into joining a waiting parent support group through your agency or connecting via online forums.

Do Something Special for Yourself

Some waiting parents may blame themselves for their inability to start a family. Remember that it is not your fault! Instead of beating yourself up about it, channel your energy into doing something nice for yourself. Have an extra glass of wine, buy yourself a gift, or take yourself out for a spa day.

Take a Breather

You have worked hard all year; you deserve to take a break. Taking a step back to think about things other than your adoption process can give you some time to relax and recharge. Hang out with friends, read a book, go to a family gathering. Remind yourself that you are not running away from the issue, but instead are giving yourself time to breath, and when you are ready to think about adoption again you will come back with a renewed perspective.

Remember That the Holidays Don’t Last Forever

Although it may feel like a foreboding time, remember that the holidays are really short and only come around once a year. Enjoy yourself and the time you get to spend with your loved ones because, before you know it, they will be over!

 

Holiday Tips for New Adoptive Parents

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The saying goes: it’s the most wonderful time of year – and with the crisp smell of winter pine, freshly baked sugar cookies and warm family gatherings, it’s hard not to be of good cheer. But for parents who recently adopted, the holiday season can be just as overwhelming as it is exciting.

Many new adoptive parents wonder how extended family will treat their child, and whether or not they will respect your child’s adoption story. If you adopted along transracial lines, you might wonder if you should incorporate cultural traditions from your child’s heritage.

Here are a few tips that might help ease those worries, so you can have the happiest of holidays!

Educate your family

It is not uncommon to have to educate or teach family members about adoption. Unknowingly, our family may use insensitive adoptive terms or ask invasive questions about the adoption process. It is ok to politely decline sharing details of your journey that you are not comfortable revealing, as well as, helping your family to recognize and utilize more adoption friendly language.

If you’re not quite ready for large family gatherings, you can plan the holidays at home this year or arrange to visit relatives at different times.

Create traditions

If you have adopted a child whose race or background is different from yours, you may find it hard adjusting to cultural differences. However, if you have a relationship with your child’s birth parents – it might be beneficial to learn what holidays they observe and ways you can incorporate that into new experiences with you and your family. You can also find out what holidays are popular within your child’s culture by doing a little research. Talking to other adoptive parents or joining a support group are other great ways to discover how to implement new holiday traditions.

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Create bonds

Just because your child does not have a biological relationship with extended family members, does not necessarily mean he or she doesn’t possess similar traits as your relatives. Your daughter may have the same passion for cooking as Aunt Sue. Maybe your son is just as funny as Grandpa Tim. Despite, physical similarities, you and your child can connect and build strong relationships with family members in many other ways.

Remember the birth parents

Some birth parents may feel a sense of sadness during the holidays, while others may feel pressured to be more involved than they would like. As an adoptive parent, it is completely up to you when deciding how much you would like to involve the birth family. However, if you have a healthy and open relationship with your child’s birth parent, sending something as simple as a “season’s greetings” or “thinking of you” card, enclosed with a photo can make a birth mom or dad feel included and valued.

Finally, as a newly adoptive parent, the holidays will be a unique experience. Don’t worry if things don’t go as planned or the holidays are not picture perfect. You will learn what works for you and your child along the way. Always have realistic expectations, keep a good spirit, and make sure your child knows they are loved. Lastly, just enjoy the season, after all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Birth Parents in Your Life

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                The season of giving is officially upon us. While many adults devote their next few weeks to holiday shopping for their children, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles, there are other individuals who deserve recognition. Many adoptive parents grow contemplative over the holidays,wondering what they can offer to their child’s birth parents. What gift can you give someone that can possibly convey how much you appreciate them and how thankful you are for the ultimate gift they’ve given you? Holiday shopping for birth parents can be difficult, but as we all know, sometimes the simplest gifts are the ones that matter most. Here are some ideas for heartfelt holiday presents for your child’s birth parents.


Symbolic Teddy Bear

                Teddy bears are often synonymous with young children. Why, you ask, are we recommending a teddy bear for an adult? Because it’s possible to create a bear that birth parents will not only love, but cherish forever. If your child is a toddler who no longer uses their baby blanket, it is the perfect time for this gift. Use your child’s blanket to create a teddy bear to give to their birth parents. Another possibility? Ask your hospital for your infant’s baby blanket prior to discharge. Use this infant blanket from the hospital to create a bear. Trust us, there won’t be a dry eye in the room when this gift is opened.

Handprint Calendar

Calendars are a useful tool for everyone. Create a calendar template on your computer for the upcoming year. Place paint on your child’s hand and decorate each month with their hand prints in a unique way. Create an American flag handprint for the month of July, a turkey handprint for November, or snowflake handprints for January. Bypass creating the template and purchase a handprint-ready calendar here.

Homemade Photo Magnets

Think again before you begin throwing out your bottle caps and drink lids. Save these items to make custom, homemade magnets with your child. Paint caps and lids before adding an adhesive magnetic strip to the back. Cut out photos of your child and glue them to the front of the caps. This unique present will be sure to warm some hearts. Visit a tutorial here.

Friendship Bracelets

Friendship bracelets are a childhood favorite that even adults can appreciate. Buy some string from a local craft store and help your child make matching bracelets for themselves and their birth parents. This present is one that birth parents can take with them anywhere as a reminder of their child’s love.

Send a Hug

Sometimes, we aren’t able to be with our loved ones during the holidays. In this case, children have the opportunity to send “hugs.” This easy craft allows children to make hugs to send in the mail. This gift is perfect not only for the holidays, but also as a “just because” present as well. It’s never a bad idea to show someone how much you love them and wish you could be spending time with them. For a tutorial on this easy craft, click here.

Matching Holiday Ornaments

For many families, it is a tradition to let children pick out a new holiday ornament each year. When you take your child to pick out their new ornament, buy multiples of the same ornament and give the others to your child’s birth parents. This gift allows birth parents and children to have a special item that connects them each holiday season.


Holiday shopping for birth parents can be a difficult, but with these unique and heartfelt gifts, you can have fun while knowing you will make someone else so incredibly happy.  As Winnie the Pooh once said, “sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

 

I Want to Adopt…Now What?

I Want to Adopt – Now What?

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Men and women all around the United States make one life-altering decision every day. Oftentimes, this decision is an amazing one: I want to adopt a child. With this choice comes relief for some and anxiety for others. What will this mean for me and my family? What does the process look like? What sort of things do I have to look forward to? With this step-by-step guide to the adoption process, you will be able to more readily navigate your own adoption journey.


Step One: Find the Type of Adoption That Works Best for You

There are many different types of adoptions and it’s about finding the right fit for you. While many domestic adoption plans in the 1980s and 1990s primarily focused around closed adoption, the adoption climate today has changed. Many private adoption agencies, such as Adoptions From The Heart, specialize in open adoption. This unique adoption journey allows children to stay connected with their birth parents after their adoption has been finalized. Studies have shown that open adoption is the best option for adoptees, as many struggle with their identities when they are unsure of their roots. To determine which adoption plan works best for you, ask yourself a series of deeply personal questions to guide your decision-making. Would I feel comfortable allowing my child to reunite with their birth parents throughout their life? Am I the kind of person who would be able to adequately answer my child’s questions about their background? What are my biggest fears about open adoption that may be holding me back?

Step Two: Research the Cost

There is a great difference in cost between foster care, Christian services and private adoption agencies. There is also a difference in cost between domestic and international adoption. Factors such as your home state and the use of an attorney can also affect the total cost. Whichever route you choose, be sure to do your research so as to prevent any surprise fees associated with your adoption. While adoption can be costly, it is important to note that there are resources available to manage the fees.

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Step Three: Select an Agency and Work Closely to Create Your Plan

Now that you’ve discovered what type of adoption plan you would like to follow, as well as the local costs for adoption, it’s time to choose your agency. Google local adoption agencies and search online to read reviews from former adoptive families. Social workers at these agencies are incredibly helpful. Reach out to, and meet with, local adoption social workers to determine which agency best fits your family’s needs.

Step Four: The Homestudy

The homestudy is an integral part of the adoption process. Prospective adoptive parents open their homes to social workers who conduct thorough home research and background checks to ensure that an adoptee will be properly cared for. Guidelines differ by state, so be sure to ask your adoption agency which documents you will need prior to the homestudy. Many waiting families experience anxiety throughout the homestudy process. This article offers tips on how to pass your homestudy with flying colors.

Step Five: Put Yourself Out There

Many adoption agencies do their best to help adoptive parents create profiles to make their information readily available to expecting mothers. Websites such as Adoptimist help families create a unique online presence to show others about the things that make their family a wonderful fit for a child. Take advantage of these online resources as some birth mothers may seek out families individually on the internet before reaching out to an agency.

Step Six: Make Preparations for Your Child

As the months tick by, families get closer and closer to meeting the child they are waiting for. Be sure to keep some basic necessities on hand that cater to the age of the child you are planning to adopt. Be mindful that emergency placements do occur. Expecting mothers go to the hospital, give birth and decide that they would like to place their child. Don’t be surprised if you get a seemingly random phone call telling you to come meet your baby. While it is not the most common experience, it happens. Prepare accordingly.

Step Seven:  Petition to Adopt/Finalize Adoption

There is nothing better than finally meeting the child that will join your family. Your agency, social worker and lawyer will help you officially petition the court for adoption rights. Once your petition has been approved, you are officially parents!

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Adoption can seem like a daunting process when you’re not sure what to expect. Remember that there are always resources and individuals who are willing to help you sort through any questions you may have. Do not be afraid to reach out to local adoption social workers, agencies and attorneys for guidance. With 1 in 6 American families touched by adoption, the support network is larger than you even know.

8 Things to Know Before Adopting

8-things-i-wish-i-knew-before“Adoption was a bumpy ride – very bumpy. But, God, was it worth the fight.” – Mariska Hargitay

Wherever your path to parenting leads you, you can always look back to things that you wish you had known in the beginning. Here are a few helpful things to consider before jumping head first into your adoption journey:

  1. Adoption is a beautiful, amazing way to create a family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, forming yours will be one of your greatest, most wonderful accomplishments.
  1. Be sure to surround yourself with a supportive group of individuals. Toxic people will only put a damper on your attitude, therefore they are not welcome. You need friends and family members who will mimic your excitement and who will help you plan all of the common ceremonies that traditionally come with starting a family.
  1. Respect your child’s place of birth and family of origin. Their birth parents are an important part of your child’s life. You should always feel open to talking about the birth family with your child.
  1. Prepare to receive a range of different types of criticism. You may come across some negative people whose intentions do not necessarily mean well. People will tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, as well as ask intrusive questions. You can either choose ignore them entirely, or inform them that your business is YOUR business and no one else’s. Always remain positive and stand your ground!
  1. The adoption community is larger than you may think. Your friends and family may not completely understand the emotional turmoil that you experience (on a regular basis). There are plenty of support groups, and people who you can reach out to who may have a similar situation.
  1. At the end of the day – no matter how long, stressful, hectic, or draining it may be, you are still your child’s parent. That will never change. Adoption absolutely has its challenges, but it is much more rewarding.
  1. Recognize that adoption is a loss, and not just a gain. It isn’t easy to comprehend the pain your child endures, or will endure. Their story begins with loss, you must learn to accept as well as respect that that happened. You can only control where to go from there.
  1. You will have ZERO regrets. The up and down rollercoaster ride full of complicated emotions make you stronger day by day. If you were given the choice to do it all over again, you will do it in a fraction of heartbeat.

The path to parenthood is not as simple and smooth as one may desire, but despite this, it is definitely worth the bumpy ride.

Guest Post: It Was My Choice to Make and I Chose Adoption

Today’s post is from a guest blogger from PregnancyAdoptionOptions.com. When facing an unplanned pregnancy, she chose an adoption plan for her baby. She offers advice for other women facing unplanned pregnancies and shares some of the common questions she receives about adoption.

pregnant-1290403_1920Every adoption story is unique. There is not one right choice when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Adoption was the right path for me. Here are some of the most common questions I hear about adoption. I hope that my answers can help provide some comfort or relief as you make this difficult decision. Remember to be honest with yourself and don’t let anyone pressure you to parent or to place if that’s not really what you think it best. This is my story. It was my choice to make and I choose adoption.

How could you do that? I could never do that!

It’s often something that I hear when I tell people I was pregnant and choose adoption. Hearing those words brings back pain. Then I remind myself of the real question…How could I not? The truth is, making the decision to place my little girl for adoption was easy. It wasn’t painless and it wasn’t simple in any way but the decision itself to place her was easy. I looked at where I was in life and what I thought my daughter deserved and I knew I wasn’t in a place financially or emotionally to give her those things.

Why Open Adoption? Doesn’t That Hurt More?

Many people outside of open adoptions are quick to question the benefits that are proven by research. Our minds battle the facts. Many people worry that a child would be confused or that it would be more painful for a birthparent to get photos and letters. Yes, open adoption is hard and can be challenging to make the relationships work. However, not knowing how my daughter was or seeing her growing up would have been so much worse. I didn’t want to have any doubts that she was safe and loved and growing into the beautiful little girl I knew she would. When I get the package of photos I don’t hesitate to open it. I know I’ll be seeing her beautiful smile and bright eyes. The updates do also bring sadness. I miss her. I love her so much. But it doesn’t make me regret my decision. I’m so glad open adoption exists and that I found a family for my daughter who is committed to making it work. I get the chance to see her several times a year. They send me her artwork and videos of her running at the playground and dancing to her favorite tv show. I haven’t been cut out of her life. She knows who I am. And I don’t have to rely on her parents telling her how much I love her, though I know they do. I get to wrap my arms around her during our visits and tell her myself. Yes, in the future there will be those tough questions I’m sure she will ask. I will be just like any other tough questions a child will have. I’ll be my best to be open and honest with her. It gets easier over time. The pain doesn’t completely go away and some days are worse than others but in my heart I know I made the right decision and if I had to go back and do it all again I hope that I would have the strength to make the same choice.

What Does the Adoptive Family Call You?

During our very first visit just a few months after placement, they actually asked me what I wanted to be called. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say. I hadn’t really thought of it much. They asked if I would be comfortable with something like Mommy or Momma Jess. I almost jumped out of my seat, yes, yes, yes! I was honored that they wanted to acknowledge me as her mom not just in conversations but in my title and I loved it. When we are together, they use my first name. And when they talk about me to my daughter they call me Momma Jess. When I’m talking about them and my daughter to other people I refer to myself as her birthmother. The term is not something to be ashamed of. I’m her birthmother. She has two mothers who play different roles but are both very much a part of her life and who she is and who she is becoming. They say it takes two, well in this case it took four. Four different parents who each have given her something different. I love to see glimpses of me in her. The way she sings, that stubborn look she give her mother when she doesn’t want to do something, the way she laughed from the deepest parts of her belly, the fact that she’s very much a daddy’s girl…all parts of me I see in her.

Shouldn’t the Agency Just Have Helped You Parent Instead?

People often talk about how agencies and the community should be more supporting to pregnant women by offering them financial assistance and services to help them parent. The truth is being ready to be a parent isn’t always a financial decision. For those who are parents out there, you know parenting is so much more than just financial. The agency I worked with was happy to help me find services such as WIC, Medicaid and Daycare Subsidies however that wouldn’t have solved the whole problem. The place I was at in my life wouldn’t have allowed me to give my daughter the life I wanted her to have. I would have been working two jobs to make ends meet and my daughter would have spent so much time in daycare. It wasn’t what I wanted for her. I wanted to find her a family that was the type of parents I would have hoped to be. Now my daughter has even more people who love her and will give up everything for her.

Why Advice Would You Give Other Women Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

Often times, when people discover that I made an adoption plan for a child, they rush to me looking for advice about what they should do. The truth is…I don’t know. When you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s scary and a lot of the time you feel alone. Each woman needs to look at her own situation (housing, financials, support, job, etc.) and dive into the really tough questions to decide what is best for her baby. It may be to parent or it may be to place. Not I nor anyone else can tell you what the best decision for you is, only you can make that choice.

Do You Ever Regret Your Decision?

No, I don’t. I do however look back and wish that I had been in a different situation at the time. I wish I had been more careful the night I got pregnant. Not that I regret getting pregnant because then I would have my sweet little angel in this world. But I do look back and think, what if it had happened just a few years later. I think it may have been a different story.

I also think about what it would be like now having her with me. I wonder what it would be like being the one to send her off on her first day of school or running to her to kiss her boo boo when she takes a spill on her bike. I’m the kind of person that can drive myself nuts with “what if” questions and scenarios. The truth is, when faced with the biggest decision of my life, I explored all of my options and took every piece of information into account and made the best decision I could have at that time.

Don’t You Miss Her?

Of course. I think about her every day. My love for her hasn’t changed a bit since the moment I heard her cry and held her in my arms.

 What Do You Want For Your Future?

I want my daughter to look back and understand why I made the heart wrenching decision I did. My love for her did not allow me to make any other decision. I know I would have done my best to be a great mom and that would have been fine. I didn’t want fine or good enough for my daughter. I wanted the best for her. It was hard to admit that I might not have been the best thing but when I looked into her eyes that first moment, I knew that I was making the right decision.

I hope that we can continue to have an open adoption and the visits. I want her to always know I’m there, even when I’m not. When she is older, maybe the age I was when I found out I was pregnant, or when she has her own children, I hope she is able to understand my decision on an even deeper level.

 If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and are considering adoption, make sure not to leave any stone unturned. Consider all of your options. Think about the life you want your baby to have and then think about if that is something you can provide now, in a few months, in several years. If you are certain about adoption, really explore open adoption. Even if you aren’t sure you want an open adoption, leave the door open because you may change your mind later and really want updates and visits. Most importantly, don’t let anyone pressure you. Not your family, not your friends and not your counselor. I’ve heard many women who said they were talked out of adoption from their parents or grandparents who promised to help but later the responsibility fell back on them. Parenting is so much more than diapers and daycare. Only you can make the right decision for you and your baby. Talk with other women who have chosen adoption, talk with other young women who have chosen to parent. Get all your information and dive into those really tough questions. You may come to the realization, like I did, that you would be a fine mother but that you want the best for your child. Adoption is painful but my decision to give my baby everything I could was easy!

 

 

October 2016 Book Reviews

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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.

thicker-than-bloodThicker Thank Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World by Marion Crook – Author Marion Crook is an adoptive parent to two sons, using her experiences this book gets to the heart  of parenting in today’s world.  While there are other books out there that are similar its always good to have reinforcement of some of these tips, feelings and experiences.  While much of this book relates to adoption of older children there are some things that are still the same such as fear of birth parents, and addressing issues of abandonment with children.

Ms. Crook is from Canada so many of the organizations and agencies she refers to are not relevant to the US, the US may have something similar but the names are not the same. I did feel that some of her advice was a little judgmental or skewed when it came to birth parents. Overall however this is a good book that has some great advice and a well researched information.  Amazon.com price $18.15 (pb) $17.24 (kindle)

images (98)99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption by Robert & Jeffrey Kasky – This is a quick read with some good information about legal risk, termination of parental rights and what expenses you can and can’t pay for with regard to potential birth parents. There is information on special needs adoptions, future contact agreements, and surrogacy as well.  While much of the legal information varies from state to state and these authors are in Florida its a good starting point.  You may want to check with your agency or attorney to see what the regulations and laws are in your state. Amazon.com price $14.97 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

99-dos-and-donts99 Adoption Do’s and Don’ts by Russell Elkins – This is a short book packed with a lot of great advice. In fact we liked it so much that we at Adoptions From The Heart have started giving this book out to our clients! This book is really geared toward adopting infants through open adoption directly from the hospital.  The advice is easy to read, and the book is only about 50 pages long.  These are things we really want all prospective adoptive parents to know. Great book Amazon.com price $5.99 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)