Making an Adoption Plan for Your Baby

Over the years, adoption is one of the many things that has changed drastically. Once upon a time, people thought women placed their baby for adoption because they were single and just happened to get pregnant. People also thought couples who adopted were inadequate because they couldn’t conceive. Thank goodness things have changed. Now, adoption is openly and widely accepted as an option to creating a family. The stereotypes are being broken down and people are realizing that women of all ages and backgrounds are choosing to place their children for adoption. Progress has been made over the years to benefit not only the adoptive parents, but the expecting and birth parents as well.

Open Adoption

Open adoption has really changed what the face of adoption looks like. Back in the day, a woman would give birth and most of the time her child was whisked out of the room and given to the adoptive parents. No information or anything was shared. This is a typical closed adoption. Today, open adoption has become more common and acceptable. A study done in 2012 by the Donaldson Adoption Institute has shows that 95% of adoptions today have some level of openness. The majority of open adoptions consist of birth parents and adoptive parents sharing basic, non-identifying personal information. The adoptive parents will receive the biographical and medical background information for the birth parents with any identifying information redacted. Birth parents may choose to prepare letters, journals, or gifts for the adoptive parents to share with the child at age appropriate times. There has been a recent trend of birth mothers opting to provide complete openness with adoptive parents, so they can contact them in the future.

  The Adoption Plan Begins

An adoption plan can be created by one or both biological parents (birth parents). For women interested in adoption, the process begins when she meets with an adoption social worker. The social worker will go over all her options and rights according to the state she resides in. The expecting mother can express her preferences to whatever characteristics are important to her, such as religion, family size, couples age, geographical location, same-sex couple, heterosexual couple, etc. Once these details are collected, the social worker will show her profiles of families that match the closest to her preferences. A profile is a unique presentation of the prospective adoptive parent or family which describes their lifestyle, hobbies, interests, why they chose adoption and anything else that’s important to them.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to pick the family if you don’t want to. You can choose to have as much or as little information regarding the prospective adoptive parents. This entire process is based on what you are comfortable with. If you don’t want to select a family, the agency can pick the family for you. Experienced agencies often leave the door open for birth parents to change their minds later on if they want contact, visits, pictures, letters, or basic info on the family.

Once you pick the family, you have the option to have a pre-placement meeting. A pre-placement meeting is when you can meet the family before officially picking them. Your social worker will arrange the meeting between you and the prospective adoptive parents. The social worker will also be present to support you. This is a great way to ask the prospective adoptive parents questions that may be lingering in your mind. You can see if you feel a connection or if this family will be a good fit for you and your baby.

 Preparing for the Baby’s Arrival

As your due date gets closer, everyone can get a little anxious. Luckily, the social worker has already thought of that. The social worker will make sure the expecting and adoptive parents are prepared for almost every situation that could happen. Details will be carefully planned: if the expecting mother needs transportation, if she wants to see the baby after delivery, or if she goes into labor late at night will all be worked out. The expecting mother can also decide the level of involvement she wants the prospective adoptive parents to have at the hospital. Do you want them in the delivery room or not until after the baby’s birth. It’s all in your control. Your social worker has also prepared the prospective adoptive parents in the event that your plans change. Be open and communicate your needs with your social worker even if they are different than what you had planned. Your social worker is there to advocate for your needs and desires.

 After the Baby Arrives

Once the baby comes, there are all sorts of emotions flying around. If you choose, you can begin spending time with your baby until your are comfortable enough for the prospective adoptive parents to come in. If your opt not to see the baby, that’s fine too. Sometimes it can be too hard emotionally at that time. If this is what you want, your social worker and medical staff will help make this happen.

Depending on the hospital and if there weren’t any complications during labor, you and baby may discharge from the hospital in 1-3 days. Some women choose to spend time with their baby and the prospective adoptive parents during those couple of days. This is completely your decision if you want to do that or not. On the day of discharge, you and the baby will discharge separately. You have the option to discharge together and all of you can walk out, if you’d like. Most often, birth parents choose to discharge separately because this can often be the the hardest part.

 Self-Care

Once you leave the hospital, we encourage you to focus on self-care. Self-care can mean a lot of different things, but the main part is just taking care of yourself physically and mentally. If you’re comfortable enough, you may want to join a birth parent support group. If you don’t feel comfortable going in person, there are also online Birth Parent Support Groups you may want to consider. You may also find journaling to be a great tool for self-care. If you choose to have contact, you’ll be receiving your first set of pictures and letters shortly after leaving the hospital. If you don’t feel like you can look at them just yet, that’s okay. If it makes you feel better to look at them, that’s okay too. Only do what you feel comfortable with. This time is about you. It’s helpful to find that one person in your life you can confide in no matter what. That person will come in handy when things get a little rocky for you. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to that massage you’ve been wanting or that pedicure you’ve been thinking about. All of these things and many more are great for self-care. Your social worker is there for you as well. Reach out any time if you are struggling, have any questions or just need to talk.

It is important to note that each state has different laws regarding your revocation period, which is the time after you sign the legal paperwork relinquishing your rights that you can change your mind and decide to parent. This is a time that you have to really make sure adoption is the right decision for both you and your baby. If at any point you are unsure of your decision, contact your social worker to talk more in depth. In some states, like New Jersey, you are not able to sign the paperwork until 72 hours after your baby’s birth but then at that point there is no revocation period to change your mind.

How do I get started?

If you’re pregnant and wondering about adoption, a great way to start is to connect with an adoption agency. You can call or text a social worker at anytime day or night. They’ll explain all the pregnancy options that are available to you. Even if you speak with a social worker, you are not obligated or pressured to place your baby. All the information you give us is strictly confidential and is not shared with anyone else. You can share as little or as much information as you like. This is your time and we’re here to support you in whatever decision you choose.
If you would like to connect to speak with someone today about your pregnancy options, you can call 800.355.5500 or text 610.595.4767.

Interracial Adoption: A Need for Adoptive & Birth Parents to Bond

This is an article written by Brittany Brooks. She placed her son for adoption in 2013. Since then, she decided to work at Adoptions From The Heart to help create more awareness about birth mothers and interracial adoption. She wanted to write this article to help those that are looking to adopt outside of their race or are currently raising a child outside of their race. Brittany and her son’s adoptive parents figured out the key ingredient to a healthy and fulfilling interracial adoption…bonding between the birth parents and the adoptive parents.

Back in 2013, I placed my son for adoption. Race or sexual orientation didn’t matter to me when I was looking at families and I was hoping to find adoptive parents that felt the same way. Fortunately, for me I did. I found the best adoptive parents for what my son and I needed, and they just so happen to be white.

In the beginning, we didn’t know what our situation was going to look like. However, we were willing to work toward the best scenario we could give our son. My son’s adoptive parents and I have a very open adoption. We text and talk a few times a week. His adoptive mother texts me pictures of whatever crazy thing he did that day. She even tells me about his little attitudes and the not so “nice” side of him. I enjoy all of this, the good and the bad.

Over the years, we’ve learned how to talk about the hard things with each other. It all started with his adoptive mother addressing the elephant in the room. She told me, “Brittany I’ve never been black. I can’t pretend like I understand the underlying problems and issues that you face every day. But, I’m willing to learn and I want to learn for the sake of our son.” That warmed my heart in more ways than one. One, hearing her say that validated my decision in choosing them to be my son’s parents. Two, I was happy that they realized that there is a problem in our society that won’t allow our son to be accepted by all people. We know we can’t change society as a whole, but we can be the drop in the bucket that initiates change.

Give & Take

Early on we knew that the only way this was going to work was if we stayed in contact and worked toward being as open as possible. Openness to us is more than sharing addresses and telephone numbers. Openness for us includes staying in constant contact. Throughout the adoption, there were times when I didn’t reach out for a while, but his adoptive parents would always check up on me. But to me that wasn’t fair to put the burden on them all the time, so I started putting more effort into reaching out. In doing so, we all felt comfortable to ask each other certain things.

His adoptive mother asked me what would I teach him if I was raising him. I told her that in my family we teach our children about the great kingdoms of Songhay, Mali, Kush, and the Mende people. We teach these things, because these are facts that are often left out in grade school history. She was utterly shocked. She had never heard of any of those things and wanted to learn for herself. Over the past few years, I’ve sent her books to educate herself, so in turn she can later educate our son on his self-identity.

This made me think about all the times I went months without speaking to the adoptive parents. It wasn’t because they did anything wrong, I wasn’t upset with them, but for some reason I just pulled back. It made me think, what if I continued to pull back and never developed a comfortable level for his adoptive parents to ask me these questions? Would my son know where he comes from? Would he know his history or the history that’s only taught in schools? I noticed I would be doing my son a disservice.

I was also glad to have chosen adoptive parents that kept pushing for openness even when I closed up. And it really wasn’t for them to keep reaching out to me with no results. Like all relationships, open adoption is a lot about give and take. Both parties have to put in a constant effort for openness. It doesn’t work if it’s one sided. Especially in interracial adoptions. There is a need for openness in interracial adoptions. There is a need for adoptive parents and birth parents to bond in interracial adoptions. We can’t change what race or color we are, but we can learn about each other. And yes, I mean each other. Just because I’m black doesn’t mean only his white parents have to learn about me and my culture. I had to learn about them too. I’ve never been white and I’d like to know how my child is going to be culturally raised.

What We’re Working Toward

We are working towards a common goal. We have to bond for his sake. We have to bond to discuss the best ways to deal with racism in society. We have to bond so he can learn his self-identity, so he doesn’t feel misplaced in his environment. We want him to be fully equipped for whatever society may throw at him.

Our goal is for him to grow up feeling loved from both sides and understanding that he does come from two worlds that came together. He’s racially black and he is growing up in a white home. And together we’re making this the best situation that we can for him.

My first birth mothers day (an outsiders perspective)

Let me introduce myself…

My name is Mayra and I am Adoptions From The Heart’s Events and Marketing Coordinator. Although I went to school to be a journalist, event planning has always been a great passion for me. When I had the opportunity to join this amazing agency; I knew that this was the job for me. AFTH has giving me the opportunity of incorporating both my passions into one job.

You might be thinking.. how is your job title relevant to celebrating Birth Mother’s Day… well let me tell you about it.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to celebrate Birth Mothers Day with the amazing women from our Delaware Birth Mother Support Group.

As part of the marketing team, I don’t typically have the opportunity to interact with birth mothers one on one. I have worked behind the scenes of event planning and fundraising and although I’ve always understood that what I am working for is a very important cause, I never knew how important it really was.

My expectations

As part of the celebration we decided to bring a little pampering for the ladies in the Support Group. When we got the invitation be a part of the celebration I thought that maybe we would just have some fun “girl” time and that was it.

As a person who really enjoys serving other people, I was excited to pamper them and to give something to them! What I was not expecting was everything I learned and received from attending that meeting…

My takeaway

From the moment I got there, I was received with open arms by these women. Even though I have never been through some of the things they go through all the time, I was able to connect with their experience.

They were all so helpful and supportive of each other and that is something I really admired about them. I did not expect to get there and relate to their lives as much as I did.

What I took away the most from this experience was how strong birth mothers are. Unfortunately, this is not the way society paints them and that is something that needs to change. It didn’t take me long after listening to some of their stories and struggles to realize how powerful and selfless they are.

I did not know Birth Mother’s Day was even a holiday a couple of months ago. Now, I know the meaning behind it and how important it is to celebrate Birth Mothers all around the world.

If you haven’t before, I invite you to learn more about Birth Mothers and the importance to celebrate them this Mother’s Day weekend.

Tips For Hopeful Adoptive Parents Just Beginning the Adoption Process

1) Arm Yourself with Information

You can never ask enough questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the agency you choose. When you think of a question, write it down so you don’t forget to ask later. Dive into any fears or concerns you have as well. It’s important to feel comfortable with the process.

2) Find Support in Others Walking the Same Path

It can be hard to find other people who truly “get it” unless they have traveled a similar path. Get to know other waiting families, join support groups, connect with others adoptive parents online, and lean on your social worker.

3) Make an Effort to Learn About The Other Parts of the Adoption Triad: Adoptees and Birth Parents

Read birth parents’ and adoptees’ adoption experiences. If you are adopting transracially, read not only articles written by adoptive parents in transracial adoptions but also from adoptees brought up in that environment. It’s important to understanding what other members of the triad may be experiencing.

 4) Keep Your Promises

One of expecting parent’s most common fears is “will the adoptive parents keep their promises”. Be genuine in your profile and in your promises. Do not agree to something if you are not ready to back it up with action. It not only will hurt your child’s birth parent but in the end it hurts your child as well.

5) Don’t Hold Back Love

The pre-placement education touches on the importance of protecting yourself emotionally for the possibility of a placement falling through. It isn’t about holding back love. It’s about a way of thinking that reminds adoptive families they have been asked to be the temporary caretakers of a child who may indeed come into their family while his or her parents are ensuring they are making the best and final decision. If a disappointment or disruption happens, allow yourself to grieve but do not turn it into anger towards the child’s parents. They are making a tremendously difficult decision and it is important to respect their wishes.

6) Let Frozen’s Theme Song Be Your Mantra…Let It Go

Release all your expectations and embrace the unknowns in the process as a part of the journey. You will need to be flexible and remember that it isn’t your journey alone.

 7) Most Importantly, Remember Adoption is Bittersweet

Adoption stems from a loss that cannot and should not be ignored. Fully respecting that aspect of the journey and the adoptee and birthparent experience as well is vital.

“All You Can Ever Know” Book Review

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, Real Simple, Buzzfeed, Jezebel, Bustle, Library Journal, Chicago Public Library and more…

 

In her 2018 memoir “All You Can Ever Know”, Asian transracial adoptee Nicole Chung digs into issues of race, identity, and motherhood through the lens of adoption. Nicole was adopted through a closed, domestic adoption and was always told “Your birth parents were very sad they couldn’t keep you, but they thought adoption was the best thing for you”. Her adoptive family shared this positive narrative about her birth parents, but had no interest in an open adoption relationship with them. They had some insecurities about the birth parents’ roles in Nicole’s adoption story, making it uncomfortable for Nicole to ask in-depth questions.

Perhaps as a sign of the times, Nicole’s white parents took a colorblind approach to their life as a transracial family and rarely spoke about their difference. Of her race, her parents would say “It wouldn’t have mattered to us if you were black, white, or purple with polka dots”. Because of her parents’ silence about race, Nicole did  not feel comfortable enough to share with them the racial slurs she heard on the playground, or the feelings of difference she felt in her school, community, and family. Nicole often felt out of place in her adoptive family but also disconnected from her Asian peers.

Almost all adoptees have some curiosity about their biological roots; transracial adoptees without mirrors in their communities may feel this even more strongly. Having a secure attachment in their adoptive families does not reduce this curiosity. Seeing their adoptive parents’ insecurity about their birth parents can cause some adoptees to choose not to search, or to search in secrecy.

Nicole describes her curiosity about her biological family throughout her childhood and adolescence. Her racial difference and lack of mirrors in her community makes her especially interested in learning about her Korean heritage through a connection with her biological family and their culture. Nicole understands that she must tread lightly with her parents on the topic, and when she does address it, realizes they don’t know much, and don’t want to discuss it.

While still in high school, Nicole attempts to get more information from the attorney who handled her adoption. When this attempt is relatively unsuccessful, she puts it to the back of her mind until after college when she begins her pursuit again by requesting non-identifying information about her biological family through the court. With each baby step, it seems Nicole hopes she will feel satisfied, but instead finds she has only whetted her appetite for more information.

It isn’t until Nicole is pregnant with her first child that she realizes how important her desire is to have more information about her biological family. She knows nothing of her birth mother’s pregnancy or her early delivery – things that feel monumental now that she is pregnant herself. It begins to hit her that she has little information about her biological family’s history to share with her future child. She also begins to feel a different connection with her biological mother during pregnancy as she realizes the strong bonds built during that time, stating:

“I was going to be a mother. Someone would depend on me. Our relationship would last for the rest of my life; though it had yet to begin, I could not imagine it ending. Yet that was exactly what had happened to the bond between me and my first mother: it had been broken. We had both survived it, learned to live apart, and while I knew this – had known it for as long as I could remember – it had never struck me as unnatural until I heard my own child’s heartbeat.”

All of these realizations during her pregnancy push Nicole to actively search for her birth family. Due to the laws in the state of Washington, she must do so through an intermediary who will help mediate the communication between the parties. The discoveries Nicole makes through this process are at once beautiful and challenging, enlightening and difficult. Nicole navigates the unknown territory of building new relationships with biological relatives and shares thoughtful insights along the way.

Nicole is generous in sharing her journey and its impact on her relationship with her adoptive family, her own motherhood, and her identity. She shares this passage near the end of the book:

“Reunion has done more than restore relationships that had once been beyond my ability to fully imagine; it has enabled a shift in existing ones. It has forced my adoptive parents to think about my birth parents not as poor, pitiable immigrants or people who might steal me away, but real people with their own feelings, fears, and failings. It’s forced them to think about how I must have felt when I lost not only my first family, but all knowledge of my roots.”

This book is a must-read for prospective adoptive parents, especially those considering transracial adoption and openness. We can learn a lot from the way that other have done things well and the ways they could have improved, and we can always benefit from listening to the voices of adult adoptees.

 

The College Fund: How to start saving for your child’s future

The thought of saving for your child’s education can be overwhelming. Maybe your child isn’t even talking yet. How can you begin to imagine them going off to college? Or perhaps your child is rapidly approaching college age, and you have no idea where to even begin the planning process. In cases of adoption, your situation may feel different than the “normal” experience. Maybe you adopted your child at an older age and have not had as much time to begin saving. Don’t let that scare you! Did you know that there are scholarships available specifically for students were adopted? Wherever you may be on the college preparation timeline, there are endless resources available that can help you and your child reach their education goals. Listed below are some different options to help you along the journey of saving for college.

529 Savings Plan

A 529 plan is an educational savings plan that provides tax and financial aid benefits. These plans are sponsored by state and allow your investment to grow free of federal tax. Additionally, some states offer tax deductions for contributions made to your plan. 529 savings plans vary by state – check out the  options available to you based on your state here.

Coverdell Educational Savings Account

A Coverdell Educational Savings Account is a trust account used to fund educational expenses. While the ESA has some similarities to the 529 plan, such as the fact that it is tax-free, it has many distinguishing factors as well. Earnings from the ESA can be used for a multitude of educational expenses for grades K-12, in addition to college expenses. Contributions to an ESA have a maximum limit of $2,000 per year and may be made up until the beneficiary turns 18. Here is some more information on Coverdell Educational Savings Accounts.

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Savings plans are a great way to begin preparing to pay for college, but they are not the only way. Scholarships can also be incredibly beneficial tools for affording college, and there are a lot more of them out there than you may think. While most schools will offer scholarships to accepted students based on sports or academic achievements, there are also endless opportunities to apply for scholarships that are not specific to one school. For example, there are scholarship opportunities for students who have a learning disability, such as ADHD or dyslexia, students who hope to pursue a specific area of study, students who are adopted, and so much more. Below are some of the scholarship opportunities available to students who are adopted or have been in foster care.

Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship

“Also-Known-As is establishing a scholarship program to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of young dynamic adoptees attending college in the coming academic year. The Also-Known-As Adoptee Excellence Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship for an outstanding graduating high school senior or undergraduate student who was adopted to the United States from another country.” Read more about the scholarship and how to apply here.

Casey Family Scholars Program“Foster Care to Success (FC2S) has provided scholarships to deserving foster youth since 1987. Casey Family Programs provides funding for students in community colleges, public and private universities, and technical/career programs in all 50 states. FC2S provides the encouragement, mentoring and practical support these students need to do well not only in school but in their personal lives.” Find more information about the application process and requirements here.

 

 

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The savings plans and scholarship opportunities listed above are only a few examples of the different ways you can begin planning for your child’s education. For more options and information, check out the resources listed below.

Scholarships for Adoptees and Foster Children:

25 Great Scholarships for Adopted Students

Scholarships for Adopted and Foster Children

Top Scholarships For Adopted Children

Scholarship Finders:

CollegeData

CareerOneStop

College Board

Helpful Guides:

How to Cover College Expenses For Your Child Adopted From Foster Care

How and When to Start a College Fund For Your Child

 

 

 

Adoptive Parents Who Are Contacted By Their Agency About a Sibling Placement & Struggling with Decision

Adoption social workers often build deep genuine relationships with expecting and birth parents, with the hope that they will extend far past the  placement process.  Because of their closeness and the  positive support received in the past, birth parents feel  often feel less hesitate to reach out if they find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy again in the future.

As an agency we support the idea of keeping siblings (full or half) together, if and when that is an option. When presented with a situation of a birth parent returning with the potential to place again, we always ask if they have considered the possibly of placing with the same adoptive family they previously placed with.

It is common for birth parents to want to keep siblings together by placing again with the same family especially if they have had a positive open adoption experience. It is important to remember that through our discussion, we always prepare the birth parents that not all situations allow placing with the same family, though that is our priority when possible and if desired by the birth parents. We don’t necessarily want to build their hopes up, however, we can always pose the question to the adoptive family.

Making that phone call to a previous adoptive family is exciting. After the common initial reaction of shock, most families are extremely appreciative that they were reached out to first and presented with the opportunity to make a decision.

The decision to accept another placement that is presented out of the blue can have layers of questions that need worked through to come to a decision. While initially most people want to say “YES” to keeping biological siblings together, it is crucial that a family really takes some time to consider all the factors involved:

Are you emotionally prepared to add a child

It is important to consider your current child(ren) before deciding if you would take in a sibling. Some children do struggle, emotionally and medically, and those are important factors in determining the responsibilities of a parent and whether they are open to adding a child.

Not only that, parents often have a general idea of their family dynamic and the number of children they envisions when creating their family. Families may have been in a place of being content with the size of their family and may not have been planning to add more children. It can be hard to work through all these thoughts and emotions. Social workers are there to help talk it out and come to the decision that’s best for your family.

Are you financially prepared to add a child

Most adoptive families, who are not already in the process of adopting again, are not necessarily ready to grow their family. Being financially stable, is one of the important reasons most birth parents choose adoption to begin with. You may have had a financial change since adopting the first time that will impact your decision. We would not want  a family to jeopardize their financial stability and the future of their child through a second placement.

Support

It is really important for a family to consider whether they have the right support and resources around them to adopt again. Since going through the adoption process the first time, they have a better understand of what it actually takes and what they need in way of support to feel comfortable

Age & Health of Adoptive Parent(s)

Some time has passed since you first began the adoption process and your current state of health  may be different. Maybe you started the adoption process later in life and being presented with raising another child from infancy at this point in time might not be the right fit.

Details of Current Placement in Question

The first time you adopted, you wrestled with the questions presented on the profile key and completed it to show the situations you were open to. Just because this is the same birth parent now considering placing for a second time doesn’t mean all the details are the same. This situation might lie outside of your comfort level for some reason and that’s incredible important to explore. Your social worker is able to help you navigate this decision as you gather the details and weigh the options.

It is so important that adoptive families are really honest with themselves and their social worker when facing the opportunity of a surprise placement. They need to consider themselves as a parent, their current child(ren) as well as the new baby and birth parents. In the event that a family is unable to move forward with adopting again, social workers work hard with the birth parents to find another family they are comfortable placing with.  And with the birth parent’s permission, the agency will also connect the adoptive families together for support and to allow the siblings to know each other.

 

A blog by Adoptions From The Heart to help families interested in Adoption and to support those who have adopted