Bonding With Your Newly Adopted Infant

Baby Bond (1)

When you finally receive the call and it’s time for your baby to come home, a nonstop train of thoughts could be encompassing your mind. If creating a connection with your baby is something that you’re worried about, here are a few tips to help build that mother-baby bond.

Schedule daily face time:

Your baby wants to see your face and make eye contact. Try to schedule face-to-face time with them. This won’t just strengthen the bond, but it will also help develop the baby’s sensory skills.

While trying to make eye contact, keep in mind that babies are near-sighted, only able to see about eight to fifteen inches away from their face. Try to hold them close to your face and body, and they will soon associate you with feelings of safety and love.

Take advantage of feeding times:

baby blog

The process of feeding your baby happens every two hours or so, and it’s a really great time to bond. Hold them close to your body, around the breast area, because it’s no coincidence that they can see your face from right around there. Even while bottle feeding, it’s important to hold them close to your warm body and take advantage of eye contact.



Snuggle Time:

Lay on your back with them on your chest, skin-to-skin if possible. This snuggle time lets them relax to your heartbeat and smell, making it the perfect bonding exercise, and a great addition to any bedtime routine.



Believe it or not, your baby is listening. Conversation is imperative for their language development. The sound of your soothing voice will comfort them and further their trust and your amazing bond.





It’s important that the baby shares a special bond with their parents. But it’s also important to help your baby socialize and trust other family members. Try not to keep them in your arms forever, make sure to let them connect with their new family as well.

Your baby is going to share a special bond with you as their caregiver. Just be the best parent possible and that connection will naturally form.


10 Tips for Blending Adoptees and Biological Children Through Adoption

Many parents use various methods to grow their families which include birth, surrogacy, IVF, IUI, and adoption. Sometimes parents use a mixture of these methods, especially using a combination of birth and adoption. Families with both adopted and biological children face a distinctive set of challenges and some parents may feel pressured to make sure their children all feel like they are being treated equally. It is important to keep in mind that it would be nearly impossible to treat all children equally BUT you must treat them all fairly and according to their needs.

If your family is planning to adopt a second child or more children, there are some things you should keep in mind to prepare both your adopted children and biological children for the process. Here are some tips for making sure all your children don’t get feelings of jealousy and all feel safe, loved, and accepted into your family and home.

  1. Gather as much information as you can about your adopted child’s history. Make sure to share as much of it as you can with your child or children already living in your home.


  1. Educate your children about adoption. If you have young children in your home it may be difficult for them to understand the adoption process but if you have older children, teach them about adoption and use the appropriate terminology. Make sure to use love language when explaining the process and encourage your child to do the same. Let your kids ask questions and understand they might be curious as to why their sibling’s birth mother decided to place them for adoption and share as many details as you can about this with them but emphasize the importance of keeping these family details private.


  1. Prepare the existing children in your home for the new sibling they are about to have. If they are having feelings of anxiety or insecurity about this new addition, assure them everything will work out and your love for them won’t change.


  1. Include your existing children in the process and make them feel like they are involved in this new change. You can do fun activities with your existing children to help welcome their new sibling like painting or drawing pictures or posters for their new siblings or going to the toy store to get them a small welcoming gift.


  1. Avoid favoritism and treat your children fairly. Some parents may not even notice that they may be giving special treatment to either their biological children or adopted children but be aware of your actions and make sure you are being consistent in the way that you are treating your kids.


  1. Confront ethnic differences if you are adopting transracially as well as physical differences. Explain these differences to your children and stress to them that diversity is beautiful. If you’re adopting a child of a different race, incorporate their cultural traditions into your family.


  1. Acknowledge birth order. If you’re adopting out of birth order of the children already present in your home, take into consideration that older or younger children may feel removed from their role within the family. Take their feelings about this change into consideration before deciding to adopt out of chronological birth order.


  1. Let your kids have a chance to get to know each other. Remember it’s okay for your kids to take it slow as this process takes time. Don’t make your kids feel like they must rush this transition.


  1. Incorporate regular family meetings to give everyone a chance to feel heard. It makes for a healthy and happy family when you keep the channels of communication open with everyone in your home and can make all the difference during a big transition like this. Make sure you are taking the time out to listen to your children individually.


  1. Talk to a social worker, family counselor, or adoption specialist if your family is having difficulties with this new transition. You don’t have to go through this alone and if your children especially are having a tough time adjusting and are acting out, it might be a promising idea to ask a professional for help.


If a new child is entering your family, be honest and fair with all your children. This will ensure a solid foundation for your blended family. When all is said and done, a positive attitude goes a long way and your responses as a parent should reassure all your children that they are all simply your children – whether adopted or biological. Celebrate your blended family and if you follow the tips above, you will be on your way to having a blend that happens genuinely.



From Adoptee to Adoptions From The Heart Founder: Maxine Chalker

Interview with Maxine Chalker: Executive Director and Founder of Adoptions From The Heart

We all have those causes near to our hearts – charities that we support on a yearly, monthly, or even weekly basis. Everyone has their stories of how the organization was started – in the basement of a home, after a meeting with a prominent political figure, the list is endless. For Maxine Chalker, the founder and Executive Director at Adoptions From The Heart, the cause was definitely close to her heart. As an adoptee herself, Maxine cultivated an organization that has flourished since 1985 in the realm of open adoption. She has taken her own personal background and experience, and channeled it into something extraordinary – Building beautiful families through adoption.

Hands are Full.png

What is your role in the company and how did it get started?

I am the CEO and Executive Director at Adoptions From The Heart. I am an adoptee myself, and started off working in a public agency. What inspired me in starting AFTH was my own search for my birth family. I was involved in a closed adoption, and I wanted more openness in the process. I started in a small office, as one of the only open adoption agencies in the area. From there, it only grew.

AFTH_Picnic Photo-85.jpg

What motivates you?

AFTH has been very successful at creating beautiful families. For over 30 years, I have watched us grow from a single office in Ardmore, PA to eight offices in the northeast. The most rewarding part of our work is hearing the stories – both from adoptive families and birth families.

Through Love

What was the most fulfilling moment that happened to you?

One of the most fulfilling moments was seeing the first open adoption placement at our agency. The adoptive parents and birth mother came into the office at the same time (each for a different reason), and the birth mother ended up choosing them in the end. It was very heartfelt.

What separates Adoptions From The Heart from everyone else?

Adoptions From The Heart prides itself on being open in our adoption process. We strive to emphasize the relationships in the adoption triad (adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptee) throughout the child’s life. This is very important to us, as many adoptees will grow up not knowing their biological roots. We also have a strong connection to adoption – I was an adoptee myself. Lastly, we have a high presence on social media, which definitely sets us apart from the rest. We love to engage with our community.

Do you have any upcoming events in the next few months?

We have our 6th Annual Find Her Footing 5k on Sunday, April 15th at Delaware County Community College in Media, PA. This event raises funds for our Expecting and Birth Parent Support Fund, which helps birth parents who are struggling financially. We can provide support with anything from monthly rent to transportation costs. This is one of our funds at AFTH.


What do you love most about what you do?

Hearing all the success stories solidifies my love for this type of work. Adoption can be a bumpy road, but it certainly has its ups. It’s another way to build a beautiful family, and the number of letters and thank yous we get is overwhelming. People love sharing their stories.

Adoption is Love - Share.png

We are so grateful for our work here at AFTH. If you ever have any questions about adoption, the process, or any upcoming events, do not hesitate to reach out.



We were happy to participate in an interview and blog post with our friends at Fortified Roofing. To see the interview Maxine had with Fortified Roofing, follow the link here:

Adoption Updates: What to Send

At first when our open adoption was brand new, it was hard to know what to include in our updates. Especially since the only big things that changed between month 1 and 2 were our daughter’s weight and height. It’s hard to know what to write when the relationship between adoptive and birth parents is just beginning.

After the first few months of struggling through the updates, I simply began to think WWIW, meaning what would I want to see and hear about when I’m away from our daughter. I love to hear about everything. The blowout after daddy just changed her diaper, how our puppy gave her a slobbery kiss on the head, how her face scrunches up when she first gets into her bath. You are painting a picture for your child’s birth parents with your words and photos

Now this is where the “open” part of open adoption can be applied to your communication. As your relationship develops with your child’s birth parents, you will get to know what they really enjoy hearing about. You can even ask if there is anything specific they would like to know.

Once we moved from monthly to yearly updates, it was easier to write as so much had happened in a year. The only problem was, I found it hard to remember everything. So what I started to do was keep things in a note section on my phone so when something happened (like her first word or first tooth) I could make a note and then use those notes to write my yearly update.

Holding Back

Sometimes people will ask “isn’t it painful for her birthparents to hear those things” or “won’t it make them to change their mind”. I also knew of a family who only sent “ok” photos with their updates because they were afraid that the adorable pictures they were posting online and sending to grandparents would make their daughter’s birthmother regret placement. More often than not it is our own insecurities and fears at play. I have known several birthmothers who have said that while there is a sadness that comes with the updates there is also a great joy in seeing their little one growing up. Adoption is mixed with complex emotions and both joy and sadness can be present at the same time. If you genuinely have a concern about upsetting your child’s birthparents, contact your social worker to talk more in depth.

Ways to Stay In Touch

In addition to the yearly update, our relationship has progressed to where we text and Skype with each other. We discovered that creating a private Facebook group just for us and our daughter’s birthmother was perfect for us. We can share videos and photos and only those we allow can see them. When our daughter is older we will include her as well. We also have the CVS near our daughter’s birthmother stored in our favorites so sporadically throughout the year we send photos directly there to be printed and then let her know she has photos waiting for her.

Over Time It Will Become More Natural

So the next time you text a photo of your child to a grandparent or you are changing out the drawings he made that are hanging on the refrigerator, take a minute and think about your child’s birthparents too. Would they like a surprise mailing? Do you have a place you can store it until your yearly update or visit comes around?

I understand that each open adoption relationship is different and what we have found to work for us might not work for others. So find a system that works best for you.

Tell me, what tricks have you found to stay in touch and make updates easier to pull together?


How to Know You’re Ready for a Transracial Adoption

How to Know You_re Ready for a Transracial Adoption

Transracial adoption can be an exciting process for families who are educated about the different needs for a child of a different race. As excited as you may be, it’s important to be informed of the process and requirements for your baby to be happy and healthy.

Make sure you’re open to conversation with friends and family, because that’s the first step to ensuring the surroundings are safe and comfortable for your baby. To be positive you’re going to excel in your adoption and beyond, reach out to others who have been through the same process. This could help you realize aspects you’ve never considered, and educate you on the different needs for your child.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re ready to adopt a child of another race:

Be comfortable talking about race.

blog pic three

If you struggle with the idea of discussing race or race relations, then it may be difficult for you to protect your child from any hurtful or harmful remarks. If your child is a minority, she may encounter situations of discrimination, racism, etc. – as their parent you will have to prepare your child for any circumstance that may arise, and safeguard them from damaging environments. Racism still exists, so be willing to distance yourself from ANYONE (including family and friends) who is not supportive, positive or healthy for you and your child.

Consider the community you live in.

It’s important that the area you live in will be safe and enjoyable before you start the adoption process. But it’s also important that it’s diverse so your child doesn’t question themselves or feel like they don’t fit in. Consider the school district they would attend, and any clubs or organizations your child could join. Are there other children that live nearby for the child to play with?

blog pic two

Be open to conversation with other transracial adoptive parents.

Establishing a support system of other families who have adopted a child of another race can create a great space to learn and prepare. Try reaching out to other families who have done this process before. You never know what you may learn from people’s experiences, and it can help build up your supportive community.

Educate yourself in Health, Skin, and Haircare.

When adopting a child of another race, the parent must know the different health conditions your child may be susceptible to, how to protect and take care of different skin tones, and the best way to take care of different textured hair. It’s a great idea to find a class that teaches these necessities.  Make sure you know proper care techniques so you can pass them down as the child grows.

blog pic

If you are not educated in these topics, or unwilling to learn, then you may want to reconsider adopting a child from a different race.

Transracial adoption can be scary, but it is also beautiful and rewarding, if you’re prepared.  Make sure to do your research before jumping into something, and to always keep an open mind, because that can benefit not only you, but your future baby as well. If you’re okay with discussing race, creating a safe environment for your baby, talking to other families who went through the process, and educating yourself on different needs of the child, then you should feel like you have a good start for your journey.



Open Adoption – Remembering It’s NOT Just About Me

When we began the adoption process, we kind of had a leg up in knowing so much about open adoption. I had been working in the field of adoption for years and we knew several families that had different levels of contact with their children’s birth parents. We knew of the wonderful benefits of openness and were also aware of the familiar challenges. We were excited at the idea of open adoption and envisioned Thanksgiving and birthdays gathered together as a family.

The day we got “the call”, our dreams of growing our family through adoption became real. In that same moment, a large part of our adoption dream had the door slammed shut, or so we thought. As we learned more about our match and the woman who made this extremely difficult decision, we discovered that she didn’t desire openness. She wanted to choose a family and leave it at that. For a moment when I heard the news, it was like a weight was crushing my chest making it hard to breath. In an instant, my “picture” of open adoption disappeared. I was heartbroken. Not only for me but for our child as well.

I had to remind myself that my specific vision of openness was only one of the many paths our adoption journey could take. I re-framed my thinking with a focus on the birth mother’s needs and desires. For whatever reason, she was choosing to shut the door on contact, at least for now. The great thing about doors is that they can also open. I held hope for what might be while I centered the here and now in what was.

We were picked for an emergency placement, meaning that Little Miss was already born and we only had a few hours between the call and getting to meet her for the first time. When we arrived at the hospital, the incredible woman who had just made one of the most complex decisions of her life had already left. We were walked to the maternity floor and shown to our room by our social worker. Moments later they wheeled in a bassinet with this gorgeous little girl. Even now the tears still flow thinking about this moment. Tears of joy for our growing family and this precious little girl. Tears of sadness for the pain her mother must be feeling after saying goodbye.

From the hospital to a hotel and then finally home. We took each moment a day at a time. Revocation period passed then the court date for finalization came and went and we were officially a family. All the while we sent photos and letters to the agency regularly. It went on one-sided for quite some time. We never hesitated to keep our promise to send updates even when they seemed to be responded to with silence. Then nearly 4 months after our daughter was placed in our arms, we received a message from her birthmother through her social worker. I wept as I read each word. She had been reading each update we sent and holding the photos close to her heart. Each time we offered contact if and when she was ready. It took some time but she was now desiring to exchange emails and was looking forward to a day when she might be ready for a visit. It was almost like receiving “the call” again. Our family was getting ready to expand even more! It wasn’t long before our emails turned into text messages which developed into phone calls and Skype sessions. We created a private Facebook group for the three of us to share photos and videos. It was amazing.

Then almost 6 months to the day that Little Miss was born, Momma J and I found ourselves in an embrace that seemed to last forever. It was our very first face-to-face meeting. None of our surroundings mattered, we were together at last. Our daughter returned to her arms for the first time since being held in the hospital. It was the most joyous and heartbreaking visit. The pain of placement came with the happiness of being reunited as they are often intertwined.

My original dream of being together to celebrate birthdays later came true to as we all celebrated Little miss turn one and have her very first bite of cake.

Our social worker told us at the beginning of the process that open adoption is an ever-changing path with highs and lows. Times of abundant contact and times of scarcity. The contact and visits ebb and flow on Momma J’s end depending upon her situation at that time, however we have vowed to always keep the door open.

Once when a planned visit didn’t work out at the very last minute, we had some well-meaning family members ask why we keep doing it. Was it worth the 6 hour drive round trip only to find out she couldn’t make it. Without a doubt, yes. It’s not just about spending our time and gas, it’s about keeping the door open for all the benefits open adoption can have for our daughter. It’s about keeping our promises and doing the right thing even when it’s hard. As our daughter gets older, we will also make sure listen to her needs and feelings as well in relation to openness and contact. For now she enjoys when we Skype and likes to show off her new super hero moves and dance spins.

For all those adoptive parents who send updates and photos and never hear back…please don’t assume they aren’t worth doing. Momma J told us that even when she didn’t have the strength to be in touch, those updates meant the world to her. For prospective adoptive parents just beginning the process, remember to be flexible to the changes that open adoption will go through over time. It’s not just one way of being, it’s a lifestyle that over time changes and develops and hopefully grows. Open adoption can not simply be defined by one thing. For us, I’m glad that a door that began as closed has now opened.

Guiding You Through the Home Study Process











For many expectant adoptive parents, the mention of a home study could be confusing and intimidating at first. If you are a prospective adoptive parent and are feeling anxious about the home study process, getting all of the information you need will ease your worries and ensure a smooth, well-prepared home study.

1.What is a home study?


To start off, a home study is simply the process of making sure you can become an adoptive parent and live in a stable environment to raise a child. It requires a full criminal background check, a look at your finances, family background, and a review of your personal relationships. It is encouraged for prospective adoptive parents to start the home study process as soon as possible because it is the longest step that needs to be completed before connecting a family with a child or pregnant birth mother.

2. What is a home visit?


During this process you will meet with a social worker and certified Home Study Provider who will visit your home to review and verify that is a safe environment to raise a child. Don’t worry, your house does not have to be perfect — simple cleanliness and safety are most important. You want to make sure you:

  • Store chemicals, cleaning supplies, and medicine out of reach
  • Cover electric outlets
  • Install gates and safety railings for stairways and fences around pools
  • Inspect window screens and locks on windows and doors
  • Check smoke and carbon detectors to make sure they’re fully functioning
  • Examine any tall and heavy furniture bolted to the wall\

3. How to prepare for your interview.


Your social worker will meet with you or any member of your family who may be living in the same household as the adoptive child (family members exclude any young child who is not able to understand the adoption process) to conduct an interview. The interview will take place with each family member together and individually so that the social worker can learn more about your family history, personalities, goals for adoption, and knowledge on adoption.

Here is a list of sample interview that may come up during your home study interview:

  • Biographical/Family Background
    • How was your family as a child?
    • Share your best childhood memories.
    • Share your worst childhood memories.
    • Do you have any other children?
    • Are you married? If so, for how long?
    • How do you feel about child discipline?
    • Why have you decided to adopt?
    • What are your wishes for the future?
  • Community
    • How would you rate the safety of your community?
    • Describe the school system.
    • What school would your child attend?
    • What activities are available for your child?
  • Health
    • Do you have any health issues? If so, how are you handling them?
    • Will your family history cause you to potentially develop any health issues?
    • What is your plan in case of any health emergencies?
  • Criminal
    • Have you ever been arrested? If so, what were you arrested for?
    • Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Is so, what were you convicted for?
  • Finances
    • What is your annual income?
    • What is your educational background?
    • What is your profession?
    • Are you prepared for any unexpected expenses that may arise?
    • Are you able to provide for what a child will need?

You should become familiar with these questions to better prepare yourself for the interview. During your interview remember to be honest, relax, and be yourself!

4. What you’ll need.


Getting your appropriate documents in order will ensure a smooth home study and allow it to move quickly. Here is a checklist of the documents you will need:

  • Autobiographical statement
  • Parenting plan statement
  • Driver’s license(s)
  • Birth certificate(s) of everyone who lives in your home
  • Social security card
  • Marriage certificate if applicable
  • Divorce decree(s) if applicable
  • Military discharge(s) if applicable
  • Past adoption decree(s) if applicable
  • Green card(s) if applicable
  • Financial information
  • Latest income tax return and tax returns for the last 2-3 years
  • Verification of employment (most recent pay stub, letter from your employer, or a statement stating that you are not working)
  • Proof of insurance: (home, health, life, auto)
  • Medical statement(s) of health status for applicants and everyone living in the home
  • Immunization records
  • Passport(s) if adopting internationally
  • Pet vaccination records if applicable

5. Who to choose as a reference. 


It will be important to prepare a list of references for your social worker to contact. You will want to make sure you ask your references beforehand if it is okay to use them as a reference. You should choose people who are close to you, know your personality, and who are supportive of your decision to adopt.

The home study process may seem overwhelming but keep in mind that it is a necessary step in the adoption process and is not as scary as it might seem! It may feel invasive but keep in mind it is just to ensure a child will be placed in a safe home with a loving family. Remember you are not alone! If you have any concerns along the way reach out to family, friends, other parents who have been through the adoption process, or your social worker for support along the way. Relax, be genuine and when all is said and done, it will all be worth it. Good luck!

“He who can reach a child’s heart can reach the world’s heart.” -Rudyard Kipling