The Birth Parent Perspective in Open Adoptions: A Focus on Birth Fathers

Birth mother’s are often times front and center when open adoption is being discussed, but it is important that birth father’s are not left out of the conversation.

AFTH Birthfathers
A Deeper Look at the Emotional Impact for Birth Fathers

Mary Martin Mason, the author of Out of the Shadows: Birthfathers’ Stories, conducted in depth interviews of several birth father’s.

Mason defines birth fathers as “men who have fathered a child whom they are not parenting.” Her in-depth interviews of birth fathers include those of various ages, races and backgrounds. While most have no contact with their children, a few are participating in open adoptions. Three of the men married their child’s birth mothers after relinquishment, but the majority of those interviewed have lost contact with the birth mother and child.

The Post-Placement Experience

Mason explains that because the birth father experience is an unknown to most people, few support systems exist.

• Despite the existence of millions of birth fathers as a subculture, these men continue to stay “under wraps.” One of the reasons that many of them keep their experience a secret is that to speak about it publicly can result in baffled silence or worse, criticism. Even well-meaning friends and co-workers are perplexed as to how to respond to a birth father.
• One birthfather explained that “nobody knew how to approach me. They all knew we were pregnant. They all knew we were giving the baby up for adoption, so nobody came down and understood how to say….” — Randy chokes on the words he needed to hear — “Congratulations, and I’m sorry.”

The grief and sadness felt by birth fathers after relinquishment and placement can fall along a spectrum and varies depending on the individual. Professionals suggest that healing can really begin once the individual has had the opportunity to address and process their pain. Finding positive outlets for your energy is another way birth father’s can move forward. Take an active role in the adoption community and share your story with others!

“Being a birth father has come to be a thing of pride,” one birthfather said to Mason. “As we come out of the shadow, we can say we are men who have gotten into difficult situations and considered the best option for our child. We should take pride in that.”

Birthfather Pride

Becoming a Birth Father

Darrcik Rizzo is a birth father who became an advocate for adoption and how beautiful it can be, but it didn’t always start off that way. In an excerpt from one of his blog posts, he outlines his initial struggle with comprehending exactly what adoption would mean for his son.

After immense persuasion from my girlfriend, I reluctantly found myself browsing for information about open adoption. The more I read about it, the more I found myself questioning my initial reaction and trying to figure out fatherhood through open adoption. When I realized that open adoption allowed me to be a part of my baby’s life from the very beginning, I felt that open adoption might be the right way to go for my child and also myself as a father. So I gave in, and agreed to the concept of open adoption. Through this experience I found myself wholly involved in each and every step of the adoption process.

Through the process we learned about couples interested in adopting as well as the two kinds of open adoption. One kind of open adoption was totally open while the other was semi-open—where letters and pictures would be facilitated between the birth parents, adoption agency and the adoptive parents. At first I was quite apprehensive of the couples who were interested. I had no clue of how I would be able to know that they would care for my child like their own. And unlike other adoption processes, I was without any professional that provided counseling through the entire adoption procedure. Through the process, my girlfriend and I got to sit with five potential adoptive parents, interview them, and then decide on who would be perfect for our child. Out of the five couples, we found the perfect parents, who were in a biracial relationship just like my girlfriend and I.

The decision-making process was complicated, emotional, and overshadowed other activities in my life. The pregnancy and adoption were happening while I was in school and I could hardly concentrate because this was about more than just books and making it big in life. This was my child we were talking about. I wasn’t willing to “give up” my child; I felt responsible for his well-being. Thank God for open adoption. Through it I knew that my child would know his birth father from the start and I would not have to miss out on the important days of my child’s life.

Birth Father Rights in the Adoption Process

Birth fathers have legal rights during the adoption process and it is important to address that in this post. Most agencies and attorneys have specific procedures to make sure that birth fathers are indentified, located and that they are made aware of the adoption plan. In those situations, birth fathers are also informed about their rights. The birth father’s involvement and participation in the adoption plan is often times welcomed because when there is agreement, and legal papers consenting to the adoption are signed, his rights are being acknowledged. However, many adoptions proceed even if the birthfather is not located and has not signed consent forms and these situations carry a degree of risk. If you are a birth father and want a better understanding of your rights or if you are an adoptive family and want to gain a better understanding of adoption law, explore these links further:
http://afth.org/pregnant/info-for-fathers/
http://www.americanadoptions.com/adoption/birth_father_rights
http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/adoption-and-fathers-rights.html

Conclusion

Open adoption is a lifelong journey for all members of the adoption family, including birth fathers. Their stories should be told and their rights protected. If you have any helpful resources for birth fathers please share them with us, we are always looking for new ways to help all members of the adoption community because we must not forget, adoption is love!

The Different Adoption Costs and How to Adopt Without Going into Debt

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As a prospective adoptive parent, you are likely researching various adoption agencies and professionals with one big question in mind: How much will this adoption cost, and will it fall within our budget? Many people say that they would really like to adopt but they automatically think they can’t afford it because the one word that comes along with adoption is EXPENSIVE. The one important piece of advice we urge our readers is to not just choose one specific adoption route because it is less expensive than the path you feel most. There are a lot of other important factors to think about when picking out the right adoption plan for your family. Be very honest with yourself and choose the adoption plan that you feel most comfortable and then focus on the cost associated with that choice. There are so many different ways that you can raise money throughout your adoption journey to help offset the cost and stay out of debt!

Statistics on the Cost of Different Adoption Plans

After making the decision to adopt, your family should understand and anticipate the financial costs associated with the different kinds of adoption. Costs of adoption may be minimal or can total more than $40,000, depending on a number of facts. The wide range of cost is dependent on the type of adoption, type of placement, agency, child’s age and many other different factors. Below are just a few statistics of how much adoption can cost, which are based on the different types of adoption.

  • Licensed private agencies- Fees range from $4,000 to $30,000.
  • Independent adoptions- This type of adoption is not allowed in most states but adoptive parents report spending $8,000 to $30,000. Fun fact, they spend over $5,000 in advertisement alone!
  • Intercountry Adoption Costs- If you’re adopting a child from another country, the range of adoption cost is $15,000 to $40,000+.
  • Foster Care Adoption- If you’re adopting through foster care, which generally involves becoming the parent of an older child, the cost is much lower: zero to $2,500.

Why does Adoption Cost so Much?

So what exactly are you paying for, other than the opportunity to become a parent? Breaking down the total cost into universal expenses and adoption-specific expenses might help you better understand where the costs come from and the best plan to pursue for your family.

1. Universal Expenses: These are the type of expenses that occur for every type of adoption, including the home study and court costs
  • Home Study: A home study must be completed for all prospective parents no matter what type of adoption you pursue. For a public agency adoption a home study may be waived or cost a minimal of $500. With other types of adoption it might cost $1,000-$3,000 for the home study alone.
  • Legal Fees: All domestic adoptions and some intercountry adoptions must be finalized in the court in the US. The cost for court document preparation can range from $500 to $2,000, while the cost for representing adoptive parents in an open adoption can range from $2,500 to $6,000.
2. Adoption-Specific Expenses: In addition to the costs common to every adoption, adoptive parents incur costs to the specific type of adoption that they choose.
  • Public Agency Adoption Costs: Most public agencies focus on placing children from foster care. Up-front fees and expenses for this type of adoption can be as much as $2,500 which includes attorney’s fees and travel expenses.
  • Private Adoption Costs: These costs widely ranges depending on the type of agency used. There is a licensed private adoption agency, an independent adoption agency and a facilitated/unlicensed adoption agency. The cost of private adoption agencies can range from $5,000-40,000 depending on which agency you choose to go with. Working with a private adoption agency definitely comes with a lot of benefits as the fees cover basically everything.
    • Free services provided to the birth parents
    • Educational Courses
    • Advertising and marketing
    • Home studies
    • Post placement support and paperwork
  • Intercountry Adoption Costs: Agencies that provide intercountry adoption services charges fees that ranges from $15,000-$40,000+. These fees generally include immigration; court costs and in some cases a required donation to the foreign orphanage or agency.

Tips on How to Save Money While Adopting

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Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about to costs of adopting a child, as is understandable based on the range that was given in the beginning of the blog. The important thing to understand is that to become a parent in general is rarely free of expenses, as pregnancy and childbirth can be extremely expensive as well. However, with the proper planning and knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, it will be easier to develop a budget and set a plan in motion. A great book that has helped a lot of our hopeful adoptive parents afford adoption is the book Adopt without Debt written by Julie Gumm.

1. Adoption Grants: Adoption grants are basically “free” money for your adoption. But free doesn’t mean they don’t come without work. There are three basic grants that are available for any adoptive parent looking to help with the payment of their adoption.
  • Direct Grant: Direct Grant organizations review applicants and award money outright. The money is never paid directly to families, but is paid to your adoption agency or attorney. These are usually the hardest grants to receive. Resources4Adoption is a great go-to database for adoption grants and loans. Some organizations that reward direct grants are; Gift of a Adoption, Show Hope and a Child Awaits.
  • Fundraising Grant: This gives you an account with a non-profit grant organization to which people can donate. This provides your friends and family with the added benefit of a tax deduction when they give to your adoption fund. Some examples of great fundraising grant are; Lifesong for Orphans and His Kids Too!
  • Matching Grant: basically a combination of direct and fundraising. The grant organization allows you to fundraise and provide the tax benefit to your donors. Then they match a certain dollar amount of donations received.
2. Adoption Loans: Loans may make sense to cover large and immediate expenses that may be reimbursed later by your employer, the military, or the government’s reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses. One source of loans is the National Adoption Foundation which can be accessed through nafadopt.org.
3. Fundraisers are a great way to raise money for your adoption while having a great time! Here are just a few ideas we found that helped raised a lot of money, while getting the whole community involved!
  • “Tag The Bag”: Pick out the bag you are going to use for travels and get your family and community together. Put a price on how much you would like to raise and put a specific amount together per signature!
  • “Adoption Fund Garage Sale”: We had an adoptive family hold a garage sale teaming up with their local church and they raised over $5,000. You would be surprised how many people would donate used clothing and toys and even more surprised on how many people would be interested in purchasing used clothing and toys!
  • “Puzzle Piece Fundraiser”: Your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers can sponsor puzzle pieces for $5, $10, or any amount that helps you reach you goal. Then, you can hang your completed puzzle in your child’s room as a constant reminder to all of the people who worked to bring your child home.
4. Employer Benefits: A growing number of companies and government agencies are offering adoption benefits to their employees. Benefits may include:
  • adoption information and referral services
  • legal expenses
  • agency fees
  • medical expenses
  • post adoption counseling
  • paid of unpaid leave time for the adoptive parent
  • financial reimbursement
5. Tax Credit: Adoption federal tax credits may be available to defray some adoption costs. As of 2014 the Adoption Tax Credit is $13,190 per child.  Whether you adopt domestically or internationally you are eligible for a $13,190 tax credit the year you complete your adoption.  The credit amount can depend on a family income, whether the child has “special needs” and any other adoption benefits. Even now several states have enacted state tax credits for families adopting children from the public child welfare system in that state!

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Putting the Pieces Together

The majority of people work their entire lives to prepare for starting a family one day. Whether you have a baby through traditional means or through adoption, there will always be an expense involved. Don’t let the cost of adopting effect your decision to follow your dreams in creating a family. Like you can see throughout this blog, there are so many resources out there that will help you adopt without emptying your bank accounts

May Book Reviews 2015

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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.

ReunitedReunited: An Investigative Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life’s Greatest Family Mysteries by Pamela Slaton with Samantha Marshall  – Imagine if you had no history to your life other than what began when you entered your adoptive home? You have no access to past family medical history and no idea of your ancestry or heritage.  You have no one in your immediate family who looks like you or acts like and your family history is a blank slate.

We all hope our parents or caretakers provide for our basic needs with food, clothing, and shelter, make us feel safe and secure in our environment, and provide love and a sense of belonging so we can strive to fulfill our purpose in life. But what about the part of our past that travels with us and is unknown? As humans we have been provided the brain power to reason and think beyond the daily tasks at hand and we have a need to understand the history of our lives and those who have come before us.

This book takes you on a journey that will expose raw feelings and emotions of the life-changing events of a closed adoption as the author attempts to help her clients uncover their past before adoption.  As I once learned from an adoptive mother, Dee Paddock, “Adoption is JOY and SORROW….always being woven together in this tapestry we call FAMILY.  Children of adoption may have issues around separation, loss, abandonment, rejection, and identity….that birth children in intact families DO NOT HAVE”.

What boggles the mind in this book is how the author, Pamela, an adult adoptee, has put her heart and soul into helping others on the journey when she was not able to fulfill her one wish of making a connection with her own biological mother.  She puts all her heart and soul into helping total strangers who are now her friends for life when she travels with them as their guide to help them make a connection to their past.

There is a very popular show on PBS called, “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Professor Gates understands this strong desire for each of us to find and understand our history.  Pamela Slaton has faith in the power of the connection between human beings and she does everything in her power (and sometimes she may get some divine assistance) to help individuals make that connection to their past.  She genuinely cares and is respectful and feels a strong sense of responsibility for the well-being of her clients.

When her searching clients feel a sense of defeat, betrayal and loss, she LIFTS THEM UP because she knows first-hand what loss is all about and she provides dignity and respect even when the outcome is not successful. She is in search of the TRUTH for all her clients.

Clear your calendar when you pick up this book because it is a page-turner and you will not want to be interrupted.   If you have anything to do with the world of adoption, genealogy, or searching, this is a MUST-READ.  amazon.com price $6.99 (PB) Kindle Price $9.99

The Pea that was MeThe Pea That Was Me: An Embryo Donation Story (Volume 3) by Kimberly Kluger-Bell – This was a cute little story about embryo donation – there are other books in this series that just change how the family came together, IVF, sperm donation, egg donation etc…. This book does a great job of describing where babies come from and how a family can grow from embryo donation.  Using a pea family the author tells the story of how babies are made, and how another pea family donated their embryo to another family.  My only issue with the book is that the author states that an egg and a sperm make a tiny baby pea – which could cause a little bit of confusion.  Maybe if she had just left it as a tiny baby that would have been better. Either way book could be helpful in explaining embryo donation and is recommended by several embryo donation programs. amazon  price $11.57

double dip feelingsDouble-Dip Feelings: Stories to Help Children Understand Emotions by Barbara Cain – This book helps children understand that it is possible to feel two ways at the same time.  Feelings are complex things and when children have conflicting feeling such as when they are dealing with moving to a foster home or to a new adoptive home from their biological home there can be excitement and sadness.  This book can help facilitate the conversation on having these conflicting feelings and that being perfectly normal.  Nice illustrations and easy to understand text.  Amazon price $9.72 (pb) $5.02 (library binding)

TerribleThingA Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes – Sherman Smith saw a terrible thing and he tries really hard to forget about it but it just makes him angry, gives him nightmares and makes his stomach hurt. When he finally starts talking about what he saw his life becomes better, his nightmares go away and he realizes he isn’t as angry.

Research has shown that children who have witnessed violence or trauma are actually affected as strongly or worse than the primary victims. Children who have experienced trauma or witnessed violent deaths can be helped by talking to a parent, teacher, or other adult about their experience. This story can help children to talk about things that are bothering them.  Maybe their terrible thing isn’t is different or not as bad as Sherman’s but if its keeping them up all night or making them unhappy if they share it and talk about their feelings they will be more likely to move through it.   Amazon price $9.16 (pb) $13.26 (HC)

What You Need to Know About Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome

All around the world there are children with special needs who are waiting to be placed with loving families. As adoptive parents, it is important that you understand the amount of care that goes into adopting a child with special needs. Adoptive parents should ask themselves if they are prepared to handle any medical, physical or behavioral conditions that the child may experience while growing up. In many cases, adoptive parents become lifetime caregivers, depending on the severity of the child’s condition and the amount of assistance needed throughout the child’s life. It is also important to consider if your family is financially able to provide the health care needed to support the child. With all things considered, adopting a child with special needs can be a very rewarding experience. Many children with special needs flourish in loving and permanent homes.

What is Down Syndrome?

Understanding Chromosome Disorders:
Down Syndrome is a chromosome disorder. Chromosomes are structures that contain our genes, which are the determining factor in how our bodies develop. Genes also decide certain characteristics such as a person’s hair color, eye color and blood type. When a chromosome defect happens, the chromosomes do not divide correctly. According to adoptspecialneeds.com, “Down Syndrome is chromosome disorder that is caused when the cells of chromosome 21 do not divide correctly. There are three types of abnormal cell division. All three abnormalities will have extra genetic material from chromosome 21.” –Adoptspecialneeds.org Although the exact cause of Down Syndrome is unknown, some research does indicate that older maternal age can contribute to infants being born with Down Syndrome.

 Down Syndrome Characteristics:
A child born with Down Syndrome may have a wide variety of characteristics and medical complications throughout their lives. According to Disabledworld.com, “The disability happens in around one out of every eight-hundred children, and there are greater than fifty characteristics that identify a child who has Down syndrome.” Children with Down Syndrome appear to be short in stature and have upward slanted eyes. The child could also appear to have  poor muscle tone and flattened facial features.

Important things to know about Down Syndrome:

Possible Complications:
Children with Down Syndrome have a delayed range of mental development. Other complications can also include heart defects, hearing impairment, vision complications, leukemia, sleep apnea and obesity. However, with the right treatment plan and care, these complications can be monitored, and managed to improve the quality of your child’s life.

Treatment:
Though there is no cure for Down Syndrome, children with this particular special need will benefit greatly from different types of therapies including physical, speech and occupational therapy. The earlier the child is started in therapy, the greater the child will benefit from these types of professional care. Early intervention programs that incorporate special education, speech, and physical therapy have been shown to improve the developmental potential of children with Down Syndrome.

Schooling:
Most children with Down Syndrome begin at conventional schools. Though this is a great option, some parents choose schools that specially handle special needs children. These special schools will have programs tailored to their child and will provide them with special individualized attention. This is completely a preference in which your family feels most comfortable with.

Support System:
It is equally as important to have a support system in place for not only your child, but your family as well. Adopting a child with Down Syndrome can be a rough journey at times. It is important that you have tools to fall back on when times become difficult. You can build a support system by seeking out local groups and parent network organizations for families that have a child with Down Syndrome. Hearing first hand experience will be very helpful to gain knowledge on raising your child with Down Syndrome.

Children growing up with Down Syndrome are normally able to integrate into society and lead healthy and happy lives. In many cases, children with Down Syndrome can live independently or in supportive group environments, and can even sustain employment. Adopting a child with Down Syndrome is a great undertaking, but can also be a very rewarding experience. Many families have successfully adopted children with Down Syndrome. Here is a look into a very touching video of a couple’s adoption video which shows them bringing their baby girl, Sunflower Mae, home for the first time.

Resources:
Educating your family about Down Syndrome before adopting a child is very important. Here are a list of books that could be helpful to reference before the adoption, and post placement.
• Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier -By Natalie Hale
• My Friend Has Down Syndrome (Let’s talk about It Series) – By Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
• The Upside of Down – By Rebecca Talley
• Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parent’s Guide- By Woodbine House

When adopting a child with Down Syndrome it is very important to understand that specific special need before you are placed with a child. Like many factors involving adoption, educating yourself on the topic is key. Also, speaking with other families who have not only adopted with special needs, but adoption in general will give you a great basis, and prepare you for your own adoption process. All children with Down Syndrome can thrive in a loving environment and can benefit greatly from a permanent home that your family has to offer.

adoption is a blessing

Paper Pregnancy: How Adoptive Parents Can Celebrate Their Time “Expecting”

When a pregnant woman walks into a store, she might get asked “is it a boy or a girl?” “when are you due?” “how are you feeling?” When a couple is experiencing paper pregnancy, in the stage of waiting with an adoption, that questioning doesn’t usually naturally occur. Hopeful adoptive parents are in an exciting stage of life yet cautious at the same time. The dual feelings found in the adoption journey up until placement may be compared to what a couple in their first trimester might experience until they hit the second trimester where there is less risk. Hopeful adoptive parents don’t want to get their hopes up or keep getting asked how much longer will they be waiting, but it is still a very important to be able to celebrate their paper pregnancy as well.

Paper Pregnancy
A Guide to Celebrating Your Upcoming Adoption

Whether you are spending months filling out paper work for government offices or for your adoption agency, your enthusiasm might be dampened from the sheer stress. One adoptive mother was lucky enough to have friends and family plan a nontraditional baby shower to celebrate going into the books.

An Adoption Shower How-To

Finding the right day to have your shower is tricky right off the bat, and it all depends on what you’re comfortable with. Waiting until homestudy is successfully completed, until you receive referrals, or even waiting until after you’ve had your placement, all are fine options. It is important for friends and family who want to host a shower to speak with the waiting adoptive parents first to gauge how they would feel about it – taking their preferences into account is really important.

Theme

Choosing a theme for the shower can be a lot of fun. If you are adopting internationally, consider intertwining the culture of the country you are adopting from, or if you are adopting domestically, state or city culture would make for an out of the box theme. If you are stumped for ideas, classic baby-centric themes can never go wrong!

Invitations

When inviting guests to the adoption shower, it won’t be that different from inviting guests to a more traditional baby shower. Something along the lines of, “Kristy and Dave have completed their paperwork and are in the books to adopt their new son or daughter! Let’s help them get ready for the big day when they get “The Call!” Help fill the nursery with gifts for the new addition to their family!” Designing invitations yourself can be fun, and way more cost effective so give that a try if you are feeling crafty!

Games and Activities

Sometimes at baby showers, or in this case adoption showers, not all of the guests know each other so playing some games can help to break the ice. An adoption trivia game where guests have to list as many famous people who are adoptive parents or who were adopted in a limited about of time, or combine general adoption questions with more personal information (What agency are Kristy and Dave using to adopt their son or daughter?). You can always opt to keep it even simpler and forgo games if that isn’t your style, this is your time to celebrate so you’re the boss!

Gifts

Buying for a newborn is a relatively easy task, but if you are adopting an older baby, toddler, or child your guests might be unsure of what items you need. Consider starting a registry so attendees know they can choose a gift you will actually use or even just pass some suggestions along to the hosts of your shower. Will you have to travel during your adoption? Maybe travel themed gifts would be useful to you or maybe you want to give your child’s birthmother or their orphanage gifts and your guests could help contribute to that.

An adoption shower is an opportunity for friend and family to share in the happiness and joy of the new stage in your life. Having an adoption shower is a great way to commemorate your impending parenthood!

Other Ways to Celebrate Being Paper Pregnant

Having an adoption shower is just one of the ways you can celebrate your upcoming adoption. Here are some other ways that soon to be adoptive parents celebrated and prepared for their new bundle of joy:
• Every couple of weeks to something new, that you’ve always wanted to do. Take that pottery class you have been thinking about taking because it won’t be easy to do after a baby!
• Maybe you don’t want to buy baby clothes because you don’t know the gender of your new baby, so instead every time you get a coupon for diapers purchase some. You can get different sizes because you know they will eventually be used!
Share other ways you have thought of to celebrate in the comments below!

There Are Two Sides to Every Story: The Paper Pregnancy Debate

It might not seem like a controversial topic, but the term “paper pregnancy” has sparked an interesting debate within the adoption community. Whether you agree with the opinions, it is important to know that it is terminology that may be a hot topic for some.

A Birthmother’s Perspective

“To me, a hopeful adoptive parent telling other people they’re “expecting” when they’re hoping to adopt just rubs me the wrong way. To me, it focuses the attention on the hopeful adoptive parents, which is exactly where it should not be. A hopeful adoptive couple is not “expecting.” They are not “paper pregnant.” They are simply hopeful that the right paths with converge and a woman choosing adoption with pick them to adopt her child, or in the case of international adoption, they’re hoping all the people involved will take the steps necessary to make the adoption happen,” – Monika via Expecting

Adoptive Parent Quote

An Adoptive Parent’s Perspective

“We adoptive parents need to be encouraged to see the adoption experience from all sides, so thanks Monika. Monika believes that calling adoptive parents “expectant” or “paper pregnant” could be coercive or at the very least makes it harder for the mother to decide against parenting. I don’t doubt that the fear of disappointing would be adopters influences some women to go through with the adoption plan, but I think this has little to do with the words we call pre-adoptive parents and everything to do with the inherent nature of adoption. No matter whether you call them expectant parents or hopeful parents or maybe someday parents, they are anticipating and expecting the arrival of this child with joy and excitement,” – Dawn via Creating a Family

A Final Thought

Maybe the words you use to describe the journey you took to get to where you are now, waiting for your adoption placement aren’t the same as the ones used by your pregnant friends, but the love and happiness your bundle of joy will bring you, deserves a little celebration!

Here are some other resources you might find helpful:

http://livinglifewithopenarms.blogspot.com/2015/01/whats-too-much-and-whats-too.html

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/waiting-to-adopt/wanting-joyful-reactions-to-adoption-announcement/?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Apr15

The Immense Differences between Working with a Private Adoption Agency and Foster Care Adoption: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Both Options

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If you are considering adoption, you must fully transition and commit before beginning the adoption process. As prospective adoptive parents, you have to decide what type of adoption you are interested in pursuing, which depends on several factors. Do you want to adopt a baby or an older child? Do you want the birthparents to be involved? How much money are you able to spend on the process? These are all questions that should be answered as a family before moving forward with adoption. There are many misconceptions that come from not only private adoption but foster care adoption as well. There are articles on top of articles on the differences between the two but we wanted to simplify the advantages and disadvantages of both options to make it easier on all hopeful adoptive parents.

https://afth.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/adoption-vs-foster-care/

The Pro’s and Con’s of Foster Care/ State Adoption

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The advantages include:

  1. Cost of Adoption is minimal: Expenses are none or minimal. Additionally many families are eligible for the federal tax credit up to $13,190 in tax year 2014. Don’t choose Foster Care Adoption because it is the least expensive option, remember to choose the route that best fits your family.
  2. Provide Child Permanent Home- There is no greater gift than opening your doors and providing a child in need a home and family that they can call their own
  3. Birth Parents Can’t Change Mind – A common fear in domestic adoption is that the birth mother can change her mind before the adoption is complete. In foster care adoption, the biological parents’ parental rights have already been terminated before the child is available for adoption. Thus, there are never any failed adoptions because of a birth parent changes their mind.

The disadvantages include:

  1. Uncertainty: Almost 50% of children in foster care are reunified with their family of origin. This means that there is a potentially painful separation for both parties.
  2. Infants Aren’t Usually Available: Because of the multiple chances biological parents have to rehabilitate themselves before their parental rights are terminated, most of the children that become available for adoption when they are older.
  3. Emotional Damage on Child: The child has already experienced a separation from his/her biological parents and may even have been the victim of neglect or child abuse. This may affect the child both currently and as they get older.

Statistics on Foster Care Adoption

  1. More than 60% of children in foster care spend two to five years in the system before being adopted. Almost 20% spend five or more years in foster care before being adopted. Some never get adopted.
  2. Of the over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S., 114,556 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted.
  3. The age distribution of children in foster care waiting for adoptions is as follows:

1-3 years = 26%
4-6 years = 19%
7-9 years = 15%
10-14 years = 20%
15+ years = 12%g

  1. One in three children adopted from foster care are adopted by parents who are a different race. Most adopted children from foster care are non-white, while the majority (73%) of the children’s adopted parents is white.
  2. Nearly 40% of children adopted from foster care live in families with three or more adopted and birth children, making their family structures more complex than other adopted children.

The Pro’s and Con’s of Working with a Private Adoption Agency

There are a number of benefits that come with choosing private agency to help with your adoption. Agencies typically are skilled at matching children to families in addition to being familiar with the various legal matters that go along with adoption. In most instances, an adoption agency can help prospective parents with a wide range of services, such as finding the biological parent of the child to organizing and filing the adoption paperwork. In addition, adoption agencies can help with home inspections, getting the necessary consents, and even helping parents understand various state laws that deal with adoptions. With all of the advantages comes disadvantages that are brought on when choosing adoption through an agency rather than foster care adoption. Agencies often continue to offer any future support you or your child may need as they grow older. Similar to choosing fostercare, in addition to advantages there are also disadvantages by choosing this path of adoption.

 The advantages include:

  1. Greater control over choice for birth parents and adoptive parents. Working with a private adoption agency allows all parties involved to make choices about the baby and each other.
  2. More information. Direct contact means more extensive background information for the child, including medical, social, and religious histories.
  3. More immediate bonding. Private adoption allows the newborn baby to bypass foster care in a temporary home or an orphanage.
  4. Chance of shorter search. Families who want to adopt sooner choose private adoption because wait times are typically shorter on average than foster care adoption.

The disadvantages include:

  1. Unpredictability of costs. . Even though the costs are higher and may be more unpredictable, families are still eligible for the federal tax credit upon finalization (which was $13,190 for the 2014 tax year)
  2. Inability to select the gender of the child.
  3. Greater stress. Because of the active role that birth parent(s) and adoptive parents play in a private adoption, there can be a great deal of stress. Birth parents can change their minds about placing the child after birth. However, the length of time during which a birth parent can change his/her mind is governed by law and varies from state to state.

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Wrapping it All up

At the start of writing this blog, we asked our followers on different social media platforms their opinions about the topic a long with any personal real life involvements that they might have had along the way.

“We have adopted privately and also foster to adopt. I always tell couples that want to adopt their first child, fostering is not for the weak. It’s a long, emotional drama filled journey that ends in absolutely the most joyous event, the adoption.”

While there are many cons to adopting, many adoptive parents agree that the pros outweigh the cons. If adopting is important to you, choose the route that accommodates your lifestyle, financial situation and emotional state. Remember, just as families don’t get to pick their biological children, many times they don’t get to pick an adoptive child either. Flexibility, an open mind and an open heart are must haves for a successful adoption.

How to Make a Smooth Transition When Adopting an Older Child

adoptions_logo_icon_il [PURPLE]Adopting an older child can definitely has its own blessings and challenges than compared to infant adoption. Many adoptive parents choose to adopt older children for many different reasons. Some may feel that older children are often forgotten about and there is a greater need to find these children permanent homes or because it simply fits their family dynamic better. Adopting an older child is considered to be when a family adopts at the age of three and over.

Every child that is adopted comes with a past, no matter what age they are adopted. However, the older a child is, the more history they bring. Older children will probably have a strong recollection of their history – whether it was having lived in foster care, orphanages, or with birth parents. Their pre-adoptive experiences could leave the child with some unresolved emotional issues. These could include the loss of a birth family or siblings, change in culture and religion, or the effect of witnessing violence, substance abuse, etc. You may find that transitioning with older children is a little more difficult. Below are some really great tips to making a smooth transition when brining an older child into your family.

5 Tips for a Smooth Transition:

Be prepared:

Like infant adoption, it is equally important that you and your family are prepared. There are a number of ways to do so. Immerse yourself in the process. You can read books, attend classes, and educate yourself on the child’s background in which they are coming from like their religion, heritage, and culture. A really great way to learn about what to expect when bringing your child home is by attending classes. Adoptions From The Heart offers a variety of classes for pre adoptive parents in many different locations along the east coast. To find a class offered at an office near you visit the AFTH calendar of events: Another great way is to connect with a child therapist in your so you have a local resource that can help you and especially your child with the transition.

Here is a list of great resources for adopting and older child:

  • Adopting the Older Child- By Claudia Jewett
  • Attaching in Adoption – By Deborah Gray
  • Parenting the Hurt Child – Gregory Peck
  • “What we wish we would have known” by Judy and Sara Myerson

Be patient:

One of the most difficult aspects of parenting an older child is the patience it takes for a mutually satisfying attachment to occur. It is important to not overwhelm your child. It is true that it may take your child a good amount of time until he/she feels like a part of your family. The time cannot be predicted and truly depends on the child, and the situation that occurred before the adoption. It is very helpful if you understand your child’s pre-placement story and are prepared to encounter their child’s stories from before. For example, in the child’s pre-placement environment they might have all eaten dinner in front of the TV. If your family eats together around the table, it may be an adjustment that has to be made. Having patience and understanding the differences will help you explain how your family operates. Your child could also have many difficult questions regarding their adoption. Visit our blog and read about how to answers some of the common questions.

The Honey Moon Phase:

Just like newlyweds, your child and family could experience a “Honeymoon Phase.” When the child comes home he/she may be shy and reserved, or happy and excited. For the weeks or months following placement, it is common for the child to be on their best behavior, known as the “honeymoon stage.” As the family becomes more comfortable with one another, it is common for the child to start testing boundaries. This can all stem from the grief of the loss of old traditions, family dynamic etc. It is important to be aware of this stage, so that you and your family can prepare. In some cases, therapy could be recommended. Although the honeymoon stage can be a bit scary sounding, grief is generally a positive sign. It shows that the child was able to form a strong attachment to the life that they had before the adoption, and that they will be able to form an attachment again, to their new family.

Show How Much You Care:

While telling your child how much they mean to you is important, showing them how much you care can go a long way. There are many things that you can do to show that you care about your child such as:

  • Cooking their favorite dinner: especially if they have a different culture. Preserving a piece of the child’s previous life can really help make the transition smoother
  •   Display art projects or good test grades on the fridge
  •   Create family memories – take the time to do an activity that the child loves to do. This could be going to a sporting event, going to the park, walking the dog etc.
  • Be open to incorporating some of the child’s traditions, wishes, and rituals into your family’s life

Set Limits:

It’s ok to set limits. Sometimes new adoptive parents are afraid to say “no” to their child because they feel like so much has been taken from them already. Discipline does not mean punishment. It is important to set boundaries to make a smooth transition. Boundaries will give your child responsibility and accountability, which will result in providing structure and stability. To give responsibly you could assign your children chores, set a bed time or a designated time after school for homework.

The best thing to do when adopting an older child is to educate yourself. Books are a great way to learn about not only adopting an older child, but the adoption process in general. It is also beneficial to surround your family with others who have gone through the adoption process as well. Here you will find an instant support group where you will be able to find answers to questions that you may have from families who have first hand experience with adoption, and adopting an older child.

Despite the challenges that stem from adopting and older child, the process can be deeply rewarding for families that have realistic expectations. Adopting older children has many benefits and it is another wonderful way to build and grow your family.