Category Archives: Adoptees

We Might Not Look Alike, But We Look Like We Belong Together

Backstory:

My mom met my dad while he was finishing up his doctorate and my mom was working for the Health Department in Pittsburgh. They dated for a while, got married and moved to Mexico after my dad received his Doctorate. I should mention that my dad was born and raised in Mexico and my mom is from the USA. They moved to Mexico because my dad received a scholarship from the Government and to pay it back he had to return to Mexico and work at a state school.

My parents always wanted to have kids, but there was one thing that was holding them back from kids of their own. My adoptive mom is a carrier of a rare genetic disorder that can be passed on to biological children. She decided that she didn’t want to take the risk of passing it on to her children. That’s when the idea of adoption came into the picture. They started their adoption journey a few years later.

 

My Adoption:

I was born in a hospital in Puebla, Mexico. I would love to give more details but I don’t know that information. To be honest I have little to no information about my first days. All anyone knew was my birthday and blood type. From the hospital, I went to an orphanage where my primary care takers were nuns. I was there for two weeks before I was matched with my parents. While the paper work got started, my parents came to visit me every day during feeding times. After 6 weeks of daily visits my parents got a surprise call saying that they had received custody of me and they were finally able to take me home! The next part I don’t remember at all but to this day I still hear about it.

My parents were not prepared for my arrival. They didn’t buy much baby stuff because they didn’t want to jinx it. The day they got the call to bring me home they scrambled to get the necessities and call the family to let them know the wonderful news. My aunts and uncles came to visit as soon as they could. After they got off the phone with my parents, my aunts pulled my cousins out of school, went shopping and headed right over meet me.

My adoption was finalized several months later.

My Life:

My parents never kept my adoption a secret. I was about 3 when I first asked my mom about it. One of my mom’s good friends was pregnant at the time and I turned to my mom and asked, “I came from your belly too, right mommy?” That is where our conversations about my adoption started. They always said “We might not look alike, but we look like we belong together!” and answered every question I had as honestly as they could, but they also didn’t have much information.

To this day if I ask my mom why she thinks I was placed for adoption, she will say “I have a feeling your birth mom was too young and couldn’t provide the life she wanted for you. But I do know she loved you very much”. I’ll probably never know the real reason why, but with the answers from my parents I have all the answers I’ll ever need.

 

 

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Growing Up As An Adoptee: What They Want You To Know

Growing Up As An Adoptee: What They Want You To Know

Open adoption has changed the platform for adoptees by giving them answers, both about their backgrounds and their birth parents’ background. As an adoptee grows older in age, questions begin to surface and adoptive parents’ primary job shifts to educate their child about their own adoption. The idea of open adoption is a beneficial experience for children to comprehend their adoption stories, while gaining the chance to meet the parents they originated from. Although the roles of a birth mother and adoptive parent look different, they are equally important.


Girl, Father, Portrait, Eyes, Outdoor, People, Cute

Open adoption is so special and should be celebrated

What adoptees want others to know is that they are grateful for the family they have been given – both adoptive and birth families. In the beginning, when gaining information about their adoption, it can be emotional. Adoption is another avenue of creating a forever family and a home. Juliana Whitney, author of What Growing Up In An Open Adoption Has Taught Me, discusses what open adoption means to her. “It is having the ability to ask your birth parents the questions that adoptees in closed adoptions rarely get answered. It means being able to develop a thorough understanding of how and why you wound up somewhere other than in a home with your biological parents. It’s been an unforgettable experience. (Whitney)”

Balls, Balloon, Balloons, Rubber, Plastic, Fly, Helium

All adoptees have their own personal feelings towards adoption

Whether these feelings begin with questions such as, “why didn’t my parents keep me?” or curiosity stems about their backgrounds, every child experiences their adoption story differently. As confusion and possible sadness begins to run through the veins of adoptees, the most important concept to remind them of is that there was a never a moment in time they were unwanted or unloved. Reassurance towards these fragile emotions help the process become easier and less overwhelming.

Daisy, Heart, Daisy Heart, Love, Heart Shaped, Romantic

I am adopted or I was adopted?

After the adoptee was given a new beginning, they want you to know they WERE adopted. That title is a part of them but it’s not how adoptees want to be recognized. They have and are creating a life of their own, while understanding the roots they came from. This helps them in defining their own identity.

I, Self-Esteem, Self Liberation, Self-Reflection

Final advice from adoptees

  • “Answer any questions that your adoptee has. The earlier you tell them about their adoption process, the more time they have to understand it and the more time you have as the parent to help them understand. (Whitney)”
  • If an adoptee wants further information about their birth family, don’t take it too personally. This process does not mean the adoptee doesn’t love the family they were given. It’s a route adoptees choose to take to help fill some blanks they could be experiencing emotionally.
  • Read about adoption. Not just blogs or books, but do research about adoption. Adopted children are at a higher risk for certain behaviors such as moodiness, stress and uncertainty. It’s important to become familiar with their emotions so an adoptive parent is prepared to take the steps to either prevent them from happening or help their adoptee identify and resolve the issue.

Board, School, Self Confidence, Continue, Discourage

Sources:

http://www.americaadopts.com/what-growing-up-in-an-open-adoption-has-taught-me/

Which is Correct? Is Adopted or Was Adopted

As a parent of a child who came to your home by means of adoption, more often than not over time you forget how you became a family and instead focus on being a family. As a waiting family, all you do is live and breathe adoption. Even afterwards, while you are introducing your little one to the world, much of your time and discussions revolve around adoption.

I’ve heard adoptive parents say that adoption was a one-time thing and so they always make a point to say that their child was adopted when it pertains to the discussions.

But then, from listening to the voices of adoptees I would guess that the majority of adoptees feel as though adoption has impacted their lives forever and so thinking of themselves as an adoptee and not someone who was once adopted may feel more accurate.

Different terms are appropriate for different purposes.

As a mother, I don’t want my child to feel as though his whole identity is solely centered on adoption. But as a parent, I need to understand how my son may feel now and as he grows older as adoption as a part of his story. I don’t want to chalk everything in his life up to the fact that he was adopted but I also don’t want to assume that none of his struggles are adoption related either.

So what’s the right answer?

Well, it’s a balance. Just like marriage begins one day marked by a wedding, it’s also a lifestyle and commitment to someone else’s needs as well as your own? So is adoption. The act of adoption has several specific days associated with the process however being adopted or being an adoptee is lifelong and becomes a part of one’s identity. It’s a part, a piece, of who someone is.

I believe one of the most important and maybe hardest parts of parenting an adoptee is allowing space for ALL his or her feelings surrounding adoption. The good and the bad. Adoption is tough and unless we are adoptees’ ourselves, we cannot fully understand what our children are feeling. However, we can create an environment of open dialogue. Where our children feel ok sharing their feelings without worrying about how their own feelings might impact us.

The last thing I want is for my son to hold back his true feelings because he is worried about how I might feel about his feelings. He needs to know that my love for him is stronger than any uncomfortable conversation. That, to me, his feelings are just as important as my own.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: https://www.fortifiedroofing.com/adoptions-from-the-heart-interview.

Adoptee Speaks Out About Her Adoption Story!

Q&A with Maddie O’Brien who we had the pleasure of speaking with about her journey through finding out she was adopted. Maddie is a nursing student at Desales University.

How long have you known you were adopted?

I have known for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember being told a certain day or at a certain age— it’s just something that I’ve always known.

Do you remember how you were told?

My mom used to read this book to my brother and I when we were little called How I Was Adopted. She also used to tell us bedtime stories repeatedly pertaining to our adoptions. My story always was that I came home through the PHL airport, and every single person in my family who met me there ALL got sick— fever, chills and profuse vomiting. My dad, who is a teacher, had a surprise baby shower for me the next day and there was a “beautiful cake that said Welcome Maggie” (my name is Maddie haha) and the sight of that cake made my dad throw up even more.

Maddie and her father.

Maddie and her mother.

Were you adopted as an infant?

I was adopted at six months old through Pearl Buck. I was born on March 26th and my Gotcha day is October 1st.

 

Do you have other siblings that were adopted?

I have an older brother who is from Korea and was also adopted at six months old through Pearl Buck. We are not blood related even though everyone swears we look alike. We are 18 months apart and we are best friends.

Maddie and older brother Jerry.

Have you met your birth mother or father?

I have not met my birth mother or father although I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I unfortunately had a closed adoption so it’s very hard to find your parents in that case. My friend, who was always so intrigued about my culture and my birth parents, would constantly do research about Korean adoptees and eventually found this group I could be a part of through Facebook called Korean Adoptees of America. This is a closed and private Facebook group where people can share their stories about their adoption and our culture. Through this group, you can be sent a DNA kit in hopes to find your birth parents in Korea. Supposedly there is a huge desire in South Korea where parents who gave their children up for adoption are yearning to find their birth children. Parents who are in that situation were given free DNA kits, as well as Korean American adoptees in hopes that they will be connected. I requested a DNA kit and it’s actually sitting on my desk right now. I am very apprehensive to take it. Although it would be cool to see if I could find my birth parents or any other siblings I may have, it’s not super important to me because I love my parents and brother here. Those people are my family and DNA is the least of what makes someone family. My friend and I have tentative plans to visit South Korea next summer.

 

What is your adopted family like?

They are amazing. They have given me a life I couldn’t have ever dreamt of. My mom and dad are both teachers and my brother is a business finance student at LaSalle University. My Irish Catholic parents have raised my brother and I to have great morals and have blessed us with an amazing house, education, amazing vacations and best of all, their endless love.

Mom, dad, Jerry and maddie

Any advice or words of wisdom you live by? comments

I read this quote one time that said, “if the world was blind, who would you impress”. That quote stuck with me ever since because something I am a huge believer in is good character. Also, it is crazy because I didn’t think that answering these questions would bring back so many emotions and thoughts I haven’t even thought of. I still have my bag that I came home from Korea with- it has two outfits, a bottle and a blanket. And I looked at my birth certificate and it said that I was 2.3 pounds when I was born which is so crazy.

Maddie and Jerry today.

 

 

Talking With Your Kids About Adoption

Having that first talk about any subject matter with children is difficult. The “adoption talk” can seem daunting. However, it does not need to be this way. There are certain steps you can take in the adoption journey, especially when explaining it to children. We are here to alleviate some of that stress for you because we know it not an easy subject matter.

Do it Early and Do it Often

Being able to talk about your child’s adoption story early and often is important. By utilizing adoption terminology as early as when they are an infant, they can slowly become accustomed to the words as they grow older. By reverberating their adoption story from a young age, this can help them better understand where they came from.

It’s also important to anticipate – children ask a lot of questions. By being prepared for questions they may ask, you, as parents, can feel better equipped to answer them. If you are in a two-parent family, it’s also good to be consistent with your child’s adoption story. This prevents confusion and miscommunication. Coordination is key.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is also important to realize the developmental aspect of it. In other words, keep the talks “age-appropriate.” One of the most common questions kids start asking is about being in their “mommy’s tummy.” At that age (around three or four), kids are obviously still figuring out the world around them. By utilizing story-telling language to explain their journey to this world, it can aid in the child’s understanding.

It is also seen through developmental and behavioral psychology that repetition for a child is crucial. Certain aspects of life must be explained repeatedly to a child, and that’s okay. That’s normal. Explaining their adoption is no different in that way. It is a complex concept, and sometimes the information is emotionally laden for a child. Talk when they are ready or bring it up.

Be Honest and Let Them Express Their Feelings

Understanding adoption as a parent is hard. Understanding adoption as an adopted child is even harder. It’s important to be honest with them when you need to be. They have a right to know their story, but it’s important to realize that what you tell them when they are six years old is a lot different than when they are thirteen.

As parents, we want to make every boo-boo better, every bad day a good one, and every sad face a smile. Children are little people; they have bad days, sad days and everything in between. Help them express those feelings when beginning to tell them their adoption story. They may feel anger, sadness, betrayal, along with many other negative emotions. It’s always good to find outlets for those feelings – drawing is helpful, as well as writing. As they get older, an adoption journal may be beneficial.

If they ever feel a need to express those emotions, utilize it as a teaching moment. Ask them why they feel that way, and go from there. Give them an opportunity to sort through their thoughts. Of course, every child is different, and we learn from that.

Adoption can be tough to talk about with your child, but there are ways to alleviate that stress building up. By taking a few of these tips, you may find it easier to explain their adoption journey. We love our children, and ultimately want what’s best for them. We learn from them and feel what they feel. Remember, you’re all in this together. Family is family, no matter where or how it started.

Family Films About Adoption That Teach You A Little Bit More

How does one portray adoption on the big screen? To do it with care and finesse is difficult, but attainable. There are movies that do not portray it in the best light. However, there are others that pinpoint major themes in an adopted child’s journey. Not only that, but they also accurately highlights the birth mother’s journey and adoptive family’s journey. These three movies, although possessing a comedic element, depict adoption in a unique, but relatable fashion.

Juno (2007)

Juno is a story about a high school girl (Ellen Page) who experiences an unplanned pregnancy with her crush (Michael Cera). Throughout the movie, Juno’s wit never fades as she’s faced with multiple decisions regarding her baby. We also see every step of her pregnancy. She chooses a family that seems like they fit the “American Dream” ideal pretty closely. While getting to know them, she learns that the adoptive father isn’t ready to have a baby, and thus, asks for a divorce from his wife (Jennifer Garner). But all ends well, as Juno realizes that as a single mother, the wife would do an excellent job raising her baby.

Elf (2003)

Although a bit more unrealistic, this story follows the life of “Buddy (Will Ferrell),” the estranged baby from New York that makes his way into Santa’s sack on Christmas Eve. Upon his return the North Pole, Santa realizes that an infant had crawled his way into the sack. They grow to love the child and raise him as their own. However, Buddy, like many adoptees, soon realizes that he is not like the others. After a discussion with “Papa Elf,” Buddy embarks on a journey to find his birth father in New York City. Although his reception is not initially a warm one, Walter (Buddy’s birth father) learns to love his elf son. In the end, Buddy maintains a healthy relationship with both his birth father and adoptive elf father.

The Blind Side (2009)

This beautiful story of adoption follows the life of Michael Oher, a present-day professional football player. Throughout the movie, we see the struggle of Michael and his birth mother. Many nights, he is left on the street without food or a place to sleep; that is, until his adoptive mother finds him. After staying a few days in their beautiful place, Michael feels out of place. He retreats to his birth mother, who only turns him away once more. Throughout the movie, the viewer develops a sense of empathy for Michael, who struggles to find his identity in this world. In the end, Michael is adopted by the loving birth mother (Sandra Bullock) and her family, and experiences a new take on life. He even develops a relationship with his birth mother so she can stay in his life.