Category Archives: adoption

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.

Saying Things You Think Are Helpful, But Actually Hurt

worried-girl-413690_1920              Adoption can be a difficult road to navigate. For birth parents, this can be a rocky road with highs that we appreciate and lows that can reach the deepest valley. Some of us are lucky enough to have a support system that is set in place. Other birth parents either make their own support system or have learned better ways to cope with the grieving process. I am a birth mother that is 4 years post-placement. You never truly “move on”, but you can “move forward”. As I look back on my adoption journey, there were times I thought I was coping well. You know, when you miss your child, but it doesn’t paralyze you or depress you. You miss your child in a healthy way and want nothing but the best for them like any other parent would. Adoption is mentioned in a conversation and today you feel confident enough to mention you had an adoption placement. Then someone says this thinking they are being supportive, “You will have more kids later in life.”

            Before I continue, most comments I heard during my pregnancy & after my adoption placement were from people with good intentions. These comments were from close friends and family who thought I needed encouragement. When they said these things, I had to remind myself that they didn’t mean any harm, but it doesn’t stop these statements from being painful. I’m going to list some statements and explain why they hurt. I’m also going to give an expecting parent’s point of view with a comical twist. As time goes on, you learn to forgive people and laugh.

“Why are you upset, you’re doing a good thing?”

Response: “Gosh, let me stop moping around. All this good I’m doing is the prescription I needed.”

We are upset, because who truly wakes up and says “I’m going to give my child to a stranger today.” Trust me, no one in their right mind says that. We love our children so much that we trust the adoptive parents to provide a better life for our children. We are filled with joy to complete a family that once thought having a child was a distant dream. However, it doesn’t stop our mind, body, and soul from missing and loving our child.

“You know it’s going to be hard, right? You’ll end up regretting it.”

Response: “Really?! That never crossed my mind. I almost thought it was going to be easy. Thanks for the advice.”

A nurse said this to me during one of many third trimester check-ups. She knew about my adoption plan and worked with other expectant parents choosing adoption. I was truly shocked when she made this statement. I wasn’t shocked by what she said, but by who it was coming from. As expecting parents, some of us don’t have the best support system and that’s if we have one. My doctor was supportive and kind. He told me about support groups he thought would be great for me. He confirmed that the agency I chose was not only a credible agency, but a good agency in general to work with. For once I was feeling good about my decision. It is a shame that one comment made by the nurse could fill my mind with so much anxiety. She made me feel like I didn’t understand what I was planning to do. When in reality, I had already weighed my options and adoption was the best decision for my child to live a better life.

“You’re stronger than I am. I could never do that!”

Response: “I would have never guessed with the three kids standing behind you.”

This statement carries a powerful sting. For most birth parents, if our circumstances were different we wouldn’t do “that” either. Adoption isn’t for everyone the same way as abortion isn’t for everyone. When people say, “I could never do that” it makes you feel like you did the unthinkable. I spoke with other birth mothers who mentioned this made them feel sub-human and unworthy. We are worthy and very human, which is why it is painful to hear.

“So you don’t want your child?”

Response: (Blank stare)…..Really?!

Naturally as parents we want our children. We want to raise them, care for them, and provide for them. Even after adoption, birth parents feel the same way, but we understand that we can’t. Every birth parent comes with a unique story that leads to adoption for one reason or another. It doesn’t mean we are bad people. It does mean that we are selfless enough to think past our emotions to provide what our child needs, which is a good family.

When someone finds out you did an adoption and the room falls silent with uncomfortable stares.

In my head: Maybe they’re waiting for the punch line.

I think this is the worst reaction. As quiet as silence can be, it speaks volumes. Silence and stares can feel like a guilty brick being thrown in your direction. And let’s be honest, who wants to catch a brick. Most people who don’t say anything, typically don’t know what to say. It’s like the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This is true, but people tend to ignore what was said and move on to the next topic, so they don’t feel uncomfortable. If anything, at least converse with the birth parent. Talking about our adoption is a form of therapy. It is us accepting our situation and being able to live with it.

Time Heals, People Change, and Forgiveness Allows Understanding

As cliché as it sounds, time does heal all wounds. Some days are harder than others, but you learn to cope with the hard days. The biggest piece of advice I ever heard was to allow myself grieve. On my sad days, I allow myself to cry, scream, yell, etc. Once upon time, I would bottle it up believing if I cried I was slipping backwards. In turn, when I did cry I was a neurotic mess that could barely get out of bed. We must grieve in order to live a healthy life. Allow yourself to feel the emotions you feel. It’s okay and it’s normal. We must learn to forgive ourselves in order to live a healthy & happy life. I even forgave the people who said these things to me. This too came with time. To anyone that has or had an adoption, life does get better. The situation you are in makes you stronger. After a while, comments like these will roll off your back and make you laugh. Joy and laughter are key components in the grieving process. Without them life is just bland no matter how you look at it.

 

 

Surviving The Wait

Bottles? Check. Diapers? Check. Bassinet? Check. Baby? Not so much. Adoption can be a beautiful and rewarding process. In some cases, adoption can be as quick as a few months. Then there are other cases, where the adoption wait can go from months to years. This can be a nerve-racking experience. Adoptive parents go through every inch of red tape by filling out the application and completing the mounds of paperwork. Don’t forget about getting fingerprinted for the required clearances. Finally, the home study is completed, your profile has been created, and you are available to be shown to expecting parents. For many waiting families, this can sometimes be the hardest part of the process.

You may be thinking; we’ve done everything we were asked to do and now we wait. The paperwork, though time consuming was the easy part because it was in our control, but now the unknowns begin, we cannot control how long we wait.

During this stage, many things will go through your head. Should we prepare the nursery? Do we start or continue buying baby supplies/clothes? What do I tell my employer? Will we even be placed with a child? It is normal to feel this way. Sometimes it isn’t just the wait that is out of our control. There can be outside factors that are impacting your wait as well. Most of the time, families are waiting for an expectant mother to pick their family. Then after a family is picked there are still many unknowns to be answered. That leaves families to wonder, “what can we do?” Here are a few tips on surviving the wait!

                    Get Involved

One of the best ways to survive the wait is to get involved. Read adoption articles, magazines, books, & blogs. It’s good to familiarize yourself with what is going on in the adoption world. If you are open to adopting a child of another race, now is the time to begin educating yourself about the complexities of transracial adoption. Read stories about other adoptions, so you know you are not alone in the process. Ask your agency if they offer support groups. These support groups can be very helpful. You can talk to other adoptive parents that are waiting too. It’s healthy to have a place where you can be honest about your feelings and hear what others are going through.

Keep your profile, home study, and clearances current and up to date if you have been waiting for a while.  Now is the time to stay connected with your social worker. Don’t be afraid to call to check in, share what you are struggling with and ask any questions that you may have thought of since your last contact. Your social worker is there for you.

                 Write A Journal

This might sound crazy, but share a journal with your spouse. When your child gets older it will be rewarding to share with him/her your experiences while waiting to be placed. This is a great way to express your feelings and thoughts while going through the adoption process. Let immediate family and friends write an entry as well. Most of the time, it’s not just prospective adoptive parents that are struggling with the wait. Family and friends anticipate the arrival of the child too. Entries from family and friends give the “outside looking in” perspective. These added entries show how much you and your family want and love the child that is being adopted.

Make sure to add in any accomplishments that lead you to the next step in the adoption process, it can help you visualize how far you have come in the process already. Add pictures of you preparing for the nursery/baby room, shopping for baby supplies/items, and family gatherings. Imagine years from now when you and your family look back over these journal entries, videos, and pictures how much love and appreciation will fill the room. You will not only be able to tell your child how much you love them and couldn’t wait for them to get here, but letting them see it in a tangible form. There are some things that words alone cannot describe.

If you are struggling with the wait, writing can be therapeutic. One adoptive mother explains, “I often felt alone during the wait. I mean my husband was waiting too but we handle our emotions differently. It was hard for outsiders to understand my struggle with all the unknowns. When I came across another woman’s blog post about her struggle during the wait, it made me feel connected. She was saying exactly what I was feeling and it felt good to know others were thinking what I was too. It actually sparked me starting my own blog and I cannot tell you how helpful it was to write about my journey while I waited.”

 

Learn About Other Member of the Adoption Triad

Learning about adoptees and birth parents can be both enlightening and beneficial. Your perspective is only one part of the equation on this journey and it is vital to seek out and listen to voices from the other member of the adoption triad.

Read blogs by women who have placed their child for adoption. You’ll find out that there are more myths than facts. Not all birth mothers come from low income, broken families. Not all birth mothers are homeless and addicted to drugs. No, birth mothers are not “giving up” their baby and “taking the easy way out”. Take the time to learn the circumstances of birth parents. For one second, consider the mother that has the onerous task of choosing the family that will adopt her child. It can be a happy and disheartening moment all at once. No one wakes up and says they are going to place their child for an adoption today. The circumstances of life lead both adoptive parents and birth mothers to adoption. Read articles and stories of birth mothers to understand their side of the story that few get to hear.

Additionally, explore the voices of adoptees. You will be raising a child who came into your family through adoption and so it will be helpful to hear from those who have experienced it so you can better understand your child’s point of view. Challenge yourself, even when it may be hard to listen, to truly hear adoptees. The challenges and joys they experience. When you know the common struggles adoptees face, you will be better equipped to parent your child

    Talk to Your Employer/ Travel Options

Nine times out of ten you are going to need time off for your adoption process. Talk to your employer as soon as possible to let them know what’s going on. Let them know you might need 2-3 weeks of time off when your placement occurs. Ask your employer if they offer reimbursement of adoption expenses. Some employers do and some do not, but it never hurts to ask.

Research your travel options. Find the cheapest and easiest way to travel when you are ready to leave. It’s difficult to get exact prices, being as though you don’t know the dates you will be traveling. However, you can get an approximate estimate. Look up hotels and car rentals (if you’ll be needing one). If you choose to fly, research which city is best to fly out of, in the event you are not flying out of your residential city. If you are adopting an infant, check the state laws to find out when a newborn can legally board an aircraft. It varies from state to state and you don’t want to find out the day your family is trying to go home.

                             

                Get Some House Work Done

Do you remember that “To-Do List” that’s been collecting dust on your refrigerator? Well, you might want to put some work in to finish most of it before the baby comes. Get some quotes for that bathroom you have been wanting to remodel. D.I.Y. type of person? Price out the materials and tools you will need to remodel that bathroom. If the spare bedroom needs a fresh coat of paint, now is as good a time as any. Things will change when the baby arrives. Taking care of baby becomes priority #1 and getting sleep will be priority #1.5.

 

                                All of This Goes to Say

Much easier said than done, but enjoy the process. Good things come to those who wait. Use these tips to help keep you busy or get your mind off waiting. One day you will look back and appreciate the time you spent waiting for the new addition that made your family whole!

Surviving the Wait During the Holidays

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

Avoid Things That Are Triggering

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

Prepare Yourself for Uncomfortable conversation

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

Be Honest

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

Get Support from Other Waiting Parents

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

Do Something Special for Yourself

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

Take a Breather

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

Remember That the Holidays Don’t Last Forever

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

 

Holiday Tips for New Adoptive Parents

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

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

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

Educate your family

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

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

Create traditions

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

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Create bonds

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

Remember the birth parents

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

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

I Want to Adopt…Now What?

I Want to Adopt – Now What?

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


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

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

Step Two: Research the Cost

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

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

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

Step Four: The Homestudy

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

Step Five: Put Yourself Out There

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

Step Six: Make Preparations for Your Child

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

Step Seven:  Petition to Adopt/Finalize Adoption

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

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

8 Things to Know Before Adopting

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

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

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

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