Category Archives: Birth Parents

Two Very Different Adoption Journeys

As an adoptive mother, I know that one of the most exciting moment of my life was when we got “the call” as a waiting prospective adoptive family. Much of the conversation with our social worker is now a blur except I definitely know “holy sh$t” slipped out repeatedly from shock that it was actually happening. This was not a drill, it was happening and we had 18 hours before we had to be at the hospital. In a daze and flurry of excitement, my husband and I rushed around preparing for our early morning departure. It was about midnight that evening when another type of feeling emerged. It was a heavy weight when the chaos in my mind began to settle. The reality was in that exact moment at a hospital in another state, a women rested after labor with her newborn in her arms as she contemplated the biggest decision of her life. It was a deep reminder that there are two very different experience to this journey. A reminder that changed my mindset and served me well over the next few days and honestly would for years to come.

Our journeys may have begun with a similar level of devastation. Ours was when we discovered our diagnosis of infertility. Her devastation, we later found out, hit when she saw the two lines appear on the pregnancy test when she was already 4 months along. After we both asked ourselves “what now?” our experiences which eventually brought us together would take two very different paths.

As we began explore our options and settling on adoption, our excitement began to grow. For us, beginning the adoption process the real question about becoming parents was now a “when” and no longer an “if”. Don’t get me wrong, the process was intense. The paperwork was pretty daunting at times. Then you add on the education classes, creating a profile, meeting with social workers, having a homestudy and eventually filling out a profile key…it was beyond overwhelming. But truth be told, we were seeing a light at the end of our tunnel. We know we would soon be in the books and awaiting “the call.”

One state away, the was an expecting mother was making appointments at her local clinic, buying baggy clothes so she wouldn’t have to tell her family her secret, and talking with her close friend who faced a pregnancy scare a while back. One day, she built up the courage to call Adoptions From The Heart and while she made it clear to the counselor she was just gathering information, she couldn’t help but realize in the deepest place in her heart that adoption was the path she would choose. When it came out to her family that she was not only pregnant but considering adoption, the opposition began to pile on. “You made your bed lay in it!” “I will not have my first grandchild given away.” “If you choose adoption, you will have to leave our house.” And even though her friend was being supportive in many ways, when she said “I could never do that, I’d love my baby too much” it became clear that if she decided on adoption, she would not have much support.

As we progressed through the process on our end charging to get “into the books” as fast as we could, we felt like the light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer. But for the woman who we would later know as our child’s mother, each step she took forward in the process had very different emotions. Even though she was sure about adoption, it was overwhelming and she felt as though a countdown had begun. Only two months left for her to feel her little one in her belly. Only one more childbirth class. Only 2 days in the hospital with her little one before saying goodbye. Even though she was sure of her decision, it felt overwhelming. As we began to prepare for one of the most joyous events in our life, she braced herself for one of her hardest.

To Be Continued Next Week…

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A Guide to Meeting an Expectant Mother for the First Time

First impressions are crucial and they are even more important when you are meeting an expectant mother who is considering you for adoption. This is a nerve wrecking stage in adoption. You wrack your mind with questions such as: “Will she like me?”, “What do I say?”, and “What should I wear?”. This is your big shot at becoming a parent and you don’t want to let it slip through your fingers. Below is a guide of do’s and don’ts when meeting an expectant mother for the first time.

DO:

  • Be yourself
  • Find a comfortable location
  • Don’t just talk but listen
  • Bring photos of your family and pets
  • Be honest and respectful
  • Dress professional
  • Ask questions
  • Be open-minded and optimistic

DON’T:

  • Make prejudgments
  • Be insensitive
  • Meet at an unfamiliar location
  • Rush her to make a decision
  • Jump right into tough questions
  • Lie

Meeting a potential birth mother can be scary and it is important to be prepared. Remember that it is just a meeting and there is no guarantee that you will hit it off. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to grow your family and it will happen when the time is right. Adoption is both an exciting and nerve-wrecking time for all members of the adoption triad, so be sure to stay open-minded and be yourself!

 

http://www.americaadopts.com/first-meeting-with-an-expectant-mother-considering-adoption-tips-for-success/

How an NBC Sports Competition Allowed One Man to Find His Biological Family

American Ninja Warrior (ANW) is an athletic competition that is nothing short of entertaining and exhilarating. If you haven’t heard of it before, the show consists of intense, qualified athletes who compete through extremely difficult courses consisting of balance, agility, strength, and speed tests. While it may not sound too different from a regular obstacle course, only 2 contestants to date have completed the full course in every round and achieved “Total Victory”. To some contestants, the show may be just another adrenaline rush, an excuse to stay in pristine shape, or an extreme competition, but to competitor Dan Jager it turned out to be much more.

American Ninja Warrior has not only allowed Dan to express his immense level of fitness, but has also helped connect him with his birth family in South Korea. Dan was adopted at the age of 5 and was hiking mountains and snowboarding down the slopes by the time he was beginning elementary school. He started competing on American Ninja Warrior in 2015 to free some built-up adrenaline, but the further he advanced, the more widely known his name became. As Dan went on to compete in his second season of ANW, his adoptive parents, Ray and Cherie, received a letter from the agency revealing that Dan’s biological father, Young Il Kwon was interested in meeting with him. Dan soon received a Facebook request from, a woman named Jihye Kwon, who he later found out through messaging was his half-sister. Their conversations were difficult due to the language barrier, so their conversations mainly revolved around using Google Translate. Jihye informed Dan that their father had been searching for him for nearly 13 years! When the agency confirmed the 2 were his biological family, they began video chatting frequently. Dan revealed, “I couldn’t believe it. It’s one of those things where I know I’m adopted. As a kid, I wanted to find my biological dad. But I always wanted to wait until I was older, maybe in my later 20s. Old enough to handle and be at a maturity level to handle it. As I aged, I kind of lost interest. I just kind of let something go, and here it comes to find you.” Dan’s biological family had searched for him many times before, but it wasn’t until he advanced in the finals that his name became easier to find. Dan states that American Ninja Warrior, “projected me into a space that I could be more easily searched.”

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In October of 2016, Young Il and Jihye Kwon came all the way from South Korea to visit Dan in Colorado. As Dan picked them up from Denver International Airport, he saw his biological father for the first time, in person, in nearly 30 years. While meeting with his father, Dan revealed that, “He doesn’t understand like any English, so we had to use our phones for our entire trip, typing in stuff on Google Translate and showing the translated Korean on my phone, and they would do vice versa for English.” One night, Dan took both his biological family and his birth family out to dinner. Cherie, Dan’s adoptive mother, stated that they were very happy for Daniel and how she felt like, “That was the early part of his life, and he needed to have that.”

This experience was important for all members of the adoption triad. Dan emphasized this by revealing that, “It was a cool moment because my parents got to meet my (biological) dad. It was reassuring for him because they were good people, and I had a good life here.” The show allowed Dan the opportunity to be more widely known in the public and if it wasn’t for his success, Young Il may never have been able to connect with his son. American Ninja Warrior may just be an entertaining competition to most people, but for Dan Yager, it brought his entire family together in the best way possible.

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.

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide for the Birth Parents in Your Life

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                The season of giving is officially upon us. While many adults devote their next few weeks to holiday shopping for their children, parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles, there are other individuals who deserve recognition. Many adoptive parents grow contemplative over the holidays,wondering what they can offer to their child’s birth parents. What gift can you give someone that can possibly convey how much you appreciate them and how thankful you are for the ultimate gift they’ve given you? Holiday shopping for birth parents can be difficult, but as we all know, sometimes the simplest gifts are the ones that matter most. Here are some ideas for heartfelt holiday presents for your child’s birth parents.


Symbolic Teddy Bear

                Teddy bears are often synonymous with young children. Why, you ask, are we recommending a teddy bear for an adult? Because it’s possible to create a bear that birth parents will not only love, but cherish forever. If your child is a toddler who no longer uses their baby blanket, it is the perfect time for this gift. Use your child’s blanket to create a teddy bear to give to their birth parents. Another possibility? Ask your hospital for your infant’s baby blanket prior to discharge. Use this infant blanket from the hospital to create a bear. Trust us, there won’t be a dry eye in the room when this gift is opened.

Handprint Calendar

Calendars are a useful tool for everyone. Create a calendar template on your computer for the upcoming year. Place paint on your child’s hand and decorate each month with their hand prints in a unique way. Create an American flag handprint for the month of July, a turkey handprint for November, or snowflake handprints for January. Bypass creating the template and purchase a handprint-ready calendar here.

Homemade Photo Magnets

Think again before you begin throwing out your bottle caps and drink lids. Save these items to make custom, homemade magnets with your child. Paint caps and lids before adding an adhesive magnetic strip to the back. Cut out photos of your child and glue them to the front of the caps. This unique present will be sure to warm some hearts. Visit a tutorial here.

Friendship Bracelets

Friendship bracelets are a childhood favorite that even adults can appreciate. Buy some string from a local craft store and help your child make matching bracelets for themselves and their birth parents. This present is one that birth parents can take with them anywhere as a reminder of their child’s love.

Send a Hug

Sometimes, we aren’t able to be with our loved ones during the holidays. In this case, children have the opportunity to send “hugs.” This easy craft allows children to make hugs to send in the mail. This gift is perfect not only for the holidays, but also as a “just because” present as well. It’s never a bad idea to show someone how much you love them and wish you could be spending time with them. For a tutorial on this easy craft, click here.

Matching Holiday Ornaments

For many families, it is a tradition to let children pick out a new holiday ornament each year. When you take your child to pick out their new ornament, buy multiples of the same ornament and give the others to your child’s birth parents. This gift allows birth parents and children to have a special item that connects them each holiday season.


Holiday shopping for birth parents can be a difficult, but with these unique and heartfelt gifts, you can have fun while knowing you will make someone else so incredibly happy.  As Winnie the Pooh once said, “sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

 

Guest Post: It Was My Choice to Make and I Chose Adoption

Today’s post is from a guest blogger from PregnancyAdoptionOptions.com. When facing an unplanned pregnancy, she chose an adoption plan for her baby. She offers advice for other women facing unplanned pregnancies and shares some of the common questions she receives about adoption.

pregnant-1290403_1920Every adoption story is unique. There is not one right choice when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Adoption was the right path for me. Here are some of the most common questions I hear about adoption. I hope that my answers can help provide some comfort or relief as you make this difficult decision. Remember to be honest with yourself and don’t let anyone pressure you to parent or to place if that’s not really what you think it best. This is my story. It was my choice to make and I choose adoption.

How could you do that? I could never do that!

It’s often something that I hear when I tell people I was pregnant and choose adoption. Hearing those words brings back pain. Then I remind myself of the real question…How could I not? The truth is, making the decision to place my little girl for adoption was easy. It wasn’t painless and it wasn’t simple in any way but the decision itself to place her was easy. I looked at where I was in life and what I thought my daughter deserved and I knew I wasn’t in a place financially or emotionally to give her those things.

Why Open Adoption? Doesn’t That Hurt More?

Many people outside of open adoptions are quick to question the benefits that are proven by research. Our minds battle the facts. Many people worry that a child would be confused or that it would be more painful for a birthparent to get photos and letters. Yes, open adoption is hard and can be challenging to make the relationships work. However, not knowing how my daughter was or seeing her growing up would have been so much worse. I didn’t want to have any doubts that she was safe and loved and growing into the beautiful little girl I knew she would. When I get the package of photos I don’t hesitate to open it. I know I’ll be seeing her beautiful smile and bright eyes. The updates do also bring sadness. I miss her. I love her so much. But it doesn’t make me regret my decision. I’m so glad open adoption exists and that I found a family for my daughter who is committed to making it work. I get the chance to see her several times a year. They send me her artwork and videos of her running at the playground and dancing to her favorite tv show. I haven’t been cut out of her life. She knows who I am. And I don’t have to rely on her parents telling her how much I love her, though I know they do. I get to wrap my arms around her during our visits and tell her myself. Yes, in the future there will be those tough questions I’m sure she will ask. I will be just like any other tough questions a child will have. I’ll be my best to be open and honest with her. It gets easier over time. The pain doesn’t completely go away and some days are worse than others but in my heart I know I made the right decision and if I had to go back and do it all again I hope that I would have the strength to make the same choice.

What Does the Adoptive Family Call You?

During our very first visit just a few months after placement, they actually asked me what I wanted to be called. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say. I hadn’t really thought of it much. They asked if I would be comfortable with something like Mommy or Momma Jess. I almost jumped out of my seat, yes, yes, yes! I was honored that they wanted to acknowledge me as her mom not just in conversations but in my title and I loved it. When we are together, they use my first name. And when they talk about me to my daughter they call me Momma Jess. When I’m talking about them and my daughter to other people I refer to myself as her birthmother. The term is not something to be ashamed of. I’m her birthmother. She has two mothers who play different roles but are both very much a part of her life and who she is and who she is becoming. They say it takes two, well in this case it took four. Four different parents who each have given her something different. I love to see glimpses of me in her. The way she sings, that stubborn look she give her mother when she doesn’t want to do something, the way she laughed from the deepest parts of her belly, the fact that she’s very much a daddy’s girl…all parts of me I see in her.

Shouldn’t the Agency Just Have Helped You Parent Instead?

People often talk about how agencies and the community should be more supporting to pregnant women by offering them financial assistance and services to help them parent. The truth is being ready to be a parent isn’t always a financial decision. For those who are parents out there, you know parenting is so much more than just financial. The agency I worked with was happy to help me find services such as WIC, Medicaid and Daycare Subsidies however that wouldn’t have solved the whole problem. The place I was at in my life wouldn’t have allowed me to give my daughter the life I wanted her to have. I would have been working two jobs to make ends meet and my daughter would have spent so much time in daycare. It wasn’t what I wanted for her. I wanted to find her a family that was the type of parents I would have hoped to be. Now my daughter has even more people who love her and will give up everything for her.

Why Advice Would You Give Other Women Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

Often times, when people discover that I made an adoption plan for a child, they rush to me looking for advice about what they should do. The truth is…I don’t know. When you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s scary and a lot of the time you feel alone. Each woman needs to look at her own situation (housing, financials, support, job, etc.) and dive into the really tough questions to decide what is best for her baby. It may be to parent or it may be to place. Not I nor anyone else can tell you what the best decision for you is, only you can make that choice.

Do You Ever Regret Your Decision?

No, I don’t. I do however look back and wish that I had been in a different situation at the time. I wish I had been more careful the night I got pregnant. Not that I regret getting pregnant because then I would have my sweet little angel in this world. But I do look back and think, what if it had happened just a few years later. I think it may have been a different story.

I also think about what it would be like now having her with me. I wonder what it would be like being the one to send her off on her first day of school or running to her to kiss her boo boo when she takes a spill on her bike. I’m the kind of person that can drive myself nuts with “what if” questions and scenarios. The truth is, when faced with the biggest decision of my life, I explored all of my options and took every piece of information into account and made the best decision I could have at that time.

Don’t You Miss Her?

Of course. I think about her every day. My love for her hasn’t changed a bit since the moment I heard her cry and held her in my arms.

 What Do You Want For Your Future?

I want my daughter to look back and understand why I made the heart wrenching decision I did. My love for her did not allow me to make any other decision. I know I would have done my best to be a great mom and that would have been fine. I didn’t want fine or good enough for my daughter. I wanted the best for her. It was hard to admit that I might not have been the best thing but when I looked into her eyes that first moment, I knew that I was making the right decision.

I hope that we can continue to have an open adoption and the visits. I want her to always know I’m there, even when I’m not. When she is older, maybe the age I was when I found out I was pregnant, or when she has her own children, I hope she is able to understand my decision on an even deeper level.

 If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and are considering adoption, make sure not to leave any stone unturned. Consider all of your options. Think about the life you want your baby to have and then think about if that is something you can provide now, in a few months, in several years. If you are certain about adoption, really explore open adoption. Even if you aren’t sure you want an open adoption, leave the door open because you may change your mind later and really want updates and visits. Most importantly, don’t let anyone pressure you. Not your family, not your friends and not your counselor. I’ve heard many women who said they were talked out of adoption from their parents or grandparents who promised to help but later the responsibility fell back on them. Parenting is so much more than diapers and daycare. Only you can make the right decision for you and your baby. Talk with other women who have chosen adoption, talk with other young women who have chosen to parent. Get all your information and dive into those really tough questions. You may come to the realization, like I did, that you would be a fine mother but that you want the best for your child. Adoption is painful but my decision to give my baby everything I could was easy!

 

 

October 2016 Book Reviews

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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.

thicker-than-bloodThicker Thank Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World by Marion Crook – Author Marion Crook is an adoptive parent to two sons, using her experiences this book gets to the heart  of parenting in today’s world.  While there are other books out there that are similar its always good to have reinforcement of some of these tips, feelings and experiences.  While much of this book relates to adoption of older children there are some things that are still the same such as fear of birth parents, and addressing issues of abandonment with children.

Ms. Crook is from Canada so many of the organizations and agencies she refers to are not relevant to the US, the US may have something similar but the names are not the same. I did feel that some of her advice was a little judgmental or skewed when it came to birth parents. Overall however this is a good book that has some great advice and a well researched information.  Amazon.com price $18.15 (pb) $17.24 (kindle)

images (98)99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption by Robert & Jeffrey Kasky – This is a quick read with some good information about legal risk, termination of parental rights and what expenses you can and can’t pay for with regard to potential birth parents. There is information on special needs adoptions, future contact agreements, and surrogacy as well.  While much of the legal information varies from state to state and these authors are in Florida its a good starting point.  You may want to check with your agency or attorney to see what the regulations and laws are in your state. Amazon.com price $14.97 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

99-dos-and-donts99 Adoption Do’s and Don’ts by Russell Elkins – This is a short book packed with a lot of great advice. In fact we liked it so much that we at Adoptions From The Heart have started giving this book out to our clients! This book is really geared toward adopting infants through open adoption directly from the hospital.  The advice is easy to read, and the book is only about 50 pages long.  These are things we really want all prospective adoptive parents to know. Great book Amazon.com price $5.99 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)