Category Archives: new mothers

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.

 

 

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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.

Celebrities Adopt: Inspirational Quotes About Adoption

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” – Oprah Winfrey

“I have a lot of respect for my birth mother. I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give what she felt was a better chance.” – Faith Hill

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“We look at adoption as a very sacred exchange. It was not done lightly on either side.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

“They’re as much my blood as I am theirs.” – Brad Pitt

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“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” – Valerie Harper

“You don’t have to give birth to someone to have a family. We’re all family – an extended family.” – Sandra Bullock

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“I don’t think of them as adopted – they’re our children. Deb and I are believers in…I suppose you call it destiny. We feel things happen the way they are meant to. Obviously, biologically wasn’t the way we were meant to have children. Now as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone’s in the right place with the right people.” – Hugh Jackman

Feel the Love: How to Bond with Your Adopted Child

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The best things in life are unseen, that’s why we close our eyes during a kiss, a laugh and a dream and bonding is no exception- you can’t see it, but you can feel it. Bonding with your child is important and becomes almost critical if the child was adopted. Although we know adoption isn’t a birth mothers rejection, oftentime’s to adoptee’s it can feel that way. Is it important to reassure your child that they can depend on you and are safe and loved. Bonding is a process that cannot be rushed. A deep meaningful relationship can only develop through shared experiences, trust, and time. It’s essential for children to feel accepted, cherished, and loved in the purest form- unconditional and true. Remember, a family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.

“A family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.”

The Science Behind Bonding

Attachment is a strong, affectionate bond we have with special people in our lives that lead us to experience pleasure when we interact with them. We often feel comforted by those we have an attachment to in the times of stress. The beginning stages of bonding starts earlier and simpler than many think. According to famous Psychologist Bowlby, babies are born equipped with behaviors like crying, babbling and smiling to ensure adult attention and adults are actually biologically programmed to respond to infant signals. When a parent performs small steps such as holding their children close, singing sweetly to them, comforting them and rocking them softly to sleep, their child knows that their parent is dependable which creates a secure base for the child to begin exploring the world and feel loved while doing so. These things along with keeping a calm voice, skin-to-skin contact, and carrying your child are the beginning steps to making your adoptive baby feel safe, secure, loved and cherished beyond belief.

Vera Falhberg, pediatrician and specialist in the field of adoption attachments, categorizes the following as long-term effects from positive attachment:

  • Helps a child to sort out perceptions of the world in which he lives
  • Encourages the development of logical thinking
  • Develops social emotions in a child
  • Cultivates the formation of a conscience
  • Helps an individual cope with stress, frustration, worries, and fears
  • Fashions an appropriate balance between dependence and independence
  • Sets the stage for the unfolding of healthy future relationshipsUntitled design

The Importance of Comfort

Making sure your child has comfort is a nurturing, everyday desire all parents have. Comfort increases productivity and boosts self-esteem in children and who doesn’t want that? Contact-Comfort takes it a step further and examines the relationship between physical and emotional comfort with love and security. For example, we’ve all seen the reaction that a crying baby can have due to being picked up by its mother; the child relaxes and stops crying. This is believed to be a result of its first feeling of safety and security derived from this close contact. A famous experiment that is a true testimony of the importance of comfort was conducted by Harry Harlow in 1959. The experiment focused around baby monkeys that were separated from their birth mothers and reared to two mother-like figures; one terry cloth covered doll and one wire meshed doll. The babies held on tightly to the terry cloth covered dolls for security and comfort despite the fact that the wire meshed doll had a bottle attached to it. This experiment demonstrated the importance of a warm and comfortable environment to help a child thrive rather than a cold, uncomforting one.

Building Comfort for your Child

We suggest having an age-appropriate crib or bed, warm sheets and blankets, a few pieces of child size furniture and some toys they might enjoy. You may feel the need to over-indulge with bold prints and glitter, but decorating with too many bright colors may be too overwhelming. Decorating with soft, warm colors will put your child at ease and displaying few attractive toys that are soft and fuzzy will calm your child and help them feel right at home. Another tip we suggest is carrying you child in the front of your body, closest to your heart. The Moby wrap can help you keep your child close and aid in bonding while also freeing your hands.

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Ready, Set, Bond!

True bonding is not measured by time spent together or the favors done for each other but by the comfort you find when you realize you have each other. Now that you have some background knowledge on the importance of bonding, let’s put our theories and science to work. Here are some tips we offer to help promote a healthy bond between you and your child.

Be Sensitive and Empathetic

Empathy is all about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with someone else’s heart, and seeing through someone else eyes. Be sensitive to the needs of your child and handle with care and compassion. If your infant is crying, take time to rock them gently and sing to them softly.

Sit and Play

Playfulness decreases any feelings of threat and harm. Sit alongside your child and follow their lead. Find activities that will interest your child and stimulate them emotionally and intellectually. “I see you” is a great game to play that promotes eye contact and helps the child become familiar with your facial features and laugh.

Be Predictable

Keeping rituals and routines help let the child let him know what’s expected of them as well as what they can expect from you. Try to keep feeding times the same; the earlier your child realizes that when they’re hungry you will feed them the better it is for all. As soon as your baby shows signs of hunger, sit in a cozy spot with a drink of water, a nursing pillow and soft music playing. If your baby is easily distracted when feeding, you might try going in a quiet room with the lights low, says Jim Sears, M.D., author of The Baby Book.

Skin-to-Skin Connection

Child or infant massages are a way for you to gently nurture and spend time with your baby. They promote parent – to child interact and are often soothing and calming to your child.

Relax and Enjoy It!

Bonding is not like instant glue which suddenly and irrevocable cements the parent-child relationship together forever. Bonding is a life-long process of parent-child interaction. Take a deep breath and enjoy bonding with you child; not only will this make you feel better, but also help your child relax.

What are some rituals your family does to promote healthy relationships?

 

Older Child Adoption Guide: Adopting an Older Child & Parenting your Adopted Child as They Grow

Older Child Adoption Guide

Adopting a Pre-School or School-Aged Child

There are special challenges present when adopting a pre-school aged child. Deborah Gray, author of Attaching in Adoption and Nurturing Adoptions presents ten tips for the first year of placement that we suggest adoptive parents take time to read and discuss with family members. Here is an excerpt of her article, Top Ten Tips for the First Year of Placement.

  1. Spend ample time in nurturing activities.

    The most significant process of the first year home is creating a trust relationship. Intentional and ample nurturing promotes this goal. Restrict your hours away from the little one. Do not leave your child for overnight trips for this first year.
    Meet your little ones needs in an especially sensitive manner. Feed on demand. Respond quickly to fussing. Allow the toddler or child to regress, bottle-feeding, rocking to sleep, lapsitting, and being carried. Play little games that promote eye contact, like peekaboo, ponyride, and hide-and-seek.

  2. Teach children to play with you.

    Many little ones have missed the joys of play. Act as an amplifier, teaching toddlers and children the pleasure of play. Most children have missed the experience of having parents express joy as they played. Because of this, their reward centers were not stimulated. This restricted the association of exploration and play with pleasure. Set aside at least thirty minutes a day for play with your children.

  3. Talk to your child.

    Talking with KidsParents of infants use exaggerated voice tones to emphasize important concepts. Their “amplifier system” helps children with attention to most important parts of the whole environment. After children move into the preschool age, some of this “cheerleader” amplification diminishes. Continue to use this brighter emotional tone with your child as she understands your shared world even if she is not an infant.
    Explain things to him, even though you might think that the meaning of what you are doing is obvious. Not only are you conveying information to him, you are revealing your view of the world to him. Your voice tones guide him to better understand the context. Be sure to use your fingers and gestures to point out important things to him. This helps him to both attend to and understand the meaning of the context around him.

  4. When toddlers or older children have behavior problems, use your body to stop them.

    Be gentle, but be consistently and predictably competent in stopping negative behaviors. Gently move their bodies to where you want them to be. For example, if your little one is reaching for an item, move the child or the item. Use the voice for a back up. Do not remind or repeat several times. Instead, describe in a pleasant manner how precious or pretty the item appears to you as you move your child. Teach boundaries of respect from the beginning.

  5. Get enough sleep, good food, and exercise to stay in a good mood.

    Little ones who have been moved and/or neglected tend to be irritable, fussy, and hard to soothe. Parents use their own positive, well-regulated moods to help calm and engage these little ones. Your own emotional stability will help to steady your child’s moods. A depressed parent struggles to form a positive, secure attachment with her baby or child. Depression makes the parent emotionally less available. The parent who is tired, eating junk food, and inert by day’s end does not give a child a competent source of emotional regulation. Parents who find that their moods are slipping, even with good self-care, should see about counseling and/or an antidepressant. It is simply too hard to do this essential, nurturing parenting while being depressed.

  6. Be part of an adoption support group.

    The relationships between families are invaluable. The relationships can be emotional lifelines on hard days. If possible, find a mentor who is positive, and who likes you and your child. Ask her to be part of your circle of support. We all need to feel understood and authentically accepted. A mentor who can provide that sense of nurture for the parent helps the parent to be a good nurturer. The mentor relationship provides a sense of being heard and accepted, and tips and information. Parents are working harder emotionally when parenting a baby or child who has lived through uneven parenting. Parents need someone who cares for them. Sometimes this can be mutual support, and sometimes one-to-one.

  7. Keep a calm, but interesting home.

    Match the amount of stimulation in the home to the amount that is within the childs ability to tolerate. Many children have been massively understimulated before they came to parents. Neglect massively understimulates children. They do not build neurology to process as much sensory stimulation. After adoption, their worlds can suddenly be overwhelming. Things are too bright, too loud, move too much, and tilt too much. Slow things down, buffering your baby or child to the extent that they can process the information coming their way. Often children who are overwhelmed by noise will begin shouting, or those overstimulated by too much movement will begin running with arms like windmills. Lay out predictable, consistent events for the day. Some children find the movement of the car to be disorienting. If your child is having difficulties, try a couple of days limiting the car, determining whether or not this makes a difference.

  8. Explain to children basics of your relationships as they gain language.

    For example, “A mothers job is to love you. I will always come back home to you when I leave in the car to go shopping. You will live with me until you are as big as I am. I will not let anybody hurt you. I will never hurt you. We will always have enough food.” One mother told me of her sons relief and better behavior when she told him that she would never allow others to hurt him. “Why didn’t I think to tell him the first year?” She questioned. “He was afraid every time we went to the mall. He has been thinking for two years that just anyone could haul off and hit him.” Another parent told me of the melting smile that her daughter gave her when she said that a mothers job was to love her child. “I just assumed that she knew that. But she didn’t. She looked at my face much more after that.”

  9. Do watch for signs of an exclusive attachment by the end of the first year.

    Children should be seeking out their parents for affection and play. They should be showing off for positive attention. They should prefer being with the parent. They should show some excitement about time together. When hurt or distressed, the child should seek out the parent. In a secure attachment, the child will calm with the parent and accept soothing.
    Trauma and traumatic grief are the common culprits when children are remaining wary, fearful, and controlling of their parents. Signs of trauma with younger children include regular night terrors, dissociation (child shuts off emotionally and stares away), scratching, biting, extreme moods, freezing in place, and destructiveness. Parents who see these symptoms should be finding a mental health counselor to help their child. If the child is under the age of three, the parent is given special parenting advice. Usually therapy with an experienced child therapist can begin not long after the age of three.

  10. Enter your little ones spacepositively.

    This often means getting low and looking up for eye contact. It means trying hard and trying patiently for a longer time. You are the one who has the responsibility of engaging your child positively. Do not use punitive techniques to try to build relationships. After all, no one wants to attach to a mean person. Instead, be strong, dependable, available, and kind. Veer away from advice that is strong, controlling, and mean in tone. Sensitive and kind parents gradually build empathy and security in their relationships with their children. That process takes time and the type of parenting that caused you to want to be a parent in the first place!

To read a more complete version of her article which is extremely helpful for parent’s in this situation, you can find it here. We also wrote another blog post about making a smooth transition when adopting an older child which is a great resource, you can find that here.

Parenting Your Adopted Child as They Grow-Up

Talking About Adoption

As a parent you will share information in an appropriate way for your child’s age and abilities. You have the responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of your child including what to share and when and how to share the information. It is a parent’s job to help the child make sense of the information and that can be done by explaining things in a positive way and answering any questions your child has.

Telling the Story during the Preschool Years

Adoptive Mother and Daughter

Our friends at Adoptive Families wrote a great piece about Telling the Tough Stuff  to your adoptive child. They explain that there are two keys to sharing adoption information with preschool aged children.

  1. Tell the child’s story as a story, not as cut and dry facts. Make sure your child understands that the story you are telling is true and not a fairytale.
  2. Tell no lies. You don’t want to risk confusing your child so make sure your story is truthful. At this age you also want to limit the amount of negative details you share.

Elementary –age Kids

As your young ones grow, they make a cognitive leap around seven to nine years of age. They are able to understand the concepts you described when they were younger and will likely have more questions about their adoption story. Kids are highly resilient at this age and it is often considered the ideal age for sharing tough realities.

Adolescence

This is the time to continue to fill in details. Just like with nearly every teenager, parents should be prepared for some rough patches as your child struggles to figure out who he is. If the adoption conversation has been open and honest from the beginning, it is likely to remain so and only expand as your child becomes a teenager. Talking to teens can be a difficult task and we wrote a blog post not too long ago on how to best approach the conversation, you can find post here.

Additional Resources

https://afth.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/talking-to-your-adopted-child/

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

Did You Know You Can Breastfeed Your Adoptive Baby?

Breastfeeding an Adoptive Baby

Some people might think that the word breastfeeding and adoption don’t belong in the same sentence nevertheless think that it’s a possibility.  Not only is it very possible, , but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends whenever possible that all babies be exclusively breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired. It is understandable that sometimes this is not possible however it is important for adoptive mothers to know the option exists even when she doesn’t give birth to her child.

Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Adoptive Baby 

Before making a decision to induce lactation or deciding it isn’t the right path for you, it is important to consider all the benefits linked to breastfeeding. Just like with biological mothers, the process can be tiring and frustrating.  Along the way you might want to give up, it may just be because it is too time consuming, you are having latching problems or it could be that you feel like you simply are just not producing enough milk for your baby. Just know that a lot of other mothers are going through the same struggles as you are, and whether you decide to continue breastfeeding or you choose a different route, you are not a bad mother.  Even though there are a lot of studies that show a multitude of benefits that come from breastfeeding, it may not be the path or even an option for your family and that’s ok too.

The Benefits That Your Child Gets From BREASTFEEDING

Below are just some compelling, research based facts about the importance of breastfeeding for the child in case you do decide to choose this path.

  • Immunizations: Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system big time—helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections.
  • SIDS: The AAP says breastfeeding plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The meta-analysis found that breastfeeding was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS compared to not breastfeeding.
  • Eczema: In families with a history of atopy, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months was found to have a 42 percent reduction in atopic dermatitis compared with breastfeeding for less.
  • Asthma: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months was associated with a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma for those without a family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction for those with a family history of asthma.

The Benefits that the Adoptive Mother Gains from Breastfeeding

As beneficial as breastfeeding is for your baby, it will also benefit you as their mother as well. Here are just a few scientifically proven facts about how breastfeeding benefits mothers too.

  • Breast cancer: The longer women breastfeed, the more they’re protected against breast and ovarian cancer. For breast cancer, nursing for at least a year appears to have the most protective effect.
  • Positive Mood: Research has shown breastfeeding to have positive psychological effect for mothers. Researchers suggest that the higher levels of the oxytocin released by breastfeeding contributed to the positive mood.
  • Bonding: Bonding is a crucial aspect of adoption, and the hormones released during breastfeeding can facilitate the process. Breastfeeding places you and your baby in skin-to-skin contact, which is important both to your baby’s developments and the attachments between you and your baby.Breastfeeding creates a connection of bonding

 Preparing Yourself Ahead of Time

Even if you have never been pregnant or reached menopause, it is possible to breastfeed an adopted baby. The process of breastfeeding an adopted baby is called induced lactation. It is possible to gain the benefits of breastfeeding little to no preparation at all, however if you have advanced notice that you will have a baby joining you’re family, you can have a head start on the process.  It is suggested that you start a few weeks before your baby is arriving. To prepare you can stimulate you’re breasts by hand or by pump.  The pumping massage will induce prolactine which switches on the milk glands in the breasts.  Just know that you will produce little to no milk during these pumping sessions. Don’t get frustrated, it can take a month or more of regular pumping to trigger milk production. The main purpose of pumping before the baby is born is to start the changes in your breast so that you will produce milk, it is not to start your storage supply!

Inducing lactation after your baby arrives

If you are a hopeful adoptive mother and are fortunate enough to be present at the hospital when your baby is born, speak with your social worker about your plans to nurse and use their guidance to see if you would be able to begin nursing while at the hospital. Keep in mind; it might not be possible to nurse while in the hospital so turn to your social worker for direction. Getting the baby to latch might be the hardest part but there will be a lactation consultant at the hospital to help you through the process. A good latch means the baby will get more of your milk and will create a lot LESS painful feeding sessions! Just always keep in mind that there more to breastfeeding than the amount of breast milk being delivered to the baby. Think of the intimate relationship you are forming with your new baby, the closeness and the attachment that many mothers are looking for.

Conclusion

If you decide to take the breast feeding route, please share with us and others your tips of the trade! If you want additional information or just want to read another’s persons opinion about this topic, check out our breastfeeding blog that we wrote back in 2010.

Are you having problems breastfeeding as an adoptive mother?? Let’s try and help each other jump this hurdle together!

To learn more about newborn bonding check out our other past blogs that all relate to each other.

https://afth.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/newborn-bonding/

https://afth.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/bonding-with-your-adopted-child/