Category Archives: Open Adoption

Adoptions From The Heart’s 30th Annual Family Picnic

Adoptions From The Heart Celebrates Their 30th Annual Family Picnic

This Sunday, Adoptions From The Heart held their 30th Annual Family Picnic, celebrating families brought together by adoption. Despite the gloomy weather forecast, families still made their way out to Fort Washington State Park to eat delicious food, play games, listen to music, get their faces painted, make crafts, and bid on their favorite raffles. Pet Valu’s Ardmore and Flourtown Store came out with kids’ games, dog treats, and raffle prizes for the whole family. In total, we were able to raise close to $700 for the Expecting and Birth Parent Support Fund.

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We welcomed back the Barker Brothers again this year (previously known as Under This Fire). They provided Picnic-goers with their indie-rock sound. We were also pleased to have Ryan Bonner Photography take over the family portraits once again. For food, we had wonderful donations from Herr’s Potato Chips, Wawa, One Potato Two Potato, J&J Snack Foods, Giant Food Stores and Ambler Pizza. Attendees had a wide variety of selection to complement their picnic lunch.

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Our raffles were also a huge hit! From the Family Fun basket, to the Tour of Philly, raffle bidders swarmed the tables bidding on their favorite one. Some prizes included a free season at Soccer Shots, tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies, Sesame Place, Six Flags, and The Crayola Factory, various restaurant gift cards, two pet baskets from Pet Valu, and two timeshares to a choice of 160 locations!

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A special thank you and shout-out to our fabulous sponsors this year. Without them, this event would truly not be possible: Cofsky & Ziedman, LLC (Gold Heart), Kling & Deibler, LLP (Gold Heart), Bob’s Red Trucks (Silver Heart), Petrelli, Previtera, & Schimmel Family Law (Friends & Supporters), Goldfish Swim School (Friends & Supporters), and Key Business Solutions (Friends & Supporters). Thank you again for your continued support of Adoptions From The Heart and the Expecting and Birth Parent Support Fund.

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30 years of fun and family, and we are onto another picnic! Thank you to everyone for coming out, and we will see you next year!

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Adoption Myths

Most people only understand adoption through media portrayal. Unfortunately, sometimes the media doesn’t portray adoption in the most accurate light, and can make some people feel discouraged about the process. Educating yourself on adoption can help not only you, but also the public, as you can stop common myths from spreading. Here are a few of the most common adoption myths, and the truth behind them.

Myth: Birth mothers are always teenagers

Age does not always determine whether a woman will choose adoption. There are many other reasons to decide to place, like finances or emotional reasons. Birth mothers may not be ready for children, or feel that they cannot provide and want a better life for their child. Some studies have shown that majority of birth mothers are in their twenties, and some even have other kids they’re parenting, but feel they cannot take on another.

Myth: Adoption takes many years

The amount of time it takes an adoption to be finalized depends on the family. But many agencies believe that families should expect one to two years. These types of things do not happen overnight, but being as open as you’re comfortable with can help you get matched quicker.

Myth: Open adoption is the same thing as co-parenting

Open adoption means there is a level of communication with the birth parents, not that you’re co-parenting. Open adoption can be a few pictures a year, or an email a week, it all depends on the family. Despite what people think, it does not confuse a child about who their parents are, but can help a child understand why they were adopted, and even gives them a connection to their cultural heritage. Birth parents and adoptive parents do not share custody, making co-parenting a myth.

Myth: Only those who can’t have children adopt

While adoption is a very viable option for couples who cannot have children of their own, there are many reason why people adopt. Some families are even a mix of biological and adopted children, automatically disproving that myth. Race, sexuality, disabled, or anything else does not matter, many people choose adoption for many reasons.

 

Myth: There are no newborns to adopt in America

This popular myth is very false. One study even shows that out of 70,000 US adoptions, 18,000 of them are American infants. If adopting an American baby is something you’re looking to do, don’t be discouraged by this myth, as there are many agencies to help you find the perfect one for you.

Myth: Single parents can’t adopt

Just about anyone can adopt, whether they are married or not. An impressive statistic is that about 28% of adoptions are completed by single men and women. Adopting is not based on marital status, but is often based on doing what is right for the child.

It’s important to make research the first step in any adventure, including adoption. Now that you know these common myths are false, you can begin to educate the public, and understand more about your personal adoption journey.

 

https://www.angeladoptioninc.com/blog/8-adoption-myths-busted/

https://www.americanadoptions.com/blog/12-adoption-myths-everyone-is-sick-of/

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/how-to-adopt/myths-about-adoption/

https://www.today.com/parents/6-common-adoption-myths-dispelled-wbna18557471

 

6th Annual Find Her Footing 5k’s SUPER Success!

Soaring, Flying, Running for a Great Cause: The 6th Annual Find Her Footing 5k’s SUPER Fun-Filled Day

Adoptions From The Heart’s 6th Annual Find Her Footing 5k was held on Sunday, April 15th at Delaware County Community College.The race benefitted Adoptions From The Heart’s Expecting and Birth Parent Support Fund, which provides financial assistance to birth mothers both during and after pregnancy. Birth mothers in the past have received help with rent costs, transportation costs, and much more. We are happy to announce that we raised over $3,500 this year.

Last year, we incorporated the superhero theme into our 5k, using the slogan, “Superman was also adopted.” It was no surprise that many showed up in their superhero attire. Starting with the Kids’ Dash, children were draped in superhero capes, masks and clothing. Although the weather was a bit chilly and rainy, we still welcomed over 50 runners and walkers of all ages. We also welcomed back our wonderful volunteers from Villanova University’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega and Marple Newtown High School’s Interact Club.

Once again, our raffle baskets were full of fabulous prizes. Some prizes included a signed hockey puck from the Philadelphia Flyers, a signed photo from the Philadelphia Eagles, various restaurant gift cards, free trainings from various gyms in the area, free parties from the Flyer’s Skate Zone and Wynnewood Lanes, and two time shares to a choice of over 160 locations.

We would also like to thank all our sponsors this year: Banville Law (Justice League Sponsor), The Law Offices of Deborah E. Spivack (Superman Sponsor), Arthur Hall Insurance (Kids’ Dash Sponsor), and Republic Bank. One runner brought in over $700 with her individual fundraising efforts. A few others brought in donations as well. Additionally, we received over twenty dozen bagels from Original Bagels, 300 bananas from Trader Joe’s, and water from Wegman’s. They have continually supported our events throughout the years, and we are very grateful for their contributions.

Thank to everyone who came out and supported this year. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Adoption Updates: What to Send

At first when our open adoption was brand new, it was hard to know what to include in our updates. Especially since the only big things that changed between month 1 and 2 were our daughter’s weight and height. It’s hard to know what to write when the relationship between adoptive and birth parents is just beginning.

After the first few months of struggling through the updates, I simply began to think WWIW, meaning what would I want to see and hear about when I’m away from our daughter. I love to hear about everything. The blowout after daddy just changed her diaper, how our puppy gave her a slobbery kiss on the head, how her face scrunches up when she first gets into her bath. You are painting a picture for your child’s birth parents with your words and photos

Now this is where the “open” part of open adoption can be applied to your communication. As your relationship develops with your child’s birth parents, you will get to know what they really enjoy hearing about. You can even ask if there is anything specific they would like to know.

Once we moved from monthly to yearly updates, it was easier to write as so much had happened in a year. The only problem was, I found it hard to remember everything. So what I started to do was keep things in a note section on my phone so when something happened (like her first word or first tooth) I could make a note and then use those notes to write my yearly update.

Holding Back

Sometimes people will ask “isn’t it painful for her birthparents to hear those things” or “won’t it make them to change their mind”. I also knew of a family who only sent “ok” photos with their updates because they were afraid that the adorable pictures they were posting online and sending to grandparents would make their daughter’s birthmother regret placement. More often than not it is our own insecurities and fears at play. I have known several birthmothers who have said that while there is a sadness that comes with the updates there is also a great joy in seeing their little one growing up. Adoption is mixed with complex emotions and both joy and sadness can be present at the same time. If you genuinely have a concern about upsetting your child’s birthparents, contact your social worker to talk more in depth.

Ways to Stay In Touch

In addition to the yearly update, our relationship has progressed to where we text and Skype with each other. We discovered that creating a private Facebook group just for us and our daughter’s birthmother was perfect for us. We can share videos and photos and only those we allow can see them. When our daughter is older we will include her as well. We also have the CVS near our daughter’s birthmother stored in our favorites so sporadically throughout the year we send photos directly there to be printed and then let her know she has photos waiting for her.

Over Time It Will Become More Natural

So the next time you text a photo of your child to a grandparent or you are changing out the drawings he made that are hanging on the refrigerator, take a minute and think about your child’s birthparents too. Would they like a surprise mailing? Do you have a place you can store it until your yearly update or visit comes around?

I understand that each open adoption relationship is different and what we have found to work for us might not work for others. So find a system that works best for you.

Tell me, what tricks have you found to stay in touch and make updates easier to pull together?

 

Open Adoption – Remembering It’s NOT Just About Me

When we began the adoption process, we kind of had a leg up in knowing so much about open adoption. I had been working in the field of adoption for years and we knew several families that had different levels of contact with their children’s birth parents. We knew of the wonderful benefits of openness and were also aware of the familiar challenges. We were excited at the idea of open adoption and envisioned Thanksgiving and birthdays gathered together as a family.

The day we got “the call”, our dreams of growing our family through adoption became real. In that same moment, a large part of our adoption dream had the door slammed shut, or so we thought. As we learned more about our match and the woman who made this extremely difficult decision, we discovered that she didn’t desire openness. She wanted to choose a family and leave it at that. For a moment when I heard the news, it was like a weight was crushing my chest making it hard to breath. In an instant, my “picture” of open adoption disappeared. I was heartbroken. Not only for me but for our child as well.

I had to remind myself that my specific vision of openness was only one of the many paths our adoption journey could take. I re-framed my thinking with a focus on the birth mother’s needs and desires. For whatever reason, she was choosing to shut the door on contact, at least for now. The great thing about doors is that they can also open. I held hope for what might be while I centered the here and now in what was.

We were picked for an emergency placement, meaning that Little Miss was already born and we only had a few hours between the call and getting to meet her for the first time. When we arrived at the hospital, the incredible woman who had just made one of the most complex decisions of her life had already left. We were walked to the maternity floor and shown to our room by our social worker. Moments later they wheeled in a bassinet with this gorgeous little girl. Even now the tears still flow thinking about this moment. Tears of joy for our growing family and this precious little girl. Tears of sadness for the pain her mother must be feeling after saying goodbye.

From the hospital to a hotel and then finally home. We took each moment a day at a time. Revocation period passed then the court date for finalization came and went and we were officially a family. All the while we sent photos and letters to the agency regularly. It went on one-sided for quite some time. We never hesitated to keep our promise to send updates even when they seemed to be responded to with silence. Then nearly 4 months after our daughter was placed in our arms, we received a message from her birthmother through her social worker. I wept as I read each word. She had been reading each update we sent and holding the photos close to her heart. Each time we offered contact if and when she was ready. It took some time but she was now desiring to exchange emails and was looking forward to a day when she might be ready for a visit. It was almost like receiving “the call” again. Our family was getting ready to expand even more! It wasn’t long before our emails turned into text messages which developed into phone calls and Skype sessions. We created a private Facebook group for the three of us to share photos and videos. It was amazing.

Then almost 6 months to the day that Little Miss was born, Momma J and I found ourselves in an embrace that seemed to last forever. It was our very first face-to-face meeting. None of our surroundings mattered, we were together at last. Our daughter returned to her arms for the first time since being held in the hospital. It was the most joyous and heartbreaking visit. The pain of placement came with the happiness of being reunited as they are often intertwined.

My original dream of being together to celebrate birthdays later came true to as we all celebrated Little miss turn one and have her very first bite of cake.

Our social worker told us at the beginning of the process that open adoption is an ever-changing path with highs and lows. Times of abundant contact and times of scarcity. The contact and visits ebb and flow on Momma J’s end depending upon her situation at that time, however we have vowed to always keep the door open.

Once when a planned visit didn’t work out at the very last minute, we had some well-meaning family members ask why we keep doing it. Was it worth the 6 hour drive round trip only to find out she couldn’t make it. Without a doubt, yes. It’s not just about spending our time and gas, it’s about keeping the door open for all the benefits open adoption can have for our daughter. It’s about keeping our promises and doing the right thing even when it’s hard. As our daughter gets older, we will also make sure listen to her needs and feelings as well in relation to openness and contact. For now she enjoys when we Skype and likes to show off her new super hero moves and dance spins.

For all those adoptive parents who send updates and photos and never hear back…please don’t assume they aren’t worth doing. Momma J told us that even when she didn’t have the strength to be in touch, those updates meant the world to her. For prospective adoptive parents just beginning the process, remember to be flexible to the changes that open adoption will go through over time. It’s not just one way of being, it’s a lifestyle that over time changes and develops and hopefully grows. Open adoption can not simply be defined by one thing. For us, I’m glad that a door that began as closed has now opened.

Guiding You Through the Home Study Process

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For many expectant adoptive parents, the mention of a home study could be confusing and intimidating at first. If you are a prospective adoptive parent and are feeling anxious about the home study process, getting all of the information you need will ease your worries and ensure a smooth, well-prepared home study.

1.What is a home study?

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To start off, a home study is simply the process of making sure you can become an adoptive parent and live in a stable environment to raise a child. It requires a full criminal background check, a look at your finances, family background, and a review of your personal relationships. It is encouraged for prospective adoptive parents to start the home study process as soon as possible because it is the longest step that needs to be completed before connecting a family with a child or pregnant birth mother.

2. What is a home visit?

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During this process you will meet with a social worker and certified Home Study Provider who will visit your home to review and verify that is a safe environment to raise a child. Don’t worry, your house does not have to be perfect — simple cleanliness and safety are most important. You want to make sure you:

  • Store chemicals, cleaning supplies, and medicine out of reach
  • Cover electric outlets
  • Install gates and safety railings for stairways and fences around pools
  • Inspect window screens and locks on windows and doors
  • Check smoke and carbon detectors to make sure they’re fully functioning
  • Examine any tall and heavy furniture bolted to the wall\

3. How to prepare for your interview.

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Your social worker will meet with you or any member of your family who may be living in the same household as the adoptive child (family members exclude any young child who is not able to understand the adoption process) to conduct an interview. The interview will take place with each family member together and individually so that the social worker can learn more about your family history, personalities, goals for adoption, and knowledge on adoption.

Here is a list of sample interview that may come up during your home study interview:

  • Biographical/Family Background
    • How was your family as a child?
    • Share your best childhood memories.
    • Share your worst childhood memories.
    • Do you have any other children?
    • Are you married? If so, for how long?
    • How do you feel about child discipline?
    • Why have you decided to adopt?
    • What are your wishes for the future?
  • Community
    • How would you rate the safety of your community?
    • Describe the school system.
    • What school would your child attend?
    • What activities are available for your child?
  • Health
    • Do you have any health issues? If so, how are you handling them?
    • Will your family history cause you to potentially develop any health issues?
    • What is your plan in case of any health emergencies?
  • Criminal
    • Have you ever been arrested? If so, what were you arrested for?
    • Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Is so, what were you convicted for?
  • Finances
    • What is your annual income?
    • What is your educational background?
    • What is your profession?
    • Are you prepared for any unexpected expenses that may arise?
    • Are you able to provide for what a child will need?

You should become familiar with these questions to better prepare yourself for the interview. During your interview remember to be honest, relax, and be yourself!

4. What you’ll need.

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Getting your appropriate documents in order will ensure a smooth home study and allow it to move quickly. Here is a checklist of the documents you will need:

  • Autobiographical statement
  • Parenting plan statement
  • Driver’s license(s)
  • Birth certificate(s) of everyone who lives in your home
  • Social security card
  • Marriage certificate if applicable
  • Divorce decree(s) if applicable
  • Military discharge(s) if applicable
  • Past adoption decree(s) if applicable
  • Green card(s) if applicable
  • Financial information
  • Latest income tax return and tax returns for the last 2-3 years
  • Verification of employment (most recent pay stub, letter from your employer, or a statement stating that you are not working)
  • Proof of insurance: (home, health, life, auto)
  • Medical statement(s) of health status for applicants and everyone living in the home
  • Immunization records
  • Passport(s) if adopting internationally
  • Pet vaccination records if applicable

5. Who to choose as a reference. 

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It will be important to prepare a list of references for your social worker to contact. You will want to make sure you ask your references beforehand if it is okay to use them as a reference. You should choose people who are close to you, know your personality, and who are supportive of your decision to adopt.

The home study process may seem overwhelming but keep in mind that it is a necessary step in the adoption process and is not as scary as it might seem! It may feel invasive but keep in mind it is just to ensure a child will be placed in a safe home with a loving family. Remember you are not alone! If you have any concerns along the way reach out to family, friends, other parents who have been through the adoption process, or your social worker for support along the way. Relax, be genuine and when all is said and done, it will all be worth it. Good luck!

“He who can reach a child’s heart can reach the world’s heart.” -Rudyard Kipling

Sources:

https://adoption.org/10-things-need-know-youre-preparing-home-study

 

https://binti.com/home-study/adoption-home-study-process/

 

https://binti.com/home-study/what-is-a-home-study/

 

https://binti.com/home-study/adoption-home-study-checklist/

 

https://consideringadoption.com/adopting/adoption-101/all-things-adoption-home-study-questions-tips-checklist

https://adoptionnetwork.com/a-complete-list-of-expected-adoption-home-study-questions

Easy-To-Do Fundraisers to Help With Adoption Costs

If you are like any of the thousands of families considering adoption, you may have one of the same overwhelming fears – the costs. Let it be known – you are not alone in this thought process. It can seem daunting. So, what is the next step? How can you help mitigate that fear? Here is a list of some easy-to-do fundraisers that can help you lessen the costs, and calm those nerves.

Online Fundraiser – Crowdfunding (GoFundMe)

GoFundMe

This is a hugely popular option. With so many people scrolling through their social media feeds in a day, it would be hard to pass by a personal fundraiser through GoFundMe. The key is – share as much as you can! Get the word out there on all social media platforms. Let your story be heard. Friends, family, and coworkers alike will donate. And this is a wonderful way to spread awareness about the unknown costs associated with adoption.

Host a Meal

Dinner Party

Who doesn’t love to eat a delicious meal? Host a spaghetti dinner, a pancake breakfast, or even a breakfast for dinner. Invite your family, friends and co-workers and enjoy a night of good food and good company. Charge a few dollars for attendees, and leave a donation jar on the counter for those who want to donate a little bit more. Every little bit counts!

Kickball or Dodgeball Tournament

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Want to get more active with your fundraiser? You’re in luck! There are a lot of ways to do so. If it’s cold out, find a local gym and utilize their basketball court for a night of dodgeball. Have people form teams, and sign up for a fee. Everyone loves some healthy competition. If it’s on the warmer side, head outside for a game of kickball. Find a baseball field, and you are set. Have local groups come out form a team for a fee. Like the dodgeball tournament, this is a fabulous way to get the community involved.

Karaoke Night

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For all you singers out there, this is a spectacular way to steal the show. Host a karaoke night at a local bar, or even in the comfort of your own home. Charge people individual or couple fees (for all those who love duets). Leave a little donation jar at the stage with a write-up of your story. Have fun singing your hearts out while raising funds for your adoption journey!

 

Affording adoption can seem difficult, but with these few fundraising ideas, you are on the way to helping your costs! Of course, there are other ideas to consider (whatever fits your lifestyle most!). Visit http://fundyouradoption.tv/101-adoption-fundraising-ideas/ to navigate 101 Adoption Fundraiser Ideas. There will surely be one that suits you.