Tag Archives: adopted children

How To Tell Your Child’s Adoption Story

Explaining a child’s adoption story can be overwhelming for the adoptive parents. Some don’t know when is a good time to tell their child, while others are unclear on how to tell them. For starters, there is no right or wrong way to discuss adoption with your child. However, it is best to start introducing positive adoption language as soon as possible. Your child should be familiar with adoption language because it is a part of their story & their identity. Down below are a few tips to help you tell your child their adoption story.

How & When to Explain

Make sure to take your child’s age and maturity into consideration. The story should be simple and age appropriate. Give them details that you can elaborate on as they get older. The details should be truthful, so that you don’t contradict yourself later. Share the excitement with an upbeat tone. Understand what your child is asking. Let them know that it’s okay to ask questions and talk about their adoption at any time. Don’t be afraid to revisit topics you may have explained at an earlier time. This will happen as your child’s curiosity grows and their understanding develops over time.

Ages 0-4

            This is the best time to start sharing your child’s adoption story. Let’s face it kids love being the center of attention. They’ll be more eager to listen to their own story. Whether it’s the story of their birth or the story of the magnificent time they made your family whole, they want to hear it. The meaning of adoption doesn’t quite sink in yet, so keep the story basic. Let them know they were born the same way everyone else is. They grew in their mother’s tummy, but she couldn’t parent at that time. Explain that you wanted to be a parent very much, so you adopted him/her. Include that their birth and adoption were both awesome events that will never be forgotten.

Ages 5-11

            Within this age group, the concept of adoption and having two sets of parents becomes clear. As your child gets older and mentally develops you may notice them experiencing more complex feelings of loss and feeling different. Make sure to have open dialogue with your child. It is essential to see how they are putting the story together. Your child’s stage of development, emotional & intellectual maturity may determine how they piece the information together. Answer any questions regarding their birth parents appropriate for their age. If any misconceptions of their birth parents form, offer alternative views to address the situation.

 

Ages 12-18

Around this age children in general begin pulling away from their parents to form their own identity. Children who have been adopted may have a difficulty forming an identity if there is any information lacking. Parents can help by understanding the need for this information. Help them attain the information they are searching for. Also, give them the freedom to explore it. As for any age, make sure to keep the line of communication open. It is vital to hear what your child is saying and what they are asking. Allow them to share their feelings with you. Help them with any struggles they may be having regarding their adoption or their birth parents.

 

Time is of The Essence

When talking to your child about their adoption story timing is everything. It’s best to start as early as possible. Don’t let your child’s adoption story be a family secret. If you didn’t tell their story when they were young children, start telling them soon. It is important to let them know that they can come to you with any questions they may have. Always leave an open line of communication regarding their adoption or birth parents. As children get older, their questions may become more complex. Be open and accepting to whatever they may want or need to know.

Scholarships Available for Adopted and Fostered Students

College Scholarships for Adoptees and Fostered

Did you know that a recent study done at the University of Chicago found that only one-half of all adopted and foster students actually graduate from high school AND only six percent earn a college degree? Since adopted children often have faced tremendous hardships in their lives, such as abuse and neglect, many organizations have created scholarships for adopted students to help them overcome their tough past and create a brighter future for adoptees. Even though there could be a multiple amount of reasons why adoptees may not attend post-secondary education, a big part is the struggle of paying for school. That is why we wanted to provide some of the best scholarship opportunities and grants specifically for children who have been adopted not only from foster care but from birth as well.

Scholarships that are geared to Fostered and Adopted Children in SPECIFIC States

Foster and adopted children not only have access to general scholarship programs, but also those that are specifically designated for students who have been in the foster care system or recently adopted. Here are just a few of the scholarships we found interesting but are only available if you are attending the specific school addressed in the scholarship and/or a specific state.

1. Jack Pollack Sponsorship

  • School- Graduating from Lake Waccamaw Boys and Girls Home in North Carolina
  • Requirements- Students must plan to attend the University of North Carolina
  • Value of Scholarship– Each valued at approximately $7,200 annually (renewable for up to six semesters).
  • Link to Apply- http://www.pkf.org/

2. Armstrong Family Foundation Scholars Program

  • School – Arizona State University
  • Requirements- Must be a resident of Arizona and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher
  • Value of Scholarship– up to $8,000
  • Link to Applyhttps://scholarships.asu.edu/scholarship/1409

3. Maine Tuition Waver Program for Foster/Adopted Children

  • School- Any school in Maine
  • Requirements- Students must be residents of Maine and a high school graduate (or have obtained a GED). Students currently enrolled in college are also eligible to apply.
  • Value of Scholarship- No more than 30 awards will be available annually. The amount varies, based on tuition and fees
  • Link to Apply-http://www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy/factsheets/tuition.html

Maine isn’t the only state to offer a tuition waver program. Florida, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia do as well. These states all have specific programs to support children adopted from foster care. College tuition waiver programs are the most supportive, but some states also have scholarship programs.

National Scholarships Offered to Fostered and Adopted Students

National Scholarships AvailableStudents that are adopted are able to take full advantage of adopted scholarships. These scholarships are meant for students that were adopted, whether at birth or at any other point in life. A lot of these scholarships will ask you to talk about your experiences and feelings about being adopted. Please do not let this affect you from applying. We know how hard it can be to share your adoption experience but we encourage you to be bold and step out of your comfort zone.

1. Friends of Foster Children

  • Requirements- Foster care or ward court for at least 1 yr. by 18th b-day, Under age of 25 by March 31 of the year they apply,
  • Value of Sponsorship- Scholarships range in value from $5,000 to $10,000
  • How to ApplyContact: 800-950-4673, scholarships@orphan.org

2. NSORO Foundation

The NSORO foundation provides non-merit based academic scholarships to youth in foster care and to “aged-out” students.

  • Requirements- Graduating high school seniors as well as current undergraduate or trade school students may apply
  1. All applicants must show State documentation of foster care placement. Eligible applicants can be emancipated or “aged-out” from foster care.
  2. All applicants must show written acceptance and enrollment in a college, university or trade school.

3. Casey Family Scholarships

4. Fostering a Future Scholarship Award

Sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Children’s Action Network

  • Requirements- Adopted from foster care at or after age of 13 and candidates under the age of the 21 must be currently pursing a college
  • Value of Sponsorship- Amount varies depending on college and circumstances
  • How to Apply- Call (310) 477-7611 or email caninformation@aol.com

5. Gordon Evans Scholarship

Created by the NFPA, this scholarship is awarded each year to deserving birth, adoptive, and foster children of foster parents who are members of the national association in good standing.

  • Requirements- must be currently accepted or enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at an accredited post-secondary U.S. institution.
  • Value of Sponsorship– $1,000 each of the five scholarships offered
  • How to Apply- Call (253) 683-4246 or email info@NFPAinc.org

6. John H. Chafee Education and Training Scholarship

A federally funded state administered initiative to provide financial support for transiting children from foster care to adulthood.

  • Requirements- Available to students from all 50 states who were in the foster care system through their 18th birthday or were adopted after age 16 from foster care. Qualified candidates must be -pursuing post-secondary education at an accredited U.S. school, be under the age of 23 years old, and demonstrate financial need.
  • Value of Sponsorship– up to $5,000 Annually
  • How to Apply- Contact (571) 203-0270 or email scholarships@fc2success.org

A Positive Note to End on…

Future College GraduateAlways remember that you can do anything you put your mind to and there are so many scholarships available that money should never be an excuse on why you aren’t continuing your education. We also want you to remember that you are not underprivileged or different than any other child. There are many scholarships out there for students of a certain type, so start thinking of your own demographics. For example, there are scholarships for women, scholarships for single moms and dads, scholarships for students in the LGBT community and the list goes on. We know sometimes that scholarships could seem way to “categorized” but really they are just available to help you succeed in life. So please take advantage of all these amazing scholarships that are being offered. To find a full list for adopted/fostered students and other scholarships that might be available to you, please check out https://www.unigo.com/scholarships/by-type.

The Different Adoption Costs and How to Adopt Without Going into Debt

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As a prospective adoptive parent, you are likely researching various adoption agencies and professionals with one big question in mind: How much will this adoption cost, and will it fall within our budget? Many people say that they would really like to adopt but they automatically think they can’t afford it because the one word that comes along with adoption is EXPENSIVE. The one important piece of advice we urge our readers is to not just choose one specific adoption route because it is less expensive than the path you feel most. There are a lot of other important factors to think about when picking out the right adoption plan for your family. Be very honest with yourself and choose the adoption plan that you feel most comfortable and then focus on the cost associated with that choice. There are so many different ways that you can raise money throughout your adoption journey to help offset the cost and stay out of debt!

Statistics on the Cost of Different Adoption Plans

After making the decision to adopt, your family should understand and anticipate the financial costs associated with the different kinds of adoption. Costs of adoption may be minimal or can total more than $40,000, depending on a number of facts. The wide range of cost is dependent on the type of adoption, type of placement, agency, child’s age and many other different factors. Below are just a few statistics of how much adoption can cost, which are based on the different types of adoption.

  • Licensed private agencies- Fees range from $4,000 to $30,000.
  • Independent adoptions- This type of adoption is not allowed in most states but adoptive parents report spending $8,000 to $30,000. Fun fact, they spend over $5,000 in advertisement alone!
  • Intercountry Adoption Costs- If you’re adopting a child from another country, the range of adoption cost is $15,000 to $40,000+.
  • Foster Care Adoption- If you’re adopting through foster care, which generally involves becoming the parent of an older child, the cost is much lower: zero to $2,500.

Why does Adoption Cost so Much?

So what exactly are you paying for, other than the opportunity to become a parent? Breaking down the total cost into universal expenses and adoption-specific expenses might help you better understand where the costs come from and the best plan to pursue for your family.

1. Universal Expenses: These are the type of expenses that occur for every type of adoption, including the home study and court costs
  • Home Study: A home study must be completed for all prospective parents no matter what type of adoption you pursue. For a public agency adoption a home study may be waived or cost a minimal of $500. With other types of adoption it might cost $1,000-$3,000 for the home study alone.
  • Legal Fees: All domestic adoptions and some intercountry adoptions must be finalized in the court in the US. The cost for court document preparation can range from $500 to $2,000, while the cost for representing adoptive parents in an open adoption can range from $2,500 to $6,000.
2. Adoption-Specific Expenses: In addition to the costs common to every adoption, adoptive parents incur costs to the specific type of adoption that they choose.
  • Public Agency Adoption Costs: Most public agencies focus on placing children from foster care. Up-front fees and expenses for this type of adoption can be as much as $2,500 which includes attorney’s fees and travel expenses.
  • Private Adoption Costs: These costs widely ranges depending on the type of agency used. There is a licensed private adoption agency, an independent adoption agency and a facilitated/unlicensed adoption agency. The cost of private adoption agencies can range from $5,000-40,000 depending on which agency you choose to go with. Working with a private adoption agency definitely comes with a lot of benefits as the fees cover basically everything.
    • Free services provided to the birth parents
    • Educational Courses
    • Advertising and marketing
    • Home studies
    • Post placement support and paperwork
  • Intercountry Adoption Costs: Agencies that provide intercountry adoption services charges fees that ranges from $15,000-$40,000+. These fees generally include immigration; court costs and in some cases a required donation to the foreign orphanage or agency.

Tips on How to Save Money While Adopting

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Prospective adoptive parents may be concerned about to costs of adopting a child, as is understandable based on the range that was given in the beginning of the blog. The important thing to understand is that to become a parent in general is rarely free of expenses, as pregnancy and childbirth can be extremely expensive as well. However, with the proper planning and knowledge about the different types of adoptions and available resources, it will be easier to develop a budget and set a plan in motion. A great book that has helped a lot of our hopeful adoptive parents afford adoption is the book Adopt without Debt written by Julie Gumm.

1. Adoption Grants: Adoption grants are basically “free” money for your adoption. But free doesn’t mean they don’t come without work. There are three basic grants that are available for any adoptive parent looking to help with the payment of their adoption.
  • Direct Grant: Direct Grant organizations review applicants and award money outright. The money is never paid directly to families, but is paid to your adoption agency or attorney. These are usually the hardest grants to receive. Resources4Adoption is a great go-to database for adoption grants and loans. Some organizations that reward direct grants are; Gift of a Adoption, Show Hope and a Child Awaits.
  • Fundraising Grant: This gives you an account with a non-profit grant organization to which people can donate. This provides your friends and family with the added benefit of a tax deduction when they give to your adoption fund. Some examples of great fundraising grant are; Lifesong for Orphans and His Kids Too!
  • Matching Grant: basically a combination of direct and fundraising. The grant organization allows you to fundraise and provide the tax benefit to your donors. Then they match a certain dollar amount of donations received.
2. Adoption Loans: Loans may make sense to cover large and immediate expenses that may be reimbursed later by your employer, the military, or the government’s reimbursement of non-recurring adoption expenses. One source of loans is the National Adoption Foundation which can be accessed through nafadopt.org.
3. Fundraisers are a great way to raise money for your adoption while having a great time! Here are just a few ideas we found that helped raised a lot of money, while getting the whole community involved!
  • “Tag The Bag”: Pick out the bag you are going to use for travels and get your family and community together. Put a price on how much you would like to raise and put a specific amount together per signature!
  • “Adoption Fund Garage Sale”: We had an adoptive family hold a garage sale teaming up with their local church and they raised over $5,000. You would be surprised how many people would donate used clothing and toys and even more surprised on how many people would be interested in purchasing used clothing and toys!
  • “Puzzle Piece Fundraiser”: Your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers can sponsor puzzle pieces for $5, $10, or any amount that helps you reach you goal. Then, you can hang your completed puzzle in your child’s room as a constant reminder to all of the people who worked to bring your child home.
4. Employer Benefits: A growing number of companies and government agencies are offering adoption benefits to their employees. Benefits may include:
  • adoption information and referral services
  • legal expenses
  • agency fees
  • medical expenses
  • post adoption counseling
  • paid of unpaid leave time for the adoptive parent
  • financial reimbursement
5. Tax Credit: Adoption federal tax credits may be available to defray some adoption costs. As of 2014 the Adoption Tax Credit is $13,190 per child.  Whether you adopt domestically or internationally you are eligible for a $13,190 tax credit the year you complete your adoption.  The credit amount can depend on a family income, whether the child has “special needs” and any other adoption benefits. Even now several states have enacted state tax credits for families adopting children from the public child welfare system in that state!

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Putting the Pieces Together

The majority of people work their entire lives to prepare for starting a family one day. Whether you have a baby through traditional means or through adoption, there will always be an expense involved. Don’t let the cost of adopting effect your decision to follow your dreams in creating a family. Like you can see throughout this blog, there are so many resources out there that will help you adopt without emptying your bank accounts

November 2013 Book Reviews

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.

39092016_0_Img2The Book of Answers from your Birth Mother: A guided journal for Birthmothers to share thier life story by Jenny Lynn Delancy – No matter what the level of contact is between birth and adoptive parents this is a great book for birth parents to share a bit of themselves with their child.  This guided journal asks questions about likes, dislikes, favorite games, movies and who is in your family.  Some of the questions toward the end of the book deal with religious views, and the circumstances surrounding their adoption.  It asks for information on the birth father, and what are your dreams of the future.  This is a great keepsake for a birth parents to pass on to an adopted child.  It will help children answer questions when they are ready for them and the ability to page through it at their own pace and in their own way.  It can also help spark conversations when children come back and ask you to about different events in life.  Amazon.com price $11.66

imagesThe First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism by Debra Van Ausdale & Joe R. Feagin–  This book can be a bit dry and texbook like but if you dig a little deeper you find a new way at looking at race.  Audale and Feagin  speak to how even young children start to define race and ethnicity and they encourage parents to not wait to talk about race.  Make race a topic of conversation for kids even as young as 3 years old.  It is emphasized that children do learn about race through their caregivers, parents, society and adult interactions but the age in which they start learning this is very very young.  Also to not address racist comments or remarks by young children thinking they are too young to understand what they are saying does a disservice to these children.  Many times they do realize what they are saying but aren’t aware that its not acceptable. Very interesting read about race in America that would benefit all parents and caregivers but is particularly valuable to parents of children of a different racial background than their own. amazon.com $17.95 kindle edition $9.99

download (2)Inside Transracial Adoption by Beth Hall & Gail Steinberg – There are a lot of books out there now about white parents raising children of color but Hall & Steinberg were writing about this topic before many even considered it to be a topic.  There are so many new books on this subject in fact that its hard to pick just one.  I would recommend that you read more than one because there are many really good ones out there but if you only want to pick one this is my recommendation. We have been recommending this book to families for years and this updated version makes it even more relevant.  This book is a straight in your face no holds barred look at raising a child of a different race, confronting your own known or maybe unknown prejudices, and giving you strategies, and examples to help you navigate through many of the challenges raising a child of a different race brings forth. Hall & Steinberg teach you how to help children build a strong sense of identity so they are comfortable answering questions and dealing with difficult situations.  A must read for families considering adopting a child of a different race. amazon.com $20.90 Kindle Edition: $13.99

 

The best age to tell your child that he or she was adopted

Written by Lisa H. Warren – original post from Helium.com

Children may be adopted at any age. Those adopted old enough to recall the event grow up knowing they were adopted. When a child is adopted as an infant or toddler there is the question of which age is the right age to tell a child he was adopted.

While opinions may differ regarding the exact, best, age to tell a child he’s adopted; most parents today understand that it’s best when a child grows up feeling he’s “always known”. Most know, too, that it makes no sense to tell a six-month-old infant, or even an eighteen-month-old toddler, he was adopted. Babies and toddlers don’t have the language skills to understand, and even a three-year-old will not recall what he was told at six months old.

The best time to tell a child may be at the earliest age when he has the language and general cognitive development to understand what he is being told, and what it means.

So, how can a parent know when a young child has reached the right stage of development? As with most other areas of development, children generally send signals that they’ve reached a new stage of development. One such signal for all children (not just adopted children) is that inevitable discussion about “where babies come from”. For adopted children the “where-babies-come-from” discussion can be the perfect time to explain that even though babies “grow inside ladies”, sometimes the lady who has the baby is not the one who will be his mother.

Some children as young as two may have good enough language development to have had Mommy explain where a soon-to-arrive baby sibling is growing. It could be an aunt or other close adult who has an obvious baby bulge (and maybe a brand new nursery in her home). Children who haven’t yet experienced having an expectant Mommy may ask where babies come from at around three. Some parents just make it a point to have the discussion with their young child, or to read him a book about where babies come from. Generally (and, again, depending on the child’s language skills), the “where-babies-come-from” discussion usually arises (at least in some very simple way) during the fourth year; with some children being more in the area of two-and-a-half, and others being nearer to their fourth birthday.

With children who have not been adopted, parents can have the luxury of waiting for the child to ask. In view of the fact that allowing a child to “just always know” means telling him early, adoptive parents may be wise not to allow a child to get too close to four before having the discussion.

Even when a child hasn’t asked, however, it’s still possible to get a reading on how ready he is, just by finding a way to bring up the the subject of a woman expecting a baby. Most children in this age range will have some questions (as compared to, say, a 20-month-old child who is likely to act “oblivious” to the news).

Once it is clear that a child is capable of understanding that a baby grows inside a woman, the “extra information” that not all women who have babies raise them can seem like “just more information” to the very young child. When a child has been given this information as soon as he is capable of understanding it, he will grow up feeling as if he’s “just always known”. Keep in mind that being told young enough to grow up feeling as if he’s “just always known” is a very different thing from growing up feeling as if he’s “always being told”. One well timed, initial, discussion (when a child is old enough to remember it), followed by answering questions as they arise; can be one good way to prevent a child from growing up feeling he’s “always being told”.

Keeping things simple and age-appropriate can keep the information from being of the variety that requires a lot of processing. Follow-up questions can be addressed when they arise.

A simple, early, approach to telling a child he’s an adopted child can lay a basic foundation on which more information can be shared, as the child reaches different developmental stages that call for different types of information.

When you look at the face of the tiny child you love every bit as much as you would love a child to whom you gave birth, it can seem as there is will never be a “right” time to share information you fear could hurt him in some way. Sometimes it helps to keep looking at that sweet, trusting, face and ask yourself if you ever want to lose that trust your child has in you. When told early enough, and in a way appropriate for a young child’s age, the truth doesn’t have to hurt.

Adopted Children: Doing Just Fine, Thanks

Adopted children make up about 2 percent of the child population in the USA, or about 1.8 million kids.

According to Adoption USA: A Charbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, those kids usually benefit from being adopted: The report describes 85 percent of them as being in “excellent health”, with 81 percent of their parents saying their relationships are “very warm and close”.  Only about 15 percent say the relationship is “more difficult” than they expected.

Adopted children are also more likely to be read to daily at a young age (68 percent, vs. 48 percent of non-adopted children), more likely to be sung to or told stories on a daily basis (73 percent vs. 39 percent), and participate more in extracurricular school activities (85 percent vs. 81 percent).