Tag Archives: Open Adoption

Reasons To Choose Or Not To Choose Adoption

Deciding whether to parent or make an adoption plan can be a difficult decision. There are many factors that play into finding the right fit for your situation. Am I financially ready to parent? Will my family & friends support my decision? Better yet, does my partner support the idea of adoption? These are all very important questions to consider. Although it can be overwhelming, take your time to research and weigh all of options. Down below are reasons to choose or not to choose adoption.

 

  • I’m not emotionally ready.

Like all new experiences adoption may seem scary at first. This is a normal feeling to have and you will overcome with time. The best thing to do at this point is get all the research you can. The internet is a great source of information. Read adoption blogs by expectant/birth parents. Research the advantages of open adoption. You will discover that open adoption can be a happy journey. Most adoptive parents respect their birth mothers enough to view them as additional family members. Both adoptive & birth parents join together in the best interest of the child.

  • The belief of taking responsibility for your own actions.

Fact of the matter is making an adoption plan takes great responsibility. By setting aside your own needs and wants to consider what is best for your child is taking full responsibility. You may have already considered your financial status, your educational future (if deciding to further your education), and support from your partner or family. These things factor into whether you should choose an adoption plan. The next big step is choosing a family that will give your child a loving, safe, & secure environment. Not to mention choosing a family that aligns with what you would like to provide your child. Completing these tasks mean that you love your child and that you are taking responsibility for their care & happiness.

  • My partner doesn’t like the idea of making an adoption plan.

Your partner may not feel comfortable making an adoption plan. If at any point he doesn’t feel ready to parent or able to financially/emotionally support the child, adoption may be an option. Discuss the concerns that may arise. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an adoption agency to go over your options, rights, and questions.

  • I was raised that if I get pregnant I keep the baby.

Family values can either persuade or dissuade your decision on adoption. It is important to remember that this is your choice to make. What works for one person may not work for others. Everyone’s situation is unique in its own way.

 

  • Wanting someone to love you.

There is nothing that can compare to a child’s love. However, having a child that will love you isn’t always in the best interest of the child. You have to prioritize the child’s needs over your own. Placing them with a secure and stable family is the most important aspect.

 

Consider these aspects when deciding if adoption is right for you or not. Make sure to do your research on adoption and other options that may be available to you. Talk them over with your partner and/or someone that you trust. If you choose open adoption, be aware that you are not leaving your child, but expanding your family. Find an adoption agency that best fits you and talk to a social worker about any concerns.

 

 

Degree of Openness in Adoption

Degree of openness.jpg

 

In previous generations, adoptions were often stigmatized and kept secret. This practice reflected the cultural ideal at the time that adoption illegitimated the connection between parents and their adoptive children. Most children did not know their birthparents or information regarding their birth family. Many were not told they were adopted until they were older, or were never told at all. It was believed that lack of openness would make it easier for birthparents, children, and adoptive parents to adjust and move forward. However, the secrecy in previous closed adoptions left children and adoptive parents with many unanswered questions and unresolved feelings of loss, as well as the inability for adoptive children to access their medical history, familial medical history, or obtain information about their genetic background.

Today, society has become more accepting of adoption. Studies show that about one third of adoptive parents and adoptees have contact with their birth families. A newfound trend to openness is adoption can be attributed to prior negative effects that secrecy has played on adoption and the realization that openness can help to improve the adoption process for all parties involved.

Benefits of Having an Open Adoption

levels of openness

Open adoption benefits children, birth parents, and adoptive parents.

Benefits to children adopted through open adoption:

  • Lessening a child’s need to fantasize about their parents and where they came from and instead giving them opportunity to view them as real people.
  • Giving them the resources to ask questions directly to their birthparents as they grow
  • Allowing them to have a knowledge of their history
  • Allowing them to have a deeper understanding of their identity
  • Allowing them to gain access to their genetic and medical history
  • Helping them to understand the reasoning for their placement and decreasing their sense of abandonment
  • Increasing the number of adults in their lives that can offer them a support system
  • Contact with biological siblings in the future

Benefits to birthparents:

  • Helping to gain peace of mind by knowing that their child is doing well by receiving updates and photos and even have visits
  • Allowing them the opportunity to remain in their child’s life and develop personal relationships with their child and their child’s adoptive parents throughout the course of their child’s life
  • Assists a little in easing the loss

 Benefits to adoptive parents:

  • Allowing them to build healthy relationships with their child’s birth families
  • Obtaining important medical and background information about their child
  • Giving them the opportunity to contact their child’s birth families in order to answer questions they may have regarding their child’s history
  • Helping them to gain a shared respect for child’s birth family
  • Increasing their sense of confidence and permanency in their parenting

Deciding On a Level of Openness

When deciding on a level of openness within an adoption, it is important to determine what will work best for you and your family, not just in your current situation but going into the future. An adoptive parent must take into consideration when they will share information regarding their child with their child’s birthparents and to what degree. This conversation should take places before you are matched with a birthmother, when the decision can be made based on logic and not emotion. Agencies will require prospective adoptive parents to decide on the level of openness as well as other decisions that will define the situations the family is open to prior to being presented with a match. Social workers will then use your key to dictate which expecting parents to show your profile to be considered. This ensures that both families desire a similar level of openness which helps to create a positive match. Be honest about the commitment you are willing to have and create limitations that you are comfortable with. For instance, if you believe that due to distance you are only able to really commit to one visit a year, don’t promise two visits.

Once you have decided on a level of communication, the agency will create a Future Contact Agreement which will be used to document the openness levels both parties have agreed upon. Agreements typically plan out the precise number of times per year and forms of contact that the adoptive parents will have with birthparents. For instance, the agreement may state “ Birthparents may visit no fewer than three times a year until the child reaches the age of six, and then afterwards no fewer than one time a year, on mutually agreed upon dates and times, with visits totaling no less than four hours per visit”.

Some parents choose to have all communication between the birthparent and the child be filtered through them until the child reaches the age of 18, and then allowing the child to determine the nature of their future communication.

There are no set requirements that an adoptive parent must put into place within the agreement, but instead the agreement should be used to be specific in details regarding open communication and to reach a level of agreement with the birthparents.

It is important to note that in most states, these agreements are not legally enforceable. They are set up to be a show of good faith in keeping the promises made to each other.

 

Levels of Open Communication

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Fully Open Adoption – This means that the adoptive and birthparents exchange identifying information such as last names, phone numbers addresses, etc. The majority of adoptions do not begin full open however many do become more open over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Over Initial Fears of Open Adoption In Order to Gain the Benefits

It is important to remember that although open adoption may seem like a scary concept at first, it’s important to dive into the fear and break apart the insecurities in order to really see how the benefits of open adoption typically outweigh the negatives. Most importantly, it is about the child and helping them to be able to securely establish a sense of identity as they grow and continue to ask questions.

 

The History of National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month is quickly approaching which led us to wonder, how did this celebratory month get its start? Join us on an exploration into our favorite month of the year!

The History of NAM

The Beginning of National Adoption Month

National Adoption Week

National Adoption Month didn’t actually start off as a month long celebration of adoption, but instead was celebrated during one week out of the year. In 1976 the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, proclaimed that his state would have an Adoption Week in hopes to promote awareness for the needs of children in foster care and the lack of adoptive families. Some reports say that later in 1976, President Gerald Ford announced that the Adoption Week started by Dukakis would be celebrated nationally in the United States. The Child Welfare National Adoption Month page explains that President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week on November 13, 1984. Proclamation 5280 states:

Families have always stood at the center of our society, preserving good and worthy traditions from our past and entrusting those traditions to our children, our greatest hope for the future. At a time when many fear that the family is in decline, it is fitting that we give special recognition to those who are rebuilding families by promoting adoption.

More children with permanent homes mean fewer children with permanent problems. That is why we must encourage a national effort to promote the adoption of children, and particularly children with special needs. Through the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, some 6,000 children have been adopted who otherwise might not have been, and the number is growing. The recently enacted Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act will provide further assistance to couples who adopt children with special needs. …

National Adoption Week gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to give every child waiting to be adopted the chance to become part of a family. During this Thanksgiving season, let us work to encourage community acceptance and support for adoption and take time to recognize the efforts of the parent groups and agencies that assure adoptive placements for waiting children. Most importantly, let us pay tribute to those special couples who have opened their homes and hearts to adopted children, forming the bonds of love that we call the family.

National Adoption Month

After President Reagan’s proclamation, more and more states began participating in Adoption Week activities and there just didn’t seem to be enough time to fit in everything that activists wanted to accomplish in one week. In 1995 November was proclaimed as National Adoption Month by President Clinton. Proclamation 6846 states:

For many people across the United States, adoption provides a means for building and strengthening families. It places children into loving, permanent homes where they can flourish and grow up to become happy, healthy, productive members of our national community. Adoption also enables adults to experience the unique joys of parenthood.

As many as 70,000 children in America’s foster care system may need adoptive families in the next few years—young people of all ages and backgrounds who, for whatever reason, cannot return to their original homes. Many, but not all, are children with special needs. These young people long for the same affection, security, and stability that most of us take for granted, yet too many have waited—and will continue to wait—for years to be adopted.

My Administration has taken important actions to encourage adoption and to support the wonderful families that choose to open their hearts and homes to waiting children. The Multiethnic Placement Act, which I signed into law in October 1994, helps to facilitate adoption for all children and families, regardless of their race or ethnic origin. We will continue to champion and improve programs that break down barriers to adoption through aggressive recruitment of families, financial aid to support placements, and technical assistance to agencies committed to special needs adoption.

As we observe National Adoption Month, we celebrate these achievements and recognize the rewards of adoption, but we must also remember that much work remains to be done. Citizens from all communities and organizations from the public and private sectors must join together to renew our commitment to finding permanent homes for each one of America’s children.

Celebrating National Adoption Month

There are a lot of ways to celebrate National Adoption Month and one of those ways includes National Adoption Day. National Adoption Day occurs with courthouses throughout the country where hundreds of adoptions are finalized simultaneously. According to the official website, National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families. A coalition of national partners – Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, The Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network – sponsor National Adoption Day. Adoptions From The Heart had some wonderful families participate in Adoption Day last year and you can read more about their stories here and here.

Adoption Day
During the month of November, families can celebrate and bring awareness to the beauty of open adoption, the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care and just general support for the states, communities and agencies that make resources available for those touched by adoption. Keep an eye out for the activities planned by your agency, or engage in social media contests, sharing your adoption experiences. For example, Adoptions From The Heart celebrates National Adoption Month with the Paper Heart Project. This fundraiser encourages local business sell purple hearts cut from paper by local students and have supporters sign their names before displaying, showing their support of adoption.
Paper Heart Project

How have you celebrated National Adoption Month?

Back to School Tools for Adoptive Parents

The summer is coming to a close and that means it is time for the kids to head back to school. As a parent, you might be curious about ways to make sure your child’s classroom is an accepting environment for their adoption story and we wanted to give you some of the tools to ensure a safe and happy school year!

Back to School
Communicating with your Child’s Teacher

Write a letter to your child’s teacher

Your child’s teacher could greatly benefit from a brief explanation of your family’s background and this will give you an opportunity to make it be known that you are available as a resource for their classroom. You can even provide the teacher with the correct language to use when discussing adoption in the classroom setting. Children might ask questions and arming your child’s teacher with the right responses is invaluable.
Q: “Where are Julia’s real parents?”
A: “Julia’s real parents are the parents who are raising him, Matthew and Caroline, who pick him up from school each day. She also has birth parents who gave birth to her.”
Q: “Why didn’t Julia’s first family want her?”
A: “They probably wanted her very much but weren’t able take care of any baby at that time. Julia’s birth parents wanted her to have a family to love her and take care of her forever.”
Q: “Where is Julia from?”
A: “She’s from Pennsylvania. She was born in China, but now she’s a U.S. citizen, like you.”
Q: “Does she speak Chinese?”
A: “No. Julia came to the America when she was a baby. She was not speaking any language at the time just like most babies.

Educate the school’s faculty

While you are in letter writing mode, consider reaching out to the school principal or the parent-teacher association suggesting an adoption training session for staff. Some open adoption agencies, like Adoptions From The Heart, offer educational courses for families that could be attended by your child’s teacher or the school faculty.
Adoptive Families outlined five viral points for education professionals to understand (you can communicate these in your letter):

  •  Adoption is an open and natural topic in your family. Teachers should not be afraid to discuss it or to answer students’ questions.
  •  Children born in a different country are not experts on the language or culture of that country.
  • There are neither real families nor fake families. Adoptive parents are parents like any others.
  • Genetics can be taught without requiring students to trace their nuclear family’s roots.
  • Parents of all types will appreciate more inclusive versions of “star of the week,” as well as autobiographical timeline and family tree projects.

Navigating tough assignments with your child’s teacher

Like we mentioned above, more inclusive versions of classic school projects are better designed and you can discuss and present your child’s teacher with multiple options for the entire class, not just your child. Adoptive Families provided yet another great list of more inclusive projects that you can share with your child’s teacher:

  • Family Tree: Students can draw themselves on the trunk of a tree and someone whom they love on each branch, regardless of biological or adoptive relationships. Or they can place names of adoptive family members in the branches of a tree and birth family members in its roots. Using a house metaphor in lieu of a tree allows flexibility to incorporate all members of a child’s family.
  • Timeline: Instead of starting with their birth dates, children can cite memorable events from each calendar year they’ve been alive; older students can create a timeline that includes a national or world event from each year they have been alive.
  • Star of the Week: Request that students bring in photographs of themselves from a year or two ago, rather than baby photos.

Class Room Activities

Read or Donate an Adoption Storybook to the Classroom

Read an Adoption Storybook

Stories are a great way to introduce new topics to younger children. You can simply read to your child’s class during their regular story hour time or consider giving an adoption presentation which we will explain further. We review popular adoption books on this very blog, our most recent post has some great suggestions or feel free to bring your child’s favorite!

Give an adoption presentation

Give an Adoption Presentation

This is a creative way to explain adoption to your child’s classmates. Adoptive Families suggests you explain adoption in a general way, rather than tell your child’s particular story. Using dolls or other props will help non-adopted kids relate.
Here’s their simple, parent-tested presentation to use as a model:

  • Bring in one of your child’s dolls or stuffed animals. Tell everyone her name — Sandy, for example — and let each student hold her.
  • Ask the kids to help complete two lists on the blackboard: “What babies need” (bottles, food, clothes, hugs, and so on) and “What parents do” (feed, clothe, change, hug and kiss, and so on). If the kids don’t say “bring babies into the world,” add it to the parents’ list.
  • Tell them that Sandy’s birth parents brought her into the world, but that they realized they could not do all the other things parents do.
  • Tell them that Sandy’s forever parents wanted to do all those things for her, even though they didn’t bring her into this world.
  • Finish by explaining that Sandy has two sets of real parents — her real birth parents and her real forever family — and that she needs both to be who she is.
  • Don’t forget food! End your classroom presentation with a snack.

Staying Involved

Throughout the school year, you can make sure to keep adoption in the conversation. Here are some suggestions for you to explore!

  • Educate other parents who might want to talk to their children about adoption
  • Spearhead a community service project during National Adoption Month
  • Donate a packet of materials for educators at the school

Are there other ways that you stay involved in your child’s school? Let us know in the comments!

Additional Resources

https://afth.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/a-teachers-guide-to-introducing-adoption-in-to-the-classroom-in-4-easy-steps/
https://afth.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/adoption-in-the-classroom-back-to-school-edition/

Birth Parents and Placing a Child for Adoption without Family Support

Deciding to place a child for adoption is not a decision that is made overnight. Birth parents are extremely strong individuals that sacrifice so much for their baby’s future, but just because they are strong it does not mean that they do not need support during the adoption process. Sometimes when a expecting mother shares her adoption plan with family members, she doesn’t receive love and support. This blog post will explore those situations and provide expecting mothers who are choosing adoption with other ways to receive care and support during their adoption placement.

Placing Without Support


 

When Family and Friends Don’t Understand Adoption

Telling your family you are pregnant can be an overwhelming task if you don’t feel you are prepared to parent. Will they support your decision to consider adoption? Will they want you to raise the baby on your own? Will they want to raise the baby? There are a lot of questions rumbling around in your head before having that conversation with your family and it is important to know you are not alone. There are great resources available online like this one that can help you figure out the best way to broach the topic with your family members. They might even benefit from online resources too. Pages like Adoptions From The Heart can provide family members with a wealth of information about adoption and how to be supportive through the process.

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Comments from family and friends like, “I could never give up my child because I love them too much,” are extremely hurtful. It is important to remember the real reason you are considering adoption- you want what is best for your child because of how much you love them.

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Sometimes it is helpful to understand why friends and family might be saying intentionally hurtful things or feeling uncertain with your adoption plan.


Why There Might Be a Lack of Support After Placement

Before and after placement, it can be hard for your family and friends to really relate to your thought process and what you are going through. Kacey Bailey a contributor for Adoption.com, outlined some reasons why they just might not be understanding you in one of her posts. Here is what she gathered from her own experiences:

1. They’re afraid to feel what you are feeling or what you’ve felt.

The first time I attended a group of birth mothers was when I was pregnant. I sat there, staring at these girls, terrified to be where they were in just a few short months. Pain was written in their eyes and I was literally afraid to feel that way. I had no words for them. I yearned to reach out and comfort these precious souls, yet was terrified to open myself up to them as they were doing for me. The reality of what birth moms have done for a child, to willingly allow another person (or persons) to stand in her shoes, is unimaginable. It seems unfair of birth moms to expect their friends and family to attempt empathy, especially when it’s so frightening to be that distressed.

2. You’re an individual.
The story of how I became a birth mom isn’t too exciting, nor is it uncommon. Girl meets boy. Girl and Boy become friends. Girl and Boy have a one night stand. Boy leaves when Girl gets pregnant. While it’s so very basic, it’s also exceptionally complex. Allow me to be selfish while I say that what I experienced was different than what anyone else will ever know. My personality led me to where I needed to be, my thinking process is what guided me to my son’s parents, and my pain was felt in a way that nobody else will feel. I’m an individual. Take anybody else whose story lines up with mine in every manner, and we will have two different experiences. Birth moms should not expect someone who hasn’t experienced a similar situation to try to grasp the amount of hurt that is endured daily.

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3. They wish they could help more.
I had many friends abandon me when I became pregnant. Others stood awkwardly at the sidelines. It’s been 5 years since placement and I know now that most of the reasoning behind it was simple. They wanted to offer me the world. They wanted to offer me food, a job, a place to stay, a way to provide for me. In my pride, I refused it all and they were left not knowing how to help. It’s one thing to tell them “just be there for me” when nobody knows what “there” is. They gave the advice they would have given to themselves and since they couldn’t do it all, some did nothing. Not out of spite, or anger, but rather out of fear. People fear what they don’t know. Let them know that you just need a shoulder to cry on. When that’s all they offer you, be appreciative.

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4. Everyone handles grief in her own way.
Yes, there are the 5 stages of grief that we all experience after a loss. How we work through them are different. There was a fellow birth mom who dived into school just days after placement. I laid in my bed and cry for a few weeks, then stood up one day and went back to my life as well as I could. Some people may start up a new hobby while others will invest themselves into an old one. There are many ways to cope with loss, everybody is unique. Thus, there aren’t any people out there who know how I handled the loss of a child—nor how I’m handling it right now. My friends don’t know that my sudden outbreak of tears is actually a healthy release. It’s certainly not fair for me to expect them to know, that while my tears are a sign of frustration and longing, they’re also a sign that my healing process is an ongoing process.

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5. Sometimes, they think you need to “get over it.”
I have been told to “move on” from this child more times than not. As I stand there, in tears, I see a friend roll her eyes and look away. It’s not as if my pain is interrupting her life. It’s more that her healing process is different from mine, and she doesn’t understand that. While there’s part of me who wants to cut those people out of my social group, there’s a smaller, smarter part of me that uses this as a teaching opportunity. I explain, and while explaining, I heal. Talking has always helped my mind to organize emotions. While she may scoff and respond with, “I just don’t understand why you can’t move on.” I just smile and say, “I don’t want to”. That child is my heart and soul. He is part of me in a way that he will never be part of somebody else. I hold him sacred in my heart and if I were to cut ties with his memories, I would lose part of who I have become.

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A lot of what Kacey felt and still feels is not uncommon for birthparents. If your family or friends don’t understand, it is important to realize that sometimes…they just don’t understand and then to explore options for other types of support during your adoption journey.


Finding an External Support System

Birthmother Quote

When you place through an adoption agency, many will offer some sort of continued support for birth parents before, during and after placement. Taking advantage of these resources might not always feel natural or like something you want to do, but it has proven successful for so many birth parents. In a previous blog  we discussed the importance of support. One AFTH Birthmother remembered the feelings she had surrounding her first support group meeting:

“I didn’t want to go at all, but I knew deep down that I needed to go. I reluctantly RSVP’d. I dreaded it and looked forward to it at the same time, knowing it was out of my comfort zone. My feet and heart were heavy when I walked into my first meeting, which was only 2 months after I placed my daughter. I was a ball of nerves with a pocket full of tissues. I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to talk, but I thought hearing other stories could be helpful. I teared up as soon as I walked in the room and saw the other women who had done the same thing I did. It made adoption even more real for me, if that’s possible. It helped me realize that it affects many women from all walks of life and that I wasn’t the only one struggling with it.”

Whether you need support before or after placement, there are options for everyone. Use links like this one to find support group meetings or counselors in your area. Birthmombuds  is another great online resource where you may find support. And if you get the courage and are brave enough, share your story. Often times, people don’t know who they can turn to for support and you might find other birthparents or others who have been touched by adoption who will then become your support.

The Birth Parent Perspective in Open Adoptions: A Focus on Birth Fathers

Birth mother’s are often times front and center when open adoption is being discussed, but it is important that birth father’s are not left out of the conversation.

AFTH Birthfathers
A Deeper Look at the Emotional Impact for Birth Fathers

Mary Martin Mason, the author of Out of the Shadows: Birthfathers’ Stories, conducted in depth interviews of several birth father’s.

Mason defines birth fathers as “men who have fathered a child whom they are not parenting.” Her in-depth interviews of birth fathers include those of various ages, races and backgrounds. While most have no contact with their children, a few are participating in open adoptions. Three of the men married their child’s birth mothers after relinquishment, but the majority of those interviewed have lost contact with the birth mother and child.

The Post-Placement Experience

Mason explains that because the birth father experience is an unknown to most people, few support systems exist.

• Despite the existence of millions of birth fathers as a subculture, these men continue to stay “under wraps.” One of the reasons that many of them keep their experience a secret is that to speak about it publicly can result in baffled silence or worse, criticism. Even well-meaning friends and co-workers are perplexed as to how to respond to a birth father.
• One birthfather explained that “nobody knew how to approach me. They all knew we were pregnant. They all knew we were giving the baby up for adoption, so nobody came down and understood how to say….” — Randy chokes on the words he needed to hear — “Congratulations, and I’m sorry.”

The grief and sadness felt by birth fathers after relinquishment and placement can fall along a spectrum and varies depending on the individual. Professionals suggest that healing can really begin once the individual has had the opportunity to address and process their pain. Finding positive outlets for your energy is another way birth father’s can move forward. Take an active role in the adoption community and share your story with others!

“Being a birth father has come to be a thing of pride,” one birthfather said to Mason. “As we come out of the shadow, we can say we are men who have gotten into difficult situations and considered the best option for our child. We should take pride in that.”

Birthfather Pride

Becoming a Birth Father

Darrcik Rizzo is a birth father who became an advocate for adoption and how beautiful it can be, but it didn’t always start off that way. In an excerpt from one of his blog posts, he outlines his initial struggle with comprehending exactly what adoption would mean for his son.

After immense persuasion from my girlfriend, I reluctantly found myself browsing for information about open adoption. The more I read about it, the more I found myself questioning my initial reaction and trying to figure out fatherhood through open adoption. When I realized that open adoption allowed me to be a part of my baby’s life from the very beginning, I felt that open adoption might be the right way to go for my child and also myself as a father. So I gave in, and agreed to the concept of open adoption. Through this experience I found myself wholly involved in each and every step of the adoption process.

Through the process we learned about couples interested in adopting as well as the two kinds of open adoption. One kind of open adoption was totally open while the other was semi-open—where letters and pictures would be facilitated between the birth parents, adoption agency and the adoptive parents. At first I was quite apprehensive of the couples who were interested. I had no clue of how I would be able to know that they would care for my child like their own. And unlike other adoption processes, I was without any professional that provided counseling through the entire adoption procedure. Through the process, my girlfriend and I got to sit with five potential adoptive parents, interview them, and then decide on who would be perfect for our child. Out of the five couples, we found the perfect parents, who were in a biracial relationship just like my girlfriend and I.

The decision-making process was complicated, emotional, and overshadowed other activities in my life. The pregnancy and adoption were happening while I was in school and I could hardly concentrate because this was about more than just books and making it big in life. This was my child we were talking about. I wasn’t willing to “give up” my child; I felt responsible for his well-being. Thank God for open adoption. Through it I knew that my child would know his birth father from the start and I would not have to miss out on the important days of my child’s life.

Birth Father Rights in the Adoption Process

Birth fathers have legal rights during the adoption process and it is important to address that in this post. Most agencies and attorneys have specific procedures to make sure that birth fathers are indentified, located and that they are made aware of the adoption plan. In those situations, birth fathers are also informed about their rights. The birth father’s involvement and participation in the adoption plan is often times welcomed because when there is agreement, and legal papers consenting to the adoption are signed, his rights are being acknowledged. However, many adoptions proceed even if the birthfather is not located and has not signed consent forms and these situations carry a degree of risk. If you are a birth father and want a better understanding of your rights or if you are an adoptive family and want to gain a better understanding of adoption law, explore these links further:
http://afth.org/pregnant/info-for-fathers/
http://www.americanadoptions.com/adoption/birth_father_rights
http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/adoption-and-fathers-rights.html

Conclusion

Open adoption is a lifelong journey for all members of the adoption family, including birth fathers. Their stories should be told and their rights protected. If you have any helpful resources for birth fathers please share them with us, we are always looking for new ways to help all members of the adoption community because we must not forget, adoption is love!

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