8 Things Adoptive Parents Should Know About Birth Parents

As an adoptive parent it is easy to get caught up in the process of finding a child and the adoption journey. It is very natural to think about the life ahead of you with your new family member. However, you should also consider the perspective of the birth parents when you are moving forward with your plans for adoption. The following 8 things were polled from birth parents as subjects they wanted adoptive parents to know and understand.

  • We all share the journey – even if you do not know the birth mother or you’re adopting from an international agency you are sharing the journey with the birth mother. A birth mother will be a part of this journey from the beginning of pregnancy whether she’s aware of it at that time or not. It is a choice of doing what is best for the unborn baby she is carrying, to have a new, different or better life. Though circumstances may be different for all it is from this same starting point that every birth mother comes from.
  • Adoption begins with love – the decision to give a child up for adoption is rooted in love. It is love that places a child’s needs before those of the birth parent and that often why birth parents choose adoption as an option for their pregnancy.
  • Adopted children aren’t “unwanted” – It is actually quite the opposite, a birth parent chose to carry their child to term because they wanted the best for him/her, not because that child wasn’t wanted at all. To go through with an adoption means a child is cared for, not abandoned.
  • The choice affected more than just the birth parents – A birth parent’s immediate family and the birth father is also affected, the choice to adopt isn’t just about “me” as a birth mother.
  • Birth parents go through loss & grief – giving away a child for adoption can result in grief similar to those experienced when a person dies. Many birth mothers will mourn the loss of their child throughout their lifetime and sometime with varying intensity.
  • A birth mother will always think about her child – there will never be a moment that passes that when a birth mother doesn’t think about the child that was given away. This could be as simple as thinking about what they look like to wondering if they are happy.
  • The effect of adoption can last for a lifetime – placing a baby up for adoption can affect the birth parents for a lifetime, while many adoptions are pursued with the best of intentions sometimes residual guilt and shame can be attached to the pregnancy. Post-adoption depression, anxiety and guilt can lead to issues in the birth parent’s life and even impact their existing relationships. Being a birth parent doesn’t mean that it’s over once the adoption is complete.
  • Choose open or closed adoption options carefully – always consider the birth parents when opting for a closed or open adoption, if you can speak with the birth parents and find out if they truly want to be a part of the adopted child’s life. It has been shown that open adoptions can be beneficial to both parties involved.

As an adoptive parent or as someone considering adoption please also remember the others who are on the journey with you. There are common misconceptions about adoptions and the parents who opt for adoption that are in no way reflective of the majority. Ultimately the journey is one that involves many people for a variety of reasons. The common thread that we all share is the love of a child.

Are You Ready To Adopt? Answer These 7 Questions

The decision to adopt is a major one, it is a choice that impacts your life as well as the potential child you plan to welcome into your family. It is a highly personal and emotional journey that can take months or even years to see to fruition. With that in mind it is important that you are prepared for the steps that are involved in adoption. You must be aware of the process, the time and the investment that will be involved.

When starting the process it is important to do some introspection, asking yourself some very simple questions will help solidify the process in your own mind as well as your heart to see if you’re truly ready for the journey that is adoption.

If you’re ready to adopt you should ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the details and legalities of adoption in my state? The process of adoption can be one that is not only legal but costly. If you’re not aware of the steps involved in adoption you should research, research and then research some more.
  2. Am I financially stable to provide in the long term for another member of the family? Consult with a financial advisor, you will want to discuss not only the upfront costs associated with adoption but you’ll also want to prepare a strategy for long term financial stability.
  3. Am I ready to provide a loving, lifelong home to a child in need? Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a needy child, their welfare should be of your first and foremost concern
  4. What sort of child am I willing to adopt? Are you looking for an infant? Would you be willing to take in an older child or a child of a different race? Would you be willing to provide for a special needs child?
  5. Do I want to go through an adoption agency or a private individual? There are benefits and cons to each method, with an agency you will be matched to a child that fits your household, agencies are designed to work for the child. Private adoptions mean that you will have to locate a birth mother on your own. This could work in your favor if you already know someone who is pregnant and willing to adopt.
  6. Do you want a closed or open adoption? A closed adoption is one where the parent’s birth records are sealed or the information is confidential, there may be many reasons for closed adoption. Open adoptions allow for information and contact between the birth and adoptive parents.
  7. Am I mentally prepared for the formal adoption process? Once you’ve decided to apply for the formal adoption process you must be mentally prepared for everything that follows. This includes background checks, checks into your financial and medical histories, home study or home visitations by a social worker and much more.

These questions, while simple, are important to assessing where you are in terms of the adoption process. Yes, the thought of wading through the regulations and legalities can be overwhelming however the reward of welcoming a child into your home far outweighs any of the potential negatives. If you’re considering adoption you’re doing right by asking yourself if you’re ready but the journey will be worth it in the end.

9 Steps In LGBT Adoption

Adoption can be a complicated process even when you’re a “traditional” couple but for members of the LGBT community the process can be even more difficult to navigate. Some of the difficulty arises from the relatively new practice of adoption within the LGBT community. For those looking to adopt however it is important to research and become familiar with the steps.

  1. Think about the decision to adopt, it is essential that you remember this is a choice that will impact your life and the life of child and one that will last a lifetime.
  1. Get to know the laws within your state in regards to LGBT adoption. Each state will have varying regulations, rules and laws as they pertain to LGBT adoptions. Good research is an important step in the adoption journey, research will also help you narrow down adoption professionals and agencies that you’ll be using later on in your search.
  1. Network or discuss adoption with other LGBT couples. Finding someone who has gone through the same process can be invaluable, having gone through the adoption process they will better understand the potential roadblocks and information you’ll need to guide the process along.
  1. Once you find an agency that you want to work with be open about your sexual orientation. Being up front to an agency is a good way to see how willing they are to work for you and with you. If an agency seems hesitant move onto another, you want the adoption agency that will understand your needs.
  1. Be open and upfront in the interview, this is important in establishing a relationship with the agency you will be working with, remember, this process can be a long one and you want to be as comfortable as possible with the agency or social worker you have chosen.
  2. Fill out a matching profile or questionnaire. This process may involve a questionnaire or other form of survey that will narrow down not only what you are looking for in an adoption but it also gives the birth parents a chance to match you to their child. In the case of an agency a matching criteria can help place you with a child that fits your household.
  3. Be prepared to wait! Adoption can be a lengthy process full of ups and downs. Be prepared for these changes and waiting for the perfect match from your agency.
  4. Finalize the adoption. You will want to consult with an attorney who has experience in adoptions and possibly one who is versed in LGBT adoptions. Requirements will vary by state and in some you’ll need to file a petition for adoption. In the case of a petition there will also be a court hearing and a judge will make the final determination on whether the adoption will be legally recognized.
  5. Use post adoption services. Once your adoption is finalized be sure to take advantage of the post-adoption services offered by most adoption agencies. These services can provide valuable networking and information to newly adopted children and families.

As a LGBT couple looking to adopt you must accept the process and actually this is true of any parent who is looking to adopt. The hurdles are the same whether you’re a same sex parent of a traditional couple. The most important thing to remember is that this decision is a life changing one, not only for you and your partner but for the child you wish to bring into your family. With some patience, research and a good adoption agency the desire to bring a child into your family can be fulfilled.

How To Throw A Baby Shower For An Adopted Child

A shower for an adopted baby can be a great way to celebrate your family and the fact that is it growing! It can also be a way to break the announcement to those in your life who may not have been aware you were pursuing adoption.

Depending on your comfort level you can hold it anytime from your acceptance as an active family, your referral to a birth mother or even once the entire process has been finalized. For those looking to expand their family adoption can be just as exciting as a normal birth. Celebrating adoption with a baby shower should be with the same attention as a regular baby shower.

Some details that should be understood when planning an adoption baby shower include:

  • Timing – if you’re planning a baby shower for an adopted child it is important to understand that there can always be delays in the adoption journey. With that being said it is probably best to wait until after the adoption is finalized. This avoids a lot of complications and potential hurt feeling should something not go as planned or the adoption is delayed.

    Also, it may also be worth considering giving the adoptive parents some time to get to know their new child. If you’re outside the family and planning the shower, talk to the family, find out what is best for them!

  • Invitations – it may be a good idea to include the age of the child in the invitations since an adopted baby shower may not always involve a “traditional” infant. It may be thoughtful to include the child’s birth date or name as well. Depending on the adoptive mother you may want to be choosy with the announcements, avoid any invitations that mention labor or pregnancy. If a couple is infertile these may be sensitive issues.
  • Choose a Theme – themes for adoption baby showers can be the same as any other baby shower. If you’re adopting internationally you can even choose a cultural baby theme to accompany the new family member. You can also discuss themes or colors with the adoptive mother, perhaps there have already been colors chosen for a nursery or if the child is older, perhaps they know the favorite color.

    Alternatively if the adoption is of an older child you can always opt for a “Welcome Home” or “Welcome to the Family” part instead of a traditional shower.  If you need more ideas for a baby shower, you can visit our friends at Just Baked Baby Shower Ideas.

  • Games – games can be a fun and exciting part of any baby shower.
  • Snacks & Food – snacks and food should be age appropriate if the child is eating solid food, these snack can also follow the overall theme of the shower itself, if you’re celebrating an international adoption you may want to introduce some food from the culture you’ve adopted from.
  • Gifts – remember, baby showers are as much for the parents as they are for the new family member. Gifts tailored to the parents can go a long way in showing your support for their adoption. Gifts should also be age appropriate and depending on the child, whether he/she is a baby or infant those supplies will vary as well.

Ultimately the addition of a child is a wonderful event no matter by birth or adoption, it is a meaningful time for both the child and parents and should be recognized as a celebration. A baby shower is the perfect way to show your support as well as welcome the new family member!

How To Adopt A Child In The United States

In the United States there are several steps you must take before you can finally bring a child into your home to become a part of your family. The decision to adopt is a highly personal one and one that also carries many complex emotions with it.

For those considering adoption you must fully understand the process and what it means to both your family and the potential child who will be involved.

  • Decide on the type of adoption – as a family you have to decide the specifics of your adoption including the child you are looking for. Details such as age (infant, toddler, etc), sex and race will all be factors when you adopt.
  • Private or adoption agency – agencies will try to find a child that matches your request as well as one that will be a good fit for your household. Private adoptions mean the prospective adopters will locate a birth mother themselves.
  • Closed or open adoption – a closed adoption is one where the records of the birth parents are often confidential and sometimes even sealed, an open adoption allows for contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents.

Once you have thought over the process and the details you’ll want to start researching adoption agencies and professionals. You’ll also want to look into the fees and costs associated with each agency as well as professional adoption services. Across the U.S. there are many locally based and even national agencies or adoption professionals who will help facilitate the process.   Consulting a lawyer who specializes in adoption is also recommended.

A key component to adoption is the home study element. In every type of adoption home study is required. The concept of home study is that it is an in-depth look at your daily life, home study is there to make sure you are capable of being a fit parent to the potential child you adopt. During this process a social worker will perform background checks. Background checks will be at both the state and federal level, the social worker will also examine your medical history and financial statements. Consider it to be an interview process for your child.

Some agencies will ask you to put together a profile of you as a family, these may include pictures or videos. These profiles are designed to show prospective birth mothers what your family is like and how your family will welcome her child into the home. They are designed to make it easy for her to picture what life would be like for the child, should the adoption go through.

Once this is completed you will then be in the “waiting period”, this means that you are actively looking for the right fit, the right opportunity of birth mother or child who meets your adoption criteria. Sometimes this process can be difficult due to the uncertainty, you will need to understand that it is not the same for everyone and that sometimes it may take a while to find the right child that fits your family. Agencies suggest to maintain a “life as usual” approach when in the waiting period. Do what you would normally do, try not to hyper focus on the process but rather when the call happens, it happens.

Once the criteria is met, you’ve found a birth mother or a child then the process can be formally finalized. During this time all the legalities are tied up and the adoption is then legal, the child is now officially part of your family!

13 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Adoption

Thinking about adopting? You’ll find no shortage of articles about the ins and outs of the process online but the things you may not know will surprise you. Check out these 13 amazing facts about adoption!

  1. There are over 400,000 children in the U.S. system alone, this number includes foster care and over 100,000 of these are waiting for adoption. This means that out of all the children currently living in the U.S., 2% of them are adopted.
  2. Females who chose to adopt tend to be older, in fact over half of all mothers who adopt are over the age of 40. This number is comparative to those females who have not had children.
  3. Male children outnumber females in the foster care and adoption systems and a higher proportion of those males are African American.
  4. Famous adoptees include people such as Faith Hill, Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou and John Lennon, to name just a few!
  5. The phrase “to put up” for adoption goes back to the mid 1800’s. At that time homeless children were ferried into farm regions via train and put onto the train platforms to see if anyone would take them home.
  6. On average a child in foster care will spend five years in the system before ever being adopted.
  7. The time it takes to find a child for adoption depends on the factors you prefer like age and race. For example, parents who are searching for a Caucasian baby located in the U.S. may wait as long as five years to find a child through an agency. On the other side of that coin, the waiting list to adopt an African American child is weeks or months. African American males will also adopt out quicker than other demographics.
  8. It is also interesting to note that adopting a Caucasian baby will actually cost the adoptive parents more, averaging as high as $40,000 versus an African American child whose adoption fees can be between $10,000 and $12,000.
  9. Adopted children will often find themselves in families that have adopted before, sometimes with as many as three other adopted siblings.
  10. In the U.S. adoptive parents tend to prefer babies and toddlers as well as girls over boys.
  11. Americans have adopted children internationally at the highest rate with that number peaking in 2011. International adoptions occurred in countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and the Ukraine. In recent years tighter regulations on international adoption have cause the number to drop significantly.
  12. In the U.S. adopting within one’s family is one of the most common methods of adoption with nearly 100 million adoptees being taken in by their immediate family members.
  13. Lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual couples are legally allowed to adopt in every state minus one – the state of Florida. This prejudice persist even though recent studies show that same-sex couples who adopt are generally more education and have greater financial resources than the equivalent hetero-sexual couple.

How To Choose The Right Adoption Agency

When you are starting the adoption process you are probably heavily influenced by your desire to start a family or to have a child that you can call your own. Going forward with an adoption is complicated because of the associated emotions that get involved in the process. To make the right choices you have to be prepared to distance yourself a little.

Adoption can be likened to a large purchase because for one it does involve some financial investment, but there’s also an emotional investment to consider – one that impacts not only your family but any potential child you may choose to adopt.

Picking an agency is perhaps one of the most important components of the process as well. So how does one accomplish this monumental task? Break it down into smaller, more approachable steps. You’ll stay organized and also not feel as overwhelmed.

Use these points as a guideline for your search

  • Do your research – we’re lucky to live in the digital age, information on agencies, adoption and other professionals can be found via a few clicks of the mouse. Researching agencies online can help identify those close to you and help narrow down those that appeal to you.
  • Make a list of agencies that appeal to you – first impressions are important, if something speaks to you about an agency, write it down but be sure to follow up on your gut with some solid legwork into the company. Narrowing down agencies can also help focus your research, you can give more attention to the few vs. the many. And keep it in perspective, while online research can be helpful always keep in mind the nature of online reviews, people can be overwhelmingly negative in the anonymous sphere of the internet. So branch out, talk to people who have used the agency and make some phone calls.
  • The best agencies are focused on children – adoption agencies are in the business of placing children in a family that will love them, they are interesting in finding actual homes for the children in their care. Common traits among these agencies will be:
    • Pre-adoption information and education, stressing education to prospective adopters, some of these agencies will even host education sessions on their own
    • Counseling for both potential adopters and birth mothers
    • Stress the importance of a lifelong relationship between you, the adopter, and themselves, the agency
    • Stresses welfare rather than numbers of children placed
  • Talk to people who have used the agency – the internet can also assist with this process, find an online group or message board and inquire about the agencies you’re leaning towards. The agency itself may also provide references to families who they’ve worked with in the past. Talking to people who have gone through the process with the exact company you’re looking at is key.
  • Review the fees – be sure to ask the agency for their fee structure, understand what you will be charged for, when those charges will occur and when they will be due for payment. These fees will pay for the adoption agency’s services and the do not imply a guarantee that a suitable match will be found for your adoption. As with any large expenditure be wary if payment is demanding in full and ask your legal counsel to look over any documentation before you sign it.

Remember, any agency should withstand your scrutiny, if you follow your instincts and use the common-sense tips above you’ll be well on your way to selecting an agency that will work for you. Once you find the agency that meets your needs you are one step closer to building your family!