Parenting

What do your adopted children want from you as the adoptive parent?

Now that the adoption agency I founded here in North Carolina is 16 years old, and now that my two adopted sons are teenagers, I’ve learned a bit about what adoptees (adopted children) want over time from me as an adoptive mother. Every adoption situation is different, but there are some common threads:

Adoptees want to hear their birth story:

Birthdays and holidays like Christmas and Easter can be hard for adoptees. That is why we encourage adoptive parents in open adoptions to send photographs and update them three times a year at a minimum – the child’s birthday, and Christmas and Easter. We get the most inquiries from birthmothers who have placed their children on the child’s birthday and around the holidays.

And if you are adopted, hearing the story about the first time you as an adoptive mother saw you and held you is very important. Share these details. Share photographs from the hospital if you were lucky enough to be there and also share photographs from placement day (or “Gotcha day!” as they’re sometimes called).

Adoptees want to be reassured that you will never abandon them:

For adoptees, I think there is often the question of why didn’t she keep me? It’s especially important with adopted children that their adopted parents remind them frequently that adoption is forever. I tell my sons that “I will always be there for you” and when one of them acts out or makes a mistake, I let them know that there is nothing they can do that will stop me from loving them. It’s my mantra, and no matter how they act out, I repeat it.

Adoptees deserve to know why they were placed for adoption:

It’s important for adopted parents to share what they know about what was behind the birthparents’ decision to place them for adoption rather than raise the child. Whether she was an unwed teenager or a woman struggling with addictions, domestic violence or poverty, information about why there was an adoption helps adoptees cope with the reality that they couldn’t be raised in their birth family.

When the facts behind placement are especially dire – rape and incest, abuse by a birthparent, etc. the facts can be shared at a later time in development when the child can understand. In the meantime, if the adopted parents met the birthmother, telling the child about shared physical characteristics you observed is a link that helps an adoptee feel connected.

Adoptees need to know that they were not a mistake:

No one is a mistake. But I think for adopted children it can look and feel that way. Little do they know that many pregnancies are not planned, whether there is an adoption or not. But when you are an adoptee, it’s important to state the obvious often and without reserve – “I am so glad you were born! You have made me so happy! And I will always love you!”

When I told my son this recently, he challenged me. “But I was a mistake!” he yelled.

I hesitated and then recovered. “Not to your dad and me,” I said. “God made you just for us.”

Adoption & Parents: Will my child hate me?

There are a multitude of misconceptions about adoption that can cause worry for both prospective birth parents or adopting families. Adoptive parents might wonder if they will be able to love an adopted child as much as their biological children, and sometimes birth parents worry that their adopted child will have ill feelings toward them.

However, some are working to fight that preconceived notion. The U.S. Department of Health and Services has published the most recent statistics from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP). This is the first of its kind, an empirical study with verifiable data that can be used to fight common misunderstandings that birth parents and adoptive families have about the adoptive process. These stats show that many of the more widespread misconceptions are simply incorrect.

Here a a few general adoption misconceptions: 

“Will the adopted child enjoy as much love as a biological child?”

This is an expected feeling that both the adoptive family and birth parents share before adopting. Any fear of the adoptive family not caring for a child simply because it doesn’t have their genes are quickly gone as soon as the adoptive parents first sees their child. This is true for almost every adoption! 

Just watch how the adoptive parents interact with the adopted child: Nearly 75% of adopted children ages one to five are read to or sang to every day, compared with only half of non-adopted children who receive the same attention from their biological parents. That’s amazing!

Moreover, well over 50% of all adopted children eat dinner with their families at least 6 days per week.

It’s no surprise that adoption statistics show how much adoptive parents cherish the time they have with their children. And it shows, because they appreciate every day the opportunity to be a mom and a dad. They are the first ones at their son’s team’s practice, and they are in the front row of their daughter’s play. Their lives simply revolve around their kids. 

“My child will hate me because I placed her for adoption?”

This notion comes about from people and media that are inexperienced in adoption, or simply too caught up in Hollywood depictions of the adoption process. A family member or a friend who might not agree with a pregnant woman’s desire to place her child for adoption might try to claim that the child might hate the parent if this were to happen. And some television shows and movies have unjustly portrayed adopted kids in this way as well. 

But here are the facts: around nine out of ten adopted children ages 5 and older have good, positive feelings about their adoption. Most adopted children are raised in happy homes by loving adoptive parents, so why would an adopted child hate his birth parents, the ones who provided him with a great life and his mom and dad? Think about it.

A few more points about adoption myths:

-The best way to ensure that your child knows that you love him or her is to give the adoptive parents something – a letter or a life book – that will show your love and express how you feel. In the letter you can explain why you made the decision to place for adoption.

-In “open adoptions” you can over the years show your love and affection by staying in touch. Look up studies on how adoptive children feel and quote from it. (Adoption Institute, Adoptive Families, etc.) Follow up with communication over the years that can be passed on to your child as he grows.

-Cases where the adopted child doesn’t know why the adoption plan was made are more likely to result in anger towards the birth parents, so make sure that you provide a letter and pictures, and express how you feel.

Things on a Birth Mother’s Mind

Ask almost any pregnant woman and she’ll tell you: her mind races from anxiety to anticipation in a heartbeat. For a pregnant woman who has decided to place her child for adoption, the emotional roller coaster may have even greater ups and downs.

Deciding on Adoption Details

Birth mothers may need to decide on a family for their child. In an open adoption, the most common kind, the birth mother may meet many adoptive families, trying to decide which one will be a good fit for the baby. The birth mothers must determine what legal issues to negotiate related to the adoption, such as type and frequency of communication or visits.

Dealing with Questions About the Decision

In addition, birth mothers must face the barrage of questions such as “what are you going to name the baby” and other questions that assume the woman will raise the baby. Does she explain to everyone who asks that she has made the difficult, but loving decision to place her child for adoption? Does she say nothing or lie, just to avoid getting into a potential conversation or debate?

It’s not just strangers a birth mother may have to defend her decision to, but family and friends as well. Although adoption is a deeply personal issue, it’s not uncommon for others to offer opinions about what the birth mother should do. Most birth mothers, however, have given this option a great deal of thought and have done significant research before coming to the decision that this is in the best interest of the child. Rather than receiving criticism, birth mothers should receive support.

Keeping Themselves and Their Babies Healthy

Most birth mothers are deeply committed to keeping their babies healthy, and marvel at the baby’s growth. The mothers know they must take care of themselves and their babies—by eating well, exercising, going to regular prenatal doctor’s visits and taking pre-natal vitamins. If a birth mother needs bed rest or special care, she must figure out how to manage work, other children or commitments while keeping her unborn baby safe.

Worrying About the Baby’s Reaction Later in Life

Will the baby, once grown, understand why adoption was the best choice? Even when the birth mother is at peace with the decision, she still may wonder if the child will understand. The birth mother has no illusions: she knows it will be difficult not raising her child, but many birth parents find that staying in touch with the adoptive family makes it a little easier. In addition, with the opportunity to communicate with the child through an open adoption, a birth parent can convey the reasons for the sacrifice.

A birth mother has many things on her mind because she, like every mother, wants to ensure the best outcome for her child.

If you are considering adoption and want to learn more, or need support, please call A Child’s Hope in Raleigh, NC. Our understanding counselors can provide the information you need to make the right decision for you and your child throughout the North Carolina area. Dial our 24-hour hotline at 877-890-4673 or text “pregnant” to 919-971-4396.

Pregnancy: What to Know about The Second Trimester

Looking-out-window---blk-and-whiteThe second trimester of pregnancy often feels like the best. You may no longer get morning sickness, and you may now enjoy a hearty appetite along with a resurgence of energy. You also are starting to see visible changes in your body as the baby grows, but you don’t yet have some of the late stage discomforts.

Baby’s Development in the Second Trimester

The second trimester begins in week 13 and goes to about week 28. During this time, the baby continues phenomenal growth as the systems that are now in place continue to develop. Sweat glands develop, and eyebrows, eyelashes and fingernails start to grow. Other internal organs that have already formed continue to mature.

The skin becomes less transparent as necessary fat accumulates. The baby begins to have sleeping and waking cycles. Although the baby may have begun to move at the end of the first trimester, during the second trimester, you can begin to detect the movement. Doctors can find the baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope.

By the end of the second trimester, the baby measures a little over a foot—about 14 inches in length and weighs about 2 ¼ pounds. For comparison, the baby is about the size of a whole cauliflower.

Changes for You During the Second Trimester

Just as the baby is undergoing amazing growth during the second trimester, your body changes to support that growth.

Some of the changes you’ll notice may include larger breasts, stretch marks and finally, a baby “bump.” You may also notice skin changes, almost as if you were in puberty all over again. You may get more frequent bladder or kidney infections and leg cramps as your body adjusts to the increased work it is doing.

Toward the end of the second trimester, you may feel aches as the ligaments in your abdomen stretch to accommodate the growing belly. You may also begin to feel a temporary tightening, or mild contractions, called Braxton-Hicks, which help prepare your body for delivery. As the baby takes up more room, squeezing your stomach and lung area, you may feel indigestion and occasional breathlessness.

By the end of the second trimester, most women are wearing maternity clothes and the pregnancy is real and undeniable.

Making Use of “Honeymoon” Period

Without the frequent nausea and exhaustion of the first trimester, and yet before the tiredness and discomfort of the third trimester, the second trimester is one of the best times to plan for your baby. For women who are considering placing their child with an adoptive family, this is an important time in the information gathering and decision making process. A Child’s Hope can help. Our empathetic counselors can listen and provide the information you need to make the right decision for you and your child.

To learn more, please call our 24-hour hotline at 877-890-4673 or text “pregnant” to 919-971-4396.

The Journey to Becoming a Parent Through Adoption!

NewbornAs a child, I dreamed of becoming many things: a doctor, a ballerina, and a marine biologist, but, more than anything else in the world, I wanted to be a mom someday. However, as a teen, I realized that due to being born with heart defects, my dream of becoming a mom, at least biologically, may not be possible. At the time, I did not know anyone who was adopted, but, starting in college, I began to hear more and more about adoption and met both children and adults who were adopted. When I got married just after graduating, two family members and my best friend offered to be surrogates for my husband and me when we were ready to start a family, but by that time I knew that someday I was meant to become a mom through adoption!

My husband and I adopted our first child, Bella, seven and-a-half years ago through A Child’s Hope. Though the whole process took less than 6 months, it was not without its ups and downs. Just before we matched with Bella’s birth mother, we were matched with another birth mother whom we met but who ultimately chose to parent. It was hard to get past the pain of this revocation, but about a month later we became parents to our beautiful Bella, who does not look like us due to her Honduran heritage, but whose personality is a perfect combination of my husband’s and my own.

Two and-a-half years later, we adopted our son, Carter, again through A Child’s Hope. This time we knew we wanted a Hispanic child so that Bella could have a sibling that shared her wonderful heritage that we had learned so much about during the first few years of her life. Carter was born about 6 weeks early, less than a week after we matched with his birth mother. He had some health issues the few first years of his life but is now an always on the go, a super-ready for Kindergarten 5-year-old.

While Bella and Carter truly made my dream of becoming a mother come true, being one of four children, I felt that I had room for more children in my heart and we had more room in our house. Bella, while having a great bond with her brother, wished all the time for “a baby sister named Maia.” So when Carter turned 3, we decided to start the adoption process again, this time specifically with the goal of adopting a little girl. We decided to sign with an adoption referral service this time to find a birth mother in a different state with a shorter revocation period than NC and ended up matching with a birth mother in NV. Like her brother, Carter, Maia Jane could not wait to join our family and ended up being born at Thanksgiving instead of around Christmas when her birth mother was scheduled to have a C-section. We ended up spending about 2 weeks in NV with my mom, Bella, and Carter, the first week of which Maia was in the NICU. Since we had gotten to know everyone at A Child’s Hope so well, we had Bobby Mills finalize our adoption of Maia in NC.

Not a day goes by that I do not look at my kids and think how lucky I am to be their mother but also how it all really seems meant to be! There is no doubt that adoption is a roller coaster, and I am not a big fan of roller coasters, but, as I have been told about childbirth, once your child is in your arms, the joy you experience erases from your mind any pain you experienced.

Thank you to Lyla and her family for sharing their story with us!

Do you have a story you’d like to tell?  Email us at blog.ach@foryourlife.com.  Visit us at www.AChildsHope.com, or call our Birth Mother Hotline at 1-877-890-HOPE (4976) so one of our adoption counselors can answer your questions confidentially.

Please remember that this is a public site open to anyone; therefore, anything you post can be seen by anyone.

Adoption vs Parenting: Making The Best Choice

PregnantIt’s one of the most difficult decisions a woman with an unexpected pregnancy can face: whether to keep the baby or to place the child for adoption. Most women in this situation have already decided to carry the baby to term, and are trying to figure out what the best option is once the baby is born.

And, as much as it is a deeply emotional decision, it should also be a pragmatic one, one that considers both the short and long-term effects. Here are some important aspects to consider.

  1. Are you financially able to raise a child? Babies and children are expensive. It costs an average of $245,000 to take care of a child up to age 18, not including college tuition. Some birth parents, recognizing that they are unable to financially provide for the baby, find that adoption ultimately provides the baby with more lifelong opportunities.
  1. Do you have a realistic action plan for either decision–keeping or placing your child? If you plan to keep the baby, have you determined where you’ll live and what you’ll do for childcare? Will you have to quit school or work, or rely on someone for financial support? Do you have the support of family and friends? What changes will you need to make to your lifestyle to accommodate a baby, and are you prepared for those adjustments?If you are considering placing your child for adoption, have you looked at the different types of arrangements in your state, i.e. open, closed, to see which one you are most comfortable with? Have you talked with an adoption lawyer to find out what your options are, including how much say you have in the adoption process?
  1. Do you have any automatic emotional reactions that make one option seem impossible? Some birth parents feel the idea of “giving up” a baby makes them seem unloving. However, many adoptive parents will vouch that placing a child with a nurturing family is one of the most loving things a person can do. The stigma associated with unplanned pregnancy, adoption and single parenting is diminishing, which gives you the flexibility to make the best decision for you and the child; not based on society’s expectations.
  1. How will either decision affect you, even years from now? This is both an emotional and a pragmatic question. Logistically, keeping a baby may mean the end—or at least the delay of your education, or moving back home with your parents while you raise your child. Will you resent these sacrifices? On the other hand, what will it mean for you if your place the baby with a family—will you be satisfied with the amount of contact you have, based on your agreement? Will your child be happy with their adoptive family? Will you tell any current or future children about their adopted sibling? How will you feel if they want to meet, or don’t want to? Will the child want to meet you—or not, and how do you feel about that?

Deciding whether to raise a child yourself or choose an adoptive family is undoubtedly tough. But the right decision—the one that provides the best future for that baby…that child…that teenager…that adult—comes not only from your gut and your heart, but most importantly, from your head.

If you would like to talk with someone to explore your options, please contact A Child’s Hope. Our compassionate counselors can provide the support you need to make the best decision. Call our 24 hour hotline at 877-890-4673, or visit our website, A Child’s Hope.

Every Mother / Child Love Story is Beautiful, but Ours is My Favorite

ACH-blog-247 years ago, a wonderful woman who was not able to carry a pregnancy to term, had a newborn baby girl placed in her arms, and a love story unfolded that spanned 40 years.

People seem fascinated when they find out I’m adopted. It was always such an inconsequential thing to me. A detail. My mom was my mom, my dad was my dad, and I never gave it much thought.

ACH-blog3My parents made a point of openly discussing the fact that I was adopted from a very young age, so it was a very natural, non-dramatic thing for me. I was told that my biological mother was single, and loved me enough to want the very best for me, so she made sure I was placed in a home with two parents.

ACHblog5My parents went on to adopt a baby boy two years later, and then months after that, ironically became pregnant and gave birth to a second baby boy. So I grew up with two siblings, in a sweet little house in North Florida. My father was a machinist, and my mom kept other children at home, and sewed and baked for extra money, so that she could stay home with us. We didn’t have much money, but it was a happy childhood.

ACHblog4Years later, my mother and I had the typical turbulent relationship common in the teenaged years. But by the time I went to college, I was calling home every other day. There was just no one on earth that reveled in the minutia of my life like my mother.

Years later, when I got married, she made my wedding dress. It was a labor of love, and she told me afterward that she alternated stitches and tears.

I went on to have four girls myself, and my mother was a doting grandmother. She taught my girls to sew, and enjoyed making the same bunny cakes for them each Easter that she’d made for us growing up.

ACH-blogSeven years ago, I got the call that my mother was rushed to the hospital with a life threatening complication of diabetes. I rushed to her side, and rarely left the hospital for the three weeks that she was ill. We lost her in December that year, three weeks before Christmas. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced and I miss her every day. But I am so enormously grateful for all the years that I had with her. She was my best friend, my greatest cheerleader, and a wonderful role model to me as I mother my own children.

ACH-blog-1I often reflect on the tremendous amount of time, energy and sacrifice children require, and the fact that a woman who did not have to, spent four decades loving me with everything in her. Contrary to the idea that adopted children may feel abandoned, I felt so loved, so treasured, and so wanted. I give thanks every day for my biological mother who cared enough to want the best for me, and made the supreme sacrifice of making sure that I grew up in a loving family. She made the right decision, and I’m so grateful for her wisdom.

 

 

Adoption: How Much Does It Cost?

Overwhelmed by the costs of adoption? It may not be quite what you think…EPHbaby

Individuals and couples wishing to have a child but unable to do so naturally typically have two options: adoption or assisted reproduction (ART).  Both options are relatively comparable in cost, with the average price of a domestic adoption in the United States ranging from $20,000-$45,000 and a donor egg pregnancy via in vitro fertilization priced between $20,000-$35,000.  If, however, you require a donor embryo, the cost could be $7,500-$20,000, and gestational carrier/surrogacy can drive the cost from $50,000 to over $100,000.

Assuming, however, you are looking simply at the comparable donor egg option, one important thing to keep in mind is that adoption, unlike assisted reproduction, offers a federal tax credit and many employers offer credits as well.  For a couple with combined annual incomes of less than $180,000, the federal adoption credit could be up to $13,190.  Employer tax credits typically range from $2,000-$5,000 and are offered by companies like SAS, CISCO, IBM, the United States Department of Defense and many others.

I encourage clients to determine first how much these credits will offset their cost of adoption to determine their ‘bottom-line’ cost.

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So now that you have done your cost analysis, how do you afford your ‘bottom-line’?  Most adoptive families are middle-income and are able to work out the costs over time.  Options for financing an adoption include:

  • Borrowing against home equity, allowing a deduction while waiting for the tax credit;
  • Borrowing against a retirement or 401K plan
  • Grants and adoption assistance programs through public and private organizations;
  • Asking family members and relatives to assist with cost

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

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E. Parker Herring is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist and managing partner of Herring & Mills, PLLC, a Raleigh family law firm.  Herring is also director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency.

 

 

 

 

Do you have a story you’d like to tell?  Email us at blog.ach@foryourlife.com.  Visit us at www.AChildsHope.com, or call our Birth Mother Hotline at 1-877-890-HOPE (4976) so one of our adoption counselors can answer your questions confidentially.

Please remember that this is a public site open to anyone; therefore, anything you post can be seen by anyone.

Completing Their Forever Family Through Adoption Networking!

Ansley and her two big brothers at Easter!

Ansley and her two big brothers at Easter!

Josh and Kelly took placement of their beautiful baby girl Ansley in late January this year.  The also took the networking challenge as waiting adoptive parents.  They signed up and participated in the online courses through My Adoption Advisor, created a profile, website, Facebook page, and YouTube video!  Not to mention getting the word out to family and  friends that they were looking to adopt!

Through a  friend of a friend who knew they were looking to adopt, they connected with their birth mother. Once they established contact with their birth mom, they found it was extremely helpful that they were able to refer her to their website, where she was able to learn more about them and their family.

Since their placement, they have learned that waiting parents are indeed putting themselves out there and networking in an effort to shorten their wait time and best of all… it really works!!!  “Networking brought us to our birth parents who gave us the gift of completing our forever family!”, said Kelly.

A big thanks to Josh, Kelly and their family  for allowing us to tell the story of their adoption journey.

Do you have a story you’d like to tell?  Email us at blog.ach@foryourlife.com.  Visit us at www.AChildsHope.com, or call our Birth Mother Hotline at 1-877-890-HOPE (4976) so one of our adoption counselors can answer your questions confidentially.

Please remember that this is a public site open to anyone; therefore, anything you post can be seen by anyone.

John & Laura’s Networking Adoption Journey

John, Laura and baby Anna on the ocean shore in California!

John, Laura and baby Anna on the ocean shore in California!

John and Laura took home their newborn daughter Anna Claire from California in March. They call how they found her a miracle, but it’s really an example of how getting the word out to friends and family that you want to adopt can lead you to an adoption situation.

“We took the courses through My Adoption Advisor, had a new profile and webpage created which was posted to Facebook and we also let friends know we were looking to adopt,” said John.  “A coworker who knew we were looking to adopt located a distant relative on Facebook who had recently adopted via an agency.  In their brief conversation, she shared that she had friends at work who were looking to adopt.   That was it; that was the extent of the conversation. The very next day, the agency’s social worker happened to email the adoptive mother and said that she had two birth mother situations, and was looking for potential adoptive families.  Our friend’s relative forwarded the email to her who sent it to Laura who called and spoke with the social worker.  We shared our profile webpage with the social worker who showed it to the potential birth mother.  Within 24 hours we were matched!”

John and Laura had been waiting since January of 2010 with A Child’s Hope. They had previously worked with another agency for four years prior to signing with A Child’s Hope. “We had already waited for so long for a child, when the opportunity came along to create a new profile and to increase our advertising on a national level, we knew we had to put ourselves out there and give it a try.  So we did everything we could – Facebook, advertising, networking, etc. to get the word out – and it worked. Our daughter is everything we had prayed for”, said Laura.

John and Laura will be attending the April 17th Hopeful Parents Support Group to talk about their adoption journey.  They have also invited waiting parents to contact them at JohnandLauraadopt@gmail.com if they have any questions.

A big thanks to John, Laura and Anna  for allowing us to tell the story of their adoptive family.

Do you have a story you’d like to tell?  Email us at blog.ach@foryourlife.com.  Visit us at www.AChildsHope.com, or call our Birth Mother Hotline at 1-877-890-HOPE (4976) so one of our adoption counselors can answer your questions confidentially.

Please remember that this is a public site open to anyone; therefore, anything you post can be seen by anyone.

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

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Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396