Family

Understanding Domestic Adoption

We recently spent some time talking with MyRDC & CW22 TV host Bill LuMaye on his show Community Matters about domestic adoption.

Agency Director, E. Parker Herring shares an overview of the adoption and A Child’s Hope.

Adoptive parents Brandon & Lydia, as well as Adam & Kate share their adoption experiences.

Adoption Counselor Supervisor Kelly Dunbar discusses a little about birth mothers and open adoption.

Birth mother Stephanie shares her experience in placing her child for adoption.

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Mother’s Day 2020

On Mother’s Day Adam & Kate share their story of adoption with Spectrum News reporter Anton Day.

Jacob was born during the beginning of COVID Pandemic when rules and policies were changing daily. Only one parent was allowed in the hospital to see Jacob and had to be screened multiple times. This means Adam did not get to see his new son for several days.

This is the second child Adam & Kate have adopted. Their first son, Anthony, is 2-years old.

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Family Photos Bring JOY at the Holidays?

Every year, I subject my children to what they call “those pictures.” What they are referring to is a couple of hours of dress-up photographs around Christmastime. I frame each picture and keep them in a box with my holiday decorations. Opening that box each year and placing the photos around the house is my gift to me, and it’s the best one of all!

Taking the photos is a different story. It usually requires some wrangling, especially after our family grew to include three kids!

To get the perfect holiday picture, I have tried all kinds of poses. Of course, the obligatory newborn “stuff the baby in the big stocking.” I have a great photo of my first son Mackenzie, now 21, in the stocking wearing a green velveteen jumper accompanied by a toy reindeer. To his dismay, as he grew older, I went whole-hog on him with a Victorian outfit complete with velvet hat and knickers.

When his brother Michael, now 18, came along I dragged out the stocking, but Michael wouldn’t fit — he was already nine pounds. So, I plopped him down on a wooden sled in a Santa outfit. I cherish this picture because he was teetering to sit upright, and I had to steady him.

The next year we started our “brothers” pictures. At this point, my oldest is six and starts trying to sabotage the pictures. When their sister, Mary Parker, now 16, was born I did my last group dress-up picture. After a series of epic fails in getting them all to sit still and smile, I finally managed to capture their sister looking at the boys as they taunted her. If you look closely you can see where Mackenzie has cut a chunk out of his hair with the wrapping scissors. That was the last of the group photos for many years.

As a different twist, I decided to start taking individual pics under the tree in PJs. The kids were thankful I stopped dressing them up. It wasn’t until their teens that I could get them to pose together again.

Even with all the fussing, I never realized how much this tradition meant to them until 2017. After we had opened all our gifts, my son Michael says, “you know we are really too big to fit under the tree, what if we sat in front of the fireplace?” That picture means so much to me. For more than a year I kept it on my phone as a screen saver.

I guess the joy of holiday photos come from the memories they create. While I laugh now at the years of getting these photos, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thank You Respite Care Providers Judy & Alan

In 1980, Judy and Alan started providing respite care for babies in Erie, PA. They moved to NC in 1995 and in 1999 began providing respite for A Child’s Hope. They have cared for more than 200 babies, 89 for A Child’s Hope.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Judy & Alan will retire. Judy shares, “It has been an incredible journey with lots of wonderful memories and we will miss it!”

Stories of Finding Your Birth Family

If you are an adoptee and considering searching for additional information about your birth family, it can feel daunting. Some seek medical knowledge; others want to know more about their family history. But primarily, adoptees have a genuine curiosity of who their birth mother is; appearance or personality. The internet and DNA technology has allowed for the sharing of information about birth relatives and family trees. 

Caroline’s Story

Looking for your birth family

Caroline is far left. Birth mother and adoptive mother are in the middle.

Caroline, 49, was adopted as an infant in Arizona. The mother of five children herself, she always had a curiosity about the identity of her birth mother. Last year, her husband gave her the gift of an ancestry kit for Christmas.

“The DNA kit led me to a man who turned out to be my half-brother,” Caroline explained. “The first step, it was that easy.”  From there, contact information was obtained about Caroline’s birth mother. And, she took another step. A call. “My birth mother was so excited,” she recalled. A few months later, they met in person. Since then, Caroline’s birth mother and adoptive mother have also had a chance to meet. For Caroline, meeting her birth mother gave her closure on her biological identity. “We have added to our family and it has been a blessing to everyone involved,” she said.

David’s Story

One 23andMe DNA kit led to a 65-year-old Raleigh man learning he had a son he never knew.

“I was given a DNA kit for my 60th birthday by one of my siblings,” said David. “I used the kit to research some of my genealogy and then we reached a dead end and forgot about it.”

Five years later, David received a phone call one night from a man how lived in South Carolina. The caller told him that Ancestry 23 was indicating that he was either a brother or his biological father.

I was shocked, David recalls. “He asked me if I had known his mother, and sure enough, I had dated his mother in college. She gave birth to a son after we broke up and had not told me. So, at age 65, I am a new dad.”

David and his son messaged back and forth and met for lunch. “It was enlightening to find out that I had another child, but it was so important to him.” He is a fine young man and I am proud to refer to him as my son.”

David and his son both add a cautionary note that while their genealogical searches had positive outcomes, it is best to be prepared for whatever you may find. Some birth parents are not going to want reunification, and some biological relatives may turn up unexpectedly.

Finding Your Biological Relatives

Invest in a DNA kit such as 23andMe. It can certainly help you get started. However, you really need to do a little digging first. Glean every bit of information you can from your adoptive parents and other relatives about your adoption.

  1. Ask if you were adopted through private agency or DSS.
  2. Look at your adoption documents to see if there is any information – confirming your birth date, the name of the hospital and any information about your biological parents.
  3. Find out if anyone remembers your birth parent’s first names, ages, circumstances behind the adoption.

Once you have this information the DNA kit results may provide you a list of genetic matches that may lead to your birth family. Organizing the information gathered will be useful in starting the conversation with the people you connected via the DNA kit.

Like Caroline and David, often the journey of becoming reunited with your birth family comes in the form of a gift from a loved one. If you know someone that is curious about their family, an ancestry or DNA kit may be the perfect gift this holiday season.

BACK TO SCHOOL FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN

Just starting school or returning from summer break can be difficult. For many children who are adopted this can be compounded with an awkwardness about family relationships. In some cases, the difference is obvious, such as when a child and their parents are different ethnicities or the parents are of the same gender. While taxing at times, a visual difference can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It often evokes questions or comments early when meeting people and allowing the issue to be addressed head-on.

For other students, skin tone doesn’t tell the story. For them, the awkwardness arises during school assignments. Examples may include: creating a family tree or student timeline, researching genetics, or bringing in baby and family pictures for a bulletin board. Uneasiness can also occur in student-to-student conversations about family and background.

Some parents choose not to address the issue at all, one mother stating:

Just as I don’t go to the school and point out that my children are biracial or fantastic athletes, or that their dad is a doctor, we leave it up to the kids whether to mention adoption. Our children share information about their adoption—and
other information—when it seems right to do so for them. It has worked for us.”

Many adoption experts suggest that parents talk to teachers to explain the adoption connection. They recommend using a simple explanation that includes only the information that the parents and child are comfortable sharing. The conversation starter may go like this:

“Michael was adopted by us as a newborn, and we have an open adoption with his birth mother.”

Or, keep it really simple:

“Michael is adopted and he (does or does not) know his birth family.”

Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide what is right for their child and family. For parents that choose to be proactive, bringing the topic up with teachers at the start of the school year is often best. The teacher may wish to make a discussion about different family types as part of their lesson plans.

School Resources

For teachers who are not familiar with the world of adoption, offering your own knowledge as a resource may be extremely helpful and very welcome guidance. Handouts like the one by Adoptive Families magazine help both the child and the teacher answer many common questions – Click here to download.

A discussion about positive adoption language and words can also be valuable. Consider sharing with the teacher this link to an article on the Adoptive Families website.

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/talking-about-adoption/positive-adoption-language/.

Books for the School:

Parents may also wish to donate a book or two to the classroom. Here are a few titles for consideration:

The Mulberry Bird by Braff Brodzinsky & Anne Braff

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis

If the teacher isn’t comfortable with books that speak directly to adoption, some alternatives include

On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

The Family Book by Todd Parr

It’s Ok To Be Different by Todd Parr

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

How parents communicate with teachers about adoption sets the precedent for how the teacher will likely treat the topic of adoption and address situations that arise among the students. Parents that are concerned about questions or conflicts should consider taking a proactive approach and engage with the teachers.

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

Envia Un Texto: (919) 218-6270

Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396