Parenting

10 Great Reads to Spark the Holiday Spirit

Reading is one of the great pleasures, especially during the holidays. With kids in holiday jammies, sometimes there’s nothing better than kicking back in your favorite spot at home with a celebrated book in hand. A Child’s Hope has a few names up our sleeves of favorites our families have shared throughout the years, add these to all the traditional titles. We know that representation matters, and love that Santa comes in many different colors. Snuggle up with your favorite books this year, and soak in the holiday spirit with family and friends.

  1. A World of Cookies for Santa
  2. I got the Christmas Spirit
  3. All the Colors of Christmas
  4. Walk this World at Christmastime
  5. Lil’ Rabbits Kwanzaa
  6. Queen is Hanukkah Dosas
  7. ‘Twas Nochebuena
  8. The Night before Christmas
  9. Let’s Celebrate! Special Days Around the World
  10. A Very Noisy Christmas

About Author E. Parker Herring:
Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process, through which she adopted two of her children. She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birth mothers and families looking to adopt and answer questions about adoption. A Child’s Hope has placed nearly 400 children since 2000 and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced for 35 years in the Raleigh area. She is a member of the N.C. Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, and N.C. Collaborative Lawyers.

Surviving the Holidays When Pregnant

The holidays are full of emotions, even more so when experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Friends and family that you may not have seen in a while may have questions or well-meaning advice. Preparing yourself ahead of time can help relieve some of the stress during these encounters.

Three tips to help you survive the holidays:

  1. Role-play with your adoption counselor some of the scenarios you might encounter.
  2. Spend as much time as possible with supportive friends and family.
  3. If you are matched with a family, connect with them and talk about the beautiful life planned for your baby.

Remember you are in control. You do not need to tell anyone anything you do not want to, and you can excuse yourself from conversations if you are feeling uncomfortable. 

Great Parenting Books for Waiting Families

By E. Parker Herring

All expectant parents, including adoptive parents, must prepare for a new baby. Parenting books come in a variety of styles and formats. One author might not appeal to you, while another author’s style and layout you may find very readable.

Recommendations from my library of parenting books:

Touchpointsseries by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton M.D., revised by Dr. Joshua D. Sparrow M.D.
This is a two-book collection – “Birth to Three” and “Three to Six.” Dr. Brazelton was a Harvard medical professor and Director of the Children’s Hospital in Boston. The fully updated second edition by Dr. Sparrow includes informative sections on fathering and co-sleeping as well as general childcare.

When I started parenting 22 years ago a good friend of mine told me to pick up Dr. Brazelton’s Touchpoints. She said the large print and easily marked age sections would make it easy to find just the section I need when I become bleary-eyed from sleep deprivation. She was right. It’s still a great book for new parents and it has been updated and completely revised since its original printing in 1992.

What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff
This bestselling classic was originally published in 1962. Now in its third edition, it recently went through a line-by-line update. While there are many used versions available, I highly recommend purchasing the recent third edition.

Your Baby and Child by Dr. Penelope Leach
This childcare book has sold over two million copies and is very easy to read. Dr. Leach was educated at Cambridge and is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, as well as a founding member of the UK Branch of the World Association for Infant Mental Health. She is a strong advocate of reading to newborns, toddlers and all ages.

Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim G. Ginott
This book has been recently revised by the author’s wife, psychologist Dr. Alice Ginott. It talks about how parenting is a skill that anyone can learn. It offers advice on how to respond properly to your child including how to discipline without making threats, punishment or bribes or sarcasm; how to criticize without being demeaning; and how to acknowledge your child’s feelings.

The No-Cry Sleep Solutionseries by Elizabeth Pantley
This is a three-book collection – “The No-Cry Sleep Solution,” “The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns” and “The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers.” These are must-have books for new parents, as the one thing everyone wants for themselves and their child is sleep, beautiful, wonderful sleep.

On that note, the calming sound of a parent’s voice can often be this the best way to quite a child. Reading “Good Night Moon aloud always put my kids to sleep.

Take it easy and don’t let the reading list overwhelm you. You don’t have to read the books cover to cover before your child arrives. Nevertheless, you should start by reading the sections on newborn care while waiting to become parents. Leave the remaining chapters as your child grows.

A mother of three children, E. Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process (for which she’s adopted two children of her own). She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birth mothers and families looking to adopt. A Child’s Hope has placed nearly 450 children since 2000 and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. 
**The links shared in this article are for the convenience of the user to preview the books online. A Child’s Hope is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse any specific retailer.

Paying it Forward for Others

Twenty-one-year-old Allyson Perry is a senior at North Carolina State University where she is studying to become a social worker. Far beyond her years, she is passionate about working with kids in foster care or perhaps starting a career counseling kids and young adults who are members of the adoption triad. You see, Allyson is the first Hispanic child to be adopted through A Child’s Hope, and she certainly realizes her adoption story opens an important, relatable dialogue with families.

A last-minute call from the agency is where this story starts back on Easter weekend 2000. Her parents, Brian and Karen Perry received a call about a newborn Hispanic girl at the hospital needing a home. The couple quickly left the beach where they were spending the holiday weekend to begin their journey to become parents without much information. As the couple arrived, the birthmother was waiting at the hospital with her baby girl. At that time, there was no Spanish-speaking hospital liaison to help with communication. It was challenging during such an emotional time.


“I will never forget the look on her mother’s face when we dressed baby Allyson on the bed and left the room with her,” said Karen Perry, who is an OBGYN nurse at a major medical center. Placing a baby for adoption in 2000 for the most part meant a closed adoption. Open adoption was not common then, and information such as phone numbers and addresses were not exchanged. Thinking back, cell service and Wi-Fi were not always available in public places.

A few years later, Allyson became a big sister when her brother Clayton was adopted, also through A Child’s Hope. He is now a high school senior.

“I feel so thankful to have the parents I do,” shared Allyson, who still wonders about her birth parents. I want to be there for others who may be struggling with similar questions or with their family life in general. It’s a natural progression for me.” 

Tales of Adopting During COVID

For more than a year, the COVID pandemic has plagued our daily lives. Those working in and with the medical community have seen some of the most severe challenges, including bringing babies into the world.

Here at A Child’s Hope, we have been on the front lines working with hospitals, birth mothers and adopting families to comply with the ever-changing safety recommendations and make sure adoptions still happen in NC.

We recently asked a couple of our adopting families about their experience. Here is what they had to say:

Q:        How did the COVID restrictions change this adoption experience for you?

A:         Bryan & Camille – COVID precautions made the process feel very prescriptive or cold (for lack of a better word). While we had the opportunity to meet our birth mother over the phone using zoom, I feel that first interaction would have felt more connected if we could have met in person. Our birth mother is very quiet and keeps to herself.

Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for our birth mother, she had a health issue (food poisoning) that gave us the opportunity be of extra help and support for her, which showed our commitment. It also allowed us to have time to get to know her better, building her trust in us. If she hadn’t gotten sick, I don’t think we have the same relationship we have today. She allowed me to be her support person during her illness, but it left Bryan out of the entire experience. 

A:         Adam & Kate – Jake is the second child we’ve adopted. We found out about Jake a week after the shutdown started. The hospital had just closed to all visitors, with the only exception being the children’s wards. At that time, they were only letting in one parent per child, and it had to be the same parent each time. So, Adam stayed in a hotel down the street and drove me back and forth for the visits…which were is where I spent much of each day and night while Jake was in the NCIU. We were fortunate that Grandma was able to look after Anthony during the week-long hospital stay.

The first time Adam met Jake was when he pulled up to the curb on discharge day. There was no place to park, so Adam had to load Jake in the back quickly and drive off. We drove directly to A Child’s Hope, where Jake promptly fell asleep. So, Adam didn’t get to hold Jake until we got all the way home (another 2 hours after we finished the adoption paperwork).

Since the courts were shut down, our paperwork was filed, but it took a while to get processed. Other than that, the experience wasn’t much different from our adoption of Anthony. However, there were some significant differences in how our family functioned during those first few weeks/months/year.

 

Q:        What are you going to tell your baby about being born during COVID?

A:         Bryan & Camille – I don’t have a single clue. I don’t see us dwelling on the virus much. If anything, I see us joking about it and explaining how difficult it made life. It wouldn’t be fair to Simone to focus on what we couldn’t do or who couldn’t see her. That could make her feel like we were placing blame on her for something she couldn’t help.

Instead, I think we will talk about excitedly waiting for her arrival. Being surprised that she would come early, seeing her being born, how nervous and excited we were and how we couldn’t wait to meet her.

A:         Adam & Kate – We will tell Jake that the whole world stopped because he was born ― He was born on March 13th, the day the shutdown started. 😉 In all honesty, we are going to tell him that COVID ended up being quite a blessing for our family.

Adam and I were forced to work remotely, and 3-year-old Anthony was home from daycare for five months. This allowed me to continue working without taking parental leave. Then in October, when Jake was getting mobile and starting some therapies, I was able to take childcare leave and focus on Jake 100%. This flexibility allowed our family to be there for Jake when he needed us the most. It also gave us a lot of bonding time, growing tight as a family.

Looking for a Baby? We Found Three.

Jesse and Brittany’s Adoption Story

Jesse and Brittany started 2021 off with triplets and grandparents (Brittany’s mom and stepfather) moving in.

The young married couple has served as foster parents in Montgomery County, N.C. They watched many foster children come in and out of their home from all over the state. While they loved being fostering, they desperately wanted to be parents permanently.

“We always talked about the idea of adoption and became home study approved, licensed foster parents for up to three children. We had no idea when we began this journey what we were getting ourselves into, the connections we would make, and how our lives would forever change,” Brittany said.

After three foster placements, a total of 7 children, the house was quiet again. In Brittany’s words, “We don’t wake up for midnight bottles, the grass is mowed on time and I have time to ride my horses that I didn’t before. It freaking SUCKS.”

More than just missing the activity, noise and laughter, Jesse and Brittany missed loving and caring for young people. They understood the goal in fostering is NOT adoption; it is ALWAYS to provide a safe home for kids until they can reunify with their birth families. “But you can’t help but fall in love and secretly pray that they never ever have to go away,” Brittany added.

The couple reflected on how Jesse’s older brother and his wife made a social media post, it went viral, eventually helping them meet a birth mom who would give them the most loving and selfless gift anyone could ever give, their daughter. They decided to give it a try themselves.

They joined Facebook groups where waiting parents and expectant mothers can join to match up. The problem Brittany found was when an expectant mamma posted, within minutes, there were overwhelming responses by the hundreds from couples across the entire United States.

What stood out to her was that everyone is posting the best versions of themselves. “They all seemed so perfect and while I understand they were trying to show potential birth mom’s their suitability (like a job interview almost) to raise a child placed in their care, I imagine to a mom who is scared and stressed and unsure of herself that these perfect profiles could come across as unrelatable or even make her feel worse about her own position,” Brittany shared. “How can you compete with exotic travel and mansions and all the other things these amazing couples were offering? How can a bio mom narrow down her choices and pick just one family?”

So, Jesse and Brittany tried something different. They began making posts that gave a look into their day-to-day “crazy lives.”Brittany adds, “we wanted to show birth mammas that we don’t totally have everything figured out but that that is okay.”

They posted things like, “We’re stinky farmers most of the time, raising dairy goats, cattle and horses. We pile laundry in the corner sometimes because we are overworked and hate folding, and we clean in a hurry before the cleaning lady arrives, so she doesn’t think we are total pigs. We try to be good people and do the right thing, but we often make mistakes and less than perfect decisions. Jesse and I are trying to figure out this scary world of adulting just like everyone else. Our home is chaotic but overflowing with love and this child will always be our priority in life.”

They would also post about experiences they had as foster parents, such as, “our second placement, was THREE little girls, ages 4, 2 and 9 months (our first placement was two girls, one 10 and the other 9 months). ‘Oh, what’s one more kid’ Right? -WRONG-. We did NOT have two kids before. We had one kid and one tiny adult who could bathe and dress herself. These three were a totally different ballgame. This was Jumanji Level 2. They were fast and they were friendly to EVERYONE including strangers at the store…We needed LEASHES…But they were amazing. Three car seats to buckle in every morning, three girls to dress and do ponytails and put bows on, three dinner plates and three simultaneous snuggles watching movies together.”

The result of their self-marketing efforts was a friend of a friend of a friend putting them in contact with their birth mom, a 35-year-old woman who was expecting triplets. The babies were born prematurely, at 29 weeks, on December 17, two boys and a girl weighing 2 pounds 5 oz, 1 pound 4 oz, and 1 pound 2 oz.

Brittany had been texting back and forth with the birth mother and who finally invited Jesse and Brittany to visit her. On the way, Brittany and Jesse stopped and got the mom a pizza and a chocolate milkshake because they knew she had been craving them after luke-warm hospital food. They opened themselves up to the birth mother sharing their home life and how they felt they could give the triplets a wonderful life.

Relieved, the birth mother decided she wanted Jesse and Brittany to raise her babies. On December 28, the birth mother met with adoption counselor Kelly Dunbar of A Child’s Hope to sign documents for all three babies to be placed with Jesse and Brittany. The birth father signed the next week separately.

At the time of this blog posting, the three angels, Henry, Holly, and Hayden, are spending several weeks in the hospital until they can bottle feed and maintain their temperatures and other vitals without assistance. In addition, Brittany’s parents are moving into the guesthouse to help settle in and care for the babies.

Premature birth comes with added hospital costs as well as the risk that one or more children may have special needs. There are also the added expenses associated with traveling two-hours each way to and from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, expanding their small arsenal of baby supplies, as well as the costs of adopting and raising three babies. Jesse and Brittany were hoping for one child but had no hesitation when these three needed parents, and they are ready for the challenge.

To help with medical expenses and the added cost of adoption, Jesse and Brittany have set up a Go Fund Me Page – https://www.gofundme.com/manage/triple-blessings-holy-cow-we-adopted-3-babies.

Also, part of the agency adoption process included making sure they qualify, if they need to apply, for adoption assistance, Medicaid coverage for the triplets and up to $2,400 per child per year for therapy and other services that may be required to address special needs.

2020 a Year to Remember

With November celebrating National Adoption Month, I cannot help but think back to the changes I have witnessed in the 20 years and 399 babies placed with loving families. Our next placement will be a milestone of 400 adoptions.  Children are flourishing, several have graduated high school and are going on to college. Some are excelling in sports, others in music and art, and still others in academic pursuits.

Progress not Perfection in Adoption

The most significant change over the years has been how the stigma of adoption has diminished. While some stigma still exists, great strides have been made with adoption being more openly discussed in a positive manner within family and community settings.

As a result, more single parents and same-sex couples can adopt. It is also easier to place children of color. When the agency first started, I would spend days looking for families to adopt African American and multi-racial children. Today, Caucasian families are more willing to adopt and welcome a child of a different race. In addition, more families of color and interracial couples are interested in adopting.

Another change relates to privacy issues. In the early years, closed or semi-open adoptions were the norm. Now, almost all of our adoptions are “open” with birth parents and the adopting families staying connected after placement. Some of these go beyond information exchange or planned updates to include scheduled visits by the birth parents with the child and adoptive family.

COVID and Adoption

While this milestone year has been one of great joy and success, it has also come with some challenges. COVID has impacted us all and will continue to affect adoption into 2021. It has not stopped the need for adoption. However, the Coronavirus has changed some of the events and circumstances that lead to birth parents choosing adoption as the best life for their child. It has also changed the process of adoption.

In March 2020, hospitals began restricting access to the delivery room and the baby. For four months, we struggled to get into hospitals and obtain signatures on documents. In the early days of safety protocols, we had three adoptive fathers who did not see their newborn until the baby was discharged from the hospital into the parking lot. Today, many hospitals still restrict visitation with the birth mother and baby to only one of the adoptive parents.

We have also had to change almost every step of our adoption process, which is heavily dependent on people meeting and making a connection with one another. We have become creative using video calls, public parks, and parking lots. While we can hold some meetings in the office today, we are conscious to follow a strict routine of wiping down surfaces, limiting the number of people, providing hand sanitizer, wearing masks or rubber gloves, as well as spreading out in the conference room.

Despite the struggles of 2020, I am venturing into the new year with hope and gratitude. The world is becoming more embracing and supportive of adoption. There is greater diversity in the types of families able to adopt. Birth parents are finding comfort in the ability to stay connected with the child as they grow. And, the children are becoming remarkable human beings. 

About Author E. Parker Herring:
Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process, through which she adopted two of her children. She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birth mothers and families looking to adopt and answer questions about adoption. A Child’s Hope has placed nearly 400 children since 2000 and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced for 35 years in the Raleigh area. She is a member of the N.C. Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, and N.C. Collaborative Lawyers.

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.

Start your Adoption Journey

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