Parenting

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.

Holiday Gifts Showcase Diversity: A Gift Guide

As Santa fills your children’s stockings and places those special gifts under the tree, consider multicultural toys and other fun creations including educational experiences. Understanding and acceptance is always in demand. For those who have children of color, consider items that best represent the child’s heritage so they can see themselves in the world around them.

With categories for everyone, here are some starters that are fun year-round.

Little Dylan, age 3, loves his new doll by Aimee Overstreet. Her shop is called Little Bitty Noggins.

The good news is that toy manufacturers have seen the need and toys are getting more diverse. Mattel recently expanded their popular Barbie doll collection to include a wider variety of skin colors and body shapes, while Lego unveiled a mini-figure in a wheelchair in their “Fun at the Park” building set, the Guardian reported.

Still, other creators are producing toys that encourage children to appreciate the range of diverse physical features that make people unique, as well as see representation that is a more balanced reflection of the world around them. Here’s a look at some of these boundary-crossing toys at Amazon.com. And, Target to the rescue for festive home décor and ornaments including Santa and Mrs. Claus!

We hope your family enjoys the holiday season, fills your home with joy, your heart with love, and your life with laughter.

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.

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.

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.

Preparing for 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. 

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

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.

Start your Adoption Journey

Seven Questions About Adopting a Child During the Coronavirus

Q. The courts are closed. Are adoptions still happening in NC?

A. Yes. Most counties in North Carolina are allowing filings at the courthouse, which means adoption files are being opened and processed. At A Child’s Hope, we filed three adoption petitions in March – having the adoptive parents sign the petitions in a sterile office environment in the presence of a notary. We then file the paperwork in designated boxes located at the courthouse to prevent attorneys and staff from going into the Clerk’s office.

Q. Are hospitals letting adoptive parents into delivery rooms?

A. In North Carolina, we see hospitals allowing only the pregnant woman and ONE support person in the labor and delivery room. Also, during the COVID crisis, North Carolina hospitals are only allowing ONE of the adoptive parents to care for the child during hospitalization That parent needs to stay with the child throughout the hospitalization – they cannot come and go from the hospital.

For example: during the COVID crisis, there was a baby who was in the NICU for ten days after delivery. The hospital allowed the adoptive mother to stay in the NICU during that time. The adoptive father was able to see pictures through messaging but did not hold the baby until after discharge.

Q. How are women with an unplanned pregnancy finding out about adoptive parents during this pandemic?

A. Birth mothers traditionally locate an adoption agency or adoptive parent profiles through the internet. Fortunately, the internet is Coronavirus safe. All of our waiting families are listed on our website for birth parents to review. See the Family Profiles page.

At A Child’s Hope, we provide three ways for birth mothers to contact us. They call the pregnancy hotline at 877-890-4673, text Pregnant to 919-971-5663, or email admin@achildshope.com. The hotline operator then communicates with the birth mother and talks her through the process.

After the initial discussion, one of our seven adoption counselors spread throughout the state works with the mother. They communicate via phone, meet virtually, as well as arrange in-person meetings in open spaces such as parks or our sanitized agency offices. We ask that masks and gloves be worn, but we can meet.

We provide the same options to match meetings with adoptive parents. They can occur virtually or in-person practicing proper social distancing and wearing PPE.

Q. Has the type of financial assistance to birth mothers changed during COVID-19?

A. Yes, we are offering more support. There are additional stressors on the birth mothers due to unemployment and other critical logistics, such as fewer Uber drivers providing transportation services.

We see more acute housing needs – shelters are often full so hotels are being used for housing. In addition, the stay-at-home order is affecting the length of support necessary after childbirth. Fortunately, North Carolina law allows up to six weeks of support after delivery.

We can be flexible in how financial support is provided. We pay landlords directly, hotels by the week, and suggest that birth mothers see if a relative will take them in for a fee. We are also able to offer gas money, instead of Uber fare, to reimburse friends or family members who provide transportation.

Q. Is there any change in when birth mothers are contacting agencies?

A. Yes, we are getting more calls from women in the early stages of pregnancy, as well as those close to delivery or at the hospital. Adoption agencies such as A Child’s Hope are well prepared to work with all timeframes.

The more notice an agency/family has, the more help we can give in terms of answering questions and making the process go smoothly. But, we will gladly work with a woman who chooses an adoption plan at any time. We can quickly respond when childbirth is imminent, matching mothers with one of the nearly two dozen waiting families ready to bring a child into their home.

Q. Is now a good time to contact an agency about becoming adoptive parents?

A: Yes. We are able to offer virtual education classes and consult with you remotely.

Families whose life is stable and are healthy can use this time to investigate and meet with agencies and plan a future course of action. It takes approximately 90 days to process a family, so they are eligible to adopt a child – conducting a home study, creating their adoption profile and website, as well as completing the education classes.

Q. Does this mean interstate and international adoptions, as well as fertility treatments and surrogacy, are still happening?

A. Not entirely. Travel restrictions internationally have all but closed down international adoptions, as well as international surrogacy. Within the US, air travel is quite limited so that out-of-state adoptions can be difficult.

Families who adopt interstate during this time are finding that driving is easier than flying, but it is also a time issue. Moreover, once you are in a hotel in another city where you can go while waiting for ICPC clearance is limited, and many restaurants are not offering food services.

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

Envia Un Texto: (919) 218-6270

Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396