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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
One question I am always asked is, “how long will it take to adopt?” The answer is always, “it depends.”
A family’s wait time is dependent on how open they are to the seven common factors seen in adoption.
The Race of the Child The single most significant factor in how long a family has to wait for a baby is their willingness to adopt a child of a different race. While consideration of race is important for many adoptive families, having openness in adopting a minority-race child will dramatically shorten the wait time.
Over the past 20 years directing an adoption agency in North Carolina, I have observed firsthand that the number of minority newborns and children of color available for adoption outnumber Caucasian children three to one.
Specifying Gender If a family specifies that they only want a boy or a girl, the wait time may increase. While 51% of babies born are male, by specifying a gender – male or female, the adopting family automatically eliminates themselves from consideration as parents to at least 49% of the available children. Moreover, the decision to place a child for adoption is seldom predicated on the child’s gender. So, there may be periods when nearly 100% of the available babies are not a gender match.
Tolerance for Birth Mother Substance Use At a Child’s Hope, one in four women considering adoption for their baby admit to consuming alcohol and using other substances. There is a nationwide opioid abuse crisis, and drug use among pregnant women has increased proportionately. It is typical to see alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use in many of the opportunities. The openness and willingness to evaluate each situation individually will allow prospective parents to say YES to more birth mother situations.
Birth Mother Prenatal Care A woman with an unplanned pregnancy may not realize she’s expecting until after the second trimester. Several times a year, we have birth mothers who wait until they get to the hospital before they make an adoption plan. In these cases, the birth mother may not have had any prenatal care.
In addition, she may have issues that stand in the way of making all of the recommended doctor visits like transportation, childcare, or work conflicts. A Child’s Hope works hard from the time the birth mothers’ signs with the agency to ensure regular prenatal care going forward. We will even accompany her to appointments. Therefore, acceptance of a less-than-perfect prenatal history opens the door to more available babies.
A Verified Birth Father from the Outset Situations where the birth father has been identified, provided DNA and signed a parental release only account for roughly 60% of the adoption scenarios. That leaves about
40% of A Child’s Hope placements that have complicated birth father issues. In these cases, the expecting mother may state she doesn’t know who the father is, or name multiple men. Even when the correct name and contact information is provided, he may not be locatable or responsive. Every situation is different; evaluate accordingly.
Family Medical History According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness says 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness. The National Health Council reports that chronic disease affects more than 40% of Americans. Insisting on a clean bill of physical and mental health from both birth parents can greatly prolong wait time in adoption situations.
Level of Openness Generally, there are three types of adoptions available: Closed, which means that neither the adoptive parents nor the birth parents meet, see pictures or stay in touch. Closed adoptions are rare today. Semi-open is when the adoptive parents and birth patents communicate through the agency over the years. Open adoption is where adoptive parents and birth parents exchange contact information, and then set a plan for communication. At A Child’s Hope, approximately 98% of birth parents are looking for an open adoption.
How these decisions may affect wait times:
The wait may be three years or more if:
The child must be a full Caucasian girl; and
The birth mother had prenatal care throughout the pregnancy never consuming nicotine, alcohol or drugs; and
The birth father provided DNA as well as signed a parental release; and
The birth parents are in peak mental and physical condition; and
The adoption must be closed or semi-open
The wait may be less than one year if:
The adoption is open; and
The child can be an African American boy; and or
The adopting parents are flexible on prenatal care, substance usage by the birth mother, as well as the overall health of both birth parents; and or
The adopting parents are willing to work through birth father issues.
No Regrets The family you are building is YOURS and a lifelong decision. So, it is perfectly okay to be clear on your child’s race, gender, prenatal care and other considerations. So be patient. The right child for you is out there, but it requires patience. He or she may not have been conceived yet.
Breastfeeding biological children is generally believed to have huge health benefits. Breast milk builds up the baby’s immune system and creates a special bond for mother and child. Babies who are breastfed suffer only a small fraction of the colds and ear infections experienced by bottle-fed babies during the first year.
Most people don’t realize that adopted children can be breastfed, as well as breastfeeding adopted children is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians. There are medications and supplements which help women lactate and along with breast pumping several months before the child’s expected birth usually brings on lactation.
One intended mother who recently adopted her son, Maxwell, through A Child’s Hope began breastfeeding him on the day of his birth in the hospital.
Rachel Breastfeeding Max
“I had the advantage of already producing milk because I never stopped pumping after my son Ari, who is now 21 months was born,” said Rachel. “But women can plan ahead even if they are not already producing milk and with a combination of pumping and medication or herbs like Fenugreek and Goat’s Rue can help you produce breast milk.”
Rachel produced a freezer full of breast milk before a child became available for adoption so her son will not want for breast milk whether fresh or frozen. Lactation consultants are generally positive about the likelihood that a woman can produce milk for her adopted child. If milk supply is not enough, frozen milk can be used to supplement, as well as formula.
“Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing,” said Rachel. “It’s been shown that even two ounces of breast milk a day provides a tremendous boost to building a baby’s immune system.”
Any woman who is planning on adopting a newborn and would like to breastfeed should first consult with her doctor who may prescribe medications and refer her to a lactation consultant who can discuss pumping and medications and herbal supplements. To find a lactation consultant near you, visit the International Lactation Consultant Association website.
Breastfeeding an adoptive newborn will take commitment and the support of your partner, as well as a lactation consultant before and after the baby is here. But the physical benefits of breast milk and the emotional health benefits of the skin to skin contact are more than worth the effort for both mother and baby!
For more information on breastfeeding an adopted child:
One of our own adoptive parents recently shared with RaleighMomsBlog her experiences of having a family and how she has empowered her 5-yr-old daughter with the skills to be strong, proud and respond when questions and comments by the curious arise. (Original Blog Post by Cindy Stranad, November 26, 2018)
“Mommy, you’re peach, and I’m brown,” she said.
“I know honey, is that ok?” I asked.
Without hesitation and a smirk running toward the toy box, “Of course mommy, don’t ya know.”
In 2012, I adopted my daughter as an infant. I suppose you could say my biological clock didn’t strike midnight until around the age of 40. After much research and sitting on the fence, independent adoption was the right choice to build my family.
A little older than the average mom, it wasn’t uncommon for many questions to pop up from strangers as our twosome toddled around the neighborhood or headed off to the pool or grocery store. What was evident is that I adopted as a single parent by choice and my baby was a different race than myself or that of my family.
The wish I had for my daughter had nothing to do with race. It is what we all want for our kids no matter of their ethnicity or gender – “Be strong in who you are.”
Ever-present in my mind still today – is playing out a strong sense of self for her because we are confronted with it often – I am single, she is adopted, and she looks different than me.
What I did not know in the beginning and equally as important, was the notion of letting the questions come. Not only to listen intently to the question but embrace each one with a smile. (OK, the smile may be a stretch.) Not only fielding this variety of questions from strangers but from friends, family and — between us — as mother and daughter. What I did know was questions would come surrounding our reality, and I had to prepare her to answer them with confidence.
This year, my daughter started Kindergarten. A first for both of us, I had to trust the snapshots of conversations we have had about our transracial family, and our collective response to all those questions over the last five years has prepared her to stand proud, to have the answers for the moment.
Here are three things I did to prepare for the questions:
1. Start the conversation.
Don’t wait. Ask your child a leading question, don’t wait for them to ask you. They may not want you to be uncomfortable or know exactly the question to ask. It may be something like, “Look there are another mom and daughter who looks like our family. What do you think about that?” or “Does anyone ever mention that you and I have different color skin?”
Open the dialogue. Let them know it’s okay to talk about it.
Be careful not to create a defensive posture. Role-Play with your child on how a conversation may go with a friend if they ask about skin color or other personal questions. It’s like practicing a talk for training at work, a lesson plan at church or perhaps a job interview. It’s about anticipating the question, so you have an answer.
3. Plant another family tree
I was taken off-guard during preschool when she brought home the family tree. This child exercise scared me. Will she be compared to other families unfairly? I had to let go of my insecurity, and teach her to make room for different types of trees in the family backyard – birth parents, stepparents and single parents, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles from each of these family connections. Moreover, there is your village of close friends and godparents. Most of us probably have something that looks more like a sprawling vineyard than a simple tree.
I say all of this because I had to trust myself. And, I am encouraging you to trust yourself. Release the adult definitions of family and wake up to the reality of what your family looks like from your child’s perspective.
As we celebrate gratefulness during November as National Adoption Awareness Month, remember that open and honest talks across the board on adoption, race and family diversity will go a long way in building your child’s self-esteem. You may even be surprised at some of the reactions and aha moments created as we all widen our thinking about the beauty of transracial families.
Why Your Schnapps-Drinking Uncle Oscar Might Not Be the Best Choice as Guardian
By Angel Simpson, Attorney
Angel Simpson, Attorney Parker Herring Law Group, PLLC
You love him! I mean what is there not to love? He is delightfully eccentric, has never been married, wears lederhosen to family funerals and brings his own Peppermint Schnapps to holiday functions. But is he the best choice of guardian for your child/ren? No way!
Choosing a guardian and a backup guardian for your child/ren is critically important as this person will be raising your child/ren if something happens to you. Read the following blog authored by Angel Simpson, attorney with the Parker Herring Law Group, PLLC for tips on how to choose a guardian.
How to Choose Guardian
Most people assume that if something were to happen to them, their loved ones would care for their children. However, the best way to protect your child/ren is to have a plan in place in case of an emergency. Planning ahead allows you to decide who will care for your child/ren when you are no longer here or unable to care for them yourself.
Choosing a guardian for your child/ren may not be as easy as you think. So, how does a parent determine who is the right person to care for their child/ren if they are unable? The following are some important factors that all parents must consider before making this decision:
Discuss: Parents need to have a conversation about planning for the future and putting legal documents in place. Parents should at least have wills that name your guardian. If you already have estate planning documents, make sure to update them when necessary, especially when you experience major life changes (children, marriage, divorce).
Needs: Discuss your child’s needs now and through early adulthood. Start thinking about who you would want to take care of your child/ren if you were no longer here.
Religion, child rearing and family values: It is important to choose a person or couple that will raise your child/ren in an environment that is similar to the one you provide for them now.
Ability to parent and capacity to care for your child/ren for a long time: Steer away from people who have struggled with addictions and mental health issues. Although they may love your child/ren, they may not be able to provide a stable home life for them. Also, think about age and health factors – you want to choose a guardian who will most likely be around until your child/ren is at least 18 years old, but hopefully, even longer.
Financial ability to care for your child: Make sure the person you choose is financially stable. They do not have to be rich – as long as you know they are capable of managing finances, you can provide life insurance if the guardian will need financial assistance.
Familiar with your child and your family: If something happens to you, you want your child/ren to be close to other family members for support. Choosing someone who already lives close to your family will be beneficial to the child/ren, especially if they are grieving the loss of a parent. It also helps if the guardian already knows other family members.
Once you make a decision, talk to that person about your desire for them to fill the role of guardian of your child/ren. They will most likely be honored that you chose them. On the other hand, they may have issues going on in their life that you know nothing about or they may feel they do not have the ability to parent your child/ren. If not, you will need to choose someone else. Also, discuss your choice of guardian with your family so that there are no issues or disputes down the road.
Keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons that guardians fail is parents not providing funds to support their child/ren. Make sure that you set up a life insurance policy, or some other financial support, so that the guardian can adequately care for your child/ren.
So, although you want Uncle Oscar to have a permanent place in your child’s life, he should not be the one chosen to take care of your child/ren!
Angel Simpson is an attorney with Parker Herring Law Group, PLLC. Angel represents adoption clients all over the state of North Carolina and has experience guiding clients through the adoption process, both locally and when crossing state lines (interstate adoptions). She represents both birth parents and adoptive parents. In addition to handling all types of adoptions, Angel assists clients with estate planning and guardianship matters. Angel is a 2013 graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law.
Considering adoption? A Child’s Hope has been helping families wiht adoption placement in NC since 2000, and we will be there to support you through every step. The first step for any hopeful parent or an expectant mother considering adoption is to contact A Child’s Hope. Keep up to date on all the waiting families, new placements and important adoption issues by following our Facebook page.