Who Benefits From Adoption?

Such a loaded question..and honestly I would never put this out on a forum because I know I would get assaulted – most people would respond the Adoption Professional of course. I don’t know if you trust me , but I promise you my benefit is emotional not financial. One of the moms we assisted in an adoption plan is staying with us this week and we got into this discussion last night. It so depends on the group of people you are talking to and their experience with adoption. It’s a discussion that could and does go on for hours.

So from MY experience, and I have seen it from every side except for personally placing, and personally being a child of adoption, (although I was raised by a step father) here goes:

Obviously the Family adopting benefits. Without the “miracle” of adoption they may never ever realize being a family. I know Dean and I wouldn’t have ever been able to be parents of the four children we have, we would have missed out on all the memories and moments that have molded us into who we are today. We wouldn’t do the work we do if we hadn’t experienced adoption.

The birth/first mom does benefit, and I am sure that if there are any anti adoption advocates reading this – they may agree other wise but I’m okay with that..you know why? Because I work with these women everyday. And yes there are some women if they had just run into the right person when they decided on adoption (and yes when they decided on adoption – because unless you are involved in a child welfare case and have the court terminate your rights, it is a personal decision. One you have to seek out someone to assist you with, one that is not easy to do because most people in your circle of life do not understand adoption and would rather you didn’t do this) they may have been provided a list of resources they didn’t know about and then may decide yes they could choose parenting. But the women we have worked with have all been able to say that even though its hard, even though they cry, even though they wish..they know they have made the right choice. And for those who feel that children are taken from the poor, I can’t deny that happens..but I also have provided services to 4th generation families that continue to support their families only on the resources they receive from the county and the communities…a cycle that never gets broken. Resources do exist you have to work to find them and honestly what is wrong with that? And lastly..I challenge any of you who feel adoption is wrong to work a year in Child Welfare. Because a woman can have a baby does not make her a good person, does not make her a capable person, does not make her sane, does not make her know how to love, does not make her a mother. We let families have chance after chance because we want to keep families together…we keep babies with their moms in treatment because it provides a better opportunity for the mom to stick to her recovery plan, we place children with relatives because of the family ties..relatives that have histories and are in the same circumstances as the parents, we leave kids in these situations for years hoping that the grown ups are going to change, do what we want them to do and when they don’t THEN we say okay its time to find this child a new family….do you know how many of these children we have in the US who will never have an opportunity to be adopted now? Sorry got a little lost on my thoughts. I’ve said this before….we have to stop – for those of us who call ourselves true Womens’ Advocates…allowing women to make choices without providing or linking shame to this choice is being an advocate, not telling them they have to be able to do this parent thing. When we start providing adoption as a choice for women instead of throwing service at them that they can never follow through on and then yanking their kids from them, when we start letting them help to choose a family in an open adoption, one that they can be part of…that’s when we can say we are TRUE advocates.

Okay – the child. I could spend the next year surfing the internet for information on this. Fortunately we do see a trend of more satisfied adults who were adopted in this generation then the last few. I believe Open Adoption is a reason for this. Obviously there are always going to be children /adults who are not happy that they were adopted. My question is always this, would they have been happy in a situation where they weren’t? I don’t know if anyone can answer this. I fully believe that most adopted children go through an identity crisis and they grieve for their biological families and many have attachment problems and the list goes on and on….I also know plenty of children who have stayed in biological homes and have a grocery list of problems as well. I know child who grew up in families with alcoholic or drug addicted parents who spend all of their insurance benefits on counseling or have been divorced themselves five times or turned out to be crappy parents because their parents were crappy. And I know lots of children who were adopted and yes are happy about it, not grateful, not fake happy because they feel they have to make their adoptive parents happy but happy themselves and successful in life.

Adoption is not always the right choice, we have women come to us who do decide to parent after talking with us, and we support that, we work with them and help them to make good choices. But for those that are asking for help, for those that continue to make bad choice after bad choice…we have to remove the stigma of adoption, we have to provide information about why it’s important to make a plan and be proud of that instead of letting the court make that choice or do a safe place drop at a hospital. Adoption can be a benefit to everyone..the family the birth/first mom and most importantly the child. But we have to work together to make that happen


Who is Doing Adoption Right?

Spend some time researching adoption on the internet and you can easily get pulled into the abyss. There are websites for any angle you want to look at. There are blogs from adoptive parents, adults who are adopted, adopt reform supporters, adoption reunion supporters, therapists and consultants who have their own theories and ideas of how everyone should feel, research supporting loss and grief, Christians who support orphan adoption and those who feel that those Christians supporting this belief are nothing but Child Traffickers, it goes on and on. Then there are all of the books written about Open Adoption – and what to do for a successful adoption.  So who is right? How are we supposed to do adoption? Should we be doing adoption? Who are we supposed to believe?

This is what I have learned as a  woman who experienced infertility and 3 unsuccessful medical attempts at pregnancy, as an RN who has been present (and delivered personally)at the birth of 100’s of babies, as an advocate and educational support of fostering and adoptive parents in Child Welfare, as a woman who has worked directly with other women who have had their children removed by the court, as a mentor to foster youth now having their own children, as an advocate for women (and fathers) in active and recovering addiction, as a facilitator working with families who want to adopt and women who come voluntarily to me to relinquish a child in an adoption plan, and as a mother of 4 through adoption who all have a different “Open Adoption” with their birth families: There is no single way to do an adoption. We have laws to abide by to avoid child trafficking, we have statues that prohibit how much we can provide in assistance to women who choose adoption to prevent baby selling. Those are important. But Open Adoption can mean many things, and until we meet the people involved in each adoption plan, there is no “right way”.

Adoption should always be Child Centered, meaning – all of the adults involved should be making a decision based on what is best for the child, baby being born. We have enough research today vs back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s even to understand that having a relationship, or knowledge of birth history provides an adopted individual with a greater ability to cope or survive. But a cookie cutter approach is not always best for everyone. There are just as many birth moms who are comfortable with the choice they made, until someone tells them they shouldn’t be. There are adopted adults who don’t suffer the day to day trauma that some anti adoption advocates would like for you to believe all adopted individuals  feel. In fact if you tell them there are not any problems they will tell you it’s because an adoptee doesn’t want to create a problem. Just as there are variations in families or individuals who have not been adopted, there are variations in those that have been.

We have many families come to us after reading books or researching on line and most of these families are clearly split into two groups. Both of these sets have a specific mind of what they are expecting or looking for. There is the family that has received no grief and loss support surrounding the years of infertility, they are hesitant to adopt but know no other way to start a family. They don’t want to do fost adopt because they can’t bear the thought of finally having a child in their home and then losing them. They also have a very long list of expectations : age of mom, ethnicity, absolutely no drug history or even cigarettes, some alcohol okay. No mental illness. They may want to meet mom but not necessary. They will always want a picture though and some knowledge of the health and development of the other children. Visits will not be included in the post adoption contact but they will provide pictures and letters. This last request made because they don’t want their child being confused about who the parents are. The other family reads about Open Adoption , attends some orientations and then decides this – they must have a relationship with their birth mom(who by the way is not a birth mom until she places for adoption). They want to meet her before they decide on a “match” to make sure they all get along, because this will be someone who is in their life as well as the child. They want to know the complete family history, when all medical appointments are and attend those visits when possible. They are the ones most open to trans racial adoption and some drug use.  They want a hospital plan drawn up and a post contact agreement in place right away. All of these things because they know it is best for the child. So which one of these adoptions is the right way? They both are…and there are many other plans that will be right too.

There is no right or wrong way to do an adoption plan IF everyone is acting morally and ethically. We are working with real people here. There are so many dynamics that influence an adoption plan that I share with families- you have to be flexible. I think it’s important to gather information, to read, to store facts. I think all of this needs to be put in what I call our “adoptive parenting toolbox” . What I think is most important though is to remain open to all potential situations. You may envision having birthdays and holidays together and meet a mom who wants to do an adoption plan with the same intentions and then in a year or two that all changes. Our lives change year after year so I ask families to remain open to ALL possibilities when considering whether they want to move forward in an adoption plan. If you have a focus or an idea of how your plan is supposed to go you shut yourself out to many other possibilities. Open Adoption is what’s best for our children, and this means many things – mostly sharing of information. There are going to be times when physical contact is not safe…do you avoid adopting a child where this might be the case? There may be a time when you meet mom during the pregnancy and then after the baby is born , she does not want to remain active in your life…does this mess up your adoption plan?

Our children all have an Open Adoption. Kyle : we meet Sarah when she was 6 months pregnant, we spent time with her, I was in the delivery room. She disappeared after Kyle was born and resurfaced when he was 16. We had a turbulent couple of years trying to develop this relationship. Kyle would not even agree to do anything but text and communicate online for a year. He is 22 now and they spent a month together in Ecuador, they send emails to each other. He has a relationship with a couple of her sisters and we have a relationship with two of is cousins and one aunt.  Our twins came to us a t 4 months old, we met their birth mom and then communicated with her for the first year. She then disappeared. When they were 17 Alex a birth sister contacted them on Facebook, we have since had her over to stay and I communicate with B. Mom. They don’t want to. The birth father knows about them, I have communicated with him but he does not want a relationship. Kaylee came to us through foster care, her family was initially involved with a reunification plan, we had an older sister with us too. She was eventually reunified after 1.5 yrs and we were chosen to adopt Kaylee. We have a relationship with an older sister and some of her younger ones. I have been in touch with B Mom but she is not in a situation right now where she wants to reach back. These are all open adoptions. I can’t force anyone to be who they are or have a relationship that they don’t want to have, and beyond the normal dysfunction of a “normal” family my kids are good with who they are. They don’t feel like they are missing out, they don’t feel special because they are adopted, they feel loved and we feel blessed.

Books are good to have as a resource, other peoples experience is good to listen to, research is important because it provides us with tools and a base from which to work from. What’s most important is that you come into adoption with the same understanding as you have of marriage or any other relationship. We grow, we change and we need to be open to many scenarios. Just because something is someway one day it may not be the next.

Why do you choose an Agency?

I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but it’s a brand new year and it is my blog so I’m allowed. I’m baffled about why someone would chose an agency that has 200-300 families waiting to adopt and commit $10,000.00 of their adoption budget. My hope is that once you have settled on a specific adoption professional you have done some homework, so why that agency? We get hundreds of emails and dozens of phone calls during the week from families that chose a National/Regional Agency and have now been waiting for a year or more without ever being considered once. Then they want us to help and sadly we can’t because they have already invested 1/3 of their adoption budget. So curious is it the thought that a larger agency has more access to networking or advertising? Is it that a larger agency has more accountability? Are you looking for a non profit status? And why is that? When you turn to adoption after infertility why is it that the thought process changes from a for profit physician to a non profit adoption agency? Where do you go first to start your learning process? Friends, books, the internet? Why do you choose International vs Domestic and Private vs Foster? And what are your expectations in the type of match you’ll accept? Why and how did you make those expectations? Do you consider all of these questions when choosing an agency/professional? Do you ask what the wait time is? Have you read that professionals shouldn’t quote waiting times? Do you ask this just to see if they will and then is that a “red flag”? Do you choose an agency/professional based on fees? What do you consider to be a fair fee? Do you think adoption professionals should receive compensation for their work/experience? Why or why not? What about expectant mother expenses? Should mom’s receive living expenses? Why or why not? Why did you choose an agency/professional that you receive a computer generated report from once a month? Does this seem more professional than being able to call, send a email or a text and get an immediate response? What is your adoption plan? I visit a lot of forums and blogs on a weekly basis. I’m always surprised at how long some couples/families wait. Adoption is not easy. It’s not easy for anyone, not the family waiting, the expectant mom and in life – the child. It’s a lifetime journey that starts at the moment you have decided to do it. And just like you needed to educate yourself about infertility..you need to educate yourself about adoption. It’s a process, not an after thought. Sweet Beginnings Adoptions is available for  consultation. If you are considering adoption and want to know exactly what it is and what it isn’t we can help. Call us.

Pro Choice, Pro Life, Pro Child, Pro Family……..What if your not on the same side of the fence?

When we first starting doing facilitation I started doing some networking and in calling some pregnancy crisis centers got a huge wake up call, cold glass of water in my face and a feeling that I just wasn’t a good person. When One of our birth moms started doing some work with us and she started making some calls – she called me crying saying she couldn’t do it anymore. Her heart ached. The first question many PCC’s will ask is are you a Christian organization, do you work with Same sex couples and are you pro life. When you work in adoption , there always seems to be “a side” . It was the most interesting phenomenon to me. And I’m not talking pro adoption or anti adoption, that in itself is enough to make anyone scream. No I’m talking about pro choice vs pro life and what’s even weirder is that no matter what choice is that you might have that those in that group still get to decide whether your worthy enough or not..REALLY!
So we are Christians, and openly admit that on our website..BUT we are not a Christian Professional Entity. We are also openly Pro Choice BUT not Pro Abortion meaning we feel each situation needs to be assessed individually and because we are not God we aren’t qualified to make the decision about whether a person should be banished and sent to live a life of leapers if they have had to make this decision. We don’t believe abortion should be a means of birth control. We don’t provide referrals for abortion. I worked as a recovery nurse in a clinic. I choose to leave because it was an uncomfortable place for me to be, but I don’t banish all those from my life who continue to work there or seek out services. I do understand everyone having a right to decide choice, what I don’t understand is why or how that persons choice gets to decide whether I am worthy or “Christian” enough or whether I qualify as a woman’s advocate. Example: We have been banished for lack of a better term by many PCC because we aren’t a Christian organization, we do not discriminate against same sex couples , and we are pro choice..weird because we are Christians, just because we don’t discriminate doesn’t mean that our whole client base is made up of same sex couples and we don’t refer clients for abortion. SO on the flip side, some women’s rights organizations have chosen not to work with us because – we openly state we are Christians on our website and we don’t refer for abortion (even though we are pro-choice. Crazy isn’t it? So because we have decided that what our role is in adoption is to find families who will love and support and forever be available to the children who are being born through the women who come to us for assistance. Because we have decided that we want to keep our parent applicants open to good qualified loving homes, because we choose to work with women from all walks of life and not place judgement on them by what has happened in their pasts or what they are walking through now – we have made ourselves “leapers” by these two very different groups of people. Both organizations who claim to be advocates for women and children. From where I sit though you only get their support if you think like them. What kind of an advocate is that..how Christian is that?

This past week was spent with us helping to find a family for a little boy who was already born. We had to do an outreach to several of the consultants we work with to find a qualified family. We presented a family from one of these agencies, expecting that they were screened and ready and because of professional courtesy we don’t charge a fee to the family or require a registration. This particular family was not chosen and when we reached out to them to ask if they would like to be included in our registration program for consideration of upcoming situations we received a response from them that they could not do that, because they were practicing Catholics and that because we were an agency that believed in Pro Choice they could not work with us. Our mouths dropped when we read this. What was going to happen if they had been chosen to adopt the baby we had presented them to and what do our choices have to do with the work that we do? Because we are pro choice does that make us unethical? Does that make our work any less important, or the women we help to find families branded? All I can say is that self selection is a wonderful process, what we don’t catch on a human eye, God provides for us.

Do You Really Want to Adopt?

Today is one of my favorite little boys first birthdays..he is the son of one of my favorite families and one of my favorite birth moms. He is cute, bright, healthy and one of the luckiest boys on earth. He has so many people that love him. He is supposed to be here and one day I’m sure will share with us why.

I met his birth mom when she was 5 months pregnant. She was in jail, had been for a month or so and would be for another month. I remember talking with her… sassy, honest and I immediately liked her. It doesn’t matter what the charges were, but I think they were drug related. D had a history of many years of drug use (addiction). She has a daughter who was being raised by another relative but she still had contact with. By the time I met D she had some sobriety under her belt and knew why she needed to do an adoption plan with this baby. I never know for sure how an adoption plan will turn out. I can only use my assessment skills and the “calling” that I feel I have been given. In the end, I am not God. But with D I always felt strongly that she would place. She said it all when she told me ” I don’t know how to love myself right now..how can I possibly care for another human being” She also did not want to risk making the same mistakes she felt she had made with her daughter. Now that she was sober, she wanted to regain some of her trust and respect. She wanted to provide this son with a family who straight out of the box could provide for him unconditionally.
D was open to all types of families, which we thought would make it easy to find for her. What the next few weeks brought though were frustration and made D feel like maybe she wasn’t supposed to follow through with an adoption plan. I think it’s important at this time to disclose the fact that D is a Caucasian woman under 40, we also knew that the father although not involved was also Caucasian. She had a history of methamphetamine use during the first few months of pregnancy but had been testing clean since month 3. Her expenses were low and the adoption costs over all were within budget for most families waiting to adopt.
We initially found a “traditional” couple, no children..who were provided with all of the information about D and her prenatal history. We provided them with our contract and the attorney who would be representing D contract. No surprises, she choose them and that weekend we received communication from them that they had taken the attorneys contract to someone else and felt there were “red flags” in it, could we take D away from that attorney and do the adoption without them? When we responded NO, that D had chosen that attorney, it would be unethical to do such a thing, they posted on a National Adoption Magazine website that the situation may be a scam, that they had matched with this mom and that we would not do anything to help them. Of note on this too is that we had not been contracted by them, we had presented them upfront with no fees involved and that to manipulate a client away from someone they have trusted to help them with one of the most important decisions in a lifetime, would be immoral, unethical and just downright deceitful..was not something we wanted to be part of. That conversation was a good indicator to me that this was not the right family for D or her baby. By the way, there are no “RED FLAGS” in this attorneys contract, and we have done many many successful adoptions with them.
The second family we were to match with D were a same sex male couple who had adopted before. We had matched them with two moms previously who decided to parent, so I can understand some hesitation on their part. Again D chose them and was ready to move forward in the adoption plan..when they decided to withdraw. Their reason….they felt it was too expensive given that she had a drug history. No comment from me….. ok some comment, babies are not priced in adoption. Adoption professional collect fees for services provided – period.
The third couple again was a same sex couple no children both female. All information was provided up front with no application fees, couple was presented and chosen, there was a phone call and then the family decided to back out..it just didn’t feel right to them.
After putting D through the disappointment of choosing three families and having each one of them back out, I turned to a family I knew had wanted to adopt. They were living in a state that I knew as a facilitator I could not work with BUT I also knew how important it was for D to find a family for her son, she had worked so hard on her sobriety and loved this little boy, I had grown to love her. I approached this family and told them about the situation. I knew this family held adoption in their hearts and would want this baby boy, regardless. We talked…I referred them to D’s attorney and they matched. We stepped away as a professional and remained only as a friend.
I watched this family learn to love each other and anticipate the arrival of a brand new life. Last year today he was born. We cried, we cried and we cried. He is beautiful..no flaws.
D has continued to be in recovery since she decided in jail she was going to reclaim her life. This is a completely Open Adoption and D and the adoptive family talk regularly and share pictures on facebook.
Three families backed out on this adoption plan…I know that one year later two of them still have not adopted. We see this daily, people passing on situations because of one thing or another. So I question, are you adopting because you want a family? Because you want to raise children?
Adoption is not about shopping for the best situation, there is no best situation..even those of you who are waiting for the college student who just wants to get on with her life. Because adoption is always a risk, we never know if the placement is going to be successful. We never know if mom is going to go to her appointments, if she will follow through with drug testing, if she is telling us the truth about anything or everything. Adoption is a risk, just like IVF is a risk. You don’t get back the medical fees if it doesn’t work. Adoption is not the same as surrogacy, we can’t make a mom do something, her pregnancy is not for you..adoption is about being gifted a child for whom you get to love and take responsibility for raising, for guiding through life..
Happy Birthday J..we are so grateful you found YOUR family and we are so grateful that we were allowed to be part of it!

I Don’t Think I Could Handle It

When I was working in foster care the statement “I don’t think we could handle it” was on the most popular things a family could say about foster care list. Whether its right or wrong…and I think people do need to look at their limitations and abilities…if one is taking on the responsibility of being an adoptive parent you need to know ahead of time, it is going to be about what your child needs. Unfortunately that is one of the comments that stigmatizes the adoptive parent community – in the eyes of the rest of the triad. Adoption should be child centered. If an open adoption is something a parent thinks they can’t handle then adoption may be the wrong choice for them…or maybe they need to set themselves up in a situation where it isn’t an anticipation where open would be a choice. Adoption is an opportunity for those of (us) who may not be able to have children biologically to parent..but what we need to remember it’s primary responsibility is so that a child can have a family. So many come to adoption with a list of expectations..somewhere along the line the process has gotten muted..almost retail.

I think it’s important to be honest –

Why I Came Back to Private Adoption

After adopting 3 children, Dean and I decided we had enough time and room to do foster care, through the years we had several children come and go. We helped with reunification plans, we helped with adoption placements and we provided respite care for other foster parents, until we adopted number 4 and then had to hang up our foster parenting hat. Lucky me though there was a position open in foster care/adoption unit and I qualified. I spent the next 5 plus years working for the county (yet again) in Child Welfare. At first it was wonderful..i had a great supervisor that allowed me to use my experience and education , I developed support groups, taught classes through the local Junior Colleges and got to provide information at Match meetings about both the children and the waiting adoptive parents. As budgets were cut and people were moved around, the new Director became focused totally on Family Reunification..at all costs. The Foster Care Unit and Adoption Unit went from 20 Social Workers to 10. Presently there are 3 Social Workers in Foster Care and the Adoption Unit has been cleared and contracted out to a private agency. There are over 200 waiting families to adopt and the Social Workers working with the children do not know any of them. My position got moved over to Parent Partner Unit. I was the sole advocate for adoptive and foster families working under a supervisor who did not know the foster care program or the adoption program in our county. Her performance was rated on the success of her parent mentors, or how many families were reunited. It was becoming more and more difficult to provide the services I was hired to. Support for foster parents was non an option anymore and In addition to this we were transferred to our local CAPC (Child Abuse Prevention Council) for administration of our contract, When I went to the Director of this organization for support, to talk about how we could keep some focus on the children and their needs and not 100 percent on reunifying families at any cost, I was reminded by this person that “adoption is never the best option for a child” …..I knew I was in trouble. Besides personally hitting me below the belt ( a mom to 4 children through adoption) I didn’t feel like I could continue to work with an organization that didn’t look at the needs of each individual…that did assessments on each particular situation….THAT WOULD PLACE CHILDREN BACK IN A HOME WHEN THAT MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST OPTION BECAUSE THEY DID NOT WANT TO CONSIDER ADOPTION. Luckily my husband and now business partner supported me 100 percent in leaving this position and I started facilitating private adoptions on my own. So let me say..I too feel that family preservation is priority. I think that when a family comes to the attention of Child Welfare that an assessment needs to be done, services need to be provided. One of these services is offering options. Not all women want to or can parent and need to be given a guilt free alternative rather than waiting until they cannot succeed then taking away their rights in court. You then end up with a closed adoption and a woman who 6 out of 10 times will get pregnant again to replace the loss the county provided. I think that if a child cannot live with the biological parent then family needs to be considered. BUT if you have a family that is generational to the system…what advantage is this?

A little homework for you: Call your County CFS dept today and ask how many children are currently in their foster care system. How many of these children have been there for 3 or more years? How many children are in their ILSP (Independant Living Skills Program) program? How many of these girls are pregnant? And why aren’t we offering information about Private adoption?