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!

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So Grateful

We had a delivery on Monday. The Birth Mom labored for 24 hours. She handled labor and delivery like she’d done it a hundred times. It was her first. She pushed for an hour and a half and delivered a beautiful baby girl. Perfect – ten fingers, ten toes. Her mom was with her, a good friend of the family and me. I’m so grateful to be able to be a part of this part of life. Grandma held her, mom held her. This I am grateful for because they didn’t think they were going to be able to do this during adoption planning. The adoptive family came in about an hour or so after delivery, they had been traveling from another state to get here. The birth mom and the adoptive mom meet for the first time in the delivery room. For this I am grateful – the birth mom didn’t think she wanted to know who they were. The birth mom invited the adoptive mom to stay overnight with her and care and feed their daughter. For this I am grateful, birth mom didn’t think she even wanted to stay on the postpartum floor let alone room in. Yesterday birth mom and baby were discharged from the hospital, birth moms mom and brothers came to the hospital, met the adoptive parents, held their niece and grand daughter and took pictures. For this I am grateful, the birth family had initially wanted a closed adoption. Yesterday was a very emotional day, birth mom and her mom both feeling the pain of separating, both feeling the pain of knowing that they were making the right decision yet wondering whether they were making the right decision. I feel so very grateful that families allow us to be part of all of this, that I get to spend time with our expectant moms and their families before delivery, that I get to be part of the beginning of life, that I get to help another family hold the baby they have been hoping and waiting for. I feel so very grateful to be a part of these bitter sweet moments. The adoptive family will be back in December and the birth family will get together with them then..for this I am grateful, a new family has been made. There are more people to love this little girl then she knows right now….for this I am grateful.

This is the Day , Let us rejoice and be glad in it…..

I woke up this morning feeling stronger and never more sure about what we do and why we do it. Things are falling into place for Sweet Beginnings and even though sometimes it feels like it is in slow motion – it’s happening. I needed to write today and it may seem like things are out of order it’s only because I have so much to say. Right now we are working with a young girl, just turned 16. She is due next week and is matched with a great family we have known for a year now. It will be a closed adoption at the expectant families request. This young girl was adopted herself through the foster care system. She is one of a group of 4 siblings who R. and her husband adopted. R is in her 70’s and her husband has recently passed. She is a powerhouse and a fierce advocate for her children. Her history is such that her siblings were going to be placed in foster care 50 plus yrs ago and she got married and fought to get them into her care so the system couldn’t take them. Each week when I take K to the doctors I have to sit an d listen to this MD who spends 5 mins a week with his patient tell me how many adoptions he has been involved in and how he usually doesn’t deliver his patients he is going to this time because of K’s age and then he goes on to tell K she has a right to change her mind at any time about her adoption plan and she may want to after she delivers because she’s certain to feel different. I usually sit and smile knowing that we are going to be out of his reach in just a minute or two. I understand that he feels he is advocating for a patient, but this man knows nothing about this girl. He knows nothing about what happened to her from birth to age 3. We had to go into the hospital yesterday to be evaluated. A resident came into see her, didn’t look at her chart, saw that she was just 16, and instead of talking with me or the nurse caring for her called in the hospital Social Worker. They both then went into talk with K without letting me know this was going to happen. I was the adult with her. She was terrified. All of these people who have never spent time with this family, have never spent time with this young girl, whose only real relationship with her should have been to handle her obstetric care, felt a need to talk with her about her adoption. To question her understanding, to make sure this is what she really wanted. WHY??? What the Social worker and Dr didn’t know before they went in and talked with this young girl by herself was that she would be traumatized by that..she was upset that I was not in the room with her, that she didn’t know where I was. She was traumatized by years spent in the system and time with Social Workers and the threat of always being taken away. Why did these three people who were not involved with her adoption planning think that they were supposed to rescue her? Rescue her from what? ME? Adoption? Why do people think that when you talk with a woman about adoption that you are trying to coerce her? Why is it so hard to think that adoption is good. Why is it only okay after a family has been traumatized? Why is it only okay after a child has been abused or neglected? Why is it okay for a judge a court of law, an attorney whose only contact with a family is the 5 mins before the hearing when they read the previous notes to have a say in what is right for this family? Why is it not okay to offer adoption as an option to a woman who is clearly struggling. To offer her a choice , to choose a family and then have an opportunity to have a relationship with that family and her child forever? Why is that coercion to offer that? Why do you ask a woman why she is “giving up her baby” when she makes a decision for her child to have an opportunity for a better life.It’s attitudes, misconceptions and peoples own values that continue to make adoption a “shamed based” option. It’s all of this that continues to place stigma on children of adoption.
We recently mailed out some brochures to crisis pregnancy centers in California. I received a message today and this is how it went” Hi this is xxx from xxx. I received some of your brochures and have some questions – Who is your Director..Do you work with gay families and are you Christian based. If you don’t call me back and let me know I will just throw away your brochures” Well She can throw away our brochures because I won’t call her back…I work with my husband, we don’t have a director because we are not a non profit. We DO work with families who are Gay/Lesbian and yes we are Christians but our organization is not. I am so saddened by all of the people who that organization will come into contact with, and all of the other crisis pregnancy centers who share the same values, and there are many. How can someone who professes and advertises to have a relationship with God, exclude and pass judgement?
We have a call scheduled with the Director of Programs of a huge Rescue Center next week. I see this as an answer to many of the prayers and favors I have been asking of God recently. We have a mission statement and fiercely believe in it, but I think that I have been intimated still and may not have been as aggressive in moments that I could have been. The two experiences I shared above I am grateful for , they were my ah ha or light bulb moments, I feel awakened and ready. I feel committed to help these woman and families who are stuck in between, to really advocate for them. I still believe that people have a right to their opinions and beliefs, but the doctor above will never take care of another woman I am working with and the Social Worker and the resident will hear about the trauma they caused K. My hope is not to make them feel badly but to understand adoption is okay. And to the Director of a Child Abuse Council that once told me” Adoption is never the Best Option” I will say to her ..Oh yes it is and here is why!………

Bipolar 101

Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can be very quick.
Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It usually starts between ages 15 – 25. The exact cause is unknown, but it occurs more often in relatives of people with bipolar disorder. Chances of offspring developing bipolar are around 5 – 14 percent and can go up to 30 percent if both parents are bipolar
Types of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar disorder type I : have had at least one manic episode and periods of major depression. In the past, bipolar disorder type I was called manic depression.
Bipolar disorder type II : have never had full mania. Instead they experience periods of high energy levels and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as mania (called hypomania). These periods alternate with episodes of depression.
Cyclothymia involves less severe mood swings. People with this form alternate between hypomania and mild depression. People with bipolar disorder type II or cyclothymia may be wrongly diagnosed as having depression.
In most people with bipolar disorder, there is no clear cause for the manic or depressive episodes. The following may trigger a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder: Life changes such as childbirth, Medications such as antidepressants or steroids, periods of sleeplessness, or recreational drug use.
Mania may last from days to months. Symptoms of mania: easily distracted, little need for sleep, poor judgment ,reckless behavior and lack of self control, binge eating, drinking, and/or drug use, poor judgment , sex with many partners (promiscuity), spending sprees, very elevated mood, excess activity (hyperactivity), increased energy, racing thoughts, talking a lot, very high self-esteem (false beliefs about self or abilities),very involved in activities, very upset (agitated or irritated)
The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder includes the following symptoms: Daily low mood or sadness, difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions, eating problems, loss of appetite and weight loss overeating and weight gain,fatigue or lack of energy, feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty,loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed, loss of self-esteem, thoughts of death and suicide, trouble getting to sleep or sleeping too much, pulling away from friends or activities that were once enjoyed.
There is a high risk of suicide with bipolar disorder. Patients may abuse alcohol or other substances, which can make the symptoms and suicide risk worse.
Diagnosing bipolar disorder: Obtaining family history, asking about recent mood swings, lab tests to rule out other medical possibilities such as thyroid problems, or drug use

Treatment: Many people with bipolar disease live “normal” productive lives. Most important is that they recognize their symptoms and continue to take medication even when feeling well. Eating well and getting enough sleep.
People with Bipolar:
The following people are thought to have suffered from bipolar disorder:

Abraham Lincoln (leader) Adam Ant (musician) Agatha Christie (writer) Axl Rose (musician) Buzz Aldrin (other) Drew Carey (actor) Carrie Fisher (actor) Edgar Poe (writer) Gordon Sumner (Sting) (musician) Hans Christian Andersen (writer) Heinz Prechter (entrepreneurs) Isaac Newton (other) Jane Pauley (other) Jean-Claude Van Damme (actor) Jim Carey (actor) Jimi Hendrix (musician) John Dally (sporting stars) Jonathan Hay (sporting stars) Kay Redfield Jamison (other, writer) Kurt Cobain (musician) Liz Taylor (actor) Ludwig Boltzmann (other) Ludwig Van Beethoven (musician) Marilyn Monroe (actor) Mark Twain (writer) Maurice Benard (actor) Mel Gibson (actor) Micheal Slater (sporting stars) Napoleon Bonaparte (leader) Ozzy Osbourne (musician) Patricia Cornwell (writer) Patrick Joseph Kennedy (leader) Patty Duke (actor) Plato (other) Ralph Waldo Emerson (writer) Rene Rivkin (entrepreneurs) Robert Sinead O’Connor (musician) Sophie Anderton (other) Stephen Fry (actor) Ted Turner (entrepreneurs) Tim Burton (writer, other) Vincent Van Gogh (other) Virginia Woolf (writer) Winston Chruchill (leader)Wolfgang Armadeus Mozart (musician)

And many more. With treatment, those affected by bipolar disease go to college and become Drs. And attorneys. Bipolar is not a life sentence. Like any other medical problem it can be treated and individuals can lead healthy life’s with the same expectations as others.

What to do While you’re Waiting

What can you do while you wait? Take some deep breaths…and be POSITIVE! The only real thing you have control of now is how you are going to spend your wait, and surprisingly it’s not much different than if you were pregnant. Once you believe that an adoption is really going to happen, that a child will be yours, you will begin to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to welcome your new child into your life.

Here are some things you, as prospective adoptive parents, can do to prepare:

1. Read.
Adoption books are important but you also need to read some good ole fashioned baby care books. Your baby is going to be going through the same developmental milestones as a child you would have delivered yourself! Also parenting and discipline books. Now is the time you and your partner will want to discuss how you might handle situations. You may be surprised to find out your not on the same page. Of course theory is one thing, experience is another..which means you may have a perception of how you might handle things now and when you get there it may be a whole different world..
2.Organize your home: I was taken by complete surprise the first week our first son was home and I looked at the clock and it was 2 pm and I looked at myself and I was still in my robe! And I worked in a nursery taking care of 6 babies at a time…if there are any projects that need to be done around the house, don’t wait. You may be anticipating some time off to care for your new baby and think that you will also have time to clear all of your closets…WRONG! A new baby will suck every moment from from day. Just giving you fair warning.
3. Take a baby care class.
Look for a class that talks directly to waiting adoptive families, that way you are not surrounded by pregnant bellies..reminding you how lucky you are not to have to go through pregnancy and labor. I know it may seem like a no brainer about how to give a baby a bath ..Everyone is going to provide their two cents to you about how to take care of your baby. It’s great to have a base of knowledge to start from. Just smile when others offer advice and think confidently that you know a little something because you have taken a class.Confidence is a direct result of having sufficient knowledge.
5. Talk with friends and family about adoption.
Now is the time to begin to educate your your circle about adoption as well as yourselves. Let people know that although you appreciate their interest, your adoption is your personal journey and the expectant mom’s history is not one for you to share. This is hard because most people are well meaning, but it is something you need to be comfortable with restating over and over..because people will ask..over and over.
5. Design and prepare your baby announcements.
You can do all of this online now. Start checking out some sites. Photo announcements are really popular right now.
6.Start looking at all of the support systems you are going to be using.
If you are going to need daycare start looking for daycare providers. My best tip for this is a clean center is a center that does not allow for play or creativity. Now I don’t mean it should be a filthy site but messy in this situation can mean great! You are going to need a pediatrician. Get input from others. When I first called our pediatrician to make an interview to check him out, he had a new girl working in the office. I explained to her that I was adopting and when our son was due. She replied “oh Dr. xxx doesn’t take adopted children” I was floored. Come to find out he is the father of 6 adopted children! We have been seeing him now for 21 years and not only our 4 ADOPTED children have seen him but all of our foster children too.

8. Organize a baby scrapbook
You can even start the book before your baby arrives with talking about your journey. Include stories about how you starting looking for him/her. Include pictures of birth family when you meet them. If you are involved in an open adoption (which I hope you are) and you have contact with the expectant mom, ask her to start a book for the baby. This could include her story, her favorites, her experience during pregnancy. If you aren’t a scrapper start a blog online, maybe two, one for your eyes only and one for your baby to view later on.
9.Baby Proof your home and start shopping:
Start putting safety latches on now so you can get use to working with them, especially with only one hand available. Also start looking at car seats and stroller. My favorites are the combo’s. Purchase a bassinet, you don’t have to have a crib yet, that way you don’t have to walk by a room set up with a crib while your waiting. Bassinets with rollers on the bottom are great, you can move them from room to room, and they travel well.
10. If you are a crafter, knitter, quilter:
Start a blanket or some hats. It’s a great way to keep your hands engaged at night in front of the TV. Many women who have had to deal with fertility medications may have put on a few pounds, this can keep from night time nibbling
11.Spend some time as a couple.
Getting to this point has been nerve wracking. I know I’ve been there. So much spontaneity has been taken from you as a couple. Also you aren’t getting to experience the intimacy of a pregnancy. So take some time to reintroduce yourselves to each other. Fall back in love. Remember why you married this person and wanted to have a family with them.

You will have a baby, just remain in your moments, be positive, don’t over analyze. Hopefully you are working with a professional you really trust. Let them do all the work.

So You Do Know That Foster Care Adoptions Are Not Free? It Just Looks That Way…..

Foster Care Adoptions $0 – $2,500
Licensed Private Agency Adoptions $5,000 – $40,000+
Independent Adoptions $8,000 – $40,000+
Facilitated/Unlicensed Adoptions $5,000 – $40,000+
Intercountry Adoptions $7,000 – $30,000

Hi I saw a post on Face Book that inspired me to write this….I have worked in Child Welfare and know about all of the children waiting. The National average now is about 10,000. And I always see those who oppose private infant adoption make comments about this number and easily ask – why are families not adopting these children..I see the term ” womb wet” used a lot lately. I also see the comments if we provided support for these families, these women they could parent , instead we talk them into adoption, we manipulate their babies out from under them. OMG! I wish those who made these comments could look beyond what their opinion was and see, actually see all of the families that are given this option, this option to parent – these are the families in your Social Welfare Systems, generation after generation. That number 10,000 exists because nobody gave them options when they were pregnant. So they did what everyone told them they should do..But couldn’t so then they spent years in “the system” with support then still couldn’t do it and now their children are older..possibly abused or neglected or simply just unable to attach to anyone because they weren’t provided safety when needed or went from foster home to foster home. NOW you want someone to adopt them? Why not back when we all know it should have happened? Why do we shame families into parenting? Then when every one is broken(including the birth family) we tell someone else who wants to be a parent that they should pick up the broken pieces? We take away the kids, no more options, no dignity.And the children? And foster care is not free..the fees are less expensive, but who do you think pays all of those social workers salaries? The county charges for those adoptions, the money is just funneled differently and the family adopting receives any where from $300.00 a month to $6000.00 depending on the needs of that child until they are 18. Where do you think that money comes from? So on avg if a family who adopts thru FC receives a subsidy of $600/month that’s what 108k? I understand that there are some professionals that may take advantage of some women, but many more don’t.. We all have a right to our opinions..but don’t spew venom unless you are ready to take action. Look around…By trying to take away the option of adoption you are no different than any other trying to oppress women. When someone says I can’t take care of this child..listen to them..really listen!

Borrowed Post

Today I’m stealing a post (actually borrowing from our other website – http://www.thinkingaboutadoption.net) from one of our birth moms.

Abortion vs. Adoption
A smart choice means the good outweighs the bad, and making a smart choice means to consider the long-term effects. So, what about abortion vs. adoption choices?
Well, once upon a time, I had just started a new job, recently moved, and was beginning to find my place within the community when I discovered I was pregnant. I had no trusting support system to call upon, and eventually confided in a co-worker. As days went by, the morning sickness increased enormously and I became too sick to show up for work. The rush of pregnancy hormones clouded my thinking and all I wanted was a quick solution and counseling. My co-worker suggested I call Planned Parenthood. Despite the reporting statistics, and the chance of never being able to conceive again, I decided to get an abortion to make it all go away so I could resume my life, happy & fun as usual. But it was not easy for me and discovering I was pregnant with twins only added major shock value. I chose the medication abortion and experienced mildly painful negative reactions. I was ready for work on Monday but the side-effects still lingered, turning into emotional pain & regret that still manages to surface every now and then today. In my case, I should have considered the statistics since the good did not outweigh the bad. This was not my smartest choice.
Once upon another time, I had just started another new job, was adjusting to a longer commute and in a love/hate relationship, when I discovered I was pregnant. Again, I wasn’t prepared and the pregnancy hormones clouded my thinking but I wanted to explore other options. I decided to do an Open-Adoption plan. The process of an adoption plan is quite an adventure and I experienced every side of it. You can choose to work openly & honestly with your Facilitator (or agency) about what you are looking for in an Adoptive family, and you just might find a perfect match. I didn’t know what I was looking for right away, but after meeting potential families and being open to different family dynamics, the perfect family seemed to appear. Yes, the physical separation is hard and very sad at times, but when I get pictures and updates I can’t help but smile and be excited for her! This joy is so uplifting and inspiring; it definitely outweighs any negative feelings. Every Adoption plan is different; just like any human, but in my case the good outweighed the bad and it turned out to be the smartest choice I ever made.