Changes to 2018 Federal Tax Laws Are Impacting Adoptions Together & Other Non-Profits

The Issue

The fundamental reasons you donate to Adoptions Together have not changed. The need for your generosity has never been greater for us, and for the many 501(c)3 organizations you choose to support. But recent changes to tax laws have the potential to make a profound impact on both of us. Under previous federal tax guidelines, the charitable deduction was made available to roughly 35% of filers who itemize their tax returns. By doubling the standard deduction, the new tax law is estimated to reduce the number of itemized returns to between 5-10%. We know tax benefits are not the primary reason you choose to donate, but let’s be honest- it’s both a factor and an incentive.

Potential Outcomes

Estimates are that 60-75% of all non-profit donors are individuals- not corporations. As these donors file their 2018 tax returns, they may learn that itemizing will not be beneficial due to the higher standard deduction. The Tax Policy Center estimates this law change may reduce charitable giving in 2019 by up to $20 billion. A study by George Washington University also estimates this law change may result in the loss of at least 220,000 non-profit sector jobs.

Solutions

There are ways to give to and support Adoptions Together that will still be tax beneficial to you. Strategies exist that will allow your continued generosity to remain a tax write off. We are planning a short series of sessions with CPAs, Attorneys and Financial Advisors to help our donors learn about and become more comfortable with various donation options for both short-term and legacy giving.

Next Steps

Please sign up and we will inform you of upcoming lunch and learns or open houses to discover how you can still derive tax benefits from your contributions even if you no longer itemize. A few of the topics we will cover include:

  • Appreciated Securities
  • Bunching of gifting
  • Mandatory Required Distributions
  • Trusts and Charitable Trusts
  • CommunityFoundations- Donor Advised Funds

Adoptions Together appreciates the generosity and support you have given us over the years. We hope we can support you by making it easier for you to continuing to support organizations like ours as tax laws evolve. Thank you for being part of our family, and for making us part of yours.


Adoption and the Teen Years: Understanding Adoption and Adolescence

The teen years are defined by growth- your child is forming an identity that is separate from yours and building skills that will help guide them through the joys and challenges that lie ahead. As a parent, your job is changing, too. You may find yourself coaching from the sidelines more frequently, or even struggling with your new role. As the parent of an adopted teen, some of the complexities can feel harder to address. We are here to help you navigate the unique joys, experiences and issues faces by many adoptive families during the teen years so that you are prepared to navigate them head on.

Adoption and Teenage Development

You’ve probably noticed some of the developmental changes in your adopted teenager. Things like hormonal changes, physical changes and emotional shifts that occur during the teenage years can impact how our teens relate to one another and to us. We know that many of these changes are developmentally normal for all children, regardless of their background. Brain development during the teen years also undergoes a unique shift that regulates behavior. For example, chemical changes in the pre-frontal cortex of teenage brains can encourage youth to seek out risky behaviors without considering consequences.

These changes are not unique to adoptees. However; their early experiences and family structure is. How can we be mindful of our backgrounds during this time? Let’s start by considering our child’s early experiences and how they can impact physical, emotional and brain developmental during this stage. Did your adopted teen experience trauma as an infant or child? Being mindful of how traumatic experiences can impact emotional experience as a teenager and young adult can have a positive impact on your relationship today. Helping your adopted teen to understand that you are present, caring and supportive when they are expressing fear, anxiety or other difficult emotions is a useful way to remain connected to your child. It is also important to consider whether your child’s medical history may impact their development so that you can best assist them throughout adolescence. Teens with a history of prenatal alcohol and drug exposure may have different needs from family members, teachers and therapeutic support teams.

Adoption and the Teen Identity

During adolescence, your teenager is learning more about their own identity, what it means to them, and how they can use their identity to help guide them through the world. For adopted teens, their unique background is a crucial part of this identity formation. Teens begin to grapple with questions like “Who am I?”, “Where do I come from?”, “What do I want to become?” and they must learn how they are connected to, and different from their parents, siblings and communities as a whole.

You might notice that your teen is beginning to connect more with friends than with you. You might also notice your teen is focusing more on things like his or her appearance or identifying with a particular music group during this time. These normal developmental processes are part of your teen’s expanding identity. For adopted teens, learning about identity can be more challenging because they have a more complex story. They may begin to ask more questions about their birth family, or their questions may be more complex. They may have an increased understanding of the complex concepts that touch some adoption stories, such as poverty or addiction, leading to more nuanced questions about their birth parents’ experience. Even if your teen has met members of their birth family, they may have new questions about their birth relatives that help them to understand their identity. Some teens may express interest in spending more time with birth relatives than they did during childhood- remember that this is a normal part of adolescence and supporting your teen during this time is an open demonstration of love and commitment to your family.
As adoptive parents, it can be difficult to navigate adolescence as your teen begins to form this kind of independent identity. Remember that it is normal to feel sadness, anxiety and even anger when your child wants to learn more about their birth family or expresses a desire to spend more time with biological relatives. Processing these emotions fully and safely with the right kind of support is important so that you can continue supporting your adopted teen. In the same way you successfully parented your adopted child, successfully parenting your adopted teen comes with new challenges you can prepare for. Building a community of support for your family is a good way to ensure you have help when you need it. Reaching out for additional support through adoption competent therapists is another way to bolster your support system.

Talking with Your Teen About Adoption

If you’re still reading this, you probably know adoption needs to be a safe subject. Adopted teens think about their birth parents and adoption more than most parents realize. Finding ways to reassure your child that they can broach the subject of adoption with you is more important now than ever. We know that children whose parents talk about adoption from the very start have an easier time talking about adoption throughout their lives. If you think your teen has adoption on their mind, don’t wait for them to bring it up- raise the topic with them so they know you’re thinking about it, too. One way to introduce the topic is to share you’re thinking about their adoption or their birth parents’, and inviting your teen to add what they may be thinking about. Showing your child that talking about adoption is okay can help them understand that talking about their birth family and asking questions won’t hurt your feelings or offend you.

Some adoptive parents struggle with what kind of information they should share with their adopted teen now that their child is older. Parts of their child’s adoption story that may be difficult or painful might seem tempting to conceal during your child’s teen years, especially if your adopted teen is dealing with other challenges. For example, if your child’s birth parent has a criminal history or dealt with substance abuse, it may be tempting to keep that part of the adoption story hidden. Consider that this may be the right time to share your child’s story so that he or she is able to understand their own identity fully, without imagining another version of the truth (that may be worse). This conversation can be intimidating for parents, and seeking the support of a professional adoption counselor can help you navigate discussing the complexities of your child’s adoption story so that it can be a positive, affirming part of your relationship.

Maintaining, Building and Growing Relationships with Birth Family Members

The teen years may not be the first time your child has expressed interest in their birth family. Or perhaps your child has never met his or her birth parents. But we all have a deep desire to understand our roots. Many adopted teens feel a need to connect or reconnect with their birth family during adolescence. It is important to be prepared to navigate this contact thoughtfully.

If your child’s adoption is open and you’ve maintained contact with birth family members, that’s great! Continue the conversation within the framework of your open adoption relationship so that your child knows they have support to continue building healthy relationships. Be mindful that your maturing child may have new questions that you can help them explore before reaching out to their birth family.

An important reminder if your child has an open relationship with birth relatives during their teen years: be familiar with social media use. It has become increasingly common for adoptees to connect with birth family members through social media. When teens know the names and locations of birth relatives, connecting with them online is relatively simple. Continuing open, safe discussions about supporting your child’s ongoing connection with their birth family is one way to avoid surprise contact with birth relatives that can cause confusion for your child.

If your child has never met their birth family, they may express a desire to do so during adolescence. This process is often referred to as “Search and Reunion”. One important thing to remember is that the “search” does not always go together with the “reunion”. If your adopted teen expresses a desire to learn more about their birth family for the first time, it’s important to listen to what they’d like to discover. Do they want to know the name of their birth parents? Find out where they were born? Discover more about their family tree? Or would they like to contact their birth family? Connecting with an adoption professional to begin the Search and Reunion process can be helpful in supporting your teen through this stage.

Giving Your Adopted Teen the Tools

Your role as a parent is to provide your child with the skills and tools they need to succeed. As an adoptive parent, providing your child with unique skills to face the world as an adoptee is equally important. During the teen years, it’s important for your child to feel secure as an adoptee. You can help your child feel more secure and confident in many ways. Prepare them to discuss adoption openly when it comes up in conversation. Help them to anticipate questions about your family, their background and to help their friends discuss adoption in ways that make them comfortable. Reassure your teen that they don’t have to share personal details, and that they are in charge of what information they would like to discuss about their adoption story. Teaching your teen that setting boundaries in discussions about adoptions is okay is a good way to show them they have autonomy. Finally, avoid using your child as an “example” for adoption in social interactions so that he or she understands adoption is a part of their story, not the defining characteristic. Reassure your child that it is okay to say “I don’t know” or “that’s not something I share about” if someone asks a question about adoption, and always ask before sharing part of their story with others.

Want to Continue the Conversation? Join Us!

Are you a teen adoptee? Parenting an adopted teen? Working with teen adoptees and their families? Join us for “Adoption and the Teen Years: A Conference for Teens, Parents and Professionals” on April 27th at the McLean School to help build your toolkit!


Convinced You Can’t Afford Adoption? 6 Ways to Offset Adoption Costs

How Can I Afford to Adopt a Child?

There are several ways to offset the cost of adopting a child.  Whether you adopt an infant or you adopt from public foster care, assistance is available to help families like yours afford the cost of adoption. We’ve outlined some of the ways to make adoption more affordable. Check them out!

1. Choose an Adoption Agency with Sliding Scale Fees

Adoption agency fees vary widely.  Adoption agencies with sliding scale fees charge families based on their income. Choosing an adoption agency with sliding scale fees helps ensure you’re not paying more than you can afford in total adoption placement fees.

2. Adoption Assistance Programs Through Your Employer

Does your employer offer adoption assistance? You might be surprised. Many employers offer assistance to adoptive families.  Here are some examples of adoption-friendly workplaces who are helping their employers afford the cost of adoption:

In addition to offering generous reimbursement packages that help offset the costs of adopting a child, many companies offer paid parental leave to help new adoptive families bond.  The law firm Latham & Watkins, LLP offers at least 22 weeks of paid leave to adoptive parents. Like paid maternity leave packages, parental leave packages for adoptive families are becoming more common.

Read more about the most adoption-friendly workplaces in the United States.

To find out if your employer offers adoption assistance, contact your benefits department.

3. Adoption Loans

Adoption have become a popular way to offset or cover the cost of adoption.  Despite being financially secure, some families find the upfront cost of adopting is too high.  Here is how many families are borrowing money to finance an adoption:

  • Home equity loans: Some families choose to open a home equity loan in order to finance an adoption. This option provides access to a low-interest line of credit with tax-deductible interest.
  • Personal Loans: There are many companies that offer fixed-interest loans for the purpose of adoption. Some families select this option in order to avoid payments from becoming more expensive than anticipated.
  • Credit Cards: While most financial planners advise against paying for large purchases with credit cards, some families who qualify for reimbursements through their employers choose to pay for adoption-related expenses with a credit card because they know they will be able to quickly pay off the balance.

4. The Adoption Tax Credit

The 2018 Adoption Tax Credit is $13,810 per child.  In order to be eligible for the tax credit, you must have a federal tax liability, and you have 5 years to use the full amount of the credit.  There are limitations on gross income for claiming the full amount of the Adoption Tax Credit, so it is important to discuss filing for this credit with your tax professional.

5. Crowdfunding an Adoption

More families are turning to fundraising platforms like GoFundMe to raise money to finance their adoption plans.  While this method of peer-to-peer fundraising (known as “crowdfunding”) is appealing and often generates substantial income for hopeful adoptive parents, we encourage parents to be thoughtful about this approach.

This type of fundraising can expose very personal details of a child’s life, asking donors to provide financial support based on trauma or loss the child experienced before they found a family.  While this type of adoption funding is well-intentioned, we encourage families considering crowdfunding platforms to think about how they will discuss these fundraisers with their child as they grow older.  If you decide to move forward with adoption crowdfunding to finance your adoption, we encourage you to be mindful of the information you share online about your adoption plan, your agency and the child you plan to adopt.

6. Subsidies from Local Government Agencies

If you adopt a child with special needs from foster care, you may be eligible to receive a subsidy to help offset the costs of providing long term care for your child.  The amount of your adoption subsidy will vary depending on the jurisdiction you adopt from and the needs of your child.  Adoption subsidies are intended to ensure costs of caring for special needs children are not an undue burned on adoptive families and that your adopted child is able to receive the care he or she needs.  If you decide to adopt a child from foster care, your adoption agency or social worker can help you navigate the process of receiving an adoption subsidy.

Need more information about the cost of adoption? Contact us today!


Single Parent Adoption 101

Single Parent Adoption – Can You Adopt as a Single Parent?

single parent adoption

Single parent adoption has become more popular over the past 3 decades. Within the adoption community, single parent adoption can mean several things.  In most states, single parent adoption is defined as an unmarried individual petitioning a court to be the legal parent of a child.  Single parent adoption is legal in all 50 states.  In some cases, single parent adoption is more complicated.

How can I adopt as a single parent?

Both single moms and single dads can adopt in several ways. Domestic infant adoption, or the adoption of infants born within the United States by a parent living in the United States is a common way for single parents to adopt. Single parents can also adopt from public foster care systems.  Some countries permit international adoption by single parents.  If you are considering international adoption as a single parent, it is important to work with a Hague-accredited adoption agency to help you navigate the adoption process to ensure you choose a country that permits single parent adoption.

Important considerations in single parent adoption

Like most single parents growing families, it is important to consider many things before growing your family through adoption. Having a strong network of friends and family who can provide support to you as you begin your parenting journey will help you adjust to the joys and challenges of parenting.  Financial considerations are also important to take into account. Most single parents only have one source of income. Discussing your family’s financial health prior to adoption, and ensuring that you are prepared to raise a child is a good idea.  Additionally, discussion your adoption plan with your employer will help you plan for the time you spend away from work when your new baby or child comes home.

Despite the increasing number of children raised in single-parent households today, the public perception that it takes two parents to raise a well-adjusted child can be stressful for those considering single parent adoption. Many single adoptive parents find it helpful to connect with other single parent households in order to foster a level of understanding a support surrounding their family structure.

Resources for single parent adoption

Flying Solo As a Single Parent (On-Demand Video Training)

Adopting and raising a child as a single parent has become more common and widely accepted over the last decade.  Yet, it can be a complex and challenging endeavor that requires careful thought and preparation.  Singles who are contemplating adoption often have many questions, and possibly even concerns about the process.  They may be filled with anticipation and excitement, or they may be unsure if parenting on their own is the right choice.  This seminar will cover BOTH the process of single parent adoption as well as the joys and challenges after a child is home.  Some of the issues addressed include going it alone, answering questions from nosy outsiders, helping the child make sense of his/her family, dating as a single adoptive parent, and the heightened sensitivity your adopted child has regarding loss and change.

Apply to Adopt as a Single Parent 

Complete our online adoption application and begin your single parent adoption journey!


LGBTQ Adoption 101

Adoption for LGBTQ Couples: Navigating the LGBTQ Adoption Process

LGBTQ adoption

Over the past several decades, more same LGBT couples are choosing adoption to grow their families.  The United States Census reports that between 2 and 3.7 million children under the age of 18 have an LGBTQ parent, that same-sex parents are more than 6 times as likely to become foster parents and more than 4 times more likely to pursue adoption as a path to parenthood.   So how can adoption professionals and LGBTQ families navigate the adoption process thoughtfully?

Choosing the type of adoption that’s right for your family

When it’s time to decide what kind of adoption is right for your family, LGBTQ couples have a lot to consider.  There are three main types of adoption to pursue: domestic infant adoption, international adoption, and foster care adoption. Let’s explore all three.

Domestic Infant Adoption for LGBTQ Families

In the United States, LGBTQ couples may pursue domestic infant adoptions in all 50 states.  However, some states have recently passed faith-based adoption legislation which makes adoption more challenging for LGBTQ individuals.  If you are considering a domestic infant adoption, it is important to choose an adoption agency or professional who is welcoming to LGBTQ families and understands the legal framework in your state.

International Adoption for LGBTQ Families

Once considered the most convenient type of adoption available to American families, international adoptions have become more complex in recent years.  Adoption agencies completing international adoptions are bound by the Hague Adoption Convention, which guides adoption ethics and principles. Under these conventions, agencies must respect laws and standards put into place by the countries in which children are born. For LGBTQ couples pursuing international adoption, this can present unique challenges.  LGBTQ couples and individuals interested in pursuing an international adoption should inquire with their placement agency about specific country restrictions related to LGBTQ adoption because guidelines vary greatly. Adoptions Together welcomes to opportunity to complete international home studies for LGBTQ couples and individuals if you meet inter-country eligibility requirements.

Foster Care Adoption for LGBTQ Families

Adopting from foster care has many benefits.  It is one of the most affordable ways to adopt a child, and local departments of social services make adoption through foster care readily accessible for families from all backgrounds.  LGBTQ families may adopt children from foster care as long as they pass the required home study and training.  At Adoptions Together, we work with dozens of LGBTQ couples each year who choose adoption from foster care to expand their families.

Choosing an LGBTQ-Friendly Adoption Agency

Choosing an agency with a proven track record is important for any family pursuing adoption. For LGBTQ couples who want to adopt, finding an LGBTQ-friendly adoption agency is paramount.  Since its inception, Adoptions Together has served on the advisory board of the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children, All Families project, which connects LGBTQ families with agencies seeking to provide comprehensive adoption services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adoptive families.  As a Gold Seal-recognized agency, we are well-prepared to serve all families, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender with compassionate adoption service.

To find an All Children, All Families approved agency near you, visit the HRC’s website.


Can I Give a Baby Up for Adoption if I’m Not a US Citizen?

pregnant woman

Can I Give a Baby Up for Adoption if I’m Not a US Citizen?

When a woman considers giving a child up for adoption, there are a lot of questions that might go through her mind. How does adoption work? How can I begin the adoption process? Who should I talk to about adoption for my baby?  And sometimes, women we work with have specific questions about their backgrounds and how that might impact giving up a child for adoption.  Specifically, can you give a baby up for adoption if you’re not a US citizen?

Yes! Each year, we work with women who come from all over the world. Many women who choose to place a baby for adoption are not US citizens.  Adoption is an option if you are not a US citizen. Here are some questions you might have if you’re considering adoption and you’re not a US citizen:

Will my pregnancy counselor ask me questions about my immigration status during the adoption planning process?

Your pregnancy counselor will not ask you any direct questions about your immigration status at any time during the adoption planning process.  If you decide to place your baby for adoption, she may request to see copies of your identification card or medical insurance card, but the adoption process can move forward if you don’t have an identification card or health insurance card.  Sometimes, a woman chooses to reveal her immigration status to her pregnancy counselor. Remember this: we consider a woman’s immigration status part of her confidential record. We will not report her immigration status to ICE or any other legal authority.

Will my pregnancy counselor discuss my immigration status with the hospital when I have my baby?

Your pregnancy counselor will not volunteer any information about your immigration status to the hospital.  Some hospital social workers who contact us to help women make adoption plans may inform us that they believe a woman is here without legal status, but this is not important in the adoption planning process. Additionally, hospitals and healthcare facilities do not report information to ICE.  Keep in mind that just like us, the hospital may ask for a form of identification and insurance.  This is for billing purposes, not to report to authorities.

If I am in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, is it still possible for me to have an open adoption?

Yes! If you are an undocumented immigrant, nothing prevents you from having the same type of open adoption as US citizens or documented immigrants.  We have worked with many undocumented birthparents who are able to continue maintaining open relationships with their children.  Your legal status does not impact your access to an open adoption plan.

Remember that giving a baby up for adoption is a challenging process. Working with an agency that provides you with support along the way helps to ensure you are protected legally, emotionally and in the future. Adoptions Together is here to support you in making an adoption plan, regardless of your legal status.

If you are considering giving a baby up for adoption and would like to speak with a counselor, contact us today.


How Much Does Adoption Really Cost?

How Much Does It REALLY Cost to Adopt?

 

how much does it cost to adopt an infant

 

How much does it cost to adopt? We get this question more than most, so don’t be embarrassed if you’re asking it, too. The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Today, adoptive families are as diverse as others.  So let’s talk about the bottom line: how much does it REALLY cost to adopt?

The Type of Adoption You Choose Will Determine How Much You Pay

When you decide to grow your family through adoption, you have to decide what kind of adoption is right for you.  There are several different kinds of adoption to pursue.  You can choose domestic infant adoption, which connects adoptive families with infants born in the United States.  You can pursue a foster-to-adopt program through your local Department of Social Services, which helps families interested in adopting children living in foster care.  Or, you can choose to adopt internationally.  All of these choices are different, and costs related to each will vary.

Domestic Infant Adoption

The average cost of a domestic infant adoption in 2016 was about $28,000.  The cost of domestic infant adoption will vary depending on many factors unique to your adoption and family situation, including things like whether you choose to pay for birthparent expenses, whether you elect to work with a licensed non-profit adoption agency or an adoption facilitator, and how far you need to travel during your adoption journey.  The cost of your adoption should include your home study and most of your legal fees, but this might vary as well.

Adoptions Together charges fees for domestic infant placements on a sliding scale based on your family’s income.  To learn more about the cost of adopting an infant, click here.

Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption connects children living in public foster care systems with families hoping to expand through adoption.  There are two ways to adopt from foster care: by pursuing foster-to-adopt services through a local Department of Social Services (DSS), or by working directly with a licensed agency that provides foster care adoption services. In each case, the cost will vary. For families that choose to pursue foster-to-adopt services through a local DSS, most adoption-related costs will be covered by the jurisdiction the adoptive child lives in.  This makes foster-to-adopt one of the most cost-effective means of pursuing adoption.  If a family wishes to pursue foster care adoption while working with a licensed, private agency, many costs will be underwritten by local jurisdictions, but some fees must be paid by the adoptive family.

Some families choose to pursue foster-to-adopt because of the cost benefits, however, children living in foster-to-adopt scenarios are often still working with courts to be reunified with their families of origin and the process to adopt a child through foster-to-adopt programs can be long and emotional.  Some families find that working with a private agency to pursue foster care adoption is more direct, despite the slightly increased costs.

You can learn more about the cost of foster care adoption here.

International Adoption

The cost of international adoption varies widely by country, and is the most expensive type of adoption for families. Once considered the most convenient type of adoption by timeline, international adoption has become more complex in recent years. Today, international adoptions can cost as much as $40,000.  If you are interested in pursuing an international adoption, it is important to work with an agency that is Hague Accredited and one that can connect you with a Primary Provider to serve as your representative in the country from which you hope to adopt.

To learn more about international adoption, click here.

The Adoption Tax Credit

The Adoption Tax Credit is a federal tax credit for families who adopt a child or children.  It is designed to offset adoption costs in the form of a tax credit.  The current credit is $13,810 per child adopted in 2018.  To learn more about the Adoption Tax Credit and whether you qualify, head to the IRS website.

Working with an Agency vs. Facilitator

Once you’ve done some research about the cost of adopting, it’s time to make some important decisions about who to work with.  A licensed adoption agency is legally required to provide services outlined by the state you live in, and reports to multiple bureaus to maintain accreditation.  While many adoption facilitators provide quality services to families hoping to grow through adoption, they are not bound by the same licensing guidelines.  As a licensed adoption agency, we highly recommend researching the licensed agencies in your area to make an informed decision about this major decision before you begin to grow your family.  An adoption agency should respond to your needs, make you feel safe, and provide lifelong support to you as your family expands.


Family Dinner Night Provides Food for the Body, Mind and Heart

Each month, the Permanency Family Center (PFC) hosts a family dinner night at its Washington, DC, office for families that have come to permanency through the DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA). What can you expect during family dinner night? Fun, laughter and food, to start! As the elevator doors open on the third floor, you’ll hear children’s laughter and energetic conversations as the delicious scent of pizza wafts through the air.

Staff and families will ask about your day and your family. As you enjoy your meal, families decompress while discussing their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. You’ll be overwhelmed by the sense of camaraderie, familiarity and comfort in the space.

The dinner provides a night free from meal planning and dishes, as well as valuable time for parents to talk with other parents. Kids will have the chance to play with other kids who have similar experiences.

Following dinner, parents and caregivers participate in a group discussion about their families’ experiences and challenges. While the adults are in their group discussion, children have fun in social skills groups with PFC staff.

Come to family dinner night and for a few hours, you can connect, feel rejuvenated and satisfy your physical and emotional hunger!

Adoptions Together holds monthly family dinner nights at their DC office. To register or learn more, email vrichardson@familyworkstogether.org.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Placing a Baby for Adoption and Your Hospital Stay

hospital

 

Some women spend eight months planning an adoption for their baby. Others don’t tell a soul they are pregnant. No matter what your pregnancy has been like or how long you’ve known about it, your labor and delivery experience will always be an integral part of your child’s adoption story – and you have the power to control what it will be like. Below are some decisions you may want to make before your hospital stay.

Who is going to be there with you?

Some birth mothers want to be alone before, during, and after labor and delivery, especially if very few (or no) people know about their pregnancy. On the other hand, some birth moms we’ve worked with have had many people in the room. No matter how many people want to be there, you are the person who decides what happens. If your family or friends are against your adoption decision, then it will be up to you to decide who supports you during your hospital stay. Think about what you know about your family and friends and how you can best take care of yourself if they are around and have strong feelings about the outcome of this pregnancy.

If you are the kind of person who needs to have a little bit of separation from others when you are emotional or who gets stressed out about having a lot of people tell you what to do, then you may need to put up a boundary and decide not to have any visitors. Our adoption counselors have been in a lot of hospital rooms where family members were crying and telling the birth mother what they thought she should do, and in many of these cases, the birth mother ended up changing her mind about her adoption plan and deciding to parent because multiple family members had become attached to the baby. Changing your mind is absolutely okay; our point is that you should think carefully about how you will be feeling and who you will want to have supporting you during this difficult and emotional time.

How much contact will you have with your baby afterward?

This is your decision. A lot of birth mothers decide not to see their baby after delivery because they are trying to protect their hearts; they know themselves and feel certain that if they do see their baby, it will be much more difficult to place their baby for adoption if they hold the baby. These birth mothers sometimes feel ashamed about not having any contact with their baby, and we urge them to remember that they know their own needs better than anyone else does and that they know best how to take care of themselves. We will say that the birth mothers who make the difficult choice to see and hold their baby after delivery tend to be better able to process the adoption later on. Those who do not get that time with their baby often find themselves with unanswered questions.

Many times, birth mothers who change their mind about adoption are the same ones who made the decision not to spend much or any time with their baby while in the hospital. In our experience, because these birth moms did not have the bittersweet experience of seeing, holding, feeding, and taking photos of their baby, they never had the opportunity to process the adoption plan. In these cases, a birth mother’s unanswered questions and feelings can then become so overwhelming that she ends up changing her mind about the entire plan. That said, we have also worked with plenty of women who did not see their baby after delivery and did not revoke. Only you can figure out what will work best for you.

How will you name your baby?

The baby will have to be named in the hospital, even if the adoptive family is going to legally change that name later on.  You will be asked about the name soon after delivery. If you do not want to name your baby, your adoption counselor can choose a name for you; if you do want to name him or her, you can pick a name you like, or a name that is meaningful to you, or the name of a family member. Pick whatever you want, but remember that the adoptive family may change this name later on. If you are thinking of using a name to which you are very much attached and you think you will feel hurt if it is changed, discuss this with your adoption counselor so that she can find out how the adoptive family is planning to go about naming the baby.

Find a middle ground.

This hospital stay should be tailored to your needs. You don’t have to choose between ten visitors or no visitors – you can choose exactly who you want to have with you and when. You don’t have to choose between having no contact at all with your baby or having a huge amount of contact – you can choose to spend one or two hours with your baby or to simply look at your baby through the nursery window. And most importantly, you can always change your mind. If you decided beforehand to allow visitors but end up feeling overwhelmed, you can ask them to leave.If you decided not to see your baby but then realize you want to do so after all, you have every right to ask a nurse to bring your baby in to you or to go to the nursery to visit your baby. Keep your adoption counselor in the loop about how you are feeling and what you need, and she will work with hospital staff to make sure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the experience.

If you are planning for adoption and nearing your due date, let us know in the comments section what you think of these suggestions and what your own plans are! And if you made an adoption plan in the past, we’d love to learn more about what it was like for you. Did you have visitors and/or contact with your baby after delivery? How do you feel about those decisions now? 


How to Explain Your Baby’s Adoption to Your Other Children

“Mommy, Where is the Baby?” What To Say to Your Other Children About Adoption

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There is no hiding your baby’s adoption from your other children.

Somehow, while you try to take care of yourself, process your emotions, and return to your daily life, you’ll also need to find a way to talk to your other children about their sibling’s adoption.

This may not be easy, but the good news is that you have more control than you realize over how your children respond. Kids process information based upon how it is presented to them; if you present the adoption as a good thing, then that’s how they’ll process it. Here are four important tips to keep in mind when you talk to your children about their sibling’s adoption.

1. Be honest about placing your baby for adoption.

Children always pick up on our emotions, even when we don’t state them out loud. No matter how hard you try to act normal, your kids will realize that something is going on, and if you don’t talk about it they will become confused and even frightened. Don’t try to cover up your feelings – instead, be honest about them. Let your child know that you are going through a difficult time and are feeling down. Most importantly, don’t try to keep the adoption a secret and pretend that nothing has happened or that the baby died. No matter how careful you are about keeping the secret, your child will almost definitely find out about it one day, and consider this: Would you rather your child hear the news from you, or from your aunt when she’s mad at you or your niece when they’re playing together outside?

2. Use words about placing the baby for adoption that they understand.

Honesty is important, but that doesn’t mean you have to explain everything you’ve been through with this pregnancy and adoption to your toddler or very young child. It’s okay to simply say, “It would be too hard for mommy to take care of the baby right now, so the baby is going to live with another family. Sometimes mommy misses the baby and feels sad about that, but she also feels happy that the baby has a family who loves them very much.”

3. Reassure them that they are safe with you.

It is natural for your child to feel upset or uneasy when they learn about the adoption. They will likely be afraid that if the baby went away, you might go away, or that they, too, will have to go live with another family. They’ll need to hear you say frequently that you are not going anywhere, that they are going to continue to live with you, and that you will always take care of them. Children often believe that they are responsible for unhappy events, so you’ll also want to reassure them that it is not their fault that the baby went to live somewhere else or that you are feeling sad.

4. Help them express their feelings about their sibling’s adoption.

Encourage your child to express his/her feelings by drawing a picture or writing a story or poem. Research has shown that drawing and writing reduce children’s anxiety and can also help parents to understand how their child is feeling. While you’re at it, why not sit down and write or draw with them? You’ll both have an outlet for your feelings, and your presence will reinforce the fact that they don’t have to worry about losing you.

Still worried or uncertain about how to address adoption with your other children? Talk to your adoption counselor! They can help you figure out what to say and can even meet with you and your child together.

How did you talk to your other children about their sibling’s adoption? Share your story in the comments section below.