One woman's adoption story.

Hey everybody,

This video is really thought provoking, touching and provocative. She challenges a lot of stereotypes about birth parents. She talks about choosing what was best for her son and that the adoptive family's home was the best place for her son. What do you think about that? I sometimes pause at the "good, better, best" comparison because everyone's opinion of what's best is different. The positive stereotypes of what we think about with adoption should also be challenged. Two parents with a big house and a dog doesn't always mean best.

She also pointed out the fallacy that birth parents don't want their babies and how she did not feel that way. Lots of birth parents wish their circumstances were different and maybe would choose to parents if many things (age, housing status, financial stability, etc.) were different.

Let us know if you had a similar interaction with someone interested in your adoption story.

You may not be in the same place in life as this mom, able to publicly share your story, on youtube, with family, or to anyone yet…but this is a safe space for you to do so anytime.


Birth Mother Expenses

In most states, the payment of expenses to a birth mother making an adoption plan is a common practice.  

We began to hear of more and more local birth moms who chose to be matched out of state because of the possibilities of paid expenses.  These moms would sometimes not be able to have a counselor, or appropriate representation in the case and we wanted Maryland to be on the same level as other states so that moms are pushed away from local adoptive parents!

More and more agencies and states are paying for the housing, food, clothing, etc. of birth mothers in the midst of an adoption plan. Well in Maryland, this was illegal up until very recently. Maryland is one of
only three states
that restrict payment of adoption-related expenses for birth parents to only
medical and legal costs. 


090-0530140135-i_m-just-a-bill_l
 

 We were so happy to discover that the bill had been approved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Maryland General Assembly and now we're awaiting the Governor's signature!


I was very fortunate to be able to testify about my opinions and experiences on this bill in front of the judicial committee of the Maryland House of Delegates. House Bill 563 was a collaboration of Delegate DuMais and adoption agencies, birth parents, and adoptive parents.


Here is a video of our testimony starting at 5:35 (Maryland House Judicial Committee Testimony Video)


Here is my written testimony submitted to the Maryland House and Senate Judicial Committees!

When posed with
the question of whether receiving financial assistance would be helpful to the
expecting mothers I serve, the answer is undoubtedly, yes.   Every expecting birth parent that crosses my
path struggles in some way.  Most of my
clients are either unemployed or working only part-time and in positions that
cause them to struggle even while employed. 
Many clients are living with family or with extended family, or renting
rooms in a household.  Some are living in
homeless shelters and recently, within the cold winter months, even the shelter
programs are full with many month long waiting lists.  Finding housing and food assistance for my
clients has always been a struggle with the limited resources in the area.  They often feel the stress of burdening a
family member they are living with or living in an uncomfortable environment
while pregnant.   Some mothers are only
allowed to live with family because they are pregnant but have to leave soon
after delivery and feel the anxiety of the approaching deadline daily.  Many have come to know that finding a job
while visibly pregnant is almost impossible in this area.  There are also those who are employed, but
must hide the fact that they are pregnant, if possible, to avoid termination.  These women and their families have a clear
and basic need for financial assistance.

 

To some,
purchasing maternity clothing may not be a necessity, and a mother may even
agree when faced with the decision to purchase food and pay rent, but to any
woman who has been pregnant, the need becomes clear.  Many clients could benefit from properly
fitting maternity clothing as pregnant women expand in clothing size and shoe
size.  I’ve come across clients who wear
the same ill fitting clothing, coats that no longer close and shirts and pants
that are uncomfortable to wear because as stated earlier, sheltering and feeding
herself and her family comes first.

AdoptionPlan

In addition to the
women who struggle the most visibly there are expectant moms that cross my path
who could benefit from the assistance that a little extra income could
provide.  Clients who are able to
maintain employment often still need all the help they can get.  Many are struggling to pay rent and all the
other necessities of life and would welcome assistance with open arms.   Regarding the mothers who are currently
working, some do not take one day off from work during their pregnancy for fear
of losing their jobs.  Other mothers
leave the hospital and return to work the day after delivery, against the
medical advice of the physician, because they simply cannot miss a day of work
and risk unemployment.   If pregnant women are instructed to stop
working by a physician, this bill would allow for those moms to stop working
and tend to their physical needs, something that is often not possible for
them.  For the moms that do stop working,
they are in great need of help paying bills. 
If these women were able to receive even just a small amount of financial
assistance to assist in paying rent or obtaining food or purchasing maternity
items, they would possibly be able to relax and gain a bit more peace of mind
during the pregnancy.  As stressful as it
is to carry an unplanned pregnancy and be in the process of making an adoption
plan, any relief of that stress would be greatly beneficial.

We would love to hear about your story and whether adoption expenses were helpful or would have been helpful during your adoption planning time.

Comment, Subscirbe and Share!


Support During Decision Time

So… I just finished watching Oxygen’s “I’m having their baby.”  It’s a new TV show that follows two expecting women/couples in their adoption plan and journey, delivery and placement.  It was amazing to see the journey from start to second start and a little peek into “life after placement.” 

The time of re-deciding in the hospital for many moms can be very difficult.  No matter what you made up in your mind, you were still thinking about the future and now, the future is here!  This baby is in the room, or down the hall in the nursery, and you have to decide what in the world you’re going to do.  The reasons you gave yourself pre-delivery are still there but now there’s a cloud called “discharge day” hanging over your head and you have to make a decision within a day or two.  Now, for some women and couples, their feelings don’t change much at all during this time b/c the circumstances of life right now make it impossible to bring a baby home.  For others, the time to think and feel the love and emotions still allows for you to maintain your decision to place your child.

As an adoption counselor, I help women and couples make sure they are not being rushed, not being forced or coerced, and thinking clearly and realistically about the decision made, no matter what the end result.  Not every birth mother has had that.  Some spend time in the hospital alone, some have family angry at them the entire time, and some are even pressured by hospital staff or made to feel like they are doing something wrong by any and everybody who knows.  Support from family, friends, your counselor or even simply the hospital social worker is vital at this time. 

Even in the cases of open adoptions, many people involved take a big sigh of relief after the delivery is over and the revocation period has ended and move along trying to make sense of the rest of their lives as if “whew…well now that’s over!”  I see birth parents back away from me and from the support we offer after a few months into their adoption journey, which… is understandable.  We have to readjust.  If you’ve just spent 9 or maybe just 3 months (if you found out late!) thinking, wondering, worrying, praying, hoping, all about this baby and the adoption plan, after delivery it’s, “Now what?”  Now it’s time for the second “beginning” not the end.  It's time to readjust your life to either life without the baby or figuring out how you're going to make this work.  For those birth parents who chose to place, this is really just the start.

Placemcementent day of your child with the adoptive family is the first day of the rest of all of your lives.

  • Remember your reasons for considering this plan in the first place, and consider what life will be like after placement.
  • Request an interim care provider if you have even a smidgen of undecided feelings.  Even private adoptions can figure out a way for you to have temporary care before the child is placed with the adoptive family.
  • Talk to family and friends before you leave the hospital.  Family and friends sometimes help you step back and see things in a different light.  They may even provide support you never knew was available.
  • Remember that you have rights in the hospital and don't be afraid to take advantage of them.
  • Meet with your counselor the week after you deliver (and more if you can).  So many birth parents back away at this time but your counselor is there to help.

 

What are some things you wish you knew or want to know about hospital and those first weeks after placement?


What to Expect From an Open Adoption

Open adoption has many benefits…

 

It is in complete opposition to closed adoption’s secrecy, shame, mystery and fantasy. It brings all adults in the child’s life together to build a relationship in the child’s interest.  It helps children normalize the fact of their adoption because it’s not this big secret that’s too horrible to discuss.  Still, there are challenges because it involves human beings who may have conflicting needs and may idealize relationships that take intention, work and honest commitment to resolve issues that may come up. It’s so vastly superior to closed adoption and past practices that it’s worth the effort, especially from the child’s perspective. We typically set up an open adoption with a schedule of updates that are transmitted from the AF to the BF and one-two get together’s a year.


A few practical tips:

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Time of year permitting, meet outside in a beautiful park, then playground, then community or city area that is photogenic. Children are much happier running around outside and adults are usually calmer too. Take lots of pictures that document these important events that can be shown to children over the years. You may want to keep an album of the picture and write about the visit.


YEARS 1-3

In the first few visits, the baby’s progress and development can be easy relaxed focus for everyone involved. Babies will naturally turn to those who are taking care of them. This process of attaching is extremely important for the baby’s future health and well being. It can be painful though for a parent to see the baby turn to her adoptive mother for comfort. This will continue for years. Children don’t fully understand birth and adoption until they are approximately 8 years old and they are cognitively aware: I was born to one family and adopted by another. This dialectic will be central for the life of the adoptee. The first year, babies are generally happy to be held by anyone. As they begin to distinguish the adults in their lives from others, they become anxious around strangers. This can be hard for birth parents to see. During a get together with two year old twins who had been placed at one year, as the children ran to their new parents for food and comfort, Jane said aloud: I know this is really good that they are so attached to their new parents. It’s really painful that they don’t seem to recognize or remember me. But I want them to feel safe and secure with their new family.

 

YEARS 3-8

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Children grow and change. Children will benefit from knowing who they are seeing. We are going to see your birth mother, Sarah. Also, birth parents may have children who they will be introducing. We are going to the park with your brother Sam who lives with his adoptive parents. Children are remarkably adept at sorting out who is who in their lives and they will take their cues from you. Your respectful, friendly and matter of fact introductions and discussion will reassure them that all is right in their worlds.

For some birth parents, these are the years that the meetings can become more challenging. The child’s life is unfolding and a history is developing that does not include them. One adopted child got into the habit of talking about the events of the past year when she got together with her birth mother as if to bring her up to the present time and fill her in.

 

YEARS 8-12  

Many  children begin to get busy with weekend sports and other school and neighborhood activities. During this time they fully understand adoption. It can be somewhat embarrassing to them because it’s a difference and children at this age want to be just like everyone else. Also, adults are beginning to bore them as they start to seek out their peers. A meeting once or twice a year with a relative is not necessarily something they are anxious to do. Some children though will be very curious and excited about the meeting. One child pointed out to her birth mother while they were eating: are you being extra nice to me because I am your birth child? Children may also be rude and impatient and the adoptive parent will be mortified. Birth parents may want to minimize their expectations.

 

TEEN AND BEYOND

Photo

While it may be harder to schedule meetings during these years, the child is moving into adulthood when they can begin to have direct contact with their birthparents and develop their own relationship, without their adoptive parents, as all children develop independent relationships.

The major benefit of open adoption is the culmination of all the meetings: the regular and normal nature of these get together’s will be a stable platform of experience for the child to build on. They will not have to move past idealizing & fantasizing about their birth parents because they have real people to relate to. The young adult and her birth parents have the opportunity to build on their knowledge of each other and develop their own unique time and experience together.

Birth parents may expect to feel anxious and happy as they lead up to the get together and sad and disappointed when it’s over. That’s typical of many important events we look forward to. Participating in a support group with others who are going through life with this very momentous decision and its aftermath can be very helpful and relieve some of the mixed feelings.


Father’s Day

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Father's Day is quickly approaching… I wanted to highlight the blog of a birth father.  As the birth parent online community is mostly female, I thought it was important to lift up the voice of a father this month:

http://statisticallyimpossible.blogspot.com/

and a forum that he's highlighted for birth fathers at http://www.birthfathersrecognized.org/index.html

America Adopts has been blogging about birth father's all month!

Please check out these links and share!


What Are Your Rights When You Are Making An Adoption Plan?

KnowYourrights

What are my rights?

      Is adoption right for me and my child?

 

                If you are considering adoption, you have the right to:

  • Free counseling that helps you assess your options including choosing to parent your child.
  • Access prenatal care and to deliver in the state where you live.
  • Sign relinquishments ONLY after you have delivered.
  • Receive financial help in states where it is legal, such as Virginia.
  • Decide not to proceed with the adoption even if you have been given financial support.

 

                What kind of adoption do I want?

 

                If you are considering different types of adoption, you have the right to:

  • Choose the family who will raise your child.
  • Specify the amount of open contact you have with your child while he/she is growing up.
  • Obtain a written agreement that is legally binding in states like Maryland, Virginia and D.C.
  • Place your child with a family in the state where you live.
  • Have your child placed immediately with the family you choose.
  • Select a family with a completed home study and background clearances.

 

What are my legal rights during the adoption process?

 

As a birth parent, if you decide to proceed with an adoption, you have the right to:

  • Your own attorney, paid for by the adoptive family.  
  • Work with a qualified adoption professional. Make sure that you are working with an agency that is regulated by the state.
  • Revoke your consent within the legally allowed timeframe.
  • Know if there is a medical emergency concerning your child.
  • Receive or not receive notice of the legal process. 
  • Obtain copies of any paperwork you sign.

 

What am I entitled to at the hospital?

 

          While you are at the hospital giving birth to your child, you have the right to:

  • Choose your child’s name and receive a copy of the original birth certificate.
  • Spend as much or as little time as you want with your child.
  • Request your child be placed in temporary care if you need more time to think about your options.
  • Make your decision without pressure from any professional or hospital staff.

 

You have the right to be informed about the impact of adoption on yourself and your child.  You are also entitled to and to counseling and support. 

If you want to talk to a counselor or an attorney about adoption, please call 1-800-439-0233.

Adoption laws vary from state to state.  If you are considering adoption make sure you are aware of the laws in your state and what rights you are entitled to.

 

If you are concerned about birth father rights please check out this link.

 

 

 


Birth Mother Support Group.

I just have to share that we had a support group meeting Tuesday night that was really wonderful. Ladies were able to share, make connections, and hear stories that brought comfort, support and understanding. I was honored to be among such honest and open women.

Support group meetings will be open to ANY birth mother who wants to come. Meetings are held the 3rd Tuesday of each month in the DMV area at 6:30p. Contact me for more information!


Honoring Birth Mothers on Mother’s Day

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As Mother's Day approaches we wondered what ways families honor birth parents on that special day or on other days.  It is very encouraging to know the ways other birth parents are celebrated and acknowledged.  We wanted to share the results. If you have a story to share please let us know!

We asked some of our Adoptions Together adoptive families:

How do you/will you honor your child’s

birth mother on Mother’s Day?

One adoptive family wrote:

"We first talk about the birthmother ALL the time.  Our kids are 5 and 3 and they can tell anyone about their birthmother and where she lives and her name.  The birthmother chooses not to be a part of their lives right now so we do not have a picture but if we had a picture of their birthmother – we would laminate it and post on their wall beside their beds and have them say good night and talk to her everyday.

 "We write the yearly letter and try to include a winter holiday card that we sent out to others so that she is kept up to date.  We hope to meet her someday and want the kids to have at least one picture of her.

"I am not sure this is really anything special but I hope it helps.  We also honor our two different foster mom's on Mother's Day as well."

 

One of our other adoptive families wrote:

"As the parents of three children, two joined our family through domestic adoption and one through international adoption, we thought we would share our thoughts on how we honor the women who gave birth to our kids. 

Quite honestly, we do not do anything special on Birthparent's Day.  We believe there are better ways we can honor our children's birthparents.  They are:

1. We do the best we can to raise our children up in a household that is taught to love others as we want to be loved. 

2. Anytime we hear someone use terminology that is offensive, we gently correct them (not so gently for repeat offenders).  Correcting misconceptions is one small step towards changing the way our society views birthmoms.   Specifially, we correct statements like:

     a. Why did his/her Mom give him/her away?  They did not give him away.  She  first chose life and secondly thoughtfully and carefully picked out (in the domestic adoptions) the family who she felt would best parent her child.  Her specific reasons are personal and between my child and his/her birthmom.

 

     b. How much did your son/daughter cost?  We did not pay for our children.  We did, however, freely give some money to the adoption agency to ensure that our child's birthmother received services, if she wanted them.

 

     c.  I could NEVER give up my child.  It is impossible to know what you would  do in the situation our child's birthmom was in.  Judging people without all the facts (actually, judging them at all) is completely inappropriate.

 

     d.  Do your kids know they are adopted?  Of course they do!  They have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!  In fact, there are two Moms that love them unconditionally.  (sometimes I feel sarcastic and I answer by saying, "No, my Chinese daughter does not know that she was adopted.  Do you think she will notice?")

 

3.  All year long we talk to our children about their individual adoptions and encourage them to ask questions.  If possible, we allow them to have contact with their birthmom.  Unless there is a situation that is simply not healthy, guiding our child as he sends a letter or email only reaffirms that I am his Mom and that we love his birthmom.  I do not 'fear' his relationship with her, I celebrate it!  She is not going to replace me as his Mom and I will never replace her as his birthmom.  These are two very distinct roles and, again, can reaffirm to our child that his birthmom loves him.

4. Recently, we realized that we honor her by providing her with a way to contact us directly (as opposed to routing things through the agency).  Finally, since she trusted us enought to place her child with us, surely we can trust her with our email.

 

While we will most certainly think about the women who are such a huge part of who are children are on Birthparent's Day, we try to remember that there are 364 additional days in the year!"

 

Kudos to these families for keeping the thoughts of their child's birth mother active within their families and desiring even more!!  Here's a link to some  messages from a birthmom blogger to adoptive mothers.


In what ways has your child or children's adoptive parents recognized you on Mother's Day?  

Does anyone do anything special for themself on Mother's Day? 

Your words are valuable and impactful.  We share your stories with brand new birth parents and they are encouraged by your honesty.  You would be surprised how the smallest anectode or gesture can mean the world to someone.